Ethiopia is Africa’s oldest country and has a unique cultural history. A tour of this independent nation will introduce you to a rich heritage that harks back to the 4th century when Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity was established.
From deserts, savannahs and canyons, to soaring mountains and high plateaus, you will embark on a trekking tour across a landscape like no other. You’ll also meet humble and friendly people, explore ancient monuments and have thrilling wildlife encounters.
Unsure what an Ethiopian trip entails? Here's what an Ethiopia travel itinerary looks like with some of the scenic highlights that you can expect to see. We are highlighting these 6 scenic areas:
Addis Ababa will be your jumping off point for Ethiopian tours once you arrive at Bole International Airport. This is Ethiopia’s capital city, which lies on the border of the Great Rift Valley. It has a population of over 3 million people and is an African international diplomatic hub.
After transferring to your hotel from the airport you’ll have time to relax and freshen up. A guided city excursion in the afternoon takes in some of Addis Ababa’s cultural highlights, including the National Museum, Ethnological Museum, the Orthodox church of the Holy Trinity and the Merkato - the largest market in East Africa.
Gonder, also known as the ‘Camelot of Africa’ is in the north of Ethiopia and is accessed by plane from Addis Ababa and also by 4WD from the Simien Mountains.
Here you’ll explore a ruined city of emperors, from Fasilides (reigned 1632–67), to Iyasu II (1730–55). Visit the walled Fasil Ghebbi fortress and palace compound with six castles and a myriad of tunnels and raised walkways. The most impressive are Fasilida’s Castle and the Royal Archive building.
You’ll spend the evening at Goha Hotel part of the Ghion chain, a 3-star property situated on a hill around 1 kilometre from Gonder. It commands spectacular views of Gonder and its imperial castles from the terrace bar, where you can relax with a drink. The bedrooms are comfortable and traditionally decorated, and it has a restaurant serving local and international food.
The Simien Mountains in the Ethiopian Highlands are a World Heritage Site and a must-see on any tour of Ethiopia. Situated around 2 ½ hours drive from Gonder, you’ll climb high into an exotic rugged landscape with breathtaking panoramic views of sheer cliffs and the lowlands.
The Simien National Park is home to the endemic Gelada baboon, the Walia ibex, the klipspringer (a small antelope) and you may also encounter the rare Simien fox. There are plenty of opportunities for walks to explore the area, and you’ll be accompanied by a local guide and scout.
You’ll stay the Limalimo Lodge, an eco-friendly lodge built from sustainable materials and local methods. Situated on 10 acres of land, the lodge is a great base for walks and bird watching. Its hilltop bar and restaurant takes advantage of the fabulous views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.
Your Ethiopia tour should include a visit to Africa’s ‘Petra’, Lalibela, situated in the northern Amhara region. A pilgrimage site for Coptic Christians, this fascinating town is one of the holiest cities in the country.
Lalibela is famous for its numerous rock-cut churches mostly dating from the 12th to the 13th centuries built by the medieval Ethiopian civilization. The subterranean monoliths are up to up to 10 metres high and some have carved bas-reliefs and colored frescoes inside. The churches are one of the greatest historical sights of the African continent.
After exploring Lalibela you will stay in the town’s new hotel, Maribela, which offers simple guest rooms with ensuite facilities. Situated on an escarpment, the hotel has fabulous views from its bar terrace and provides breakfast, lunch and dinner in its on-site restaurant.
Another of Ethiopia’s holy cities for the Ethiopian Orthodox church, Axum sits right at the very top of the country in the Tigray region.
Axum contains a number of World Heritage archaeological sites, including extraordinary monoliths (stelae) built as tombstones or monuments to local rulers, and the ruins of Dungur, reportedly the Palace of the Queen of Sheba. A big drawcard for pilgrimages is St. Mary of Zion, a Christian church which is said to have housed the Ark of the Covenant.
An accommodation highlight of this area is the Agoro Lodge in Gheralta. The rooms and public areas are constructed from sandstone. The lodge is situated on a hill and overlooks the town of Adigrat and offers walks and small rock churches. All profits made by the lodge are invested back into the community.
TEFSA Village Walk
If you are near Adigrat your Ethiopia travel itinerary may include a (Tourism in Ethiopia for Sustainable Future Alternatives) TESFA trek, a great way to experience the real Ethiopia.
In conjunction with a local guide you’ll interact with local communities and hike through beautiful and rugged scenery and visit rock churches off the tourist track. The walk can be tailored to suit fitness levels, but you do need to be relatively fit.
As part of the trek you’ll stay overnight in TESFA Community Huts which are small circular huts built of local stone and situated to take advantage of the views from the compound. There is no electricity but you’ll have a gas lamp and a shower, sink and eco toilet.
Are you interested in visiting Ethiopia?
If a visit to Ethiopia interests you, these Wild Frontiers tours provide all the scenic highlights and accommodation mentioned above and give you the chance to experience this mesmerising country at grass roots level. Check them out:
Contact Wild Frontiers to learn more about our tours for your world destination trips.