See incredible Lalibela on Ethiopia Holidays

Grand Ethiopia: Historic Treasures & Amazing Tribes


YPG15A
14 NIGHTS
FROM £3,595
International flights quoted separately
This grand tour of Ethiopia combines a fly-in holiday to view the historic treasures of the north, with an overland private tour to visit the fascinating tribes of the Omo Valley in the south. Fly to Blue Nile Falls, Gondar & churches of sacred Lalibela & Axum. Then head south to Lake Langano, Arba Minch & Turmi. Also see Tiya Stelea & Melka Kunture. All transfers, internal flights & English-speaking guides included.
Photo Ethiopia Grand Tour Tribes Omo Valley Lalibela Gondar
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Addis Ababa
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Blue Nile Falls
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Gondar Castles & Palaces
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Lalibela
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Rock hewn churches
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Axum
• 
Lake Langano
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Omo Valley Tribes
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Tiya Stelea
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Melka Kunture
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Addis Ababa
• 
Blue Nile Falls
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Gondar Castles & Palaces
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Lalibela
• 
Rock hewn churches
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Axum
• 
Lake Langano
• 
Omo Valley Tribes
• 
Tiya Stelea
• 
Melka Kunture
Day 1
You will be met at Addis Ababa Airport and transferred to your hotel in Ethiopia's capital city. This beautiful high-altitude country was once ruled by the Queen of Sheba and has a fascinating and ancient history. With over 80 different languages, and many different religions, its strong tribal traditions and festivals are world famous.
 
After checking into your hotel, enjoy a short City Tour, including a visit to the National Museum and Trinity Cathedral. Then ascent captivating Mount Entoto for panoramic views over the city.
Day 2
Transfer to Addis Ababa Airport for your onward flight.

You will be met at Bahir Dar Airport and transferred to this palm-tree lined resort town, decorated with colourful flowers and situated on shores of beautiful Lake Tana - the largest lake in Ethiopia.
 
After checking into your hotel, we drive to the small town of Tiss Isat to visit the spectacular Blue Nile Falls, known locally as Tiss Abay (or 'Smoke of Fire' in Amharic). These dramatic falls are the second largest in Africa. When in full flood, they are over 1,300 ft (400 m) wide and drop down over 150 ft (45 m) into a sheer chasm below, giving rise to steam clouds and a continuous spray of water that drenches onlookers. You can walk 20-minutes to a great viewing point or, if you are more energetic, walk down to the base of the falls for amazing views.
Day 3
Today we drive 2.5-hours to the historic city of Gondar, the 17th century capital of Ethiopia and also of the ancient Abyssinian Empire. Its emperors built many castles here, giving the region a very European feel - hence the name "African Camelot". The whole city is today a World Heritage Site.
 
We visit the Castle Compound with its six castles, including including the oldest and most magnificent Fasiledes Castle, with its Royal Enclosure and Emperor Fasilidas’ bath. This is where the colorful Timket festival (Epiphany) is celebrated every January.
 
We also visit the residence of the Empress Mintewab and the church of Debre Berhan Selassie (meaning 'Light of the Trinity'), located on the summit of a hill and surrounded by fortified walls. This church was not destroyed, even during the dervishes, and on its painted ceiling 18th century over 100 winged cherubs look down on you, with slightly different but equally quizzical expressions. Full of all the colour, life, wit and humanity of Ethiopian art at its best, the walls provide a compendium of Ethiopian saints, martyrs and folklore.
Day 4
Transfer to Gondar Airport for your onward flight.

You will be met at Lalibela Airport and transferred into this spiritual town - the 'African Jerusalem'.
 
Perched high on an isolated mountain over 8,500 ft (2,600 m) above sea level, Lalibela is home to 11 spectacular rock-hewn churches built by King Lalibela (1181 - 1221) after whom the town is named. Each church is carved entirely out of a single block of granite, with its roof at ground level, and each is built in a different architectural style. The entire town seems frozen in biblical times and is today a pilgrimage site for Christians.
 
On arrival we will visit the extraordinary first group of rock-hewn churches and subterranean complex of passages, that are today a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Day 5
This morning take a mule ride to the hilltop 13th century church of Asheten Mariam, formed from large blocks of stone The peak of the hill offers wonderful views over the surrounding area, including the town of Lalibela.
 
In the afternoon we visit the second and the third group of churches of Lalibela. The most famous of these is the Church of St George (Bet Giyorgis), carved in a cross-shape from solid red volcanic rock. It is the most beautiful monolithic cruciform church and symbolises Noah's Ark.
 
In the evening relax in one of Ethiopia's holiest cities.
Day 6
Transfer to Lalibela Airport for your onward flight.

You will be met at Axum Airport and transferred to your hotel in this ancient capital of Ethiopia.
 
Enjoy a sightseeing tour of Axum, including the Archeological Museum and the Cathedral of St. Mary of Zion, which is believed to be the last resting place of the original Ark of the Covenant.
 
We also visit the ancient UNESCO World Heritage Site at Stele Field (4th century), the ruined palace and tomb of King Kaleb and King Gebre Meskel (5th & 6th century) and the residence of the legendary Queen of Sheba (9th century BC).
Day 7
Transfer to Axum Airport for your onward flight.

You will be met at Addis Ababa Airport and transferred to your hotel in Ethiopia's capital city. This beautiful high-altitude country was once ruled by the Queen of Sheba and has a fascinating and ancient history. With over 80 different languages, and many different religions, its strong tribal traditions and festivals are world famous.
 
Check into your hotel, then independently explore this city situated below Mount Entoto. We recommend a visit to the National Museum and Trinity Cathedral.
Day 8
Transfer to Addis Ababa Airport for your onward flight.

You will be met at Arba Minch Airport and transferred to your hotel in this town, whose name means 'Forty Springs'.
 
Relax in this regional capital that is the gateway to the tribes of the Omo Valley.
 
Note: You will be expected to pay a small fee to photograph local tribal people.
Day 9
This morning we travel 2-hours to Dorze Village, one of many small tribes of the great Omotic language group of southern Ethiopia. Once warriors, they have now turned to weaving and farming to earn a living. Admire their traditional homes, which are tall beehive shaped structures that resemble elephant faces, surrounded by enset (false banana) trees. We also visit their market.
 
In the afternoon enjoy a boat ride on Lake Chamo, where you can see the "crocodile market" - the point at which the Kolfo River empties into the lake and a popular place for giant Nile crocodiles to sunbathe. You can also see many hippos and lowland waterbirds such as the African fish eagle, great white pelican and egret. Fishing for Nile perch is also outstanding.
Day 10
Today we travel 6-hour from Arba Minch to the market town of Turmi in the Omo Valley.
 
Along the way we visit the village of Benna Tsemay and meet its people. If it is open, we also visit the fascinating market at Dimeka, the largest town in the Hamer region.
 
We continue to Turmi, which is the home of the cattle herding Hamer tribe, and check into our hotel.
Day 11
Today we take an excursion from Turmi to the Omoratie region, travelling through savannah and along tracks that are barely visible, and passing through vast meadowlands with shrubs and umbellifers ('umbrella' acacia trees).
 
We drive to  the settlement of the Dasenech people who are known for their body scarifications and interact wth the community.
Day 12
After a morning at leisure, we drive 3.5-hours to the market town of Jinka, located in the hills north of the Tama Plains.
 
After checking into our hotel in this regional capital, we visit the small Omo Valley Cultural Museum that gives insight into the customs and traditions of the southern Ethiopian tribes of the Omo Valley.
Day 13
This morning we leave Jinka and drive to Mursi Village, where the local custom for young women reaching maturity is to have their lower lips slit and circular clay disks inserted.
 
Afterwards we drive 5-hours to Arba Minch, travelling through the scenic eastern lower Omo Valley.
Day 14
We return to Addis Ababa today, driving 8-hours through scenic countryside from Arba Minch.
 
Along the way we visit the Tiya Stelea - the remains of an ancient Ethiopian culture whose age has not yet been precisely determined. There are 36 monuments at this UNESCO World Heritage site, including 32 carved stone slabs covered with symbols that are difficult to decipher.
 
We also stop at the Melka Kunture Archeological Site in the Awash River Valley, where many ancient stone tools and huge mammal fossils nearly 2-million years old have been discovered.
 
On arrival in Addis Ababa, check into your hotel and relax. In the evening enjoy an included dinner at a traditional restaurant, where you can enjoy Ethiopian music, folk dance and a delicious variety of local food.
Day 15
Transfer to Addis Ababa Airport for your flight home.
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