Ethiopia is a land of proud undistilled cultural heritage, archaeological wonders, absolutely stunning diverse landscapes and rare wildlife. Oh, and the food is pretty incredible too! On your Ethiopian sojourn wander through the Omo Valley with your expert guide taking in the abundance of cultural traditions. Intact tribes proudly display their unique attributes and customs. Adorned with beads, paint, and treasures from the natural world, these tribes continue to thrive in a modern world with their ancient ways. You may participate in an array of fascinating religious festivals celebrated throughout the year.
Ethiopia is home to the walking safari of a different kind. A 3.2-million-year old fossil, later known as Lucy, connected to the first evidence of hominids walking upright vaulted this nation to archaeological fame when they were unearthed in Hadar in 1974. Lucy’s remains lie on exhibit at the National Museum in Addis Ababa. In the North, carved into the rock of the harsh landscape are dozens of churches dating back nearly one thousand years. These majestic and mystifying treasures are magnificent to observe.
Deep in the Simien Mountains, lush landscapes are ripe for striding amongst Gelada baboons, Ethiopian foxes and incredible birdlife. Walia Ibex dwell on steep cliffs and a glimpse of them is a rare find! In the Bale Mountains, one might seek out the Ethiopian Wolf, the Mountain Nyala or the Bale Mountain Vervet. While rightfully known primarily as a cultural destination with vibrant warm locals, the wildlife explorations are not to be overlooked.
What We Love About Ethiopia
Tribal Pride — The Lower Omo Valley is home to over a dozen tribes living traditional lives. Some are renowned for tribal body painting and adornment, others perform rituals and ceremonies which date back hundreds of years. This is your window into what life was like before the modern era. Witness their societies, converse with the tribe members, discover the intricacies and legends of their heritage. You might be surprised to learn what their ancient ways have to teach you. Your professional guide will assist with translation and steering you through this remote area dotted with varied cultures living in harmony.
Rock-Hewn Churches — Lalibela, in the highlands, is a designated UNESCO world heritage site which shelters medieval monolithic cave churches which date back to the 13th century. These spectacular structures draw pilgrims for worship each year and hold fascination for curious travelers as well. Your specialist guide can walk you through the different sites, sharing the history and religious importance of each church. Attend a dawn service or night vigil for a truly moving spiritual experience.
Endemic Wildlife – Between the canyons reminiscent of the Grand Canyon and vistas similar to the Scottish highlands, the Simien Mountains National Park is worth a visit for aesthetics alone. However, Ethiopia’s first national park protects many species within its borders. Realistically, you have a slim chance of spotting endemic species like Walia ibex or Ethiopian wolves on your safari, but you are virtually assured viewing of the Gelada monkey (until recently thought of as baboons). Your guide team tracks the movements of the Geladas as you meander amongst the forest, taking in the beauty and the birdlife. Then, suddenly you are in the midst of hundreds of primates in all their glory. Climbing, feeding, grooming, tending to the young and cavorting with opposite sex, these monkeys are up to everything and anything. Witness it all and let it fill you with exuberance and wonder.
Royal Ethiopia — Tales of emperors, princesses, castles and fortresses dominante the small northern city of Gondar. Brimming with local flair and regal history, this off-the-beaten path city is worth the trip! The remains of the royal residences are magnificent and we dare you to not compare them with visions of Camelot. Exploring the compound with your expert guide will reveal the secrets of royal life. Hop in a tuk tuk or a horse drawn gari (taxi) for a quick tour of the city, or play a bit of dhama, a fun local board game, to mix with the residents of Gondar. For those visiting in January, there are many festivals including Timkat, where Gondar swells with celebrants of the colorful and vibrant processions.
Ethiopia has a varied climate based on altitude. This said, the country enjoys a mild climate with two distinct seasons defined by the rains. October through June coincides with the dry season and is generally considered the best time to visit the country. Temperatures in the highlands rarely rise above 68°F (20°C) and cooler months have been known to see snow, whereas the Danakil Depression is one of the hottest places on the planet, recording temperatures of 131°F (55°C) in summer.
Big Journeys Start With Small Steps
~ African Proverb