Explore a different side of Africa on a fascinating adventure across rich and diverse Ethiopia. From the capital of Addis Ababa to the water wildlife haven of Lake Chamo in the south and the majestic Simien Mountains in the north, discover the source of the Blue Nile, cruise Lake Tana and see the remains of the Fasilides Empire in Gondar. Visit the ancient obelisks and tombs of Axum and be amazed by the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela.
Departure Date: 10 January 2020
Celebrating ‘Epiphany’, the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River, Ethiopia’s famous Timkat Festival involves colourful processions and festivities and is the one day of the year Gondar’s Fasilides baths are filled with water for ceremonies. The tour includes a morning visit to watch the baptism ceremony at the baths.
Welcome to Ethiopia and its capital, Addis Ababa! Enjoy a group welcome dinner this evening. [D]
Today we’ll discover some of the city’s history on a sightseeing tour, visiting the Ethnological Museum, the National Museum and the Holy Trinity Cathedral. [B,L,D]
Special Experience: Explore Addis Ababa’s best restaurants on a culinary walking tour. Learn the story and traditions behind each dish and get to know more of the local neighbourhoods.
This morning we transfer to the airport for our flight to Jinka, set in the hills above Mago National Park. Here we will enjoy lunch at a local restaurant. After lunch we'll visit the South-Omo Museum & Research Centre, with a fascinating exhibition on the region's cultures. [B,L,D]
Be immersed in the local traditions today as we visit the intriguing Mursi tribe. Here we meet the tribe members and learn the local customs. Interestingly, in this tribe it is still the norm for women to wear plates in their lower lips. Next we’ll travel to the town of Konso, located on the Sagan River and declared a UNESCO World Heritage-listed site. Featuring human-like wooden statues and stone walls, the cultural traditions of this village date back 400 years. [B,L,D]
Special Experience: Today we will tour this fascinating village including a visit to the King’s residence, where we will see the traditions and culture that make this place so special. This afternoon we drive to Arba Minch. Enjoy the afternoon at leisure. [B,L,D]
Today we’ll enjoy a cruise on Lake Chamo, searching for hippos, crocodiles and waterbirds. After lunch we’ll visit the Dorze tribe in one of their villages. They are renowned for their beehive-shaped houses and impressive weaving skills. [B,L,D]
This morning we transfer to the airport for our flight to Bahir Dar via Addis Ababa, on the shores of Lake Tana. [B,D]
We’ll enjoy a half-day cruise on Lake Tana this morning, visiting some of the 37 islands that dot the lake. Certain islands are famous for their beautiful churches decorated with colourful frescoes. We’ll also discover the monastery of Ura Kidane Mehret, and Aswa Mariam. We enjoy lunch at a local restaurant before driving to the town of Tiss Abay, then continuing on foot to the majestic Blue Nile Falls (weather permitting). Estimated to be over 40-metres-high and 400-metres-wide during the wet season, the falls are the most dramatic spectacle on the Nile. [B,L]
The morning we make our way to Gondar, arriving in time to see preparations for the Timkat Festival tomorrow. In the afternoon we witness a brilliantly colourful parade, where local priests carry tabots (replicas of the Ark of the Covenant) from their churches to Fasiladas’ Bath in Gondar where they are guarded overnight. [B,L,D]
An early start this morning as we head to the Fasiladas’ Bath in Gondar. [B,L,D]
Timkat Festival: This morning we witness the spectacle of the Timkat Festival, where thousands of white-robed faithful follow a procession of colourful and elaborately dressed priests. The baptism ceremony sees religious vows renewed before the tabots are paraded back to church accompanied by a celebration of singing and dancing.
After lunch, we visit the church of Debre Berham Selassie.
This morning we depart for the Simien Mountains, some of Africa's most beautiful ranges. In the afternoon we'll explore on foot as we discover all the local flora and fauna. [B,L,D]
Today we travel further into the beautiful national park and further discover the amazing landscape. [B,L,D]
Special Experience: Hike through the stunning Simien Mountains in search of the area's endemic animals, such as the Ethiopian wolf, walia ibex and gelada baboons.
After breakfast take in the rich and varied landscape as we sit back and relax with a day of driving. Our destination is Axum, known for its tall, carved obelisks. [B,L,D]
We see the historic sites of UNESCO World Heritage-listed Axum today, visiting the stele fields and tombs. We will also see the Church of St Mary of Zion, remains of Queen Sheba’s Palace and the Archaeological Museum. [B,L,D]
This morning we will fly to Lalibela, famous for its 11 monolithic churches, carved in the 12th century from pink granite. We then visit the Monastery of Nakuto Leab, a rural church carved into a cave and featuring natural springs. It was originally developed by King Nakuto who renounced his throne in the 12th century to live a hermit's life. Here we will meet locals and learn more about Ethiopian culture and religious practices. [B,L,D]
Special Experience: Explore one of the ‘wonders of the world’, the first and second group of monolithic rock-hewn churches. Each church boasts a unique architectural style and is superbly carved and decorated with well-preserved art. [B,L,D]
We will head to the airport this morning for our flight back to Addis Ababa. This evening we’ll experience a traditional group farewell dinner with live cultural music and dance. [B,D]
Today we begin our journey home. [B]