Ethiopia Encompassed Tour – a 15 day Small Group Tour.
Join our small group tour which explores Ethiopia’s historic northern region, a land of ancient monasteries and castles where tradition rules. It then heads south to visit the remote tribes of Ethiopia’s deep south, with distinct cultures and fascinating traditions that have long since died out elsewhere.
We gain an understanding of the incredible ethnic diversity of this isolated part of Africa.
Ethiopia offers an Africa refreshingly at odds with a safari chic fantasy that’s long promoted the continent as an up-market zoological park for well-heeled westerners.
Invaded but never successfully occupied, Ethiopia side-stepped the colonial ‘scramble for Africa’, its own civilisation had deeper roots than much of Europe anyway. A sense of nationhood, rich history and colourful contemporary culture, combines with memorable cuisine and not bad white wine, in an experience that upends preconceptions.
Africa is a continent that is turning a corner, and in many respects, Ethiopia is leading the way.
Day 1 - Addis Ababa
Arrive in Addis Ababa and transfer to your hotel. After a rest at your hotel, we take a city tour of Addis. Visits include the National Museum of Ethiopia, Holy Trinity Cathedral, the Ethnographic Museum and Merkato open air market. Overnight Swiss Inn Nexus Hotel or similar.
Day 2 - Addis Ababa – Gondar (Flight)
We take the morning flight to Gondar (approx. 1 hour 10 mins). After lunch we explore Gondar, once Ethiopia’s imperial capital, and famous for its beautiful castles and palaces. We visit some of the town’s main sites, which include the Bath of King Fasiladas and the ornately decorated Debre Birhan Selassie Church (Light of Trinity) known for its colourful murals. Overnight Goha Hotel or similar (B)
Day 3 - Simien Mountains
(119km, approx. driving time – 2 hours)
After breakfast, drive to Simien Mountain National Park. The journey to the Simien Mountains is long, but as we ascend towards the mountains the scenery is rewarding. Along the way it’s worth keeping an eye out for endemic Ethiopian wildlife, including Gelada Baboons and many species of birds. We head to Debark for an overnight stay, Overnight at Ras Dashen Hotel or similar (B)
Optional upgrade to Simien Lodge is possible. Please contact us for details.
Day 4 - Simien Mountains - Bahir Dar & Blue Nile Falls
(275km, approx. driving time – 5.5 hours)
This morning we leave Debark and head towards Bahir Dar. We first drive to the Blue Nile Falls, known locally as Tissisat (smoking waterfall), at 100m (328ft) wide, and the water plunges for 45m, giving rise to steam clouds and rainbows. We then continue to Bahir Dar and finish the day with a lovely sunset over Lake Tana. Overnight at Jacaranda Hotel or similar (B)
Day 5 - Lake Tana
Today we take a boat trip on Lake Tana, and visit the monastery church of Ura Kidane Mihret, the best known of the monasteries and has an important collection of religious icons from the 16th to 18th centuries A.D. Overnight at Jacaranda Hotel or similar (B)
Day 6 - Bahir Dar – Lalibela
(310km, approx. driving time – 6.5 hours)
Drive to Lalibela, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and second holiest town in Ethiopia after Axum, known worldwide for its remarkable 7th to 13th century rock-hewn churches. On the way we will stop at the Awra Amba Community village, and observe the daily tasks of making Enjera, local beer and coffee. Overnight at Maribela Hotel or similar (B)
Day 7 - Lalibela
Today visit the rock hewn churches and discover their origins. Overnight at Maribela Hotel or similar (B)
Day 8 - Lalibela - Addis Ababa (Flight)
Early in the morning, go to one of the churches to watch the pilgrims gather for a church service. White-robed churchgoers gather to attend mass together in one of the many churches around town. We then take a short flight back to Addis (approx. 1 hour) where, on arrival, you will be transferred to your hotel. The rest of the afternoon is at leisure. Overnight at Swiss Inn Nexus Hotel or similar (B)
Day 9 - Addis Ababa - Arba Minch
(508km, approx. driving time – 8 hours)
After a relaxing breakfast we begin the journey to Arba Minch, visiting some Rift Valley Lakes and Alaba Village en route. Overnight at Haile Resort Arba Minch or similar (BLD)
Day 10 - Lake Chamo and Dorze
This morning we take a boat trip on Lake Chamo. As well as hippos, the lake is noted for crocodiles of unusual size – the largest recorded in recent years was over 5.5m., before continuing to Chencha where we visit Dorze Village to see the Dorze People with their intricate huts and weavings. Overnight at Haile Resort Arba Minch or similar (BLD)
Day 11 - Arba Minch – Turmi
(276km, approx. driving time – 5 hours)
Today we head to Turmi, which takes us through the lands of the colourful Hamar people, renowned for women’s red clay-braided hairstyles and the unique tradition of young men who test themselves by bull jumping during festivities. Overnight at Paradise Lodge or similar. (BLD)
Day 12 - Turmi – Jinka
(120km, approx. driving time 3 hours)
Our journey today takes us to Jinka. En route we visit villages of the Dassenach and Benna people and hope to learn a little about their lifestyles first-hand. The semi-nomadic Dassanetch people live in the area between Ethiopia and Kenya and protect their huts with thorn bushes. The men adorn themselves with an ivory peg in the lower lip or in the ear. We arrive in Jinka this afternoon. Overnight at Eco Omo Lodge or similar (BLD)
Day 13 - Jinka - Mago National Park – Konso
(305km, approx. driving time – 7 hours)
This morning we travel to Mago National Park to visit the Mursi pastoralist people, characterised by the practice of extending their lips with clay plates. After lunch we continue to Konso for an overnight stay. Overnight at Kanta Lodge or similar (BLD)
Day 14 - Konso – Hawassa
(340km, approx. driving time – 8 hours)
The journey today passes through coffee plantations, and we may stop to try the freshest of brews. We also stretch our legs at the stelae fields of Tutu Fella where the origins and significance of prehistoric carved stone monuments remain uncertain. Overnight at Haile Resort or similar. (BLD)
Day 15 - Hawassa – Addis Ababa
(284km, approx. driving time 5 hours)
We begin our drive back to Addis Ababa stopping to visit Lake Abiata, known for its population of wading birds, and Lake Shala, the largest by volume in Ethiopia. The tour ends with a transfer to the airport. Overnight stay at Nexus Hotel or similar. (BLD)
Please book a flight after 9pm.
Dates & Price.
Minimum Group Size
This group tour operates subject to a minimum group size of 4 travellers.
Return flights from London to Addis Ababa start at £650. Contact us for a quotation.
Single Supplement from £425.
Airport transfers are included if you are booking pre and/or post tour accommodation at the hotel mentioned in our tour dossier.
Want to see details of your itinerary on a map?
Download the full tour dossier for this trip here.
For expert advice get in touch now with our passionate,
+44(0) 191 296 2674 from THE UK
1-800-614-2967 from THE US & CANADA
1-300-956-415 from AUSTRALIA
- Arrival and departure transfers
- All accommodation
- Transport in private vehicles
- Services of English speaking guide / tour leader
- Meals as listed (B – Breakfast, L – Lunch, D – Dinner)
- Entrance fees for sites listed as part of the itinerary
- International flights
- Video/camera charges
- Any airport taxes
- Travel Insurance
- Drinks (although water is provided with each meal)