This tour includes the world famous 11 rock cut Lalibela churches and the very special Danakil Tour to the permanent active volcano Erta Ale, the hottest spot on this planet and also the lowest place on earth.Apart from those highlights you will see and smell Sulphur lakes, watch salt cutting workers in the desert and camel- caravans plodding in the sand.The conditions are not easy- the oldest customer we had was a 73 year old lady though. Anyway, also this tour calls for fit people.
ItineraryThis is a typical itinerary for this productStop At: Highland Eco Trekking Tours Ethiopia, Lalibela, Amhara RegionCheck us in our office, for any further information. And this is also the starting point of the tour. Duration: 15 minutesStop At: Rock-Hewn Churches of Lalibela, Lalibela, Amhara RegionLALIBELA WORLD HERITAGE CHURCH TOUR (full day with guide)an early Start for the UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE rock hewn churches of Lalibela, the so called ‘new Jerusalem’ and the holiest town in the whole of Ethiopia is highly recommended since there are 12 churches in town, so it’s much to see and learn about them- be ready at 7:30am in front of our office near Maribela Hotel. Your personal guide awaits you there and walks with you first to the ticket office (please bring your passports with you for this). Entrance fee is 50$US p.p., they accept Ethiopian Birr or US$. In front of the ticket office is also an ATM to be found, but not always working, another one is situated in front of the Dashen Bank close to our office (which works) Your guide will now bring you to the entrance of the symbol of earthly Jerusalem- the north- western cluster of the group, called:-Bet Medhane Alem, Bet Maryam, Bet Meskel, Bet Danaghel, Bet Mikael & Bet Golgotha.You will be surprised since after visiting them it will already be mid-day (btw the churches are closed from 12-2) We recommend a nice lunch break in the oldest and quite famous restaurant of Lalibela-the 7 Olives Hotel/Restaurant (the whole complex is built by the grand daughter of Haile Selassie), here you will also find a nice and relaxing garden. Wherever you decide to eat your church guide will pick you up at 1:30pm and you continue with the south-eastern cluster, built as the symbol of heavenly Jerusalem:–Bet Gabriel-Rufael, Bet Merkorios, Bet Amanual, and Bet Abba Libanos.Last and finally, you will visit the most famous and very picturesque of all the churches:–Bet Giyorgis (St George), constructed in honour of the patron Saint George. (please note all the churches close at 6pm)After having seen all you have the possibility attending the famous Ethiopian coffee ceremony in a local house. The traditional 3 rounds of ‘Buna’(Amharic word for coffee)will be served, so it will take a while. We recommend at night the visit of a traditional Tej house.(honey wine house)Overnight at Hotel, LalibelaDuration: 1 dayStop At: Mek'eleDRIVE FROM LALIBELA TO MEKELE AND OVERNIGHT AT HOTEL IN MEKELE CITYDuration: 1 dayStop At: Danakil Depression, Afar RegionSTART OF YOUR TOUR INTO THE DANAKIL TO ERTA ALE, the famous volcano with its bubbling lava -lake and the rare possibility of experiencing the nomadic tribe living in this desert- the AFAR people, survivors and warriors in the hottest and one of the lowest places on earth! Today we drive from Mekele to LAKE AFDERA (which is Afar language and means 'salty area'). The Danakil Depression can be said to ‘begin’ here. It is one of the most spectacular and also absolutely inhospitable regions of the world! Today it is a 4 hours’ drive on an asphalt road (220km), with a few stops for instance having a coffee with the locals and lunch, prepared by our own cook. The landscape starts to become more and drier and less and less inhabited; we will be passing the odd local on the way, but not many people are to be seen. We reach the local village Afdera, a 15 min walk from the Lake Afdera, around 4:30pm, have a stop there to explore it and yet another coffee or coke with the inhabitants. After that we continue our journey to the ending point of today: Lake Afdera, where is also our campsite. Meanwhile the sun is setting we go for a swim, floating on the surface of the salt-lake and enjoying the nearby hot springs, experiencing an incredible view. Dinner and a campfire before falling asleep right underneath a star-full nightly sky with thousands and thousands of stars will brightening up your dreams. Duration: 1 dayStop At: Erta Ale, Afar RegionToday’s aim is first DODOM ('tree planting') -the base of the ERTA ALE volcano and later, at night, Erta Ale itself. After a breakfast at 10am at the lake, it is a 70 km drive on sandy ground and over cold lava rocks. On the way we visit the salt miners which are local Afar people. They pump salt water over the surface and let it evaporate to create a salt crust. Lunch will be served in Dodom village, surrounded by many local people. Here we also have to show our permission to climb ERTA ALE ('the smoking mountain'), get the needed camels for transporting the goods, more scouts... Dinner time is already at 5-ish since we have to start trekking up to the volcano around 6-7pm. Dodom is approximately 8.5km away from Erta Ale and this stretch will take about 3 hours of trekking. Camels transport all the camping materials and some food to the rim of the volcano, where we spend the night watching the dramatic actions of the boiling lava. The Volcano is 613 meters high, the lava lake contains actually 2 caters, one of them, the northern one, is inactive with no Magma. It is notable for being the longest existing lava lake on this planet. 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. The volcano contains the world’s only permanent lava lake. We set our camp a little bit away from the rim, on the other side of the wind so we won’t have to inhale the toxic gases. After enjoying this great, special, sometimes smelly, sometimes loud and hot experience we overnight in our camp, again with a brilliantly shining night sky. Duration: 1 dayStop At: Lake Assale, Mek'ele, Tigray Region ERTA ALE- DODOM-HAMED ELA For enjoying the very special sunrise (at 6am) we have to get up early, but you will see it is of course very well worth it. A short stroll takes us to the northern crater, from here we descend around 7am in the direction Dodom, which we will reach after 2hours. Here breakfast will be served and you have some time to relax. We start our drive to HAMED ALE (which means something like 'Ahmed found water here'), our next destination= 100 km/7 hours Lunch is served en route, we reach Hamed Ale around 4:30pm, a bigger village with a total population about 500. LAKE ASALE (lake 'red mountain')– a huge salt lake-is in walking distance, where we take a deep breath and a wine or beer for sunset, taking in the many reflections. Our tonight camp is in Hamed Ale. Duration: 1 dayStop At: Dalol, Afar Region HAMED ALE- DALLOL- MEKELE, again you get served an early breakfast at 6, around 7we start driving the short distance (approx 30 min) to dallol ('a colouful place') via asebo ('the salt desert'), where- you can guess it- they mine salt. btw: 1,200 km2 of the afar depression is covered by salt. You can watch the workers breaking the salt from the ground, cutting it into rectangular pieces and loading it onto camels. The caravans start from here. This is also the lowest point of the Danakil – 116 meters! We continue driving ahead to Dallol and stroll through the different landscapes formed by volcanic activities. Incredible, moon-like, colourful creations of the sulphur and huge salt mountains are to be found here. From here we proceed to Mekele (180 km, around 4 hours), leaving the lowland and make our way up (Mekele is situated at 2100m!), having wonderful mountains on our side, reaching Mekele around 5pm Duration: 6 hours