Together with Africa’s highest peaks, Ethiopia is also home to one of the lowest altitude areas on the planet, the Danakil Depression … an area lying at the junction of three tectonic plates and the northernmost point of Africa’s Great Rift. Scorching hot, achingly barren and climatically inhospitable, this harsh terrain is not for everyone. It is however utterly spectacular, both in terms of landscape as well as culture, and the effort to reach it is well worthwhile. The garish multicoloured thermal springs at Dallol, the molten lava lake of the active Erta Ale volcano and the hypersaline lake at Afrera are all unique.

At more than 100m below sea level at its lowest points, the Danakil is surreal not just in terms of its otherworldly appearance but also in terms of the existence of a centuries old salt trade and camel caravans that carry salt tablets for trading in small towns to the west. We won’t promise comfort here but we do promise adventure and reflection.


The Danakil Depression lies in extreme north-eastern Ethiopia near the border with Eritrea. To the west the highlands of the Ethiopian Dome rear from the flat plain, while to the east a lower range of mountains separates this low-lying area from the Red Sea. Access is not straightforward but is usually preceded by a flight to the town of Mekele from the capital Addis

Ababa, and then a parched drive some 200km east into the desert and the Danakil Depression itself. Google Maps will certainly not help you here. It is an expedition that requires multiple vehicles and significant logistical planning. Or else you could take an infinitely quicker and more comfortable trip in a helicopter.

Why here?

  • Spectacular geological and geothermal formations and processes including an active lava lake
  • The forced reflection imposed on you by one of the most inhospitable parts of the planet
  • Because there is nowhere else on earth quite like this!


Scheduled flight (1 hour) from Addis Ababa to the small town of Mek’ele in northern Ethiopia at around 2 200m above sea level. Meet your guide and vehicle and drive 200+ km eastwards down the edge of the escarpment and into the desert of the Danakil Depression to our base camp at around sea level.

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Barren and harsh it may be, but this is still a sensitive ecosystem and a vast one where we need to move large distances. As a result, the best way to access the best areas and not leave an impact is in a small mobile camp that is quickly packed up and removed. This is why our camp here is limited to four mini-Meru walk-in tents and a very modest central mess tent.

The tents are en-suite using ‘safari showers’ open to the sky and a toilet that ensures we leave no waste once we pack up. Of course, day time heat and water conservation are two important factors to consider and we sometimes simply sleep under the stars and keep our movements to the coolest parts of the day (and even the night).


Our rates are fully inclusive (accommodation, meals, drinks and activities) and quoted in US Dollars on a per person per night sharing basis. We do charge a single supplement.


Explore with us

We love talking to past and future guests and helping plan trips of a lifetime, but we don’t take direct bookings.

Instead, we work with a wide network of specialist tour operators all around the world in order that our guests can liaise with someone in their own jurisdiction, time zone, culture and language to craft the perfect African expedition for them.

Contact us - We’d be happy to help design a trip and recommend a tour operator that is right for you.