Ethiopia Encompassed Tour

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.

Tour ratings.

  • Fitness
  • Off the beaten track 
  • Culture 
  • History 
  • Wildlife 

Tour pace


Tour style


Relaxed Pace

Relaxed tours are easy paced with plenty of leisure time built in. The tour will in all probability still be off the beaten track, with the occasional early start and there may still be occasional long drives. In general on a relaxed pace tour you can enjoy easy-going activities and experiences with opportunities to absorb the sights and immerse yourself in the local surroundings.

Moderate Pace

Moderate pace tours are ideal if you want a tour experience that combines activities and experiences with some time to relax. Typically you will be active and busy for part of the day but then also have time to rest and recharge your batteries. In general on a moderate paced tour there may be some long journeys involved but the tour is not an expedition or a road trip. On a moderate paced tour it will be necessary to have some early starts.

Busy Pace

A busy paced tour means that you can expect to be doing, seeing or experiencing something new almost every day, and moving on from place to place to pack in as much as possible. There may be early starts, long journeys and tiring days along the way, but you’ll return home feeling you’ve really experienced as much as you possibly could.

Pioneer Class Tours

On our Pioneer tours, you will be amongst an elite group of intrepid travellers and some of the first to explore a country that few have been privileged enough to discover. Of course, exploring such areas of the world will come with its challenges; it may mean several nights camping, long journeys by 4WD and the need to maintain a degree of flexibility for when carefully laid plans change. These are challenging tours in countries and areas that may have poor infrastructure, high levels of poverty and illiteracy. This can translate in to low standards in hotels, bad roads and poor driving standards among other issues. We try and smooth out as much of these issues as we can but you should be prepared to experience the bad with the good.

Traveller Class Tours

Our Traveller itineraries are at the core of our programme. These journeys are designed for travellers who still want to discover a land away from the tourist crowds but expect minimum standards. Accommodation will be primarily hotel based, although you could still find yourself camping, or the guest of a local family. Depending on the destination and itinerary, you’ll likely be travelling in a private vehicle, with occasional use of public transport. This is adventure travel with some of the rough edges smoothed out.


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.

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)

(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.

(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)

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)

(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)

Today visit the rock hewn churches and discover their origins. Overnight at Maribela Hotel or similar (B)

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)

(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)

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)

(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)

(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)

(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)

(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)

(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.

Tour Notes

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.

Mapped itinerary.

Want to see details of your itinerary on a map?

Download PDF.

Download the full tour dossier for this trip here.

For expert advice get in touch now with our passionate,
well-travelled team.

+44(0) 191 296 2674 from THE UK
1-800-614-2967 from THE US & CANADA
1-300-956-415 from AUSTRALIA

Tour inclusions.

  • 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

Tour exclusions.

  • International flights
  • Video/camera charges
  • Any airport taxes
  • Travel Insurance
  • Visas
  • Drinks (although water is provided with each meal)

We’d describe this trip as one of the best we’ve had anywhere in the world. The encounters with the tribespeople were enjoyable. We felt lucky and privileged to witness a Hamer bull jumping ceremony.


Mike and Sue Croft, UK