Erta Ale Volcano
Erta Ale volcano is a large basaltic shield volcano in the Erta Ale volcanic range in the central northern Danakil depression. It is famed for its persistent lava lake which has been active for most of the past decades since it was first discovered in the 1960s. Erta Ale is only 613 m high, but as typical for a shield volcano has very gentle slopes and a large 40 km diameter base. The summit is truncated by a complex, elongated 1700 x 600 m wide caldera which contains vast lava flows and several larger and smaller pit craters, most notably the active north and south crater, which contains the lava lake at present. Erta Ale is one of the main attractions of the Danakil and had become a popular tourist destination in recent years.
The Danakil Depression marks the northern end of the Great Rift Valley on the African mainland, the point where Earth’s forces are most actively tearing the continent apart. It is an extremely arid, hot desert area that stretches from the coastline of Eritrea through north-eastern Ethiopia and western parts of Djibouti. The Danakil is an area of outstanding geological interest, providing a unique window into the underlying processes which have created the Earth’s continents and land masses. Here, in relatively close proximity, geological features associated with the splitting of continental land masses are clearly seen, including intense volcanic activity (with one of the few permanent lava lakes on the planet on Mount Erta Ale), hot sulfur springs elaborately decorated with extraordinary coral-like formations as well as salt-encrusted lake beds. An expedition to the Danakil Depression will always be a unique adventure!
Bahir Dar & Lake Tana
Bahir Dar is one of the leading tourist destinations in Ethiopia, with a variety of attractions in its close surroundings. The city is located approximately 578 km (360 miles) north-northwest of Addis Ababa, at an elevation of 1’840 meters (6’036 feet) above sea level. The town today, with its wide, palm-lined avenues and gardens overflowing with tropical vegetation, is a place of considerable economic and commercial importance. Bahir Dar’s two markets are both worth a visit: the general market, displaying colorful woven cloth and a wide range of supplies (including coffee); and the roadside market, specializing in baskets. There are also a variety of handicraft and weaving centers. Bahir Dar is considered one of the most beautiful, well-planned, and safest cities in Ethiopia. Visits to Lake Tana’s island monasteries and to the nearby Blue Nile Falls form the main focus of activities.
Rift Valley Lakes
Africa’s Great Rift Valley rips a great scar through the middle of Ethiopia; a giant valley where lakes have bubbled up and forests have sprung from the ground. The warmth and humidity are a welcome break from the harsh highlands, and journeys up and down the valley reveal a variety of cultures and traditions. Strung out in the area between Addis Ababa and Arba Minch, Ethiopia’s Rift Valley Lakes are a pleasant lowland area offering an ideal stopping point for travelers wanting to visit the South of the country The six principal lakes of the region are Abijatta, Langano, Shalla, Ziway and further to the South, Abaya, and Chamo. It is beside these lakes that the majority of the area’s high-quality accommodation is found. As with many areas home to permanent water, this is an excellent area for birding. Lake Chamo is also home to thriving populations of hippos and crocodiles.
Aledeghi Wildlife Reserve
Set in the southeast of Ethiopia, Aledeghi is a little-visited wildlife reserve that contains a reasonably good range of wildlife and offers some superb interaction with the local Afar tribespeople. Not a conventional safari location, but nonetheless one of our favorite ‘secret’ spots. Aledeghi is the large expanse of grassland plains one finds extending from the foothills of the Asebot Mountain to the Awash-Arba asphalt road. It is nearly 50 km in length measuring straight from Awash-Arba towards the town of Gedamaitu. The climate is generally dry and arid conforming to the northeastern parts of the Afar Triangle. The plains are home to a number of wildlife including Grevy‟s Zebra and Wild Ass. Both Grevy‟s Zebra and the Wild Ass are critically endangered species. Other larger mammals include Gerenuk, Salt‟s Dikdik, and Warthog. Notable bird species include Ostrich, Arabian Bustard, Hartulaub‟s Bustard, Kori Bustard, Grasshopper Buzzard, and Carmine Bee-eater.