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Ethiopia

Africa's best kept secret - Trip for singles

Book From   € 1,599,-
GROUP SIZE: 4-20 | 22 DAYS

Ethiopia

Here you can find the day-to-day description for Ethiopia

Highlights

There's plenty to do in this beautiful region. Select below or on the map opposite, the highlight you want to read more information about. Read through carefully and then go directly to the tour description.
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Addis Adeba

Debre Markos

Bahir Dar

Gondar

Debark (Simien)

Lalibela

Kombolcha

Langano Lake

Arba Minch

Turmi

Jinka

Day to Day description

Transport Route Overnight stay
1 Addis Ababa Addis Ababa
2 Addis Ababa Addis Ababa
3 Bus Addis Ababa - Debre Markos Debre Markos
4 Bus Debre Markos - Bahir Dar Bahir Dar
5 Bahir Dar Bahir Dar
6 Bus Bahir Dar - Gondar Gondar
7 Bus Gondar - Simien Simien
8 Bus Simien - Gondar Gondar
9 Bus Gondar - Lalibela Lalibela
10 Lalibela Lalibela
11 Bus Lalibela - Kombolcha Kombolcha
12 Bus Kombolcha - Addis Ababa Addis Ababa
13 Bus Addis Ababa – Lake Langano Lake Langano
14 Bus Lake Langano - Arba Minch Arba Minch
15 Arba Minch Arba Minch
16 4WD Arba Minch - Turmi Turmi
17 Turmi Turmi
18 4WD Turmi - Jinka Jinka
19 4WD Jinka - Mago National Park - Jinka Jinka
20 4WD Jinka - Key Afar - Arba Minch Arba Minch
21 4WD Arba Minch - Addis Ababa Addis Ababa
22 Addis Ababa End of tour

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Day 1: Addis Ababa

Welcome to Ethiopia!

Your tour will begin in Addis Ababa. Most of your travel companions will arrive later this first day, the exact time will be depending on their flight schedule. Check in time in Ethiopia is usually from 3pm. You will meet your English speaking tour leader in the morning (day 2) at 8am.

Addis Ababa (“new flower” in Amharic) is a hundred years old and is a city of great contrasts: noisy streets filled with vendors, grazing goats and the honking horns of Fiats. Cool broad avenues with luxury hotels, villas and expensive restaurants, businessmen, development workers, priests in their religious attire, beggars and women with traditional costumes and hairstyles. You'll spend 2 nights in a simple hotel in the city.

Day 2: Addis Ababa

Today you can visit Addis Ababa. A visit to the Piazza, an old neighbourhood with an Italian influence, is a nice introduction to Addis. You will find stalls selling a variety of products and in their many bars the Ethiopians drink 'buna' and 'spris' (a mix of avocado, mango and papaya). The city has many museums: the exhibition at the National Museum takes you back in time. Using utensils, musical instruments, clothing, jewellery and royal and religious attributes, a picture of Ethiopia through the ages is created. The Ethnological Museum gives you a good overview of the cultural richness of the many peoples in the country.

The Entoto hills offer a beautiful view over the city. Take a walk through the area covered with Eucalyptus or visit the Entoto Maryam church, known for its murals.
For the traditional dish, injera (flatbread) with spicy sauce, you can visit the various restaurants where a coffee or a glass of tej (honey wine) completes the meal.

Day 3: Addis Ababa - Debre Markos

Inside the monastery of Debre Libanos (optional visit), you will taste the very devout atmosphere of the country for the first time. In this monastery, dating from the 13th century, a number of beautiful murals and stained-glass windows can be seen. The monastery is located at the beginning of a huge gorge 700 meters high. There is a peaceful atmosphere here. There is some time in this pleasant setting to stretch the legs.

You follow the road until it reaches a large gap where the Blue Nile winds through. The bus slowly makes its way through the impressive landscape, reminiscent of the Grand Canyon in the United States. Please note that you arrive after dark in Debre Markos. You stay in a simple hotel room.

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Day 4: Debre Markos - Bahir Dar

You will pass through typical villages on the way to Bahir Dar, situated on the vast Lake Tana. You can see the lake long before you reach it, situated at an altitude of 1830 meters. Bahir Dar is a fairly big city by Ethiopian standards. The palm-lined avenues and charming cottages on the lake make the city very attractive. You stay in a simple, comfortable hotel.

Day 5: Bahir Dar

During these days you have several optional excursions open to you. In the early morning you can take an excursion to the Blue Nile waterfalls. After a dusty ride you reach Tis Abay ("Smoking water"). After a walk of about an hour that includes passing under a century-old Portuguese bridge, you reach the place where the Blue Nile thunders into the depths below.

In the afternoon you can take an optional cruise on the lake where there are several islands which have beautiful monasteries. You can visit Kebrane Gabriel (not accessible for women) and Kidane Mihiret. You will find many bird species including spoonbills and pelicans and if you are lucky you might even see crocodiles. Another option is to visit Tana Kirkos, where the Ark is claimed to have been kept hidden for 800 years. It is also nice to rent a bike and take a trip to the peninsula of Victory, where some other monasteries can be visited.

Day 6: Bahir Dar - Gondar

Next you'll travel through beautiful countryside with lovely views across the plains, the lake and the islands to Gondar. Gondar was built in 1635 and for 250 years the power center of the then Ethiopian empire. During the early 17th century, King Fasil and several kings after him had a series of very impressive castles built that can still be visited. The Portuguese influences are so obvious that it seems like you are walking around in medieval Europe.

The royal city wall is located in the heart of Gondar and together with the 44 churches makes this city a prime centre of the Ethiopian Orthodox church. There are many small bars in Gondar, some with live music and the exciting dance Azmari. Make sure that by early evening you are already present in a bar.

Day 7: Gondar - Simien

If there was no time for it yesterday, this morning you should see the Debre Berhan Selassie church with its beautiful old Coptic ceiling paintings. During the morning you'll drive to Debark. Debark is not far from one of the most rugged and inhospitable mountain regions of Africa, the Simien Mountains.

Most parts of this area are not accessible to cars. There are however, various pathways to get from one village to another or to bring the cattle to the high meadows. You can find a variety of optional short or long walks (including a guide). If you're lucky, you can see the Gelada baboons. You stay in a very primitive inn. It is possible that because of the small size of the hotels, the group is split over more than one.

Day 8: Simien - Gondar

After a short walk through the Simien Mountains you'll travel back to Gondar. The weather in the Simien Mountains can often be bad. In that case, the tour leader may have to alter the program.

Day 9: Gondar - Lalibela

After a long day’s driving you arrive in Lalibela at an altitude of 2630 meters. Lalibela is also called the eighth wonder of the world and there are some nice monolithic churches you can visit here. King Lalibela lived in this area at the beginning of the 12th century. He was a very pious man. Pilgrimages to Jerusalem were already common but the road was long and dangerous. One night God appeared to Lalibela and told him his subjects should build a new Jerusalem. In the 25 years that followed, Lalibela built (of course with help) 11 churches from the rocks, partly connected by corridors, walkways and stairs.

There are three clusters of churches to see. They are actually more like ancient walled fortress towns. The priests will open the churches for us and show us the crosses that belong to their church. These churches are still used to this day. You'll spend the next two nights in a hotel in Lalibela.

Day 10: Lalibela

Lalibela also allows time to relax. You can visit a bar where the locally made "tej" is offered. The men of the village sit at long tables to enjoy a cozy chat while sharing bottles of tej. It is possible to rent a horse or donkey and explore further the surrounding mountains. The mountain people come to Lalibela from miles around to sell their trade including chickens, goats and products of the land but also beautiful handicrafts such as woven baskets.

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Day 11: Lalibela - Kombolcha

You drive through a wooded, hilly area with winding streets, hidden churches and spectacular descents towards Kombolcha. Traffic is rarely seen. The only people you encounter are shepherds with their flocks and the occasional priest. You will pass the towns of Dessie and Woldya where you stop for coffee or a stroll.

Day 12: Kombolcha - Addis Ababa

You drive back to Addis Ababa where you can process all the impressions of the north that you can handle!

Day 13: Addis Ababa – Lake Langano

After a long drive you arrive at Lake Langano. It is a beautiful lake surrounded by the high Arsi Mountains. If time permits, take a swim or a walk on the shores of the lake. The entrance to Lake Langano is included in the fare.

Day 14: Lake Langano - Arba Minch

You drive through the hills of Sodo on the way to your destination, Arba Minch. The town owes its name to the 40 hot springs in the nearby forest. Overlooking the Abaya and Chamo lakes, the city is an ideal base for visiting the south. Your hotel offers stunning views of both lakes and we’d recommend watching the sun disappear into the water whilst enjoying a delicious cold drink!

Day 15: Arba Minch

You're on your way to Chencha, the home of the Dorze where you will visit a village. They have settled in the Guge Mountains where they are engaged in agriculture. They have modified the terraced hills so as to prevent erosion. The Dorze are famous for their beehive-like huts made of wood and bamboo, the tourist attraction of the region. Take a look at one of the houses and be amazed at how humans and animals live in harmony. The Dorze are loved for their weaving with the women spinning wool and the men taking on weaving. A look around the market is a nice end to your visit here.

Day 16: Arba Minch - Turmi

The familiar bus is exchanged for land cruisers, the transport of choice for the 'rough' roads in the south of the country. You will travel to Turmi today, the home of the Hamar. The Hamar are known for their sense of beauty. The women spend hours every day on their hairstyle, rubbing their hair with butter and clay. Sometimes the hair is decorated with shells or pieces of tin. Bodies are greased with oil and clay and decorated with necklaces and bracelets. The men have a similar ritual. Some carry an ostrich feather in their hair, a sign of bravery: that they have defeated an enemy or a dangerous animal.

The afternoon is yours to use as you please. It is the ideal opportunity to get acquainted with the Hamar and their way of life. Invite the local youth to a game of football or take a walk in the area. You'll spend two nights at a camp run by the local community. You can go to eat at the local restaurant.

Day 17: Turmi

It's market day and the Galeb, Arbore, Hamar and Karo are coming to town in order to meet each other. Tea, honey, milk, butter, bananas, goats, cows, also beads, necklaces and other jewellery are all sold here. The butter is used in products for the skin with a sunscreen. This is a vibrant enterprise where you can quietly spend the whole day perusing.

Day 18: Turmi - Jinka

Today you'll head to the Mago National Park, one of the most remote natural areas of the country with a diversity of natural beauty: savannas interspersed with desert, mountains, rolling hills and rivers. It is the domain of birds, crocodiles, hippos, fish, kudu, gazelles and monkeys, although most animals stay deep in the park. The trip to Mago National Park is very dependent on the state of the 'road'. During and just after the rainy season the area is less accessible or even inaccessible. Even in the dry season, the ride through the park can be very tough and adventurous. Naturally, we called upon your necessary dose of flexibility and your sense of adventure!

You'll spend two nights in Jinka in a simple hotel. The entrance to Mago NP is included in the fare.

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Day 19: Jinka - Mago National Park - Jinka

Today we take the all-terrain vehicles through some unforgiving landscape. Along the way, we make a visit to see the Mursi people. The Mursi women are distinguished by the special "decoration" in their lip. They make a hole in their lower lip and by stretching it over a period of several years they are able to insert round or triangular discs of up to 10 cm. in diameter. The men decorate their bodies with white clay patterns, a sign of strength.

The Mursi are not particularly hospitable. Prepare yourself for a lot of pulling and pushing. Before you can simply take a photo the guide will first have to negotiate a lot. We would encourage you to listen carefully to the guide on the conditions of the deal that is made.

Day 20: Jinka - Key Afar - Arba Minch

Jinka is not far from Key Afar. The landscape is characterized by dry grasslands dotted with termite mounds, acacia and some shrubs. Key Afar is the home of the Ari and Banna tribes who meet each week at the market. Here you can enjoy for the last time the ingenious costumes, beautiful jewellery, beads, anklets, body decorations, ostrich feathers, goat skins and more. The smell of butter, ocher and oil complete the picture.

After the market you'll continue to Arba Minch and overnight in the hotel that is, by now, well known to you!

Day 21: Arba Minch - Addis Ababa

You return to the capital of the country during the course of the afternoon.

Day 22: Addis Ababa

The last day of your tour and a chance to buy some last souvenirs and tuck in to your final injera. Check out time from your hotel will usually be at 10 am and the group will leave tonight on an evening flight or in some cases the next morning.

When booking your tour, please check to see whether you need any post-tour nights, bearing in mind that accommodation for the night of the final day of the tour (day 22) is not included.

We wish you a comfortable journey home and are sure you will take with you some wonderful memories of Ethiopia.

Your personal ‘my.shoestring’ page on our website is the perfect way to make contact with other travellers before and after your trip. You can read and create journals from trips and upload your photos onto the photo gallery. Visit my shoestring today.

PLEASE NOTE: It is possible that the group will be merged with the participants of our 12-day North/South Ethiopia trips. Obviously, we ensure that the overall limit of 20 participants is not exceeded. The tour leader ensures proper execution of the trip.

FESTIVAL TRIPS:

During the trip departing on January 10, 2019 visit the Timkat festival in Lalibela.

During the trips departing on September 5, 2018 and September 5, 2019, visit the Meskel festival in Addis Ababa.

During the trips departing on December 28, 2018 and December 28, 2019, visit the Leddet festival in Lalibela.

Please note: The travel routes during festival tours may be customized; please check the 'News' section for any updates.

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