Rondreis Addis Ababa - Individual Tour Full Ethiopia


Day 1 – Arrival in Addis Ababa - Capital of Ethiopia

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.
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 & the Rift Valley 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 fruit farms.

Day 4 – Nech Sar & Dorze tribe

During today’s action-packed excursion, we visit the nearby scenic Nech Sar National Park. From the park’s edge, we take a motorboat on the lake to see hundreds of huge Nile crocodiles bathing in the sun and hippos bobbing in and out of the water. There are also many pelicans and other birds around the lake.
In the afternoon, we drive into the Gamo highlands outside of Arba Minch, to visit an extraordinary mountain community called Dorze. The traditional way of life of the Dorze people is fascinating. The friendly local community invite you into their beautiful villages to view their huts artfully woven from bamboo and thatched with leaves, which look like huge beehives or upturned baskets, followed by visits to the weaving, pottery and tanning cooperatives. You will also enjoy the breath-taking views of the lakes in the valley.

Day 5 - Jinka via Key Afar market

Our next stop is Jinka, a fast-developing market town set in a cradle of green hills above Mago National Park which gives the area a cooler climate compared to the rest of the Lower Omo Valley. We pass through Key Afar, the main town of the Banna tribe. We’ll catch one of the biggest traditional tribal markets which takes place on Thursdays. Groups of Ari, Benna, Tsemay and Hamar people are the main attendees, walking long distances to buy and sell local commodities at the Key Afar market, like tabacco (‘tampo’), coffee husks (‘bunno’) and sorghum (‘asine’). At the catle market men trade cows and goats. As the day progresses, you will also see the popular drink ‘parsee’ – a beloved traditional beer made from fermented sorghum being passed around groups of people in large calabash gourds.

Dag 6 - Visit Ari or Mursi tribe

The Ari tribe represent the largest population among all groups of the Omo Valley, living around Jinka. Ari are the farmers and one of the most advanced tribes of the valley. They grow a variety of vegetables, fruits, coffee and herbs like cardamom. Visit some farmers houses and experience daily life, like injera cooking or the black smith’s work. From Jinka, we may alternatively visit the Mursi tribe, an ethnic group living around west of Jinka. The Mursi have a rich cultural heritage and they are most well-known by the outside world for their practice of ceremonial stick fighting and the large pottery discs (‘debhinya’) which are worn by Mursi women in their lower lips. It is not always advisable to visit the Mursi, because it is difficult to really get in touch with the people. We will help you planning which tribes to visit.

Day 7 - To Turmi - Hamar Region

Today you will travel from Jinka to Turmi. 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. Turmi village lies in the heart of the Hamar tribe region. From here you will explore different tribes in the Lower Omo Valley.
You can best visit the Hamar tribe in the evening, after the work has been done. Therefore, we will take you here just before sunset. You will spend time in the Hamar community with a trained guide and a local family, enjoying the traditional food, drink, delving deeper into rural tribal culture.

Day 7 (more) - Hamar Tribe

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 - Meet the Dassenech or...

To the south on the borders of Kenya lives a distinct tribe known as the Dassanech. The Dassanech people still live, predominantly, a traditional way of life revolving around cultural responsibilities, rituals, subsistence farming and livestock. They are living next to the mighty Omo River between Omorate and Lake Turkana. Therefore, the Dassanech people have adopted fishing, first with spears but today with nets, and fish is an important part of their diet and livelihood. The drive from Turmi to Dassanech, takes less than 2 hours and the elevation drops a further 500m so temperatures can easily climb above 40 degrees, making Omorate the hottest town in the Lower Omo Valley. You will visit a traditional Dassanech village, crossing the Omo river by boat and observe how the Dassanech people have adapted to survive the heat.

Day 8 – ...or meet the Karo tribe

The Kara tribe are one of the smallest ethnic groups in the Omo Valley, linguistically and culturally, they share characteristics with Hamar but they also have their own unique traditions. The Kara can be reached on a narrow dirt road which takes 2 hours to reach northwest from Turmi. You can visit them in the morning or stay overnight camping.
The group are well-known for their beautiful body painting skills. They use a white-coloured clay to decorate patterns over their bodies for rituals and ceremonies. The Kara live on the banks of the Omo river further upstream than the Dassenech, they also fish and irrigate crops during the annual flood.

Day 9 - Drive to Unesco Konso

Visiting the Omo Valley, you always pass Konso twice. This is the first place in Ethiopia recognised as a ‘cultural landscape’ by UNESCO. The Konso are a resourceful, efficient, charming, careful, and hard-working people. They have always fiercely defended their territory. This is evident in the fact that each village is walled. They are famous for their wooden anthropomorph statuettes, erected in honor of important - deceased - people. In the Konso language these statuettes are called Waga. 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 10 - Rift Valley & Yirgalem Coffee

Through the Rift Valley you drive to Hawassa via Yirgalem in the Sidama region, one of the important coffee regions in Ethiopia. During your drive up to Yirgalem you will notice the first few coffee plantations. When you arrive in Yirgalem you will visit one of those fairtrade coffee plantations, so that you can experience first-hand how the Yirgechefe and the Sidama coffee is being made. Furthermore, Ethiopia is well-known about its high quality arabica coffee beans. Here you can see how coffee is being made in a fair way.

Day 11 - Drive to Bale Mountains

Travelling onwards through more remote countryside, we enter Oromo’s unique Bale Mountains. The rugged mountain range offers unparalleled trekking opportunities, by foot or horseback amid endemic wildlife species including Ethiopian wolves with the chance to exchange with local villagers living there along the way. The park’s fairy-tale scenery is stunning and divided into three very different ecologies – grasslands, afro-alpine and tropical forest. We can organise day hikes and multiple day trekking’s in tents to explore the different parts of Bale mountains.

Day 12 - Visit the Bale Mountains National Park

Today, we can arrange a day trek which covers the main park landscapes with great wildlife spotting. We walk to Sof Omar which is the longest cave in Ethiopia (15.1 km). The cave was named after an Islamic saint who lived in the area and is sacred to both Muslims and local Oromo people. If you’d prefer not to walk, we will drive on the highest all-weather road in Africa. The route takes us through the park and up over the Sanetti Plateau where you see abundant wildlife, including the Ethiopian wolf - almost guaranteed if we set-off early enough. In total seventy-eight different mammal species inhabit Bale Mountains National Park including bushbacks, mountain nyala, reedbucks, duikers, hyenas, warthogs and giant molerats.

Day 13 - Drive to Awash National Park

Continuing our adventure in the East, we reach Awash National Park which covers 827 sq km of acacia grassland with volcanic landscapes located along the Awash river. The park spans from the north-eastern corner of Oromia to the southern tip of the Afar region.

Day 14 - Visit the Awash National Park

We take the whole day to explore Awash on a 30km-loop game drive through the park spotting different fauna along the way. Wildlife highlights include; orynx, gazelle, dik-dik, kudus, warthogs, velvet monkeys, baboons and over 453 species of native birds including ostriches. On the drive, we pass by Awash Falls, a mighty waterfall plunging into a beautiful 200m gorge. Filwoha hot springs in the far north of the park are another interesting feature with waters which can reach 45 degrees. If time permits, we will visit the Fantale Crater in the west of the park, to climb the dormant volcano passing wildlife on the mountainous slopes and rewarding panoramic views from the top.

Day 15 - To Unesco city of Harar

Located at an altitude of 1,855m, with 386 alleyways crammed into just 1sq m, is the unique and vibrant, ancient stone-walled city of Harar. The lively World Heritage listed city has been the capital of the Harari region for thousands of years and is stepped in history and charm.

Once an independent city-state, Harar served as an important political, commercial and cultural crossroads between Africa, India and the Middle East. During the middle ages, it became a centre for Islamic culture, sometimes referred to as ‘the fourth holiest city in Islam’, you can find a total of 82 tiny mosques which date from
the 10th century within the city,

When Emperor Menelik II conquered the city in 1887, Harar was assimilated into Ethiopia. Today, the city is a melting pot of different ethnic groups such as Somalis, Oromo, Arabs and Turks.

Day 16 - Food & Citytour in Harar

Harar is a fascinating place to explore on foot. On a guided city & food tour, we’ll wander through the narrow alleys of Harar’s old town, stopping off to visit some of the original Harari houses with walls covered in handicrafts. We also go to mosques, shrines and tombs of important Islamic leaders, the Harar cultural center, Rimbaud’s house and Ras Tafari’s house. Along the journey, we’ll visit some of Harar’s best fresh markets and stop-off for authentic local cuisine and coffee in cosy restaurants. In the evening, on the outskirts of the city, we’ll have the chance to attend a night show of hyena feeding. The daily ritual which involves feeding sticks of raw meat to wild hyenas by hand is deeply embedded in the traditions and beliefs of the local people, said to acquire good luck and discourage the wild predators from attacking.

Day 17 - Babile Camel Market

In the morning, we set-off on a beautiful drive to Babile around 35km east of Harar on the way to Jijiga. The small town is mostly inhabited by Somali people and known for its mineral water, elephant sanctuary and for hosting one of Ethiopia’s biggest livestock markets where traders come from long distances to buy camels, donkeys, goats and cattle. Around 7km from Babille, we’ll stop off at the Dakhata Valley otherwise called ‘the valley of marvels’ due to view its special sculpted rock formations.

Day 18 - From Harar to Bahir Dar

We set off early and fly via Ethiopia's capital Addis Abeba to Bahir Dar. We are heading to this capital of the Amhara region and one of Ethiopia’s most popular highland cities. Upon arrival our local driver/guide will be waiting for you at the airport to bring you to your hotel. The rest of the day is free time.

Day 19 - Lake Tana & falls

Bahir Dar is the big city in north-western Ethiopia. Around 30km south of Bahir Dar and Lake Tana we visit the Blue Nile Falls. 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 1½ hours. Lake Tana, source of the Blue Nile, is Ethiopia’s largest lake and an absolute delight to explore. We’ll be taking a boat ride to the lake’s peninsula visiting two picturesque church monasteries dating back to the 13th & 14th centuries. You’ll have a chance to explore the monasteries, see the colourful murals of Christian saints and martyrs adoring their walls and hear stories about the remains of ancient Ethiopian Emperors and treasures of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.

Day 20 - Awra Amba & Gondar

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 then continue towards Gondar, a legendary city so full of regal history that it is often regarded to be ‘the Camelot of Africa’.

Day 21 - Fasilides' Gondar

We take the full morning to learn about the Kings and Emperors of Ethiopia and discover all the best of World Heritage Site Gondar. 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. Then we drive to Simien Mountains.

Day 22 - Hike in Simien Mountains

In the Simien Mountains 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. 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, various birds of prey and also isolated local communities. During a daytrek, you’ll walk on centuries-old pathways connecting villages with grazing lands and learn about the history of Simien’s inhabitants, take in more spectacular views and have fantastic opportunities to observe wildlife. The car can pick you up in different parts of the park, depending on your interest and how far you’d like to walk.

Day 23 - 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. To reach Axum, we drive on a long and impressive route following the edge of the Simien Mountains passing through the gorge of the Takeze river, and small towns with traditional stone farmhouses typical of the Tigrian countryside.

Day 24 - Archeological city 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 24 - Axum & Yeha

Afternoon activities include a must-see visit to Axum’s church of Our Lady Mary of Zion. According to popular belief, one of the small chapels is home to the original Ark of the Covenant, believed to have been taken by Menelik I from Jerusalem in 900 BC and brought there to reside. Although it is not possible for anybody to see it, the church is an important site of pilgrimage for Ethiopian Christians, and a vibrant place to visit during Ethiopian Orthodox festivals.

Our last stop is the town of Yeha, the earliest known capital of Ethiopia during the pre-Axsumite kingdom of D’mt, considered to be the birthplace of the first civilization of the country nearly three millennia ago. Yeha’s most striking archaeological find is the well-preserved 12m high stone Great Temple ruin, which incredibly, is believed to be more than 2,500 years old.

Day 25 - Geraltha in Tigray

Today you will drive through the Tigray region. This 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. To see is to believe!

Day 26 & 27 - Danakil Depression

The Danakil Depression is possibly the most remote, desolate and surreal place on Earth. This tour brings you to mineral region Dallol, the most beautiful and impressive part in Danakil Desert. The route leads through a small town of Berhale where the camel caravans stop before they head into the northern highlands. You experience the difference in landscape that is formed by volcanic activity. Dallol lies 116m below sea level and is one of the lowest places on earth. The colours that you see around the sulphur springs are impressive and unlike anywhere else on earth. You will pass Ragad (Åsebø). Watch salt being extracted from the ground then be cut into rectangular pieces and loaded on camels. Admire Assaleer, an impressive salt flat. Follow the camel caravans of the Afar people. A unique experience! For Erta Ale you need one day extra.

Day 28 - 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 29: 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 30 - Relax in Addis Abeba & back home

Today we head back to Addis Ababa by plane. You could shop or make a single final visit in the capital in the afternoon. Or you take a rest in your dayroom in Addis Ababa. On the final day you will enjoy a farewell meal and celebration in one of the city’s cultural restaurants. Enjoy the authentic Ethiopian cuisine for the last time, whilst enjoying traditional dance and music.

Customized tour through Ethiopia

Be inspired by this complete tour through Ethiopia, an ideal example to compile your ideal trip! It's possible to change, add or remove parts of the journey. Request a customized tour and let us konw your preferences and your available time. Feel free to contact us and we can discuss your trip together!