ET2 22 Day Ethiopia Tour

Historic North & the Omo Valley

22 Day Ethiopia Tour
TOUR HIGHLIGHTS:

Churches of Lalibela; Colourful festivals; Spectacular Simien Mountain scenery; Axum Stellae Park; Tribal south, kaleidoscope of cultures; Christian churches, gilded monasteries; Traditional villages, Rift Valley

INQUIRE ABOUT THIS TRIP
  • DATES & PRICES
  • FULL ITINERARY
  • MAP & HOTELS
  • TRIP INFORMATION

Dates & Prices


Prices below are per person, twin-sharing costs in US Dollars (USD). Pricing does not include airfare to/from the tour and any applicable taxes. For single supplement rates and taxes (if any), please refer to the entries under the blue box below.


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How do I make a reservation? How and when do I pay?

The easiest way to make a reservation is to contact us by telephone. You can also book online through our website.

A non-refundable $500 deposit is payable at the time of booking; if a reservation is made within 60 days, full payment is required. Some trips require a larger deposit. If international airline bookings require a non-refundable payment in order to secure space or the lowest available fare, we will require an increase in deposit equal to the cost of the ticket(s).

Early enrolment is always encouraged as group size is limited and some trips require greater preparation time.

Once we have received your deposit, we will confirm your space and send you a confirmation package containing your trip itinerary, any visa/travel permit related documents, invoice, clothing and equipment recommendations, general information on your destination(s), and forms for you to complete, sign and return to us. Your air e-tickets (if applicable), final hotel list, final trip itinerary, and instructions on how to join your tour, will be sent approximately 2-3 weeks prior to departure.

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I am a single who prefers my own room. What is a single supplement?

All of our tours have a single supplement for those who want to be guaranteed their own room at each location.

This supplement is a reflection of the fact that most hotels around the world do not discount the regular twin-share rate for a room by 50% for only one person occupying a room. Most hotels will give a break on the price, but usually in the range of 25-30% of the twin-share rate. This difference, multiplied by each night, amounts to the single supplement.

The conventional amount can also vary from country to country and some destinations are more expensive than others for single occupancy. In order to be "single friendly," the supplements we apply are not a profit centre for us and we do our best to keep them as reasonable as possible.

On most tours we limit the number of singles available, not to be punitive, but rather because many hotels allow for only a limited number of singles; some smaller hotels at remote locations also have a limited number of single rooms available.

Please note that most single rooms around the world are smaller than twin-share rooms and will likely have only one bed.

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What about cancellations, refunds, and transfers?

Should you need to cancel your trip, you must notify us in writing, by letter, e-mail, or by fax immediately. Deposits are non-refundable, though if you cancel more than 90 days prior to tour departure date, the deposit is transferable to any other tour taken within 12 months of the original tour start date, minus a per person transfer fee (some tours have a 100% nonrefundable/ nontransferable deposit; you will be informed of this at the time of booking). Less than 90 days prior to departure, all monies paid are 100% non-refundable, nontransferable. Name changes are not permitted.

Insurable risks may be covered under trip cancellation insurance policies, if purchased. We will not grant partial refunds for any unused trip arrangements—voluntarily missed meals, sightseeing, transport, etc—after the trip has commenced, or any refunds to trip members who do not complete any portion of the itinerary for whatever reason.

All air tickets are non-refundable and valid only for the flight(s) indicated. We may cancel departures if forced to do so by circumstances such as war, civil or political unrest or what is commonly referred to as force majeure. In these instances we will refund all passengers in full if cancellation takes place more than 60 days prior to tour start date.

If cancellation occurs within the 60 day period, we will offer to postpone your trip to another departure of the same tour code within 12 months of the original tour start date; or, if circumstances do not permit, an alternative will be offered at that time. We will not be responsible for costs associated with re-issuance or extension of visas, airline change fees, or for any compensation. We strongly recommend that all travellers purchase trip cancellation insurance, either through Adventures Abroad or elsewhere, as this may provide coverage under such circumstances.

If we cancel your tour due to insufficient enrolment, we will endeavour to find an alternative tour for you. If this is not acceptable, all monies paid will be refunded in full and will constitute full settlement. We will not be responsible for any expenses incurred, such as visas, vaccinations, independently purchase airfare, or any compensation. Notice of cancellation due to insufficient enrolment in any program will be given approximately 60 days prior to departure.

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Do you have a shared accommodation program?

Yes! If you are single traveller and are willing to share, we will do our best to pair you with a same-gender roommate. On most of our tours, if we fail to pair you, we will absorb the single supplement fee and you will default to a single room at no extra charge. At some destinations, however, where single rooms are not significantly discounted, or not at all, we may apply a "mandatory" single in the event that we cannot find you a share partner. This is usually 50% of the usual supplement, but can be as much as 100%. If applicable, this proviso will be noted on each tour page on this website, on your invoice, and in our tour date/price book (available for download under "Resources").

Select a date below to reserve your spot:

Start DateEnd DatePriceMore Info
Tue 24 Nov 2020Tue 15 Dec 2020 $6360 USD
Sat 09 Jan 2021Sat 30 Jan 2021 $6820 USD
Wed 24 Nov 2021Wed 15 Dec 2021 $6590 USD
Sun 09 Jan 2022Sun 30 Jan 2022 $6820 USD
Thu 24 Nov 2022Thu 15 Dec 2022 $6590 USD

Optional Single Supplement: $1328 USD (number of singles limited).
This tour may require a mandatory single supplement charge of $664 if you join our share program and we are unable to pair you.


Tour Overview


An ancient land of stunning sceneries, fascinating cultures and first-rate historic sites, Ethiopia numbers among Africa's most rewarding tour destinations.

As we learn about the country's long history with visits to castles built by various emperors over a 236-year timeframe, 11th century rock-hewn churches, pre-Christian buildings, ancient monuments and royal palaces, we travel through stunning sceneries of mist-shrouded mountain peaks and idyllic cascading waterfalls.

Our cultural exploration of this special destination includes spending time in villages isolated from the rest of the world in which fisherman still use papyrus boats, in local marketplaces where Ari women wear traditional skirts made of tree twigs and at tribal gatherings wherein stick-fighting contests, elaborate dress, lip plates and earlobe discs are commonplace.

This Ethiopia tour offers a cultural experience like no other.

Regions visited: East Africa
Countries visited: Ethiopia


Testimonials


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(Manalapan, NJ, US)

We particularly enjoyed Lalibela and peoples in the south. The local guides were excellent; informative and spoke English very well. Our tour leader was friendly, helpful, knowledgeable, enthusiastic. One of the best tour directors we have ever had.

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(Saint Louis, MO, US)

The excursions I enjoyed most were ALL of them. All local guides were excellent. The Toyota Land Cruisers were wonderful. I did not expect the air conditioning, but it was wonderful to have. Chris, our tour leader, was always!!!!! so enthusiastic and positive. He was extremely well organized and his knowledge was wonderful. AA have a real gem in having Chris on your staff. He is amazing in his enthusiasm and knowledge of Ethiopia. His love of the country and people is so evident and so very contagious.

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(Toronto, CA)

Ethiopia provides a fabulous variety of scenery / landscape, history, world class ancient sites and fascinating peoples. AA has been touring here multiple times per year for a long time and the experience shows - not just the great tour leader but also the choice of local agent, transportation, hotels, local guides and specific sites visited. Visits to a few private homes, not on the itinerary, were a big bonus. I was very happy with my choice of the September departure with Meskel, better weather and uncrowded hotels and sites rather than the peak time Timkat tours.

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(Calgary, CA)

WOW, Great, EXCELLENT, Above and beyond! Lorna (tour leader)clearly loves her job and is fabulous, professional and a wonderful person. WOW the transportation exceeded my expectation by a long shot....our drivers were professional and very good at what they do. Medexa our main driver deserves special credit for being the lead driver and really just a very genuine soft spoken person who took his job seriously and cleaned the vehicles every night. Each day the cars were free of dust and the windows and vehicle sparkling!

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(Denville, NJ, US)

My initial reason for going to Ethiopia was to see the tribes in the south. So glad I was able to experience the Timket Festival in Lalibela. The whole trip to the north was amazing. I loved the blue Nile Falls outside of Bahir Dar. The National Park in the Simien Mountains was a highlight....Gelada monkeys everywhere....On the way to Mekelle, we stopped to visit a family. We were able to see the interior of the house....we watched the wife grind the tiff got a chance to try grinding with this heavy stone (very difficult)...a great experience. The ceremonial baptism in Lalibela at sunrise.....wow....not to be missed. The Timket Festival was something I will never forget....the pagentry, the color, the faces of the priests, etc. The south of Ethiopia was everything I hoped it would be....stepping into National Geographic. There were no excursions I didn't enjoy. Mulay, our guide in the North and Tedy, our guide in the south were both EXCEPTIONAL. I feel very fortunate to have had these intelligent, kind, caring, funny guides with us. The Toyota Land Rovers were great. We had great meals. Adventures Abroad is so fortunate to have Chris Tripodi as a tour leader. He is calm, kind, funny, considerate, air, truthful, always watchful of peoples facial expressions, respectful of the group and the people we are visiting, always thinking ahead. Adventures Abroad is so lucky to have Chris Tripodi on staff. Not only is he all of the above, he is a WONDERFUL human being.....an AMBASSADOR OF THE WORLD. I am so lucky to have shared this Ethiopian experience with him. Wonderful tour. I have traveled with AA to West Africa (Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso) and Ethiopia. I will travel with them again because of their incredible tour leaders.

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(West Vancouver, BC, CA)

Timkat Festival, churches, tribes, castles, country side drives. Vehicles and drivers were excellent. The trip was amazing. We saw things we never dreamed of.

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(Eugene, OR, 1)

We particularly enjoyed the South Omo tribal people, animal life, Lalibella churches, monasteries on Lake Tana. The drivers exceeded all expectations. Courteous and polite, outstanding driving skill, spotless cars, personable. The meal plan exceeded our expectations. Our tour leader was excellent and I'd do another trip with her as leader anytime.

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(Bay Harbour Islands, FL, US)

Lorna was extremely knowlegeable and enjoyed imparting her understanding and respect for other cultures to the group. She is an excellent example of imparting not only tolerance but good will and appreciation of others.

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(Basking Ridge, NJ, US)

I liked all the excursions. Wow, our tour leader was so knowledgeable about the culture of both the Christian majority and the tribal peoples. I learned a lot from her. I'd be happy to see her in future travels. The hotels were very good. Great tour. Learned a lot.

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(Richond, BC, CA)

This was my first ever tour. It was excellent; the tour, the party and the country and its people. The lead driver/guide was utterly outstanding, and acted as a co-guide. His local knowledge, work and personality got access to villages and families, and helped...enhance the trip and remedy problems.

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What is the maximum number of participants on a trip?

Most of our tours carry a maximum of 18 participants; some tours (ie hiking tours) top out at 16. In the event that we do not achieve our minimum complement by our 60-day deadline, we may offer group members the option of paying a "small-group surcharge" as an alternative to cancellation. If all group members agree, we will confirm the trip at existing numbers; this surcharge is refundable in the event that we ultimately achieve our regular minimum. If the small group surcharge is not accepted, we will offer a refund of your deposit or a different trip of your choice.

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Can I extend my tour either at the beginning or end? What about stopovers?

Yes, you can extend your tour either at the beginning or the end and we can book accommodation in our tour hotel. Stopovers are often permitted, depending on air routing. Stopovers usually carry a "stopover" fee levied by the airline.

Full Itinerary


Day 1 Arrival in Ethiopia
Arrive in Addis Ababa, (2450 m/8,038 ft) Ethiopia's capital city.

THIS IS A TRIP FOR THE ADVENTUROUS. The itinerary has been designed to be as comfortable as possible, but this part of the world is still undeveloped. Accommodation is basic in some places and some road journeys are long, dusty, and rough. This trip is suitable for hardy travellers who do not expect "creature comforts" or things to work smoothly everywhere. Despite the often-rustic conditions, delays, and bumpy roads, this will be a fascinating journey, full of epic moments for the experienced traveller who possesses a sense of humour, flexibility, and a true spirit of adventure.

Overnight in Addis Ababa.

Included Meal(s): Dinner

Day 2 Addis Ababa: City Tour
This morning we tour Addis Ababa, Ethiopia's capital, which translates as "New Flower" in the Amharic language. The city shows little sign of losing its youthful, lusty edge and is the pulsing heart of this eclectic nation's resurgence as one of the world's fastest-growing economies. "Addis," as it's often simply known, is the world's third-highest capital city at 2400 meters (7,880 ft), and has worn its heart on its sleeve since it was founded by Ethiopian Emperor Menelik about 1892.

Although not well-known outside the country, the Ethiopian National Museum is a world-class museum; truly a hidden gem! The most famous exhibit is the replica of Lucy, an early hominid, but the museum offers much more. With Ethiopian civilization being one of the oldest in the world, the artifacts within the museum span thousands of years, including some from its earliest days. During our visit, we'll see a wide variety of artifacts, from sculptures to clothing to artwork, both traditional and modern.

Next is the Ethnological Museum, a fascinating place with exhibits relating to the history and culture of Ethiopia. There are many displays of the various ethnic groups with information about each of their lifestyles. A large amount of ethnic outfits, instruments, tools, and other artifacts accompany each ethnic exhibit, making it one of the most interesting museums in the city.

We also visit the Holy Trinity Cathedral, the second most-important place of worship in Ethiopia and the final resting place of Emperor Haile Selassie.

At some point today we should be able to sample Ethiopia's 'Black Gold'. It's impossible to separate Ethiopian culture -- that unparalleled Ethiopian-ness -- from coffee, and this is the land of the finest Arabica coffee. As legend would have it, it was discovered by an Ethiopian shepherd boy and his goats sometime around the sixth century.

Overnight in Addis Ababa.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 3 Addis Ababa - Fly to Bahr Dar: Tis Abay (Blue Nile Falls)
Today we fly to Bahr Dar, situated on the shore of Lake Tana in northwestern Ethiopia. Bahar Dar is a small town set on the southeastern shore of Lake Tana (Ethiopia's largest lake), where local fishermen still use papyrus boats, and just 30 km (19 miles) from the spectacular Tissisat Falls.

This afternoon we have an excursion to Tis Abay (Blue Nile Falls), a cascade 45m (150 feet) high. The locals call it Tisissat, which means "Water that Smokes". The area is also home to a great variety of birds and plants.

Return to Bahr Dar.

Overnight in Bahr Dar.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 4 Bahr Dar - Zege Peninsula - Gondar
Today we have a boat excursion on Lake Tana and the Zege Peninsula, home to seven ancient monasteries.

It has been said that the inside of the Ura Kidane Mehret monastery is the most impressive and beautiful in the whole region. Just a 25 minute walk from the boat landing point takes us to the monastery, winding through coffee plantations under tall shady trees. The monastery is highly decorated with beautifully painted, colourful and vibrant frescoes depicting Ethiopian saints and the history of the Ethiopian-Orthodox Church. Both men and women are permitted to enter and there is also a small museum, the Zege Satekela Museum, for visitors to learn about hand-crafted objects and musical instruments that are still used be the local communities today. The Azuwa Maryam Monastery is a round church with a thatched roof, which makes it one of the most attractive churches around Lake Tana. Step inside and watch its paintings come alive.

We return to the mainland and continue by road to Gondar, the former capital of Ethiopia (1818 m / 6,000 ft). This "City of Castles" is one of Ethiopia's most interesting. Set in a beautiful landscape, Gondar is situated at the base of the Simien Mountains. The city's unique imperial precinct contains a dozen castles built by various emperors over a 236-year period.

Overnight in Gondar.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 5 Gondar: Town Tour
Today we will acquaint ourselves with the city of Gondar, touring the castle of Emperor Fasiledes, founder of the former capital. The two-story castle with its domed towers was said to be "one of the most marvelous of buildings" by a visiting Yemeni envoy. We will also see the Bathing Palace, once surrounded by a moat of water. Today the moat is only filled with water during Epiphany for an annual baptism celebration.

We will also visit the monasteries of Qusquam and Debre Berhan Selassie. The latter has not only many detailed 16th century frescoes, but also one of Ethiopia's most photographed ceilings, painted with angels' faces.

Overnight in Gondar.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 6 Gondar - Simien Mountains
Today we travel by road into the Simien Mountains. The highest point above us, Ras Dashen (4620 m / 15,246 ft above sea level), is Africa's fourth highest peak. Numerous large rivers, including the Blue Nile, drain the highlands from east to west, towards the Nile Basin. From north to south, it's the Omo River, flowing into Lake Turkana. Our overnight location approaches 2800 m / 9,000 ft (the highest point on our tour); not terribly high, but you will notice the thinness of the air and cold at night. The Simiens stretch for over 40 kilometres with an almost two mile drop into the valley below.

Overnight in Simien National Park.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 7 Simien Mountains - Axum
Today we continue our journey north towards Axum (2202m/7,226 ft). This afternoon you may want to walk through part of the town or relax at our hotel.

Axum (Aksum) was the centre of the (eventual) Christian marine trading power the Aksumite Kingdom, which predated the earliest mentions in Roman era writings (around the time of the birth of Jesus) in good correlation to the expansion of Rome into northern Africa, and later when it developed into the Christian kingdom, was a quasi-ally of Byzantium against the Persian Empire. The historical record is unclear; primary sources are limited mainly to ancient church records.

Overnight in Axum.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 8 Axum: Area Tour
Today we explore the wonders of ancient Axum, beginning with the Stelae Park. Carved completely from blocks of granite, these stelae are truly impressive. Although never erected, the largest stelae -- now broken into several pieces -- measures over 30m (100 feet) long and dates from Ethiopia's pre-Christian era.

Our tour continues to the Archaeological Museum, and to St Mary of Zion Church. We will see the ruins of the original 4th century church, and view an amazing collection of church relics including crosses and ancient crowns. It is here that we will also see the building that houses Ethiopia's most sacred religious artifact, the supposed Ark of the Covenant.

We will wander through King Ezana's Park. Of particular interest is a tablet inscribed in three languages: Ge'ez, Sabean, and Greek. We will also visit the tomb of King Basen, who ruled Axum at the time of Christ's birth. This afternoon we will visit two sites located outside the modern town of Axum: the Palace of the Queen of Sheba, and King Kaleb's Palace. Both enjoy commanding views of the countryside -- lands that were once part of the powerful Axumite Kingdom.

On our late November departures, we watch the Hidar Zion Day processions and celebrations. This festival is attended by tens of thousands of people from all over Ethiopia, making it one of the most joyous annual pilgrimages in Axum, the "sacred city of the Ethiopians."

Overnight in Axum.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 9 Axum - Fly to Lalibela
Today we fly to Lalibela, a rural town of +/- 15,000 people in a stunning setting at an elevation of 2600 m (8,500 ft) in the midst of the Lasta mountains in the eastern highlands of Northern Ethiopia. Its unique and remarkable monolithic churches hewn from living rock, most built more than 900 years ago, are one of Ethiopia's leading attractions and were declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1978. Lalibela's relative isolation and small size means you will get to understand more intimately and thoroughly the innate piety and hard lives of the rural poor.

Depending on our flight schedule, we may begin our sightseeing today upon arrival.

Our Ethiopia tours that occur in January coincide with the Timkat Festival in Lalibela, the biggest celebration of the year in Ethiopia, marking the Epiphany every year on the 19th of January. Timkat is celebrated all over Ethiopia, but nowhere is it quite as spectacular as in Lalibela. The festival begins with Timkat Eve and dramatic processions through a night of fasting. Crowds of revelers, all dressed in white, sing and dance in the streets to the beating of drums. Priests, decked out in jewel encrusted velvet and satin robes, carry a replica of Arc of the Covenant known as a talbot in a grand procession through the streets.

Your Tour Leader will advise in greater detail how the following described program will be organized in order to achieve our sightseeing of both church groups and the festivities. Due to the fluid nature of festival activities, our actual itinerary may vary from the next two days' descriptions, which should be regarded as a guide only. Similarly for non-festival dates, your leader will brief you on the actual order of attractions to be visited; in both cases, you should be prepared for some juggling, possibly last-minute, in order to achieve our intended program.

Overnight in Lalibela.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 10 Lalibela Sightseeing
Today's sightseeing begins with a visit to the Northwestern group of churches.

Since the town, first called Roha, was founded by the eponymous King Gebre Mesqel Lalibela of the Zagwe dynasty more than 900 years ago as the "new Jerusalem", the later-renamed Lalibela has been a major ecclesiastical centre of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and a place of pilgrimage to its amazing concentration of rock-hewn churches. Pious Ethiopians often walk hundreds of kilometres in bare feet from all over Ethiopia to receive blessings. Contrary to certain spurious myths, they were not built with the help of the Knights Templar; rather, they were produced solely by medieval Ethiopian civilization.

Although all the church exteriors and interiors are carved from soft volcanic tufa, their architecture is extremely diverse: some stand as isolated monoliths in deep pits, while others have been cut into the face of a cliff. Establishing a sequence or chronology for a rock-hewn building is much more difficult than for a conventional one, especially when the churches in Lalibela are all in daily use for services. Consequently, there have been long running academic disputes as to both the time period and duration of construction.

We will visit the small site museum before our church visit begins. Most of the churches were arranged on an east-west axis with the entrance facing west and the Sancta Santorum to the east; this orientation has a precise meaning: the believer comes from the western gate that represents the darkness of sin and evil and advances towards the light of knowledge and salvation.

The Northwest cluster is the more architecturally cohesive of the two groups, and was most likely conceived as a whole, quite possibly by Emperor Lalibela. This is also the "easiest" of the two groups in terms of navigating the site; this said, you must be very careful of uneven surfaces, slippery/steep stairs and drops without handrailings, inclines, loose gravel, low tunnels, and heat. Our visit will last about three hours.

During festival time, our late afternoon/evening will be spent observing the colourful prosessions and, a rarity in Ethiopia, large crowds!

Overnight in Lalibela.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 11 Lalibela Touring
While in Lalibela, we'll also visit the more disparate Southeast cluster, regarded by experts to be closer in architectural style to the ancient temples and churches of the Aksumite Empire. Several of its churches started life as secular excavations centuries before Lalibela's time.
Visiting the churches of the Southeastern group it immediately appears evident that the churches, belonging to this group, are smaller but more finely sculpted, compared to those of the Northwestern group.

This is also the more challenging cluster to visit; you must be sure on your feet and prepared to do a bit of scrambling. By this point, your Tour Leader will be familiar with your abilities and well-placed to advise regarding your suitability for this visit. As our overall visit will be governed by group ability and interest, our time duration will be a little more free-form than that of the Northwestern cluster.

Our January/Timkat tour will likely involve an option to observe an early morning/pre-breakfast baptismal ceremony.

Overnight in Lalibela.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 12 Lalibela - Fly to Addis Ababa
Today we fly from Lalibela back to Addis Ababa.

Depening on our flight time, your Tour Leader may have chosen to defer some previously-decribed sightseeing, which we can accomplish this morning prior to our onward journey.

Overnight in Addis Ababa.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 13 Addis Ababa - Arba Minch
This morning we begin our journey southwards to Arba Minch, the "town of many springs". The passes through a mountainous region and highland plateau covered with banana plantations and bamboo. Arba Minch is situated by lakes Chamo and Abaya, the most southerly of Ethiopia's Rift Valley lakes.

En route we stop at the UNESCO site of Tiya, which features a large collection of stelae. Originally forty-six stelae were erected in the cemetery here between the tenth and fifteenth centuries. Archaeological excavations show that the site contains graves. The stelae have carvings representing swords and various enigmatic signs quite unlike those of other regions. The tradition of erecting megalithic monuments is very ancient in Ethiopia; some date from before our era.

Overnight in Arba Minch (1200m/3,936 ft).

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 14 Arba Minch Area
Today we visit the Dorze tribe,* famed for their bee hive shaped houses and their weaving skills. Weaving is a primary profession for many Dorze. They are also farmers, who prevent soil erosion by ingenious terracing of the mountainsides. Around their huts they have their own little garden with vegetables, spices, tobacco and enset (false-banana or musa ensete).

This afternoon we take a refreshing boat trip on Lake Chamo, home to huge crocodiles, hippos and a variety of birdlife.

* On the southern portion of our program, we will do our best to engage with the local people in a way that is respectful and sensitive to their unique situation. Foreign visitors, while a source of much needed income in local communities, have, in some ways, brought unique problems to these previously isolated and traditional cultures. We lament reports of local communities be "spoiled" or turned into beggars, viewing foreign visitors as "walking cash machines." So, in order for our visits to be mutally beneficial, we ask that you heed the advice of your Tour Leader

Overnight in Arba Minch.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 15 Arba Minch - Jinka
We continue our experience with tribal life with a visit to the Konso. A pagan society, the Konso erect wooden totems replete with phallic symbols over the graves of the dead, and have numerous cults based around the breeding and veneration of serpents. The cornerstone of Konso culture, however, is a highly specialized and successful agricultural economy that, through terracing buttressed with stone, enable these people to extract a productive living from the not-very-fertile hills and valleys that surround them. An excellent day to meet the people, take photographs with them and learn of a culture that has had very little outside influence.

Later afternoon arrival in Jinka, set at the foot of Mago National Park (440m / 1,450 ft).

The Omo Valley (average elevation 200-400m/600-1,320 ft) is a virgin environment where tribal traditions have remained unchanged. The women still dress in elaborately-decorated skins and the men celebrate adulthood with special coloured hair buns. There is a fascinating mix of nomadic and semi-nomadic tribes, from the Bume and Karo to the Bena, Mursi, and Hamar, coexisting in a harsh land that is all but forgotten by the rest of the world.

Overnight in Jinka.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 16 Jinka & Mago National Park
Today's excursion to Mago National Park will include a visit to a Mursi village.

The insertion of wooden and terracotta discs into the ear lobes is a widespread custom with the Mursi. Women also progressively split and stretch their lower lips to make room for similar discs. Though these lip plates may appear bizarre to outsiders, the Mursi regard them as signs of beauty. Generally, the larger the lip plate the more desirable the wearer. At certain seasons, visitors may be lucky to chance on colourful and dramatic traditional ceremonies. Periodically young men of the Mursi and Surma tribes engage in ritual stick fighting. These duels are conducted with the utmost vigour since the winners are much admired by girls. These are people who farm the land and breed livestock; they live in almost complete isolation from the rest of the world.

The Omo Valley, part of the "Great African Rift", is located in the southwestern corner of Ethiopia and shares its borders with Kenya and Sudan. Many anthropologists consider it to be the birthplace of humankind; the entire region has been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list since 1980.

Overnight in Jinka.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 17 Jinka - Dimeka - Turmi
We drive towards Turmi across various villages browsing the different tribes, all with their own unique culture and lifestyle.

At some point during our time in the Omo Valley, we will visit a weekly market. Each market typically occurs on the same day each week, but a different day from the neighbouring town. While each market sells similar items, the mix of local tribe people changes. Turmi, for example, has a high percentage of Hamar and Karo people, whereas Dimeka market sees more Benna people.

The Omo Valley is so special because nowhere else in the world are there so many ethnic groups inhabiting such a small area. During the next couple of days you'll encounter numerous peoples, all of whom have their own languages and, for the most part, have few interactions with each other.

Overnight in Turmi.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 18 Turmi Area
Today's excursion involves encounters with various peoples, most notably the Karo.

The most striking thing about Karo people's symbolic and ornamental expressions is the painted body and face decorations. This is an elaborate process, which ranges from fine and elaborate details to rough, but striking paintings traced with the palms or fingers. The most beautiful expression is in the facial and chest paintings that combine white (chalk), black (charcoal), yellow, ochre, and red earth. They often imitate the spotted plumage of a guinea fowl, and Karo women scarify their chests to beautify themselves. The complete scarification of a man's chest indicates that he has killed an enemy or a dangerous animal, and are cut with a knife or razor blade; ash is rubbed in to produce a raised effect. The wearing of a grey and ochre clay hair bun also indicates the killing of either an enemy or a dangerous animal.

We visit a typical Karo settlement with open public meeting grounds and dancing place. The people living here have shelters called shuppa, where they pass the hottest hours of the day playing a board game called Warre.

Overnight in Turmi.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 19 Turmi - Arba Minch
The road crosses soft rolling hills with dark red soil and plentiful crops and woods. This is the territory of the Konso, a composite people, both physically and culturally, with members originally hailing from all the surrounding areas. In terms of physical appearance, the Konso tend to be small and wiry, with high cheekbones and pointed chins. Skin colour ranges from reddish brown to almost black, but is dark brown on average. Konso society is largely agricultural and involves the irrigation and terracing of mountain slopes. Staple crops include sorghum and corn, with cash crops including cotton and coffee. Cattle, sheep, and goats are raised for food and milk.

Overnight at Arba Minch.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 20 Arba Minch - Hawassa
We travel through the Great Rift Valley, a 6000 km fault line that runs from Syria, under the Red Sea, across southern Ethiopia all the way to Mozambique. Our route passes all major lakes that dot the Rift Valley, a fertile land planted with bananas, cereals and tobacco, first inhabited by the Oromo people and then the Sidamo.

We arrive into Hawassa, located on the edge of Lake Awassa. 'Today we will visit a local village to see how they make a living in the fertile Lake District.

Overnight at Hawassa.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 21 Hawassa - Addis Ababa
After a leisurely morning we return to Addis by road.

Overnight in Addis Ababa.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 22 Depart
Departure from Addis Ababa.

BON VOYAGE!!

Included Meal(s): Breakfast

Tour Map


*The red tour trail on the map does not represent the actual travel path.


Hotel List


The following is a list of sample hotels at some locations included on this tour. The hotels shown here are meant to provide a general sense of the standard of hotel we usually aim for; they are not necessarily confirmed for your chosen departure.


Best Western Addis Ababa

Rating: 4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation
Location: Addis Ababa
Country: Ethiopia

Unfussy rooms in a refined hotel featuring a restaurant, a cafe/bar & a spa, plus free breakfast.


Click here to visit hotel website

Abay Minch Lodge

Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: Bahir Dar
Country: Ethiopia

Throughout time, the haunting images of East Africa’s myriad landscapes have captured the hearts and souls of most discerning travelers.
... one of the few places on earth where adventure still awaits is Ethiopia. This evocative land of dense forests, mountains, mighty rivers, lakes and abundant wildlife provides a unique backdrop for a truly memorable experience.
Located in the heart of Bahir Dar, a city that is surrounded by the beautiftul Lake Tana, the might Blue Nile River and the wonders of Simien Mountains, Abay Minch Lodge is the perfect place to start your adventurous journey. Our lodge is built on a ground that is rich with nature, abundant vegetation and general exotic feel. It is also a place where you can breath the fresh that flows from the various species of trees all around the compound and hear the melodious sound of birds. Come visit us and let us show you why we feel there is no better place for you start your adventure than Abay Minch Lodge.

Read More.

Click here to visit hotel website

Lal Hotel & Spa

Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: Lalibela
Country: Ethiopia

All rooms are fully air-conditioned and designed with private balcony that offers a panoramic view of the environment. Each room
... spacious and comes with an en-suite bathroom, a flat screen TV, a fridge and tea/coffee making facilities.
Read More.

Click here to visit hotel website

Aregash Lodge

Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: Yirga `Alem
Country: Ethiopia

Nestled between coffee fields and lush vegetation in Yirgalem town Aregash Lodge is a peaceful heaven for those who seek
... and a welcome break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. The bamboo thatched Tukuls of Aregash Lodge are built in the style of a traditional Sidama village. Each bungalow is decorated with vibrant colors and furnished in traditional Sidama style to give a warm, luxurious feel
Read More.

Click here to visit hotel website


Trip Information


Inclusions

Breakfast and dinner daily (hotels and restaurants), some lunches. All accommodation, transport, sightseeing and entrance fees for sites noted as 'visited' in the detailed itinerary. Gratuities for local guides, drivers, restaurant staff, porters. Airport transfers for land & air customers arriving/departing on tour dates.

Exclusions

International airfare to/from the tour. Tour Leader gratuity, lunches, drinks, personal items (phone, laundry, etc), departure taxes, domestic and international air taxes (if applicable), visa fees. Airport transfers for Land Only customers. Optional trip cancellation insurance. Our post-reservation trip notes offer further guidance on optional meal costs, visas, shopping, and locally paid departure taxes.

Seasonality and Weather

It is likely to be sunny most of the time on all departures. Most of the country is higher in elevation, so although the sun is powerful, the temperature is usually pleasant. There is always, however, the risk of sunburn at high altitude. Nights are generally cool to cold, depending on altitude. In the north, daytime temperatures seldom rise above 25C (80F) falling to around 9 C (50 F). At lower levels, such as the Omo Valley, temperatures can exceed 30 C (86 F) and fall to 15 C (60 F).

The main rains come between June and mid-September; November is one of the coolest and clearest in the year. January will be hotter and drier with a more arid landscape than September-November, which can still be quite lush after the rains.

Warning: the January departure of this tour tends to fill up as early as a year in advance; early booking is essential to ensure availability. Single supplements are strictly limited to four.

Transport and Travel Conditions

THIS IS A TRIP FOR THE HARDY!

The itinerary has been designed to be as comfortable as possible, but this part of the world is still undeveloped. Many road journeys are long, rough, hot, and dusty. While every precaution is taken to ensure the quality and hygiene of the accommodations and food provided, those with weak "constitutions" or reduced immunity should not travel to this destination. Medical facilities are limited and located only in major centres; even a minor injury or illness can become very serious in these isolated locales.

Long walks may be required to reach some areas, including walks over steep gradients and poorly maintained paths in extreme heat. If you have difficulty walking, even over short distances, or require the assistance of a cane, we regret that this tour is not suitable for you.

We will be using a single air-conditioned 22-seat bus (in which we place 15 travellers), plus one separate van for luggage.

Overall, past travellers on this tour have referred to it as "challenging," "exhilarating," fascinating," and "exhausting." As mentioned above, many roads are in poor condition and many road journeys seem to go on much longer than they should. Food is well-prepared and served with pride, but it can get repetitive with a lack of the variety to which you may be accustomed. Our tour is busy and moves around a lot, which can be fatiguing over time. Ethiopia is a place of great beauty and a fascinating place to visit, but it is also a place of "rough edges" and things that don't always work out as planned. One must definitely approach this trip with an open mind and spirit of adventure. If you do so, you will be rewarded by one of the world's most enriching travel experiences.

Related to the above, please see our entry under "accommodation."

Am I suitable for this tour? Please refer to our self-assessment form.

Accommodation

One of the problems with accommodation outside of main cities in Ethiopia, is the inconsistency in quality and comfort that we will experience as the tour progresses. Beginning/ending the trip with a modern international-class property in Addis, should not suggest that we can expect this same standard throughout the tour. While some hotels, though simple and lacking charm, are still comfortable and welcoming in some locations, some hotels can be disappointing by comparison. Cumulatively, the rough edges -- lack of hot water or air-conditioning, lapses in cleanliness and basic maintenance, lack of atmosphere, etc -- can enhance once's fatigue and sense of tiredness, especially after a long day of travel.

Though every effort is made to monitor levels of quality and to confirm our preferred properties, one should nonetheless be prepared for the reality of a tourist infrastructure that's still in its infancy.

For more information, please click on the "Map & Hotels" tab elsewhere on your screen.

Staff and Support

Tour Leader, drivers, local guides.

Group Size

Maximum 15 plus Tour Leader

ET2 TRIP DETAILS

DURATION22 days

TOUR STARTAddis Ababa

TOUR ENDAddis Ababa

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