Accommodation: Standard Hotel and Lodge
Tour Starts: Addis Ababa
Tour Ends: Addis Ababa
- Addis Ababa city sightseeing.
- Blue Nile falls visiting and Lake Tanna Monasteries.
- Exploring Gondar and the Semien mountains
- Discovering Axum and visiting the Tigray churches and Mekelle.
- Lalibela- Rock-Hewn Churches.
- Exploring the Awash National park and The walled city of Harar.
- Explore with boat cruise on Lake Chamo.
- Visit the Dorze Villages
- Experience the agricultural styles of the Konso tribes.
- Visit the Mursi tribes in Mago National Park.
- Visit the Karo trips with their culture of body painting.
- The Hamer tribes
- Enjoying the rift Valley lakes.
If you have been dreaming of a holiday to experience the ancient history, landscapes, and remote farmlands, looking at the farmer’s village over your 4 WD car windows and learning the local cultures based on your own travel pace, this package is specifically designed to make happen your dream vacation into real memories of Ethiopia. This package tour will touch all those historical world heritage sites with a comfortable private car and proceed to the South and Rift Valley Lakes and South Ethiopia Cultural and Natural contest. These all help you to learn the new customs and cultures of the locals every day of your trip.
DAY 1: ADDIS ABABA ARRIVAL AND CITY TOUR
On arrival in Addis Ababa, you will be met at the airport and transferred to the hotel. Addis was founded in 1886 by Menelik II, and situated at an elevation of around 2438m which makes it the third highest capital city in the world. Addis Ababa enjoys an excellent climate all year round, with an average temperature of 25°C. we will start our site-seeing at the National museum which houses some of the country’s historic treasures. The collection of fossils and bones of early hominids discovered in Ethiopia includes the 3.5 million-year-old remains of ‘Lucy’, the oldest hominid ever found. Proceed to visit the two major highlights of the city, the Ethnographic Museum and the church of the Holy Trinity, Ethiopia’s main cathedral and home to the remains of the last emperor, Haile Selassie.
DAY 2 VDRIVE TO BAHIR DAR
After breakfast drive to Bahir Dar via Debre Markos a total of 565 km and on the way after a 103 km drive, visit the 13th C monastery of Debre Libanos which was founded by Tekle Haymanot. Further down, you will enjoy the fabulous Blue Nile Gorge, which spans altitudes of around 2,500 to 1,200 m, and is comparable in scale to America’s Grand Canyon. After lunch in Debre Markos, keep driving through the beautiful scenery and Amhara people’s villages. In the late afternoon arrive in the Bahir Dar and check in to the Hotel.
DAY 3 BAHIR DAR – VISITING THE BLUE NILE AND LAKE TANNA
Full-day visit in Bahar Dar, the capital of the Amhara region situated on the shores of Lake Tana, the largest lake in the country. Bahir Dar is one of the best well-planned cities in Ethiopia. This morning we take a boat trip on the lake to learn the secrets held by the monasteries and churches on the islands. We will visit Ura Kidane Mihret church on Zeghie peninsula. Under the thatched roof are some distinctive colourful paintings of religious scenes, and an impressive display of illuminated bibles written in Ge’ez, the religious language from which Amharic is derived. In the afternoon we will visit Tississat Falls, Amharic for ‘water that smokes’ located about 32km south of Bahar Dar. Due to a nearby hydro electrical power scheme, the waterfalls can no longer be guaranteed to be in full force.
DAY 4: DRIVE TO GONDAR (UNESCO – WORLD HERITAGE SITE)
This morning we drive for the 3-31/2 hour (185km) north to Gondar, the former capital of Ethiopia. Gondar has now become one of Ethiopia’s largest and most impressive cities, with its walled Royal Enclosure. Gondar’s most famous monuments are its exceptionally well-preserved 17th-century castles. The largest and best is that of King Fasilidas. It is a stone-built construction with round turrets and wooden balconies. The king also built a remarkable bath a mile or so outside of town known as the ‘Pavilion of Delight’. The Bathhouse of Fasil at which thousands of Ethiopians celebrate the Timkat festival every January. This whole complex of buildings is unique in Ethiopia and unlike anything found elsewhere in Africa. This afternoon we’ll also make a visit to the Debre Birhan Selassie church (Light of Trinity) with its sensational angelic ceiling and mural.
DAY 5: SIMIEN MOUNTAINS (UNESCO – WORLD HERITAGE SITE)
After breakfast, we drive to Debark on the edge of the Simien Mountains. In the late morning, we drive up into the mountains for some spectacular views of this unique ecosystem. We take an optional 1.5hr walk, mostly flat or downhill, and hope to see the endemic Gelada baboons, Klipspringers, Lammergeyer vultures, and bushbuck. The scenery is truly breathtaking and there will be time for a walk around the Sankaber region of the National Park. The maximum altitude we reach is 3250m.
DAY 6: DRIVE TO LALIBELA
We have a full-day drive through the stunning countryside that takes us due south, between the mountains to the west and the stark landscape of the Danakil Depression to the east to arrive at the remarkable archaeological site of Lalibela.
DAY 7: VISITING LALIBELA (UNESCO – WORLD HERITAGE SITE)
This morning we will start visiting the first cluster of Lalibela’s rock-hewn churches. Lalibela, the ‘New Jerusalem’, is thought to have been constructed some 800 years ago by King Lalibela. Although churches carved in rock are found in other parts of the world, those found in Ethiopia are particularly interesting. Generally, they were excavated on all sides of a rectangle, leaving a large block of granite isolated in the center. This rock was then shaped and formed both inside and out and the carvings show extremely skillful workmanship they have been classified as one of the wonders of the world. Each church has a unique architectural style and all are superbly carved. There are 11 rock-cut churches of which the most impressive is Bet Giorgis. It is carved in the form of a Greek cross and It is exceptionally well preserved.
DAY 8 LALIBELA
Today we will visit the church of Yimrhane Kristos. This exquisite church, a masterpiece of Axumite wood and stone construction is renowned for its interior decoration, its beautiful wooden coffer ceiling inlaid with hexagons and medallions with both figurative and geometric motifs. Drive back to Lalibela. In the afternoon, we will visit the remaining rock-hewn churches of Lalibela which include the churches of Bete Gabriel and Rafael, Merkorous, Emanuel, and Abba Libanos. Bete Emanuel is the best in this group and exceptionally carved with unique Axumite building features, such as the indentations on the walls, symbols of the multi-story building taken from the stelae of Axum, monkey heads, and false windows. Overnight in Hotel.
DAY 9 DRIVE TO KOMBOLICHA
After breakfast drive to Kombolicha and on the way we will have a stop to visit the famous Lake Hayik and the ancient church of Hayik Estifanos and keep driving to Kombolicha.
DAY 10 DRIVE BACK TO ADDIS ABABA
In the morning you will drive to Addis Ababa through an interesting Landscape and before arriving at Debre Birehan Town we will have a viewpoint to admire the landscape variation of the central Highland with the Great Rift Valley and continue to Debre Birehan town for lunch and proceed to Addis Ababa.
DAY 11 ADDIS ABABA TO ARBA MINCH
After breakfast, drive to the famous lakeside town of Arba Minch. En route visit the villages of Gurage for their staple food of Kocho made from the false banana. We drive through one of the most colorful and scenic areas of Southern Ethiopia, a land that is inhabited by the Wolayita people, who were once nomads but are now farmers. Before arriving at the town of Arba Minch, a long section of the road offers magnificent views of Lake Abaya, surrounded by mountains. The lake has volcanic origins and is almost pink in color.
DAY 12: VISIT THE CHENCHA VILLAGE AND BOAT TRIP ON LAKE CHAMO
Morning drives 40kms northwest of Arba Minch to Guge Mountains to visit the Dorze and Chencha villages. Once warriors, the Dorze have now turned to farming and weaving to earn a living. They speak an Omotic tongue and the Dorze name is synonymous with the best-woven cotton cloth. The “elephant huts” of the Dorze are unique and worth seeing. Also, the Dorze beehive-shaped houses are constructed entirely of organic material and have their own small garden surrounded by beds of spices, cabbage, and tobacco. Some of Ethiopia’s best-woven cotton comes from Chencha, which is located 8 km northwest of Dorze Village. Men weave and women spin. Afternoon a boat trip on the clear blue waters of Lake Chamo to see the crocodiles, hippos & aquatic bird species. The northern shores of Lake Chamo are famous for their large crocodiles, which can be seen in great numbers lounging in the heat. The lake is about 32km long and provides a lush wetland habitat for many species of flora and fauna.
DAY 13: DRIVE TO JINKA VIA KONSO AND KAY AFER
Early morning drive to Konso where colorfully costumed dresses, impressive terracing of the Land, and unusually engraved wooden statues used as grave markers can be seen. Differing from their neighbors, the Konso are pure agriculturists, famed for their use of the stone terraces that they utilize to such good effect in this dry and barren region of basalt hills. Originally from the east and speaking an East Cushitic language, the Konso live in settlements that are surrounded by stone walls. The age of each town is classified by a generation pole and each family lives in compounds that are accessible only through gateways that require the visitor to enter on all fours thereby rendering any potential attackers vulnerable. Keep driving to Key Afer for the colorful Thursday market where we should see and photograph the Ari, Bena, Hamer, and Tsemay people. The Bena and Hamer women usually favor red clay braids in their hair, shiny with butter and perfumed with incense. The long beaded skirts of the Tsemay have a stick incorporated in the back to denote a married woman and the men have elaborately plaited hairstyles decorated with feathers and colorful beads. After visiting the market we drive on to Jinka, often called the gateway to the Omo Valley.
DAY 14: VISIT THE MURSI TRIBES IN MAGO NATIONAL PARK
Early morning drive to Mago National Park, from here, visit the Mursi highlands where the most illustrious of Ethiopia’s unique tribes lives. The Mursi are known all over the world, for their decorative lip plates that adorn the lower lips of the Mursi women. The plates stretch the lower lip beyond imagination and the women’s beauty, pride, and desirability are determined in direct proportion to the size of the plate. The Mursi men and women may appear gracious but the Mursi warriors are not to be sneezed at. On their arms are deep crescent incisions that represent each enemy they have killed in battle. Men are also famous for their hairstyles. The various cultural aspects of the tribe will be explained and you will be able to take their photographs but not for free. Back to Jinka for your lunch and afternoon go to the Ari Village near by the town of Jinka for experiencing and learning the culture of the Ari tribe and explore how they make their traditional homemade alcoholic drinks.
DAY 15: DRIVE TO TURMI AND VISIT THE HAMER TRIBES
On this day, we will continue driving through the Omo Valley region to Turmi via Dimeka. The Hamer tribe is one of the largest groups in the Valley. The Hamer cultivate millet, vegetables, tobacco and cotton as well as raising cattle and goats. They are known for the fine pottery they produce as well as their remarkable hairstyling. Most dramatic of all are the clay hair buns with ostrich feathers that the men don when they have killed a fierce animal. The Hamer women are simply stunning. The women wear beaded necklaces and iron coils around their arms and decorate their skin with cowry shells. These decorations indicate the wealth and prestige of a woman’s husband.
DAY 16: TURMI – MURULLE – TURMI
This day morning, we continue through the savannah along tracks that are barely visible, passing through a vast meadowland with shrubs and umbellifers (‘umbrella’ acacia trees) for an excursion to the Murulle area. We arrive at Korcho village with beautiful views over the Omo River to see the Karo ethnic group, experts in body painting, using clay and locally available vegetable pigments to paint fantastic patterns on each other’s faces, chests, arms and legs. These designs have no special symbolic significance but are created purely for fun and aesthetic effect, each artist vying to out-do their fellow artists. Karo men also sculpt and shave their hair into extravagant shapes, with special ochre “caps” of hair usually containing several ostrich feathers. En route has a picnic lunch. We then drive back to the village of Turmi.
DAY 17: DRIVE BACK TO ARBA MINCH
This day we will drive to Yabello visiting the Erbore people en route. Then we will proceed to the New-York; a bizarre landscape of sand panicles formed by wind and rain (erosion). After a lunch stop at Konso, continue Arba Minch for our overnight stops.
DAY 18: DRIVE BACK TO ADDIS ABABA AND DEPARTURE
This day, we drive back to Addis and enjoy more of the Rift Valley landscape and the stunning views over the Lakes of Abijata and Shala. We have the possibility of visiting the Ostrich farm at Abijata Shala National Park. We will arrive in Addis Ababa in the early afternoon and transfer to the Hotel and have a room for a day-use for washing/change and getting ready for the evening flight. You might be interested for the last minute souvenir shopping at the markets. In the evening, we will go out to one of the best cultural restaurants for the Farewell Dinner at traditional restaurant with live traditional dances program. Then, we will transfer to the airport for the flight home. The 22-Days Colorful Cultures of Ethiopia trip ends here.