Ethiopia: The Island of Africa

  • Explore diverse Ethiopia, from urban Addis Ababa to the lofty Simien Mountains
  • Meet tribal people in the entrancingly remote, aridly beautiful Lower Omo Valley
  • Feast your eyes on Lalibela, 11 monolithic churches carved into living rock
Trip Type: Scheduled Departure & Sample Itinerary
Trip Length: 16 Days
Activity type(s): Cultural Tour
Trip Extensions: Call 888-570-7108 for custom extension options

This trip takes us wide and far in a madly interesting, scenically booming country. We explore its immense and unique history, spanning religions as diverse as Islam, Christianity, and Judaism, and drink in its stunning and varied landscapes.

We delve into Addis' churches, museums, and urban side before heading north to Bahir Dar and massive Lake Tana (the source of the Blue Nile, which explains Ethiopia’s strong links with the ancient world of the Mediterranean). Next it's on to Gondar, gateway for our excursion into the lofty, beautiful, and little-known Simien Mountains. Then we fly to Lalibela, a mountain stronghold and pilgrimage site of 11 monolithic churches carved out of living rock, and dally in Axum, a major center of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.

Winging our way far south, we land in the utterly dissimilar world of Ethiopia’s Lower Omo Valley, an as-yet-undeveloped region that hosts us in modest lodges and a well-staffed private mobile camp. For four and a half days we visit this entrancingly remote area and its handsome tribal peoples—the Hamar, Ari, Bena, and Mursi, among others—getting to know their ways and their vast, dry, and alluring land.

Please note: If you're short on time, you can do the portion of the trip that interests you most: north or south.

"We enjoyed the trip—with all its wonderful experiences and lovely people and challenging moments that make a travel experience deep. We are still talking about it with our friends and our children, and sorting it all out for ourselves. It was certainly not just another trip." – Mary B.

Ethiopia tour map

Itinerary at a Glance

  • Historic Northern Circuit:
  • Day 1: arrive in Addis Ababa
  • Day 2: sightseeing in Addis
  • Day 3: fly north to Bahir Dar, boat to Lake Tana monasteries
  • Day 4: drive to Gondar
  • Day 5: excursion to Simien Mountains National Park
  • Day 6: fly to Axum
  • Day 7: fly to Lalibela
  • Day 8: explore Lalibela
  • Day 9: fly to Addis, depart or continue on Omo Southern Circuit

  • Omo Southern Circuit:
  • Day 1 (or 9): arrive in Addis Ababa
  • Day 2 (or 10): fly to Arba Minch
  • Day 3 (or 11): drive to Turmi in Lower Omo Valley
  • Day 4 (or 12): excursion to Murelle
  • Day 5 & 6 (or 13 & 14) : drive to Jinka, Key Afer market, Lower Omo Valley mobile camp
  • Day 7 (or 15): Mago National Park, fly to Addis
  • Day 8 (or 16): Addis touring, depart.