Treks Simien – Tigray – Afar

Region: North: Abyssinia and Afar

Duration: 17 days

Type: Trek & exploration


  • Daytime trekking and walks: 11 days
  • Exploration and historical towns

Level: Moderate

Period: November to February

Group: 4 to 8 participants


 A sneak preview:

This trip is meant to be a “best of” of northern Ethiopia, combining the Abyssinian Highlands for their cultural richness and their mountains on unique landscapes, and the Afar Triangle with its extraordinary volanoes and salt caravans.

The Abyssinian cultural richness is borne of an old history of more that 3000 years and a strong ancient christianization. *** the arrival of Islam isolating the Abyssinian Highlands from the rest of the world for a many centuries. Parallel to this, the geomorphology of this region is deeply marked by the birth of The East African Rift, more than 30 million years ago. This has created massive highlands crowned by ancient volcanoes that very often exceed 4000m in altitude, a relief literally worked on by millions of years of erosion that cut out the faults, table mountains and dizzyingly high sugar loaf mountains**.

The Afar and its deep depression at 120m below sea level will be on the path of our trek, instantly making us penetrate a new realm. Following the world’s most active camel salt-carrying caravans, we will travel to the most impressive of volcanoes, Dallol, with its explosion of strange colours and shapes and Erta Ale with its permanent lava lake!


Strong points:

  • A comprehensive trip in northern Ethiopia: the unmissable Simien Park and Afar region but also Gheralta and the historical towns on Gondar and Lalibela,
  • Exclusive 3-day trek in Gheralta in search of troglodytic churches perched on the mountains,
  • 3-day trek on the spectacular Simien landscapes with its endemic fauna.
  • 2 days on the Afar camel caravan route, the world’s most active,
  • 2 days for the Afar volcanoes, the mysterious Dallol and the Erta Ale with its lava lake.


Day by day:

Day 1: Addis Ababa to Tigray: Internal flight to reach Tigray Province where we will go to Gheralta region, where more than a hundred troglodytic churches are spread out on the mountains (not to confuse with the historic Lalibela town where 11 churches are concentrated on one site).

Day 2 to 4: 3-day trek on the vast landscapes of Gheralta mountains in search of some churches that generations of monks and priests dug out and concealed in the table mountains and on the slopes of the faults.

Day 5: Gheralta to Afar region: Descent by 4×4 vehicle in the Afar region, where we pass through an equally Ethiopian world as before but nevertheless quite unique, The Christian Abyssinian Highlands that we enter in Afar region where the customary laws match those of Islam.

Day 6: Assabolo Canyon: Day of walking along the Assabolo caravan route. Walking around the deep canyon *****, we will cross some long mule and camel caravans, heavily laden with blocks of salt extracted from the ground. Night under the beautiful stars.

Day 7: Dallol and salt quarry: The whole morning is dedicated to the exploration of Dallol Volcanoe, where and explosion of colours owing to the oxydation of underground minerals competing with unbelievable geological formations. We will then reach the salt quarries. Here, hundreds of men and thousands of camels come together on the salt field. The intense work ends with loading of the animals, before taking the long route that allows us to climb onto the salt on the highlands. We will acoompany them for a couple of hours until sunset then we get to our camp.

Day 8: Erta Ale: Leaving Dallol, we get on a difficult route that takes us to the foot of Erta Ale. In the evening, when the scorching sun passes behind the horizon, we *** the shielded volcanoe then descend the caldera to go explorethe most impressive the spectacle of nature, a molten lava lake.

Day 9: Erta Ale to Mekele: After a last morning of observation***, we will descend the volcanoe and with our 4×4 vehicles, drive to the highlands where the next phase of our trip will happen.

Day 10: Mekel to Lalibela: After a brief visit of the Mekele market where we join the salt blocks, we embark on a route to the historic town of Lalibela. The landscapes and life along the routes and the farms lighten up our day.

Day 11: Lalibela: Day of visits to the architectural prowess of Lalibela. Here, 11 imposing troglodytic churchesare interconnected by networks of underground passages.

Day 12: Lalibela to Gondar: Drive to another historical town, that of Gondar, one of the ancient capitals of the Abbysinian Empire. If time allows it, we will go to explore the old fort** castles that the successive emperors built (otherwise, we will do so the following day).

Day 13: Gondar to Simien Park: A couple oh hours on our way takes us to Simien National Park, famous for its impressive landscapes that we contemplate high in the mountains. Brief walk in the afternoon to view Geladas, a baboon species endemic to the region, with an impressive mane.

Day 14 to 16: 3-day trek on the Simien mountains where the routes on the summit and slope of the faults enable us overlook the high dizzying pinacles. The landscapes, simply extraordinary, marks the grand finale of our trip.

Day 17: Simien to Gondar to Addis: Flight to return to Addis Ababa for the return night flight.

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