Rondreis Omo Valley - Deluxe Group Tour South & North Ethiopia

Deluxe Grouptour South & North Ethiopia


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Day 1: Welcome in Ethiopia: Addis Abeba

Welcome to Ethiopia! You’ll be stepping off the plane into Africa’s fourth largest city and diplomatic capital, Addis Ababa. Your Yared Tour & Travel guide will be there to meet you at Bole International Airport and drive you to your hotel for a rest.

The direct translation of Addis Ababa is ‘new’ ‘flower’ and you are likely to find this rapidly growing city a fascinating place full of contrasts between traditional and modern Ethiopia, making it a great starting point for your tour.


Day 2: City tour Addis Abeba

Today begins with a drive to Entoto Mountain where we visit the historical site of Emperor Menelik’s Palace and Maryam church, the oldest in Addis Ababa. From here we drive through Shiro Meda which hosts the city’s largest market for traditional clothing, continuing to the campus of Addis Ababa University, home to one of Africa’s best Ethnological museums and the former palace of Emperor Haile Selassie. You visit the Ethnological or Ethiopia's National Museum with ‘Lucy’, the world-famous fossilized hominid. The museum also showcases ancient artefacts from Axum and Gondar, and an exhibition of Ethiopian art. Then visit the Holy Trinity Cathedral (built in 1933), the largest Orthodox church in Ethiopia and the final resting place of Haile Selassie. To conclude, you will visit the busy life of traders in Mercato - Africa’s biggest outdoor market.


Day 3: Via Tiya to Arba Minch

Today you’re heading to the south! It’s a 6-7 hour drive to Arba Minch and we’ll be stopping off along the way to visit Tiya – one of Ethiopia’s most important, and least understood World Heritage stelae fields containing 41 obelisks engraved with interesting symbols thought to be around 600 years old.
We arrive in Arba Minch region, meaning ‘forty’ ‘springs’, in the afternoon. The southern city, situated in the Gamo Gofa region is rich in natural resources including two Rift Valley lakes – Chamo and Abaya – home to large populations of hippos and crocodiles, innumerable little springs, Nech Sar (‘white’ ‘grass’) National Park and huge irrigated fruit farms which provide an important source of bananas, apples, oranges, mangos and avocados.


Day 4: Daytrip to Dorze & Nech Sar

Around Arba Minch you can visit Lake Chamo, part of Nech Sar National Park, and the mountain villages Dorse and Chencha. On a half day trip to Lake Chamo & Nech Sar NP you will cross the lake where you will see different water birds, crocodiles and hippo’s. Enjoy the views! Visiting the Dorse people is also a half day trip. In the afternoon you drive into the mountains outside Arba Minch in an hour. The Dorse are renowned for their remarkable bee hive shaped huts entirely constructed from organic material. The Dorse are a small omotic speaking ethnic group, whose territory has a cold misty weather and year round moist climate. Visit a family compound of the Dorse people. The family can tell you about their life style and culture and theur use of the enset tree. If possible, visit one of the local markets and the weaving cooperation.


Day 5: Visit Konso tribe and nature

In the morning we set off to Konso, the first place in Ethiopia recognised as a ‘cultural landscape’. You’ll have a chance to walk around the fortress like villages (‘kantas’) with their uniquely designed stone-walled walkways, thatched huts and terraced farms. Konso is also known for its natural phenomenon "New York" - interesting pinnacles of red earth, reminiscent of city skyscrapers with a legendary tale.


Day 6: Key Afar Market & Turmi

The journey from Konso to Turmi is an exciting 5-hour drive with plenty to observe from the window. You’ll witness the landscape dramatically change to wild, dry, acacia tree savannah and feel the warmth and humidity rise. You’ll also notice colourful wraps change to animal skins, shoes to rubber sandals, and the diverse fashions of passers-by wearing brightly coloured adornments and fantastic hairstyles.
On route to Turmi, we’ll stop at a small town called KeyAfar in Banna where a colourful market is held every Thursday. At the market, you’ll have the chance to soak in tribal life and barter for traditional handmade products. After the market we continue the final leg of the journey to Hamar.


Day 7: Hamer tribe

Today you will vist one of the Hamar tribe villages. Ancient traditions still form the backbone of daily life in Hamar. Most live in rural settlements and practise traditional livelihoods through subsistence agro-pastoralism. Daily life revolves around taking care of livestock, domestic duties and farming of maize and sorghum. Hamar men are semi-nomadic and travel with large herds of goats and cattle between grazing areas, whereas Hamar women take care of the children, cooking, water and firewood collection. Ceremonies and rituals are an integral part of traditional Hamar life. The most well-known is a rite of passage for men into adulthood and marriage called ‘ukili bula’ or bull-jump. During the ceremony, a young Hamar man leaps naked over several of his family’s bulls. It’s a highlight to witness if there’s one taking place whilst you’re here.


Day 8: Banna & Jinka

Today you will drive from Turmi to Jinka. Along the way you will visit the Banna tribe and a market. The Banna tribe is very similar to the Hamar tribe, but they are not the same. The Banna tribe lives in a different region and their special features such as their hair and jewelry are slightly different from those of the Hamar tribe. They live in the area between the villages of Gazer and Dimeka. Their primary concern is agriculture, but hunting and gathering is also a daily activity for the people of the Benna tribe.


Day 9: Jinka - Addis Abeba - Mekele

Today you will travel from Jinka via Addis Ababa to Mekele, and then head towards Wukro. You will have an overnight stay in Wukro, where you will have some time to relax. The next day you will drive through one of Ethiopia's most beautiful landscapes.


Day 10: Tigray Churches in Gheralta

Today you will have the chance to explore the rock-hewn churches of Gheralta. The extraordinary landscape hides a secret that was only discovered in 1966 when a Catholic priest from Adigrat revealed the existence of at least 123 rock-hewn churches in the area, of which more than 20 are in Gheralta. Many of the churches are built on high plateaus, hidden in caves and only partially separated from the host rocks. Their walls are often covered in artistic, colourful murals. Some can only be reached by difficult climbing routes although there are plenty to admire from easier pathways. Two of the most beautiful churches, with impressive locations and great views are the Debre Maryam Korkor church and the Abuna Yemata Guh church.


Day 12: The Kingdom of Axum

Today we visit ‘The Stelae Field’, an active UNESCO archaeological site containing several enormous, symbolic obelisks sculpted from granite, which are believed to have served as monuments to the Empire’s Kings, some 1,700 years old. The largest obelisk stands at 24m high. We learn more about the ancient civilisation, excavations and research findings at the Archaeological museum, whilst local legends will be brought to life for you with stories from a trained local guide.


Day 11: Drive to Axum

Our next destination is Axum, the historic capital of the Axumite Empire located at the base of the Adwa mountains in the far north of the country, Tigray region. The ancient kingdom was once an important meeting point of cultural and commercial interests, home to the Queen of Sheba during the 10th century BC and has a legendary and mysterious heritage.


Day 13: Simien Mountains & Relax

Today you will drive to the Simien Mountains (in about 6 hours) which is the heart of the Ethiopian Highlands, sometimes called the ‘Roof of Africa’. You will soak in breath-taking views of a truly unique mountain landscape formed from countless volcanic lava outpourings between 25-40 million years ago. The highest peaks are: Ras Dashen (4,533m), Mount Bwahit (4,430m) and Silki (4,420m). Despite their rugged harshness and high altitude, the mountains are full of life; thousands of plant species and different wildlife inhabit the land such as the special gelada monkey, the walia ibex, the Ethiopian wolf, antelopes, jackals, bushbucks, and even large cats such as leopards, various birds of prey, but also isolated local communities. You will arrive in the afternoon, therefore you have enough time to relax.


Day 14 : Hike Simien & Gondar

Today you drive from the Simien Mountains to Gondar. The imperial city is rich in history and is also known as the 'Camelot of Africa'. Due to its strategic location (at 2,133m), the city was chosen by Emperor Fasilidas as the capital of the Ethiopian empire and grew into a strong Christian empire.


Day 15: Imperial Gondar

We take the full day to learn about the Kings and Emperors of Ethiopia and discover all the best that this World Heritage Site offers. Most of Gondar can be navigated on foot. During a guided tour, we visit some of the oldest and most impressive buildings dating back to the 17th century and Fasilides’ time; the Royal Enclosure, a 70,000 sq/m compound contains the remains of several royal buildings; Fasilides’ castle, Iyasu’s palace, Dawit’s Hall, a banqueting hall, stables, Empress Mentewab’s castle, a chancellery, library and three churches. Near the city lies Fasilides’ ancient bathhouse, home to an annual ceremony where it is blessed and then opened for bathing, and finally Debre Berhan Selassie church, said to be one of the most beautiful and well-preserved in the country.


Day 16: Bahar Dar & Awra Amba

We set off early in the morning and are heading to Bahar Dar, the capital of the Amhara region. On the road between Bahir Dar, Gondar and Lalibela we’ll be stopping off to visit a village like no other in Ethiopia. The special community of Awra Amba is a thriving egalitarian society where residents believe in gender-equality, shared responsibility, hard work and education. The village was founded in 1972 on the vision of a young farmer named Zumra and a small group of like-minded friends. Today, Awra Amba has successfully evolved into a self-sustaining community, independent of food aid and religious funding. Residents run a weaving social enterprise and profits are invested into community services such as a local library and retirement home. You’ll have the chance to visit the village and see some of their beautiful textile products.


Day 17: Blue Nile Falls & Lake Tana

Around 30km south of Bahir Dar and Lake Tana we stop to visit the Blue Nile Falls, one of Africa’s most impressive waterfalls. It’s immense power and beauty is known locally as ‘tis abay’ meaning ‘great smoke’. The best time of year to see the falls is during the wetter months. To reach the most beautiful viewpoint, we take a gentle stroll for around 1 ½ hours. Lake Tana, the source of the Blue Nile, is Ethiopia’s largest lake and an absolute delight to explore by water. Today we’ll be taking a boat ride around the lake’s islands visiting two picturesque church monasteries dating back to the 13th and 14th centuries. You’ll have a chance to explore the monasteries, see the colourful murals of Christian saints and martyrs and hear stories about the remains of ancient Ethiopian Emperors and treasures of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church kept there.


Day 18: Drive to Lalibela

We’ve saved the best of your Ethiopia tour until last, the world wonder of Lalibela. In this magical, cobblestone town, you can view no less than thirteen beautiful medieval churches. Lalibela’s churches have also been carved out of rocks, like Tigray’s, but they sit below ground level, some connected by narrow passages. It is believed the churches were built for King Lalibela, with the help of angels (as the legend tells), whose vision was to create a ‘new Jerusalem’ for Christian Ethiopians during the 13th century.
After a long journey, you’ll soak up more of the jovial atmosphere and traditional nightlife at a local bar whilst enjoying Asmari performances, Ethiopia’s version of stand-up comedy. And of course, you will have the chance to taste Lalibela’s delicious local honey wine and enjoy more good Ethiopian food.


Day 19: Churches of Lalibela

Today you explore the mystical rock-hewn churches of Lalibela, that are organised into two groups. The northern group consists of six churches including Bet Medhane Alem, the largest of all Lalibela churches which has the shape of a Greek temple. Bet Maryam, dedicated to Maria has a bath which is said to have wonderful healing properties. Other churches are Bet Meskal, Bet Danaghel, and the interconnected churches of Bet Golgotha and Bet Mika'el.
The southern group consists of four churches including Bet Amanuel which is praised by art historians for its beautifully decorated exterior walls. Bet Abba Libanos, has a structure of great charm, and Bet Gabriel-Rufael.Last but not least you visit the remarkable church of Bet Giyorgis, carved into a cross shape and perhaps the most elegant of all in Lalibela.


Day 20: Addis Abeba and farewell

Today you will fly from Lalibela to Addis Ababa, where you will enjoy a farewell meal and celebration in one of the city’s cultural restaurants before your journey home. You will have some time to relax and enjoy a wonderful dinner before we take you to the airport in Addis Abeba.


Pick your group tour

This tour can be made as a full journey through the south and north of Ethiopia. But it can also be made as a journey through the south alone or as a journey through the north alone. Have a look on the site of the other exact travel programs.