Highlights of Ethiopia: The Historic Route and Tribes of the Omo Valley — 13 Days
- Tour Type: Cultural Tour
- Limited To: 8 Guests
- Duration: 13 Days
- Price: on request
This 13-day tour takes you on the classic Historic Route of Ethiopia and to the tribes of the Omo Valley. On this trip you will witness the ancient African civilization and well-preserved culture of northern Ethiopia with its breathtaking mountainous landscape and the isolated tribes of the Omo Valley and their unique traditions.
This tour includes a visit to the major highlights of the Historic North of Ethiopia, the Omo Valley, the Great Rift Valley, the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela, the Simien Mountais, Axum, Gondar, and the major tribes of the Omo Valley (Hamer, Mursi, etc.). This tour covers all the highlights of Ethiopia’s Historic Route and Omo Valley.
- Visit five UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
- Discover one of the living wonders of the world.
- Explore the ancient city of Axum, the last resting place of the Ark of the Covenant.
- Visit the fairytale castles of Gondar.
- Take a boat cruise to visit the island monasteries of Lake Tana.
- Visit the source of the Blue Nile and the Blue Nile Falls.
- Explore remote tribal villages in the Omo Valley.
- Attend cultural activities.
- Visit courful tribal markets in the Omo Valley.
- Enjoy a city tour of Addis Ababa.
On this trip, you will stay in a 4-star hotel in Addis Ababa, and on the rest of the trip to the Historic Route, you will be staying in the best available tourist-standard hotels, lodges, and resorts, which are selected and regularly inspected by our team.
This tour will be led by our experienced A-rated, friendly cultural tour guides who have led many tours to the Historic Route of Ethiopia and Omo Valley and who know the history, culture, nature, and wildlife well.
Our drivers are well trained and well travelled in the areas. They know all the terrain and the valleys you will be traveling to. They always make sure you are comfortable and safe and have been rated excellent by many travelers who have been on the road with them for long periods of time.
On this cultural tour to the Historic Route of Ethiopia and Omo Valley, you will be traveling by coaster bus to the north, and for the southern part, in a comfortable 4x4. We have well-maintained buses in excellent condition and 4x4s suitable for the road conditions you will be traveling in. All our vehicles have air conditioning and seat belts.
Day 1: Arrive Addis Ababa
Arrive in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Welcome to Ethiopia! Upon arrival at Addis Ababa Bole International Airport, you will be welcomed by your tour guide and driven to your hotel.
For the rest of the day, you will take a city tour of Addis Ababa that will include the National Museum, a church, the piassa, and other parts of the city.
Day 2: Addis Ababa, Bahirdar (B, D)
In the morning, fly to Bahirdar. At Bahirdar, you will be picked up by your driver and transfered to your hotel. After checking into your hotel, we will take a boat cruise on Lake Tana to visit the ancient 14th-century island monasteries of Lake Tana. The 37 islands of Lake Tana shelter 20 monasteries — surviving remnants of an old, contemplative tradition.
In the afternoon, we will drive 35 km to visit the majestic Blue Nile Falls.
Day 3: Bahirdar, Gondar (B, D)
After breakfast, drive to Gondar through the beautiful countryside scenery of Fogera to arrive at Gondar around lunchtime.
Gondar, founded by Emperor Fasiledas around 1635, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site famous for its many medieval castles and the design and architecture of its churches. In particular, Debre Birhan Selassie represents a masterpiece of the unique Ethiopian school of traditional art. This afternoon, you will visit the ancient city.
Day 4: Gondar, Axum (B, D)
In the morning, transfer to Gondar airport for your short flight to Axum. After checking into your hotel, you will visit the ancient city of Axum, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This is the birthplace of Ethiopian civilization and the last resting place of the Holy Ark of the Covenant.
The rest of the day you will explore the ancient city and its major attractions.
Day 6: Axum, Lalibela (B, D)
After having an early breakfast at the hotel, transfer to Axum airport for your flight to Lalibela. After checking into your hotel, we will drive to the site of some of Ethiopia’s most famous rock-hewn churches, often referred to by many as one of “the living wonders of the world”. These churches are, and they have been for at least 800 years, an active Christian shrine — the spiritual center of the country’s religious life. The monolithic churches were carved out of 2,600-square-meter natural rock terrace in the 12th century AD by King Lalibela.
Today, we will visit the first group of rock-hewn churches. In the evening, there will be Ethiopian traditional coffee ceremony for the group prepared at a local house.
Day 6: Asheten Mariam, Lalibela (B, D)
In the morning, take a mule ride and/or walk to the top of Asheten Mariam Monastery. This is very famous for its 12th-century monastery church and beautiful view at 10,298 ft. above sea level.
After having lunch and resting at the hotel, you will continue your journey into Ethiopia’s long and marvelous history with a visit to other of Lalibela’s remarkable churches — their architecture and artistry must be seen to be believed.
Day 7: Lalibela, Addis Ababa, Langano (B, D)
After breakfast, transfer to Lalibela airport for the flight to Addis Ababa. Upon arrival, we will meet our drivers for the drive to the Great Ethiopian Rift Valley and Lake Langano. While driving from Addis Ababa to Langano, we will pass by different small towns and stop for a visit at one of the most beautiful Rift Valley Lakes, Lake Ziway.
The rest of the day, relax around the beautiful Sabana Lodge perched on the top of the hill overlooking the beautiful lake.
Day 8: Langano, Dorze, Arba Minch (B, D)
In the morning, we drive further southwest to the Great Rift Valley visiting the small villages of Welyita at Sodo and Alaba at Tembaro enroute.
When we approach Arba Minch town, we will make a detour to drive north to the mountain village of Chencha located on the southwestern escarpment of the Great Rift Valley running north to south all the way to Mozambique. This is the home of the Dorze people. Once famous warriors in the region, the Dorze are now renowned cotton weavers whose tall beehive-shaped and bamboo-woven dwellings are among the most distinctive structures to be seen anywhere in Africa.
Day 9: Arba Minch, Jinka (B, Picnic Lunch, D)
After an early breakfast, we will drive to Jinka visiting different cultural peoples including the Konso villages enroute.
The Konso are famous for their old and unique terracing and unusual engraved wooden statues of grave markers. Between Konso and Jinka, we will also take brief stops to visit different cultural peoples and their villages such as the Tsemay around the Weito River, the Benna at Keyafer, and the Ari at Kako village.
Day 10: Jinka, Mago, Mursi, Jinka (B, Picnic Lunch, D)
After having an early breakfast, we will drive from Jinka to Mursi village. The Mursi, undoubtedly the most celebrated residents of South Omo, are a distinctive group of pastoralists. The Mursi are best known for their unique item of decoration — lip plates. Women of Mursi wear a circular clay plate on their lower lip, and the bigger a woman can wear, the greater her value when she gets married.
After our visit to the Mursi village, we will have a picnic lunch in Mago National Park and drive to Turmi.
Day 11: Turmi, Omorate (B, Picnic Lunch, D)
In the cool morning, we will drive to Omorate to visit the Desanech (Geleb) tribal village after crossing the Omo River by boat. The Desanech are nomadic pastoralists found across the western bank of the Omo River south of Lake Turkana very close to the Kenyan boarder.
In the afternoon, we will drive to Hamer village. The Hamer display an elaborate and diverse selection of body decorations. They are also identifiable for their high cheekbones and elaborate custom of beads, cowries, and leather, and thick copper necklaces. At the same village we will enjoy the seasonal cultural activities including the famous Evangadi (Hamer Dancing).
Day 12: Turmi, Arba Minch (B, D)
In the morning, we will drive back to Arba Minch with brief stops to visit different villages including the Erbore and the Tsemay.
In the afternoon, we will take a boat cruise on Lake Chamo to see some of the biggest African crocodiles. Hippopotamuses and many beautiful aquatic birds, including the lovely Kingfisher and African Fish Eagle, are also easily seen.
Day 13: Arba Minch, Tia Stele, Addis Ababa, Departure (B, D)
In the morning, drive back to Addis Ababa enroute visiting the prehistoric Tiya steles where you will see the southernmost example of a peculiar type of engraved, standing stele that stretches across parts of southern Ethiopia. These steles are believed to have been erected between the 12th and 14th centuries and are almost certainly grave markers. Recent excavations at Tiya have revealed the remains of young people of both sexes, aged between 18–30 buried in fetal positions. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the stele field at Tiya today comprises more than 45 stones of up to 2m.
In the evening, there will be farewell dinner party with a traditional special buffet and local drinks. There will also be a cultural dance show of the different ethnic groups living in the country — the perfect end to our tour. At the end of the farewell dinner, transfer to Addis Ababa airport for the flight back home. End of tour.
Rates on request
Group size: 2–8
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Note: On this trip there will be domestic flights from Addis Ababa to Bahir Dar, Gondar to Axum, Axum to Lalibela, and Lalibela to Addis Ababa. The domestic flights have to be arranged separately.
- Roundtrip as per program
- All necessary transfers
- 12 nights accommodation in good hotels (4-star hotel in Addis Abeba) in double rooms
- All meals as stated in the program
- All entrance fees, scout fees, boat trips, etc.
- English-speaking, qualified national tour guide
- Farewell dinner (flight schedule permitting)
- Visa fees
- Meals not stated in the program
- All expenses of a personal nature (drinks, laundry, phone calls, etc.)
- Domestic flights
- Addis Ababa: Jupiter Bole
- Bair Dar: Avanti Blue Nile
- Gondar: Goha
- Axum: Sabaen
- Lalibela: Tukul Village
- Langano: Sabana Lodge
- Arba Minch: Paradise Lodge
- Jinka: Eco Omo Lodge
- Turmi: Buska Lodge