BEST OF ETHIOPIA GROUP
18-Day Small Group Tour to the Historic North & Southern Tribes
Best of Ethiopia Group offers an exciting glimpse into the unique cultures, history and natural beauty of Ethiopia. You will enjoy visiting four historic cities in Northern Ethiopia, including Lalibela and Axum. You will also see the stunning scenery of the Simien Mountains, with a good chance of spying the endemic Gelada baboon. In the South, you will have the chance to meet a large variety of tribal peoples. These include the Dorze (known for their beehive-shaped houses), the Mursi (famed for their lip plates), Hamer (known for the bull-jumping ceremony), and many more. Also visit beautiful rift valley lakes including Langano and Awassa, explore Nechisar National Park, and visit a coffee plantation in Yirga Chefe. The trip concludes with a city tour of Addis Ababa and a farewell meal with song and dance.
DAY 2 – BAHIR DAR: Fly from Addis to Bahir Dar and visit the Blue Nile Falls before lunch. In the afternoon, take a boat trip on Ethiopia’s largest body of water – Lake Tana (2,237 square miles) to visit the island monasteries of Ura Kidane Mihret and Azwa Mariam from the 14th century. Overnight Summerland Hotel or similar. (B, L, D)
DAY 3 – GONDAR: Drive from Bahir Dar to Gondar – the 17th century capital of Ethiopia. In the afternoon, visit the Imperial Castle Compound of Gondar (UNESCO World Heritage Site), the ‘Bath of Emperor Fasiladas’, the church of Quskuam Mariam, the residence of Empress Mintwab, and the church of Debre Birhan Selassie, which is famous for its wall and ceiling paintings. Overnight Goha Hotel or similar. (B, L, D)
DAY 4 – SIMIEN MOUNTAINS: Drive from Gondar to Debark, where the Simien Mountain National park is located. Check-in at the hotel, then, drive 22 miles farther to the Simien Mountains (UNESCO World Heritage Site) to visit the endemic mammal of Ethiopia – the Gelada Baboon, and enjoy the breathtaking scenery of the Simien Mountains. Overnight Simien Lodge (B, L, D)
DAY 5 – SCENIC DRIVE TO AXUM: Drive to Axum – the earliest Capital of Ethiopia, crossing the Tekezze Gorge. Overnight Yeha Hotel or similar. (B, L, D)
DAY 6 – AXUM: Enjoy a sightseeing tour of Axum, which includes visiting the Archaeological museum of Axum, the famous Stele Park (UNESCO World Heritage Site), and the church of St. Mary of Zion, which is believed to be the last resting place of the original Ark of the Covenant. Afterwards, visit the palace and tomb of King Kaleb and Gebre Meskel (6th Century AD), and the ruin palace of the Queen of Sheba (9th Century BC). Overnight Yeha Hotel or similar. (B, L, D)
DAY 7 – LALIBELA: In the morning, fly to Lalibela – home of the 12th century AD rock hewn churches of King Lalibela. And in the afternoon, visit the second and the third group of churches of King Lalibela (UNESCO World Heritage Site). Overnight Roha Hotel or similar. (B, L, D)
DAY 8 – LALIBELA: In the morning, mule back ride to the hill top semi monolithic church of Asheton Mariam (13th century AD). Getting to the top of the hill rewards you with great and unforgettable scenery of the area. In the afternoon, visit the remaining second and the third group of the churches of Lalibela. Overnight at Roha Hotel or similar. (B, L, D)
DAY 9 – ADDIS / LANGANO: Fly back to Addis and drive 124 miles south of Addis to the Rift Valley region visiting the chains of Rift Valley Lakes of Ziway, Langano, Abiyatta and Shalla. Spot various birds at Lake Ziway, and enjoy swimming at Lake Langano. Overnight Sabana Beach Resort or similar. (B, L, D)
DAY 10 – ARBA MINCH: Drive 186 miles south to Arba Minch, visiting the Alaba, the Wolita and the Dorze people on your way, also visiting the Sinkile Wildlife Sanctuary where you can see the endemic Swain’s heartbeast amongst other animals. Overnight Paradise Lodge or similar. (B, L, D)
DAY 11 – ARBA MINCH: After breakfast drive to Chencha, to visit the Dorze village. The Dorze people are well known for the weaving tradition and their attractive elephant shaped traditional hut made from bamboo and false banana tree leaves. After your visit, drive back to Arba Minch for lunch and a boat trip on Lake Chamo, where you will visit the Crocodile Market featuring a large number of crocodiles, different aquatic birds, and hippos. Overnight Paradise Lodge or similar. (B, L, D)
DAY 12 – JINKA: Drive from Arba Minch to Jinka, making a stop at Key Afer to visit the colorful weekly Thursday market where the Ari, the Tsemay, and the Benna people meet. Overnight Jinka Resort Hotel or similar. (B, L, D)
DAY 13 – MAGO NATIONAL PARK: Take a trip to Mago National Park. Afterwards, visit the most famous people of the Omo Valley – the Mursi people, where the women are typically known for their clay lip plates they insert in their lower lips. Then, drive back to Jinka, and visit the cultural museum of the Omo people. Overnight Jinka Resort Hotel or similar. (B, L, D)
DAY 14 – DIMEKA MARKET / TURMI: Drive from Jinka to Dimeka to visit the weekly Saturday market of the Hamer people. Then, drive to Turmi and visit the cultural village of the Hamer people. The Hamer people are famous for their traditional hair dressings which the women decorate with red soil and butter. Overnight Buska Lodge or similar. (B, L, D)
DAY 15 – OMORATE / TURMI: Take a trip to Omorate and cross the Omo River by boat to visit the Dassanech people who are known for their body scarification. In the afternoon, enjoy leisure time in Turmi. Overnight Buska Lodge or similar. (B, L, D)
DAY 16 – KONSO / YABELLO: Drive from Turmi to Yabello visiting the Arbore people and the Konso people along the way. Your drive today will be 70 miles on gravel road and 101miles on asphalt road. Overnight at Yabello Motel or similar. (B, L, D)
DAY 17 – AWASSA: Drive from Yabello to Awassa visiting the nomadic Borena people and the Sidama people who are noted for their cultivation of False Banana (Enset). On your way, visit the coffee plantations around Yirga Chefe, where one of Ethiopia’s most flavored coffee beans grow. Later in the afternoon, enjoy bird watching and the sunset over the Rift Valley Lake of Awassa. Overnight at Tadesse Enjori Hotel or similar. (B, L, D)
DAY 18 – ADDIS ABABA / DEPART: In the morning, drive to the shore of Lake Awassa and visit the ‘Fish Market’. Then, drive 169 miles north to Addis. In the afternoon, take a half-day city tour of Addis, which includes visiting the National Archaeological Museum, Merkato – the largest open air market in Africa, and driving to Mt. Entoto for the panoramic view of the capital. In the evening before departure, you will be invited to a farewell dinner party at one of the best traditional restaurants in Addis, where you’ll taste a variety of Ethiopian meals and watch the folkloric dances of the Ethiopian people. Transfer to the airport for your outbound flight. (B, D)
Please note driving distances can be long but are broken up with visits, photo stops, and lunch.
Photo Credit: Andy Richter
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Basic hotels & lodges
Cultural tours, stunning scenery
Value I Deluxe I Luxury
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*$ = >$4,999; $$ = $5,000 – $9,999; $$$ = $10,000+
All pricing per person based on double occupancy. Pricing varies based on travel dates, call for a customized quotation matching your travel needs. Changes to itinerary and pricing may apply. Price includes all accommodations, meals, some drinks, transfers, vehicles, park fees, guides and activities as indicated, and a $25 donation to a worthy African charity. Price excludes international flights, visas, tips, inoculations, travel insurance, and anything not specified above. We accept Visa, Master Card, Discover & AMEX. No refunds—see terms & conditions for details.