20 DAYS NATURE & ANIMAL TOUR IN ETHIOPIA
In this 20 days Nature and Animal tour, we will discover major national parks, natural attractions, and animals in Ethiopia. We will travel through 4000 meters altitudinal differences to admire the flora and faunas spread through the ‘Roof of Africa’ (Simien Mountains National Park) to one of the lowest points in Africa, Danakil Depression. Varieties of animals and the power of nature in three national parks and active volcanoes in Erta Ale are highlights of this tour.
This tour also gives us the chance to admire the millennia-old history and traditions. We visit the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela and old town of Gondar. The colorful markets in Dire Dawa and the walled city of Harar adds extra flavor to the tour. In this 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: NAture & Animal
Tour Code: NA01
Tour Duration: 20 Days
Price: From 3,290 € / person
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE TOUR
– Hiking in the Majestic Mountains of Africa – Simien Mountains National Park
– The endemic animals Chelada Baboon & Walia Ibex at Simien Mountains
– Drive through the desert in Afar and visit camel caravans
– Hiking in Danakil Depression and active volcanoes of Erta Ale
– Fascinating 12th century Rock-hewn Churches of Lalibela
– The 17th Century Castles of Gondar
– Homestay and cultural hike in Dorze Village
– Boat trip on Lake Chamo to visit Hippos and Crocodile
– Small herds of Zebras in Nechisar National Park
– Hike in the Bale Mountains and climb the Tulu Dimtu (4.377 m)
– The Endemic Ethiopian Wolf at Simien & Bale Mountains National Park
– Colorful markets in the walled city of Harar
– Feeding Hayenas in Harar
– Game Drive in Awash National Park
THE TOUR IN PICTURES
Where do we start the tour?
We start our tour to Ethiopia 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 – Drive through the desert and visit camel caravans in Afar region
We take a short flight to Mekele and drive to Ahmedela (100 km). The journey continues through a magnificent landscape down to the Afar Valley. We enter to Afar, dry and desert region with one of the earth’s active volcanoes. In Berhele, a small village in Afar, we meet our local tour guide and scouts who will accompany us on our tour to the Danakil & Erta Ale for the next four days. We continue driving in the desert. In the late afternoon, we reach the villages of the Afar people and meet camel caravans. They transport salt bars from the salt mining place called Dallol to nearby regions.
Three overnights – Camping
Day 02 – Visit Danakil Depression & Lake Asale
Today another highlight of the tour awaits us, the visit of the Danakil Depression. According to geologists, the Danakil is part of the Afar Triangle formed as a result of earth’s tectonic movement when Africa and Asia were moving apart million years ago. It is one of the hottest and most inhospitable places on earth. Parts of which are up to 116 m below sea level, which makes it one of the lowest place on earth. The temperature in the afternoon can be over 50 ° C.
There are many hot springs which are rich in sulfur, potassium carbon and salt. The mix of all these minerals makes the rocks colorful and the area very spectacular. Some people call the area as color factory and Mars on earth because of the different colors of rocks.
We continue our tour to Lake Asale also known as Lake Karum. Here we visit a century-old salt mine. We will see men and women making a salt bar traditionally. After visiting a salt cave, which is known as the “Salt New York” at the Afar, we go to our camp.
Day 03 – Climb to Erta Ale – Active Volcano
After breakfast, we drive to Erta Ale and enjoy the desert. On the way, we stop in a small village to meet the head of a community, and we eat lunch on his property. Then we continue our tour to Dodom.
There the active volcano Erta Ale awaits us. Erta Ale rises 50 meters wide and 600 meters above sea level. It is one of the few volcanoes in the world with a permanent lava lake. In the language of Afar, Erta means “Smoking Mountain.” Its southernmost point is known as the “gateway to hell.” Although the last major volcanic eruption in the area was in 2005, the lava keeps flowing out in some year after.
At sunset, we start our ascent to the crater of the volcano. When we arrive, we will be rewarded with a breathtaking view. The lava eruptions are spectacular and incredibly colorful. After enjoying the lava dance, we go back to the camp (hike in total approx. 4 h).
Day 04 – Erta Ale in the morning
Today we get up early in the morning to enjoy an incredible view of boiling lava. Then we hike to Dodom. Afterwards, we drive to Mekele (260 km). Today will be our last drive from Afar desert. We will have stops in between for a picnic lunch and visit the Afar villages and people.
Overnight stays at Planet Hotel
Day 05 – Drive to Lalibela
After breakfast, 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 06 – 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 07 – The Castles of Gondar
Visit the Castles of Gondar, Bath of the Fasilidas and Debre Birhan Selassie Church.
We fly to Gondar in the morning. 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 08 – Trek 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.
We will be accompanied by our local hiking guide and a scout (park rangers). 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.
Day 09 – Trek 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. More than four thousand people 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.
Overnight Camping at Geech
Day 10 – Trek Simien Mountains National Park – Third Day
After enjoying the stunning morning view of the mountains, we continue to hike to Chenek (approximately 5 hrs.). The hiking trail is full of giant lobelia and tree-heather or Erica Arborea. After a picnic lunch, we continue hiking along the steep slopes of the Enatye (4,000 m), from where we once again have a breathtaking view of the landscapes of the national park, including the Imet Gogo. Then we go down to reach Chenek Campsite (3.620 m). Around Chenek campsite, there are groups of Gelada baboons in search of food and relaxing in the meadows. If we are lucky, we may see also the rare Walia Ibex. Then we drive back to Gondar town (140km) for an overnight stay.
Day 11 – Dorze Village
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 12 – 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 13 – Shashemene
After breakfast, we drive to Shashemene (250km). Shashemene is the home to Rasta people also called Ras- Teferians. Many Rasta, especially from Jamaica, lives in this town. We visit a Rasta church, Rasta village and the house of an artist named Hailu. Hailu does amazing artistic work from a banana leaf. We visit his gallery.
Day 14 – Dinsho and hike in the Bale mountains
In the morning we start driving to Dinsho (160 km), the headquarters of Bale Mountains National Park. Dinsho has dense forests and endemic animals. We will do an easy hiking (approximately 2 hrs.) through a dense forest where we can easily observe two endemic mammals, Menelik’s bushbuck, and the mountain Nyala. We also have the chance to see other animals.
Two overnights in Dinsho lodge
Day 15 – Hike in the Bale Mountains and climb the Tulu Dimtu (4.377 m)
Today we drive into the Bale National Park (90 km) and hike up to the Sanetti Plateau. We explore part of the Sanetti Plateau by a car and the rest on foot. Sanetti Plateau is home to the Ethiopian Wolf. We continue hiking and then climb to the highest peak of the Bale Mountains, Tulu Dimtu (4 377 m). The hiking is a medium level and takes about two to three hours. The view from Tulu Dimtu is breathtaking. We have a picnic for lunch.
Overnight in Dinsho lodge
Day 16 – Swimming and relaxing at Lake Langano
We drive to Lake Langano (250 km) and spend the day in a lakeside lodge. Lake Langano has a beach, and we can spend the rest of the day around the lake.
Overnight in lodge
Day 17- Abijata-Shala & Awash National Park
After breakfast, we drive few kilometers to visit the nearby Abijata-Shala National Park. The park is known for hosting different bird species and ostriches. Then, we continue to drive to Awash National Park (260 km). We do short hiking in Awash and visit a village of the Kereyu people.
Overnight stay at a lodge inside the park
Day 18 – Game Drive in Awash National Park & Harar
In the morning we do a game drive in Awash National Park. We explore the park’s beautiful surroundings around the Awash River and its waterfalls, antelopes, crocodiles, gazelles, zebras, ostriches and a colorful bird world. With luck, we even discover lions or leopards.
Then we drive to Harar (310 km). In the night, we visit the “hyena man” on the outskirts. The Hyena man feeds the hyenas every evening. Here we can also try feeding hyena.
Overnight stay in hotel
Day 19 – The Walled City of Harar & Dire Dawa
In the morning we will visit the ancient Islamic city of Harar. Harar is considered as the fourth-holy city of the Muslim world after Mecca, Medina, and Jerusalem. Harar has founded around 1000years ago, and its rulers walled the town to protect it from enemies. Harar is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Harar is known for its colorful markets, countless mosques, picturesque houses, the unique Harari folk and the traditional basket handicrafts of the Hadare people.
After lunch, we drive 55 km to Dire Dawa. On the roadside of our journey, we see farms of the Oromo people cultivating grains, coffee and the famous light drug in Ethiopia called Khat. Khat is a stimulant drug mostly chew by many young in the country. It is one of the export items of the country. We stop at a local market in Awedaye and see the Khat market. In Dire Dawa, we visit the oldest train station in the country and the market called Kefira.
Overnight at hotel.
Day 20 – Addis Ababa (End of our Ethiopia 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
– 5 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
– 13 nights stay in hotel/lodge in a standard shared twin bedroom
– 5 Camping nights and 1 homestay in a small local village
– Day room on departure date (Day 24)
– All breakfasts and lunches including drinks
– All meals while camping in Simien Mountains National Park, Danakil & Erta Ale
– 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 – 320 USD or 290 €
– Domestic flight supplement (an extra 355 USD or 325 EURO required
if your international flight is NOT with Ethiopian Airline)
|Tour Dates||Price per |
|Request a Tour|
|Monday, 02 April – Saturday, 21 April 2018||3,290 €||Request|
|Monday, 14 May - Saturday, 02 June 2018||3,290 €||Request|
|Monday, 10 September - Saturday, 29 September 2018||3,290 €||Request|
|Monday, 15 October - Saturday, 03 November 2018||3,290 €||Request|
|Monday, 19 November - Saturday, 08 December 2018||3,290 €||Request|
|Monday, 31 December - Saturday, 19 January 2019||3,390 €||Request|
|Monday, 18 February - Saturday, 09 March 2019||3,390 €||Request|
|Monday, 01 April - Saturday, 20 April 2019||3,290 €||Request|
COOKING WITH ETHIOPIAN FAMILY
On this trip, 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.
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. This tour to Ethiopia is an exciting opportunity to get insights into the culture and everyday life of the local people. We also have five nights of camping. The camping sites are 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 trip to Ethiopia, 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 Nature and Animal Tour Private?
Do you like to design your private 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.