Reasons to go

Hot springs: Enjoy the spectacular bright hues of the Dallol sulphur springs which dot the landscape. Heated by the region’s constant geothermal activity, the springs have developed ecosystems all of their own, with life that is found nowhere else.

Fossils: Step back 3.2 million years to the earliest times of our own species. Fossils from the very start of human evolution have been discovered here, including the famous skeletal remains of ‘Lucy’.

Salt caravans: Watch the local Afar people as they dig for salt on Lake Karum and Lake Afrera before loading it in slabs onto camels and transporting it to salt markets near and far.

Peaks: Explore the Danakil Alps, a range of active and inactive volcanoes stretching into Eritrea. Two, Mount Borale and Mount Afrera, rise in isolated majesty from the shore of Lake Afrera.

Getting to the Danakil Depression


By car:

The two cities closet to the start of your journey to the Danakil are Mekele (760km north of Addis Ababa), or the Afar capital Semera (590km from Addis Ababa). Of the two Mekele is probably preferred, despite being slightly further away. 

By air:

Both cities are also connected to Addis Ababa with a daily flight operated by Ethiopian Airlines. The flight duration to Mekele is 1hr 25 minutes and it takes 1hr 10 minutes to Semera.

Once you start your journey from Mekele or Semera, you will realize that this is a genuine expedition and the only means of moving around is by 4x4 or hiking. To get to Erta Ale, you must hike 10km along gently ascending slopes to the crater rim. As there is no shade to take refuge in this high temperature,  you have to ascend at dusk and return to base early next morning.

When to visit

It’s worth noting that the Danakil is unbearably hot at certain times of the year. As such, the best time to visit the Danakil is between November to February, when temperatures are more tolerable. 

places to visit erta ale thumb

Where to Stay

Isolated as it is, the majority of accommodation options for visiting the Danakil Depression lie in towns along the roads along its edge. In order to avoid long and unnecessary journeys, many visitors choose to camp more locally instead, and a number of good-quality campsites now exist.


What to Take

Try to ensure a good nights sleep before departing to this adventure. We’d recommend bringing a headlamp, hiking boots, earplugs, sleeping bag, face mask (ideally one with filters for the sulphur) or scarf, sun cream, sun hat, toilet paper and baby wipes. In addition, it’s worth bringing a swimsuit –  you won’t be able to resist to swim at a set of freshwater hot springs on the west shore close to Afdera village.

Danakil depression pic 3

Brilliant's Brilliant Danakil Trips

Why Brilliant?

  1. We know Ethiopia: 

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    We live for feedback and are constantly improving our services. Our extensive experience exploring Ethiopia combined with the lessons we've learnt from travellers gone by means we know what is suitable for whom, which type of trip makes sense for you and how get the most out of your time in Ethiopia. 

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    With thousands of tourists visiting the Ethiopia every year, the guides and operators vary from the fantastic, to the bad and ugly.  Let us help you organise the hassle free and adventure filled holiday you've always dreamed of.    

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