This jam-packed 20 day tour is the ultimate Ethiopian experience. You won’t be disappointed. Your adventure will include all the major historical sites of the north, as well as an excursion to the Simien Mountains National Park and the Omo Valley .
This tour includes a total of four domestic flights on Ethiopian Airlines.
- Day 1
- Day 2
- Day 3
- Day 4
- Day 5
- Day 6
- Day 7
- Day 8
- Day 9
- Day 10
- Day 11
- Day 12
- Day 13
- Day 14
- Day 15
- Day 16
- Day 17
- Day 18
- Day 19
- Day 20
Arrive at Bole International Airport , where a Lucy Ethiopia Tours representative will meet you and take you to your hotel. Your tour may start today, depending on your arrival time.
We start our tour at the Ethnological Museum , which has interesting displays
from the many cultures of Ethiopia and is housed in the former palace of Haile Selassie .
Our tour continues to the Selassie (Trinity) Church, one of the most important
churches in Addis Ababa and the final resting place of Haile Selassie , to whom there is a dedicated museum on site.
Finally, we finish the day with shopping in Merkato , the local marketplace which is said to be Africa’s largest open-air market.
Overnight in Addis Ababa (hotel).
After an early flight to Bahir Dar, we’ll take a boat trip on Lake Tana to visit a
selection of the monasteries hidden on the islands and shores of this sacred lake. We’ll see the Zege Peninsula and the monasteries of Azuwa Maryam and Ura Kidane Mehret , as well as the island monastery of Debre Maryam near the outlet of the Blue Nile River .
In the afternoon, we’ll drive out to the Blue Nile Falls for a short hike in the area and finish our day with the breathtaking sunset over the lake.
Overnight in Bahir Dar (resort or hotel).
After breakfast, we continue north to Gondar . The four-hour drive will take you through rural villages , offering wonderful insight into the Amhara culture . After briefly settling in our hotel, we’ll explore the sites of Gondar, including a visit to the Royal Enclosure . We’ll visit Fasilidas’ Pool , still used for Timket celebrations today, the Ras Gimb Palace Museum and the Debre Birhan Selassie church , with the most famous ceiling in Ethiopia.
Overnight in Gondar (hotel).
Today we’ll make an excursion to the Simien Mountains . We’ll drive to Sankabar, the gateway to the Simien Mountains National Park , a UNESCO World Heritage site . We’ll enjoy an easy 2-3 hour hike and take in the spectacular scenery, including wildlife such as the endemic gelada baboons . We return to Gondar by evening.
Overnight in Gondar (hotel).
We fly to Lalibela on Ethiopian Airlines, 700 km north of Addis Ababa . The most famous of all of the Ethiopian historical sites, the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela , are stunning and a UNESCO World Heritage site . This group of eleven monolithic and semi-monolithic structures were carved directly into the stone of the mountainside at least 800 years ago. This complex boasts the largest monolithic church in the world, a maze of passageways and tunnels, intricately carved reliefs, and fabulous examples of icon paintings.
Overnight in Lalibela (hotel).
For the morning you have two choices: Take a morning hike with mules to Mount Asheton , with its 13th century rock-hewn monastery and great views of the town, or drive to Yemrehanna Kristos , a beautiful church situated in a shallow cave that predates the churches of Lalibela . The drive to Yemrehanna will also give you the opportunity to view the rural countryside and villages of the Ethiopian highlands.
Following either option, we’ll continue with our tour of Lalibela’s churches in the afternoon.
Overnight in Lalibela (hotel).
Today will be a full day visiting the sites of Axum , including the famous obelisks (including one that was recently erected after being returned from Italy), the archeological museum , The Queen of Sheba’s Bath (which supplies water to Axum year-round), Ezana’s inscription , King Kaleb’s tomb , King Bazen’s tomb , and The Queen of Sheba’s Palace . You can also visit the St. Mary of Zion church, where The Ark of the Covenant is kept. Although unfortunately, only men are permitted to enter the old church, and no one (except one)specially chosen guardian monk ) is allowed to enter the chapel where The Ark is kept.
Overnight in Axum (hotel).
Fly to Dire Dawa via Addis Ababa . We’ll tour Dire Dawa’s massive outdoor market.
Overnight in Dire Dawa (hotel).
Today is a full day which we will spend discovering the treasures hidden in the narrow alleyways of the walled city of Harar . Explore colorful markets, countless mosques and shrines, and unique Harari people and their homes. Sites to visit include: the House of Rimbaud , Ras Tafari’s House , Ras Mekonnen’s Palace , the Harari National Cultural Center , and the tomb of Emir Nur , who built the famous ‘ Jugol’ .
At night we will visit the hyena man , who feeds the hyenas every night just outside the walls of the city. This tradition started long ago to prevent these wild hyenas from hunting for food in the town. Guests are welcome, and encouraged, to feed the hyenas themselves.
Overnight in Harar (hotel or guest house).
Next, we’ll drive to Awash National Park and take an evening game-drive where you’ll see local wildlife , such as oryx, baboons, greater and lesser kudu, warthogs, gazelles and colobus monkeys. If you’re very lucky, you might even see leopards, lions, and other cats.
The landscapes in the park are beautiful, looking over the Awash Gorge .
Overnight in Awash National Park (lodge or camping).
After an early morning game drive to Lake Langano , one of the Rift Valley lakes,relax at the Sabana Lodge . Lake Langano is safe for swimming.
Overnight at Lake Langano (lodge)
Today we’ll drive to Arba Minch , one of the main towns in Southern Ethiopia. On the way, we’ll visit a Dorze village in the Guge Mountains . The Dorze people are known for their tall beehive-like houses and their fine cotton weaving. You will visit the village and learn about the daily lives of these industrious people. We will visit a market if one is on.
Overnight in Arba Minch (hotel)
Today we’ll take a boat trip on Lake Chamo and view some of the largest crocodiles in the world, sunning themselves on the banks of the lake.
Hippopotami and beautiful aquatic birds are also abundant here. We’ll also get to visit Nechisar Park , known for its ‘ white grass ’ which is only accessible via boat.
We’ll also go to Key Afar to visit the weekly market and wander among the various tribes such as the Benna and Ari who will have gathered to barter their goods.
Overnight at Arba Minch (hotel).
Today we’ll wake up early for a drive to the Mago National Park to visit the Mursi people . The Mursi women are known for the clay plates they insert into their lower lips. If there is enough time, we’ll also visit the Omo Valley Museum in Jinka .
Overnight at Jinka (lodge).
We drive to Turmi to visit the Hamer people who are well known for the scarring of their bodies, using clay to shape their hairstyles, and the unique practice of ‘ bull-jumping ’ which every young man must accomplish prior to marriage. On route to Turmi , we’ll also visit the Benna and Ari people.
Overnight at Turmi (lodge).
We’ll make an excursion to Omorate to visit the Dassanech people , known for
their elaborate body-painting. We’ll also get to cross the famous Omo River by
canoe before returning to Turmi for the evening.
Overnight at Turmi (lodge).
This day will be spent visiting the Konso people in their village, which has recently been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site . A highland people, the Konso are known for the wooden statues, known as wakas, which are erected in honor of dead heroes as well as their innovative agricultural terracing. Today you will have the opportunity to visit a local village and the cultural museum displaying many waka statues . If there is enough time, we can also visit the natural ‘New York Village’ , named after its tall sand formations which resemble skyscrapers.
Overnight in Konso (camping, hotel or lodge).
In need of a little R&R, today we’ll drive to the lakeside town of Hawassa . Here you can relax and recover from your journey at one of Hawassa’s fine resorts.
Overnight at Hawassa (Resort)
We start the day by drive to the Bale Mountains National Park and meeting with the park guide. In the afternoon, we’ll arrive at the park headquarters just in time for a leisurely afternoon hike, possibly spotting two mammals that frequent the area: Menelik’s bushbuck and the mountain nyala .
Birds in this area include the elaborately named blue-winged goose , spot-breasted lapwing , Abyssinian long-claw , wattled ibis , black-headed siskin , Rouget’s rail , and numerous other species.
We’ll drive to Addis Ababa via the Arsi/Bale region , home to many of Ethiopia’s famous distance runners . In Addis Ababa , if there is enough time we can stop for some souvenir shopping . In the evening, we’ll enjoy a farewell dinner at a traditional Ethiopian restaurant featuring dancers and musicians representing some of the country’s many ethnic groups.
Transfer to airport for late night departure if needed.