The Horn of Africa is the easternmost extent of the African continent and is usually defined as the region containing the countries of Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia (and Somaliland), whose cultures have been linked throughout their long history. In total, the Horn of Africa is estimated to cover over 2 million square kilometers, most of which have a semi-arid to arid climate. Despite the difficult living conditions in many parts of the region, the latest estimates put the population at around 90 million people. This unique journey travels from Addis Ababa to Somaliland and Djibouti, two little-known destinations that have the potential to become major adventure destinations in the future. You will be surprised by the variety of landscapes, the many different attractions, and the friendliness of the people you will meet in this fascinating region.
Arrive in Djibouti and transfer to your hotel. Depending on when you arrive there may be time to explore the capital.
Overnight Hotel Plein Ciel or similar
We head to the crater lake of Lac Assal – the lowest point in Africa (-150 m), as well as the most saline body of water in the world (up to 40%). One of Africa’s most impressive natural phenomena, its spectacular colours and unusual crystalline formations give it an almost alien appearance. We may see Afar herders or salt collectors on its shores. Return to Tadjoura for the night .Overnight beach bungalows. (BLD)
Drive to Lac Abbe, stopping en route to meet local people and arriving in the late afternoon to watch the sun set over one of Africa’s most enigmatic and breathtaking regions.
Overnight Lac Abbe Camp. (BLD)
This morning we visit the extraordinary landscape of Lac Abbe, a desolate salt lake with hundreds of limestone chimneys belching sulphur into the atmosphere. This landscape is so other-worldly that the classic science fiction film ‘Planet of the Apes’ was filmed here. From here we cross into Ethiopia and head to Semera, where we stay for the night. Overnight Semera Hotel or similar. (BLD)
Drive to the turquoise Afrera Lake, surrounded by palm trees. The Afrera salt lake is home to local Afar people harvesting salt flakes using traditional methods, and in the lake is the world’s lowest lying island in the world, Frachetti island (-102 m).
Overnight camping. (BLD)
Drive to Mount Erta Ale through the Afar desert – Erta Ala is one of the highlights of this expedition, and is one of only five permanent lava lakes in the world. We hike 3 hours to the rim, while our equipment and water is carried by camels –
we wait for sunset to see one of the world’s most spectacular sights when red lava in the crater lights up the sky.
Overnight camping. (BLD)
Drive to Ahmedela along unmarked sandy tracks, passing Afar settlements along the way. Ahmedela is the base for exploring the salt mines and seeing the salt workers and camel caravans.
Overnight camping. (BLD)
Drive to the hot springs at Dallol, composed of different minerals along with sulphurs and potash and create spectacular colours. Dallol is renowned as being the hottest inhabited place on earth; between 1960 and 1966 an average annual temperature of 34°C (94°F) was recorded. You are likely to see the long ‘caravane de sel’ – camel trains loaded with salt. Later we drive to Mekelle for the night.
Axum Hotel or similar. (BLD)
Fly back to Addis Ababa, for your final night in Ethiopia.
Overnight Hotel Jupiter International or similar. (B)
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 Damal Hotel or similar.
Drive to Las Geel, one of the most important rock art sites in the Horn of Africa and with numerous well preserved paintings in various different places. The quality of the art here is particularly good and Las Geel is a real highlight of the trip. From here we continue to the coastal city of Berbera, and in the afternoon explore its old quarter, Darole, with its Ottoman era buildings and atmospheric streets. Overnight Mansoor Hotel or similar. (B)
Return to Hargeisa and visit the site of Dhagax Khoure, one of Somaliland’s most important sites for rock art and situated amidst some splendid scenery. On the way out here we pass small semi-nomadic communities and stop to meet local people. After exploring the paintings of Dhagax Khoure we return to Hargeisa for the night.
Overnight Damal Hotel or similar. (B)
Transfer to the airport for departure. (B)
Airport transfers – We include arrival and departure transfers regardless of whether you book flights yourself, or we book them for you. If you’re booking them yourself, then please let us know the details so that we can arrange the transfers. Please note though that if you arrive earlier than Day 1 of the tour, and leave after the final day, we may need to make an additional charge for an airport transfer.
Our package includes
- Accommodation – Accommodation as listed in the dossier. The nature of the destinations that we operate may sometimes mean that we need to change hotels, but we’ll always endeavour to keep the same standards. Please be aware that as we operate in many countries where tourism is in its infancy, hotel standards may not be the same as you’re used to elsewhere.
- Guides – In most cases you will be accompanied by one guide from start to finish. However there may be occasions when this is not practical, for example if your trip covers a number of different countries. In these cases it often makes more sense to include different guides for each place, to take advantage of their specific knowledge of the destination.
- Meals – As listed within the itinerary / dossier (B-Breakfast, L-Lunch, D-Dinner). These will vary from trip to trip – in some areas it makes sense to include all meals while in others there is a good choice of restaurants and we feel people might like to ‘do their own thing’ now and again.
- Entrance fees – Entrance fees are listed for those sites that we mention within the itinerary. If there are any other sites that you’d like to see, these would be at your own expense.
- Flight – From Addis Ababa to Hargeisa