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The Horn of Africa is a fascinating mélange of cultures, a hotbed of influences from nomadic herders to Arabian traders. It is also home to some of the continent’s most remote and breathtaking landscapes, where the taste of the wild is in the air for intrepid traveller to savour.
From Addis Ababa or Dubai we fly to Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland bustling with friendly markets. The second part of the trip also features two of the world’s finest prehistoric rock art sites, at Las Geel and Dhagax Khoure, meeting nomadic communities en route.
Crossing into Ethiopia, we delve the Afar desert and its once-feared people. You’ll witness one of nature’s fiercer sights here too, hiking up the Erta Ale volcano to marvel at one of the world’s few lava lakes. Next, visit the hot springs at Dallol – the hottest place on earth – and look out for camel caravans carting blocks of salt across the desert.
You’ll also visit the wonderfully atmospheric coastal city of Berbera and explore streets of an old quarter packed with Ottoman architecture. It’s yet another little-explored wonder in a region full of distinctive adventure.
Hargeisa International Airport
3 Hours Before Flight Time
Fly to Hargeisa and transfer to the hotel. This afternoon we explore the city and visit its markets, see the moneychangers, who sit on the street with their huge piles of Somaliland shillings and see the civil war memorial. Overnight Sugaal Hotel or similar. (BLD)
Travel to the caves of Las Geel, where rock art dating back 5,000 years has been found – one of the best-preserved examples in all of Africa and a real highlight of the trip. After visiting the site we continue to Berbera on the coast, with its interesting architecture from both the Ottoman and British periods, which we explore, lunch at Berbera and short city sightseeing then come back Hargeisa and overnight. (BLD)
After breakfast, we take a private transport for the two-hour journey to the Ethiopia border. After passing through border controls you are picked up by our Ethiopian
guides and taken on a further two-hour journey to Harar en route to Jigjiga Somali state capital lunch then overnight Harar City and dinner. (BLD)
After breakfast, we take a tour of the UNESCO listed city of Harar. We’ll see the colourfully dressed local women, wild eagles circling the butcher’s shops, fresh coffee being processed and khat being pulped into a paste to make tea from. We’ll also visit the tomb of Sheikh Abadir, the Arthur Rimbaud Centre, City Gates, Ras Tafari’s house, Ras Makonnen’s Palace, Jamia mosque and the Smugglers market. (BLD).
*The wild hyenas that roam Harar have been fed by a local family for over 60 years. For payment of 100 Birr (£3), you can feed the hyenas along with the ‘Hyena Man’ who will entice them onto your back or feed from your mouth! However, although there have been no incidents with feeding these hyenas, you must be aware that they are wild animals and potentially dangerous so if you wish to join in with the feeding you do it entirely at your own risk! “Evening at leisure, with the option of attending a local bar and club in the evening”
Early morning, before the heat of the day, rises, visit either Abuna Yemata Guh or Maryam Korkor. Both churches require a challenging 1-2 hour hike to reach. The reward is commanding views of the surrounding areas and visiting some of the most remote churches in the world in the most unsuspecting of places. Return to Mekele to take a flight to Dire Dawa followed by a drive to Harar. Time permitting, we shall visit the lively market at Kefira and/or the chat market on the way.(BLD)
Drive to the Tigrayan mountains to visit the most remarkable rock churches cut into the mountains near Hawsein. These will include Mikael Imba (requires a 20-minute walk and a short ladder) and the easily-accessible churches of Wukro Chirkos and Abreha we Atsbeha. Overnight in a lodge at Hawsein.(BLD)
Rise with the sun and spend the early hours of the day walking around the pits and craters of Erta Ale. Then return by foot to the base of Erta Ale. Return and overnight in Mekele.(BLD)
After spending the morning visiting further sites in Dallol, you will begin your journey by 4×4 to Khiwa where the Danakil Depression really begins. One of the lowest places in the world it is an inhospitable landscape of sulphur springs, acid pools and colourful rock formations. We will collect our police escorts in Khiwa and then our Afar militia escort in Kesrawat. In the late afternoon, we will reach the base of the volcano. We will wait until nightfall before beginning the 3-4 hour trek to the volcano’s rim (camels will carry essential supplies but can also be hired for those that need them, although we highly recommend you walk). On the rim, you will be able to gaze into the boiling lava of one of the world’s only permanent lava lakes. Overnight camping at Erta Ale. (BLD)
An early morning flight from Mekele to Addis. From here we will drive approximately 260km to Hamedella via Berhale (where we shall be joined by police escorts). We will then continue on to Dallol (at 116 metres below sea level – the lowest place in the Danakil Depression and generally considered the hottest inhabited place on earth). The otherworldly landscape around Dallol hosts colourful sulphur and salt lakes as well as thermo-active springs. The route passes many camel caravans laden with salt crossing the bleak landscape. You’ll also get time to meet some of the Afar people that live near Lake Assal. Overnight in Dallol on a rope bed in very basic conditions. Ends the tour (BLD).
Change your tour or activity start date at no extra cost, in some cases up to 24 hours before the tour begins! Flexible and easy for most operators!
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.
30% deposit is required to confirm your booking. In addition, the balance will bring cash USD and payable on arrival.
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 our tours. 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, when you would get your own tent/all nights apart from Udaipur due to the limited number of rooms available there.
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.
Payment for the tour is a fundamental part of the tour’s income and contributes to the overall cost of equipment, running costs, staffing, administration, etc. As the Company will have incurred the majority of its costs before the tour starts, we need to impose cancellation charges to cover these costs. However, 10% deposits are non-refundable. If you cancel your booking.
We do not directly arrange international flights but we recommend to arrive Djibouti Ethiopian Airlines, Turkish and Emirates and flight to Hargeisa, Ethiopian airlines has two flights everyday to and from Hargeisa.
For suggested routes, please contact us through WhatsApp +46735776160
Djibouti visas can be obtained the embassies and consulates located abroad. Tourist can get their electronic visa by submitting their application online at the website below. https://www.evisa.gouv.dj/ In case of difficulty, you can approach the competent authorities of Djibouti: email@example.com
Ethiopian visas are available on arrival at Bole Airport in Addis Ababa. They cost US$50 or equivalent in euros. You will not be able to use pounds sterling or other currencies. Note that you will need to get an Ethiopian visa on your entry back to Addis from Hargeisa.
Somaliland you will get on arrival at Hargeisa Airport and other customs through our sponsorship and will cost you $60.
All meals are included this trip, those are listed.
Difficulty – In the Danakil there is a three hour hike up the volcano on rough ground. Some of the Tigrayan rock churches are in difficult places where a walk or a scramble are required to reach it.
Comfort – Good mid-range accommodation except for the Danakil Depression where we either camp or stay in a crude hut.
We do not and cannot offer a uniform accommodation standard on our itineraries. We consider comfort, location, design, character, historical interest and whether the money we spend will go into the pockets of the local community when we make our choices of where to stay.
The accommodation will be based on you sharing a twin room.
There will be camping in the Danakil Depression.
When we choose our vehicles and drivers we take into consideration the road conditions, the length of journey and the competence of the man behind the wheel. Whilst on the Danakil Depression you will be in a 4×4. If anyone else leaves for the Danakil at the same time you will join up and travel in a convoy.
On this trip you will be accompanied by experienced English speaking in Djibouti and Ethiopian guides for the length of the trip in Ethiopia and a Somali guide for the time in Somaliland. We will also work with local guides in each region to help ensure you get the most out of each trip.
Djibouti one of the safest destinations in Africa, partly because of the large Western military presence. Serious crime or hostility aimed specifically at travellers is very rare, and there’s no more to worry about here than in most other countries. Apart from the odd street hustler in the centre, Djibouti City is very safe as far as Africa’s capitals go. Take care in the crowded areas and markets, as pickpockets may operate there, and avoid walking on your own in the Quartier 1, immediately south of Les Caisses market. The risk of theft and pickpocketing diminishes considerably out- side the capital.
Note that Djibouti’s security services are sensitive and active. Remain polite and calm if questioned by police officers.
The Danakil Depression is an area that comes with a measure of risk. The region has seen occasional violence in the past. Guests will be accompanied by Ethiopian security for their entire length of stay in the Danakil Depression. We feel we have the contacts and experience to guide in this region safely. We do monitor the situation closely and we listen very carefully to advice from the foreign office and from our friends in the areas we visit. Our client’s safety is our primary concern. We must state that the tour leader has the final word with regards to changes in the itinerary for safety reasons. Whilst the route we have chosen passes through areas that we consider stable things can change and we may have to alter the route or cancel sections of the trip at short notice.
Somaliland is not an internationally recognised country. Currently Somaliland is secure and has, by and large, escaped the trouble that has blighted Somalia to the south. However, the government takes security there seriously and you will have a soldier with you when outside of any town.
Also, please be aware that the Danakil Depression is one of the hottest places on earth. Heat stroke is a real risk and those with heart conditions are advised not to travel.