Northern Ethiopia: 19 days
The Kingdom of Aksum was an important trading nation in the area of northern Ethiopia and Eritrea. The Axumites erected a number of large stelae, which served a religious purpose in pre-Christian times. One of these granite columns is the largest such structure in the world. Its ancient capital, also called Aksum, was in northern Ethiopia.
Lalibela is famous for its monolithic rock-cut churches and one of Ethiopia's holiest cities. Unlike Aksum, the population of Lalibela is almost completely Ethiopian Orthodox Christian. The rock-cut churches are beautifully carved with fragile-looking windows and different forms of crosses, and several churches also have wall paintings.
The Danakil Depression is a desert basin which lies in the Danakil Desert in north-eastern part of Ethiopia. It belongs to the homeland of the Afar people and lies up to 100 m below sea level as a result of tectonic activity caused by plate movements. The presence of many volcanoes in the region, including Erta Ale and the Dabbahu Volcano in the middle of the depression, also finds its cause in these plate movements.
Day 1 Addis Ababa – Finote Selam:
North 378km via Gulele, Chancho & detour to visit Debre Libanos Monastery & Waterfalls, lunch at Ethio-German Park Hotel & via Jimma Valley Gorge, Dejen, Debre Markos in to Finote Selam.
O/n Finote Selam
Day 2 Finote Selam – Bahir Dar:
Northwest 173km via Injibara, Dangla, Meshenti in to Bahir Dar for Boat Excursion visiting Island Monasteries such as Bete Selassie & Tekla Haimanot, Dega Estefanos, Debre Maryam, Tana Cherkos, Kebran Gabriel, Ura Kidane Meret, Bete Maryam, Narga Selassie, Azuwa Maryam, Entos Eyesu & Zeghie Satekela Museum.
O\n Bahir Dar
Day 3 Bahir Dar – Gondar:
176km north via Wereta, Azezo in to Gondar & visit Fasiladas’ Palace, Palace of Iyasu I, other Southern Buildings, Northern Buildings & Atatami Mikael Church.
Day 4 Gondar – Debark:
104km north via Amba Giorgis, Gedebge in to Debark, purchase entrance tickets in Debark Bale Mt. Park Office & visit Simien National Park.
Day 5 Debark – Aksum:
251km north via Chew Ber, May Tsemre, Tekeze River, Inda Aba Guna, Shire, Wkro in to Aksum.
Day 6 Aksum:
Northern Stelae, St Mary of Zion Churches, Tombs of Kings Kaleb & Gebre Meskel, Gobodura Hill, Abba Pentalewon, Dungur (Queen of Sheba) Palace.
Day 7 Aksum – Hawzen:
167km southeast via Adwa in to Hawzen to visit Gheralta Cluster excursions.
Day 8 Gheralta – Mek’ele:
West in to Freweyni & visit Adi Kasho Medhane Alem, south via Negash in to Wukro & visit Wukro Chirkos & in to Mek’ele.
Day 9 Mek’ele – Hamd Ela:
The Danakil Depression can be said to 'begin' here. It is one of the most inhospitable regions of the world, but is nonetheless spectacular, full of eye-catching colors, as in the sulphur springs. The desert has several points lying more than 100 meters (328 ft) below sea level; You pass through a small town of Berhale where the camel caravan stop before they proceed to the northern highlands. En route you see many long camel caravans coming to the salt mine and others going out of the Danakil with their salt loaded camels (3-4 hrs drive).
O/n Hamd Ela, Camping
Day 10 Hamd Ela – Dodom:
Start early drive to Dodom (at the base of Erta Ale). Leave after an early breakfast, possible at 06:30. This is may be one of the worst 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 you pass several small hamlets scattered here and there in this desert land, Dodom is about 17km from Erta Ale and it takes about 3 hrs trekking. Early dinner around 17:00 and trek up to Ertale at 20:00 hours. Camels transport 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. 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.
Overnight camping on the top of the mountain, Erta Ale 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.
Day 11 Dodom - Hamd Ela:
Erta Ale around 9 am Dodom - Hamd Ela. Leave back to Dodom after an early breakfast, if possible at 07:00. You will reach latest at 10:30 am at the camp, time to relax. After drive to reach Hamd Ela, better village with a total population about 500 people.
O/n Hamd Ela, Camping
Day 12 Hamd Ela – Dallol – Hamd Ela:
Ragad (Asebo) the place where the localities are mining salt, look the activity of breaking the salt 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 u camel caravans and walk with the Afar people.
O/n Hamd Ela, Camping
Day 13 Hamd Ela – Mek’ele:
Dramatic outcrops of the Mesozoic sediments & via Berhaile in to Mek’ele.
Day 14 Mek’ele:
Walk visit Mek’ele Market, Yohannes IV Museum & sightseeing.
Day 15 Mek’ele – Lalibela:
Southwest 268km via May Keyih, Ambalage, Maychew, Korem, Alamata, Weldiya for walking tour.
Day 16 Weldiya – Lalibela:
Northwest 170km via Gashma in to Lalibela & visit Rock-Hewn Churchs of Bet Medhane Alem, Bet Maryam, Bet Meskel, Bet Danaghel, Gedamit Maryam, and Monastery of Yemrehanna Kirstos & Sarsana Mikael.
Day 17 Lalibela:
Trek Asheton Maryam & Mount Abuna Yoseph, afternoon finalize Lalibela’s Rock-Hewn Churches.
Day 18 Lalibela – Kombolcha:
South 310km via Weldiya, Mersa, Hayk, Dessie in to Kombolcha.
Day 19 Kombolcha – Addis Ababa:
South 364km via Debre Birhan in to Addis Ababa.
O/n Addis Ababa