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Ancient Ethiopia & the Rift Valley Arba Minch - Gondar

Trip Overview

This incredible overland route between Gondar and Arba Minch will take you from the historical splendours of Ethiopia's north to its remote tribal villages and the Rift Valley in the south. The wonderful country of Ethiopia is an extraordinary land with a unique cultural heritage of opulent monasteries, stunning churches carved out of the mountains, and incredible scenery.

In the North we explore the countries famous historic sites, such as the ancient city of Axum and the historic churches at Lalibela and the islands of the beautiful Lake Tana, before heading off on a wild expedition to explore the Danakil Depression.

We will spend time trekking in the spectacular Simien and Bale Mountains; explore the bustling capital of Addis Ababa, and the historic UNESCO World heritage site of Harar.

35 DAYS THROUGH Ethiopia
RATING:
of 0 reviews
PRICE FROM:
Was: $3,800 USD + 1,170 KITTY USD
Now: $3,230 (USD) + 1,170 KITTY (USD)
DURATION:
35 days
TRANSPORT:
Overland expedition vehicle, boat
CREW:
2 Dragoman crew, Local guides where necessary, 1 local crew in certain areas
ACCOM:
20%
80%
PHYSICAL CHALLENGE:
LIFESTYLE CHALLENGE:
TRIP CODE:
AGM
DEPOSIT:
$350 USD

Highlights

  3 nights in the fabulously scenic Simien Mountains National Park

  Spot geladas, ibex, Ethiopian wolves and many other endemic species

  2 day 4 x 4 adventure to the spectacular Danakil Depression

  Guided tour of the ancient rock hewn and churches and monastries in Lalibela

  Boat trip on Lake Tana to witness the source of the Blue Nile

  Drive the dramatic roads of the Blue Nile gorge

  Guided tour of the ancient UNESCO city of Harar

  Follow the scout along the trails of Awash National Park

  Take a boat trip across Lake Ziway and explore the Coptic monastery

  2 days hiking in the beautiful Bale Mountains

  SHOW MORE HIGHLIGHTS  

A vastly rewarding trip for lovers of history and culture. It also has excellent trekking and walking and hugely spectacular scenery. The accommodation is fairly basic throughout Ethiopia and the roads can be bumpy and slow. This is a more adventurous trip.

Itinerary

Day 1-2 - Arba Minch ( 21st Oct 2019 to 22nd Oct 2019 )

Border Information: If you are joining in Arba Minch, you will most likely enter Ethiopia at Arba Minch Airport (IATA code: AMH).

Welcome to Ethiopia! Today is the arrival day for those joining in Arba Minch, and will be a free day to explore the town.

There will be an important meeting with your crew at 6:00pm today. Look out for a note from them at the hotel reception letting you know where to meet.

The following day we have time for optional activities such as the crocodile market or bike rides around the city.

In Arba Minch we will stay in a basic local hotel.

 

 

Daily Activities

Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Hire bicycles to explore the stunning surrounds of Arba Minch

ETB 200

Boat trip on Lake Chamo to see the crocodile 'market'

ETB 450

Visit the fascinating village of Chincha to learn all about the culture of the Dorze people

ETB 300
Day 3 - Awassa, Wendo Genet ( 23rd Oct 2019 )

Today we will head north to the small town of Awassa, where we can visit the local fish market.

After our visit we will head to Wendo Genet, a small town in the hills above Awassa, where we will stay for the night.

Estimated Drive Time - 7-9 hours.

 

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Experience the true local culture at this fish market. If you would like to try the soup make sure you bring your own bowl!

 

Included in Kitty
Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Relax in the Hot Springs at Wendo Genet

Free
Head out on a short walk to the waterfalls near Wendo Genet
ETB 100
Day 4-6 - Bale Mountains National Park ( 24th Oct 2019 to 26th Oct 2019 )

Today we will leave Wendo Genet and drive to the stunning Bale Mountains National Park.

Estimated Drive Time - 4-6 hours.

We will enjoy 2 full days to explore the National Park. We will keep one day completely free to head out for optional guided walks - there are several possibilities for routes, including highland routes up the hills and moorlands searching for mountain nyalas, or lowland walks through the forest areas to look for Bale monkeys! On the other day we will drive in the truck up to the Sanetti Plateau, all the way to the second-highest point in Ethiopia (the 4359m summit of Tulu Dimtu) to explore the primeval landscape and search for Ethiopian wolves.

In the Bale Mountains we will stay in dorms in a basic lodge near the entrance to the National Park.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Guided hikes through Bale Mountain National Park

Included in Kitty

Head up to the incredible Sanetti Plateau on a day trip with our overland truck, stopping to explore the area on foot and search for Ethiopian Wolves

Included in Kitty
Day 7-8 - Lake Ziway ( 27th Oct 2019 to 28th Oct 2019 )

Today we will leave the Bale Mountains and head to the small town of Ziway.

The following day we will take an included boat trip across Lake Ziway to Tulu Gudo Island, where we will have a short guided tour of the ancient monastery there and view some of the old religious manuscripts.

In Ziway we will stay in a small local hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 4-5 hours.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Take a boat trip across Lake Ziway to Tulu Gudo Island, and explore the old Coptic monastery on the island

Included in Kitty
Day 9 - Awash National Park ( 29th Oct 2019 )

Toady we will drive to Awash National Park and overnight in the lovely Awash Falls Lodge. Who said luxury was not part of overlanding! This is a stunning place to experience this great little National Park.

Estimated drive time - 7 - 8 hours

 

 

 

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Head out with a scout to explore the trails of this National Park. 

Included in Kitty
Day 10-12 - Harar ( 30th Oct 2019 to 1st Nov 2019 )

Today we will have a long drive east through the mountains to the ancient trading city of Harar.  We will stay in a charming small hotel in the old city inself.

Estimated Drive Time - 8-10 hours

The following day we have a free day in ancient Harar and will have an included guided city tour of the walled city of Harar (Harar Jugol). Enjoy its colourful markets, mosques and shrines. In the evening you can visit the Hyena Men who feed the hyenas every night just outside the walls of the city. 

Our final day in this incredible city is a free day to explore this amazing city on your own.  It is one of the most important historic sites on this trip and one not to be missed. 

 

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Take a guided tour for half of the day through the winding streets of this ancient city.

Included in Kitty

Witness Harar's tradition of feeding wild Hyenas by hand each evening just outside the city walls.

Included in Kitty
Day 13-14 - Addis Ababa ( 2nd Nov 2019 to 3rd Nov 2019 )

Today we will travel to the bustling Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa, where we will have a free afternoon to explore the city.

In Addis Ababa we will stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities.

Estimated Drive Time - 3-4 hours.

Border Information: if you are leaving in Addis Ababa, you will most likely exit Ethiopia from Addis Ababa Bole International Airport (IATA code: ADD).

The following day is the end day for passengers finishing their trip in Addis Ababa. Please note there is no accommodation included on the trip tonight - please contact the Sales Team if you are interested in booking extra nights of accommodation in order to fully explore and take part in some of the optional activities listed below.

Daily Activities

Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Visit "Lucy", one of the oldest complete hominid skeletons ever found, at the National Museum

ETB 10

Stroll through the Addis Ababa Mercato, one of the largest markets in Africa

Free

Visit Africa Hall, a symbol of African independence and optimism

Free

Visit the St. George's Cathedral (Giorgis Cathedral), built to commemorate Ethiopia's victory over the Italians in 1896

Free

Visit the Menelik Mausoleum, built to serve as the tombs of emperors and princes

Free
Explore the fascinating Ethnological Museum, one of the best museums in Africa set in a former palace of Haile Selassie
ETB 100
Day 15 - Addis Ababa ( 4th Nov 2019 )

Border Information: If joining in Addis Ababa, you will most likely enter Ethiopia at Addis Ababa Bole International Airport (IATA code: ADD).

There will be a group meeting at the joining hotel at 6:00pm. Please look out for a note from your tour leader at the reception when you arrive giving more details about this important meeting.

On the next day, we will have a free day to explore Addis Ababa and visit the city's many museums and sights. If you are travelling to the Sudan and have arranged to pick the visa up in Addis Ababa, this day will be spend arranging this visa.

Please note that many of the options listed below will only be possible for those with extra time in Addis Ababa before the start of your trip with us - please contact the Sales team if you would like to book pre-tour accommodation with us to have extra time exploring Addis Ababa.

In Addis Ababa we will stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities.

Day 16 - Debre Markos ( 5th Nov 2019 )

We will start our journey today with a drive to the small town of Debre Markos. En route we will drive to the bottom of the dramatic Blue Nile Gorge and up the other side!

In Debre Markos we will stay in a basic local hotel. 

Estimated Drive Time - 8-9 hours (please note that all drive times given here are the approximate number of hours that the truck will be in motion only, and does not include any time taken for coffee or lunch stops, border crossings, photo stops, activities en route, comfort breaks, shopping stops, toilet stops, etc. The times given are approximate estimates only and whilst given with the best of intentions, the drive times are heavily dependent on traffic, road conditions, weather, police roadblocks, and many other factors - flexibility is essential on any overland trip!).

Daily Activities

Included Activities
Overland journey north of Addis Ababa, passing through the immense Blue Nile Gorge
Included in Kitty
Day 17-19 - Bahir Dar ( 6th Nov 2019 to 8th Nov 2019 )

Today we will complete our drive to Bahir Dar, a small town on Lake Tana, the source of the mighty Blue Nile.

Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours.

On our first full day in Bahir Dar, we will have an included boat trip on Lake Tana to visit the famous old monastery of Gabriel Ure Kideth and to visit the spot where the lake outflows into the start of the Blue Nile. 

On our second day, we will head off in the truck to visit the Blue Nile Falls and take a short walk around the area to the historic Portuguese Bridge. We will have some free time in the afternoon to take optional visits to some other spots around Bahir Dar such as the 'Hippo bridge' and the Tigray war memorial.

In Bahir Dar we will stay in decent local hotel.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Boat trip on Lake Tana from Bahir Dar to visit the monasteries

Included in Kitty

Explore the stunning Blue Nile Falls just downstream of Bahir Dar

Included in Kitty
Day 20-22 - Lalibela ( 9th Nov 2019 to 11th Nov 2019 )

Today we have a full day's drive through the beautiful scenery of central Ethiopia to reach the small medieval town of Lalibela.

Estimated Drive Time - 7-9 hours.

On our first day in Lalibela, we will have an included full-day guided tour of the world-famous 13th-century rock churches of Lalibela. Our guide will be able to explain the fascinating history of Lalibela and its churches, and there will be plenty of time to explore, absorb the haunting atmosphere inside the churches, and take plenty of photographs of the incredible architecture and the religious rituals within.

On the second day, we will have a free day for further exploration or optional activities. We will have opportunity to hike up the nearby mountains to the Asheten Monastery, visit the Yemrehana Kristos cave church outside the town, or freely explore the Lalibela churches again at your own pace.

In Lalibela we will stay in a local hotel.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Guided tour of the ancient rock churches and monasteries at Lalibela

Included in Kitty
Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Explore the highlands of Lalibela on foot, possibly walking to the nearby Asheten Monastery
ETB 500
Visit Yemrehana Kristos, the very unique 'church in a cave' near Lalibela
ETB 600
Day 23 - Mekele ( 12th Nov 2019 )

Leaving Lalibela behind us, we have a full days drive through increasingly mountainous scenery to reach the town of Mekele.

We will stay in a decent local hotel in Mekele.

Estimated Drive Times - 9-10 hours

Day 24-25 - Danakil Depression ( 13th Nov 2019 to 14th Nov 2019 )

After breakfast meet your 4 x 4 vehicles and drive to Hamed Ella. On the way you will pass through the beautiful Tigre Villages and the escarpment of the Afar depression, this is commonly known as the cradle of mankind is part of the Great East African Rift Valley. Along the way you will see camel caravans going to the traditional salt minin or to the North Eastern highlands of the country, loaded with salt bars in the old traditional way. We will also stop at Brehalle where we will get our permits and scouts for the trip into the Danakil Depression. 

On the second day we drive to Dallol. Here in Dallol you will visit the beautiful land covered by salt, sulfur and different minerals that gives the area a spectactular colour. We will then continue on to Lake Asale to watch the Afar and Tigre men cut the salt into bars and load up their camels before they head to the highlands of Ethiopia. 

We will wildcamp at Hammed Ella both nights for this excursion. The final day we will then make our way back to Mekele visiting villages along the way. 

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Journey out on an incredible 3 day/2 night excursion to the Danakil Depression. 

Included in Kitty
Day 26 - Mekele ( 15th Nov 2019 )

Today we will make our way back to Mekele where we will stay in a basic hotel overnight. 

Day 27-28 - Axum ( 16th Nov 2019 to 17th Nov 2019 )

Today we will visit one of the famous rock-hewn churches of Tigray (either the Abraha Atsbeha or Wukro Chirkos church), then continue through the increasingly breathtaking mountain scenery of the Adwa mountains to reach the ancient town of Axum in the far north of Ethiopia.

Estimated Drive Time - 8-10 hours.

The next day we will have an included half-day guided tour of the incredible historical sites of Axum, the capital of the once-mighty Axumite Empire - included in this tour will be seeing the Stelae Field, the Tomb of King Kaleb, and the Palace of the Queen of Sheba. We will have a free afternoon to make optional visits to other places such as the Church of St. Mary of Zion, the supposed resting place of the Ark of the Covenant.

In Axum we will stay in a basic local hotel.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Guided tour of palaces and temples in historic Axum

Included in Kitty
Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Visit the Church of St Mary of Zion at Axum

ETB 200
Day 29 - Debark ( 18th Nov 2019 )

Leaving Axum behind us, we continue our journey with a full day of driving through the foothills of the Simien Mountains to reach the small village of Debark. The roads here are very tough, but we are rewarded with more truly breathtaking scenery!

Debark is the gateway to the Simien Mountains National Park, and on arrival we will have a briefing from our local mountain guide explaining the various trekking options that we will have during our excursion starting the following day.

Here we will stay in a basic hotel.

Estimated Drive Times 9 - 10 hours.

Day 30-32 - Simien Mountains National Park ( 19th Nov 2019 to 21st Nov 2019 )

Today marks the start of our 3-day excursion into the Simien Mountains National Park. The area is home to some of Africa's most jaw-dropping mountain scenery and is a great opportunity to enjoy some incredibly beautiful treks and breathtaking views!

The area is also home many indigenous animals, and during our time here we hope to spot Lammargeyer vultures, geladas, Walia ibex, and (if we are very lucky) klipspringers and Ethiopian wolves.

We will spend 3 nights in the incredible Simien Mountains National Park. On each day we aim to provide an option for a long trek (of 5-8 hours), a short trek (2-5 hours) or no trekking.

On our first day we aim to wild camp at the area of Sankaber. On our second and third days we aim to wild camp at the area of Chenek (underneath Ras Bwahit, the second-highest mountain in the Simiens, which we hope to get the opportunity to summit).

Please note that we must keep a flexible itinerary in the Simien Mountains, as our options will largely be determined by the weather. 

Please also note that the camping areas in the national park are very basic, and are essentially wild camps with long drop toilets. Please also note that the food and provisions available in Debark and the National Park are very limited, and it is also likely to be very cold at night (often dropping below freezing), so please be prepared!

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Guided treks in the Simien Mountains National Park

Included in Kitty
Day 33-34 - Gondar ( 22nd Nov 2019 to 23rd Nov 2019 )

Today we head back out to the mountains to Debark, and then finally join the tarmac road again to reach the ancient royal city of Gondar! 

Estimated Drive Time - 4-6 hours.

On the next day, we will have an included half-day guided tour of the historical sites of Gondar, including Gondar Castle, the King Fasilades' Baths and the Debre Birhan Selassie church. 

In Gondar we will stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Learn all about medieval Ethiopia on a half-day guided tour of the castles, churches and baths of Gondar

Included in Kitty
Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Enjoy a tour of the local Dashen brewery in Gondar
USD 8
Day 35 - Gondar ( 24th Nov 2019 )

Border Information: If you are finishing in Gondar, you will most likely exit Ethiopia at Gondar Atse Tewodros Airport (IATA code: GDQ).

Today is the end day for passengers finishing their trip in Gondar. Please note there is no accommodation included on the trip tonight - please contact the Sales Team if you are interested in booking extra nights of accommodation in order to fully explore and take part in some of the optional activities listed below.

For passengers continuing their journey north on to Khartoum, the trip will continue on to Gedaref in the Sudan today. For passengers continuing south back to Addis Ababa on the Ethiopia Loop, we will leave today to reach Bahir Dar.

DATES & PRICES

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Trip Notes
Departing: 21 Oct 2019
Returning: 24 Nov 2019
Duration: 35 days
Route: Arba Minch - Gondar
$3,230 USD + $1,170 Kitty (USD)
DEPARTURE GUARANTEED
Deposit: $350 USD
closed
FULLY BOOKED
Departing: 29 Nov 2019
Returning: 2 Jan 2020
Duration: 35 days
Route: Arba Minch - Gondar
$3,230 USD + $1,170 Kitty (USD)
Was $3800.00 - Save $570
DEPARTURE GUARANTEED
Deposit: $350 USD
available
Departing: 16 Dec 2019
Returning: 19 Jan 2020
Duration: 35 days
Route: Gondar - Arba Minch
$3,243 USD + $1,130 Kitty (USD)
DEPARTURE GUARANTEED
Deposit: $350 USD
closed
FULLY BOOKED
Departing: 13 Jan 2020
Returning: 16 Feb 2020
Duration: 35 days
Route: Gondar - Arba Minch
$3,243 USD + $1,130 Kitty (USD)
Was $3815.00 - Save $572.25
Deposit: $350 USD
available
Departing: 19 Feb 2020
Returning: 24 Mar 2020
Duration: 35 days
Route: Arba Minch - Gondar
$3,243 USD + $1,170 Kitty (USD)
Was $3815.00 - Save $572.25
Deposit: $350 USD
available
Departing: 18 Apr 2020
Returning: 22 May 2020
Duration: 35 days
Route: Gondar - Arba Minch
$3,243 USD + $1,130 Kitty (USD)
Was $3815.00 - Save $572.25
Deposit: $350 USD
available
Departing: 13 Nov 2020
Returning: 17 Dec 2020
Duration: 35 days
Route: Arba Minch - Gondar
$3,835 USD + $1,170 Kitty (USD)
Deposit: $350 USD
available
Departing: 15 Dec 2020
Returning: 18 Jan 2021
Duration: 35 days
Route: Gondar - Arba Minch
$3,850 USD + $1,130 Kitty (USD)
Deposit: $350 USD
available
Departing: 4 Jan 2021
Returning: 7 Feb 2021
Duration: 35 days
Route: Gondar - Arba Minch
$3,850 USD + $1,130 Kitty (USD)
Deposit: $350 USD
available
Departing: 12 Feb 2021
Returning: 18 Mar 2021
Duration: 35 days
Route: Arba Minch - Gondar
$3,850 USD + $1,170 Kitty (USD)
Deposit: $350 USD
available
Departing: 17 Feb 2021
Returning: 23 Mar 2021
Duration: 35 days
Route: Arba Minch - Gondar
$3,850 USD + $1,170 Kitty (USD)
Deposit: $350 USD
available
Departing: 17 Apr 2021
Returning: 21 May 2021
Duration: 35 days
Route: Gondar - Arba Minch
$3,860 USD + $1,130 Kitty (USD)
Deposit: $350 USD
available
Departing: 19 Nov 2021
Returning: 23 Dec 2021
Duration: 35 days
Route: Arba Minch - Gondar
$3,885 USD + $1,170 Kitty (USD)
Deposit: $350 USD
available
Departing: 14 Dec 2021
Returning: 17 Jan 2022
Duration: 35 days
Route: Gondar - Arba Minch
$3,895 USD + $1,130 Kitty (USD)
Deposit: $350 USD
available
Departing: 11 Feb 2022
Returning: 17 Mar 2022
Duration: 35 days
Route: Arba Minch - Gondar
$3,895 USD + $1,170 Kitty (USD)
Deposit: $350 USD
available
Departing: 16 Feb 2022
Returning: 22 Mar 2022
Duration: 35 days
Route: Arba Minch - Gondar
$3,895 USD + $1,170 Kitty (USD)
Deposit: $350 USD
available
* Sale price is for a limited time only and is subject to change at any time.