Exclusive Ethiopia - Eastern

This remote and remarkable region includes the scalding and volcanically active Danakil Depression, with colourful bubbling sulphur, desiccated salt lakes and the live Erte Ale volcano. Also in the region is Awash National Park and the Islamic walled city of Harar.


Overview

Afar Region, stretching towards the borders with Eritrea, Djibouti and Somalia, has a desolate and hostile frontier feeling; its nomadic people, known for being hardy and tough, move with their camels through bleak desert, stopping occasionally in one of the simple settlements dotting the region. The Danakil Depression, at 116m below sea level, is one of the lowest places in the world, and its temperatures, frequently over 50°C, have the highest year-round average in the world. Yet this volcanic land has several sites of stunning natural beauty. The eerie and beguiling sulphur springs display a range of colours rarely seen outside of dreams. The white salt lakes that gleam beneath the fiery sun seem almost like crisp snow. And the live volcano, Erte Ale, spitting vivid molten lava from its bubbling caldron, rises from the region like an unearthly being.

Mekele, the gateway to Afar region and regional capital of Tigrey, is an appealing fusion of modern high-rise buildings, modest stone cottages, wide highways and cobbled walking streets. The vibrant town has surprisingly high numbers of restaurants, cafés and bars.

Awash National Park, one of Ethiopia’s oldest parks, is a volcanic land whose underground shifts have forced hot springs, craters and gorges from the earth’s crust. The rich volcanic earth has sprouted acacia woodland, palms and grassland that are home to a number of endangered species including Beisa oryx, Soemmerring’s gazelle, lesser and greater kudus, and the Anubis baboon and hamadryas baboon. Over 450 species of birds have been recorded here.

Harar, the centre of Ethiopia’s Islamic community, is a walled town said to be the fourth holiest Islamic town after Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem. Established in the tenth century by 43 holy men from Arabia, Harar has a greater concentration of mosques than any other town in the world. With five doors in its walls representing the five pillars of Islam and the five prayers of the day, and 6,666 verses of the Koran carved into its structures, the town has been designed according to the principals of the Islamic faith. The attractive ancient town has traditional houses, cobbled alleys, bustling markets, spice stalls, and a host of museums. Beyond the walled town, Harar has grown into a pleasant modern settlement with several successful industries producing coffee, beer and khat amongst others. The notorious hyena men feed wild hyenas beyond the confines of the city every evening at dusk; visitors are welcome to give it a go.

Dira Diwa, home to the region’s airport, is Ethiopia’s second largest city. Divided into two distinct halves, the town has an elegant but decaying French quarter and a bustling Islamic market. Outside the city lie several caves painted with prehistoric rock art depicting humans and animals thought to be as much as 5,000 years old. Notable amongst these are Porc-epic cave and Laga Oda.


Highlights In The Eastern Region

This stark, extraordinary and searingly hot part of Ethiopia lies in the Afar Region, on the borders of Eritrea, Djibouti and Somalia. At over 100m below sea level, the area is not only one of the lowest places in the world, but also the hottest in terms of year round...

Awash National Park was formed by extreme volcanic activity: underground movement from around 40 million years ago thrust hot springs, craters and gorges from the earth’s crust and formed the striking landscape that can be seen today. This rich and varied park was gazetted in 1966. Fantale Mountain, a strato-volcano with...

Home to Ethiopia’s Islamic community, Harar is said to be the fourth holiest Islamic city after Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem. The walled city, Harar Jugol, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has the greatest concentration of mosques: 1 per 110m. According to legend, 43 holy men came from Arabia in...


Listings In The Eastern Region

Named for Ras Mekonnen, father of famed Emperor Haile Selassie, Ras Hotel is a popular meeting place for locals and visitors alike. The courtyard bar shows international sports matches and is stocked with local and international drinks. It also has a good selection of Ethiopian and international dishes, and a ...

In front of the President’s Office in the historic city of Harar, Wonderland Hotel was established in 2014. The 74 en-suite rooms are made up of standard, delux, twin, junior suites and traditional Gegar executive suites adorned with cultural artefacts. Traditionally, all houses in Harar have a Gegar room, colourfully decorated ...

Near the statue of Ras Mekonnen, father of famed Emperor Haile Selassie, Winta Hotel is well situated for the walled city of Harar. The 30 en-suite rooms are equipped with TV and fridge, and some have balconies with views of the old town. The restaurant serves a selection of Ethiopian and ...

This tall cream building towers over Mekele. This welcoming town is the gateway to both the Tigrey Region with its extraordinary rock churches, and the Afar Region with Danakil Depression, Asale salt lake and Erte Ale volcano. There are 120 en-suite rooms in the main building and 64 in a separate building, ...

Awash National Park is in one of the most geologically active regions of the world, where volcanoes and shifting rifts between plates have been occurring for about 40 million years. Towering over the national park is Fantale Mountain, a strato-volcano with a large summit caldera. Awash Falls Lodge is perched on ...

Planet Hotel is situated in Mekele, gateway to the region of Tigrey and its extraordinary churches carved from rocks. There are 120 en-suite rooms, made up of standard, twin, queen, king, suite bedroom, and executive suite. All rooms have satellite TV, intercom telephone, minibar, wired internet, Wifi, safe, hairdryer, toiletries, kettle, ...

Surrounded by a doum palm forest, Doho Lodge looks across the savannah towards Fantale Mountain, a strato-volcano with a large summit caldera. The area is particularly known for the natural hot springs, which are believed to have healing waters. The lodge has 20 traditional tukuls, all en-suite. The restaurant serves Ethiopian ...

Navigation