Ethiopia – Ancient Abyssinia

Dear Adventurers

The Ancient Lands of Ethiopia awaits

We are thrilled to offer you an amazing 23 or 31 day journey of discovery to the Horn of Africa, lands once traversed by caravans of the Queen of Sheba. Few nations, if any, can boast the historic splendour of Ethiopia. From its rock-hewn churches, still places of living worship, to the ancient historical traditions and magnificent cultures.

Ethiopia, is a nation of surprises, full of diversity and contrast, from the ancient to the modern. Legend has it that Emperor Menelik I, the son of the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon, brought the Ark of the Covenant from Jerusalem to Axum, where he settled and established one of the world’s longest known, uninterrupted monarchical dynasties.

Throughout the tour we have assembled a superb mix of features and attractions, including the Blue Nile Falls and the opportunity to visit colourful religious celebrations.

Our journey is one of ease and comfort and full of fascinating cultural legacies. It is a tour offering superb value and over and above the extensive sightseeing programme, we have included virtually all meals, leaving little additional expenditure throughout the tour.

We look forward to you joining us on this spectacular tour, designed especially for our direct clientele. Your camera will capture images never to be forgotten.

Highlights

  • Explore the sprawling capital of Addis Ababa
  • Historic Lalibela with its famous rock hewn churches
  • The ancient capital of the Ethiopian Empire – Gondar
  • Take an exhilarating trek in the awe inspiring Simien Mountains (optional)
  • Blue Nile Falls & Lake Langano
  • Wildlife safari in the Bale Mountains National Park in search of the rare Ethiopian wolf
  • Visit the amazing tribes of the Omo Valley
  • Visit Mago National Park and spend a night camping with the Mursi people

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23 Day Itinerary

DAY 1: ARRIVE ADDIS. HALF DAY CITY TOUR

Accommodation: Arequ Guesthouse
Meals Included: Lunch and Dinner Included

You’ll be met at the airport and transferred to your central hotel. After a rest and refresh at the hotel your guide will take you around the highlights of Addis, depending on time and how you feel after your flight, you can chose to get a chance to drink some of the best coffee in the world in the Piazza (old town), explore the Ethnological Museum and if time allows visit the National Museum (famous for its Lucy exhibit) or the Holy Trinity Cathedral. All this is of course optional, so if you haven’t slept well on your flight in, consider just taking it easy and move your guided tour to the next day.

DAY 2: AFTERNOON FOOD TOUR WITH ADDIS EATS

Accommodation: Arequ Guesthouse
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner included

A relaxed day with a mid-day walking food tour. The tour takes you to several restaurants where you’ll sample dishes to your hearts content from regions far and wide in Ethiopia. Food tours concentrate in a single neighbourhood where we can easily walk between each restaurant (less than 45 minutes on foot). At each place we’ll sample their best dish. Our guides will tell you the story behind the food and the traditions involved in cooking each dish. The tour lasts roughly four hours

DAY 3: FLY TO GONDAR. TOUR OF ROYAL COMPOUND AND DEBRE BIRHAN SELASSIE CHURCH

Accommodation: Fasil Lodge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner included

After an early flight to Gondar, you’ll then visit the castles of Gonder and King Fasiladas’ bath that were built during the Gondorian period that began in the 16th century. We will also visit Debre Birhan Selassie Church, renowned for its vivid and striking interior art and arguably one of the finest church interiors in the country.

DAY 4: DRIVE GONDAR TO BAHIR DAR. AFTERNOON FREE

Accommodation: Kuriftu Lodge & Spa
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner included

It is a 3 hour drive through attractive highland and lowland scenery to Lake Tana. Afternoon is free to relax around the pool

DAY 5: MORNING BOAT TOUR OF ISLAND MONASTERIES. AFTERNOON VISIT BLUE NILE FALLS

Accommodation: Kuriftu Lodge & Spa
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner included

After breakfast you will take an early morning boat excursion on Lake Tana to visit the Lake monasteries of Ura Kidan Mehret and Kibran Gabriel. You will end your excursion by passing by the mouth of the Blue Nile before heading back to shore for lunch. In the afternoon, visit the Blue Nile Falls (40 minutes from Bahir Dar). Although the power of the falls has been subdued by the hydro-electric plant, they are still an incredible sight. A lovely circular walk takes you over an ancient bridge built by the Portuguese in the 15th century, passing fantastic viewpoints of the falls, over a rope bridge and then up to top of the falls where you will cross by boat to meet your vehicle.

DAY 6: FLY TO LALIBELA. EXPLORE CENTRAL CLUSTERS OF ROCK HEWN CHURCHES

Accommodation: Tukul Village
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner included

Early morning transfer to Gondor airport. You’ll be picked up at Lalibela Airport and transferred to your central hotel. Lalibela is world famous for its monolithic rock hewn churches. Carved by hand out of solid rock in the 12th and 13th Centuries and awash with the chanting of monks, this is a deeply spiritual place and quite rightly a UNESCO World Heritage site. You’ll get to visit most of the Central churches that Lalibela is so famous for including the Northern Group (containing the Lalibela Cross), The Western Group (Bete Giyorgis) and the Eastern Group.

Whilst in Lalibela, we will take dinner one night at Ben Abeba Restaurant, arguably the most dramatically situated restaurant in the world

DAY 7: VISIT REMOTE MONASTERIES: YEMREHENA CHRISTOS

Accommodation: Tukul Village
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner included

Today, is an opportunity to take it a little slower or you can visit the remote monastery of Yemrehena Kristos (one of the best preserved late Axumite Churches and renowned the remains of pilgrims that lie behind the structure) an hour’s drive from Lalibela and a steep walk up once you get to your destination.

DAY 8: FLY LALIBELA – AXUM AND EXPLORE AXUM STELLAE

Accommodation: Briana Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner included

Day Notes: After arriving in Axum and checking into your accommodation, your local guide will show you around the historic and archaeological sites of Axum including the ancient stelae and tombs, some dating to before the birth of Christ, Tsion Maryam Church, the Queen of Sheba’s bath and palace and the museum.

DAY 9: DRIVE AXUM – HAWZIEN

Accommodation: Gherata Lodge or Agoro Lodge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner included

Today’s journey is quite a long one, driving from Axum to Hawzien and the Gheralta Cluster. This Tigray region is home to some of the most remote, hard-to-reach churches, often situated in incredible locations. Some churches involve precipitous climbs and some are unfortunately forbidden to females. Your guide will discuss the options with you and you will stop and explore some en-route.

DAY 10: CHURCHES OF THE GHERALTA CLUSTER

Accommodation: Gherata Lodge or Agoro Lodge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner included

After breakfast you will explore a couple of the interesting churches from the Gheralta cluster recommended to you by your guide. Spend a leisurely evening at Gheralta lodge.

DAY 11: DRIVE GHERALTA TO MEKELE AND FLY TO ADDIS. DRIVE TO LAKE LANGANO (4HRS)

Accommodation: Bishangari Lodge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner included

Today fly back to Addis and meet our 4WDs for the journey to the Bale Mountains. Tonight we stop on route at Lake Langano in the Rift Valley, a fantastic spot for spotting endemic bird species

DAY 12: EARLY MORNING BIRD WATCHING WALK. DRIVE TO BALE MOUNTAINS (5HRS)

Accommodation: Bale Mountain Lodge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner included

After an early morning bird watching walk, we continue by road to the Bale Mountains.

DAY 13: BUSH WALK IN THE LOCAL AREA (HARENNA FOREST) & HORSE RIDING (ORGANISED BY LOCAL VILLAGE)

Accommodation: Bale Mountain Lodge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner included

Today enjoy a guided walk in the local area of the lodge with an option to horse ride. Bale Mountain Lodge is set high in the mountains, on an 8 Hectare plot within the cloud forest, with views overlooking a large clearing used by animals for grazing and foraging. The lodge is a superb location from which to explore the forest and the plateau, both of which offer walking safaris in the company of a knowledgeable guide. A wide eucalyptus wood deck encircles the lodge and offers additional space for al fresco dining or taking tea and cakes in the afternoon. A two hour walk up Mount Gujaralle will give fantastic views over the vast expanse of the pristine Harenna Forest and afterwards a waterfall fed rock pool is ideal for cooling down on hot days and an excellent location for cocktail sipping; secluded benches and pagodas are great spots from which to watch the wildlife, or simply get away from the pressures of modern life. All of the paths and decks offer views of the clearing and the stream, a wetland habitat which harbours many endemic species of fogs and newts.

DAY 14: GAME DRIVE AND WALK IN SANETTI PLATEAU TO SEE THE RARE ETHIOPIAN WOLF

Accommodation: Bale Mountain Lodge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner included

On the Sanetti plateau, a mere half an hour’s drive away, can be found the Ethiopian Wolf, the world’s most rare canid, with some 2/3 of the remaining population (350) situated on the plateau and seen most days by visitors. That said, apart from the wolf on the plateau and in spite of the variety of game in the area guests need to be patient as the forest vegetation provides excellent cover for animals and makes a sighting more difficult.

DAY 15: DRIVE TO DORZE

Accommodation: Mekonnen or Tsehai Lodge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner included

Today is a long drive from the Bale Mountains to the Dorze Highlands passing some spectacular scenery. Spend the night with the Dorze in the rolling highlands on the West shore of Lake Abaya / Chamo. Whilst with the Dorze, you will learn about their unique beehive-shaped houses, traditional weaving and how they prepare their main staple, false banana.

DAY 16: DRIVE TO KONSO. VISIT KONSO CHIEF AND MUSEUM

Accommodation: Kanta Lodge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner included

After breakfast with the Dorze people, you will head down the mountains and along Lake Chamo to Konso to visit the Konso people and their chief. While you are there, you will visit the Konso museum which will enlighten you on Konso culture and life. Spend the night in Konso.

DAY 17: DRIVE KONSO – JINKA – MURSI

Accommodation: Camping
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner included

This day journey from Konso to Mursi, stopping for lunch in Jinka where you will pay a visit to the Jinka Museum to learn about the South Omo tribes then take a short excursion to an Ari Settlement. Head on to Mursi in Mago National Park to spend the night camping with the Mursi people, famous for the lip plates that the women wear.

DAY 18: DRIVE MURSI – TURMI VIA KEY AFAR THURSDAY MARKET

Accommodation: Buska Lodge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner included

This morning you pack up camp to travel to Turmi, central town of the Hamer people. On the way, you will stop in Key Afar to visit the colourful market frequented by the Benna, Ari, and Tsemai tribes. After lunch, you carry on to Turmi to set up camp at the Hamer campsite. While camping in Hamer region, you will take excursions to visit some of the other tribes and markets and you will have a chance to attend the optional Hamer Bull jumping ceremony.

DAY 19: TURMI – KOLCHO TO SEE THE KARO, RETURN TO TURMI

Accommodation: Buska Lodge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner included

Today involves an excursion to the Karo people who live on the banks of the Omo River. They are well known for their colourful body painting often simulating the pattern of guinea fowl plumage.

DAY 20: TURMI – OMORATE – DIMEKA SATURDAY MARKET – TURMI

Accommodation: Buska Lodge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner included

Today is Hamer market day in Dimeka. As the market does not get going really early in the morning, you have an extra hour this morning to explore the Kaske River by your camp or simply relax at the campsite.

DAY 21: DRIVE TO ARBA MINCH

Accommodation: Paradise Lodge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner included

Drive back to Arba Minch, with a relaxed afternoon at the lodge with spectacular views over Lake Chamo and Lake Abaya

DAY 22: LAKE CHAMO IN THE MORNING. FLY TO ADDIS IN AFTERNOON

Accommodation: Arequ Guesthouse
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner included

This morning you will drive about half hour to the shores of Lake Chamo where you continue your excursion by boat to search for large crocodiles, hippos and a multitude of water and shore birds. After your lake excursion, you will head back to Arba Minch for lunch and proceed to the airport to fly back to Addis

DAY 23: TRIP CONCLUDES

Meals Included: Breakfast

Transfer to the airport for your departure

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The Trek in the Simien Mountains Itinerary

DAY 1: ARRIVE ADDIS. HALF DAY CITY TOUR

Accommodation: Arequ Guesthouse
Meals Included: Lunch and Dinner Included

You’ll be met at the airport and transferred to your central hotel. After a rest and refresh at the hotel your guide will take you around the highlights of Addis, depending on time and how you feel after your flight, you can chose to get a chance to drink some of the best coffee in the world in the Piazza (old town), explore the Ethnological Museum and if time allows visit the National Museum (famous for its Lucy exhibit) or the Holy Trinity Cathedral. All this is of course optional, so if you haven’t slept well on your flight in, consider just taking it easy and move your guided tour to the next day.

DAY 2: AFTERNOON FOOD TOUR WITH ADDIS EATS

Accommodation: Arequ Guesthouse
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner included

A relaxed day with a mid-day walking food tour. The tour takes you to several restaurants where you’ll sample dishes to your hearts content from regions far and wide in Ethiopia. Food tours concentrate in a single neighbourhood where we can easily walk between each restaurant (less than 45 minutes on foot). At each place we’ll sample their best dish. Our guides will tell you the story behind the food and the traditions involved in cooking each dish. The tour lasts roughly four hours

DAY 3: FLY TO GONDAR. TOUR OF ROYAL COMPOUND AND DEBRE BIRHAN SELASSIE CHURCH

Accommodation: Fasil Lodge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner included

After an early flight to Gondar, you’ll then visit the castles of Gonder and King Fasiladas’ bath that were built during the Gondorian period that began in the 16th century. We will also visit Debre Birhan Selassie Church, renowned for its vivid and striking interior art and arguably one of the finest church interiors in the country.

DAY 4: DRIVE GONDAR – SIMIEN MOUNTAINS, TREK TO SANKABER CAMP 3,200M, APPROX. 7KM, 2/3 HOURS WALKING

Accommodation: Camping
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner included

At Debark you will sign in at the park headquarters, pick up your guide and scout and head up into the mountains. The road continues all the way to the first camp at Sankaber, but you’ll be dropped off on the way for a leisurely three hour acclimatisation hike. The stunning views hit you as soon as you get out of the vehicle as you walk along the ridge. There will be time to stop for a picnic lunch and after a short but demanding climb (at this altitude) to Sankaber you’ll be met as every day on this trek with a tray of fresh coffee, tea and snacks.

DAY 5: TREK SANKABER 3,200M – GEECH CAMP 3,600M APPROX. 15KM, 7-8HRS

Accommodation: Camping
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner included

You will set off trekking along the ridge with stunning views over the foothills 800m below, for the first two hours the trail passes through low bush of Giant Heather, soda apple, Abyssinian rose, St John’s Wort and Globe thistle. The highlight of the trek from Sankaber to Geech is Genbar Falls, an incredible 500m sheer drop. From the viewpoint opposite, you can watch the falcons, augur buzzard and lammergeyer bearded vulture soar on the thermals below. From the Genbar falls, the trail passes arable fields, broken by lunch at a somewhat less intimidating and more peaceful waterfall. Klipspringer and bush buck may be seen in the steep rocky and wooded slopes, whilst troops of Gelada Baboons roam the fields for roots. Just before you reach Geech camp site, there is a wonderful opportunity to visit one of the traditional village houses for home roasted coffee and injurra (ask your guide). Geech Camp itself is set on a grassy plateau with stunning sunset views.

DAY 6: TREK GEECH 3,600M – IMET GOGO 3,926M – SIHA GORGE – KEDAR DIT – GEECH 3,600M APPROX. 13KM, 5-6 HOURS

Accommodation: Camping
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner included

You will trek for 2 hours along the grass plateau past countless bizarre outsized Giant Lobelia plants. The destination is Imet Gogo, an incredible rocky promontory that grants 360 degree views over the Simien Range. At an altitude of 3,926m you can see West back along the ridge towards Sankaber and Geech and South East across a deep gully towards the tomorrow’s ridge walk to Inatye and Chenek Camp. The views here are arguably the best in the Simien Mountains and the drop is terrifying. From Imet Gogo, you’ll return to camp via the Siha Gorge for lunch. Afternoon at leisure before heading out for a short optional sunset trek to KedaDit (3760m).

DAY 7 : TREK GEECH 3600M – INNATYE 4070M – CHENEK 3,600M APPROX. 15KM, 7 HOURS

Accommodation: Camping
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner included

Today is the longest and arguably most spectacular passing close to the ridge most of its length. You will head back on the path towards Imet Gogo before detouring South East towards Inatye. The path drops into a forest of Giant Hazel before following the ridge on open grassland. The climb to Inatye (4,070m) rewards with stunning views. Inatye roughly translates as “mamma mia” and the terrifying vertical drop here just warrants the name! After a picnic lunch the path follows mostly downhill through open grassland and giant lobelia towards Chenek with a number of stunning viewpoints along the way. Chenek camp is superb for wildlife with both Gelada Baboons and Wallia Ibex common here.

DAY 8 : TREK CHENEK 3600M – SONAR 3500M APPROX. 7-8 HOURS

Accommodation: Camping
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner included

You will have a steady 2 hour climb up to Buahit Pass (4,200m). From the pass there are stunning views over towards Ras Dashen. After a quick half hour descent it is a nice flat walk to Sonar, stopping at the market village of arkawyze for lunch. Sonar Camp is spectacularly situated with stunning sunset views. Overnight at Sonar Camp.

DAY 9 : TREK SONAR 3500M – MEKARBRA 2150M APPROX. 5-6 HOURS

Accommodation: Camping
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner included

Setting out from Sonar you soon reach the Incya Valley which you descend for 2-3 hours down to the lowlands. You’ll enjoy a picnic lunch on the banks of the Incya river where there is a lovely spot for a refreshing swim. After lunch there is a further 2 hour walk along the banks of the river to Mekarbra where you camp in the village.

DAY 10: TREK MERKARBRA 2150M – MULET 2150M

Accommodation: Camping
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner included

The walk today passes along the dry river bed of the Incya River. The bird life is incredible, pin-tailed waders, village indigo, paradise monarchs and tropical bobu are all frequently spotted. Lunch at Derkwenth pool, where you can rest and swim. From the pools there is a 2 hour climb to Awazza Village at the foot of the striking Awazza Table Mountain. There will be time for a refreshment stop in the village before a final hours trek up to the last camp at Mulet.

DAY 11: TREK MULET – ADI ARKAYE, DRIVE TO GONDAR

Accommodation: Mayleko Lodge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner included

There is a 3 hour walk to Adi Arkaye, where you’ll be picked up and transferred back to Gondar to join the rest of the group.

If you are not continuing with the group then on Day 12 fly back to Addis where trip concludes

 

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Dates and Cost

Tour dates

  •  23 days   7 November – 29 November 2016
  •  23 days   20 February – 14 March 2017

Trek dates

  •  11 days   30 October – 9 November 2016
  •  11 days   12 February – 22 February 2017
Days Twin Share Single Sup
23 day trip USD 8,950  USD 1,650
11 day trek USD 2,750  USD 500
Combine the two to 31 days USD 10,290  USD 1,800

(Group size maximum 12 persons)

Please contact us for costing Ex Australia. All tour costs are land only exclusive of international airfares and taxes.The tour costs shown are per person quoted in Australian dollars and are subject to change due to exchange rate variations and other factors. Please check with us at the time of booking.Traveller’s Notes: Should you be travelling alone and wish to share, we will endeavour to match you with a roommate of the same gender. The number of single rooms available on each tour is strictly limited.

What’s included

  • Adventure Associates Escort from Australia and local English speaking guide throughout the tour
  • All Accommodation based on twin/double share with private facilities at the best available hotels and lodges
  • All Meals as specified in the detailed itinerary
  • All transfers, sightseeing, boat trips and touring as indicated in the specific detailed itinerary
  • Only 3 guests per 4WD
  • Bottled water
  • Entrance fees as required throughout sightseeing tours/park entry fees as applicable
  • All currently applicable service charges and taxes.

What’s not included

  • International & domestic air-tickets and taxes
  • Excess baggage on any flight, vaccination costs, passport or visa fees and travel insurance
  • Any other meals or sightseeing not specified in the detailed itinerary
  • Items of a personal nature such as drinks, laundry, telephone and other communication charges, personal gratuities to local guides and driver(s)
  • Any other item not specifically mentioned as being included.

How to Book

To ensure your place on this exciting adventure, please contact us to reserve a place 02 4758 9922 or mail@adventureassociates.com, then complete the Adventure Associates Booking Form and return to us with your USD 1000 per person deposit.

Deposit required per person: USD 1000 per person
Balance due: 75 days prior to departure
If booking within 74 days of departure: Full payment must be made.

Reservations are established when you receive written confirmation and acceptance of the deposit and Booking Form. Travel insurance is strongly recommended at the time of booking.

Cancellations

Cancellations must be advised in writing to Adventure Associates. Cancellation charges are subject to regulations of airlines, coach and tour operators, hotels and other principals involved. If it is necessary to cancel your arrangements, the following non-refundable charges will apply.

More than 100 days prior to departure USD 500 per person
Between 99 and 75 days prior to departure Full loss of deposit per person
Between 74 and 31 days prior to departure 75% of tour cost per person
On or within 30 days prior to departure No Refund

If the cancellation charge is more than your advance payment you remain liable for the difference. For these and other reasons mentioned above you are strongly recommended to take out Travel Insurance. Once the Land Tour has departed there will be no refund for any unused portions of the trip