Nothing quite prepares the traveller for Ethiopia's breathtaking beauty, ancient imperial history, rich culture, and sheer diversity of people. From the rugged Simien Mountains to dramatic desert landscapes and lush countryside, it was here the first humans roamed and today, the rich tribal culture and strong Coptic Christian beliefs offer an amazing contrast. Ethiopia was the only country in Africa never colonised, and the lack of outside influence gives visitors an insight into an old and original Africa. See areas of Ethiopia that are home to many rural tribes, including the Mursi of the Omo Valley. Visit the most important sites including Lalibela, with its 12th century rock-cut Christian churches and Axum, the ruins of an ancient city featuring obelisks, tombs, castles, and Our Lady Mary of Zion church.
YOUR JOURNEY AT A GLANCE
Attend the Meskel festival
Ethiopia is renowned for its colourful festivals and Meskel is one of the major highlights of the year. Witness people dancing and singing around bonfires in Meskel Square, Addis Ababa.
Visit the Mursi Tribe
Living in one of the most isolated regions of Ethiopia, the Mursi people in the beautiful Omo Valley are one of the most fascinating tribes in Africa. Still wearing brightly coloured traditional dress, they are best known for the clay plates in their lips that women start wearing from their late teens.
The Dallol Depression
Numerous sulphur springs, volcanoes, geysers, acidic pools, vast salt pans, and colourful mineral-laden lakes dot this alien-looking landscape.
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Wed 09: Auckland > Doha
Afternoon departure from Auckland to Doha, crossing the dateline and arriving late the same evening.
Thu 10: Doha (B)
Option to explore this fascinating city or simply relax and enjoy the facilities at your hotel. Evening transfer to the airport for our flight to Zanzibar in the early hours tomorrow.
Fri 11: Doha > Zanzibar (D)
Fly to Zanzibar and transfer to our luxury hotel overlooking the harbour and Indian Ocean.
Sat 12: Zanzibar (B,D)
Morning walking tour of the Stone Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with fascinating influences of Arab, Indian, Persian, European and Swahili culture. This evening, we will embark on a local dhow cruise enjoying a magical sunset.
Sun 13: Zanzibar (B,D)
Today we enjoy a full day trip to Nungwi on the north coast of Zanzibar. A trip to the local village and its bustling fish market will be a highlight, as well as time to enjoy the powder-white beaches, the perfect setting for you to enjoy swimming, snorkeling and sunbathing. Group dinner this evening.
Mon 14: Zanzibar > Addis Ababa (B)
Enjoy the last day in Zanzibar before our afternoon flight to Addis Ababa where we will meet our local Ethiopian guide.
Tue 15: Addis Ababa > Simien Mountains (B,L,D)
This morning we take a short flight to Gondar then continue by road to our lodge on the edge of the Simien Mountains. Enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding area and relax at the lodge for the rest of the day.
Wed 16: Simien Mountains (B,L,D)
We spend the day in Simien National Park with its spectacular views of this unique ecosystem. We hope to see the endemic gelada baboons, klipspringers, lammergeyer vultures, and bushbuck, all framed in breathtaking scenery.
Thu 17: Simien Mountains > Gondar (B,D)
After breakfast we drive back to the city of Gondar, the former capital of Ethiopia and one of the country's largest and most impressive cities with its walled Royal Enclosure. Gondar's most famous monuments are its exceptionally well-preserved 17th century castles and the 'Pavilion of Delight' - a huge walled private bath built for King Fasilidas.
Fri 18: Gondar > Axum (B,D)
We fly to Axum, the seat of the ancient capital, which was once one of the most powerful civilisations in the ancient world - located at the centre of the trading routes between the Mediterranean, India, and the great port of Adulis on the Red Sea. Axum is also the origin place of Christianity in Ethiopia and is believed to be the resting place of the Ark of the Covenant. We see the famous monolithic stelae of Axum - the tallest one still standing reaches over 21 metres, and the greatest one of them all, once 34 metres high, now lies toppled on the ground. We will also visit the ruins of the palace of the Queen of Sheba.
Sat 19: Axum > Lalibela (B,D)
We will take a short flight to Lalibela and visit the first cluster of rock hewn churches in the afternoon. Lalibela, the 'New Jerusalem', is thought to have been constructed some 800 years ago by King Lalibela.
Sun 20: Lalibela (B,D)
Today we will visit the church of Yimrhane Kristos - a masterpiece of Axumit wood and stone construction. In the afternoon, we explore the remaining rock-hewn churches of Lalibela and absorb the atmosphere of this extraordinary town with its Tukul or round houses.
Mon 21: Lalibela > Mekelle (B,D)
We fly to Mekelle and have an afternoon at leisure.
Tue 22: Mekelle > Dallol Depression > Mekelle (B,L,D)
A fascinating day's drive by 4x4 passing salt workers and caravans of camels into the Dallol depression. This unique landscape is full of marvels including limestone terraces that perhaps remind us of how Tarawera's Pink and White Terraces could have looked. Return to Mekelle for overnight.
Wed 23: Mekelle > Addis Ababa > Jinka (B,D)
Fly via Addis Ababa to the small town of Jinka and visit the Ari Village nearby.
Thu 24: Jinka > Mursi > Turmi (B,L,D)
Early morning drive to Mago National Park where we visit one of Ethiopia's most unique tribes, the Mursi, known all over the world for the decorative lip plates that adorn the lower lips of the Mursi women. The plates stretch the lower lip beyond imagination and the women's beauty, pride, and desirability is determined in direct proportion to the size of the plate. Not to be outdone, the Mursi men are also famous for their hairstyles! After lunch in Jinka, we will drive into the Omo Valley and visit the Hamer tribe who use their bodies as canvases, elaborately decorating and painting their bodies and faces with spontaneous and beautifully detailed designs and patterns. This will be a day of unique visits few will ever undertake and is a highlight of our journey.
Fri 25: Turmi > Jinka > Addis Ababa (B)
Transfer to Jinka to take a flight back to Addis Ababa.
Sat 26: Addis Ababa (B,D)
A highlight of our journey will be attending the Ethiopian Orthodox Festival of Meskel. The festival celebrates the finding of the true cross and is celebrated by lighting bonfires topped with crosses and flowers. Once they are blessed, dancing and singing takes place. A photographer's delight.
Sun 27: Addis Ababa (B,D)
Today we will enjoy a tour of this fascinating city, which was founded in 1886 by Menelik II. Visit the national museum which houses the 3.5 million year old remains of 'Lucy', the oldest hominid ever found. Continue to the Ethnographic Museum and the church of the Holy Trinity - home to the remains of the last emperor, Haile Selassie. This evening, enjoy a special Ethiopian farewell dinner and traditional show.
Mon 28: Addis Ababa > Doha (B)
Day at leisure until our late evening transfer to the airport for our flight to Qatar.
Tue 29: Doha > Auckland
Arrive in Doha and transit to our early morning departure for Auckland.
Wed 30: Auckland
Early morning arrival.
Prices are correct as at 26/06/2019, are subject to availability and are subject to change without notice. Prices are per person TWIN share unless stated otherwise. Valid until June 1, 2020. For full terms and conditions please contact a World Travellers consultant.