On the surface of our planet, there are special, unique places that are completely different from all others. A prominent place among these is the incredible Danakil, geologically the northern portion of the Afar triangle, from where three great systems of fractures in the earth’s crust depart and move away from each other. In this process, magma from the mantle comes to the surface, creating new oceanic crust, and here we literally walk on the lavas of a new ocean in formation.
The volcanic territory, one of the most extreme in the world also because of its high temperatures, is characterised essentially by large volcanic massifs and within one of these, the Erta Ale volcano, boil two large lava lakes, one of the main destinations of our trip. A window into the interior of the earth, where, volcanological conditions permitting, admiring the incandescent lava at various times of day literally astounds anyone. Further north we encounter the enormous expanse of the Salt Plain, a basin that is probably the largest in the world in terms of volume. It is exciting to travel by jeep and on foot across the blinding white expanse also to see the salt being extracted by the local people who then transport it in long lines of dromedaries to the markets on the plateau.
In the middle of it lies the other incredible and unique place: the Dallol area. This hill, created by the coming together of the volcanic fluids below and the surface salt, is an incredible riot of colour around its acid lakes and geothermal areas and where nature has also indulged itself with geological formations of the strangest shapes. An excursion to Dallol is not to be forgotten!
Another feature of the trip consists of meeting and getting to know the Afar (Dancali) people, who have the strength to live in these deserts, whose character reflects the harshness of the environment, but if approached with respect they prove to be a welcoming and peaceful people.
The spartan conditions of the journey, the temperatures and the hardships are abundantly compensated for by these unique spectacles. The single sight of each of these peculiarities alone would be worth the entire trip. Danakil is a memorable journey, because as harsh and hostile as it is, it is a land that is extremely generous in terms of what is unique to experience and observe.
Unique departure 2023 guided by the volcano expert Luca Lupi.
A scholar and populariser of science, he has travelled and explored African regions in particular for a long time. During his university studies in geology, he organised scientific and naturalistic expeditions to the world’s most diverse volcanoes. To his credit he has books on volcanoes and earthquakes translated into four languages. He has held dozens of conferences and courses on his subjects all over Italy and abroad. Today, he is considered the leading multidisciplinary expert on Danakil, a region straddling Ethiopia, Eritrea and Djibouti. Also specialised in the field of historical-geographical research, he directs the Explora series for which he has personally produced volumes on various Italian explorers. For his contributions to the subject he has been repeatedly honoured by the Italian Geographic Society.
Day 01 : Friday 29 December 2023
Outward flight/Addis Ababa (ADD)
Day 02 : Saturday 30 December 2023
Discovering the Ethiopian capital, between “squares” and monuments, and meeting our ancestor Lucy.
Day 03 : Sunday 31 December 2023
The “Mussolini gallery” and the Sunday market of Sembete, where Afar, Amhara and Oromo people meet.
Day 04 : Monday 01 January 2024
The market of Bati, frequented by Wollo, Oromo and Afar people, and the ancient capital of the Afar sultanate of Aussa.
Day 05 : Tuesday 02 January 2024
The salt market in Asayta and trekking to the Erta Ale volcano to admire its lava lake at night.
Day 06 : Wednesday 03 January 2024
Descent from the volcano and arrival at the salt plain, to admire the caravans of dromedaries laden with salt slabs.
Day 07 : Thursday 04 January 2024
The sulphurous formations of Dallol, the “moon on earth”.
Day 08 : Friday 05 January 2024
The salt lake of Afdera, where the Tigrinos extract the precious mineral.
Day 09 : Saturday 06 January 2024
The geysers of Allalobad, a true geological ‘theatre’.
Day 10 : Sunday 07 January 2024
Semera/Awash National Park
Safari in the Awash park, among oryx, kudu and, with a bit of luck, felines.
Day 11 : Monday 08 January 2024
Awash National Park/Addis Ababa
Return to the capital and its chaotic Merkato.
Day 12 : Tuesday 09 January 2024
Addis Ababa (ADD)/Return Flight