Extraordinary Ethiopia Safari

15 days

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In 1960, Ethiopian Abebe Bikila became the first African to win a Gold Medal at an Olympics. He ran another marathon, winning another Olympic Gold, four years later. When a journalist asked him if he was exhausted right after the event, Bikila replied: ‘I could have done with another 10 kilometers.’

Did it help that he had 13 months of sunshine in which to train every year? (Ethiopia is the only country in the world that does not run on a 12-month calendar) Here they also tell you that sunrise will arrive at 1 o’clock—appeasing any possible confusion with the perfect cup of coffee—and sunset will obligingly follow at 12. The country has always been independent and so, you really daren’t argue.

It is a land of spectacular color, intricate culture and glorious festival. The spiritual home of the Rastafarians, where Selassie is the incarnation of God. But also, a country where monolithic Christian churches have been carved from rock and mountain and the Ark of the Covenant is marched to the nearest water accompanied by thousands of locals dressed in dazzling white and shaded by sequined velvet umbrellas.

All of that and we haven’t even touched on the crazy wonderful food and heartbreaking physical beauty.

We will understand entirely if you, like Abebe Bikila, tell us at the end of your safari in Ethiopia, that you could have done with 10 more days.

{this itinerary is only a suggestion – our Guest Itineraries are designed exclusively and confidentially}


  • Discovering the cultural and culinary wonders of Addis Ababa
  • The “living rock” churches of Lalibela
  • The monolithic obelisks, giant stelae, royal tombs and the ruins of ancient castles of Axum
  • Gondar, the Camelot of Africa
  • The extraordinary inhabitants of the Beshada, Ari, Bumi, Hamer and Mursi villages
  • The traditional Timket and Christ Mas ceremonies
  • Lake Tana boat trip



Arrival in Addis Ababa – Golden Tulip Hotel

Arriving very early in the morning you will be met by a representative and transferred directly to your four-star hotel to settle in before your first tour of the National Archaeological Museum. Many ancient exhibits await but you might be most excited to be introduced to Lucy—the 3.5 million-year-old ancestor of humanity.


Lalibela – Tukal Village Hotel

Following a commercial flight to Lalibela you will book into the unique Tukul Village Hotel, where you will be within walking distance of many ancient churches. Visit the monastery of Na’akuto La’ab Church built by King Lalibela’s nephew and successor Na’akuto La’ab and in the evening you can attend a service at the rock-hewn church of Bete Mariam (the house of virgin St. Mary).


Lalibela – Tukal Village Hotel

In Lalibela you have a unique opportunity to take a stroll around the hills and visit the local bars and TEJ (Amharic for honey wine) houses where you can enjoy the unique dancing style of the region. During the afternoon you will travel with your guide to the cave church of Yemrehane Christos, built by the king of the same name before the reign of King Lalibela. When you return to the town you will partake in a traditional evening coffee ceremony.


Lalibela – Tukal Village Hotel

Lalibela still has more to offer. Six churches lying in rock cradles, one behind the other all await your visit, from the largest which is built like a Greek temple to one that can only be reached through a dark, narrow tunnel and more elaborate exteriors and symbolic graves.


Axum – Sabean International Hotel

Another commercial flight will take you to Axum where you will stay at the Sabean International Hotel. Enjoy an afternoon tour of Axum including the Obelisk of Axum – the largest single pieces of stone erected anywhere. You will also visit the tombs and castles of kings, Axum Museum, and Mariam Tsion Church, built on the site of Ethiopia’s first church. A chapel within the church compound is believed to by Ethiopian Orthodox Christians to house the Ark of the Covenant.


Gondar – Mayleko Lodge

Fly away to Gondar and Mayleko Lodge this morning. Here you will visit the Royal Enclosure of Fasil Gibbi. The enclosure encompasses the castles of various Gondarene emperors including the Fasiladas Palace and the Quskuam Church (believed to be the home of famous explorer James Bruce during the 1770’s). You will also explore the bath of King Fasilides where the Timkat or Epiphany festival is celebrated in Gondar. The Debre Berhane Selassie church, with its remarkable walls and ceiling, is completely covered with murals and the angels’ faces on the ceiling have become a common motif in Ethiopian design.


Bahir Dar – Kuriftu Resort

Drive off to Bahir Dar after breakfast to check in at Kuriftu Resort & Spa where you can immerse yourself in more of the history of Ethiopia with the landscapes of native architecture and cool shore side weather all year round. Lake Tana awaits. Take a cruise on the largest highland lake in Ethiopia and source of the Blue Nile. Visit the Zeghie Peninsula, known for its 14th century, round, grass-roofed churches and their magnificent wall murals, the Azoa Mariam and Ura Kidane Mehret churches. Tour around the city of Bahir Dar including the Bazawit Hill Top which offers a spectacular view of the surrounding, the city, the islands of Lake Tana and the Blue Nile leaving the lake. Here you will visit the Blue Nile Falls, known locally as Tissiat – which means ‘Smoking Water’. The Falls are 328 feet wide and the water plunges some 150 feet, giving rise to picturesque steam clouds and rainbows.


Arba Minch – Paradise Lodge

This morning fly from Bahir Dar to Arba Minch and the lovely Paradise Lodge in southern Ethiopia, established on a hilly area in Arba Minch from where the jungle forest can be seen. Abaya is the second largest lake in Ethiopia and is joined to Lake Chamo by a natural bridge locally known as “the Bridge of God’’. This afternoon you can enjoy a boat trip on Lake Chamo to view large number of hippos and crocodiles from a very close range.


Turmi – Buska Lodge

This morning you will depart by road to Turmi via Konso & Weito. Drive through the Konso village; whose people are known for their intricately terraced hillsides, fine woven materials, and the carved totems with which they decorate their graves. Your next stop is the far more rustic Erbore village in south Omo where several tribal boundaries converge. Your drive concludes in Turmi, home to the colorful Hamer tribes. Here, Buska Lodge offers travelers eco accommodation overlooking the plains of Buska Mountain.

DAY 10

Turmi – Buska Lodge

This morning you will depart across the Omo River to visit the Bumi tribe. The Bumis are specialized crocodile hunters, using harpoons from a dugout canoe. You will then cross back over the Omo River and drive to the village of Kolcho and visit the Karo tribes who are considered the masters of body painting before being transferred back to Turmi.

DAY 11

Jinka – Eco Omo Lodge

Depart to the Benna village to visit the Beshada people adorned with clay and impressive headdresses before you continue to Jinka to visit the South Omo Research Center, Yetnebersh village and the Ari tribe. On Mondays, you can visit the Koko Market. Eco Omo is another eco-friendly lodge on the border of the Neri river.

DAY 12

Arba Minch – Paradise Lodge

Leaving Jinka through the Mago National Park which was founded in the 1960s, enclosing dense acacia forests and open savanna and providing sanctuary to nearly one hundred mammal species and three hundred bird species. Visit a Mursi village where the Mursi Tribe has become a cultural symbol of the Lower Omo Valley. Conclude your drive in Arba Minch where you will overnight at Paradise Lodge for the evening.

DAY 13

Addis Ababa – Golden Tulip Hotel

Today you will enjoy a visit to the Dorze village at Chencha. These renowned cotton weavers whose tall beehive-shaped dwellings are among the most distinctive traditional structures to be seen anywhere in Africa. In this region the main occupations are subsistence farming and weaving and the shama cloth produced around Chencha is regarded to be the finest in Ethiopia. After your visit you will fly to Addis Ababa where you will once again overnight at the Golden Tulip Hotel.

DAY 14

Addis Ababa – Golden Tulip Hotel

Start your day with an Addis Ababa Tour exploring the Ethnographic Museum and Merkato, the largest market in Africa. In the afternoon you can visit the Holy Trinity Cathedral which is renowned for its stunning stain-glassed windows. Tonight a farewell dinner is enjoyed at a cultural restaurant accompanied by traditional Ethiopian music and dance..

DAY 15

Addis Ababa – Golden Tulip Hotel

Enjoy your last early morning Ethiopian coffee today and take advantage of your last day in Addis Ababa to take a drive to the eucalyptus-covered hills of Entoto, towards the north of the city. This will offer a glimpse of rural Ethiopian life and you might even spot an Olympian or two in training. Tonight you depart for your international flight home.