Book & Travel with Confidence. Read our Covid Promise
  • Office Opening Hours
    • Covid 19: Temporary reduced hours
      Call us +44 (0)20 8741 7390
    • Monday: 10:00 - 16:00
    • Tuesday: 10:00 - 16:00
    • Wednesday: 10:00 - 16:00
    • Thursday: 10:00 - 16:00
    • Friday: 10:00 - 16:00
    • Saturday: Closed
    • Sunday: Closed
Land only price£3,125
Duration9 Days

Optional Single Supplement£145

Deposit£25

No hidden extras

Ethiopia: Harar and the Danakil Depression

Itinerary

Day 1: Tour Starts in Dire Dawa

The tour starts this afternoon in the eastern city of Dire Dawa, strategically located along the newly revamped railway line linking Addis Ababa to the coast at Djibouti Town. After lunch and a chance to rest we’ll have an introductory briefing before taking a wander through the town including a visit to the historic train station.

  • Samrat Hotel or similar
  • Lunch, Dinner
Day 2: Dire Dawa - Harar

This morning we will drive up to the medieval walled city of Harar. Known locally as Jugal, the old town is enclosed by a 5m-high wall that effectively defined the whole of Harar until the Italian occupation. On our tour we will see mosques, churches, the house of the French poet Rimbaud, the Adere people’s traditional houses, the markets, basket productions and much more. In the evening we will also visit a man who continues an age-old tradition of feeding wild hyenas on the outside of the city wall – a spectacle not to be missed!

  • Traditional Guesthouse or Simple Hotel
  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 3: Harar - Awash National Park

Today we will drive to Awash and although a full day in the vehicles, we’ll have plenty of opportunities to stop and see the impressive countryside we are driving through. We will visit the famous local qat market in the village of Awedae before heading into Awash National Park. We plan to arrive in time to take a late afternoon drive through the park, which has seen better days but whose main highlights still include its impressive bird population as well as the 150m-deep gorge, carved by the Awash River and its substantial waterfall.

  • Falls Lodge or similar
  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 4: Awash National Park - Semera

Heading north today, we’ll follow the Awash River north towards Afar country and the small town of Semera, the gateway to the Danakil. Here we will obtain the necessary permission required to enter the Danakil region tomorrow.

  • Agda Hotel or camping
  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 5: Semera – Lake Afrera

This morning we’ll start making our way into the barren landscape of the Danakil Desert. All the while we will be slowly losing altitude and by the time we reach Lake Afrera we will be 100m below sea level. The road is asphalt all of the way, as the lake is used for salt extraction, so we will reach the lake in good time to set up camp and explore this fascinating but scruffy frontier town. Our camp will be on the shores of Lake Afrera, next to a hot spring which is perfect for an evening bath!

  • Remote Camp
  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 6: Lake Afrera – Erta Ale Volcano Basecamp

After a short walk back into town from our campsite through the salt extraction works, we leave the tarmac and head out over the sand towards Erta Ale Volcano. After several hours we reach Kuswarad, an Afar village where we have lunch and pick up our local Afar guides. We then continue through the desert where we reach the basalt rock formed by old lava flows. A slow and bumpy drive brings us to the base of Erta Ale Volcano. After loading up the camels we will start our trek to the rim of the volcano at around sunset, to avoid walking during the heat of the day. The trek will take about 4 – 5 hours, with the latter part of the walk taking part in the dark. The path is not that steep, but it is important everyone has a torch and sticks together. We camp on the crater rim, a safe distance away from the lava!

  • Remote Camp
  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 7: Erta Ale Volcano

Erta Ale is an active volcano, which has one of only 5 lava lakes in the world. Today we have the full day to explore the volcano and its surrounds but due to the heat of the day, our explorations will be confined to the early morning & late afternoon with a long break in between.

  • Remote Camp
  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 8: Erta Ale Volcano - Dallol

This morning will be an early start as we leave camp before dawn. On arriving at the bottom of the volcano we will freshen up before driving to Dallol. The driving is all off road, through the desert. We stop at a palm grove for lunch and should have a chance to try some of the local palm wine. In the evening we will arrive at Ahmedela, a small settlement where the salt caravans meet before their long walk to Mekele.

  • Remote Camp
  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 9: Dallol - Mekele - Tour Ends

Dallol is like nowhere else; a bizarre landscape of colourful mineral deposits, sulphur pools and geysers, where we’ll have the morning to explore this seemingly alien terrain. We will also visit the bizarre landscape of the salt canyons before making our way towards the town of Mekele, where en route we may get the chance to see the arduous work of salt being extracted by hand and loaded onto the camels. After the first chance in several days for a proper shower we’ll then have our final dinner and the opportunity to reflect on the remarkable adventure we’ve taken. Those on the suggested group flight will then be transferred to Mekele airport for their flight to Addis and beyond.

  • Day Rooms at the Zemarias Hotel or similar
  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation

As an overall ethos, wherever possible we aim to use characterful accommodation that enhances the overall travel experience, not just offers a bed for the night. This can obviously vary dramatically from country to country and from trip to trip.

On this particular trip we will stay in a combination of hotels, lodges, guesthouses and will also remote camp, where the facilities will be very basic. In Harar depending on availability and final group size we may be split between different guesthouses or stay in a simple hotel. The hotel in Semera is simple and as there is no alternative, should it not be available for whatever reason, we will camp nearby. Please note that the accommodation mentioned in the itinerary is intended as a guide only and is always subject to availability.

Transport

On this tour we will use a combination of a mini bus and 4WD vehicles.

Climate

The Danakil Depression is one of the hottest places on Earth so please come prepared. Our trips to the Danakil run from Nov – Feb as this is the cooler time of year but this can still mean daytime temperatures up to and around 40oC. Night time temperatures in the Danakil are in the 20s (oC) and rainfall is very rare. Harar and Mekele will be cooler, but the vast majority of this trip is likely to be very hot.

Is this trip for me?

It may sound obvious but Wild Frontiers tours are not always for everyone and it is important to us that the tour you choose is the most suitable. Please therefore take time to read the itinerary carefully. All our tours are graded to give an overall picture of the trip but these are only guidelines and you should check the daily itinerary. In certain instances we may ask you to complete a travel questionnaire before confirming your booking in order to ensure your suitability. Should you have any concerns about your ability to partake in any aspect of the tour then please contact the office. 

Key aspects to consider

Anyone in a good state of health, be reasonably fit, with an open mind, not worried about creature comforts and a big sense of adventure should be able to cope with this tour. That said, the camping will be very basic with no facilities and at times especially when at Erta Ale the temperatures may be very hot!

Please be advised that on this trip vegetarians can be catered for but the selection and variety may be limited. Other dietary requirements may be very difficult to provide for, but that said we will do our best.

The Erta Ale Volcano trek is not technically demanding but it will be undertaken partially at night when the temperature is lower but still in the late 20s (oC). During non-trekking days in the Danakil, temperatures can exceed 40oC so you must be able to cope with extreme heat.

Due to the ever-changing nature of the volcano and the region, the visibility of the lava lake and lava flows may vary. Please contact the office for the current situation and up to date information.

Extensions

If you have more time available, why not arrive early to adjust to a new time zone or just to get a feel for the country before your tour starts? Or alternatively you might choose to allow a few extra days after the tour to relax or to undertake some further exploration.

The choice is completely yours and we can usually arrange anything from simply additional accommodation and transfers to full tailor-made itineraries.

Below is just a small sample of what you could do. Please contact the office for more details and to discuss your individual requirements. 

Omo Valley

Visit one of the most culturally diverse regions in Ethiopia, home to several unique and fascinating tribes. Allow for 12 - 15 days

Historical Northern Circuit

Visit the best of the historical northern circuit of Ethiopia including Mekele, Tigray, Yeha and Axum or spend some time exploring the stunning UNESCO Simien National park and mingle with Gelada baboons. Allow between 3 - 6 days. 

Responsible travel

Responsible travel and sustainable tourism are fundamental ideas that Wild Frontiers has been committed to since our birth. It is our strong belief that these words should not be simply ‘tagged on’ to itineraries and websites but should be at the very core of each trip, and our adventures are therefore designed with the local people, culture and eco-system in mind. We believe that a successful trip not only delivers a unique and unsurpassable journey for our clients, but that it also benefits the peoples whose lands we are privileged to visit. 

Camara E-Learning Centres

The Wild Frontiers Foundation is proud to support Camara, an international charity and social enterprise that uses technology to deliver 21st century skills to improve education in disadvantaged communities around the world.

In 2012, with £2500 initial funding from the foundation, Camara was able to install 25 recycled computers, loaded with educational software, and create a new e-Learning Centre at Aba’ala Secondary School in the remote Afar region of northern Ethiopia. Teachers from the school have also been trained in basic digital literacy skills, simple hardware maintenance and how to use computers to teach other subjects.

In 2015 we sponsored our second school with a further £2500 to establish an e-learning classroom at the Bruh Tesfa Primary School, in Addis Ababa. These students now have access to affordable technology and are learning new skills to improve their education and ultimately gain better future employment.

We are continuing to raise money to install more e-learning centres in other Ethiopian schools.

Getting There

If you would like us to send you a quote for the suggested tour flights or on any alternative flight that may suit you better, please let us know, noting that for our US clients, we will most likely refer you to one of our preferred partners. For this trip our suggested flights from the UK (subject to change) are shown below.

If you wish to arrange your own flights you are completely free to do so and in this case we can arrange any transfers or supplementary accommodation that you may require. However please note that if you are planning on making your own flight arrangements, we recommend that you first check with us to see if the trip is guaranteed. We then suggest that you purchase flights that are flexible and ideally refundable as due to the nature of adventure travel, itineraries and destination accessibility can change at any time. For more information, please refer to our booking conditions.
 

Flight Code Departing Arriving
ET 701 London Heathrow (LHR)
20:15
Addis Ababa Airport (ADD)
06:15
ET 214 Addis Ababa Airport (ADD)
11:45
Dire Dawa Airport (DIR)
12:45
ET 149 Mekele Airport (MQX)
21:00
Addis Ababa Airport (ADD)
22:25
ET 700 Addis Ababa Airport (ADD)
01:20
London Heathrow (LHR)
06:35

Visas

Visas are necessary for many of the destinations we travel to and while we aim to provide you with the most up-to-date information, requirements frequently change and as such for the latest advice we advise that you check with the relevant embassies or contact our recommended visa agency, Travcour www.travcour.com 

For this tour UK passport holders currently require a visa for Ethiopia, which can be obtained as an E-Visa.

Non-UK passport holders or non-UK residents should contact the relevant embassies for individual requirements.

Further details will be sent out to you on booking, however ensuring that correct and valid visas are obtained remains the sole responsibility of the client.

Key information

Tour price

All our tours are priced on a land-only basis, giving you maximum flexibility when deciding how to get to and from your tour. For the latest prices, please refer to our website or contact the office.

Deposit

A £500 (or equivalent) deposit is required to confirm your booking.

Travelling Solo & single supplement

As a company approximately 70% of our clients are solo travellers, so it’s very unlikely you’ll be alone!

Our prices are typically based on twin-share accommodation but single supplements are not compulsory for any Wild Frontiers tour. If you prefer not to pay a single supplement we’ll pair you with someone else of the same sex for you to share with throughout the trip.

On this trip, if you do opt to pay for a single supplement then please note that it will cover you for all nights of the tour including all camping nights. The only exception is in Harar where it may be necessary to share a room with someone of the same sex due to the limited infrastructure of some of the guesthouses.

Please note that paying a single supplement entitles you to lone occupancy of a single room. In many cases these rooms will be of the same size as a double/twin room, but in some cases they may be smaller.
 

Insurance

Insurance that provides cover for emergency repatriation in case of a medical emergency is compulsory for all tours. You should be aware that due to some of the geographical areas visited and some of the activities included on certain of our trips some standard insurance policies may not always provide adequate cover. As such we strongly recommend that you purchase a policy that adequately covers your trip. If you choose to purchase the Wild Frontiers bespoke policy through Travel & General (currently available to UK residents only) then please note for this trip the minimum required level of cover will be the Standard policy. Please see the Insurance section for more details.

What's Included

Transport

All transport as required for the tour

Guides

The full services of a Wild Frontiers Tour Leader with local guides where appropriate

Accomodation

All accommodation as outlined in the itinerary

Entrance Fees

All entrance fees for sights mentioned in the itinerary

Meals

Meal plan as detailed in the itinerary with the majority of meals being taken in local restaurants where viable

Airport transfers

Complimentary airport transfers are included for anyone arriving/departing on the suggested group flights (see GETTING THERE for details)

Camping equipment

Including 2-person tents and sleeping mats

Carbon contribution

A carbon-offsetting contribution to Eco Act (if booking international flights through us)

What's Not Included

Visas & Travel Insurance

Visas will always be tour/nationality dependent but travel insurance is mandatory

Tips

Always optional, but some guidance will be given in the pre-departure information pack you’ll receive after booking

International Flights

Please feel free to ask us for an obligation-free quote

Beverages & any costs of a personal nature

This will include items such as laundry and souvenirs

Additional information

Protection for your money

For further details please see our travelling with peace of mind page

Responsible Travel

For more information, please refer to our responsible travel page

British foreign & Commonwealth office

As advocates of the FCO's Travel Aware campaign, we highly recommend checking out their website for lots of useful information. Non-UK citizens should consult the travel advice of their respective government.

Wild Frontiers Community

If you’re still not sure if this trip is right or just want to see get some different perspectives, then why not have a look at the wide variety of resources we have on our website?

Browse our community section to read our blogs, watch videos and find out about our events.

Why Wild Frontiers?

We are frequently asked what makes Wild Frontiers different from other tour operators. Visit our why Wild Frontiers page to find out.

Talk to us about Ethiopia

Nigel

Wear slip on shoes - you're not allowed to wear them in the churches so you'll be taking them off a lot.

Speak to one of our team on
+44 (0)20 8741 7390 or use the simple online form below