Suggestion: We highly recommend that you arrive with the morning flight of the Ethiopian Airlines that lands in Addis Ababa by approx. 7:40am
Upon your arrival at Addis Ababa airport, you will be welcomed by a Rahhalah representative and transferred to your hotel in the city.
Depending on your arrival time, you will be able to join the city tour that includes the following attractions:
- The National Museum which exhibits the historical, cultural and archaeological heritage of the country, and is also well known for the fossilized remains of early hominids. It is here where one can see the remains of the famous Lucy (3.18 m.y.o.) – the oldest, most complete remains of our human ancestry – and many other earlier Hominid skeletons.
- The Entoto Mountain (3000m) from where you can enjoy a panoramic view towards Addis Ababa (the 3rd highest capital of the world). This mountain is known as the ideal daily training place for the famous Long-Distance World Champion Athletes of Ethiopia.
- Shiro Meda, a neighborhood of Addis Ababa that hosts an exotic market where you can find a large variety of locally made products, including the famous Ethiopian textiles, weaved traditionally, using different styles and designs.
After lunch break of on your own, you will continue with the exploration of Addis Ababa, visiting:
- The famous Holy Trinity Cathedral Church, which is also the burial place of Emperor Hailesilasie, his family, and most of the VIPs of the country.
- Merkato / Local Market, the largest open-air market in Africa, where you can source spices, incense, used materials (like household utensils, plastic containers, keys, scrub metals and brand shoes etc.) and many more treasures.
The day will end with your participation in an Ethiopian coffee ceremony, one of the most authentic ways to experience the real life of the locals. During this tour, you will have the opportunity to visit a typical local family, connecting with the culture of the country and the customs of its people, including its cooking.
Throughout the day, be prepared to stop at different squares, taking pictures of the numerous historical monuments and buildings, while observing the activities of the people and their daily routine.
Accommodation: Best Western hotel or Similar.
Early in the morning, you will be transferred to the airport for your domestic flight to Mekele.
Upon your arrival there, you will drive to the Gheralta Region of Tigray, where you will be able to admire plenty of Rock-Hewn Churches cut out of the living rocks.
This drive will also allow you to visit several villages and stop at stunning viewpoints.
Gheralta is known for its tall, sand-made vertical cliff on the face of which many churches were chiseled more than 1000 years ago.
You will visit the fascinating ancient churches of Abreha and Atsbehae (4th c. AD), and then you will continue further to the north towards a small village which serves as the base for a three-hour round trek to the top of the cliff where you will visit Maryam Kurkur (one of the most inaccessible churches of the world built in the 4th century).
Return to Mekele where you can enjoy the rest of the day at your own pace.
Accommodation: Planet Hotel or similar.
After breakfast, you will leave Mekele heading to Dodom, a camping village at the base of Erta Ale. After a few hours, the landscape becomes drier and less inhabited, while you will also have the opportunity to see the small local Afar people, who are said to be the warriors and survivors in one of the lowest and hottest places on earth!
Once you arrive at Dodom, you will have ample time to rest and enjoy a hot meal cooked by our crew. Then, you will prepare for the evening hike, while the support team arranges all the necessary equipment, luggage, water, food and other supplies to be transferred to the next camping site by the rim of the volcano.
When the sun sets, you will trek for 9 km through sand and lava rocks (approximately a 4-hour hike) till you reach Erta Ale, where you will spend the night watching the dramatic activity of the boiling lava.
Erta Ale is a caldera found at the top of a mountain (613 m a.s.l.). As one of the few most active volcano-lava lakes in the world, Erta Ale is the most fascinating and physically challenging natural attraction of Ethiopia.
Upon arrival, you will descent into the caldera, following an observation tour around the bubbling lava lake from the crater rim. You will remain at a safe distance, while still capturing spectacular views of the lava.
Accommodation at the Volcano site: Camping (at a safe distance from the crater edge).
You will wake up at dawn to walk around the rim of the active and dormant volcanos found at the top of Erta Ale. This will give you a chance to enjoy the site by daylight, collecting amazing pictures and memories.
You will return to the camping site for breakfast, and then you will set off towards Hamedela through a 70km challenging and adventurous road. This drive will take you through a changing landscape of solidified lava, rock, sand and the occasional palm-lined oases.
Late in the afternoon, you will see very long caravans with hundreds of camels one tied with the other, loaded with salt to be taken to the highlanders. The sunset behind the caravans is one of the fascinating moments in the Denakil.
Accommodation at Abala/Hamedela: Camping.
Dallol (116 m b.s.l) is the deepest place in Africa and the hottest place in the world. Once upon a time, it was a sea bead of saline water, and today it is a salt plain from which local people extract salt bars called Amolle, used as currency in Ethiopia for 1600 years. After attending the salt excavation process, you will visit the Assale saline lake and the sulphur lakes, watching the long caravans passing by.
Return to Hamedela and from there to Mekele (240km drive).
Upon your arrival at Mekele, you will be transferred to the Mekele airport for your flight back to Addis Ababa departing on 11:50am.
Upon arrival at Addis Ababa - Day use accommodation facility will be arranged in hotel at Addis Ababa to get relax from your wild adventure and get fresh up.
Later you will be transferred to Addis Ababa airport to catch your international flight back home.
Suggestion: Ethiopian airline, evening flight (after 9pm).
Optional Extension for Hyena feeding (2 Nights / 3 Days)
Transfer with group from Dallol via Mekele to Addis Ababa. Rest of group leaves back to the airport and the ones who is interested to extend their trip for Hyena feeding, going to check-in at your hotel in Addis Ababa.
Stay overnight in Addis Ababa.
Accommodation: Best Western hotel or Similar.
In the morning, be transferred to the airport for a flight to Drie Dawa. Afterwards, drive to the highland town of Harar.
You will spend the day exploring the city of Harar within and out of Jogal, the wall built during 16th C aimed to control the entrance of non-Harari people to the town.
Enjoying the most fascinating and colorful market in the town.
It's also worth visiting the magnificent traditional Houses of Harari people and their unique museums.
There is so much to see and photograph in Harar.
In the evening, you will be visiting the hyena man who feeds the wild hyenas by passing bones through his hands and mouth to them.
Overnight stay in Harar
Accommodation: Ras Hotel or similar
In the morning, proceed to Aweday, a town of the largest open air market of Chat (Kat) in the world. It is one of the most colorful market Ethiopia has.
Afterwards, drive to Drie Dawa, a big town born by the only and old aged French built railway which connects Djibouti with Addis Ababa. Here, you will take time to visit the rail way station built 100 years ago. This compound is full old locomotives and cargos.
The local markets of Drie Dawa is worth visiting for anyone who is interested in photographing.
Eventually, you will be transferred to the airport for a flight back to Addis Ababa from where you can depart for your international flight back to home!