Single supplement available on request
- Day 1 - Arrive in Addis Ababa
- Day 2 - Addis – Afdera
- Day 3 - Erta Ale
- Day 4 - Hamedela
- Day 5 - Hamedela - Mekele
- Day 6 - Mekelle - Gheralta
- Day 7 - Axum
- Day 8 - Axum- Addis Ababa
- Day 9 - Harar
- Day 10 - Harar – Hargeisa
- Day 11 - Hargeisa – Las Geel – Hargeisa
- Day 12 - Departure
- Return airport transfers
- 11 nights accommodation
- 10 Breakfasts, 1 Dinner
- Services of an English speaking local guide
- Transportation in a private vehicle
- Domestic flights (Addis to Mekele / Axum to Addis Ababa / Addis Ababa to Dire Dawa)
- International flight from Hargeisa to Addis Ababa (or Hargeisa to Mogadishu if the guest is joining the Mogadishu add-on)
- Camping equipment when in the Danakil Depression
- Scrubba Wash Bag
- International and domestic flights not mentioned above
- Ethiopia visas ($50USD each. You will need to get two if you return to Addis Ababa at the end of the trip)
- Somaliland Visa ($50USD in Addis Ababa)
- Hargeisa airport departure tax ($41USD)
- Travel and medical insurance
- All services, meals other than those indicated above
- Any changes to the proposed and confirmed program.
- All items of a personal nature e.g. drinks, laundry, telephone calls, tips etc
Make a booking
Join us on an exploration journey into the wilder parts of Ethiopia and Somaliland. Road trip through the otherworldly Danakil Depression passing through the hottest inhabited place on earth. Visit the lava lake at Erta Ale and witness the life of the salt mining Afar nomads that live in this otherwise inhospitable climate. In the north of Ethiopia, visit some of the most spectacularly located rock churches you’ll ever see. For classical history buffs Axum is a gem. Relics from this ancient empire are still being discovered!
Fly to the East to the ancient walled city of Harar, exploring the narrow alleyways where wild Hyenas still wander. Cross into the de-facto independent state of Somaliland to see the stunning cave paintings at Las Geel and enjoy the atmosphere in the Somaliland capital Hargeisa.
For the truly intrepid traveller, add on an extra 48 hours in Mogadishu with our experienced guide and security team.
Day 1 - Arrive in Addis Ababa
Welcome to Ethiopia! Upon arrival in Addis, you will be met and transferred to your hotel. This afternoon, you will have a city tour which includes a trip to the Archaeological Museum (where you can meet 3.25 million year old Lucy), the Holy Trinity Cathedral, the Ethnological Museum (the former residence of His Majesty Emperor Haile Sellassie) and Mercato – the largest open-air market in Africa.
For those of you planning on collecting your Somaliland visa in Addis, this will be done so as priority.
Overnight at the Nexus Hotel or similar
Day 2 - Addis – Afdera
This morning take a morning flight from Addis to Afdera. From here you will begin your journey by 4×4 where the Danakil Depression really begins. One of the lowest places in the world, it is an inhospitable landscape of sulphur springs, acid pools and colourful rock formations. Afdera is an isolated stratovolcano in northeastern Ethiopia, located at the intersection of three fault systems between the Erta Ale, Tat Ali, and Alayta mountain ranges.
Day 3 - Erta Ale
This morning you will visit the Afrera Salt Lake and witness the traditional salt excavation by the local people. Continue to Ert Ale base camp (Dodum). In the late afternoon. Enjoy an early dinner before you start your trek to the rim of the volcano as you walk around pits and craters – here you will witness the spectacular drama of the active volcano of mount Ert Ale – this is the only permanent lava lake in the world, and nearby there is also another volcano bubbling lava. (B,L,D)
Day 4 - Hamedela
Rise with the sun this morning as you visit Ert Ale a second time to experience the volcano’s lake of lava in the daylight before continuing on. Enjoy breakfast at Dodum base camp before driving to Hamedela, a far flung settlement in a nomadic tribal area. Here you will have time to see how the nomadic people live in such inhospitable conditions. There will be time for photos and perhaps purchasing some items from the Afar people. (B)
Day 5 - Hamedela - Mekele
Today you will drive to Dallol (at 116 metres below sea level – the lowest place in the Danakil Depression and generally considered the hottest inhabited place on earth). You will spend half the day here crossing the largest depression, to see the black salt mountain (Lake Asaele), colourful sulphur and salt lakes as well as thermo-active springs. The route passes many camel caravans laden with salt crossing the bleak landscape. You’ll also have time to meet some of the Afar people that live near Lake Assal. After lunch, drive to Mekele. (B,L,D)
Overnight Planet Hotel or similar
Day 6 - Mekelle - Gheralta
Departing at 7am, drive to the rock-hewn churches of Tigray where you will visit some of the best rock-hewn churches in Ethiopia over the next two days named Abrha we Astsbawa, Abune-Yemata and Mariam Korkur churches.
Some of the 125 very aged Rock-Hewn churches even predate those at Lalibela, and possibly represent a crucial link between Axum and Lalibela chronologically, artistically and technically. Until the mid 1960’s, the churches were almost unknown outside Tigray itself. Even today very little is known about their magnificent and precarious positions which has led scholars to think they were being hidden from Muslims.
The landscape here is spectacular and those wanting to combine some trekking with terrific art and history, this is the perfect place and we can tailor something for you this afternoon. (B,L,D)
Overnight Gherelata Lodge
Day 7 - Axum
After breakfast visit Mariam Korkur church which is cross-shaped and is famed for its rich decoration of columns, arches, and cupolas with fine frescoes. Continue to visit Abune Yemata and Dugum Selassie churches. Dugum Selassie possesses a beautifully carved ceiling above the maqdas (sanctuary) but it is tough to climb up to. This afternoon, continue to Axum. Ethiopia is a place where history and myth blur together and nowhere is this more prevalent than in the capital of the great classical Axumite Empire. Believed to be founded by the Queen of Sheba and the final resting place of the Ark of the Covenant, Axum is a UNESCO world heritage site that is still being explored and excavated, each year throwing up new treasures. (B,L,D)
Overnight at Sabian Hotel
Day 8 - Axum- Addis Ababa
Enjoy a visit to the Axum Stelae Fields, where 120 stelae (giant granite pillars) are found, dating back to around 300-500 AD. Like the Pyramids in Egypt, they were built by ancient rulers to mark their achievement so they would be remembered after death. In the surrounding area you will visit Kaleb and Gabra’s tombs and the Queen of Sheba’s Palace and baths.
Whilst we will not be permitted to visit inside the Mary of Zion Church where the Ark of the Covenant is said to be, seeing the lines of white clothed pilgrims visiting is a moving sight. This afternoon, you will fly back to Addis. (B)
Overnight at the Nexus Hotel or similar
Day 9 - Harar
This morning take an early flight to Dire-Dawa where you will enoy a city tour before driving to Harar. Here you will explore the walled city with 368 alleys crammed into one square kilometre. Considered by some to be the 4th holiest city in Islam, the old city is famed for its medieval townhouses and has 82 mosques, including three built in the 10th century. The walls surrounding the sacred city of Harar were built between the 13th and 16th centuries. African and Islamic traditions combine, creating a particularly unique character. One of Harar’s more unusual traditions is the nightly feeding of wild hyenas that wander the streets.
Overnight in Harar Ras Hotel or similar
Day 10 - Harar – Hargeisa
Today is a a full days to drive from Harar to Hargeisa crossing the border between Ethiopia and Somaliland on the way. As you progress you will pass out of the green Ethiopian lands into the brown scrub desert of Somalia, spotting camel trains as you drive. (B)
2 nights in Hargeisa.
Day 11 - Hargeisa – Las Geel – Hargeisa
After a visit to the Hargeisa Camel Market we will take you (with your security escort) to the wonderful cave paintings at Las Geel, one of the most intriguing sights in the Horn of Africa. On the overhangs of a rock in the desert are some of the world’s best preserved ancient cave paintings. Dating from 5000-9000 years old they depict cows, people, dogs and even giraffes. Return to Hargeisa in the evening. (B)
Day 12 - Departure
This morning you will transfer to the airport for your morning flight to Addis. Upon arrival, connect to your onward international flight.
Those travelling to Mogadishu will depart on the same day from Hargeisa to Mogadishu.
You will be accompanied by experienced English speaking Ethiopian guides for the length of the trip in Ethiopia plus a Somali guide in Somaliland. View our Mogadishu add on here.