Tour Packages

Culture & Traditions

Spend the afternoon in one of Ethiopia’s largest coffee plantation in the same mountains where coffee Arabica was discovered

city life & sights

Private Car Tour. Let Vast Ethiopia Tours guide you through the chaotic streets of Addis Ababa from the comfort of your own car and driver

Trekking & Mountains

There are few more exciting ways to enjoy Ethiopia’s natural beauty and witness the isolated life in high mountain villages than trekking through one of Ethiopia’s many mountain ranges. 

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Ethiopia has more than 80 ethnicities living within its borders, all speaking different languages and practicing different customs. VAST’s Southern Cultural Route takes travelers to the heart of the most these remote ethiopia tribes, whose animist beliefs strike a chord with the true African experience.

Ethiopia has more than 80 ethnicities living within its borders, all speaking different languages and practicing different customs. VAST’s Southern Cultural Route takes travelers to the heart of the most these remote ethiopia tribes, whose animist beliefs strike a chord with the true African experience.

We start in Addis Ababa and drive south to visit the Gurage people and visit various archaeological sites and a rock-hewn church reminding us just how far south the Christian kings extended their religion. We continue south and visit the Dorze people who live high above Arba Minch in the Guge Mountains. After returning to the Rift Valley, we take a look at the Nechisar National Park.

From Arba Minch we journey in the Omo Valley and its main town, Jinka. The road through the Omo Valley brings you closer to dozens of different tribes who for centuries lived isolation from the rest of the world, but who’s future is now more and more connected not only to global tourism but also the Ethiopian government’s interest in the fertile lands around the Omo River. Over the next decades, the Karo, Hamer, Erbore, Surma, and the famous Mursi will all face decisions on how to carry their people forward in the face of a changing world. Here today, the traveler can still catch a glimpse of the past.

Each tribe has its own distinctive characteristics and traditional ways of life. For example, the Mursi and Surma are famous for lip plates, while the Arbore and Hamer, for body painting and scarring.

Day 1 Arrival in Addis Ababa. Overnight Kaleb Hotel
Day 2 Drive to Hosana: en route visit Melka Kunture archaeological sites, the rock-hewn church of Adadi Maryam, and the Tiya stelea, all located in the region of the Gurage people.
Day 3 Drive to Arba Minch: en route visit Dorze village Chencha. Overnight Paradise Lodge.
Day 4 Full day Arba Minch: visit Nechisar National Park and boat excursion on Lake Chamo.
Day 5 Drive to Jinka: en route visit Konso and Tsemay Villages. Overnight Jinka Resort.
Day 6 Full day in Jinka: drive through the Mago National Park to visit the Mursi village. Overnight Jinka Resort.
Day 7 Drive to Turmi village: visit the Hamer people and overnight camping.
Day 8 Drive to Maruelle: visit the Karo people and overnight camping.
Day 9 Drive to Omorate: visit the Dasinech people and overnight camping.
Day 10 Drive to Yabello: en route visit Arbore and Borena villages. Overnight Yabello Motel.
Day 11 Drive to Yergalem: en route visit the Sidama people and the coffee plantation. Overnight Aregash Lodge.
Day 12 Drive to Addis Ababa: evening farewell party and departure.
*Lodges can replace camping upon request.
*Camping gear can be provided upon request.

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The traveler who truly wants to “experience” all Ethiopia has to offer will be drawn to Vast Ethiopia Tours’s Complete Ethiopia Tour. In just under three weeks, travelers can participate in the tribal culture on the Southern Cultural Route and afterwards travel through time on the Northern Historic Route.

The traveler who truly wants to “experience” all Ethiopia has to offer will be drawn to Vast Ethiopia Tours’s Complete Ethiopia Tour. In just under three weeks, travelers can participate in the tribal culture on the Southern Cultural Route and afterwards travel through time on the Northern Historic Route.

First, in the Omo Valley, travelers witness Ethiopia’s many ethnicities and cultural traditions. The Southern Cultural Route takes travelers to the heart of the most remote tribes, whose animist beliefs strike a chord with the true African experience.

Each tribe has its own distinctive characteristics and traditional ways of life. The Mursi and Surma people are famous for their lip plates, the Arbore and Hamer, for the amazing paintings on their bodies. The southern part of Ethiopia is also home to several national parks suitable for camping and viewing wildlife such as the buffalo, cheetah, leopard, giraffe, Bruchell’s zebra, hartebeest, topi, oryx and even the elusive lion.

Next, travelers will be whisked away to a wholly different experience steeped in history and ancient civilizations. On the Northern Historic Route travelers visit the former capitals of the Gonderite and Axumite empires, as well as to the sacred city of Lalibela.

The Complete Ethiopia Tour takes travelers some 4000 kilometers overland and by air through the Ethiopian country side, mountains and desert. Driving from site to site and from village to village gives the traveler a chance to see the places in between, enjoy local culture and see the Ethiopia that exists outside of these incredible sites and villages.

We start in Addis Ababa and drive south to visit the Gurage people and visit various archaeological sites and a rock-hewn church reminding us just how far south the Christian kings extended their religion. We continue south and visit the Dorze people who live high above Arba Minch in the Guge Mountains. After returning to the Rift Valley, we take a look at the Nechisar National Park.

From Arba Minch we journey in the Omo Valley and its main town, Jinka. The road through the Omo Valley brings you closer to dozens of different tribes who for centuries lived isolation from the rest of the world, but who’s future is now more and more connected not only to global tourism but also the Ethiopian government’s interest in the fertile lands around the Omo River. Over the next decades, the Karo, Hamer, Erbore, Surma, and the famous Mursi will all face decisions on how to carry their people forward in the face of a changing world. Here today, the traveler can still catch a glimpse of the past.

Each tribe has its own distinctive characteristics and traditional ways of life. For example, the Mursi and Surma are famous for lip plates, while the Arbore and Hamer, for body painting and scarring.

VAST believes that each culture, each tribe is a treasure. We strive to treat the people as well as their lands with the utmost respect. VAST only uses local tour associations that benefit the entire tribe or village. A delicate balance of respect, development and preservation is necessary to preserve what has existed for so long.

Day 1 Arrival to Addis Ababa. Overnight Ghion Hotel.
Day 2 Drive to Arba Minch. Overnight Bekele Molla Hotel.
Day 3 Drive to Nechisar National Park to see animals, including various species of birds. Drive to Lake Chamo for short boat excursion and return to Arba Minch. Overnight Bekele Molla Hotel.
Day 4 Drive to Jinka via Woito and Key Afer. Overnight Jinka Resort Hotel.
Day 5 Drive to Mursi tribe villages and return to Jinka. Overnight Jinka Resort Hotel.
Day 6 Drive to Turmi via Dimeka and visit the Hamer tribe villages and ceremonies (depending on availability). Overnight camping at Turmi.
Day 7 Drive to Muruulle to visit the Karo tribe village. Overnight camping at Turmi.
Day 8 Drive to Omorata and visit the Dassanech (Gelab) tribe village. Overnight camping at Turmi.
Day 9 Drive to Konso via Tsamay and visit Erbore and Konso villages. Overnight Konso, option: local hotel or camping.
Day 10 Drive to Yabelo via Borena villages and visit Elsod salt extraction site, and singing wells. Overnight in Yabelo at Yabelo Motel.
Day 11 Drive North to Wondo Genet and enjoy the natural hot spring at Wondo Genet. Overnight Wabi Shebele Hotel.
Day 12 Drive to Addis Ababa via Awassa to visit the fish market and see Lake Awassa’s rich birdlife. Overnight in Addis at Ghion Hotel.
Day 13 Fly to Bahir Dar and take boat trip on Lake Tana to visit island monasteries. Overnight Tana Hotel.
Day 14 Drive to the Blue Nile Falls (32 km south) and return to Bahir Dar. Overnight Tana Hotel.
Day 15 Drive to Gonder and visit the 17th century castle compound and bath. Overnight Goha Hotel.
Day 16 Gonder, full Day. Visit the church of Debre Berhan Selassie and the Felasha village. Overnight Goha Hotel.
Day 17 Drive to Axum on the way admiring the spectacular views Tigray and across Tekezze river forge. Overnight Remhai Hotel.
Day 18 Axum, full day. Visit the ancient stelae, archeological sites, Queen of Sheba’s bath and palace, excavated tombs and perhaps the country’s most revered church: St. Mary of Zion (where legend says the Ethiopian Orthodox Church keeps the original Ark of Covenant). Overnight Remhai Hotel.
Day 19 Fly to Lalibela and visit the first group of rock-hewn churches. Overnight Mountain view Hotel.
Day 20 Lalibela, full day. Morning mule ride or hike to Asheten Maryam monastery and afternoon visit to the remaining churches of Lalibela. Overnight Mountain view Hotel.
Day 21 Fly to Addis Ababa for half-day city tour and farewell dinner. Overnight Ghion Hotel.
*Lodges can replace camping upon request.
*Camping gear can be provided upon request.

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Over geological time, the northern part of the Great Rift Valley has formed a triangular basin between the Danakil Desert and the Afar Plain that today holds some of the most astounding terrain in the Horn of Africa.

Over geological time, the northern part of the Great Rift Valley has formed a triangular basin between the Danakil Desert and the Afar Plain that today holds some of the most astounding terrain in the Horn of Africa.

In the Danakil Depression, the topography sinks as low as 125m (410ft) below sea level. And within this inverted world of rock and heat, rise volcanic peaks to as high as 2500m (6200ft). While temperatures can reach 50o C, the Danakil Depression is not exactly a breezy tour, but an inhospitable environment for all living creatures, including human beings. Nonetheless the Afar region is home to the Afar people, who have survived centuries by adopting a nomadic existence and local economy based on salt trading in the highlands to endure the extremes.

Perhaps the most famous site in the great depression is the active volcano Erta Ale, rising to 613m (2011ft) with one or sometimes two active lava lakes boiling in its caldera. Erta Ale is credited as being the longest-existing lava lake, known about since 1906. On tour, travelers begin the three hour hike at dusk to reach the crater, hiking in the night and early morning is the only way to avoid the mid-day heat.

The other major attraction in the Danakil Depression is Dallol, where a volcanic explosion has created a crater some 100km northwest of Erta Ale. The crater was formed during a paratactic eruption in 1926. All around the crater are pools of volcanic minerals translating to vivid oranges, yellows and reds, which makes for an unforgettable visit.

Day 1 Arrive in Addis Ababa.
Day 2 Drive to Awash National Park to see large game and various birds.
Day 3 Drive to Semera and explore the Afar village and its culture.
Day 4 Drive to Lake Afera.
Day 5 Drive to Dodom and start trek to Erta Ale.
Day 6 Drive to Waydodo.
Day 7 Drive to Ahmed Ela.
Day 8 Drive to Lake Asele and to Dallol and back to Ahmed Ela.
Day 9 Drive to Mekele through the town of Berhile.
Day 10 Drive to Kombolcha, en route you visit Hayeke Stiphanose monastery.
Day 11 Drive to Addis Ababa (time permitting visit Senbete market).
Day 12 Full day city tour of Addis Ababa, in evening, farewell dinner party and departure.
*Lodges can replace camping upon request.
*Camping gear can be provided upon request.

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Over geological time, the northern part of the Great Rift Valley has formed a triangular basin between the Danakil Desert and the Afar Plain that today holds some of the most astounding terrain in the Horn of Africa.

Ethiopia has a proud and long history extending all the way to the known beginnings of human kind. The Historic Route overland tour takes visitors from the current capital of Addis Ababa to the former capitals of the Gonderite and Axumite empires, as well as to the sacred city of Lalibela and the rock churches of Tigray.
The journey takes travelers some 2000 kilometers through the Ethiopian countryside, mountains and desert. Driving from site to site gives the traveler a chance to see the places in between, enjoy local culture and see the Ethiopia that exists outside of these incredible historic sites.
From Addis Ababa, we journey north and visit a series of churches before arriving to Bahir Dar on Lake Tana. Our next stop is Gonder, where visitors walk through the great castles, royal bathes and churches built by the kings of Ethiopia over 400 years ago. The next day we drive the most scenic byway in Ethiopia around the Simien Mountains to Axum, the first capital and ancient entry point of Christianity to Ethiopia. Here, travelers will be stunned by the great stele left behind by this mysterious civilization. We continue the overland journey through the region of Tigray to the majestic Gheralta valley, where we take to our feet and visit a series of ancient churches carved into the sandstone dating back to the 4th and 5th centuries. All of these historic sites testify not only to the great faith of these societies, but also to their advanced architectural skills.
Finally, travelers go back in time to the late middle ages of Lalibela, where a great religious civilization flourished and a pious king constructed more than a dozen churches hewn out of massive monolithic rocks in the center of the city. From Lalibela, we journey back to Addis Ababa, finishing the circle of history and enjoy the lifestyle of modern Ethiopia.

Day 1 Arrival in Addis Ababa.
Day 2 Drive north to Bahir Dar: en route visit Debre Libanos monastery and pass through the Blue Nile Gorge on the way.
Day 3 Full day in Bahir Dar: visit the Blue Nile Falls, afternoon boat trip on Lake Tana to various islands and 14th century monasteries.
Day 4 Drive to Gonder: visit the Fasilades Castle Compound (16th century) and Bathes of King Fasil.
Day 5 Full day in Gonder: visit the 16th century church of Debre Berhan Selassie, afternoon visit to the Felasha village outside of Gonder.
Day 6 Drive to Axum on the scenic byway passing through the Simien Mountains, the Tekezze river gorge and the spectacular cliffs of Tigray.
Day 7 Full day in Axum: visit the famous Axumite stelea, archeological sites, the bath and the palace of Queen of Sheba, the tomb of Kings and the church of St. Mary of Zion (Where it is said King Menelik I brought the true Ark of Covenant from Israel).
Day 8 Drive to Gheralta Valley: en route visit the ancient ruins of Yeha Temple (5th century B.C.), the churches Grat Beal Gebri, Debredamo and Abuna Aregawi rock churches.
Day 9 Drive to Mekele: en route visit the rock churches of Tigray, including Wekro Cherkos and the monumental church of Abreha & Atsbeha.
Day 10 Drive to Lalibela on the scenic byway through the town of Sekota.
Day 11 Full day Laliebla: visit Asheten Mariam monastery and the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela.
Day 12 Full day Lalibela: visit second cluster of Lalibela rock-hewn churches, afternoon visit to Na’aktu Laab monastery.
Day 13 Drive to Kolmbolcha: en route visit Hayk Estefanos monastery and lake.
Day 14 Drive to Addis Ababa: en route visit a Oromo/Afar market.
Day 15 Full Day Addis Ababa: city tour including museums, churches and shopping at local markets. In the evening farewell dinner party. End of the tour.

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The rarely visited Southwest region of Gambella is an excellent alternative for cultural tourism for travelers who have already been to the tribal villages of South Omo or who prefer to see something less affected by mass tourism.

The rarely visited Southwest region of Gambella is an excellent alternative for cultural tourism for travelers who have already been to the tribal villages of South Omo or who prefer to see something less affected by mass tourism.

This off-the-beaten-track takes visitors through the middle of Oromia, passing first through the Gurage region southwest of Addis Ababa and then through the Gibe river valley to Jimma, an evergreen region of Ethiopia steeped in culture and history, much of which has to do with coffee.

Spend the afternoon in one of Ethiopia’s largest coffee plantation in the same mountains where coffee Arabica was discovered. Here you will see how Ethiopians grow, harvest and produce coffee for export as and the domestic market.

The tour continues through the green highlands of the Oromia region where smallholder farmers grow and harvest their own coffee. Day three takes visitors to the Sor Waterfall, one of Ethiopia’s biggest, for lunch on the banks of the Sor river. The half-day trek gives travelers a chance to stretch their legs and hike away from the main road.

By the fourth day, the group descends to an altitude of 500 meters to the city of Gambella. Here the Baró river ambles through the town and locals are attuned to a slower pace of life matched with the river.

The next two days are spent on day-tours outside of Gambella visiting Nuer and Anuwak villages. The two tribes have been sharing the Gambella area for centuries and until recently have not always lived peacefully. Recently, the tribesmen have struck a peace agreement and for the last several years, the quality of life has increased.

The Southwest of Ethiopia is a tour through a region of Ethiopia unaccustomed to tour groups and photography. The tribes of Gambella continue to exhibit a purity of interest in visitors showing the same interest in their customs and trades.

The journey takes travelers some 2000 kilometers through the Ethiopian countryside, mountains and desert. Driving from site to site gives the traveler a chance to see the places in between, enjoy local culture and see the Ethiopia that exists outside of these incredible historic sites.
From Addis Ababa, we journey north and visit a series of churches before arriving to Bahir Dar on Lake Tana. Our next stop is Gonder, where visitors walk through the great castles, royal bathes and churches built by the kings of Ethiopia over 400 years ago. The next day we drive the most scenic byway in Ethiopia around the Simien Mountains to Axum, the first capital and ancient entry point of Christianity to Ethiopia. Here, travelers will be stunned by the great stele left behind by this mysterious civilization. We continue the overland journey through the region of Tigray to the majestic Gheralta valley, where we take to our feet and visit a series of ancient churches carved into the sandstone dating back to the 4th and 5th centuries. All of these historic sites testify not only to the great faith of these societies, but also to their advanced architectural skills.
Finally, travelers go back in time to the late middle ages of Lalibela, where a great religious civilization flourished and a pious king constructed more than a dozen churches hewn out of massive monolithic rocks in the center of the city. From Lalibela, we journey back to Addis Ababa, finishing the circle of history and enjoy the lifestyle of modern Ethiopia.

Day 1 Drive from Addis Ababa to Jimma and visit the Aba Jiffar palace in Jimma. Overnight in Honeyland Hotel.
Day 2 Drive the “coffee road” to the village of Limu and visit the Limu Sintuu coffe plantation. Continue to the town of Metu. Overnight Hotel.
Day 3 Visit the Sor Waterfall near Metu for a half-day trek and enjoy a sack lunch above the powerful falls. Continue the scenic drive to Gambella. Overnight Ethiopia Hotel.
Day 4 Culture day-tour to the villages of Itang and Laria to see the Anuwak and Nuer tribes. Overnight Ethiopia Hotel
Day 5 Culture half day-tour to the village of Elia to visit the Nuer tribesmen. Return to Gambella and visit the prison’s beads shop. Overnight Ethiopia Hotel.
Day 6 Drive back to Jimma, stopping at the Bedele brewery for lunch. Overnight in Honeyland Hotel.
Day 7 Drive to Addis Ababa stopping in the Negash Lodge for lunch.
*Lodges can replace camping upon request.
*Camping gear can be provided upon request.

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There are few more exciting ways to enjoy Ethiopia’s natural beauty and witness the isolated life in high mountain villages than trekking through one of Ethiopia’s many mountain ranges. Vast Ethiopia Tours offers trekking enthusiasts of all levels a wide variety of destinations as well as many options and modes of transport. Allow Vast to take care of the logistics, equipment and food for your visit to the spectacular Simien Mountains in the north or the equally stunning Bale Mountains in the south. And if you’re looking for a more genuine look into Ethiopian highland culture and customs, see our Unique Tours to the peaks of Abune Yosef and Mekdela.

The Simien Mountains, commonly known as the “Roof of Africa,” is home to the country’s highest peak: Ras Dashen (4620m) and at least another dozen 4000m plus peaks. It is often considered Ethiopia’s most impressive National Park. The steep mountains are also home to three endemic Ethiopian species, namely the Gelada Baboon, Walia Ibex wild goat and the Simien Fox. There are two major itineraries through the Simien Mountains. The first is a trekking route stopping at each of the three camps within the boundaries of the National Park, and the second is a trek that tackles the highest peak, Ras Dashen (4620m), located outside of the protected area. The first route ends at the Chenek Camp where the second route begins. Motivated and experienced trekkers can combine the two circuits for a ten day expedition. We can customize your trek to include camping equipment, cooks, mules and muleteers. Every group entering the National Park is required to carry a local scout. VAST can tailor your trekking itinerary to anywhere from 6 days to 10 days, depending on your time and desires.

Itinerary #1:

Simien Park Trek Difficulty: Moderate to Strenuous 

Day 1 Arrival in Addis Ababa.

Day 2 Fly to Gonder, Drive to Debark and proceed in vehicle to Sankaber Camp (3250m). All day travel. Overnight Camping.

Day 3 Trek from Sankaber Camp to Geech Camp (3600m). 5-7hours trekking through the Koba River valley and the Geech abyss. Early risers may have time to visit Imet Gogo peak (3925m) in the same day. Overnight Camping.

Day 4 Trek from Geech Camp to Chenek Camp (3620m). 5-7 hour trekking under Simien peaks and high chances of seeing wildlife. Overnight Camping.

Day 5 Drive from Chenek Camp back to Gonder, via Debark. Overnight Hotel.

Day 6 Fly from Gonder back to Addis Ababa.

Itinerary #2:

Ras Dashen Trek Difficulty: Strenuous 

Day 1 Arrival in Addis Ababa.

Day 2 Fly to Gonder, Drive to Debark and proceed in vehicle to Chenek Camp (3620m). All day travel. Overnight Camping.

Day 3 Trek from Chenek Camp to Ambiko Base Camp (3200m). This 8-9 hour hike is very strenuous and takes hikers first to 4200m over the Bahit Pass. The path then descends all the way to 2800m to the Mesheha River and climbs again to the Ambiko Base Camp. Overnight Camping.

Day 4 Trek from Ambiko Base Camp (3200m) to Ras Dashen (4620m). This all-day trek passes by the village of Mizma before following an obvious ridge (road) that switchbacks to the top. After reaching the summit, return to Ambiko Base Camp. Overnight Camping.

Day 5 Trek from Ambiko Base Camp (3200m) back to Chenek Camp where transportation will be waiting to drive back to Gonder, via Debark. Overnight Hotel.

Day 6 Fly from Gonder back to Addis Ababa.

Over 60 mammal species and 260 bird species have been recorded in this region. As an area of natural beauty and ecological importance, visitors to the Bale Mountains will be treated to spectacular views, including old growth forests, alpine streams and waterfalls.And the Bale Mountains are different from the Simien Mountains in that hikers move across vast afro-montane landscapes that are very soft underfoot. Trails through the mountains cross wide juniper forests,heather moorlands and alpine meadows, which at different times of the year exhibit an abundance of flora and color. The Bale Mountains are also special thanks to a series of huts built by a German organization to increase eco-tourism and reduce the mountain dweller’s dependence on forestry. The hike through the mountains provides visitors the chance to see how the local Oromia people live without having to carry tents and kitchen supplies. Each hut is completely equipped with beds and a full kitchen. You and your group will follow a local guide through valleys and highland plateaus either on foot or by horseback. Every village that has a hut benefits directly from tourism and provides hikers with a friendly and peaceful atmosphere. The full circuit of trails can be done in five nights/six days, but due to the proximity of the huts, hikers can choose to visit as many huts as they can. Below VAST has provided a sample itinerary.

Itinerary Bale Mountain Hut-to-Hut Trek Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

Day 1 Arrival in Addis Ababa.
Day 2 Drive to Dodola (5 hours), register with the Bale Mountain Guide Association and drive to Changeti Camp (2900m). Overnight Hut.
Day 3 Trek from Changeti Camp to Wahoro Camp (3300m). This 3-4 hour hike gradually climbs into the afro-mooreland of the Bale Mountains. Overnight Hut.
Day 4 Trek from Wahoro Camp to Angafu Camp (3460m). This 4-5 hours hike passes through highland meadows and below rocky peaks of the Bale Mountains. The views are excellent and chances to see the endemic Mountain Nyala. Overnight Hut.
Day 5 Trek from Angafu Camp to Adele (3300m). This 1-2 hours trek provides visitors with plenty of downtime to explore surrounding peaks and waterfalls. Overnight Hut.
Day 6 Trek from Angafu Camp back to Changeti Camp (2900m). This 4-5 hour trek will complete the circuit and bring you back to the vehicle and driver. Drive back to Addis Ababa in the evening.

Combining a visit to the historic Lalibela rock-hewn churches with trekking in the highlands is the perfect way to experience Ethiopia’s rich history as well as its natural beauty. Lalibela is usually billed as Ethiopia’s number one tourist attraction not to mention holy shrine to which thousands of Orthodox pilgrims flock every year on January 7th. We believe the contrast of visiting the churches that attract people from all around the world with visiting a mountain that very few people visit gives the adventurer the best of both worlds.

After spending three days in Lalibela visiting the amazing rock-hewn churches that have converted Lalibela into the holy land for the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, we start our 3-day trek to Abune Yosef (4300m), Ethiopia’s third highest massif. After a 6-7 hour first day and stunning panoramas of arid escarpments and basalt towers, we arrive at the village of Tigu Kebele (3700m), the base camp for attacking Abune Yosef. We will spend two nights in the highland village, eating our meals and meeting local families. The summit day we will wake up and get an early start to increase our chances of seeing the simien fox, an endemic species rarely seen in Ethiopia. It is not uncommon to run into the endemic gelada baboon and see lammergeyers circling around the peak. The third day, we return to Lalibela the same way we came, with a new respect for this high-altitude rugged outpost of spirituality.

Day 1 Arrival to Addis Ababa, airport transfer to hotel. Overnight Kaleb Hotel
Day 2 Arrive to Lalibela in the early afternoon, have lunch and visit the first Lalibela rock-hewn church cluster. Overnight Mountain View Hotel
Day 3 Lalibela: Early day hike to Asheten monastery and church (4 hours total). Hike to 3400m and visit some of the first churches carved in Lalibela. In the afternoon, we visit the second cluster of Lalibela churches in the afternoon. Overnight Mountain View Hotel
Day 4 Lalibela: Visit Yimrehana Christos church that is 42km away by car, and spend the afternoon and evening exploring Lalibela on your own. Overnight Mountain View Hotel
Day 5 Abune Yosef: 6-7 hour trek from the hotel (2600m) to base camp in Tigu Kebele (3700m).
Day 6 Abune Yosef: Wake up early and do 3 hour trek to summit of Abune Yosef (4300m). Have lunch on summit and walk back to base camp.
Day 7 Abune Yosef: 5-6 hour trek back to Lalibela, stopping for lunch on the way, meals provide by guide/cook.
Day 8 Lalibela: Fly to Addis Ababa enjoy farewell dinner and city visits.
*Lodges can replace camping upon request.
*Camping gear can be provided upon request.

The overnight trekking experience to Mekdela gives tourists the opportunity to step over a century back in time to relive one of Ethiopia’s most incredible chapters of history. Not to mention, a very off-the-beaten track excursion where you and your group will be the only foreigners for three days.

Emperor Tewodros II (reign1855-1868) is often considered Ethiopia’s most admired national hero. Mekdela was the third of Tewodros’ capitals during his mandate as well as the site of his dramatic undoing and ultimate suicide. After uniting much of Northern Ethiopia and winning much respect, his empire slowly deteriorated. To fend against his enemies he sought the help of the British and even took British hostages to get the Queen’s attention. This finally led to a massive British invasion of 30,000 troops and the decimation of his army, not to mention the end of his rule. Mekdela was Tewodros’ impenetrable rock but ended up being his tomb.
After visiting the highland town of Dessie, we spend three days hiking to and from Mekdela, spending two nights camping under the starry skies on Mekdela mountain, isolated in the Ethiopian highlands. This is a moderate hike that follows a nice foot path17 kilometers to the mountain stronghold. We spend the night with the Mekdela tourism association the next day visit not only Tewodros’ gravesite, but also the 10-ton cannon he ordered his hostages to build, known as Sevastopol. The third day of the trek, we hike back to the car and drive back to Dessie.
The next part of the tour depends on the day of the week. The city of Bati, lies a few hundred kilometers east of Dessie and is the first major city in the desolate region of Afar. Thus, Bati acts as a meeting point for highlanders from Wollo and salt traders from Afar. On the drive back to Dessie, make a stop at an old growth forest to see the biggest tree in all of Ethiopia.

Total number of days hiking: 3 days
Trek difficulty: Easy-Moderate
Chances of seeing other tourists visiting Mekdela: Arround 3%.

Day 1 Arrival to Addis Ababa, airport transfer to hotel. Overnight Kaleb Hotel
Day 2 Drive to Dessie and arrive in the afternoon. Spend the evening hiking to Mount Tossa or the surrounding mountainous area. Overnight Faskia Hotel
Day 3 Drive to Tenta, 135km northwest of Dessie, have lunch in Tenta. Hike the 17km journey to Mekdela (4-5 hours). Camping in Mekdela.
Day 4 Full day in Mekdela: visit the sites of Mekdela with a local guide in the morning. Have lunch and enjoy the rest of the evening to explore the mountain on your own. Camping in Mekdela.
Day 5 Hike back to Tenta (4-5 hours). Drive to Dessie, have dinner and spend the night in the hotel. Overnight Faskia Hotel
Day 6 Drive to Bati: Wake up early and drive to Bati to see the market. Spend the night in Bati. Overnight Local
Day 7 Drive to Addis Ababa: en route visit old growth forest. Overnight Kaleb Hotel
Day 8 Addis Ababa: City tour and farewell dinner at cultural restaurant.
Walk into the history with Vast Ethiopia Tours & be one of the few visitors to have visited this very historic site!
Mekdela receives just 50-100 visitors annually.

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Day 1: Depart Addis Ababa overland eastwards stopping for lunch in Nazareth and overnight in Awash.
Day 2: Half day in Awash National Park including nature walk to waterfall and hot springs and game drive. Drive into the Harari mountains and overnight in Asbe Teferi.
Day 3: Continue driving east and visit the Ethiopian Orthodox pilgrimage site of St. Gabrial Church in Kalubi. Afternoon city tour in Harar. Overnight in Harar.
Day 4: Full day in Harar: museum visits and hyena feeding. Overnight Harar.
Day 5: Option: Babile Elephant Sanctuary or spend the day in the modern city of Dire Dawa. Overnight in Harar.
Day 6: Drive to Somaliland and visit the Valley of the Marvels and have lunch in Jijiga (capital of Ethiopian Somali Region). Arrive to Hargeisa in the evening and overnight in hotel.
Day 7: Full day in Hargeisa visiting money, gold and camel markets and finish paperwork for permits to travel in Somaliland. Overnight in Hargeisa.
Day 8: Excursion to Laas Geel cave paintings. Drive to Berbera (coastal town). Overnight in relaxing seaside hotel in Berbera.
Day 9: Full day in Berbera visiting markets, beach and old town. Have fish for lunch and check out local diving spots in the Red Sea. Overnight in Berbera.
Day 10: Full day Camel Safari along the Red Sea coastline. Swim and explore while local crew prepares a nomadic meal. Overnight in tent.
Day 11: Full day Camel Safari. Meet drivers and return to Berbera. Overnight in Berbera.
Day 12: Drive to Burco in the Togdheer highlands to escape the heat of Berbera. Overnight in hotel in Burco.
Day 13: Full day of leisure in Burco. Overnight in Burco.
Day 14: Return to Hargeisa stopping to meet with caravans on the way. Overnight in Hargeisa.
Day 15: Flight: Hargeisa to Addis Ababa. Afternoon tour through the city of Addis Ababa. Overnight hotel in Addis Ababa.
Day 16: Spend the day in Addis Ababa and fly home in the evening.

Day 1 Arrive in Addis Ababa. Overnight hotel.
Day 2 Drive to Awasa via Ethiopia’s Great Rift Valley Region. Overnight hotel.
Day 3 Visit Lake Awasa and drive to Arba Minch, en route you visit the Dorze people. Overnight hotel.
Day 4 Visit Nechisar National Park and join boat excursion on Lake Chamo. Overnight hotel.
Day 5 Drive to Langano, en route you visit Abiata-Shala Lakes National Park. Overnight camping.
Day 6 Drive to Bale Mountains National Park to view game reserve. Overnight camping.
Day 7 Visit Sanette Plateau and Tullo Deemtu Mount to see mammals and birds. Travel back to Goba. Overnight hotel.
Day 8 Drive to Awash via Asella. Overnight hotel.
Day 9 Visit Awash National Park to see mammals and birds and the spectacular Awash River Falls, back to Addis Ababa. Overnight hotel.
Day 10 Full day city tour of Addis Ababa, in the evening farewell dinner party and departure.
*Lodges can replace camping upon request.
*Camping gear can be provided upon request.

Ethiopia 2019

Ethiopia is one of Africa’s most prolific bird watching destinations. An astounding 862 recorded birds species can be found in Ethiopia. The most motivated ‘tickers’ come from all over the world to enhance their bird lists with Ethiopia’s many endemic species.

Ethiopia is one of Africa’s most prolific bird watching destinations. An astounding 862 recorded birds species can be found in Ethiopia. The most motivated ‘tickers’ come from all over the world to enhance their bird lists with Ethiopia’s many endemic species.

The bird populations swell between the months of November and February when some 200 species of Palaearctic migrants arrive from Europe and Asia to join the already abundant number of birds that can be found in Ethiopia.

VET’s main tour takes birders across stunning landscapes as they explore the Great Rift Valley lakes, each teeming with its own microcosm of bird life. Next, VET allows birders to explore the surrounding mountain forests, which support a wholly different selection of endemic birds. Ethiopia has the second highest number of endemic birds of any nation in the continent, but we won’t tell you who has more.

VAST birding tours are guided by members of Ethiopia’s Wildlife and Natural History Society, making the identification of 69 important birding sites spread throughout the country easy to find. It is important to note that most bird watching itineraries travel through the South of the country, while an itinerary in search of all the Ethiopia endemic birds would take a minimum of 3 weeks. To be sure, a tour of 10-15 days would guarantee that you see most of the endemic and several hundred more species of birds.

Admitted, Ethiopia has its share of problems with deforestation and environmental issue, but the country still offers a completely unique bird watching experience, thereby setting it apart from other bird-watching destinations.

The itinerary below will give birders an idea of a typical bird route passing through the Rift Valley lakes as well as the Bale Mountains National Park. All VET itineraries can be customized to fit your groups’ needs and availability.

Every year, Ethiopia attracts ‘tickers’ and wildlife lovers from around the world. Ethiopia’s feathered friends never fail to thrill bird lovers.

Day 1 Arrival in Addis Ababa. Overnight Kaleb Hotel
Day 2 Drive to Ziway through Ethiopia’s mid rift system, en route you visit Koka, Cheleleka and Ziway lakes to see Crowned and Common Cranes, Fish Eagles, and many more species.Overnight hotel.
Day 3 Drive to Abiata-Shala National Parks, enjoy the breeding and feeding ground of Flamingoes, Pelicans, Cormorants and other aquatic birds, and many more species.Overnight hotel.
Day 4 Drive to Lake Awasa to see Saddle billed storks, Malachite and Giant King Fisher. Overnight hotel.
Day 5 Drive to Wondo Genet, where you will be able to see the Black-Headed Forest Oriole, the white cheeked Touraco, the Senegal Coucal and many others, species. Overnight hotel.
Day 6 Drive to Bale Mountains National Park, stopping around Dinsho to see the endemic Wattle Ibis, Rougets Rail and many more species. Overnight camping.
Day 7 Drive to Sannate to see the endemic Blue Winged Goose and the Black headed Siskin and further into the Harena forest you will see the Black-Headed Oriole, the White Cheeked Touraco, and many more, species. Overnight camping.
Day 8 Drive to Awash National Park to see the birds of Prey.The Tawny Battler and many more species. Overnight hotel.
Day 9 Drive to Addis Ababa, en route you will visit the Lakes of Debre Zeit, Horan and Babugaya. Overnight hotel.
Day 10 Full day city tour of Addis Ababa, in the evening farewell dinner party and departure.
*Lodges can replace camping upon request.
*Camping gear can be provided upon request.

126-DSC02933

The Great Rift Valley is a vast geographical and geological feature of East Africa and South West Asia created by the rifting and separation of the African and Arabian tectonic plates over 35 million years ago.

The Great Rift Valley is a vast geographical and geological feature of East Africa and South West Asia created by the rifting and separation of the African and Arabian tectonic plates over 35 million years ago. This geological feature runs north to south for some 6000km from northern Syria to central Mozambique. The valley varies in width from 30-100km and in elevation from a few hundred meters to several thousand meters.
The Rift Valley Lakes are a group of lakes formed by the Great Rift Valley of Eastern Africa. These lakes include some of the oldest, largest and deepest lakes in the world and are a fresh water region of great biodiversity. The Ethiopian Rift Valley offers eight spectacular chains of lakes. These formed during the period of high rainfall in the quaternary era when much of the world near the poles was covered in ice. Some of the lakes formed during that time are: Ziway, Langano, Abiata-Shala in the north and Abaya Chamo in the southern part of Ethiopia.
As the earth’s climate gradually warmed in recent geological times, the Rift Valley lakes receded leaving extensive deposits of sedimentary rocks, making the Rift Valley an area of intense geological interest.

Day 1 Arrive in Addis Ababa. Overnight hotel.
Day 2 Drive to Awasa via Ethiopia’s Great Rift Valley Region. Overnight hotel.
Day 3 Visit Lake Awasa and drive to Arba Minch, en route you visit the Dorze people. Overnight hotel.
Day 4 Visit Nechisar National Park and join boat excursion on Lake Chamo. Overnight hotel.
Day 5 Drive to Langano, en route you visit Abiata-Shala Lakes National Park. Overnight camping.
Day 6 Drive to Bale Mountains National Park to view game reserve. Overnight camping.
Day 7 Visit Sanette Plateau and Tullo Deemtu Mount to see mammals and birds. Travel back to Goba. Overnight hotel.
Day 8 Drive to Awash via Asella. Overnight hotel.
Day 9 Visit Awash National Park to see mammals and birds and the spectacular Awash River Falls, back to Addis Ababa. Overnight hotel.
Day 10 Full day city tour of Addis Ababa, in the evening farewell dinner party and departure.
*Lodges can replace camping upon request.
*Camping gear can be provided upon request.

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