To recap some of the details involved in joining one of these expeditions, I would firstly strongly suggest going with ETT Travel Agency. They are highly professional and have well equipped vehicles with an experienced team. There are reports of disastrous trips with some of the less experienced tour companies. One can travel in one of their vehicles for US$400pp, or if they are happy with yours, self-drive with them at US$300pp if they cater for food and water. If you want to cater for yourselves then the fee is US$250pp. They are not keen on this as it can adversely affect the group dynamics and I agree. The groups usually number 10 – 20 tourists together with the tour company staff and soldiers. During the northern winter, which is high season, tours depart on a daily basis, depending on demand. It is advisable to book a week or so ahead. That said we just arrived at their offices in mid-afternoon and we added to the group of about 13 tourists leaving the following day. They merely need your passports for security details. The expeditions leave from their offices at 9H30. Their offices are in central Mekele at N13 29,776 E39 28,631. We were attended to by the efficient lady, Abeba. The main office is in Addis. We were discounted to Birr 11,760 (US$560) for the catered version, for the 2 of us. Camels are available for transport to the top of Erte Ale for those (like us unfortunately) lacking the confidence to tackle this very stiff hike. These cost an additional Birr 600pp.
ETT Travel Agency (also known as Ethio Travel and Tours) contact details:
Address: Atse Yohannes Hotel, Mekele.
Mobile telephones: +251914027893 (Abeba) OR +251911213177.