Immerse yourself in the proud history and culture of Ethiopia. Touch down in vibrant Addis Ababa and unearth the treasures of Gondar and Axum. Be amazed by Lake Tana, the source of the Blue Nile and fall in love with Bahir Dar and Lalibela, home to mysterious rock churches. Traverse the Omo Valley to meet indigenous tribes in Jinka, Arba Minch, Turmi and Konso and relax in verdant Awassa.
Arrive at your departure airport ready for your flight * to Addis Ababa. Night on board.
* If your outbound flight leaves at dawn (before 04: 00) you must arrive at the airport the night before the selected departure day.
Arrive in Addis Ababa and transfer to the domestic airport for a short flight to the lakeside city of Bahir Dar. Upon arrival, enjoy a stroll along the shore of Lake Tana to admire the birdlife. Lake Tana is famed as the source of the Blue Nile and is the largest lake in Ethiopia. Next, experience the hustle and bustle of local life in the colorful Bahir Dar Market, where you can see locals selling their products and bargaining to secure the best deals. Later, head to the mighty Blue Nile Waterfalls to contemplate the power of nature The falls are known locally as 'Tissiat', which means 'Smoking Water'. Transfer to the hotel and overnight stay in Bahir Dar.
Breakfast at the hotel. Begin the day with a boat trip on Lake Tana to visit the ancient monasteries, famed for their ancient manuscripts and religious paintings. Visit the monastery of Ura Kidanemihret- famed for its iconic paintings, and continue to the southern end of the heart-shaped lake to the 14th-century island monastery of Kibran Gebriel. Also discover the church of Azwa Mariam, with its iconic thatched roof. End the day with a beautiful sunset view from Bezait Palace. Enjoy the panoramic view across Lake Tana and the Blue Nile River. Overnight stay in Bahir Dar.
Breakfast at the hotel. Set off towards Gondar, passing through picturesque farmlands. Arrive in Gondar, once the seat of the Ethiopian emperors and characterised by its imposing fortress and castles. Enjoy a city tour to discover the complex of medieval castles and ruins in the Royal Enclosure, a testament to the majesty of the Ethiopian Empire. At the Fasilades Baths, learn about the significance of its waters, in which pilgrims still bathe today. Next, visit the church of Debre Birhan Selassie. It's interior is completely covered in murals and it is home to the most famous ceiling frescoes in Ethiopia. End the day at Quskuam Church, situated on the outskirts of the city. Overnight stay in Gondar.
Breakfast at the hotel. Today, set off to the airport for a flight to the historic city of Axum, known as the birthplace of Ethiopian civilisation. Upon arrival, take a city tour of Axum and its must-see sights including the obelisk field with its pre-Christian tombs, the Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion where, according to legend, the Ark of the Covenant is hidden, and the Historical Museum. Also, enjoy a visit to the Queen of Sheba’s Palace and the mysterious tomb of King Kaleb. Overnight stay in Axum.
Breakfast at the hotel. Transfer to the airport for a flight to Lalibela. Arrive in Lalibela, the most famous of all of Ethiopia's historic cities. In the afternoon, take a walking tour of the Northwestern group of Orthodox Rock Churches, including Bet Medhane Alem, Bet Maryam, Bet Meskel, Bet Danaghel, Bet Mikael and Bet Golgotha, still guarded by monks and priests today, who continue to practice ancient religious rituals. Spend some time exploring at your leisure and admiring these impressive monuments, which have been dubbed the 'Eighth Wonder of the World'. Transfer to the hotel and overnight stay in Lalibela.
Breakfast at the hotel. Today, enjoy a full-day tour of the Southeastern Cluster of rock churches including Bet Gabriel-Rufael, Bet Merkorios, Bet Amanual and Bet Abba Libanos. The most spectacular sight is saved until last as you finally explore Bet Giyorgis, a huge monolith in the shape of a cross, constructed in honour of St. George, the patron saint of Ethiopia. It is an important pilgrimage site for Coptic Christians. Spend some time discovering this sacred site at your own pace before enjoying a traditional coffee ceremony with a local family. Overnight stay in Lalibela.
Breakfast at the hotel. At the indicated time, transfer to the airport for a flight to Addis Ababa. Spend the day at your leisure. We recommend a visit to the National Museum, home to the oldest human ancestor in the world, Lucy, whose remains are estimated to be 3.5 million years old, and to the colorful Merkato market, thought to be the largest in Africa. Overnight stay in Addis Ababa.
Breakfast at the hotel. Set off in your 4x4 vehicle to begin your journey southwards along a paved road with little traffic that will take us to the Tiya archaeological site, home to the tombs of ancient Oromo warriors. Arrive at Lake Langano and enjoy some free time in this magnificent savanna environment on the banks of the lake. Overnight stay in Lake Langano.
Breakfast at the hotel. Transfer to Arba Minch, in the beautiful Omo Valley cultural zone, and on the way, visit Alaba Village, a traditional village known for its colorful murals. Pass by the wonderful Rift Valley and marvel at the vistas before you arrive in Arba Minch, set in lush mountainous surroundings. Enjoy some free time to explore the beautiful environment. Transfer to the hotel and overnight stay in Arba Minch.
Breakfast at the hotel. In the morning, head to Nechisar National Park and board a boat to navigate mighty Lake Chamo, home to crocodiles, hippos and wild birds. Continue southwards into the savannah, home of the tribal clans of the Omo Valley. Witness the Tsemay and Benna tribes herding cattle in search of water and stop at two iconic cultural events, the first is the Alduba cattle market and the second is the Dimeka tribal market. Continue towards Turmi and visit a traditional Hamar village to get to know about the local customs and traditions. The Hamar people are famed for their Bull-Jumping ceremonies. Transfer to the hotel and overnight stay in Turmi.
Breakfast at the hotel. In the morning, cross the eternal savannah, sprinkled with acacia trees, to reach the bank of the great Omo River. Cross the river on barges made from tree trunks to reach the village of Dassenech, where a horse-riding ethnic group live. Enjoy some time to explore the village and the riverbank and admire the beauty of the surroundings. Next, visit the tribal community of Karo, who are famed for their body decorations. Finally, return to Turmi and overnight stay.
Breakfast at the hotel. Continue your journey through the cultural Omo Valley, and head to Jinka, located in the hills north of the Tama Plains and famed for its indigenous communities. Stop at the Benna Tribal Market and admire the unique mix of cultures. Visit a local village for a more intimate insight into the lives of the locals before visiting the Ethnographic Museum, a research centre about the tribes of the Omo Valley. Transfer to the hotel and overnight stay in Jinka.
Breakfast at the hotel. Today, head to the Mago National Park, to meet the Mursi people, the warrior tribe of the Omo Valley. The Mursi are well known for the large clay discs their women wear in their lower lip. Learn about the cultural and social life of the village and meet the locals. Afterwards, leave the savannah behind in favour of the fertile mountains of Karat-Konso. Visit a local Konso village, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Transfer to the hotel and overnight stay in Konso.
Breakfast at the hotel. Head back towards the centre of the country, passing along the route of the Great Rift Valley. Arrive at picturesque Lake Awassa, where you can spend the afternoon at your leisure, relaxing and enjoying a sundowner drink whilst watching the glorious nature in front of you. Transfer to the hotel and overnight stay in Awassa.
Breakfast at the hotel. After enjoying a visit to Awassa Fish Market, head back to the capital of Addis Ababa. Visit the National Museum and enjoy some free time before transferring to the airport for a flight back to the US. Night on board.
Arrive in the US and end your trip.
17 days trip including flights*
15 days and 14 nights in destination
NYC - ADD
NYC - ADD
ADD - NYC
ADD - NYC
*In case the advertised hotels are not available they will always be replaced by one of the same, or a higher category.
Visa (required) * drinks, tips and any other services not mentioned in what's included.
* US passport holders can obtain an e-visa online before they travel (www.evisa.gov.et ) or a visa on arrival.
* Documentation of the internal flights will be delivered to you on arrival at your destination. It is essential to fill in the passport information correctly for each passenger in the given boxes at the end of the reservations process.
Remember to download your e-ticket to confirm the times of your flights and to complete online check-in using the airline’s website, or directly at the check-in desk at the airport.
Accommodation at the hotels is as indicated. In the event of any changes to accommodation, they will always be of the same, or a higher category. The category of hotels is not standardized across all countries in the world. For this reason, the criteria may differ depending on the destination country's own standards.
In the case of adverse weather conditions, for safety reasons or for any other reasons deemed appropriate, the order and duration of the excursions included in the itinerary may be changed or cancelled without prior notice.
Exoticca Travel Stories
Creating unforgettable memories, one traveler at a time
Weather throughout the trip was glorious (23-27 during the day & 10 at night) and the scenery exceptional. All in all we have loved the trip and would recommend it highly- but make sure you have good walking shoes!
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