Historic and cultural highlights of Ethiopia

Ethiopia is distinguished from most of the African destinations by the fact that the country’s wealth of historic sites and the identity by its own history and diverse cultures. Some of the best known historic sites of Ethiopia such as Lalibela, Gondar , the Magnificent Simien Mountains National Park and the southern major attractions which include the Central Rift Valley Lakes region, the Omo valley tribal groups and the famous historic city of Harar make up the highlights of this Itinerary. The other best known historic site, Axum, which was closed for two years due to the war in the north is part of this trip. Axum highly speaks the people’s great faith and unmatched architectural skills of old Ethiopians.

We tailored the itinerary to include very colorful and authentic markets in the Omo Valley including those at Turmi, Dimeka and Key Afer. Apart from buying and selling markets are venues of socialization.

The Itinerary can easily be adjusted to fit our clients’ schedules and special interests



Day 1: Arrive in Addis and proceed to GondarAM visit Gondar. PM drive to Simien Mountains National Park. Upon arrival short walk around the Lodge. Overnight: Limalimo Lodge or similar

Upon your arrival at Bole International Airport, you will clear immigration and proceed to connect for a short flight to Gondar and will be met by our representative at the airport. Drive to your resort for an early check in. Then with a guide visit the city of Gondar; a town founded in 1636 by the great Emperor Fassiladas and often called the “Camelot of Africa.”  Set in a landscape of incomparable beauty, it was the Royal Capital of Ethiopia until 1868. You will visit the Castles and Churches built by the Emperor and his descendants (termed by UNESCO as one of the World’s heritages). From the Royal enclosure you will proceed to the fascinating Debre Birhan Selassie Church. The church’s walls and ceilings are decorated with scenes of Biblical lore and medieval history. The church is a rich showcase of the religious art of the Gonderine period and its ceiling of painted angels is only one of its kinds.

Afternoon drive from Gondar to Simien Mountains National Park. You set off north to Debark, a distance of about 100 km (around 2 and half hours’ drive), heading up through clouds and mist. In Debark you will pay the park entrance fees and pick up the game scout and guide. A UNESCO World Heritage Site since the late 1960s, the Simien Mountains National Park presents perhaps the most dramatic scenery in Africa. There are many peaks over 4000 meters, and Ras Dashen at 4543 meters is the highest in the country and the fourth highest in Africa. Today you will have short walks and possibly encounter the endemic Gelada or bleeding heartMonkey. The park is also famous for its Afro-Alpine flora, meadows, and grasslands adorned with native flowers.

Overnight: Limalimo Lodge or similar

Day 2: Morning walk (at leisure) in the Park. This walk should not be a heavy trekking, but an easy walk with several stops so that also older people can join the walk. Back to Gondar for overnight stay at Gondar Hills Resort or similar

Today we walk in the park, spending the whole morning on making an easy trek assisted by a support vehicle.  Right from the beginning the trek follows the spectacular escarpments with impressive view over the dramatic mountains range and the lowland areas. The trial passes most vegetated area in the park through a low bush of Giant Heather, Abyssinian Rose, St. John’s Wort, and Globe Thistle. We will possibly encounter Gelada Monkeys foraging in big groups. The highlight of this trek is the otherworldly scenic beauty of the mountain chainsteamed with the Gelada Monkey and birds such as Ruppel’s Griffon Vulture, White backed vulture and Lammergeyer along the cliff. Late afternoon drive back to Gondar.

Overnight:Gondar Hills Resort or similar

Day 3: Fly to Lalibela and Sightseeing tour of the Rock hewn churches of Lalibela.

After breakfast, check out the hotel and you will be transferred to the airport in Gondar. Upon arrival at Lalibela airport, a driver will meet you outside the airport terminal, transfer to the hotel in to check in and drop luggage’s. With a guide visit the magnificent Rock Hewn Churches of Lalibela: Bete-Giorgis, BeteMedahneAlem, Bete-Meskel, Bete-Mariam, Bete-Denagel, Bete-Golegota, and Debresina, Bete-Gebriel-rufael, Bete-Merkorewos, Betelehem, Bete-Emanuael and Bete-Aba Libanos.)At the end of the 12th and beginning of the 13th centuries King Lalibela of the Zaghwe dynasty built a series of rock hewn churches – the New Jerusalem as he called it – now rightly acknowledged to be the 8th wonders of the world.  There are 11 churches in the town named after him, with others in the surrounding countryside.  All are still in use today.  (The churches are divided into two groups, the division being the River Yordanos or River Jordan.).It is estimated that the churches took 24 years to construct.  Enjoy a typical Ethiopian coffee ceremony in an authentic place in the villages of Lalibela!

Overnight: Mazena Lodge

Day 4: Fly from Lalibela to Addis Abeba and connect your flight to Axum and then proceed onto Axum. Overnight: Axum Sabean Hotel or similar

After breakfast, check out from your hotel and drive to the airport for your flight to Addis Ababa and then to connect to a flight to Axum.On arrival in Axum, after collecting your luggage you be met by our representative and you will be transferred to the hotel, after a break you will have a city tour that includes the Stele Park. These famed granite obelisks are relics of this time and have gained UNESCO World Heritage Site status.The tallest, the Great Stele, has fallen and broken into six massive pieces, but when standing was 33 meters (108 feet) tall and weighed about five hundred tons. The tallest obelisk still standing at Axum today is about 23 meters (75 feet) tall, still an impressive sight!

Overnight: Axum Sabean Hotel or similar

Day 5: Sightseeing tour of Axum and overnight in Axum

After breakfast, you will continue the city tour, visiting St. Mary's Church and the Sanctuary Chapel which is the repository of the Ark of the Covenant; the Coronation Yard; King Ezana's Park; and the "Queen of Sheba" ruins, once a massive palace with finely mortared stone walls deep foundations, and its own impressive drainage system, believed to be the oldest building in Axum.

Overnight: Axum Sabean Hotel or similar

Day 6: Morning fly back to Addis and connect your flight to Diredawa and then proceed onto Harar. Overnight: Harar Ras Hotel or similar

After breakfast, check out from your hotel and drive to the airport for your flight to Addis Ababa and then to connect to a flight to Dire Dawa. On arrival at Dire Dawa airport, after collecting your luggage you be met by our representative and with 2 hours drive you will be transferred to the hotel in Harar. Around the evening there is guided tour.

Overnight: Harar Ras Hotel or similar

Day 7: Sightseeing tour of Harar and afternoon drive to Diredawa and fly back to Addis: Overnight: Goha Addis Hotel or Similar

After breakfast explore the city of Harar, a spiritual center of Ethiopia’s Islamic community. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Harar is a lively and stimulating town which won a peace prize award owing to excellent cultural and religious tolerance as well as peaceful coexistence among its various inhabitants. We will pay a visit to the famous house of the French Poet Rimbaud, museums, traditional Adere Houses, Islamic Shrines, and colorful local Markets etc. After lunch, retrace back to Dire Dawa. Upon arrival drive through the landmarks of Dire Dawa including the historic Train Station. Dire Dawa’s foundation and development is highly associated with the Ethio-Djibouti Rail way.

Overnight: Goha Addis Hotel or similar

Day 8: Fly to Jinka, transfer to your Lodge and afterwards visit Jinka ethnographic museum and Ari village. Overnight: Eco Omo Lodge or similar

After early breakfast transfer to the airport to fly to Jinka. Upon arrival met by our drivers and representatives and transfer to your lodge for check-in followed by early lunch. Afterwards visit the Ethnographic museum at Jinka which houses the material as well as the spiritual culture of the Omo Valley tribes. The museum will briefly shed light onto the diversity of the tribes that inhabit the entire Omo Valley. Continue to a visit to the Ari village, the largest group in the region known for their pottery works and household as well as agricultural implements.

Overnight: Eco-Omo Lodge

Day 9: Morning excursion through Mago national park to visit Mursi village. Afternoon drive to Turmi with a possible encounter of Hamar tribe returning home from Turmi Market. Overnight:.Buska Lodge orSimilar

You will have an excursion to Mago National Park to visit the Mursi village. The Mursi are one of the most original ethnic groups. They live in very low huts made of straw leaves. The women like to wear terra cotta on their enormously stretched lower lips and ear lobes. The men are famous for their hairstyle. Afternoon, drive from Jinka to Turmi and  if time time allows visit Turmi Market.

Overnight Buska Lodge or similar

Day 10: Excursion to Omorate and visit Dassanech village and after noon Dimeka Market Overnight: Buska Lodge or Similar

After breakfast you will drive to Omorate to visit the Dassanech people, ‘people of the Delta’, who lives on the northern shore of Lake Turkana.  They are known for their elaborate beads and ceremonial events such as Dimi culture in honor of girls. You will cross the mighty Omo River using a local boat or alternatively drive on the New Bridge across the River to access the Dasenech village. Return to Turmi for lunch, and proceed onto Dimeka to visit one of the colorful Hamar Markets.

Overnight: Buska Lodge or similar

Day 11: Morning excursion to Karo village and afternoon visit Hamar village overnight: Buska Lodge or Similar

Today we will head further to Murulle to visit the Karo tribe on the bank of the Omo River. The Karo are known for elaborate body paintings. Drive back to Turmi. Late afternoon, visit the Hamar village. The Hamar are a fine looking people, both men and women take great pride in their appearance, shaving and coloring their hair, oiling their bodies and decorating themselves with beads and bracelets worn around arms and legs. The exceptional ornamental and symbolic wealth of their hairstyles is eye-catching. During the time we spend in Turmi, we will check whether there is a bull jumping ceremony in the vicinity.  This is a rite of passage ceremony for young men, marking their transition to adulthood.  We will also check for Evangadi ceremonies, Hamar dancing.

Overnight:  Buska Lodge or similar

Day12: Drive to Arba Minch enroute visit Key Afer market and Konso village. Late afternoon continue onto Arba Minch. Overnight: Haile Resort or Similar

After breakfast drive from Turmi to Arba Minch. En route visit the colourful Key Afer market- a melting pot for Banna, Ari and Tsemay tribes. Then continue onto Konso and stop for lunch before sightseeing tour of Konso Village.The Konso lives in a land of low terraced hills. They are reputed to be the hardest workers in the country. Their elaborately terraced hillside grows some of the county’s best coffee. They have an article tradition and erect peculiar totems on the grave of their deceased. Late afternoon proceed on to Arba Minch.

Overnight: Haile Resort or Similar

Day 13: Morning visit Lake Chamo and after noon excursion to Dorze village. Overnight: Haile Resort or Similar

After breakfast short drive to Lake Chamo and boat ride to spot aquatic birds, Hippos and the Nile crocodile at the “Crocodile Market”. Afternoon excursion to Chencha to visit the Dorze people with their unique houses and traditions. You'll visit the false banana cultivations, from which they extract their traditional bread (the Kocho), the weaving works and more.  Back to the lodge and enjoy the sunset.

Overnight: Haile Resort or similar

Day 14: Morning at your leisure and afternoon fly back to Addis, visit national museum and departure flight

After a long day tour, today relax the morning at the lodge overlooking the scenic natural land bridge called “God’s Bridge” separating Lake Chamo and Lake Abaya. Afternoon fly back to Addis Ababa followed by a visit to the National Museum that houses Ethiopia’s oldest resident, Lucy. Evening you will have traditional dinner with folkloristic dances as a Farwell night party. Three hours in prior for your departure you will be transferred to the airport.