Exploring the cradle of mankind and witnessing one of two unique festivals!
With a history dating back to the origins of humanity, a rugged landscape of towering mountains and rolling savannahs, and a variety of highly unique cultures and traditions, Ethiopia is one of the world’s most interesting—but less frequented—destinations. Our journey takes you from animistic communities in southern Ethiopia, with their resplendent body decorations and austere lifestyles, to the Amharic people of the north, with their distinctive traditions of ancient Ethiopian Christianity. You’ll travel across terraced hillsides and winding mountain pathways, marvel at the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela and the medieval castles of Gondar, boat across Lake Chamo for exciting bird- and crocodile-watching, and decipher histories of Egyptian pharaohs, Muslim conquerors, and early Christian mystics on the mural-covered walls of island monasteries.
The January Timkat Festival is a wonderful manifestation of the Epiphany pageant as thousands of colorfully robed coptic monks carry replicas of the "Ark of the Covenant" from their churches to be worshipped and anointed with holy water. Monks chant and dance for 3 days amidst centuries old monolithic rock-hewn churches in the higland town of Lalibela.
The September Meskel Festival is a popular festival in Ethiopia celebrated to honor the finding of the true cross upon which Jesus Christ was crucified by Empress Helena, the mother of Constantine the Great. The day is celebrated by Christians in Ethiopia with dancing, singing and wearing colorful, traditional clothes. Golden yellow flowers known as the "Meskel Daisies" bloom just once per year during the time of this festival.
Walking, cultural touring
- Explore the deep history and diverse cultures and religions of the "Cradle of Mankind"
- Meet the tribal people of the Omo Valley, known for their unique rituals and striking body decorations
- Visit the stunning, rock-hewn churches of Lalibela, the holy city of Axum, and the former royal capital of Gondar
- Witness a colorful religious festival on each departure!
Duration: 16 days Start Location: Addis Ababa End Location: Addis AbabaDownload Detailed Itinerary
Day 1 : Arrive in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Arrival in Addis Ababa and transfer to hotel.
Day 2 : Addis Ababa
Exploration of Addis Ababa, including the National Museum, the Ethnography Museum, and Mercato. Traditional dinner and cultural show in the evening.
Day 3 : Arba Minch
Fly south to Arba Minch in the Rift Valley, home of over 80 different ethnic groups.
Day 4 : Lake Chamo
We take a boat ride on Lake Chamo, home to crocodiles and hippos, before visiting a Dorze village, known for their weaving skills and their bamboo domed houses.
Day 5 : To Jinka
We drive south and visit Konso territory before reaching the town of Jinka.
Day 6 : Mursi tribe
Visit to the dense bush territory of the Mursi tribe, where the women are known for their large clay lip plates. Overnight in Turmi.
Day 7 : Turmi
Spend the day exploring more tribes of the Omo Valley, including the Dassanech and Hamar people.
Day 8 : Turmi to Konso
Monday is market day in Turmi, and we'll explore the market on foot before driving to Konso.
Day 9 : Langano Lake
We drive to the lake region of the Great Rift Valley and overnight along the shores of Lake Langano.
Day 10 : Bahir Dar
We drive to Addis Ababa, then take a short flight to the town of Bahir Dar and Lake Tana, source of the Blue Nile.
Day 11 : Tissisat Falls
Morning boat tour of the Ura Kidana Mehret island monastery, followed by an afternoon walk up to the dramatic Tissitat Falls.
Day 12 : Gondar
Scenic drive to the city of Gondar, a Portuguese-influenced, bygone cultural hub founded in the 17th century.
Days 13 - 14 : Lalibela
Short flight to Lalibela, a highland town renowned for its historic ,12th century rock-hewn churches.
Day 15 : Axum
We fly to Axum, the oldest city in Ethiopia, and visit the seven stone obelisks, the religious center of Coptic Ethiopia and rumored home to the sacred Ark of the Convenant.
Day 16 : Return to Addis Ababa, later flight home
Return flight to Addis Ababa, day rooms at group hotel, and last-minute shopping or sightseeing. Evening transfer to airport for return flights home or join our extension to Harar.
DATES: Best time to go: January, September - October, December Departures: Sep 15 - 30, 2014 Meskel Festival
Debre Damo HotelAddis Ababa, Ethiopia
This 4 star hotel is conveniently located just 7 minutes from the airport and boasts 102 rooms, lobby bar, restaurant, Sky bar, health club, business center, and souvenir shops and all the services to make your stay in Addis pleasant and relaxing.
Swayne's HotelArba Minch, Ethiopia
Swaynes Hotel is located in Arba Minch which, in Amharic, means “forty springs”. The hotel enjoys a spectacular hilltop setting overlooking Rift Valley basin, with views of the forest of Netch Sar National Park, Lake Chamo, and Lake Abaya. The location makes an ideal base from which to explore, and is the gateway to the remote villages and unspoiled cultures of the magnificent Omo Valley.
Jinka Eco-LodgeJinka, Ethiopia
A new eco-lodge located on the outskirts of Jinka town across the Neri River, one of the tributaries to the great Omo River and near the Arie village, one of the main tribes of Jinka. The lodge offers horse back riding, trekking in the beautiful mountains surrounding Jinka, home-cooked meals from their own garden, plus eco-friendly tented cabins with great views.
Buska LodgeOmo Valley, Ethiopia
Situated in the heart of Southern Ethiopia in the Omo Valley, Buska Lodge is an unpretentious eco-lodge offering travelers the best accommodation and meal service in this region.
Buska Lodge overlooks the plains of Buska Mountain and has been constructed to blend beautifully in to the natural surroundings. Covering a total of 30,000 sq. meters area, the Lodge’s compound is a fascinating green area with about 120 species of plants.
Buska Lodge offers the rare opportunity to learn about and experience the culture and traditions of the local Hammer community offering a rare glimpse into the cultures of the Omo Valley. The Hammer are famous for their Evangadi dance and “Bull jumping” ceremony where a young man who wants to marry jumps over a line of bulls in order to show that he is worth to the pride’s family. The Hammer share traditions and rituals with surrounding people like the Tsemai, Ari, Karo, and Bena.
Tukul Village LodgeLalibela, Ethiopia Tukul Village is a new hotel with attractive views of Lalibela and its surroundings. It is within walking distance of many of the ancient churches, including the Church of St George.
Abay Minch LodgeBahar Dar, Ethiopia
Abay Minch Lodge is situated in the outskirts of Bahar Dar, close to Lake Tana. The rooms are in small bungalows and the garden is well kept and peaceful.
Sabana ResortLangano, Ethiopia
The best resort on the shores of Lake Langano. Bungalows are situated on a cliff top, each having their own distinctive view over the expansive Lake Langano with the Arsi Mountains in the background and are built with local materials and simple designs. Surrounded by green grass, acacia and palm trees, local flowers and a sandy beach area.
Kanta LodgeKonso, Ethiopia
A new eco-lodge with solar-heated water and Ethiopian style bungalows located on a hillside with lovely views.
Overlooking Axum’s exceptional northern Stelae field, and the Queen of Sheba’s bathing pool, the Yeha boasts the best location in Axum.
Properties shown are representative of the accommodations we use on this trip, may not be inclusive of all accommodations we use, and are subject to change.
Expert leadership is the key to an exciting, unforgettable experience. Our trips feature gifted leaders for whom leading trips is a true vocation. Besides showing you wonders you'd never find on your own, they make sure everything runs smoothly and safely without a hitch. They are knowledgeable about all aspects of your trip, and take great pleasure in sharing their insights with you. More than just guides, they positively elevate your experience by being teachers, companions, and the best of friends. You'll be in good hands with them every step of the way.
“Zed” was born in 1976 in the village of Gurd Shola near Addis Ababa. His father is Oromo and his mother Amharic and he and his siblings were raised in Addis. After graduating from the Addis Ababa Technical School with a degree in mechanics, Zed began working as a senior mechanic for a private company. Soon after, he was hired by Dinknesh Ethiopia Tours to work as a senior mechanic. His natural people skills soon led him to become a respected driver-guide and during this time, he began specializing in birding tours. He is a licensed guide who now does both the historical routes as well as naturalist tours. Zed speaks Amaharic and English.