Ethiopia travel Tour takes you the top tourist attractions of Ethiopia and is also arrange in a way to visit the colorful Meskal Festival In Addis Ababa.
TOUR CODE: AAT-FT-41
DURATION: 18 DAYS/ 17 NIGHTS
SITE: BAHIR DAR, GONDAR,SIMIEN MOUNTAINS, LALIBELA, AXUM, GHERALTA & OMO VALLEY TRIBES
TRANSPORT: BY AIR & SURFACE
- Explore the dramatic nature of the Blue Nile & Tiss Isat Falls
- Boat trip on Lake Tana to visit the ancient monasteries Ura Kidane Mehret and Azwa Maryam
- Visit the Castles of Gondar, which are known as Africa’s Camelot
- Visit the splendid vestiges of the fabled Queen Sheba in Axum
- Walk the path of pilgrims to the amazing rock-hewn churches of Lalibela, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
- Explore the fascinating and strange cultures of the indigenous tribes of the Omo Valley in a modern, air-conditioned 4WD
- Shop the stalls of Merkato, the largest open-air market in Africa
- Traditional Ethiopian farewell dinner with “coffee ceremony” and traditional dances of the different ethnic groups.
Departure Day: Daily Guaranteed Departure with 2 participants minimum
Ethiopia has old, fascinating history, and is home to many diverse colorful cultures. In the northern part of this tour you will experience ancient monasteries, Castles, rock-hewn churches and Ethiopia’s magnificent natural beauty. The second part of the program is a cultural tour for visiting the people in the Southern Omo Valley. This adventure takes you on a cultural high, exploring some of the most remote areas of Ethiopia where some of the most colorful and beautiful tribes of the world live. The Mursi, with their decorative lip plates, the Hamer in their amazing hair decorations, the Ari, the Bena and several other tribes are covered on this trip.
Day 1: Arrival in Addis Ababa
WELCOME TO ETHIOPIA. On arrival in Addis Ababa our representative will meet you at Bole
International Airport. After transfer to your hotel an overview of the program will be given. Then visit historical sites in Addis Ababa including the National Archaeological Museum, where the 3,6 million year old skeletal remains of “Lucy” rest, which were discovered in 1974. Then visit Unity Park at the National Palace. .: Merkato: It is the largest open-air market in Africa. Here you will be presented with a confusing, but fascinating; glimpse of the vast range of goods and artefacts available from all parts of the country and enjoy the Ethiopian trade exchange tradition in the open air. After lunch attend Meskel Festival at Meskal Square,
Overnight Cian City Hotel
MESKEL - Finding of the True Cross
Meskel, one of the major Ethiopian orthodox festivals. Legend has it that the cross upon which Christ was crucified was discovered in the year 326 by Queen Helena/Empress Helen, Mother of Constantine the Great, and Unable to find the Holy Sepulchre; she prayed for help and was directed by the smoke to where the cross was buried. The queen in her efforts to discover the cross, setup long poles and set them afire. Skyward raised the smoke and down it bent, touching the spot on the earth where the original cross was found buried. After the unearthing of the Holy Cross, Queen Helen lit up torches heralding her success to the neighbouring areas.
Ethiopians have been celebrating that day for millennium. There are two occasions on Meskel. The first is Demera, (September 26) this is the bonfire event, it takes place on the eve of Meskel. A bonfire is built topped by a cross to which flowers are tied. The flowers are Meskel daisy. The patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church orchestrates the lightening ceremony. After the bonfires are blessed they are lit and dancing and singing begins around them. While the Demera is set on fire there is an inner feeling of brightness and by for all those that are around the Demra . Overnight in 4-star hotel.
Day 2: Fly Bahir Dar, Blue Nile Falls
After breakfast fly to Bahir Dar, a small town on the southern shore of Lake Tana. The lake is the source of the Blue Nile and the largest lake in Ethiopia. Thirty of its thirty-seven islands host churches and monasteries of considerable historical and cultural interest. After refreshment, take a boat trip on Lake Tana to visit two of the most accessible and representative monasteries, Ura Kidane Mehret and Azwa Maryam, which still serve their original function. Afternoon we will drive to south of Bahir Dar to visit the impressive Blue Nile Falls, locally known as Tis Isat or 'Smoke of Fire'. We reach the falls via the small town of Tiss Abay which is 30 kms from Bahir Dar but it takes about 1 hour drive due to the poor road conditions, however, the road itself is lined with villages and farms the whole way so there is plenty to see. Together with a leader and a local guide, we will take a five minute boat ride across the Nile to begin a 30 minute walk to our first viewpoint. From here, you will begin to understand the Amharic translation for these falls - 'the Water that Smokes'. After time to have a coffee with the locals in the shade, we will continue with the walk for a further one hour passing through quiet countryside before meeting our vehicle and returning to Bahir Dar. Overnight Hotel
Day 3: Drive to Gondar
On the 180 km long drive to Gondar you experience a typical Ethiopian-African landscape - wide grazing land, hilly mountains and numerous farmlands. Visit the castles and churches built by emperor Fassiledes and his descendants, also known as Africa’s Camelot. Later proceed to the fascinating Debre Birhan Selassie Church - one of the World’s heritage sights. Its walls and ceilings are decorated with scenes of biblical lore and medieval history.
Day 5: Drive to Simien Mountains
After early breakfast we drive to Debark, the head quarter of the Simien Mountain National Park. We proceed to Sankaber, where we walk around through breath-taking scenery enjoying endemic Gelada Baboons and the bone breaker giant bird Lammergeyer.
Day 6: Drive Axum, ca. 7 h
This drive is probably the most spectacular in Ethiopia. The road descends from 3100 meters through hairpin bends down the Simien Mountains to 1400 meters in just 40kms! The drive down to Adi Arkay showcases not only the immensely beautiful Simien Mountain massifs but also the people who eke out an existence in this unforgiving countryside. The drive continues through the Tekeze valley, crossing the Tekeze River and onto Axum.
Day 7: In Axum
Visit historical and archaeological sites in Axum. The ancient city marks the location of the heart of ancient Ethiopia, when the kingdom of Axum was the most powerful state between the eastern
Roman empire and Persia. The archaeological and historical attractions in Axum include: the
archaeological museum, the magnificent monolithic steles and obelisks, the tombs of king Kaleb and king Gebre Meskal, the legendary bath of Queen Sheba and the ruins of her palace. The 16th century cathedral St. Mary of Zion, the holiest church in Ethiopia, is said to host the original Ark of the Covenant. The churches and monasteries of Axum are richly endowed with icons and historical crowns of ancient emperors.
Day 8: Drive to Gheralta
After breakfast we drive through the historical town of Adwa, a major African battlefield, where Emperior Minilic II defeated the Italian army on 1st March 1896 thereby ensuring that his Empire would be the only African state to enter the 20th centuryas a fully independent entity Visit the 5th century B.C. ruins of Yeha temple - a large pre-Christian temple consisting of a single oblong chamber. The temple is believed to be the oldest standing building in Ethiopia. You will also visit the 6th century AD church of Aba Afse close by. Overnight Geralta Lodge
Day 9: Drive to Mekele, ca. 6 h
This day is a time to visit the wonderful rock churches of Tigray. The landscape is extraordinary: some of the nearby churches in the area. There are a lot of Table Mountains (Ambas) and other fantastic rocky formations. Late afternoon drive to Mekele. Overnight at Axum Hotel.
Day 10: Drive to Lalibela, ca. 10 h
On this day, you will have the longest drive but the magnificent scenery with gigantic up and downs is nice to experience. Visit Lake Ashenge on the way which is good for birding. We arrive in Lalibela in the late afternoon. Overnight Sora Lodge
Day 11: In Lalibela
Full day sightseeing tour of Lalibela, famous for its rock hewn churches dating back 800 years. There are no less than 1000 churches in the Lasta Region of Lalibela, some hidden in enormous caves, but it's exceptional to find 11 churches of such master craftsmanship in one location. These brilliant feats of engineering and architecture are often referred to as the "Eighth wonder of the world". Explore the atmospheric subterranean complex of passages and the 11 remarkable rock-hewn churches which until today remain a place of pilgrim and devotion for Ethiopian Christians. The construction of the churches is attributed to king Lalibela of the Zagwe Dynasty. Some of the 12th century churches are monolithic, carved from a sloping mass of red volcanic scoria underlaid by dark grey basalt and interconnected by a maze of tunnels and passages with openings to hermit caves and catacombs. Some are of the basilica type, having archaic features and imitating architectural elements from earlier periods, yet they differ in design and style. Two are decorated with interesting wall paintings and carved figures. Overnight Sora Lodge
Day 12: Fly to Addis Ababa and drive to Langano, 200 Kilometer, about 3-4 hours drive
After breakfast you will check in to the airport for your flight to Addis Ababa. Up on arrival meet 4WD Vehicles and leave Addis Ababa heading south for the main Ethiopian Rift, to Langano. En route stop at Zeway town and visit The Lake Zeway and then continue driving to Lake Langano for an overnight stay in Sabana Resort.
Day 13: Drive Arba Minch, 300 Kms about 5 - 6 hours drive
Drive to Arba Minch visiting Chencha and the Dorze village en route. The village is high in the mountains north of Arba Minch. The Dorze are well known as master weavers and live in interesting igloo-shaped houses. Arba Minch - meaning 'Forty Springs' in Amharic - takes its name from the bubbling streams that cover the forest and the flats of the town. Overnight Haile Resort Hotel
Day 14: Boat Trip on Lake Chamo then drive to Jinka, 234 Kms 4-5 hours drive
After breakfast take a boat trip on Lake Chamo, where you can spot many hippos and spectacular concentrations of giant crocodiles. The water birds are great the scenery is unforgettable. Locals fish here in traditional fishing boats. Then after drive to Konso where you visit the Konso people, known for colorful dresses and unusually engraved wooden statues, used as grave markers. Continue along impressive land terracing to the village of the Woito people, near the Woito River. On the way to Jinka stop at the Key Afer Market (Thursday is market day), a tribal market, where different ethnic groups gather to sell and buy their agricultural products. Overnight Eco Omo Lodge
Day 15: Jinka – Mursi - Jinka – Turmi, 265 Kms about 4-5 hours drive
After breakfast leave Jinka and drive to the Mursi village to visit and appreciate the very attractive culture of the Mursi tribe. They are renowned for the strange custom followed by their women who, on reaching maturity, have their lower lips slit and circular clay discs inserted. Then drive back to Jinka and continue to Turmi through Dimeka to visit the Hamer people and their village. Turmi is a small town, which is the base to visit the Hamer village. Overnight Buska Lodge
Day 16: In Turmi, 130km, 5 Hours drive
After breakfast drive to Karo village and visit the Karo people in the afternoon visit the hammer village. Hamers have remarkable hairstyles made from ochre, water and binding resin. They rub the mixture into their hair then twist the strands repeatedly to create coppery-colored locks. This is a sign of wealth and welfare. Karo people are considered to be masters of body decoration. Afternoon drive to Demeka and attend the Saturday Tribal markes. Then drive back to Turmi .Overnight Buska Lodge
Day 17 Drive Konso (200 kms, about 3 - 4 hours drive)
After breakfast drive back to Arba Minch visiting the Arbore people and their Village en route. After lunch Visit the Konso Village . The Konso people, who historically had little contact with the rest of Ethiopia and so retain a traditionalist character, live in walled hilltop settlements with maze-like stone fences. Each village is made up of sub-compounds, and there is a central communal building called a mora, the ground floor of which is used by the men, boys and girls as a social area; adult women are excluded. Each village will have important poles or stones erected to mark special events like the initiation of a new generation or victories over enemies. Famous are the carved wooden grave markers, or waga, erected over the burial place of an important warrior. The deceased's facial features are carved into the waga and enhanced by using teeth made from animal bones. This evening you will enjoy sundower drinks, local music and dancing on the terrace of your accommodation.Overnight kanta Lodge
Day 18 Drive Arba Minch (90 kms, about 1 - 2 hours drive)
We drive back to Arba Minch in the morning and take the flight back to Addis Ababa in the afternoon. In the Evening a fare well diner party in one of the Traditional Ethiopian restaurant with dances from the different ethnic Groups. Transfer out to the airport for departure back to home.
We respect your personal preference on what is to be included and not included on the tour cost.
But as a standard included in our given prices are meet and greet at airport, All accommodation, Meals in Addis, on bed and breakfast basis, Meals out of Addis, on full board basis, All entrance fees at sites, churches, parks and villages, All ground transportation according to the itinerary and Guide service.
International flights, Lunch and Dinner in Addis Ababa , Any drinks including local non-alcoholic beverage and alcoholic drinks, Video filming and photography fees, Incidental meals, snacks and drinks and Tips and items of personal nature like laundry, souvenirs, etc
Visa and Immigration Requirements
Most nationals require a visa for entry into Ethiopia. The easiest way to get Ethiopian Visa is to get it on line thttps://www.evisa.gov.et/ . Again visa can be obtained at Ethiopia’s diplomatic missions overseas.. The last option is to get visa on arrival at Bole International Airport; nationals of 33 countries are now allowed to receive their tourist visas on arrival in Ethiopia at the regular charge. The list includes Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greek, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Kuwait, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Thailand, citizens of United Kingdom and United States.
How to get in to Ethiopia
Addis Ababa is a major hub for international airlines. Ethiopian Airlines, the national airline of Ethiopia, provides excellent links with East, West and South Africa, Europe and the Middle East, with connections to America and the Far East. The national airline also offers domestic services to the major towns in Ethiopia, as well as most regional centers. All international services arrive at Bole International Airport, Addis Ababa. Other airlines serving Ethiopia include: Kenya Airways, Emirates, Egyptian, Alitalia, British Airways, Lufthansa, Saudi, Aeroflot, Yemeni, and Turkish Airways.
Luggage on tour
your luggage should not exceed 20kgs (44lbs). One large suitcase/rucksack, and one small hand luggage rucksack is acceptable. Soft rolling bag (we usually use a 22 inch roll aboard) are recommended.
Weather and Climate
There are two seasons: the dry season prevails from October through May; the wet season runs from June to September.
Generally except for June, July and August, most part of Ethiopia will be sunny and pleasant temperature to travel around.
When you travel to the north you are staying in higher altitude towns (Example Addis Ababa, Gondar, and Lalibela) the daily average Temperature is from 20 – 25 degrees and the temperature drops quite rapidly towards sunset. Evenings are fairly cold and you are advised to bring something warm for the evenings, like a sweater or warm Jacket.
Those travelling to the Southern Omo Valley of Ethiopia, the weather of this region will be sunny, hot and dry; the average temperatures is about 30 degrees. During the day the sun is strong. Shorts, Hats, sun glasses, sun creams, light cotton summer clothes and layers of clothes are recommended. Although the daytime temperatures are not very high, the sun is strong and people coming pale and pasty from a European winter should be careful of sunburn -long sleeved shirts may be advisable.
Travelers are advised to travel with American Dollar or Euro. Australian dollar cannot be exchanged in Ethiopia. There is ATM machine In Most of the Regions and one can withdraw money Visa or Master Card. Banks are places to exchange money.
Hotel rooms are basic but generally clean with en suite toilet and bath facilities (usually shower only). In many places hotel accommodation is limited; we utilize the best tourist class properties available. Hotel in Addis is 3-star international standard.
We will be using 4WD Land Cruisers, 4WD mini buses or Coaster buses depending on the conditions of the roads and the size of the group. All our vehicles are Air- conditioned.
For internal flights, we use the national airline Ethiopian Air lines, which offer excellent domestic services to the major towns in Ethiopia.
Handshaking is the usual mode of greeting, although friends or families who have not seen each other for some time will kiss on each cheek. (Displays of sexual intimacy, kissing or hugging, will arouse embarrassment among most Ethiopians.) Usually a handshake greeting is accompanied by a pleasant discussion on personal matters before getting down to business. The offer of tea or coffee is normal, and time is not that important. Smoking is not popular amongst traditional people, or in front of priests. Shoes are often taken off on entering churches, and always on entering mosques.
Despite years of the civil wars in the previous regime, in terms of crime and robbers, Ethiopia is still a very safe country to visit, and Addis Ababa is still one of the safest capitals in Africa. Visitors should of course take the usual precautions, not carry large amounts of money with them and leave particularly valuable items with hotel reception. Both men and women visitors should be careful about hand and money bags, keeping them close at hand in crowded places. Like everywhere else, pick pockets and snatch thieves like to create some kind of diversion before making their move, so visitors should walk purposefully and be cautious about sudden introductions in the street.
- Meet and greet at airport
- All accommodation based on twin room occupancy
- Meals in Addis, on bed & breakfast basis
- Meals out of Addis, on full board basis
- All entrance fees at sites, churches, parks and villages.
- All transfers and visits in Addis Ababa using mini-bus according to the itinerary.
- All Ground transportation including insurance, fuel and all costs of the driver.
- Professional English speaking Tour Guide accompanying through out the trip.
- Local Guide and scout fees in parks and villages
- Boat trip on Lake Tana to visit two monasteries and churches on the islands of Lake Tana
- Farewell dinner in Addis to enjoy traditional Ethiopian food
- A traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony at a convenient time in the program
- Government taxes
Price doesn’t include
- International flights
- Domestic Flights
- Lunch and Dinner in Addis Ababa
- Any drinks including local non-alcoholic beverage & Alcoholic drinks
- Video filming and photography fees
- Incidental meals, snacks and drinks
- Tips and items of personal nature like laundry, souvenirs, etc
- All what is not included in the list above