Situated in the Horn of Africa, Ethiopia boasts extraordinary natural features, a vast range of wildlife, and a captivating historical and cultural heritage. An increasing number of visitors are frequenting this treasure trove filled with unique attractions. Popular attractions include: the medieval castles of Gondar; the walled city of Harar; and Lalibela, a pilgrimage site known for its ancient monolithic churches, hewn into the area’s steep rocky hillsides. Ethiopia’s stunning natural landscapes are the real tourist drawcard. From the lush Simien Mountains to the sulphur vents of the Danakil Depression, the country’s outstanding natural environment is unforgettable. Bahir Dar, located on Lake Tana, is popular as a base from which to explore the fascinating monasteries situated on the numerous islands dotted around the lake, as well as the Blue Nile Falls, which are arguably the most spectacular falls in North Africa.
Days 1 - 2
Located in the highlands fringing the Great Rift Valley, Addis Ababa serves as the political, cultural and commercial centre of Ethiopia. This sprawling city rests in the foothills of the Entoto Mountains and features a mix of traditional homes, elegant villas, and tall office buildings. Visitors can look forward to a selection of wonderful activities including: visiting the National Museum, displaying local art, traditional crafts and prehistoric fossils; exploring the copper-domed Holy Trinity Cathedral, a Neo-Baroque architectural landmark; and sampling rich Ethiopian coffee as well as the memorable cuisine featuring spicy stews and Ethiopia’s signature Injera bread.
Days 2 - 4
The Afar Regional State covers the northeastern part of Ethiopia and is one of the country’s nine regional states. The Afar region is home to the Afar people and is best known as the archaeological site where fossil specimens of the very earliest hominins were discovered. As a result, the area is believed by some palaeontologists to be the cradle of the evolution of humans. In the north of the region, the Afar depression consists of a remarkable landscape predominantly made up of desert scrubland with stunning salty lakes and long chains of both active and dormant volcanoes. The southern part of the region consists of the valley of the Awash River, which empties into a string of lovely lakes along the Ethiopian-Djibouti border. Other notable landmarks include the Awash and Yangudi Rassa National Parks.
Days 4 - 5
Erta Ale is a shield volcano with one (and sometimes two) lava lakes at its summit. Situated in the Afar region of northeastern Ethiopia, this incredibly remote and rarely visited destination is not for the faint of heart. It is widely considered to be one of the hottest and most inhospitable places on Earth with temperatures at times reaching as high as 48 degrees Celsius. Those who brave these harsh conditions will be richly rewarded with the chance to witness this exceptionally thrilling geological wonder in action. A number of adventure tourism groups offer trips to the volcano lakes and it is now possible to drive within 4.3 miles of the volcano. The journey to the summit involves walking across old lava flows and navigating some rather unstable terrain. This walk is typically undertaken at night to avoid the heat of the day and to allow guests to arrive in the dark when it is possible to see the glowing lava bubbling in the crater. The walk back down is usually done in the cool of the following morning, followed by a much-needed rest in camp.