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Itinerary: Djibouti and the Danakil in Ethiopia

Djibouti and the Danakil in Ethiopia

The horn of Africa is a fascinating mélange of cultures, from nomadic herders to Arabian traders and influences from across the Indian Ocean. It is also home to some of the continent’s most remote and breathtaking landscapes.

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Djibouti and the Danakil in Ethiopia

Day 1 – Djibouti
Arrive in Djibouti and transfer to your hotel. Depending on when you arrive there may be time to explore the capital. Overnight Hotel Plein Ciel or similar.

Day 2 – Foret du Day – Tadjoura
Visit the extraordinary Foret du Day National Park, a small oasis of green in an otherwise arid country that is home to interesting wildlife and beautiful scenery. We spend time exploring the park and its surrounds including the Ardoukoba Volcano, then head to the picturesque coastal town of Tadjoura, with its whitewashed buildings and good beaches. Overnight Beach Bungalows. (BLD)

Day 3 – Lac Assal
We head to the crater lake of Lac Assal – the lowest point in Africa (-150 m), as well as the most saline body of water in the world (up to 40%). One of Africa’s most impressive natural phenomena, its spectacular colours and unusual crystalline formations give it an almost alien appearance. We may see Afar herders or salt collectors on its shores. Return to Tadjoura for the night. (BLD)

Lac Assal
Surrounded by dormant volcanoes, Lac Assal is an impressive sight; the salt flats contrast with the black lava fields and there are numerous large crystal formations dotted around. The lake is fed by hot saline springs making it unique among salt lakes, as all others are fed by streams and rivers, and it has no outlet, which contributes to its extremely high level of salinity. As well as being the lowest point in Africa it is the third lowest depression in the world after the Dead Sea and the Sea of Galilee.

Day 4 – Lac Abbe
Drive to Lac Abbe, stopping en route to meet local people and arriving in the late afternoon to watch the sun set over one of Africa’s most enigmatic and breathtaking regions. Overnight Lac Abbe Camp. (BLD)

Day 5 – Lac Abbe – Logiya
This morning we visit the extraordinary landscape of Lac Abbe, a desolate salt lake with hundreds of limestone chimneys belching sulphur into the atmosphere. This landscape is so other-worldly that the classic science fiction film ‘Planet of the Apes’ was filmed here. From here we cross into Ethiopia and head to Logiya, where we camp for the night. (BLD)

Day 6 – Lake Afrera
Drive to the turquoise Afrera Lake, surrounded by palm trees. The Afrera salt lake is home to local Afar people harvesting salt flakes using traditional methods, and in the lake is the world’s lowest lying island in the world, Frachetti island (-102 m). Overnight camping. (BLD)

Day 7 – Erta Ale
Drive to Mount Erta Ale through the Afar desert – Erta Ala is one of the highlights of this expedition, and is one of only five permanent lava lakes in the world. We hike 3 hours to the rim, while our equipment and water is carried by camels - we wait for sunset to see one of the world's most spectacular sights when the red lava in the crater lights up the sky. Overnight camping. (BLD)

Erta Ale hike
The gently climbing hike itself follows interesting lava formations (lava and pahoehoe lava fields, lava tubes, hornitos, sand deposits, rare vegetation) until we stand on the rim of the caldera. An easy descend brings us to the floor of the caldera and after 10 minutes, we stand on the active pit crater containing the boiling lava lake.

Day 8 - Ahmedela
Drive to Ahmedela along unmarked sandy tracks, passing Afar settlements along the way. Ahmedela is the base for exploring the salt mines and seeing the salt workers and camel caravans. Overnight camping. (BLD)

Day 9 – Dallol
Drive to the hot springs at Dallol, composed of different minerals along with sulphurs and potash and create spectacular colours. Dallol is renowned as being the hottest inhabited place on earth; between 1960 and 1966 an average annual temperature of 34°C (94°F) was recorded. You are likely to see the long 'caravane de sel' – camel trains loaded with salt. Later we drive back to Ahmedela. Overnight camping. (BLD)

Day 10 – Mekelle
We leave the deserts of the Danakil behind and drive to Mekelle, the capital of Tigray Province. Overnight Axum Hotel or similar. (BLD)

Day 11 – Gheralta
Drive to Gheralta visiting the marvellous churches that dot this remote and inspiring landscape. From the 8th to the 15th centuries hundreds of rock-hewn churches were carved and constructed here, and we spend today exploring those on our route. Overnight Gheralta Lodge or similar. (BLD)

Day 12 – Yeha – Axum
Drive to Axum, visiting the ruins of the Yeha temple which dates back to the 5th century BC and claims to be Ethiopia’s oldest remaining building. Overnight Yeha Hotel or similar. (BLD)

Day 13 – Axum
Spend today visiting the sights of Axum, including the palace of the Queen of Sheba, its collection of ancient stelae and the church of St Mary of Tsion, where legend has it that the Ark of the Covenant is kept. Overnight Yeha Hotel or similar. (BLD)

Day 14 – Addis Ababa
Fly back to Addis Ababa, where the tour ends upon arrival. (B)

Included in price:

- Airport transfers

- Accommodation – as listed in the dossier. The nature of the destinations that we operate may sometimes mean that we need to change hotels, but we’ll always endeavour to keep the same standards. Please be aware that as we operate in many countries where tourism is in its infancy, hotel standards may not be the same as you’re used to elsewhere.

- Guides – In most cases you will be accompanied by one guide from start to finish. However there may be occasions when this is not practical, for example if your trip covers a number of different countries. In these cases it often makes more sense to include different guides for each place, to take advantage of their specific knowledge of the destination.

- Meals – As listed within the itinerary / dossier (B-Breakfast, L-Lunch, D-Dinner).

Entrance fees – Entrance fees are listed for those sites that we mention within the itinerary. If there are any other sites that you’d like to see, these would be at your own expense.

Not included:
- Visas
- Airport taxes
- International flights
- Travel Insurance

To receive the full details of this trip via email please complete our enquiry form below, we will be happy to answer any questions you may have and will provide you with all neccessary booking information to peruse at your leisure. Please complete our enquiry form below, we will be happy to answer any questions you may have and will provide you with all neccessary booking information.

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Djibouti and the Danakil in Ethiopia

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