Harmattan Tours


Tours in Africa and the Middle East






Eastern Ethiopia: deserts, mountains and sacred cities
22 December 2010-4 January



Our Eastern Ethiopia tour is hosted by Jarmo Pikkujämsä




Registrations by 1 October 2010


Further information:


Staffan Martikainen
+358 40 7617945,


Jarmo Pikkujämsä
+32 484 07 76 95

Skype: jarmo.pikkujamsa




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Eastern Ethiopia is a land of contrasts. In 12 full days, you will visit both culture and nature treasures, including the famous Ethiopian Orthodox shrines of Lalibela and the fascinating Muslim holy city of Harar (both Unesco world heritage sites), the savanna of Awash National Park, the rugged Lasta mountains and the surreal lunar landscape of the Danakil desert - an area characterized by superlatives and extremes. This round tour has been specially planned for Harmattan Tours.



Preliminary programme:


Wed 22 December (Day 1)

Flight to Addis Ababa. Arrival Bole airport in the evening/at night.

Ghion hotel or similar.


Thu 23 December (Day 2)

Fly to Dire Dawa. Transfer to Harar. This old walled town is an important Muslim centre and counts no fewer than 90 mosques. Harar is by some Muslims considered to be the fourth holiest city in the world. This cosmopolitan city lies in an area famous for its coffee and chat. The local architecture shows Indian and other Eastern influences. Sights include the Arthur Rimbaud museum and the hyaenas living on the outskirts of town, the feeding of which is a fascinating spectacle. Harar is also known for its bars and beer factory.

Heritage Plaza Hotel. Full board.


Fri 24 December (Day 3)

Second day in Harar.

Heritage Plaza Hotel. Full board.


Sat 25 December (Day 4)

Drive to Awash National park along the southern Rift Valley escarpment. This scenic national park is situated in dry acacia savanna. Game view in the late afternoon: we might see beisa oryx, Sommering's gazelle, Salt's dik-dik and baboons. The park is also a birder's paradise.

Awash Falls Lodge or Genet Hotel. Full board.


Sun 26 December (Day 5)

Drive to Kombolcha via Mille. On the way, we visit the colourful Bati market, the largest cattle and camel market in Ethiopia. It is frequented by the nomadic Afar people, with their striking hairstyles and ornate jewellery.

Tekle Hotel. Full board.


Mon 27 December (Day 6)

Drive to Lalibela. This striking, isolated town, set at an altitude of 2,630 m in the wild Lasta mountains, is famed for its rock-hewn churches and is the one place in Ethiopia that no tourist should miss. The beautifully decorated churches, carved out of the rock in the 13th century, form a maze of tunnels and passages. They are still an active Orthodox Christian shrine.

Lasta Hotel. Full board.


Tue 28 December (Day 7)

Full day of exploring the sights of Lalibela.

Lasta Hotel. Full board.


Wed 29 December (Day 8)

Drive north to Mekele, the capital of Tigray state.

Axum Hotel. Full board.


Thu 30 December (Day 9)

Drive to Danakil depression. This dry region is officially the hottest place on Earth and the lowest place on the African continent. (Luckily, we are visiting in winter.) Danakil is geologically interesting as one of the most tectonically active areas on the planet: active volcanoes, hot springs, black lava flows and salt-encrusted basins, making the area into a strange lunar landscape. It is mostly unpopulated – the exception is Afar nomads. We will follow the salt caravan route to the town of Berahile and the village of Hamed Ela.

Camping in the desert. Full board (private cook)


Fri 31 December (Day 10)

Excursion to the Dallol depression, -116 m, with the surreally coloured field of hot springs.

Camping. Full board (private cook).


Sat 1 January (Day 11)

Drive back to Mekele along the camel route, admiring the rock formations on the way.

Axum Hotel. Full board.


Sun 2 January (Day 12)

Fly to Addis Ababa. City tour including the Ethnological museum, Mercato – reputedly the biggest market in Africa – and Africa Hall, home of the African Union.

Ghion hotel or similar. Breakfast.


Mon 3 January (Day 13)

After breakfast you are free to explore Addis on your own. Farewell dinner in traditional Ethiopian restaurant with folk music and dance show.

Transfer to Addis Ababa Bole airport. Departure in the evening/at night.

Breakfast and dinner.


Tue 4 January (Day 14)

Back home.


Price for the round tour: € 1850. Single room supplement € 210. Possibly subject to change.


The price includes accommodation, transportation (minibus/4x4/domestic flights), full board everywhere apart from Addis Ababa, English-speaking Ethiopian guide and Harmattan Tours guide throughout the trip. The price does not include international airfare, alcoholic drinks, personal expenses or tips.


The international flight ticket to and from Addis Ababa you buy yourself either online or through a travel agency. Please book early for cheaper fares. The following airlines fly to Addis Ababa: Lufthansa, BMI, KLM, Ethiopian airlines, Turkish Airlines (normally cheapest).


Other information:


Visa is obligatory for citizens from most countries. It can be bought at Addis Ababa airport for € 17 or $ 20. International vaccination certificate (yellow fever) is required.


Malaria occurs in Dire Dawa and Awash national park. However, since we will visit these areas in the dry season, the malaria risk is negligeable. If you want to be on the safe side, take malaria profylaxis.


Temperatures vary from +5 degrees at night in Lalibela and other highland areas to +40 in the daytime in Danakil.


We reserve the right to any changes in the programme.





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