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 - 3
Situated in eastern Ethiopia, the historic fortified town of Harar once served as the gateway for the spread of Islam into the Horn of Africa as it was the commercial hub between the Middle East, India and Africa. This sacred Muslim town is set on a vast plateau surrounded by deserts and savannah. It is said to be the fourth holiest city of Islam and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Harar is known for its ancient cultural heritage, boasting over 80 different mosques and 100 shrines dotted around town; as well as its exceptional architecture, displaying a blend of African and Islamic influences. Visitors can meander down bustling labyrinthine streets lined with colourful market stalls, and visit the vibrant Awodai Khat Market - this area of Ethiopia is the world’s number one producer of this stimulating shrub.
Days 3 - 4
Formerly known as Debre Zeyit, meaning ‘Mount of Olives’, Bishoftu is a flourishing resort town located only 50 kilometres from the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa. Due to its proximity to the capital, the town serves as a popular alternate overnight stopover for travellers looking to avoid the frenetic chaos of the city. The main visitor attraction is a collection of four exquisite crater lakes set within steep volcanic calderas dotted with a range of resorts catering to all tastes and budgets. The lakes include: Lake Bishoftu, Lake Bishoftu Guda, Lake Koriftu, Lake Hora, and the seasonal non-volcanic Lake Cheleklaka. While Lake Hora offers an impressive array of watersports, birding enthusiasts should head to Lake Chelekleka which hosts impressive numbers of flamingo and pelican together with a wide variety of resident and migrant waterfowl and shorebirds.
Days 4 - 6
Goba is located in south-central Ethiopia. This friendly destination is best-known for providing convenient access to the activity-rich Bale Mountains National Park, though it does also boast a number of other sights and activities for visitors to enjoy. Take a walk (or catch a bus) to the remains of an old Rock Church on the outskirts of town, and don’t miss the popular Wednesday Market, where the region’s long tradition of basket-weaving is on full display, and where cotton shawls and locally-produced honey make great gifts. Located just 10 kilometres away, the Bale Mountains National Park is a must for nature lovers – being home to more than a quarter of Ethiopia’s native animal species, as well as 280 species of birds and diverse landscapes ranging from grasslands to forests, meadows and mountain peaks.
Days 6 - 7
Situated on the shores of Lake Awassa, Hawassa serves as the capital of southern Ethiopia. Also known as Awassa or Awasa, it is one of the country’s fastest growing settlements and is establishing itself as a popular resort town with a variety of attractions including a bustling market, a vibrant nightlife and impressive cultural sites like the St. Gabriel Orthodox Church. Visitors are also treated to splendid views of the lake and the Great Rift Valley beyond it. The lake offers great opportunities for fishing, bird watching and even catching a glimpse of some lurking local hippos.
Days 7 - 8
Situated in southern Ethiopia at the base of the western side of the Great Rift Valley, the city of Arba Minch is the largest city in the Gamo Gofa Zone. Surrounded by forested mountains and home to two of Ethiopia’s largest Rift Valley Lakes, Arba Minch is named after the abundant springs found in the area. This resort town rests on the edge of Lake Chamo where it has a stunning view of the aptly named ‘Bridge of God’, an isthmus that separates Lake Chamo from the neighbouring Lake Abaya. This stretch of land is home to zebras, gazelle, kudus and other wildlife. The Dorze village is also a popular attraction in Arba Minch – here tourists can visit the famous beehive huts built by the Dorze tribe.
Days 8 - 9
Located in southwestern Ethiopia, near the borders of Sudan and Kenya, Jinka is the largest town in the Debub Omo Zone. It serves as an excellent base from which to explore the surrounding area. This remote market town is home to the Mursi people, who are well known for their elaborate lip plates made of clay. At the South Omo Research Center and Museum, visitors can learn more about the Mursi, as well as other groups in the region, through a series of exhibits detailing the cultures and customs of local tribes. Nature enthusiasts will enjoy the nearby Mago National Park, where abundant wildlife finds shelter in the dense acacia woodland.
Days 9 - 12
This small market town in southwestern Ethiopia functions as a central transport hub as well as an important meeting point for the area’s weekly Monday market. The local Hamer inhabitants of the surrounding villages flock here to buy and sell local produce and handicrafts. Visitors to the area can enjoy culturally fascinating guided tours of the surrounding villages. Popular cultural attractions include traditional Hamer dance performances and exhilarating ‘Jumping of the Bulls’ ceremonies which form the culmination of a three-day long rite of passage for any young man within the Hamer tribe.Turmi is a great choice of destination for travellers in search of a unique and authentic African experience in one of the most remote places on the continent.