“The quintessential tour of Ethiopia, from Addis Ababa to Lalibela via Lake Tana, Gondar, the Blue Nile and the Simien Mountains.”

Highlights

Addis Ababa | Bahir Dar | Lake Tana | Blue Nile Falls | Gondar | Simien Mountains National Park | Aksum | Mekele | Medhane Alem Adi Kesho | Lalibela rock-hewn churches |

Description of Ethiopia tours

Join a small group tour of Ethiopia that over 13 days showcases the unmissable destinations in this unique and entrancing country. Iconic locations include Lake Tana, source of the Blue Nile, the stunning ancient castles of Gondar and of course the monolithic rock-hewn churches of Lalibela, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


Your Ethiopian odyssey gets underway in the capital, Addis Ababa, where you might visit the National Museum to see the remarkably intact skeleton of ‘Lucy’, who lived in Ethiopia some 3.2 million years ago. Next day you’ll fly across the Ethiopian Plateau to Bahir Dar on the shore of Lake Tana, the source of the Blue Nile. You’ll cruise around the lake and its islands to admire some of the ancient churches and monasteries built on them centuries ago, and also drive out to see ‘Smoking Water’ – the vast Blue Nile Falls.


Gondar, the former capital, is renowned for its medieval churches, the Royal Enclosure here another World Heritage Site. The city is also the gateway to the Simien Mountains National Park, where you’ll do a little light trekking and hopefully catch sight of the park’s best-known inhabitants: the ‘bleeding heart’ Gelada baboons.

Continue on through Aksum, once capital of Africa’s oldest empire, and its many historical sites including the St Mary of Zion Church – one of the many reputed resting places of the Ark of the Covenant.

And then finally, the highlight of many Ethiopia trips, the amazing churches of Lalibela, carved from immense stones and sunk underground so that it looks as though they were dropped from the sky. Welcome to one of the world’s truly great historic and religious sites.

Travel Team

If you'd like to chat about this holiday or need help finding one we're very happy to help. The Travel Team.

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14 Sep 2020
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Responsible tourism

As the pioneers of responsible tourism, we screen every trip so you can travel knowing your holiday will help support conservation and local people.

Environment
In our company, we’re all for zero contact, zero interaction experiences with wildlife. Wild animals should be viewed in the wild. This trip offers travellers the opportunity to observe wildlife in their natural habitat in the Simien Mountains National Park, particularly the endemic Gelada monkeys, or ‘bleeding heart baboons’. Our leaders are trained to ensure travellers follow a few simple guidelines including not calling out to the animals, whistling or trying to get their attention – noise disturbs them and stresses them out – just let them do their thing. Drivers and guides must never use their vehicles to get an animal to move, or drive off-road to get closer to the action.

In an effort to reduce single-use plastic during this trip we provide reusable cloth bags to all of our travellers. Many Ethiopian hotels and operators provide small bottles of water, making it easy to use plastic excessively. However we provide a water refill station while in the vehicle to refill your existing water bottle. A reusable bottle is highly recommended on this trip.

Water is a precious commodity in this part of the world. Our trained tour leaders are well versed in advising travellers on initiatives to manage water consumption. We encourage travellers to treat this scarce resource with the utmost respect.

Unfortunately on the vast majority of this itinerary, using local transport is not reliable or feasible. So we use private, locally owned transport. We ensure our vehicles/fleets are well maintained and fuel-efficient. We also endeavour to include hiking where possible such as in the Simien Mountains and Lalibela.
Community

The Impacts of this Trip

This trip is run by our own local Ethiopian operator who shares our commitment to responsible travel, from waste and water management to ensuring we are leaving as minimal a footprint as possible. Our local team are trained on our global responsible travel policies and practices. We also use a range of other local suppliers for different activities throughout this itinerary.

All aspects of this trip (on the ground) are operated by Ethiopians who live locally, including all our leaders, vehicle drivers and local site guides.
An important part of travel is mixing with the locals and experiencing “real life” in the destination. This itinerary includes a dinner where the fresh food is sourced from local farmers and supplies a much needed income to the local economy.

We have a foundation which was set up to empower travellers to have a positive impact on the communities they visit. Our foundation now supports over 50 local, grassroots projects around the world. Over the past 15 years, it has distributed over AU $5 million to projects tackling areas such as sustainable development, human rights, child protection, environmental conservation, wildlife protection, education and healthcare.

Climate

3 Reviews of Ethiopia tours

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Reviewed on 15 Jan 2020 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Joining the pilgrims on their 4+ hours of hiking to a monastery atop a mountain on Christmas morning. Locals were so friendly and encouraging.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Try to attend one of the religious festivals throughout the year.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Hotels, restaurants and shops were all locally-owned and run. Cafés and souvenir shops were mostly micro-businesses operated by women, which made me
even happier to stop for delicious coffee/postcard.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


This was my first time travelling with company, and I was throughly impressed by the organisation and itinerary. I'm giving 4 stars because the
accommodation often lacked hot water and one hotel was particularly awful. Otherwise, very good. And Ethiopia was more than I could have hoped for.

Reviewed on 10 Nov 2019 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


The gorgeous scenery/ landscapes, and also the extensive knowledge of our guide Maleku. It was like being in a very customized course covering multiple very interesting topics!

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Ethiopia is not fully set up for Western tourism yet, so be aware that the facilities might not all meet your usual expectations.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


It definitely benefitted all the local businesses whose hotels, restaurants and transportation services we used. The minivan provided water for us to refill our own bottles, which was very good, but the hotels did still provided plastic water bottles in the room, and sometimes I still had to make use of those, just because of the logistics of the day.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


The trip was so wonderful specifically because of our fantastic guide Maleku. Without him it would have still been very nice, but it would have been much more routine and lacking in “soul” and true “insider knowledge.” I felt like a friend had introduced me to their country. Maleku expertly assessed our group’s needs, interests and abilities, and then suggested improvements to the schedule that made more sense given weather/ actual travel times/ other factors, and then went with what worked best for everyone. He was also patient and informative with logistical details and any of our specific requests and needs. He answered all our questions and had a great sense of humour. He shared his extensive knowledge about the flora, fauna, history, politics, religion, geography, etc of Ethiopia and the region with us, and I learned so so much. He organized optional activities for us for our free times that weren’t included in the itinerary but which were very welcome additions. He also provided options for some scheduled activities so that depending on our level of interest or ability we could
each choose to do either the more involved or the less involved option. He also offered to, and then did, give up three hours of what would have otherwise been his free time to show me around the Lalibela churches. This was because I had missed the Lalibela rock churches day of the tour due to a minor health issue. I appreciated this greatly. I would say do not lose this guide, I only hope to always have guides like him on every guided tour I ever take in the future!

Reviewed on 10 Apr 2019 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Gondor, Aksum, and Lalibela were simply wonderful. Lalibela has often been called the 8th Wonder of the World and I would believe it.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


For me it was a more physically strenuous trip than I thought - there is a lot of hiking up and down hills.. I also took a side trip to Harar and I thought it was definitely a great add-on.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


I bought a Life Straw this year and it definitely reduces the amount of bottled water you need to buy. We always used local guides, had our meals outside of the hotel, and bought gifts etc. at the markets or local shops.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


It was a great trip and I enjoyed Ethiopia very much.

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