Ethiopia,

Highlights of Ethiopia in Comfort

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Tailor-Made Tour
12 Days
From £4863
GEOIP Not Available
Primate Watching
Culture and Archaeology
Photographic

Tour Introduction

12 Days from £4863
GEOIP Not Available
per adult. All trip details below can be tailored just for you

Ethiopia offers a very different Africa; it is a land of dramatic mountain landscapes, with equally impressive and unique wildlife, ancient history and a kaleidoscope of cultures.

Keeping internal travel to a minimum and staying in the country’s best wildlife lodges, this is the perfect itinerary for those looking to discover Ethiopia’s top wildlife and historical highlights at a gentle pace.

Starting with the wild Bale Mountains in the south, enjoy the thrill of watching beautiful Ethiopian wolves hunting bizarre giant mole rats on the moon like Sanetti Plateau. The Bale Mountains supports many other habitats with montane grasslands, stunted juniper woddlands and an enchanting cloud forest where wild coffee still thrives. The wildlife is equally as diverse and features magnificent mountain nyalas, horned chameleons, colourful turacos, shaggy giant forest hogs and the rare Bale monkey which is found nowhere else.

Next comes the historic city of Gondar with its castles and intricately decorated Debre Birhan Selassie Church. From here your journey continues north to the rugged Simien Mountains where lammergeiers soar past the jagged peaks and cliffs and endemic walia ibex and nimble klipspringers graze against an impressive mountain backdrop.

One of the Simien’s most memorable experiences is sitting right in amongst the hundred strong herds of geladas (bleeding heart baboons) that graze the upland grasslands. Geladas must be one of the planet’s most expressive and fascinating primates and watching them so closely in such atmospheric surroundings is an experience to treasure.

The final destination is the awe-inspiring rock and cave hewn churches of Lalibela, one of the wonders of the world and not to be missed. Offering unforgettable wildlife and historical experiences, this trip showcases the very best of Ethiopia.

Full Itinerary

Price from £4863
GEOIP Not Available
per adult. Based on sharing double / twin rooms
Day 1
Bale Mountains

On your arrival at the Addis Ababa airport, you will be met and transferred 10 minutes to the Getfam Hotel for breakfast and some time to rest. Later in the morning pick up and transfer back to the airport to check in for your onward domestic flight.

Take domestic flight to Goba. Met on arrival by your driver with exclusive 4WD vehicle for the transfer of approx. 2 hours to your lodge, crossing the wild Sanetti Plateau on the way.

Staying at Bale Mountain Lodge. Includes Breakfast and Dinner.

Day 2
Bale Mountains

Today take your first morning excursion with a local guide from the lodge and a packed lunch up to the nearby Sanetti Plateau.

This treeless big-sky landscape is dominated by low heath, giant lobelias and rocky moonlike escarpments. It can look more like the Scottish Highlands than Africa!

During the day, explore this unique habitat on safari style drives along the highest all-weather road on the continent. This is the best area to see Ethiopia’s most iconic and sadly endangered carnivore, the beautiful Ethiopian wolf. These charismatic canines are surprisingly easy to see here which is their last stronghold and they can often also be seen hunting giant mole rats, another endemic species and their favourite prey.

The abundance of small mammals up here attracts many other predators including numerous birds of prey and other special birds.

Staying at Bale Mountain Lodge. Includes All Meals.

Day 3
Bale Mountains

Enjoy another day exploring the natural history of the Bale Mountains. Perhaps start the day with an early morning wildlife walk through beautiful moss- and lichen-clad trees surrounding the lodge. This is a great location to look for the locally endemic Bale monkey as well as guereza colobus monkeys, Menelik's Bushbuck, two species of chameleon, endemic frogs and many exciting birds such as crowned eagle, mountain buzzard and the white-cheeked turaco.

Perhaps then return to the Sanetti Plateau for more wolf watching before the mid-day heat haze begins and then continue to drive on to Dinsho. Here the wet grasslands and stunted juniper forests support large gatherings of animals that have become rather habituated and allow a remarkably close approach. This is the best spot to see the magnificent mountain nyala alongside small herds of Bohor reedbuck, Menelik’s bushbuck, duikers, warthogs, olive baboons and many special bird species including the Abyssinian long-eared owl. Occasionally a hunting serval, spotted hyena or jackal is also spotted here.

Staying at Bale Mountain Lodge. Includes All Meals.

Day 4
Bale Mountains

Enjoy another full day to explore the Bale Mountains.

Perhaps spend more time discovering the fauna and flora of the Harenna Forest in the morning and then watch some traditional honey collection by the local community.

Other activities include horse riding, visiting one of the local camel markets, the coffee growing region or the Sof Omar caves, 50 kms to the south of the lodge. There are many trails to explore from the lodge and wildlife viewing game drives and night drives can also be arranged.

Staying at Bale Mountain Lodge. Includes All Meals.

Day 5
Addis Ababa

After a last morning walk or other activity, say farewell to newfound friends at the lodge and depart for the 2-hour journey back to the Goba airport. Take domestic flight back to Addis Ababa and on arrival transfer 15 minutes to the hotel for some time at leisure.

In the evening your driver could take you for dinner at the Yod Abyssinia Restaurant for a memorable typical Ethiopian dinner accompanied by live song and dance performances that showcase the vibrant and diverse cultures of the country.

Staying at Getfam Hotel . Includes All Meals.

Day 6
Simien Mountains

This morning pick up after an early breakfast and transfer 15 minutes to the airport.

Take domestic flight to Gondar where you will be met on arrival and transferred north (3.5 hours) to Debark, the gateway to the stunning Simien Mountains National Park. Along the journey you will pass increasingly dramatic scenery and have time for some exploration and gelada viewing in the afternoon.

Staying at Simien Lodge. Includes All Meals.

Day 7
Simien Mountains

Today you can enjoy a full day exploring the Simien Mountains National Park.

This National Park and UNESCO World Heritage Site offers dramatic eroded mountain landscapes with craggy peaks and pinnacles, deep valleys and sheer cliff faces. The park is also of great importance for its populations of endangered and endemic wildlife including the rare walia ibex, klipspringers, lammergeiers and thick-billed ravens.

One of the most iconic species to thrive here is the magnificent gelada (or bleeding heart) baboon. The large males are particularly photogenic with their fluffy manes, long expressive faces and bright red chests and sitting in amongst the habituated herds as they go about their daily business is a unforgettable.

Staying at Simien Lodge. Includes All Meals.

Day 8
Simien Mountains

Today enjoy another full day exploring the Simien Mountains National Park with its spectacular wildlife and landscapes.

Staying at Simien Lodge. Includes All Meals.

Day 9
Gondar

This morning transfer back to Gondar for a tasty lunch at a traditional Ethiopian restaurant. In the afternoon visit the historic Fasil Ghebbi Royal Enclosure and its castles, dating back to the 17th Century.

A short drive from these castles is the Fasilides Bath, which is filled with water once a year and celebrated by the Ethiopian Orthodox Christians. You can also make a short visit to the beautifully painted Debre Birhan Selassie Church.

Staying at Goha Hotel . Includes All Meals.

Day 10
Lalibela

After breakfast transfer to the Gondar airport to take the morning domestic flight to Lalibela.

On arrival transfer to your hotel to drop bags, settle in and have lunch. In the afternoon your local guide will take you to Ethiopia’s “must see” historical attraction, the fascinating rock hewn churches of Lalibela.

One of the most important pilgrim sites for followers of the Orthodox Church Lalibela’s incredible rock hewn churches are also a masterpiece of archaeological work. Your expert local guide will explain the history and importance of each church, taking you on a journey through this fascinating site.

Staying at Maribela Hotel . Includes All Meals.

Day 11
Lalibela

This morning return to Lalibela’s incredible rock hewn churches to either explore the northern or southern group of churches depending on which you saw the day before.

In the afternoon perhaps visit some of the more remote churches built into the nearby mountainsides or those constructed of the local red stone known as the Lasta Tukuls also dating back to the 12th Century.

Staying at Maribela Hotel . Includes All Meals.

Day 12
Addis Ababa

After breakfast transfer to the Lalibela airport to take the domestic flight back to Addis Ababa. On arrival you will be met a local guide and driver for a short private city tour. The tour will take in the highlights such as National Museum which houses the famous Lucy exhibit and some of the earliest hominid remains ever discovered. You could also visit the Holy Trinity Cathedral where Emperor Haile Selassie and his wife are buried. Please discuss your interests with the guide.

Return to the Getfam hotel in the evening for dinner and day use of room.

Later in the evening you will be picked up from the hotel and transferred 10 minutes to the international airport to check in for your onward flight home.

Includes All Meals.

Tour Accommodation

Ethiopia Northern Ethiopia Amhara and Tigray

Simien Lodge

Overview

Simien Lodge is the self-proclaimed highest lodge in Africa, sitting at 3,300 meters above sea level. Located on the edge of an escarpment just inside the boundary of the Simien Mountains National Park, the lodge boasts incredible scenic views as well as easy access into the Park. Herds of geladas and thick-billed ravens often frequent the lodge grounds and can be very approachable here.

Rooms are in traditional Ethiopian style Tukels – meaning house.

The round buildings have thatched rooves and each contain two rooms and two ensuite bathrooms. Main rooms can be arranged with double or twin beds and have enough space for an extra bed if required. Being at high altitude, temperatures can be quite cold at times. Therefore, the Tukels have solar powered underfloor heating to take the edge off the cold and hot water bottles can be provided. Extra blankets are also available to ensure guests comfort as there are often power cuts up here.

The restaurant in the main building serves mostly international dishes in buffet format during busy times and as a set menu at quieter times. Traditional Ethiopian cuisine can also be requested and there is a wide selection of wines and other drinks, although the stocks are not always available. Packed lunches can be prepared for guests embarking on a day’s trekking or visits to other parts of the park such as the Chennek Valley as well. The bar is proud to be the highest place to get a drink in Africa and is comfortably furnished for a warm and inviting atmosphere.

They remain open until the last guests have left, and there will often be some sort of evening entertainment occurring, such as a film about the local area or wildlife. Please note that electricity supply can be very hit and miss at this location and torches are very useful to have for the evenings. Please also be aware that the paths between the Tukels can be a little uneven and you will likely feel the effects of the altitude. The lodge has also been long involved with the local community and supports many projects such as school initiatives, monastery restoration, transportation for the local village and mostly recently a community health centre.

Swimming Pool
No
Air Conditioning
No
Rooms
26
Facilities

Rooms have ensuite bathrooms with showers and required amenities, underfloor solar powered heating and extra blankets and hot water bottles can be provided for cold nights. The main lodge has a spacious restaurant and bar area. There is no Wi-Fi or reliable phone reception at the lodge and power cuts are frequent due to the remote location.

Local Wildlife

The wonderfully expressive geladas are usually the highlight of a visit to the Simien Mountains. Sitting in amongst a herd of geladas provides a fascinating and intimate wildlife experience as these wonderful, endemic primates graze, groom and chatter around you. The highly endangered Walia ibex is another key species that is most often seen in the remote Chennek Valley of the Park. Other wildlife includes the agile Ethiopian klipspringer, Menelik's bushbuck and a small population of Ethiopian (Simien) wolf, leopard and golden jackal, although these species are rare to see here. The birdlife is very impressive including the aptly named thick-billed raven, lammergeier, tawny and steppe eagles, Ruppell’s, white-backed and Egyptian vultures, Erckel’s francolin, greater blue-eared starling, Abyssinian Longclaw, moorland chat and Abyssinian wheatear.

Optional Activities

Exploring the Simien Mountains National Park to see its exciting wildlife and landscapes. There is a wide range of treks to choose from and mountain bikes can also be hired. For those interested in culture visits to local churches and villages can also be arranged.

Ethiopia Northern Ethiopia Amhara and Tigray

Maribela Hotel

Overview

This beautifully designed hotel is located of the edge of the Lalibela village overlooking the nearby Mountains. It offers some of the best accommodation in Lalibela with spacious bedrooms that have been decorated in a way to showcase the local colours, decour and culture and the hotel is just a ten minute walk from the famed rock hewn churches.

The hotel has a selection of room categories including single, twin, double or king rooms plus the extra spacious Maribela suites and triple rooms. All the rooms have private balconies and cosy day beds from which guests can relax and take in the stunning location. The restaurant serves an excellent range of Ethiopian and Western cuisine and the hotel is noted for its traditional coffee ceremonies and honey wine. There is also an extensive selection of typical Ethiopian and Lalibela themed crafts and souvenirs available and free Wi-Fi is available throughout the hotel.

The Maribela hotel also works closely with the local communities by providing employment and sourcing much of their produce from the local farmers. In 2017, the hotel also begun a reforestation programme on a nearby abandoned plot of land and have already planted over 2,000 trees.

 

Swimming Pool
No
Air Conditioning
No
Rooms
20
Facilities

Rooms have day beds, private balconies, ensuite bathrooms with modern amenities, laundry service, hair dryer, free Wi-Fi and either double, twin or king beds. The hotel also has 24-hour reception desk, airport shuttle, car parking, travel desk, and restaurant and bar.

Local Wildlife

Lammergeiers are widespread in Lalibela's mountains and often soar past the lodge. Tawny and steppe eagles, white-billed starlings, white-winged cliff chats and Ruppell's black chats can also be seen in the lodge area.

Optional Activities

Visiting the impressive Rock Hewn Churches of Lalibela is the top attraction, but the hotel offers authentic coffee ceremonies for its guests in the evening and can arrange other excursions.

Ethiopia

Bale Mountain Lodge

Overview

Within the Harenna Forest of the Bale Mountains National Park, one of the largest remaining Tropical Cloud Forests in Africa and Ethiopia’s premier National Park, you’ll find the warm and welcoming Bale Mountain Lodge.

The lodge sits at 2,380 meters above sea level, on a small hill within an eight-hectare plot overlooking a mountain stream and forest clearing. The lodge offers views of the 1500-meter-high Harenna escarpment, with its volcanic outcrops rising dramatically above the forest. It is generally cool and damp from late April to September but warm and drier from October to mid-April.

All of the rooms offer comfortable beds, private decks and wood-burning stoves. Each is hidden from view from any other to permit guests to feel totally isolated whilst being safe and warm. Some rooms are tree houses built on stilts with outside showers and wonderful forest settings but are located a short walk from the main building. There are also disabled and limited access rooms located next to the main building. The lodge is a superb location from which to explore the forest and the nearby Sanetti Plateau, both of which offer walking and 4WD safaris in the company of a knowledgeable guide. The plateau is around a 40 minute drive away and there are trails into the Harenna Forest leading out from the lodge itself.

The lodge is a spectacular spot for viewing a variety of wildlife nearby.

Swimming Pool
No
Air Conditioning
No
Rooms
11
Facilities

An onsite restaurant and bar, firepit, patio deck, free Wi-Fi internet in the main building, laundry service available and guided tours.

Local Wildlife

Around the lodge itself a variety of mammals occur including guereza black-and-white colobus and the endemic Bale monkeys, warthogs, Menelik's bushbucks, tree hyraxes and African golden jackals, while further afield giant forest hog, bushpig, and lion and leopard are even occasionally spotted. Birdlife is also plentiful with white-cheeked turaco, African emerald cuckoo, Abyssinian catbird, silvery-cheeked hornbill, mountain buzzard and African crowned eagle to name just a few. Travelling on to the Sanetti Plateau (around 40 minutes away) it is possible to see Ethiopian wolf, giant mole rats, Ethiopian Stark’s hares, klipspringers, blue-winged geese, spot-breasted lapwings, Rouget's rail, lammergeier, golden eagle, augur buzzard and much more.

Optional Activities

The lodge is most popular for its wildlife viewing and birding but guided hiking, horse riding, fishing and cultural activities such as village and market visits and honey collecting can all be arranged.

Visiting the Rift Valley, with its camel markets and dry, dusty conditions, is a mere 45-minute drive to the south and the Sof Omar caves, Africa’s largest limestone cave system- a return day trip to the North.

Ethiopia

Goha Hotel

Overview

Built on a hilltop overlooking Gondar town, the Goha Hotel combines stunning views with a comfortable and traditional Ethiopian yet modern design. All the rooms are elegantly and colourfully designed with local art deco influences. Each room features a private bathroom, comfortable beds, TV, telephone and desk.

The charming Hotel restaurant on the terrace has beautiful views and excellent service, serving both traditional and European food. Every Saturday and Sunday live entertainment with traditional music and dance shows is put on. Wi-Fi is a little patchy and most accessible in the restaurant and reception area. Gondar’s historic attractions are all very accessible from the hotel and the Castles and Royal Enclosure is a 10-minute drive away.

Swimming Pool
Yes
Air Conditioning
No
Rooms
82
Facilities

An outdoor swimming pool, restaurant, bar and terrace and free Wi-Fi in the main building. Room facilities include a TV, telephone and private bathroom.

Optional Activities

Take a guided city tour of the royal and ancient history of Gondar. Highlights include the Fasil Ghebbi Royal Enclosure and its castles, dating back to the 17th Century, the Fasilides Bath and the Debre Birhan Selassie Church.

Take one of the hotel bikes to explore the city.

Ethiopia Oromia and southern Ethiopia

Getfam Hotel

Overview

The Getfam Hotel provides a comfortable setting and a lovely accommodation option while in Addis Ababa. Addis Ababa Bole International Airport is just a 15-minute drive from the hotel, and a free shuttle service is available for ease of travel. The hotel offers well-furnished modern and comfortable rooms and suites all well equipped with modern facilities for a comfortable stay. There is complimentary Wi-Fi available to guests throughout the hotel and an indoor swimming pool on the second floor, while on the third floor a steam room, sauna and massage room can be found.

Each room has a Samsung LCD satellite TV, tea and coffee facilities, mini-bar and a private bathroom with bathtub and shower head plus complimentary toiletries. On the ground floor guests can enjoy buffet breakfasts and a la carte dining at the restaurant and bar where both tasty Western and Ethiopian cuisine is available.

Swimming Pool
Yes
Air Conditioning
Yes
Rooms
115
Facilities

The Getfam Hotel offers a buffet breakfast, free airport shuttle, free Wi-Fi, a well-equipped gym, an indoor swimming pool, spa, sauna and steam room and an onsite restaurant serving wonderful meals. Inside the rooms you’ll find a complimentary tea & coffee machine, bottled water, safe deposit box, bath robes, slippers and toiletries provided. Each room also features a flat screen TV, a mini-bar, luxurious bedding, an iron with ironing board and a room with roll-away bed is available upon request.

Optional Activities

You could explore Shola Market, or do a shop at the Zefmest Grand Mall and Edna Mall which is located within 2 miles. Medhane Alem Church and “Red Terror” Martyrs' Memorial Museum are also 2 miles away.

Route Map

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Getfam Hotel: 8.905084, 38.781889
Bale Mountain Lodge: 6.717658, 39.727922
Maribela Hotel: 12.040946, 39.037489
Simien Lodge: 13.211777, 37.977824
Goha Hotel: 12.620579, 37.468306

Departure Dates

This tour has no set departure date and can be tailored to suit your travel requirements. Contact us for more details.

Travel Information

Are International Flights Included?

No. Please contact us for a quote if required.

Flight Info:

There are direct flights from London Heathrow with Ethiopian Airlines. Flights are 7 hours 35 minutes.

Best Visited:

October to April

Are you ATOL Registered?

Yes. This means we are legally able to book your international flights in conjunction with your ground arrangements so you can book with us with complete confidence. Read more about our ATOL license here.

Ian Loyd

Area Specialist

If you have any questions regarding this Tour, please feel free to contact me on +44 (0)1803 866965