Eastern part of Ethiopia is inhabited by the Afar nomads, Oromo's, Somali and Harari. Where in most parts of Ethiopia the Christian Orthodox faith has had a great influence on culture and social life, in the east Muslim culture has been the reigning culture since the 13th century. Visiting the 1000 years old walled Muslim city of Harar you will breath the atmosphere of the tales of "thousand and one night".
The road from Addis Abeba to Harar has many interesting aspects such as the beautiful Awash National Park and the very scenic route through the Chercher and Arba Gugu mountains. Around Harar the coffee plantations are more and more replaced by chat, a mild stimulating drug.
Travelling from the town Awash to the Afar Depression north-east, you will drive through a complete different landscape, ending your trip in the Danakil Desert and Depression. This trip is really only for adventurers with a good physical condition because the desert climate is very hot. But first stay a while in the Bilen Lodge in chalets built in Afar style. You can swim in the nearby Bilen Hot Spring and observe a great variety of birds and wildlife in the surrounding riverine forest, acacia woodland, savannah and wetlands. This beautiful place is a good start for what might be the most interesting and strange journey of your life. Partly in a 4 wheel drive, partly on a camel back you will discover the unknown desert world, the salt lakes with their capricious shaped salt-formations, the active volcano Erta Ale with its lava "lake of fire" in the crater, the place where "Lucy" was excavated, the Afar people with their camel-caravans transporting salt to Mekele and much more new things.