Danakil Depression & Historical Circuit via Awash National Park Tour 18 days

Combine the lowest point on earth in Afar's Danakil Depression and the highest mountain in Semien Mountains trekking on this exceptionally diverse Ethiopia tour. It is also a chance to see two national parks Awash National Park and Semien Mountains National Park the later is registered as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. In both parks you will get the endemic animals and birdlife. The best known historical routes in Ethiopia are included: Bahir Dar, Lake Tana, Blue Nile river, and the towns registered by UNESCO as world heritages such as Gonder castles and Axum archeological sites and Lalibela this posses 11 churches carved from single rock and many people claim it to be the 8th world wonder.

Duration: 19 days over land or 17 days over land + 1 hour flight

Day 1 Awash NP

Drive from Addis Ababa to Awash National Park. Visit the whole day the fauna and flora of the park such as gazelle, oryx, warthogs, etc and birdlife such as catbird, yellow throat bird etc. See the Awash river course that gave the name to the park and bath in the hot spring.

Overnight: Awash – lodges

Day 2 Danakil: Assaita - Lake Afdera

Drive to Assaita one of the principal towns in Afar region. Collect permit papers from tourism office and head to Afdera salt lake: Ethiopians’ unfinished source of salt. Attend Afari people extracting salt and see salt caravans. On your way take the pictures of the landscape of sulfur, phosphate etc minerals, blue, white, yellow and other colors in between make it colorful planet on earth.

Overnight: Afdera – camping

Day 3 Danakil: Dodom - Erta Ale

Drive to Dodom 60km base camp, this is the place where you will arrange camels to transport your luggage and water evening start trek to Erta-Ale volcanic lake. At night time the view of the volcanic lake standing on the rim of the well is astonishing breathtaking, see the exploding volcano and returns to the well before stretching your legs, again and again, molten lava temperature inside the well is over 3000 degree centigrade.

Overnight: Erta Ale – camping

Day 4 Danakil: Erta Ale volcano

After you arrive near Erta’ale stretch your tents and walk in the middle of nowhere only you feel sandy wind in a very hot temperature. In the evening again admire Erta-Ale lake, Earta’ale hell, Erta’ale paradise find a word to describe it the whole day and night.

Overnight: Ertale – camping

Day 5 Danakil: Dodom - Hamedila

Early start trekking back to Dodom base camp meet the car and drive on the way to Hamedale. After camping in the early evening observe the caravan crossing in the moon light.

Overnight: Hamedela – camping

Day 6 Danakil: Dallol & salt mines

Morning excursion to Dallol to visit the salt extraction by the Afar and Tigre people. This day is a special day in your life to sink in -130 meter below sea level surface a place called Dallol. It is the hottest place on earth. On the way surprisingly see half dressed men extracting salts in the desert and visit different colors of minerals bubbling out.

Overnight: Hamedela – camping

Day 7 Berhale - Mekele

Drive to and stop over Barehalie town of Afar tribe. It is the place of market in the region heading to Mekelle town of the Tigray people.

Overnight: Mekelle – hotel

Day 8 Geralta - Tigray rock churches

Morning drive to Geralta town to visit the cluster of rock churches of Tigray. The churches are different from that of Lalibela in many sizes, fineness,

Overnight: Adigrat – hotel

Day 9 Debre Damo - Axum

Morning drive forward to Axum on the way divert 5 km to visit the Debre Damo monastery (only men) climb a rope to reach the monastery dated back to the 6th century, after lunch detour to Yeha small settlement to visit the 5th century B.C pagan temple dedicated to moon.

Overnight: Axum – hotel

Day 10 Axum

Full day visit the town of Axum stelae field with the museum that tells you from the ancient Ethiopian history to present. You see stone inscription of King Ezana that states how the king and people converted to Christianity in the 4th Century and his successors tomb of Kaleb and Gebre Meskel in the 6th century are default places to visit with the archeological sites. After lunch break continue visit to St. Mary cathedral museum and the Sheba palace and swimming pool.

Overnight: Axum - hotel

Day 11 Simien Mountains

Leave the Tigray region in the morning driving to Semien Mountains before heading to Gonder over the Limalimo escarpment that is a unique scenery to over view Semien Mountains and Tekeze river.

Overnight: Sankaber – first camping site – camping / lodge

Day 12 Simien Mountains

Drive to Chenek, and then trek to Buhait Ras. Observe the endemic animal Walia Ibex and Gelada baboon with their outstanding habitat.

Overnight: Chenek – second camping site – camping

Day 13 Simien Mountains - Gonder

Hiking some hours in the Morning inside National Park then drive to Gonder on the way visit the Ethiopian Jews village: The only place you can see black Jews in Africa those ancestors believed to come to Ethiopia following the Ark of the Covenant/10 commandment tablet written by hand of God? Mosses that you visit its habitat church in Axum (Read the book "The Sign and the seal" Written by Graham Hancock).

Overnight: Gonder – hotel

Day 14 Gonder

Full day wander in Gonder, town wondering the UNESCO registered world wonders of royal castles with the bath of king Fasiledes. After lunch break walk to Debre Berhan Selase church known by its roof paintings and the Qusquam St. Mary complex.

Overnight: Gonder – hotel

Day 15 Bahir Dar - Lake Tana

Drive to Bahir Dar town of source of the Blue Nile River. Boat sail on Lake Tana identifying the Abay river path by its muddier water compared to the waters of Tana. Harbor at 3 of the 37 Island monasteries and explore the Ethiopian Orthodox church treasures of Holy Icons and admire the church as it is the main habitat for Ethiopian biodiversity, birdlife and aquatic animals including hippo are easily seen there. Finish the day with the sunset over the lake.

Overnight: Bahir Dar – hotel

Day 16 Blue Nile Falls - Lalibela

Early morning drive 30 km to the town of Tis Abay that means ”Smoking Abay (Nile river)” to see the gigantic Blue Nile river waterfall and in then drive to Lalibela town at night welcomed to the Ethiopia best world wonder heritage.

Overnight: Lalibela – hotel

Day 17 Lalibela

Visit half of the 11 rock hewn churches in the morning and half in the afternoon, may be after lunch. Stunning the stones carved to make these monolithic churches in the 12 century, using the tools of that time displayed in the museum. Lalibela is the first must see place in Ethiopia.

Overnight: Lalibela – hotel

Day 18 Addis Ababa or Desse

Morning transfer to airport to fly back to Addis on the way to airport visit the cave monastery of Nakuto’leab, in Lalibela and end the visit in Ethiopia attending Ethiopian cultural music traditional food and drink at Yod Abyssinia traditional restaurant close to the air port in Addis Ababa.

Overnight: Addis Ababa - Bole Airport to return back to your country.

Or Drive to Addis Ababa via Desse from Lalibela over land and stay one night in Desse town to head to Addis the next day visiting Ayteyef Musuem in Desse in the afternoon.

Overnight: Desse – hotel

Day 19 Addis Ababa

Drive to Addis Ababa, go shopping and end the visit in Ethiopia attending Ethiopian cultural music & traditional food and drink at Yod Abyssinia traditional restaurant close to the air port in Addis Ababa. Then fly back home or

Overnight: Addis Ababa – hotel

Tour highlights

Country: Ethiopia

Duration: 18 days

Available for: Students,Adults,Seniors

Guide speaks: English
* Other languages possible on request

  • Danakil
  • Awash
  • Gondar
  • Lalibela
  • Semien

Our clients say:

I spend an amazing day with a really nice and smart private guide. She showed me around while giving me a great insight about the culture, customs, food and history of the country. Totally recommendable way to start your visit to the country.
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