Order of the days might change according to groups leaving and hotels availability. Hotels might change as well.
Day 1: Arrive in Addis 5:40/14:40, Fly to Mekele, Pickup from Mekele airport to your hotel. Yordanos Hotel, Mekele.
Day 2: We start our day by driving to Erta Ale (which means smoky mountain in Afar language). Erta Ale ranks one of the most alluring and physically challenging natural attractions anywhere in Ethiopia. It is a shield volcano with a base diameter of 30 km and 1km square caldera at its summit. Erta Ale contains the world’s only permanent lava lake. It is 613 meters, with a lava lake, one of only five in the world, at the summit. It is notable for being the longest existing lava lake, present since the early years of the twentieth century.
We start early 9:00 AM, drive to Dodom (at the base of Erta Ale). This is may be one of the roughest roads in the world. The 80 km distance may take about 6 hrs passing through changing landscape of solidified lava, rock, sand and occasional palm lined oasis. After passing several small hamlets scattered here and there in this deserted land, you will arrive to Dodom camping site, located about 17km from Erta Ale.
Dinner will be served around 17:00 o’clock. After a short break, trek up to Erta Ale at 20:00 hours. Camels will be transporting all the camping materials and some food (sleeping materials like light mattresses and mat and water) to the rim of the volcano, where we spend the night watching the dramatic action of the boiling lava. You will spend the night on top of the mountain, at the rim of the Volcano.
Day 3: Early Morning sun rise at the northern one corresponds to the main pit crater and walk 5 minutes for the southern and central pits could either corresponds to an ancient pit, or to a simple collapse structure. The main pit-crater, 200 m deep and 350 m across, is sub circular and three storied. The smaller southern pit is 65 m wide and about 100 m deep. Descend from Erta Ale around 9 am Dodom – Leave back to Dodom after an early breakfast, if possible at 07:00 o’clock.
You will reach latest at 10:30 o’clock at the camp, where you will be relaxing. As soon as possible, drive to reach the mythical Lake Giulietti (or Lake Afrera) (optional may not be available during summer time), a salt water lake located more than100 meters below sea level, in one of the deepest depressions of the planet. Because of the picturesque landscape, it is interesting to visit the salt flats where the Afar people obtain the salt by evaporating the water of the lake., continue to Erbiti and proceed Abaala/ Hamedela.
Day 4: Morning tour Drive to Ragad (Asebo), the place where the localities are mining salt. Look the activity of workers breaking salts from the ground, cutting in to rectangular pieces and loading on camels. You drive ahead to Dallol and visit the difference landscape formed by volcanic activity, Dallol + Lake Assal + camel caravans. Excursion to Dallol (116 meter below sea level, one of the lowest places in the world) colorful salts mining, visit Lake Assal, follow up camel caravans (No camel caravan on July, August and early September)and walk with the Afar people. Drive back to Hamedela and proceed to Mekele. Overnight in Yordanos hotel, Mekele.
Day 5: After breakfast at the hotel, drive from Mekele to Lalibela (About 10 hours drive). Overnight in Lalibela Lodge.
Day 6: visit the first group of Lalibela Churches which are located north of a small stream named Jordan River. These Churches were carved during the time of King Lalibela (1181 – 1221) and are registered by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Then, have an excursion trip to the cave-built up church of Ne’akutoLe’ab (13th Century AD) which is famous for its wide collection of ancient crosses, manuscripts and icons. If this day is Saturday, spare some time at the interesting weekly market of Lalibela. After lunch, visit the second and third group of churches of Lalibela. Overnight in Lalibela Lodge.
Day 7: Flight to Gondar. After settling in your hotel, explore the sites of Gondar, including a visit to the Royal Enclosure, with six castles and several other buildings. Additionally, visit Fasilidas’s Pool, still used for Timket celebrations today, and the Debre Birhan Selassie church, with the most famous ceiling in Ethiopia. Overnight in Florida hotel, Gondar.
Day 8: Drive from Gondar to Debark. Here we obtain a permit from the Park headquarters and collect our obligatory scout before continuing to Sankabar (3250m ASL) for the first overnight camp.
An early start is needed as the drive from Gondar takes 2-3 hours. The trek begins at Buytras (Simien Lodge), taking about 3 – 4 hours to walk to the Sankabar campsite.
During the walk, there’s a good chance of seeing your first Gelada baboons.
Day 9: Sankabar to Gondar- You will be enjoying a view of the sun rising at the camping of Sankabar while having breakfast.
Have an excursion one last time in the park and drive to Gondar. Overnight in Florida hotel, Gondar.
Day 10: Fly from Gondar to Addis, and from Addis to Arba Minch. Drive to Konso. Overnight in Kanta Lodge.
Day 11: This morning we travel out to the Karo people at Kolcho village on the banks of the Omo River the Karo people excel in traditional body painting. This evening we visit a Hammer Village near to our accommodation. The Hammer are fine looking people taking great pride in their appearance – the women, with their red dyed plaited hair wear leather skirts decorated with shells, are beautiful. Each Hammer village is amazingly still free from western influences and non-organic materials. Their homes are constructed entirely of local materials, mud, wood and thatch. Each village consists of a single extended family unit of approximately 10-15 huts in close proximity around which daily life rotates. Overnight Turmi, Kizo Lodge.
Day 12: Driving across dry sandy plains to Key Afar then into more fertile rolling hills to the small town of Jinka. We visit a small museum which gives valuable insight into some tribal customs then take an optional walk down to the town meeting the people on the way, before driving out to our accommodation. Tonight’s accommodation is at Jinka resort.
Day 13: Taking an early start we drive across the mountains through some of the most beautiful Ethiopian scenery, into the drier Mago National Park area where we may see Dik Dik and the lesser Kudu. Out on the dry plains we visit a Mursi Village. These people are known for their decorated clay plates which are inserted in the lower lips of women. Starting at adolescence the plates eventually become larger, some plates are finally reaching the dimensions of a bread and butter plate. This custom seems to be used less now and many of the older women just have the loose skin with no plate inserted. Drive to Konso. Overnight Konso Hotel.
Day 14: Early start today as we drive (about 2 hours) from the fertile soils, across the dry plains until reaching Abra Minch known for its Ensete (false) bananas. Arba Minch, meaning Forty Springs, it is a fertile fruit producing valley. Drive into the Chencha Mountains to visit a Dorze village, noted for their fine weaving in wool and cot-ton (great shopping). Their distinctive thatched homes are tall and beehive shaped, we will be able to visit a home and see some weaving, also a demonstration of the many uses of the “false” banana. After a picnic lunch we drive to Lake Chamo and take a boat trip in search of the enormous crocodiles and possibly even Hippopotamus before returning to the air port. Fly from Arba Minch (13:45) to Addis (14:50) and back home (16:20/ 23:30).