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Title: VOLCANO DISCOVERY -  the Danakil Depression


Tour code: VETF1050

Duration: 8 days/ 9 nights

Transportation: Flight/surface-4x4

Group Size: Max. 15, Min. 5, Avg. 9, please contact for individual or other group size rate

Tour dates and Price per Adult: Please have a look on the price detail section (bottom of page) for what is included


Sep 19- Sep 26, 2012. ( Ethiopian Meskel Festival)


Jan 4 - Jan. 11, 2013.


Oct 26- Nov 2, 2012


Feb 13 - Feb. 20, 2013


Nov 21- Nov 28, 2012


Feb 27 – March 5, 2013


Dec 12- Dec 19, 2012.


Mar 04 - Mar 12, 2013



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Saying, nothing in this planet is quite as spectacular as the Danakil Depression, would not be an exaggeration. Bubbling volcanoes light up the night sky, sulfurous mounds of yellow contort into monstrous shapes and mirages of camels cross lakes of salt. Laying 100m below sea level the Danakil depression is about the hottest and most inhospitable place on earth. In fact so surreal is the moonscape here that for all intents and purposes it is not actually a part of the earth at all. If you want genuine, raw adventure, then few corners of the globe can match this overwhelming wilderness

Two of the landmarks that will take your breath away are impossible to describe with words. The first one is “Mount” Dallol dotted with bright yellow hot sulfur fields among sparkling white salt beds, green crystal pools and sparkling salt beds resembling coral reefs. It is the lowest volcano on land in one of the lowest elevations on Earth about 116 meters below sea level. The second one is ERT’ALE meaning “the mountain that smokes” in Afar Language. Visiting Ertale is one of the breathtaking events in the middle of the desert; it is the only active fire lake with permanent lava on Earth. The Dalol is also renowned fordallol_4 its camel salt caravans transporting salt from Lake Asale where it has been mined for hundreds of years.


Tour Highlights

Danakil Depression is one of the remotest, lowest and hottest places of the world in the Great Rift Valley system. This adventure takes you to explore Erta Ale and Dallol volcanoes and visit of the endless Camel Caravans.


Activities: Cultural Tours, Desert Tours, Geological Tours, Hiking, Walking Safaris


Day-to-day program

Day 1: Addis Ababa – Drive to AwashDallol

Early morning drive from Addis Ababa to Awash National Park, once we are there a game drive into the savannah of the relatively unknown park (many species of birds and mammals to observe) and a stop at a viewpoint on the deep gorge of the Awash River and its powerful waterfalls.
Overnight Hotel in Awash

Day 2: Awash - Drive to Logia

Today, we continue to drive through the Rift Valley into the Afar triangle, slowly loosing elevation. The landscape changes from savannah to steppe and half-desert, interrupted by oases from the Awash River.

Overnight camping

Day 3: Logia - Drive into the Afdera (Danakil - Afrera salt lake)afdera_2

We leave the main road and continue on an unpaved 4x4 road northwards into the Danakil. The trip leads through rugged moon-landscapes, characterized by volcanic rifts and faults, young black lava flows and gravel desert. After about four hours driving, we reach the flat, salt-covered Danakil depression at the salty lake Afrera by afternoon. There will be time to visit the interesting salt lines, where pure salt is being produced.

Overnight stay camping

Day 4: Afdera Drive to Dodom village (base of Erta Ale)

If we are interested, you could join a group of salt workers in the early morning and watch the interesting technique to gain salt from the lake. We then  pick up Afar policemen and an Afar guide, then drive though the flat salt and lava desert to the Afar village of Dodom and set camp at the base ofafdrera Erta Ale volcano. We will start the relatively easy ascend (ca. 10 km, 500 m climbing, ca. 3 hrs) along the flat flank of Erta Ale's shield volcano, while the camel caravan carries our luggage and the equipment. The gently climbing hike itself follows interesting lava formations (Pahoehoe lava fields, lava tubes, hornitos, sand deposits and 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.

Overnight stay camp on Erta Ale

Day 5: Ertale - Ahmed Ela (Transfer to Lake Assale - salt caravans)

The sometimes difficult 4x4 drive through the desert northwards to the large, mostly dry salt lake near Ahmed Ela is our goal of the day. In the afternoon and evening we can watch the endless camel caravans coming and going: arriving empty they are met by the ones leaving packed full with precious salt blocks. After nightfall, we can assist the procedure of assigning Walt cutters (the focolo) to the camel ownerscamel_carvan(the Arho), for the next day in the salt mine at the lake. Overnight stay Camping

Day 6: Ahmed Ela -   DALLOL volcano- Ahmed Ela

A full day will be available to explore the fascinating volcano of DALLOL- a volcano hidden under kilometer-thick deposit of salt. The volcano marks its presence by the up doming of the salt and hundreds of fumaroles and hot springs in all colors. We can visit the remains of a ghost town, almost entirely built in salt, at DALLOL, where miners lived in the 1930s to extract potash from the DALLOL area. The town is the hottest inhabited place on earth.
Overnight stay Camping

Day 7: Ahmed Ela - Mekele

Salt caravans - salt cutting and loading - transfer to the highlands

In the morning, we watch thousands of camels leaving for the salt cutting area. We then drive to the lake and watch the salt cutters and salt shapers at work, following a century-old established order. By the time we leave in the late morning, the first camels are being loaded and the cycle is repeated.
For us, it's time to leave the desert. Our way out follows along a spectacular canyon into the highlands. At a small, clear waterfall, we stop for lunch, to bath and clean the cars from the salt.
In the late afternoon, we should already be back on the highland plateau where we stay the night in a small lively town, and enjoy the first cold beer after more than a week!

Overnight stay Axum Hotel


Day 8: Mekele  Addis

In the morning fly back to Addis Ababa and transfer to your hotel.  In the afternoon we will embark on the city tour of Addis. We will visit historical sites in Addis Ababa including the National Archaeological Museum, where we will view the 3.6 million year old remains of “Lucy”, whose skeletal remains were discovered in 1974. We will also visit the Ethnological Museum at Addis Ababa University, Holy Trinity Cathedrals, Mercato- the biggest open market in Africa and Mount Entoto which rises up to an altitude of 3200 meters and offers the panoramic view of the metropolis.


Complimentary farewell dinner party from VIVA ETHIOPIA will follow in one of the most renowned Cultural restaurant in Addis to test the cultural food and drinks, enjoying dances from the different ethnic groups.

The tour ends at the end of the farewell dinner party on day 8. You may choose to fly out that same evening/night or you have the choice of spending one more night in Addis. The preceding morning can be used for souvenir shopping, taking walks on the main streets of Addis, and discovering Addis bustling outdoor markets, exotic dishes, espresso bars and patisseries which are reminiscent of Rome and the Mediterranean

...End of tour...



Start/End: Tour starts and ends in Addis Ababa.

Upon arriving in Addis Ababa You will be introduced with your guide and driver. A detailed itinerary and map would be provided for every member.

Flexibility: This itinerary is subjected to certain degree of flexibility and change as per the group interest and ground conditions that may prevail.

Accompanies: Experienced group leader, Expert 4x4 drivers, local guides, Boat men, mule tenders, Village leaders and cooks…

Communication: mobile telephone will be provided to communicate with our base in Addis Ababa.

Group Size: Max. 15, Min. 5, Avg. 9, please contact for individual or other group size rate

Transport: One Ethiopian airline domestic flight, fully insured 2010/11 Nissan patrol and/or Toyota land cruiser and 2010 Double AC Toyota HIACE for city tour. Three group members in one 4x4 basis.

Accommodation: This tour assumes four star accommodations in Addis and the best available outside of Addis Ababa. This tour also assumes twin bed room arrangement.

My Own Room: please do advice while booking if you are seeking a single room arrangement throughout the trip.

Personal activities: please write to us your personal interests and more activities you want to add in this tour and we would be very happy to incorporate it.

Local Currency: Ethiopian Birr.

Price includes:

  • Meet and greet at the airport
  • Air port /Hotel Transfer in and out
  • One night and one day use in four Star Hotel Accommodation in Addis Ababa.
  • Two nights in best accommodations available outside Addis as per the itinerary.
  • Camping material and gears
  • Meals on the tour on full board base in reputable restaurants and hotels
  • Cooker and cooking materials
  • Bottled water, soft drink and coffee throughout the trip
  • Professional Multi Language speaking guide (group leader) accompanying throughout the trip
  • All Transportation costs with the mentioned fully insured vehicle and Expert 4x4 driver allowance.
    • Local guide, Scout, security, Mule & multerers and all entrance fees and embarkation fees
    • Addis Ababa city tour
    • Government tax

Price excludes

  • International air fair
  • Domestic air fare
  • Camera &video fee
  • Alcohol drinks
  • Laundry & other personal interests

A final copy of your Trip Details, local cost over view, Joining Instructions, Emergency Contact, What to Take, Checklist, Money Exchange, confirming prices and other practical information available upon inquiry


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