Danakil Desert and Muslim cities in eastern Ethiopia

Trip description

Eastern Ethiopia is a very different place, as the cities near the Somali border have an oriental architecture and a way of life steeped in Islam. Going up through the Danakil Desert, a road trip to the land of the Afar nomads will take you to the molten lava of the Erta Alé volcano and the rock forming the Danakil depression

Day 1: The Awash Falls and Fantalé Crater

Day 2: Awash and Harar National Park

Day 3: Harar

Day 4: Crossing the desert to Assata

Day 5: The lakes of Assata

Day 6: Trek to the Erta? Fta volcano

Day 7: Assal Lake and Dallol Depression

Day 8: Road trip to Mékélé, capital of Tigré

Day 1 : The Awash Falls and Fantalé Crater

Day1 : The Awash Falls and Fantalé Crater ©François JANNE DOTHEE

Departure very early for Awash direction the east of the country, you pass through the pleasant town of Debre Zeit in the lakeside and Nazret. Visit to the spectacular Awash Falls, a trip to Filoweha's hot springs, with an opportunity to cross native people, Afar and Kereyou nomads. Get ready for the ascent of the Fantalé Crater.

Day 2 : Awash and Harar National Park

Day2 : Awash and Harar National Park ©Artush - Shutterstock.com

Morning dedicated to Awash National Park, rich in animal life. Then panoramic road to Harar. Visit of the city, considered as the 4th holy place and which has more than 100 mosques! Visit the market, the house of Rimbaud, the palace of Ras Makonnen and the ramparts. In the evening, attend the feeding of hyenas, a centuries-old tradition at the gates of the city

Day 3 : Harar

Day3 : Harar ©Alamer - Iconotec

Visit of the city (2nd day) and the surroundings of Harar which are worth a look, its coffee cultures. Visit Koremi, Babillé, and the Valley of Wonders. At the end of the day, stop in Awadey, the world capital of khat, from where several hundred kilos of this plant leave every evening for Somalia, Djibouti and Yemen. Return to Awash for a night on site.

Day 4 : Crossing the desert to Assata

Day4 : Crossing the desert to Assata ©Matej Hudovernik / Shutterstock.com

Start early in the morning to hang the road to the north leading to Gewane, a simple step towards Mille, through the Afar nomads country. You will pass through Yangudi Rassa National Park to beautiful landscapes but without any tourist structure. Then, the famous Lucy's skeleton was discovered. Continue to Assata where you will spend the night.

Day 5 : The lakes of Assata

A border town of Djibouti, Assata is a virgin tourist town where you can visit the former residence of the sultans of Adal, the fortress of Afambo, the lakes of Abbé and Gamari, which are part of arid landscapes of great beauty, and the unexpected oasis of Aoussa where Afar families have settled and cultivated huge siana fields (to extract oil). Return to Assata in the evening.

Day 6 : Trek to the Erta? Fta volcano

From Assata, go on road trip through the desert through the famous and unique track that leaves De that joins the Erta? Fta Volcano passing through Afrera Lake. Breaks in Afar Nomadic camps. At sunset, departure for 3 h trekking to the volcano where you admire the nearby lava lava. Bivouac at the foot of the crater to the beautiful star.

Day 7 : Assal Lake and Dallol Depression

Day7 : Assal Lake and Dallol Depression ©guenterguni

New start in 4 x 4 early in the morning, this time direction Le Lake and Dépression depression. The road is long, we cross the caravans of hundreds of camels leaving from Assal lake loaded with salt blocks. Photos on the edge of Lake Assal. Night in Hamed Ela, a Afar village at the end of the world, where conditions are really extreme.

Day 8 : Road trip to Mékélé, capital of Tigré

Day8 : Road trip to Mékélé, capital of Tigré ©Abdesslam BENZITOUNI

The journey is trying at this stage, without shower or electricity. You leave early in the morning in a 4x4 to cross the whole desert and return to the Tigray region. Stop for lunch in an Afar village, and in Berta Alé again to drink (finally!) an iced drink. Return to Mékélé around 4pm after a winding road, back to the freshness of the altiplano. On arrival in the afternoon: walk in the city of Mékélé and visit the palace of Johannès IV. Return to Addis in the evening

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