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Exploring Ethiopia Tour

22 Days

ethiopiaEthiopia is the oldest independent country in Sub Saharan Africa. The earliest evidence of Ethiopian history was around 1,000 BC when the Queen of Sheba visited King Solomon. The first recorded kingdom in Ethiopia grew around Axum during the 3rd century BC. Axum was an offshoot of the Semitic Sabeam kingdoms of southern Arabia, and it became the greatest ivory market in the north east.

Crowned by majestic mountains and beautiful lakes, Ethiopia is a country of breathtaking scenery that changes constantly as you travel through the different regions, where old and rich cultures expresses itself in the many historical sites and cities. This Ethiopia tour will enable you to explore the ancient land with 700 year old churches carved out of rock, towering obelisks, and the home to the Ark of the Covenant. The people of Ethiopia truly round out the character of this intriguing land with their deep rooted hospitality and with their smiling faces, they will give you the welcome any guest of Ethiopia deserves. Explore Ethiopia tour is a great way to see Ethiopia.

International Flight Schedule | Ethiopia Tour Itinerary | Quotation | Booking Information

International Flight Itinerary (Suggested)

United & Emirates Airlines

UA 934 W LAX LONDON LHR       1.19PM        7.55AM   
EK  004 M LONDON DUBAI  8.00PM        6.45AM
EK 723  M DUBAI  ADDIS ABABA      8.25AM       11.35AM
EK 724 M ADDIS DUBAI 7.35PM        12.35AM
EK 007 M DUBAI LONDON 3.10AM        7.05AM
UA 935W LONDON LAX 11.15AM      2.36PM

* All flight schedules are subject to change.

Ethiopia Land Tour Itinerary

Day 1
Arrival in Addis Ababa, on Emirates Airways EK 723 at 11:35 am. Meet by our representative and get transferred to your hotel. We will provide a tour of the city in the afternoon. 

Overnight: Ghion Hotel.

Day 2
Fly to Axum ET 104 at 07:20, arriving at 08:50, be met and transfer to the Remhai hotel.

mariamtsion churchFrom around 200 BC to 700 AD, Axum was the seat of an Empire which extended across the Red Sea to Arabia, traded with India and China, minted its own coinage, had its own alphabet and notational system, constructed great engineering works and dams and which was reckoned in the 4th century to be one of the four great powers of the ancient world.  Today the visitor can see stellae (the largest single pieces of stone erected anywhere on the world, it is still not understood how they were transported from the quarry and erected), the tombs and castles of kings, Axum Museum and Mariamtsion Church, built on the site of Ethiopia’s first church. A chapel within the church compound is believed by Ethiopian Orthodox Christians to house the Ark of the Covenant, or the original tablets of Moses (see Graham Hancock’s The Sign and the Seal). 

Start your Ethiopia tour after taking lunch with a visit of the museum and stellae, and then ascend a hill to see the castle of King Kalab, passing Mai Shum (or the bath of the Queen of Sheba) on the way.  Return to town see the tomb of King Basen, visit the small museum inside the church grounds (women are not allowed inside, nor into the 17th century church, but the priests usually bring out some crowns of kings for women visitors to see), and end the day with a visit of the site locally known as Queen Sheba’s Palace, although in fact it is of a later date, the villa of an Axumite, notable from around the 1st century AD.

Overnight:  Ramhai Hotel.

Day 3
Transfer to the Airport for your flight to Lalibella, ET123 @ 11:00 – 11:40. Check in to Jerusalem Guest House.

At the end of the 12th and beginning of the 13th centuries King Lalibella of the Zaghwe dynasty built a series of rock hewn churches – the New Jerusalem as he called it – now rightly acknowledged to be one of the wonders of the world.  There are 13 churches in the town named after him, with others in the surrounding countryside.  All are still in use today. It is estimated that the churches took 25 years to construct. On arrival after having your lunch, visit the cave church of Yemrehane Christos, built by the king of the same name before the reign of King Lalibella.  The church is constructed inside a cave, in Axumite style, similar to the church at Debre Damo, with alternating levels of wood and stone. A 40 km trip from Lalibella followed by a 20 minute hike brings you to this beautiful church, the finest example of its kind in Ethiopia.

In the evening attend the ceremony of Christmas at one of the rock hewn churches. Here in Ethiopia it is unique to celebrate this day at Lalibella; the right place to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ with the huge mass of those keen believers, this will be marvelous and  memorable experience for all of you!

Overnight: Jerusalem Guest House

Day 4
Here, the colorful celebration starts early in the morning so you will have to get ready around 05:30, your guide will decide the time and give you the exact details. The ceremony will take about 1 – 2 hours, then return to the hotel for breakfast and start your Ethiopia tour by visiting the first group of churches, returning later to the hotel for lunch, and continue the tour in the afternoon. (The churches are divided into two groups based on the River Yordanos or River Jordan.)  

The first group of six churches lie in rock cradles one behind the other: Bet Golgotha, Bet Mikael, Bet Mariam, Bet Meskel, Bet Danaghel and Bet Medhane Alem.

Bet Medhane Alem, the largest one is built like a Greek Temple. In a corner are three empty graves which are symbolically dug for biblical patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Bet Giyorgis possibly the most elegant of all the Lalibella churches, lies somewhat isolated in the southwest part of the village on a sloping rock terrace. It can only be reached through a tunnel. The group of four, south of the Jordan River, comprise of Bet Emanuel, Bet Mercuiros, Bet Abba Libanos and Bet Gabriel-Rufa'el.  Bet Emanuel's elaborate exterior is much praised by art historian.

Overnight: Jerusalem Guest House

Day 5
Fly to Gondar on ET 123, 12:00 – 12:30. Upon arrival, be met and transfer to the Goha hotel.

ethiopia tour castle of kind kalabGondar was the imperial capital from the 17th to mid 19th centuries. The Ethiopia city tour includes: the Royal Enclosure or Fasil Gibbi, provides visitors with an idea of what it must have been like in it’s hey day.  Within the compound are the castles of various Gondarene emperors – extensive renovation is being carried out – along with a banqueting hall, stables and churches.  About 2 km from the town center is the bath of King Fasilides, where at Timkat (Ethiopian Epiphany) a nearby river is diverted to fill an area the size of a small swimming pool.  Worshippers plunge into the cold water in a re-enactment of the baptism of Christ in the River Jordan. 

Although most of Gondar’s churches were destroyed during the Mahdist invasion from Sudan in the 1880’s, one very fine example, Debre Berhan Selassie, was saved, according to the legend, by a swarm of bees which routed the invaders.   The walls and ceiling are completely covered with murals - the angels’ faces on the ceiling have become a common motif in Ethiopian design. 

A good place to end your tour of Gondar is the ruined palace of Queen Mentowab, and the church of Qusquam Mariam, situated on a hill just outside town.

Overnight: Goha Hotel

Day 6
Early breakfast and then drive to Simien Mountain National park.  

ethiopia tour simien mountain national parkIt is located 885 km North West of Addis Ababa, established in 1966 and legally gazetted in1969. Set off north, to Debark, a distance of about 100 km; collect your mules and muleteers and game scout and head into the Simien Mountains National Park. It stretches over 179 sq km and lies at an altitude of between 1900m-4543m, in an afro alpine zone.

A UNESCO World Heritage Site since the late 1970s, the Simien Mountains present perhaps the most dramatic scenery in Africa – great volcanic plugs, formed some 40 million years ago and eroded over the a eons into fantastic crags, pinnacles and flat topped mountains, “the chess pieces of the Gods”, as one writer described them, tower over precipitous gorges, river valleys and plains stretching all the way to Eritrea.  There are many peaks over 4000 meters, and Ras Dashen at 4620 meters is the highest in the country and the fourth highest in Africa. A typical trek takes you through tiny village and fields of barley in to the lower valley to the steep gorges and sheer escarpment of the lower slopes. In the park the average temperature ranges 11.5-18 degree Celsius and at night may drop up to 3 degree Celsius or below. (We recommend warm clothing).

While trekking in the Simiens visitors can see the endemic Gelada or bleeding heart baboon, the Walia Ibex, the Simien Wolf (the rarest Candida in the world) and rock hyrax, and endemic birds such as the Thick billed Raven, Black headed Siskin, White Collared Pigeon, Wattled Ibis, White billed Starling, Spot breasted Plover and White backed Black Tit.  Cruising Lammergeyers are often seen.  The park is also famous for its Afro-Alpine flora, meadows and grasslands punctuated by Giant Lobelia and flowering Red Hot Pokers. Drive back to Gondar.        

Overnight: Goha Hotel

Day 7
ethiopia tour bahir darOn this day of the Ethiopia tour, morning after breakfast, drive to Bahir Dar, it is a distance of 180km or 3hr drive.  There is interesting countryside and scenic mountain Views en route. Continue your drive to the Blue Nile Falls, some 30-km from the Bahir Dar town. A 20-minute walk brings us to the falls themselves, which are at their most spectacular during and after the rainy season (from about June to January).  Here the Blue Nile, which contributes 85% of the main Nile flow, starts its long journey to the Mediterranean. After check in at Tana Hotel visit the town of Bahir Dar.

Bahir Dar is one of the Ethiopian's most attractive towns. Bahir Dar, with its wide avenues lined palms and flamboyant trees, is situated on the southern shore of Lake Tana, Ethiopian largest lake. Bahir Dar is also a base for visiting the island monasteries of Lake Tana and the Blue Nile fall.

The visit includes Weyto village, which is 2km west of the town and they are known for their production of tankwa boats. Continue your visit to the former palace of Emperor Haile Selassie at Bizeit, with great views of the town and the place where the Blue Nile flows out of the lake, and finally to the markets.

Overnight: Tana hotel

Day 8
 By boat cross Lake Tana and visit the Island Monasteries.

ethiopia tour lake tanaToday the lake is most famous as the home of the monasteries established on some 20 of its 37 islands. Travel by boat to Zeghe peninsula where you will visit the two churches of Ura kidane Mehirat and Azuwa Mariam which were built in late 13th and 14th century, respectively. Continue to Narga Selassie, situated on the western shore of Dek, the largest island on Lake Tana. Narga Selassie is, the most ornately decorated of the lake monasteries.

Overnight: Tana hotel

Day 9
Fly back to Addis Ababa, on Flight # ET123 @ 13:30 – 14:30 hrs. You will have a half day city tour of Addis. This includes the Institute of Ethiopian Studies(the Ethnographic museum), where one can see clothing from different regions, along with artifacts, household utensils and in a separate section, paintings reflecting the history and culture of the Ethiopia. Tour the building that was once the Genet Palace of Emperor Haile Selassie, and visitors can see his bedroom and bathroom.

Then move to the National Archaeological Museum, ranks among the most important sub-Saharan museums in Africa. It houses the new skeleton of SELAM who was found in Dec2000 at Dikdika, Afar region, in the northern part of Ethiopia like Lucy, the mother of human kind. Selam is also belongs to Australopithecus Afarensis, the only difference is that Selam lived over 150,000 years before Lucy.

Here visitors can see exhibits ranging from the 3.5 million year old bones of Lucy, through the Axumite and Gondarene periods to the monarchs Tewodros and Menelik.

Finally, move to Mercato, the largest market area in Africa, where virtually every possible commodity is on sale, from livestock to computers.  For the visitor good at bargaining, there is a huge selection of Ethiopian arts and crafts. Later return to your hotel for the over night stay.

Overnight: Ghion Hotel
Day 10
Drive to Wondo Genet “A place of heaven” with one of our experienced drivers using our spacious and comfortable land cruiser via Debre zeyit, Ziway, Langano and Shashemene. En route it’s possible to see one or two Lakes at Debre Zeyit, drive to Meki then proceed to Ziway. Lake Ziway is the largest of the northern group of Rift Valley Lake. It lies about 1.5 km east of the town of Ziway, it is best known for its bird life. Leave Ziway and continue to Lake Langano. It is also a base to visit the near by Lake Abiata-shala National Park, twin lakes of Abiata and Shala which form part of the 887sq km Lake Abiata-shala National Park. After lunch visit Lake Abiata; is Ethiopian's nakura, shallow and saline, it is an enormous lake with enormous numbers of birds.

After passing Langano start to climb, leaving the drier acacia forest for the greener areas around Shashamene. Shashamene is situated at a cross roads, with roads north south and east west.  It is also home to a Rastafarian community from the Caribbean. The late Emperor Haile Selassie I granted them land here in perpetuity in recognition of the support and solidarity of the people of African origin in the Caribbean for Ethiopia at the time of the Fascist aggression in 1935, when Mussolini’s Italian forces invaded the country. From Shasmene turn east for about 13 km; leads to the mountain and spa resort of Wondo Genet.

Haile Selassie had a lodge here, now part of the hotel, and the waters are reputed to have curative properties.  The hot water comes gushing out of the rocks and one can stand underneath, getting a natural hydro massage.  There is also a naturally heated swimming pool.  The scenery around the lodge is hilly and Juniper forested.  While most visitors may prefer to relax around the spa, there are some very good walks in the hills, with plenty of bird life - the endemic Yellow-fronted Parrot, the Black-headed Forest Oriole and the Golden-backed Woodpecker can easily be seen, along with the Redwing Starling, Grosbeak Weaver, Mountain Wagtail and Black Rough wing Swallow - and wildlife - colobus and vervet monkeys, anubis baboon and bushbuck. 

Spectacular sunsets can be seen from the terrace outside the bar, with a great view of Lake Awassa Wondo Genet is surrounded by dense forest and filled with bird song. Bird life in the forest is abundant. There's also an arboretum with over124 species of trees. Six endemic birds are found in the forest.  Visit the Forest Research Institute, and explore the wonderful virgin forest.

Overnight: Wabe Shebelle Hotel

Day 11
Drive from Wondo Genet to Arba Minch.

 In Arba Minch, or “40 springs”, and check into the Swaynes Hotel.  The hotel is situated on a hill overlooking the narrow stretch of forested land, known locally as “the bridge of heaven”, which separates the two lakes.  Philip Briggs in the Bradt Guide described it as one of the best views in Africa.

ethiopia tour Nechsar National parkThis Ethiopia Tour continues with a drive to Nechsar National park and a visit. Here there are around 84 mammals that are known. The main species’ of mammals are greater kudu, Burchel’s zebra, reedbuck, warthog, cheetah, leopard, lion, klipspringer, baboons, colobus monkey, and wild dogs. 342 bird species have been recorded.

Overnight: Swaynes Hotel

Day 12
Drive to Jiknka via Konso and Weito (4-5 hours drive) Market day at Key Afer.

Today you will drive through the Konso village; whose people are known for their intricately terraced hillsides, fine woven materials and the carved totems with which they decorate their graves. Enjoy the terraces they make which are recognized and prized by UNESCO.

Pass the Weyto River where you will see a great variety of Pelicans and other aquatic birds and then proceed to Kay Afer  where you will attend the market and have a chance to look (take photos) at the different tribes that come for the market. Later drive to Jinka for your overnight stay.

Overnight:  Jinka Resort

Day 13
Drive to Mago/ Mursi

Early morning after having your breakfast visit the Ari people and then leave Jinka and drive to the Mago National Park.  In the park you may see the following animals: buffalo, Grant’s gazelle, Topi and Burchill’s Zebra.  Drive to Mursi to visit the Mursi villages. The Mursi’s go in for body scarification and (among the women, the wearing of lip plates is common.).

Return to Jinka for the overnight stay.

Overnight: Jinka Resort

Day 14
Drive to Turmi via Key Afer and Dimeka. Market Day at Dimeka.

Dimeka is 27km away, which is about an hours drive from Turmi.  Attend one of the most color full markets at Dimeka and continue driving to Turmi.    

Overnight: Camping at Turmi

Day 15
Drive to Murulle.

Murulle is the area of Karo people en route stop at the village called Kisso to see the traditional dance of the Hammer people. Late afternoon have a short drive to the near by village of Qorcho located on a very good view of River Omo to visit the Karo village.

Among the people living along the Omo River, are the Karo who excel in face and body painting. Then drive back to Turmi.

Overnight: Camping at Turmi

Day 16
Visit the Hamer villages and their market. The Hamer are a fine looking people, both men and women take great pride in their appearance, shaving and coloring their hair, oiling their bodies and decorating themselves with beads and bracelets worn around arms and legs.

Overnight: Camping at Turmi.  Enjoy market day at TURMI

Day 17
Drive back to Arba Minch. 

Late afternoon enjoy the boat trip over Lake Chamo in a more relaxation state of mind while viewing of hippos and crocodiles from a very close range. The Lake is approximately 551-sq km.

Overnight: Swaynes Hotel

Day 18
Drive to Langano.

Early morning, after breakfast make a short detour to Chencha, the home of the Dorze people, known for their bamboo, bee-hive shaped houses and their fine quality cotton “shamma”. And drive back to Langano. Relax by Langano’s fresh breath taking atmosphere. Lake Langano is bilharzia and crocodile free, and visitors can go for a swim, walk along the shores of the lake or go bird watching in the forests along the lake shores.
Overnight: Bishangari Lodge- ranks as the only up market eco tourism venture in Ethiopia that could stand comparison with its peers else where in Africa.

Day 19
Drive to Bilen.

ethiopia awash national parkEthiopia tour continues with a drive from Langano to Bilen Lodge. En route visit the Awash National Park, the park takes its name from the Awash River; the longest river in Ethiopia. The River marks the park's southern boundary. The Awash National Park is an area of river line forest, wetlands, acacia, woodlands, Savannah grasslands, rocky cliff hills and escarpment. There are well-maintained tracks traversing the park, which take in the most spectacular areas. In Awash Park and the area around our lodge at Bilen different plains animals may be seen, including greater and lesser Kudu, Gerenuk and Dikdik. More than 460 birds have been recorded here. Continue driving to Bilen and check in at Bilen Lodge.

Bilen lodge is designed to reflect local cultural building traditions, and they are thatched on the outside and covered with reed mats on the inside.  The units are situated at intervals; each has its own thatched patio, a bedroom with two twin beds with mosquito nets, bathroom, with shower, flush toilet and hand basin.

Overnight: Village Ethiopia-Bilen lodge

Day 20
On this day, visit the vast hot springs of Bilen; it is located on Elalayta, a hill over looking the sea of reeds which fringes them. In addition to these visit the Afar village and surroundings. There are a variety of different habitats around Bilen for birds, wildlife, flowers and plants.     

Overnight: Village Ethiopia-Bilen lodge

Day 21
Drive back to Addis Ababa. Check in at Ghion Hotel.

Today you will enjoy a farewell dinner in one of the most traditional restaurant; with traditional foods and beverages along with different traditional music and dancing. While enjoying and relaxing you can share your Ethiopia tour experiences with us.               

Overnight: Ghion hotel

Day 22
AM: Excursion to Mt. Entoto including a visit to the Churches of Mariam and the Archangel Raguel. Also visit Mt. Entoto Church Museum. Return to Ghion Hotel for lunch.

Relax until departure to the airport for your International flight on Emirates Airlines EK 724, departing at 7:35 pm. Check in is at 4:35 pm.

* Ethiopia tour itinerary is subject to change due to circumstances beyond our control and for changes in local conditions. All flight times are subject to change.

Quotation Per Itinerary 

Per Person, Sharing Twin - Min 2 Persons (21 Nights)

1) Based on 2 persons traveling  -   $ TBA per person

2) Ethiopia Domestic Airfare   -  $  TBA
Routing: Addis Ababa-Axum, Axum –Lalibella,
Lalibella-Gondar, Bahir Dar -Addis Ababa

3) International airfare on United & Emirates Airlines:  TBA

  • Accommodation at the hotels specified on a twin room on full board basis including during camping and at Bilen lodge. (B’fast/Lunch/Dinner for entire tour, per itinerary)
  • Cook service during camping
  • All camping equipments (tents, cooking utensils, mattresses etc.,)   
  • All tours and transfers including boat trip over Lake Tana and Lake Chamo and  Blue Nile Falls
  • Camp site, scout and guard fees
  • Excursion to Simien Mountain national park, Blue Nile Falls, Asheten Mariam & Yemrhane Chirestos cave church, Yeha pagan temple
  • Local guides for the Historic routes
  • Escort guide for the entire tour****
  • Airport meeting & greeting services
  • All Entrance fees per itinerary
  • Comfortable Mini buses for local tours/transfers, land cruisers with driver, fuel & comprehensive insurance for the southern trip
  • Surface transfer to Gondar
  • VAT and local taxes
  • Personal expenses, such as telephone, room service, alcoholic beverages, laundry etc.
  • Tipping/Gratuities to guides/ drivers/waiters
  • Stop over costs in Dubai
  • Any items not specifically mentioned

Completed booking forms must be sent in with your tour deposit of $500 per person to reserve space on this Ethiopia tour.

Click here to download our Booking Form / Credit Card Authorization Form / Terms & Conditions.

We offer low cost add-on airfares from your home city. Call 714-964-6896 / 800-423-9566 for more details.

Please contact us for bookings and information.