Danakil and Simien Mountains tour (12 Days and 11 Nights)

Day1. Addis Ababa – Mekelle

Explore the city of Mekelle; Yohannes the IV museum, Monday market or spicy market, Abraha Castle, coffee ceremony and traditional food in Mekelle .

 Day 2: Mekele - Hamede Ela

Depart Mekele and drive to Hamede Ela campsite via Berhale. Once we reach Berhale, you will notice the landscape change. Most people associate this point as the start of the ‘depression’. Berhale is also a stopping off point for the camel caravans carrying salt from Lake Karum to the highlands of Ethiopian in the northwest. We will have lunch at Berhale before continuing on our journey to Hamede Ela.

That night we will camp out in the open at Hamede Ela. Before sunset we will travel a short distance to Lake Karum to watch the sunset from the salt flats on the lake. The water level on the lake is very shallow so it’s easy to walk out and and around on the lake.

After sunset, travel the short distance by car back to Hamede Ela. Overnight , at the campsite.

4h - 5h               

Day 3: Hamede Ela - Dallol - Berhale -Abala

Rise early and travel over the low waters of Lake Assal. Although the distance is not far to get to Dallol, the cars have to drive very slowly on the salt lake so as to not damage the cars.

Once we arrive at the base of a small mountain, we’ll hike up to see the sulphur springs of Dallol. The colors and rock formations that you will see here are hard to believe.

From Dallol, we will drive back across the salt lake stopping off to see how the local Afari people mine and harvest the salt. This is probably one of the toughest jobs in the world.

After lunch in Berhale, continue driving for about 2 hours until we reach the town of Abala. Dinner and overnight stay in shared rooms in a local mans house.

Day 4: Abala - Erta Ale

After breakfast, drive for around 2 – 3 hours on a paved road, after which we will start our off roading! The first section will take us across the desert sands for around 1 hour after which we will stop for lunch in a small desert outpost town.

After lunch comes the slowest park of the off reading. We will navigate our way through a lava field covering around 12km in 1 and a half to 2 hours. Slow going!

The cars, will take us as far as a military outpost after which we will hike 3 hours to the top of the crater. Half of the hike will be done in daylight and half in darkness so bring a good torch.

Once we reach the top of the crater, you will get around 1 hour to relax and take in the amazing sight of the lava lake. This is truly an ‘out of this world’ experience and somewhat hard to fathom.

After taking in the lava lake, walk the short distance back to the camp for dinner and sleep.

Day 5: Erta Ale - Mekele

At 4am, wake up and walk the short distance down to the Crater Lake. Relax by the lava lake until sunrise. You will notice that the flow of the lake has changed since the night before so that is why we take in two visits to see the lava lake.

After sunrise, hike for 2 – 3 hours back down to the military camp for breakfast.

After breakfast, drive back to Mekele but we stop on the way for lunch.

Day6. Mekelle  - Aksum

After breakfast, drive to Aksum via Gherealta on the way visit the best churches of Tigrai ; Abraha and Atsibeha  and Abune Yemata churches .

O/n Aksum Sabean Hotel

Day 7. Aksum city tour

Today will be a full day visiting the sites of Axum, including the famous obelisks (one that was recently erected after being returned from Italy) and the archeological museum, the Queen of Sheba’s Bath (which supplies water to Axum year-round), Ezana’s enscription, King Kaleb’s tomb, King Bazen’s tomb, and the Queen of Sheba’s Palace.  You can also visit the St. Mary of Zion church, where the Ark of the Covenant is kept.  Men only are allowed to enter the old church.  Unfortunately, no one (except one specially chosen guardian monk) is allowed to enter the chapel where the Ark is kept    

Day8. Aksum –Simien Mountains

In the morning drive to Simien Mountains via the panoramic view of Lemalimo Mountains. On arrival we will meet our driver and depart for the Simien Mountains. At Debark you will sign in at the park headquarters, pick up your guide and scout and head up into the mountains. The road continues all the way to the first camp at Sankaber, but you’ll be dropped off on the way for a leisurely three hour acclimatisation hike. The stunning views hit you as soon as you get out of the vehicle as you walk along the ridge. There will be time to stop for a picnic lunch and after a short but demanding climb (at this altitude) to Sankaber you’ll be met as every day on this trek with a tray of fresh coffee, tea and snacks. 7km 2/3 hours walking

Overnight :Camping

Day9.  Sankaber –Geech

After a hearty breakfast, you’ll set off trekking along the ridge with stunning views over the foothills 800m below. For the first two hours the trail passes through low bush of Giant Heather, soda apple, Abyssinian rose, St John’s Wort and Globe thistle. The highlight of the trek from Sankaber to Geech is Genbar Falls, an incredible 500m sheer drop. From the viewpoint opposite, you can watch the falcons, augur buzzard and lammergeyer bearded vulture soar on the thermals below. From the Genbar falls, the trail passes arable fields, broken by lunch at a somewhat less intimidating and more peaceful waterfall. Klipspringer and bush buck may be seen in the steep rocky and wooded slopes, whilst troops of Gelada Baboons roam the fields for roots. Just before you reach Geech camp site, there is a wonderful opportunity to visit one of the traditional village houses for home roasted coffee and injurra (ask your guide). Geech Camp itself is set on a grassy plateau with stunning sunset views. Walking 7-8hrs / 15km

Overnight :Camping

Day 10. Geech –Imet Gogo

After breakfast you’ll trek for 2 hours along the grass plateau past countless bizarre outsized Giant Lobelia plants. The destination is Imet Gogo, an incredible rocky promontory that grants 360 degree views over the Simien Range. At an altitude of 3,926m you can see West back along the ridge towards Sankaber and Geech and South East across a deep gully towards Inatye and Cheneck Camp. The views here are arguably the best in the Simien Mountains and the drop is terrifying. From Imet Gogo, you’ll walk back towards the road where your vehicle will be waiting to meet you and take you back to Gondar. Drive Simien Mountains – Gondar (4 hrs)

Overnight:  Gonder GohaHotel

Day11.  Fly back to Addis Ababa

After breakfast we will transfer to the airport and fly back to Addis Ababa, where this incredible journey in the land of Abyssinia unfortunately comes to an end.

Depend on your arrival; you will have a short time shopping in a Grand Market called Merkato. After a fare well dinner party in a traditional restaurant, you will be transferred to the Airport.

End of the tour and Departure.