Rondreis North Ethiopia - Active Group Tour North & South Ethiopia

Active Group Tour South & North Ethiopia

This active group tour is special because of the unique trekking in Omo Valley & other multi-day treks.

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 Active Ethiopia 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 and Dorze 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: Visit Konso tribe

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 5: Via Key Afar Market to 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 6 & 7: Camping in Karo

The Kara 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. The group are well-known for their beautiful body painting skills. They use a white-colored 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. To get to know the Karo, you will camp in the village. You will notice how the ambiance will change after you stay in the village for a longer time.

Day 8: Start of Hamar trek to Dega Keja

This unique community hike takes you through the remote Hamar mountains in the Lower Omo Valley - an authentic experience for hiking enthusiasts who would love the chance to immerse in traditional tribal life and wilderness.
Starting from the community campsite in Turmi, we drive to the drop-off point at Arkale village where you’ll meet your Hamar guide along with donkeys to carry your bags. From Arkale we hike for 4-5 hours through valleys and up hillsides stopping off along the trek to enjoy a refreshing ‘bunno’ - traditional hot drink made from coffee husks served in a gourd. We reach our camping ground in Dega Keja village with eco-toilets in the evening. Later on, you’ll wrap up warm in blankets, enjoy a tasty local meal and listen to traditional folklore with a Hamar family.

Day 9: Trek to Kufuri village

The following morning we continue on a 5-hour hike to Kufri village. You will climb the highest peak with breathtaking views over Waito valley then follow a path along the mountain ridge until you arrive at the picteresque village of Kufri. In the evening you, we relax with the local community and observe domestic life and chores such as goat milking and grinding flour before dinner.

Day 10: To Buska, discover an ancient forest & the origin of Hamar

Today is a 5-hour hike through an ancient mountain forest to reach the remote Hamar villages in Buska. You will notice crops are more abundant here and we stop for a picnic lunch and you will have the chance to join in with seasonal activities such as harvesting or ploughing land by oxen. In the late afternoon you will be picked up and driven back to Turmi via a traditional Hamar market (depending on the day) and a celebratory BBQ campfire evening.

Day 11: Turmi - Jinka - Gondar

In the morning you'll drive from Turmi to Jinka. Once arrived, you'll take the flight to Gondar around noon, with a transfer in Addis Ababa. In the afternoon you'll have time to explore Gondar. You can visit the 17th-century bath of Emperor Fasilidas, where Orthodox Christians are baptized during Timkat. Visit the Debre Berha church, with its authentic ceiling paintings from the 16th century. Finally, take a guided tour on the Fasilidas compound, a unique place where several castles from different eras are built. This place, tells you a lot about the history of kings and emperors in Ethiopia. In the evening you relax and prepare for the 4-day hike in the Simien Mountains.

The 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, and even large cats such as leopards, various birds of prey, but also isolated local communities.
The following days you will make a trekking throughout the park.

Day 12 - 15: 4 days hike in Simien Mountains

On day one you will drive up to Sankabar where you start the hike to Geech, following a huge ridge with a nice view over the foothills. On day 2 you wake up early and can enjoy one of the most beautiful views in the mountains on Imet Gogo. After a whole day trekking you wille arrive in Chennek, your second campsite. Day three is a daytrip to the Buwitpass (on 4200 m). Along the way you will pass the Meseha river and again enjoy beautiful views. You’ll stay in Chennek. On day four you walk for about 2 hours to the main road where the car will pick you up and bring you back to Gondar.

Day 16: Drive to Lalibela

It's time for the most famous and beautiful place in Ethiopia, 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 17: 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 18: Drive to Mekele

Our next destination is Mekele, the capital of the Tigray region. Mekele is a relaxed city, which you can explore by yourself. A day in Mekele can consist of the following: a visit to the "Martyrs' Memorial", made in honor of the victims who fell during the communist DERG regime between the 70s and 90s. The Yohannes museum, with its Italian architectural stakeholders, was once the palace of Emperor Yohannes IV and has recently been converted into a museum. You will find an abundance of different royal and religious artifacts and typical Tigray utensils.
After a long journey, you can relax in the hotel. In the evening it’s nice to check for a nice restaurant in Mekele city and enjoy a calm and relaxed evening.

Day 19 - 20: Gheralta Visit & Hike

The following days 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. To see is to believe! From Gheralta, we continue on 3-4 hour drive to Axum.

Day 21: Addis Abeba and farewell

Today you will fly from Mekele 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.

About this group tour

This active group tour can be done as a full journey through the south and north of Ethiopia. But it can also be done as a journey through the south alone or as a journey through the north alone. Have a look on the site for the other exact travel programs, to make your best choice.