20 DAYS TAILOR MADE ETHIOPIA TOUR
In this 20 days tailor made Ethiopia tour, we will travel through the ‘Roof of Africa’ (Highlands of Ethiopia) to the tribes of lower Omo Valley. In northern Ethiopia, also called the “Historic Route,” we admire the millennia-old history and traditions. We visit the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela and old towns of Axum and Gondar. We also feel the power of nature in the majestic Simien Mountains National Park.
Then, we travel down to Southern Ethiopia and dive into the culture and traditions of different fascinating ethnic tribes in the lower Omo valley. In this highlights of Ethiopia tour, we have the chance to interact and get to know the people and culture of Ethiopians through a visit to family in a village and enjoy the typical coffee ceremony. We also organize a cooking evening where we can cook Ethiopian food with the family.
Details of the Tour
Tour Catagory: Highlights of Ethiopia
Tour Code: HA02
Tour Duration: 20 Days
Price: From 3,050 € / person
HIGHLIGHTS OF YOUR TAILOR MADE TOUR
– Island Monasteries of Lake Tana & the Blue Nile falls
– The 17th Century Castles of Gondar
– Hiking in the Majestic Mountains of Africa – Simien Mountains National Park
– Visiting places marking the beginning of Ethiopian Civilization 3,000 years ago
– Hiking in Gheralta Mountains of Tigray
– Fascinating 12th century Rock-hewn Churches of Lalibela
– Homestay and cultural hike in Dorze Village
– Boat trip on Lake Chamo and zebras in Nechisar National Park
– Meet fascinating Tribes of Lower Omo Valley
YOUR TAILOR-MADE ETHIOPIA TOUR IN PICTURES
Where do we start the tour?
We start our tailor made Ethiopia tour from Addis Ababa, commonly referred ‘Addis.’ Addis lies at an altitude of about 2,300 meters above sea level. This elevation gives the ‘Political Capital of Africa’ an enjoyable & welcoming weather. Addis offers a lot to visitors – including Merkato, the largest open-air market in Africa, the National Museum where oldest human fossils are collected and exhibited, the Ethnological museum where we can get a fascinating glimpse into Ethiopia’s many tribal groups, and the Entoto Mountains which gives a stunning view of the city. Addis also offers excellent artworks and musical shows.
Meeting Place – Hotel in Addis Ababa
We meet the small group at a hotel in Addis Ababa a day before the tour starts. If you need airport transfers and hotel room before the tour starts, please let us know. We will arrange everything you need in Addis. Details of the meeting place and contacts of our tour leader and driver will be given once you book the tour. We assume you visit Addis Ababa by yourselves either a day before or after the tour. We can also arrange it on request or provide recommendations.
Day 01 – Bahir Dar – Monasteries of Lake Tana
In the morning, we take a short flight to Bahir Dar (50 mins).
After we check-in to our hotel/lodge, we go for a city tour. Bahir Dar is situated on the shore of Lake Tana, the largest lake in the country with 37 islands most of which are monasteries from the 14th – 19th century. Bahir Dar has a Mediterranean type weather. Its palm-lined streets make Bahir Dar one of the most attractive cities in Africa. The city is the capital of the regional government for the Amhara people.
In the afternoon, we take a boat across Lake Tana to the Zeghie peninsula. On the peninsula, we do a short walk and visit two monasteries from the 14th century – Azwa Mariam and Ura Kidane Mehret. The architectural style of both monasteries is a typical example of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, with its round shape, mud walls, and conical straw roofs. In Zeghie, we also find a diverse bird species and Columbus Baboons in the forest. After the walk, we will be invited to a local family for a typical tradition Ethiopian coffee ceremony.
Two overnight stays in a family owned hotel/lodge.
Day 02 – Bahir Dar – The Blue Nile Falls
Visit local market and waterfalls of the Blue Nile
In the morning we visit a local market. In the local market, we discover traditional handicrafts, jewelry, cotton scarves and straw baskets for which Bahir Dar is known for all over the country.
After lunch, we will have an excursion to the magnificent Blue Nile waterfalls. The waterfall is locally known as ‘Tis-Issat’ which means a smoking water. After driving for 40 minutes, we will have a short hike to the falls. The area around the falls is green an appealing for hiking.
Overnight stay in a family owned hotel/lodge
Day 03 – The Castles of Gondar
Visit the Castles of Gondar, Bath of the Fasilidas and Debre Birhan Selassie Church.
Our trip continues to Gondar (185 km) via a magnificent landscape of the Amhara region. The farmlands of the Amhara people are visible on the roadside. We will have a quick stop at Awra Amba community, egalitarian society. Unlike other parts of the country, in Awra Amba community women have equal rights as men, and there is no distinction in divisions of labor between men and women.
Then continue driving to Gondar. Gondar used to be the seat of many Emperors who ruled Ethiopia in the 17th and 18th century. The town is the gateway to the Simien Mountains and lies at an altitude of 2,200 meters above sea level.
After lunch, we will visit the famous castles of the town, where former rulers built numerous palaces for themselves and their families. Afterwards, we will go to the bath of King Fasilidas, where Timkat fest is annually hosted. Timkat is one of the famous festivals in Ethiopia and held annually to celebrate the baptism of Jesus Christ. We finish the day with a visit to the church of Debre Berhan Selassie, which is famous for its beautiful ceiling paintings. The motif of the angelic face became a symbol of the Ethiopian art.
Overnight at hotel.
Day 04 – Simien Mountains National Park
Morning Drive to Simien Mountains National Park (135 km). The Simien Mountains has been designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO since 1969. The UNESCO described the mountains as “one of the world’s most spectacular landscapes on the Ethiopian plateau.” The park is full of breathtaking landscapes and abundant flora and fauna. Over 10,000 of the rare & endemic Gelada baboons live in the park and can be observed at a close distance. The park is also the home for the Walia Ibex, which is also called Ethiopian Wolf.
Local hiking guide and scouts (park rangers) accompany us for the park visit. We will have an easy hike (approx. 3 h) from Sankaber (3.260 m) to Geech. We pass picturesque scenery, as well as Ethiopia’s highest waterfall Jinbar, also called “gateway to hell.” We will camp in Geech (3.600 m) for the overnight. It is situated on a huge plateau horses grazing in the meadows.
Overnight – camping
Day 05 – Simien Mountains National Park – Second Day
Today’s hiking (approximately 4 to 5 hrs.) takes us to the best viewpoints of the Simien National Park, Imet Gogo (3,926m). From here, we can enjoy a 360 ° panorama view of the Simien Mountains. Ethiopia is not called the “roof of Africa” for nothing. Many of the country’s northern part is full of rugged terrains & escarpments, deep valleys and a high plateau. Simien Mountains is part of the Ethiopian highlands. The area is covered with massive walls of volcanic rocks, which fall over a thousand meters deep into steep gorges. Some regions of the park are still inhabited and cultivated at over 3,000 m. According to recent statistics, more than four thousand households live in the Simien Mountains National Park.
We continue hiking to the next observation point Seha (3.785 m), where we have a picnic for lunch. The last stop is Quedadit (3.760 m) before we go back to Geech Camp. Then we drive back to Debark town (60km) for an overnight stay in a hotel.
Day 06 – Drive to Axum (260km)
We drive almost 260 km to Axum. The drive takes us through the spectacular landscapes adjacent to the Simien Mountains. Axum is the oldest political capital of ancient Ethiopia. The town used to be a major trade center for caravan traders along the red sea.
2 overnight stay at Yeha hotel.
Day 07 – Axum – The Begining of Ethiopian Civilization
Today we visit Axum. Axum is a small ancient town in the northern Ethiopia which lies at about 2,100 meters above sea level. The history of Axum goes back to 3,000 years where the Axumite civilization is flourished. Axumite kingdom was one of the four greatest powers of the ancient world in its heights. The town still exhibits some of the remains of Axumite and pre Axumite times. Axum is also one of the sacred places in Ethiopia. According to the Ethiopian Orthodox church, Axum’s church of Mary of Zion hosts the original Ark of the Covenant with the tablets of the Ten Commandments.
We visit the gigantic stelae and obelisks of Axumite time, ancient king’s palaces, the Mary of Zion church and the palace of the legendary Queen of Saba.
Day 08 – Drive to Gheralta Mountains – Hawzen
Drive to the rock-hewn churches of Gheralta (190 km). We will have a quick stop at Adwa Mountains, the greatest battlefield of the victorious Ethiopians against colonizer Italy in 1896. The attempts of the Italians to colonize Ethiopia was unsuccessful, and Ethiopia remained an independent nation. Then we continue driving to the ruins of Yeha. Yeha is a small town with a 12-meter-high ruined temple. The temple is more than 2,500 years old built in Sabean architectural style. We continue driving through the semi-desert Tigray region with the different yet extraordinary scenery. We will arrive at Hawzen around late afternoon.
2 overnight stay at Gheralta lodge in Hawzen
Day 09 – Hiking Gheralta Mountains
Today we will have a hike to Gheralta Mountains. Our first hike is to the top of one of the mountains which takes almost two hours. The hike goes through some steep and narrow passages. On the top of the mountain, we will have a fantastic view of the dry land of Tigray region. Besides the view, there are two 14th century old rock-hewn churches called Mariam Korkor and Daniel Korkor. The view of the other mountains of Daniel Korkor is extraordinary. Then we hike down for lunch before the next hike.
After lunch, we hike to Abune Yemata Gughe. To enjoy a breathtaking view, we have to hike for another two hours. This part of the hiking needs a bit of physical fitness as it includes climbing about a 10 meters high and steep rock. Local farmers will also help you climb the rocks. Even they provide you ropes so that you can climb comfortably. Once you climb up, you will be proud of yourself and rewarded with one of the best views of Gheralta Mountains and nearby regions. There is also another rock-hewn church on the top of the mountain carved in between the 9th & 11th century with paintings from14th century.
Overnight at Gheralta lodge in Hawzen.
Day 10 – Drive to Lalibela
After breakfast in Hawzen, we head to Labella which is about 400 km away. Lalibela, formerly known as ‘Roha,’ was the political capital the 11th and 12th Century Ethiopia. Lalibela is considered as one of “the eighth wonders of the ancient world” because of its eleven rock-hewn churches from the 12th century. The town is named after King Lalibela, who build the churches. King Lalibela had a dream of making a “second Jerusalem” in his kingdom to be a pilgrimage site for Ethiopians. According to historians the carving of the churches from a single rock lasted for 20 years. However, according to a local myth, which many locals believe, the carving of the churches took overnight because of the help of invisible angels. The architecture of these carefully carved churches remains one of the highlights of our tours to Ethiopia.
Two overnights in a hotel.
Day 11 – Churches of Lalibela and Cooking with an Ethiopian family
After breakfast, we will visit the first group of the world famous churches of Lalibela. In this group of churches, there is Bete Medhane Alem, which means “House of Savior of the World.” Bete Medhane Alem is the largest monolithic church in the world. Its architectural style resembles a Greek temple. The church is home to the original Lalibela Cross known as “Afro Ayigeba.” In the corner of Bete Medhane Alem church, there are three empty tombs symbolically representing Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob of the Old Testament.
In the afternoon we will discover the second group of monolithic rock churches. Among them is the church Bet Giyorgis, probably the most famous, finest & well-designed of all churches of Lalibela. Bete Giyorgis is connected to the other churches by a tunnel and carved out of the rock in the form of a cross.
In the evening, a special highlight awaits us. We will be guests of an Ethiopian family and cook our dinner together. We learn not only new delicious recipes but also gain an insight into the everyday life of the Ethiopians.
Day 12 – Visit and homestay in a Dorze village
In the morning we fly to Arba Minch with a short stopover in Addis Ababa. We will drive a 45 km into a mountain village of the Dorze. We enjoy a view of Abaya and Chamo lakes from the hills. The Dorze people are known for their cotton weaving and beehive-shaped houses. Enset or the “false banana” plays a major role in the life of the Dorze people. Enset is the staple food of Dorze. They use the root of Enset for food and its leaf for house construction.
We spend the night with the Dorze people and gain an insight into their culture. They cook their traditional dinner for us. We can also practice making their food. After dinner, we go to a local rural bar to enjoy honey wine locally called “tej.”
Overnight in small and simple beehive-shaped houses.
Day 13 – Dorze Cultural Hike
After breakfast, we take a hike (approx. 3 h) through the villages of the Dorze people. The trail leads through mystical forests with clean air and many villages to a waterfall. We also visit some of the villages with a weaving tradition.
In the afternoon drive to Konso (135 km) and have a relaxed afternoon.
Overnight in a hotel
Day 14 – Konso and Jinka
Our tour in southern Ethiopia continues to Konso. The Konso people have adapted their lifestyle perfectly to their natural environment. They constructed a terrific terrace and managed to farm on the hills. Their terracing style is one of the UNESCO registered World Heritage Site. The terraces protect against flooding as well as damage from cattle. We visit the local museum and burial markers of the Konso heads called “Waga.”
Late afternoon we drive to Jinka (130 km).
Overnight stay – Hotel in Jinka
Day 15 – Mago National Park and visit the Mursi Tribe
Today we drive through Mago national park and visit the Mursi tribes. The Mursi are known for their lip plates. The Mursi women get a small cut on the lower lip, and stretch it with wooden pens and later clay plate. Mursi women also decorate themselves with plates on ears and other piercings.
Overnight stay – Hotel in Jinka
Day 16 – Hamer Tribe
Today’s trip will take us to Turmi, home of Hamer tribes of Ethiopia. They are probably the most famous tribes in Ethiopia with their hairstyles. On our way to Turmi, we visit a colorful weekly market in Key Afer. In this market, we observe the trade between different tribes. Bena, Ari, and Tsemay tribes come to this market to buy and sell ornaments, fabrics, and other goods.
After lunch, we visit a village of the Hamer people. The Hamer girls traditionally “dye” their hair with clay. Hamer boys should also do bull jumping as a prerequisite to an adult life.
Overnight in a lodge
Day 17 – Excursion to Omorate
We drive 70 km south of Turmi to meet Dassanech people. Dassanech people live on the bank of Omo River. We have to cross Omo River with small wooden boats to visit Dassanech village. In the village, we visit houses of Dassanech and enjoy their traditional dance.
Drive back to Turmi and have a relaxed afternoon in the lodge.
Overnight in a lodge
Day 18 – Arba Minch
On our way to Arba Minch, we stop in a village of Ari. The Ari people cultivate coffee plants on their fertile land. They also have livestock and honey production. We will have lunch in Konso with a good view.
Overnight hotel in Arba Minch
Day 19 – Boat trip on Lake Chamo and Zebras in Nechisar National Park
Today is probably one of the travel highlights for animal lovers. We will take a boat trip on Lake Chamo. On the boat trip, we have the chance to see hippos, crocodiles, and pelicans. The boat ride brings us to Nechisar National Park. We will do a Zebra safari in Nechisar National Park. We hike in the park and follow zebras together with an experienced guide and a scout. We can observe Zebras at a close distance.
Overnight stay in Hotel
Day 20 – Addis Ababa (End of our Ethiopia Tailor Made Tour)
Today is our last day of the tour. We fly back to Addis Ababa. In Addis, you have enough time for the last souvenir shopping or visiting some parts of the city. We conclude our Ethiopia trip with dinner at a typical Ethiopian restaurant with traditional music and dance. Afterwards, we transfer you either to your hotel or the airport for your international flight.
– Insolvency Insurance (Secured Payment Certificate)
– Tour Leader for the whole tour
– 4 domestic flights with Ethiopian Airlines (a Star Alliance member)
– Airport Taxes, security fees, and all government taxes
– Overland transport – depending on the group size we use
comfortable minibus or 4X4 off-road vehicle
– 17 nights stay in hotel/lodge in a standard shared twin bedroom
– 1 Camping nights and 1 homestay in a small village
– Day room on departure date (Day 20)
– All breakfasts and lunches including drinks
– All meals while camping in Simien Mountains National Park
– Farewell dinner on the last day
– Water bottles during the tour
– All entrance fees
– Local guides in each destination
– English speaking driver guide throughout the tour
– 100% compensation to the CO2 emissions of this tour in
Ethiopia (emissions from domestic flights and overland transport)
– Dinner – it is your personal choice to join the group or plan it by yourself
– Visa Fee – We will be glad to assist you
– Video and photo fees
– Alcoholic drinks
– Other Personal expenses
– Single room supplement – 400 USD or 365 €
– Domestic flight supplement (an extra 300 USD or 275 EURO required
if your international flight is NOT with Ethiopian Airline)
COOKING WITH ETHIOPIAN FAMILY
On this tailor made Ethiopia tour, we have the chance to spend a cooking evening with an Ethiopian family. We learn not only new delicious recipes but also gain an insight into the everyday life of the Ethiopians.
TRADITIONAL COFFEE CEREMONY
The experience of a traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony is a must. Coffee (bunna) plays an important role in the daily life of the Ethiopians. Coffee is served every morning and evening. It is common to have a coffee ceremony when the family has visiting guests. Buna (coffee) is the favorite drink of many Ethiopians. It is drunk uniquely and traditionally. The coffee beans are roasted over charcoal then ground and placed in a jebena (coffee pot) with boiling water. When ready, it is served to people in small cups, up to three rounds per ceremony. The first round is called Abol, the second Tona, and the third Bereka. This is a social ceremony and will last at least for an hour. The ceremony is accompanied by incense and sometimes a small snack like homemade bread or popcorn.
HOMESTAY IN DORZE VILLAGE
We stay one night in Dorze village in their typical and small huts. We also taste their food and drinks. The Dorze tell us about their everyday life, and we can try some craft works like cotton spinning and weaving or pottery. The homestay is a highlight experience offering insights into the daily lives of the people and immerses us deeply in their culture.
HONEY WINE TEJ
The people of the Dorze is also known for an excellent honey wine called “tej.” We go for a ‘tej’ party in a small rural bar and spend the evening with the Dorze people.
When visiting a local market, there is a lot to discover. Local ornaments, wonderful fabrics, unique spices, several varieties of coffee beans and people different tribes coming for the market. We can get our favorite souvenir.
Traditional dance clubs are trendy among the Ethiopians and are worth a visit. This is not a nightclub, but rather a bar with a stage for Ethiopian traditional dancing. There are singers and dance groups, who show different dance styles of people and tribes from all over the country. Delicious Ethiopian food with a local beer guarantee a lively atmosphere.
PEOPLE OF SOUTH
Many of Ethiopian tribes are still largely unaffected by modern influences. When visiting some of these tribes in the south, we witness a unique way of life. Their body decoration and interaction with the rest of the world is quite natural and beautiful.
A normal physical fitness & good health condition is enough for this trip. All the hikes in this tour are standard and easy level, which takes a maximum of 3 to 4 hours a day.
The hotels and lodges are to the country standard, mostly 3 to 4-star hotels and lodges. However, occasional power cut and a limited supply of hot water may occur everywhere in the country. On this trip, we spend one overnight in a rural village at Dorze. This homestay accommodation is a clear contrast to the classic hotel accommodation. We sleep in small, simple huts with basic sanitary facilities. The homestay is an exciting opportunity to get insights into the culture and everyday life of the local people. We also have one night of camping. The camping site is simple. There are no or very basic sanitary facilities and no electricity. We use battery powered lights.
The daytime temperatures range between 18 ° and 30 ° degrees depending on the date of travel. In the mountains, the temperature can become much colder at night. Especially in the Simien Mountains, it can get below 5 ° degrees at night. The dry season starts from September to May. It rarely rains at this time. In the rainy season, June to August, it rains almost every day in the north, but the area is green, and flowers are blooming. However, the southern part of Ethiopia is dry from June to August.
Except for the main routes, the roads network in Ethiopia is not sufficiently developed. Some routes, particularly the Lower Omo Valley and some national parks, are unpaved roads and we recommend you to expect longer travel times.
We recommend you to pack your sleeping bag and towel as we have homestay and camping overnights. Also, you need to pack solid shoes for hiking in the mountains and volcanos in Erta Ale. For further recommendations, please check on our packing list to travel to Ethiopia.
On your tailor made Ethiopia tour, you may produce from 1, 500 to 2,500 kg of CO2 on domestic flights and overland transport. MUKA Travel compensates 100% of your Co2 emissions by contributing the compensation amount to a project working to provide Solar Home Systems in Ethiopia. In cooperation with a climate protection organization called atmosfair, efficient solar systems are being developed and made available to the rural communities in Ethiopia. Find more information about the project here.
Visiting families or villages in different parts of Ethiopia in our tours mean far beyond experiencing a unique and discrete culture. The families in a homestay and each village visited receive an additional income. Even if this small money cannot bring a complete change, it brings extra income to support their livelihood. Read more about our homestays here.
Fairness of the tourism system is a big issue in many developing countries. We have seen that many tourism businesses in the developing world are either being owned by foreigners or controlled by few elites. The local communities are not well benefited from the tourism resources they naturally own. MUKA Travel tries to its best to bring a fair trade of tourism. We avoid international chain hotels and use standard locally owned accommodation. We use local guides in each destination. We pay a fair price, not only for local service providers but also for families and communities. Most importantly, we do not and will never set a price for services provided by local guides, families, and villages. See details of our work on promoting fairness.
Want to make this Ethiopia Tour Private?
Do you like to customize your Ethiopia tour? We are glad to advise and work with you and create a customized private trip to Ethiopia. You can pick one or more of our tours for a reference and decide dates and travel partners by yourself. Contact us with the following details and we make your private Ethiopia tour happen.
- When do you want to travel?
- What kind of transportation do you prefer?
- Would you like us to book international and domestic flights?
- Which accommodation do you prefer? Mid-range hotel, camping, lodge, luxury hotel, a homestay in a small village?
- What do you like to visit in Ethiopia?
- Culture, nature, animals, tribes of Ethiopia, trekking, photography, or a bit of everything?
- How much is your travel budget?
- What other wishes do you have?
If you are planning a customised private Ethiopia tour, please send your inquiry to info_at_mukatravel.com.