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Ancient Ethiopia & the Rift Valley

Ancient Ethiopia & the Rift Valley

From {{totalPrice}} EUR Extra expenses at the destination
Flight tickets are not included. Our travel experts will gladly help you find the cheapest flights. The price above is based on 2 adults traveling together. The price is a from-price and varies with the date. See the exact price when selecting date.
What's included?
From 4370 EUR
Flight tickets are not included. Our travel experts will gladly help you find the cheapest flights. The price above is based on 2 adults traveling together. The price is a from-price and varies with the date. See the exact price when selecting date.
What's included?
35 days
Starts in
Ends in
Group size
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.
  • Explore chaotic and bustling Addis Ababa
  • Guided tour of the ancient UNESCO city of Harar
  • Witness the traditional feeding of the hyenas
  • Follow the scout along the trails of Awash NP
  • Take a boat trip across Lake Ziway and explore the Coptic monastery
  • 2 days hiking in the beautiful Bale Mountains
  • Search for a rare sighting of Ethiopian wolves on the Sanetti Plateau
  • Relax in the Hot Springs at Wendo Genet
  • Optional trip to 'Crocodile Market' in Arba Minch
  • Guided tour of the fascinating ancient royal city of Gondar, Ethiopia
  • 3 nights in the fabulously scenic Simien Mountains NP
  • Spot geladas, ibex, Ethiopian wolves and many other endemic species
  • Guided tour of palaces and temples in historic Axum
  • 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
  • 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.


    Ancient Ethiopia & the Rift Valley

    Day 1 Arba Minch

    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.

    Day 2 Arba Minch

    Today we have time for optional activities such as taking an optional boat trip on Lake Chamo to the view the crocodiles that reside there (known locally as the crocodile market) or to take bike rides around the city.

    Day 3 Wendo Genet

    Today we will head north to the small town of Awasa, where we can visit the local fish market. After our visit we will head to Wendo Genet, a small town in the hills above Awasa, where we will stay for the night. During our stay here we may have time to explore the region, go on an optional walk to some nearby waterfalls, or take a dip in the nearby hot springs.

    Day 4 Bale Mountains NP

    Today we will leave Wendo Genet and drive to the stunning Bale Mountains NP. We will enjoy 2 full days to explore the NP.

    Day 5 Bale Mountains NP

    We will keep today 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!

    Day 6 Bale Mountains NP

    Today 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.

    Day 7 Lake Ziway

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

    Day 8 Lake Ziway

    Today we will take an optional 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.

    Day 9 Awash NP

    In the morning we will leave early and head for Awash NP.In the afternoon we will take a park scout out with us to explore the surrounding area and to try to find game or just to enjoy the stunning scenery of this lovely NP. We overnight in the lovely Awash Falls Lodge; who said luxury was not part of overlanding! This is a stunning place to experience a great little NP .

    Day 10 Harar

    Today we will have a long drive east through the mountains to the ancient trading city of Harar.

    Day 11 Harar

    Today 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. 

    Day 12 Harar

    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. 

    Day 13 Addis Ababa

    Today we will have a long drive West through the mountains to the capital city, Addis Ababa  

    Day 14 Addis Ababa

    Today we have a free day in Addis Ababa and will organise an included guided tour of the city including visiting St. George's Cathrdral, The Menelik mausoleum, The national Museum and the colourful city market. 

    Day 15 Addis Ababa

    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. If you are travelling to the Sudan and have arranged to pick the visa up in Addis Ababa, you will need to arrive at least 2 working days early to collect the 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.

    Day 16 Debre Markos

    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!

    Day 17 Bahir Dar

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

    Day 18 Bahir Dar

    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. 

    Day 19 Bahir Dar

    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.

    Day 20 Awra Amba

    Today we will drive to the ideological village of Awra Amba. Run by the infamous Zumra Nuru the village operates with the belief that everyone is equal and should have a say in how their home is run. We will take a tour of the village and camp on the outskirts.

    Day 21 Lalibela

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

    Day 22 Lalibela

    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.

    Day 23 Lalibela

    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.

    Day 24 Mekele

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

    Day 25 Danakil Depression

    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 and is part of the Great East African Rift Valley. Along the way you will see camel caravans going to the traditional salt mine 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.

    Day 26 Mekele

    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 spectacular colour. We will then continue on to Lake Asale to witness the beautiful salt flats. This is an extremely intense environment and a very adventurous three days, certainly a once in a lifetime experience. However, if you feel like your personal fitness can not withstand this pressure then there is a chance this may not be the trip for you.Today we will make our way back to Mekele ending our time in the stunning Danakil Depression.

    Day 27 Axum

    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.

    Day 28 Axum

    Today 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.

    Day 29 Debark

    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 NP, 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.

    Day 30 Simien Mountains NP

    Today marks the start of our 3-day excursion into the Simien Mountains NP. 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 NP. 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. 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 NP 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 NP are very limited, and it is also likely to be very cold at night (often dropping below freezing), so please be prepared! You will need to bring a suitable sleeping bag and mat with you from home to ensure you are ready for this environment.

    Day 31 Simien Mountains NP

    Today we once again have the choice between joining a short trek or a long trek. Each one will have a guide and a superb route showing off the best the Simiens have to offer.

    Day 32 Simien Mountains NP

    This is our final day of treking in the National Park. Once again there will be a choice between short and long routes as we soak in the final moments of the mountains.

    Day 33 Gondar

    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! 

    Day 34 Gondar

    Today, 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. 

    Day 35 Gondar

    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.

    What’s included?


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

    Horse/mule treks or guided hikes through Bale Mountain National Park

    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

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

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

    Witness Harar's tradition of feeding wild Hyenas by hand each evening just outside the city walls
    Enjoy a full day city tour of Addis Ababa

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

    Explore the stunning Blue Nile Falls just downstream of Bahir Dar

    Visit the Utopian village or Awra Amba and see a place where all people are seen as equal

    Guided tour of the ancient rock churches and monasteries at Lalibela

    Journey out on an incredible 2 day/1 night excursion to the Danakil Depression

    Explore the Tigray rock-hewn churches at Mekele

    Guided tour of palaces and temples in historic Axum

    2 days of guided treks in the Simien Mountains National Park

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


    Comfortable Hotel 19 nights
    Camping 1 night
    Multishare Hostel 3 nights
    Guesthouse 3 nights
    Basic Hotel 3 nights
    Camping without facilities 5 nights

    Local transport

    Overland Expedition Vehicle, Boat


    Breakfasts x 68, Lunches x 18, Dinners x 18

    Ancient Ethiopia & the Rift Valley

    Price from {{totalPrice}} EUR
    Flight tickets are not included. Our travel experts will gladly help you find the cheapest flights. The price above is based on 2 adults traveling together. The price is a from-price and varies with the date. See the exact price when selecting date.
    What's included?

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