After a 4:30am wake-up call from our guide, we got ready to head back to the caldera again for a second look.
A large outcrop of rock illuminated by the red glow from the caldera with the stars in the sky above. Just visible in the bottom left is the blurry figure of one of our military escorts on guard.
There were alot more gases this morning so the lava lake wasn't too visible.
The moon in the distance just above the crater lip.
The sky now starting to brighten as dawn approached.
We then headed back to the summit base camp, packed up our gear and loaded our sleeping bags and mats back on the camels.
And then began the trek back down.
The sun now breaking above the horizon.
Back at base camp our driver insisted on pouring cool water over our feet. I was a little nonplussed but it actually felt really good after the 21 kilometre trek up and down the volcano.
We were then treated to another great breakfast spread which went down well after the big hike.
After packing up the 4WD one last time, we set off just after 9am for the drive back to the main road.
Pausing for a quick break at about half-way. The airconditioning on one of the other Landcruisers had unfortunately broken down so they had to drive across the dusty plains with the windows wide open and scarves across their faces!
And safely back on asphalt after the often bruising 2 hour off-road drive.
We then drove east for ~20 kilometres to visit Lake Afrera.
Lake Afrera is another salt lake and has a surface area of 100 km2. It was previously used to extract salt, with numerous evaporation ponds just on the shore. However the lake water was contaminated with sulfur after the 2011 eruption of the nearby Nabro Volcano, making the salt inedible.
It was a great place to relax and to soak in the hypersaline water.
A bottle of local mineral water to rehydrate.
Spaghetti and vegetables for lunch.
And some tasty watermelon to finish.
We then began the long and uneventful drive back to Mek'ele.
Outside Mek'ele Alula Aba Nega Airport just after 5pm where we said farewell to our driver and then went inside to check-in.
And with my boarding pass for the flight to Addis Ababa. The airport had free wi-fi and I was able to check emails etc. for the first time in four days.
Enjoying some tasty tibs and injera at the airport cafeteria for dinner.
And boarding the Ethiopian Q400 on time at 7:30pm
Coke and muffin served on the 80 minute flight.
After farewelling Avinath and Charlotte on arrival at Addis Ababa Airport, I went outside to find my driver (centre).
And back at Hotel Lobelia to get some rest before my last day in Ethiopia tomorrow.
After a decent sleep, I headed down stairs to get some breakfast at the hotel restaurant.
My first plan today was to try and sort out my confiscated drone. I arrived at Addis Ababa airport and after talking to Customs managed to find the security manager's office. It was 8:30am and luckily he had just arrived for work. In the corner of his office was 5-6 other drones and I managed to point out mine.
With one of the customs officers we then headed to the International terminal where they would store the drone until my departure this evening.
With my receipt in hand I was relieved that it went quite smoothly and that I would actually get my drone back.
At Munich German Bakery on Cameroon Street where I treated myself to a hot chocolate while waiting for my guide for today's tour of Addis Ababa.
My guide Birhanu arrived shortly after and we then headed out for a drive to the top of Mount Entoto.
I had organised the tour through GoAddis Tours and although it was supposed to be a group tour I was the only person on it today so it ended up being a private tour just for me.
Driving up the mountain where there was a forest of Eucalyptus trees. Birhanu said that in 1894 Eucalyptus trees from Australia were introduced to help supply timber for the construction of the Capital.
Outside Maryam (St Mary) Church. Mount Entoto is considered a sacred mountain and has many monasteries and churches. Maryam Church is where in 1889 Sahle Maryam was crowned Emperor Menelik II of Ethiopia.
The Emperors former Palace on Mount Entoto which was built when he founded Addis Ababa in 1886.
Inside the former palace where there were separate doors for generals, priests and family members.
We then went for a walk down the mountain. A lady carrying a large load of dried cow dung for fuel.
Looking down on the city below. Mount Entoto has an elevation of 3,200 meters, or 800 metres greater than Addis Ababa.
Our next stop was the National Museum of Ethiopia.
Down in the basement was the palaeontological exhibit which was definitely the highlight of the museum.
The museum is famous for being the home of Lucy, a 3.2 million year old partial skeleton of Australopithecus afarensis found in the Afar Region in 1974.
A replica of the partial remains of Lucy on display. Lucy got her name from the song "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" by The Beatles, which was played loudly and repeatedly in the expedition camp after her discovery.
And a reconstruction of Lucy's full skeleton. Lucy was 1.1 m tall, weighed 29 kgs and walked upright like humans.
Up on the first floor there was a wide range of Ethiopian art.
A hammer and sickel on a painting from the Communist period in Ethiopia (1974–1991).
A collection of wooden headrests for sleeping.
After the dose of history and culture at the National Museum we headed to Finfine Adarash Restaurant for lunch just after midday.
And enjoyed a tasty traditional Ethiopian meal with a range of different dishes and injera.
After the decent lunch we went in search of a caffeine fix at a local café on Wawel Street called Tomoca.
The bustling and very popular café has been open since 1953 and is Addia Ababa's oldest.
Tomoca is an abbreviation for the Italian Torrefazione Moderna Café, which directly translates as modern coffee roasting.
An Ethiopa Coffee map on the wall. Coffee accounts for approximately one-third of Ethiopia's exports.
It was great to sit with the locals while they enjoyed their afternoon coffee.
While Birhanu opted for a standard Caffè macchiato I decided to indulge in a double.
After our caffeine fix we headed to Addis Ketema district to check out the Merkato.
Hopefully these aren't full!
The Merkato is purportedly the largest open air market in Africa.
Dried chili's, pulses and spices.
It covers several square kilometres, employing an estimated 13,000 people in over 7,000 businesses.
It was great to just walk around and take in the smells, sights and spectacle.
And to take a few portrait photographs too.
The weaved tables where injera is served.
The main merchandise passing through the Merkato is locally-grown products — most notably coffee.
Bits and pieces.
A chaotic and very busy place, a great raw energy to it and a real buzz to walk about and explore.
Outside our next stop, the Holy Trinity Cathedral.
Some locals outside after a baptism had taken place.
The church was built to commemorate Ethiopia's liberation from Italian occupation during the East Africa Campaign in World War II.
A hand resting on the glass door during prayer. It is the second most important place of worship in Ethiopia (after the Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion in Axum).
Birhanu with a Kebero drum, used in Ethiopian Orthodox Christian liturgical music.
Moses with the Tablets of Stone inscribed with the Ten Commandments. Ethiopia is one of only three African countries (as well as Egypt and Eritrea) where Christanity was formed in the pre-colonial era.
The Imperial tombs of Emperor Haile Selassie I and Empress Menen Asfaw. Selassie was the emperor of Ethiopia from 1930 to 1974 before being deposed by the Derg, a Marxist–Leninist military junta supported by the Soviet Union.
There were several murals on the upper walls of the Cathedral of key moments in Emperor Selassie's reign.
We then headed out for a walk outside where there was a museum of Emperor Selassie (unfortunately no photographs allowed).
Also on the Cathedral grounds, the grave of Meles Zenawi, who was transitional President after the overthrow of the military government in 1991 and then prime minister of Ethiopia from 1995 to 2012.
The plan for the rest of the afternoon was to visit several restaurants and enjoy a range of Ethiopian cuisine in the city.
Outside a local restaurant to begin our culinary tour of Addis Ababa.
It was fun seeing common western brands written in Amharic. In this case pineapple flavoured Fanta.
And about to taste some different Ethiopian vegetarian dishes with injera. Called a yetsom beyaynetu or vegetarian platter, it consists of different dishes made from lentils, chick peas and other vegetables. According to the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, every Wednesday and Friday are “fasting days”, where meat and all animal products are not to be eaten.
After a short walk through the streets of Addis Ababa, we arrived at our next stop, Genesis Fish House.
Saying hello to the friendly and photogenic chef.
And some tasty fried fish sourced from Lake Tana. As Ethiopia has no marine coastline, almost all fish eaten in the country are freshwater.
We then carried on to Yilma, famous for its tasty beef and having once been visited by Anthony Bourdain.
At the onsite butchery where you could see all the different cuts of meat being prepared.
Raw meat is considered a delicacy in Ethiopia. There was a local family eating at the restaurant and it was interesting watching the mother cutting up the raw red beef at the table for the rest of the family.
Birhanu asked if I was up for tasting the raw meat. Despite some initial hesitation I threw caution into the wind and figured "When in Rome..."!
The rest of the beef being quickly fried in hot olive oil.
And ready to serve after sprinkling on some herbs and spices.
Complete with some injera, bread and a side of spices.
And a bottle of Ethiopian Habesha beer to wash it all down with.
For dessert we headed to a local cornershop that also made delicious fruit smoothies. It took a while to make but was definitely worth the wait.
I also took the opportunity to buy some Ethiopian coffee to take back home.
For our final stop we headed to a local café and had my final fix of Ethiopian coffee for the trip.
After thanking Birhanu for the great tour of Addis Ababa, I headed back to the hotel and then caught the shuttle back to the airport to catch my fligh tback to Dubai.
Airside with my boarding pass and my drone safely returned after paying the 4 birr (15 cents) storage fee.
And about to board the ET 737 at the end of an amazing six days in Ethiopia!