Ethiopia tour, The Best of Ethiopia
Description of Ethiopia tour, The Best of Ethiopia
Ethiopia is an African land unlike anywhere else on the continent. With a wealth of unique cultures, incredible ethnic and natural diversity, and some of Africa’s finest historic monuments, the country offers a unique kaleidoscope of experiences – unforgettably revealed here with a trip encompassing the highlights of both the north and the south of the country.
From the colourful buzz of the capital Addis Ababa, we head south to the tribal lands of the Omo Valley to mingle with a dazzling array of traditional tribal groups – each with distinctive traits – as they come together at fabulous weekly village markets. But you will also get a chance to get close to some incredible wildlife too, including a lake safari in search of crocodiles and hippos.
The north of the country is best known for its striking monuments that date back through medieval times to the dawn of Christianity. You'll visit the monasteries of Lake Tana and the Blue Nile Falls (Africa's second largest), before heading to Gondar to explore castles and palaces that look more European than African.
In the Simien Mountains, meanwhile, you'll have a chance to hike in one of Africa's most dramatic landscapes scouting for unusual local fauna. There's also time spent seeing the incredible rock cut churches of Lalibela – ‘Africa’s Petra’ – before visiting the spiritual capital of Axum, reputedly the home of the Queen of Sheba and the Ark of the Covenant.
There's also a chance to extend the trip to see the remarkable hot springs of Dallol, where geological activity has created a wonderland of brightly-coloured rock formations.
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PlanetThis tour travels through some very remote regions, many of which have barely been touched by the presence of humans, and we strongly believe in maintaining their pristine nature. We strive to ensure that we leave these areas as we find them and our team have been trained in strict no litter policies, meaning that we take all refuse to either be recycled or properly disposed of in nearby towns.
The Simien Mountains is an important area for endemic wildlife in Ethiopia, and our visit here contributes income to the local economy and shows local people that wildlife is worth preserving.
Similarly, in conjunction with our local team we work with hotels and guesthouses to implement best practices when it comes to environmental matters – again in some places this is far behind what we might be used to in other parts of the world. This includes basic things like not replacing towels each day, as well as saving electricity and turning lights off.
Our travellers are specifically briefed on not to buy souvenirs made from endangered species – people in remote parts of Ethiopia do not always have the same respect towards wildlife as most travellers will have, and can sometimes offer such things for sale.
PeopleAs with many of the trips that we offer, this tour has a strong focus on local culture and different ethnic groups. Where possible we try to ensure that local people benefit from our presence.
This is particularly pertinent in the Omo Valley. Tourism here is a sensitive issue, and the drawcard is the incredible diversity of ethnic groups that live here. It is very important that village visits are carried out sensitively and local people do not feel as if they are being ‘invaded’ or treated as exhibits. By virtue of our small group sizes (maximum 12, but more typically 7-10) we visit these villages on a more equal basis than would be the case if we were a group of 25 people. We consult with tribal elders to make sure that our presence is welcomed, and always make use of a local guide from the particular village or ethnic group that we visit, to ensure that there is financial benefit to the local community. We do not encourage our travellers to give gifts to children but rather advise that they channel any donations or gifts through the elders, who can ensure that they are distributed appropriately.
We try to steer away from the villages that are visited by most tour groups to spend time with people in other villages – not only does this offer a more ‘authentic’ experience for our clients but it ensures that the benefits are more evenly spread. However this has to be done with sensitivity – some villages prefer to maintain their customs without the presence of outsiders, and we therefore respect their wishes.
Travellers are briefed extensively on appropriate behaviour within the villages to ensure that we do not unwittingly cause offence.