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Ethiopia and the Simien Mountains (20 night option with Danakil Depression)

Explore views from 'The Roof of Africa' in the Simien Mountains, rock churches, religious history, wildlife and the finest cup of coffee. Ethiopia is as diverse as your experiences within its borders.

From£2,779

  • Ethiopia

  • 15, 20 nights
  • Pioneer

    Sightseeing

  • Nov

    Dec

Moderate

What does this mean?

Tour codes: 4845048455

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Our holiday walking grades

Moderate

Grade 6

Full day walks with appreciable amounts of ascent and descent.

These walks are in more remote areas such as Andorra or northern Portugal.

Similar to Grade 5, but with most of the walks at the upper level of ascent/descent, time and distance.

Overview

Holiday Highlights

  • Simien Mountains – experience dramatic scenery and some of Africa’s finest walking.
  • Discover rock churches and religious architecture.
  • Explore the beauty and history of Gondar and Lalibela.
  • Savour incredible cuisine and the experiential coffee ceremony.
  • Spot Gelada monkeys, hamadryas baboon, hyena and jackal.
  • Local guides throughout for specialist knowledge and support.

A visit to Ethiopia unveils so many contrasting experiences. From the Roof of Africa in the Simien Mountains to the Danakil Depression, from the rock-hewn churches to the centuries-old Ethiopia coffee ceremony, from Gelada monkeys to visiting the earliest human known to man; the country’s epic landscapes, culture and rich history make every day one to savour.

We begin our adventure in the bustling city of Addis Ababa. We then fly to Bahir Dar and explore Lake Tana and its centuries-old monasteries. Here we also see hippos, visit the Blue Nile Falls, and discover Gondar, known as the Camelot of Africa, with its castle and stone churches.

We spend four days hiking and camping in the Simien Mountains which give the Grand Canyon a serious run for its money. We encounter Mother Nature’s finest work and spot wildlife as we leave civilisation behind. Delve into religious history in Axum and get amongst rock churches in Lalibela.

Plus, if you opt to join our extension to the Danakil Depression, you can visit 410 ft below sea level for active volcano views, salt pans and camel trains from the edge of the world. 

  • Flights from London Heathrow to Addis Ababa (Ethiopian Airlines).
  • Internal flights and airport transfers.
  • Twelve nights in en suite hotel accommodation.
  • Three nights fully supported tented accommodation (four season sleeping bag recommended but not included).
  • 13 breakfasts, 14 dinners and 5 lunches (with Danakil extension: 16 breakfasts, 9 lunch and 17 dinners)
  • English speaking local guide for expert knowledge and insights.
  • All local transport costs.
  • Entrance fees to some museums and historic buildings (unless otherwise specified).
  • Personal expenses (such as your bar bill).
  • Discretionary tips.
  • Optional excursions.
  • Insurance.
  • Visa.

Holiday Information

Click the button below for a detailed Holiday Information Sheet containing all the particulars about this trip.

NOTE: Itineraries and Holiday Information Sheets can vary by a specific date chosen

View Holiday Information Sheet

Itinerary & Travel

Itinerary Details

Whilst every effort will be made to adhere to the outlined itinerary and advertised programme, local conditions can change due to weather or other unforeseen circumstances. This may mean that routes and timings need to be amended or the order of days may change, sometimes at short notice.

Your Itinerary

Day 1

Overnight flight

We depart from London on our overnight flight with Ethiopian Airlines. If you are booking your own flight, it is important to fly internationally with Ethiopian Airlines otherwise you will be charged a supplement for internal flights locally.

Day 2

Addis Ababa

Meals

Breakfast & Dinner

Accommodation

After an early morning arrival into Addis Ababa (2400 metres above sea level), our local guide will transfer us to the hotel. The rest of the morning is free to wash, sleep and enjoy breakfast. Addis Ababa is the gateway to the rest of the country. Visitors sometimes bypass the contradictions of this complex city but we know where to go and its attractions set the scene for modern Ethiopia, before we explore the older parts.

This afternoon we’ll visit the Ethnological Museum, set within Emperor Haile Selassie’s former palace and surrounded by the beautiful gardens and fountains of the university's main campus. The museum has a wealth of fascinating displays which delve into the culture and customs of Ethiopia’s ethnic groups and tribes. The city is infamous for its heavy traffic problems so expect to travel to a cacophony of horns and brightly coloured cars.

Day 3

Addis Ababa

Meals

Breakfast & Dinner

Accommodation

We drive out of the city for an hour, following the snaking road towards Mount Entoto (2600-3100 metres above sea level), the highest peak of the Entoto Mountains where we are rewarded with panoramic views over Addis Ababa. This historic area was where Emperor Menelik II resided before founding Addis Ababa and we’ll visit the old palace. Jumping at the chance to stretch our legs, we enjoy a leisurely 20-minute walk down the mountain through eucalyptus trees.

In the afternoon, we enjoy a guided sightseeing tour of the National Museum of Ethiopia, home to the remains of ‘Lucy’, Ethiopia's most famous ancestor who roamed this country some 3.2 million years ago. The museum helps put into perspective the importance of Ethiopia’s history.

Our introduction into Ethiopia's heritage continues with a guided visit to the Holy Trinity Cathedral, one of the most important places of worship in Ethiopia and home to the remains of the last emperor, Haile Selassie.

Day 4

Bahir Dar

Meals

Breakfast & Dinner

Accommodation

This morning we fly to Bahir Dar where we enjoy a one hour guided walk to familiarise ourselves with the city, followed by a one hour walk around a section of Lake Tana. This is the largest lake in Ethiopia, located in a depression of the northwest plateau, 6,000 feet (1,800 metres) above sea level.

We then set sail across Lake Tana to explore the remote islands, visit some of the regions famous churches and monasteries and hopefully encounter some of the lake’s famous hippos! We’ll visit Ura Kidane Mehret, arguably the most beautiful church in the Tana region where we have approximately 30-40 minutes’ walk time. This monastery dates to the 14th century and its inner walls are covered with hundreds of restored paintings that depict every face of Ethiopian ecclesiastical life.

Day 5

Bahir Dar

Meals

Breakfast & Dinner

Accommodation

This morning you can choose to do an optional excursion to the Blue Nile Falls. This is one of Ethiopia’s most popular attractions and you’ll understand why when you stand beneath the 42m-high cliff, watching the water cascade over it. There is a short walk to the waterfall and back along uneven surfaces, and down to the waterfall itself. Worth noting that the journey will take approximately 1 hour each way along an extremely bumpy road; it is not for the faint-hearted but the view at the end is worth it. Anyone choosing to stay behind will enjoy free time.

This afternoon we have a leisurely guided walking tour of Bahir Dar market, churches and monasteries, plus panoramic views of the Blue Nile River.

Day 6

Gondar

Meals

Breakfast & Dinner

Accommodation

Departing Bahir Dar, we drive approximately four hours north to Gondar, the former capital of Ethiopia. Our hotel is perfectly positioned on a cliff top with wonderful views looking over the city.

We head out on a guided tour to explore castles, built in the 17th and 18th centuries by several generations of Ethiopian kings. We also visit Debre Birhan Selassie church with its sensational angelic ceiling, and the bathhouse of Fasillades, where thousands of Ethiopians celebrate Timkat Festival every January.

Day 7

Simien Mountains

Meals

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Accommodation

  • Time

    4 hours

  • Distance

    5.6 miles

  • Ascent/Descent

    320m

Leaving city life behind, we transfer by road (3 hours approx.) to the remote Simien Mountains National Park for breath-taking views that give the Grand Canyon a run for its money. Known as ‘the Roof of Africa’, the park is home to some rare species, many of which we will hopefully spot during our time walking in the mountains.

On arrival in Debark (3250 metres above sea level), we’ll begin trekking to our first overnight at Sankaber Camp. While hiking through the national park, we may encounter Simien Fox (the Ethiopian Wolf) in the shadow of the Ras Dashen mountain, the highest in Ethiopia.

This evening will be the first of our three nights camping in the Simien Mountains. Most equipment is provided and transported for you each night, plus camp will be set up and taken down for you. The exception being a day pack and trekking poles which you will carry yourself. Please note that temperatures drop at night so you will need to bring warm clothing and a four-season sleeping bag.

Day 8

Simien Mountains

Meals

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Accommodation

  • Time

    7 hours

  • Distance

    7.5 miles

  • Ascent/Descent

    350/250m

Today will be our first full day trekking in the Simien Mountains. Along the scenic route to our next camp, we’ll stop and enjoy the incredible Jinbar Waterfall as it cascades down a sheer cliff on the other side of the valley. Throughout the day we will slowly gain in altitude, stopping along the way to take in the majestic views and catch our breath. Keep your eyes out for Gelada monkeys which are commonly spotted along the way.

Life in the camp is simple and relaxing. We will stay in designated campsites, but services range from basic, to non-existent. This is one of the realities of hiking in such a remote corner of the world, but it enables us to achieve such magnificent views. Meals are cooked for you allowing you free time to stroll or simply relax and admire the views.

Day 9

Simien Mountains

Meals

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Accommodation

  • Time

    7 hours

  • Distance

    8 miles

  • Ascent/Descent

    350/570m

After breakfast, we’ll head out for another incredible full day of walking as we make our way to Chennek, our final camp. The trek today takes in one of the finest walks in the Simien Mountains, the view from Imet Gogo point is considered the best view of the Simien range. We should have a good chance of Gelada monkey viewing today.

Day 10

Gondar

Meals

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Accommodation

  • Time

    5 hours

  • Distance

    3.1 miles

  • Ascent/Descent

    830m

Today we’ll have an exhilarating trek from Chennek Camp to Mount Bwahit, where we are rewarded with yet more spectacular views before boarding the coach back to Gondar (3 hours). We’ll return to our hotel in Gondar for a relaxing evening and enjoy dinner together in one of our favourite restaurants in Ethiopia – The Four Sisters Restaurant.

Day 11

Axum

Meals

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Accommodation

We fly to the ancient city of Axum for two nights and visit the famous monolithic stelae of Axum; the tallest remaining one is over 21 metres and the greatest one of them all, once 34 metres high, now lies toppled on the ground. The subterranean tombs, stone inscriptions of ancient Axumite kings, plus a small archaeological museum, are living witness to its ancient Axumite history.

In the afternoon we’ll visit the ruins at Dungur, as well as the Palace of the Queen of Sheba, who is said to have given birth to Menelik the First, fathered by King Solomon, the founder of Ethiopia's ruling family until the late Emperor Haile Selassie.

Day 12

Axum

Meals

Breakfast & Dinner

Accommodation

In the morning, we’ll drive to Yeha through the spectacular Adwa Mountains where we visit the Pre-Christian Great Temple of Yeha from around 700BC, the oldest standing structure in Ethiopia. The Temple of Yeha consists of large smoothly polished stone blocks, some as much as three metres long, neatly placed one above the other, without using any mortar. The roof and one side of the wall are missing but several square holes in the remaining walls indicate where a partition, probably of wood, once stood

Axum is the origin of Christianity in Ethiopia and claims to house the original Ark of the Covenant. In the afternoon we will visit the old church of Our Lady Mary of Zion - the first church to be built in Sub-Saharan Africa around 30CE. We then have a free afternoon so everyone can enjoy Axum at their own pace.

Day 13

Lalibela

Meals

Breakfast & Dinner

Accommodation

A short 30-minute flight takes us from Axum to Lalibela. As we have a guided tour tomorrow, today is either a free day or our tour leader will take the group on a walk into the mountains for views back across Lalibela. The duration will change depending on conditions.

Day 14

Lalibela

Meals

Breakfast & Dinner

Accommodation

Today we’ll enjoy a full day exploring Lalibela’s famous rock-hewn churches, designated one of UNESCO’s original 12 World Heritage Sites in 1978.

We begin by exploring the northern group containing seven churches, a tomb, a chapel and a sunken chapel. At the centre of the group is Bet Medhane Alem, measuring 33.5 metres by 23.5 metres and said to be the largest rock-hewn church in the world. A tunnel connects three of the churches in a courtyard to the east, whilst another tunnel connects two other churches to the west of Bet Medhane Alem. However, it is the Church of Saint George, carved in the form of a Greek cross and lying slightly apart from the main northern cluster, that is the most famous.

In the afternoon, we will visit the eastern group of five churches. Here is Bet Abba Libanos, unique among Lalibela’s churches because the roof and floor remain attached to the strata rock.

Day 15

Addis Ababa

Meals

Breakfast & Dinner

Accommodation

We take a flight back to Addis Ababa and visit the oldest coffee shop in Ethiopia, Tomoca. By now, one thing that should have become evident is that Ethiopian’s know how to make a great coffee. In fact, coffee was discovered in Ethiopia in the 9th century and cultivated by the Arabs in the 15th century. Tonight we enjoy our final dinner together at a local restaurant.

Please note, customers who opted for the Danakil Depression extension will leave us this morning.

Day 16

Outbound flight from Addis Ababa

Meals

Breakfast

We take an early afternoon flight back to the UK, landing back into London Heathrow that evening.

From (GBP)£2,779

Departure dates for your selected tour

14th Nov 2020 - 29th Nov 2020 (15 Nights)

19th Dec 2020 - 3rd Jan 2021 (15 Nights)

Travel Details

  • Return flights from Heathrow to Addis Ababa (Ethiopian Airlines)
  • Arrival transfer by road c.20-30mins
  • Upgrades are available on most flights. For scheduled flights, this may be Premium Economy, Business or First Class. Most low-cost carriers also have extra legroom seats.
  • If direct regional flights are not available, we can often offer add-on flights to a London airport at a competitive rate. Please ask us for details and a competitive quote.
  • An Ethiopian eVisa is required prior to arrival (at your own expense)

Your Itinerary

Day 1

Overnight flight

We depart from London on our overnight flight with Ethiopian Airlines. If you are booking your own flight, it is important to fly internationally with Ethiopian Airlines otherwise you will be charged a supplement for internal flights locally.

Day 2

Addis Ababa

Meals

Breakfast & Dinner

Accommodation

After an early morning arrival into Addis Ababa (2400 metres above sea level), our local guide will transfer us to the hotel. The rest of the morning is free to wash, sleep and enjoy breakfast. Addis Ababa is the gateway to the rest of the country. Visitors sometimes bypass the contradictions of this complex city but we know where to go and its attractions set the scene for modern Ethiopia, before we explore the older parts.

This afternoon we’ll visit the Ethnological Museum, set within Emperor Haile Selassie’s former palace and surrounded by the beautiful gardens and fountains of the university's main campus. The museum has a wealth of fascinating displays which delve into the culture and customs of Ethiopia’s ethnic groups and tribes. The city is infamous for its heavy traffic problems so expect to travel to a cacophony of horns and brightly coloured cars.

Day 3

Addis Ababa

Meals

Breakfast & Dinner

Accommodation

We drive out of the city for an hour, following the snaking road towards Mount Entoto (2600-3100 metres above sea level), the highest peak of the Entoto Mountains where we are rewarded with panoramic views over Addis Ababa. This historic area was where Emperor Menelik II resided before founding Addis Ababa and we’ll visit the old palace. Jumping at the chance to stretch our legs, we enjoy a leisurely 20-minute walk down the mountain through eucalyptus trees.

In the afternoon, we enjoy a guided sightseeing tour of the National Museum of Ethiopia, home to the remains of ‘Lucy’, Ethiopia's most famous ancestor who roamed this country some 3.2 million years ago. The museum helps put into perspective the importance of Ethiopia’s history.

Our introduction into Ethiopia's heritage continues with a guided visit to the Holy Trinity Cathedral, one of the most important places of worship in Ethiopia and home to the remains of the last emperor, Haile Selassie.

Day 4

Bahir Dar

Meals

Breakfast & Dinner

Accommodation

This morning we fly to Bahir Dar where we enjoy a one hour guided walk to familiarise ourselves with the city, followed by a one hour walk around a section of Lake Tana. This is the largest lake in Ethiopia, located in a depression of the northwest plateau, 6,000 feet (1,800 metres) above sea level.

We then set sail across Lake Tana to explore the remote islands, visit some of the regions famous churches and monasteries and hopefully encounter some of the lake’s famous hippos! We’ll visit Ura Kidane Mehret, arguably the most beautiful church in the Tana region where we have approximately 30-40 minutes’ walk time. This monastery dates to the 14th century and its inner walls are covered with hundreds of restored paintings that depict every face of Ethiopian ecclesiastical life.

Day 5

Bahir Dar

Meals

Breakfast & Dinner

Accommodation

This morning you can choose to do an optional excursion to the Blue Nile Falls. This is one of Ethiopia’s most popular attractions and you’ll understand why when you stand beneath the 42m-high cliff, watching the water cascade over it. There is a short walk to the waterfall and back along uneven surfaces, and down to the waterfall itself. Worth noting that the journey will take approximately 1 hour each way along an extremely bumpy road; it is not for the faint-hearted but the view at the end is worth it. Anyone choosing to stay behind will enjoy free time.

This afternoon we have a leisurely guided walking tour of Bahir Dar market, churches and monasteries, plus panoramic views of the Blue Nile River.

Day 6

Gondar

Meals

Breakfast & Dinner

Accommodation

Departing Bahir Dar, we drive approximately four hours north to Gondar, the former capital of Ethiopia. Our hotel is perfectly positioned on a cliff top with wonderful views looking over the city.

We head out on a guided tour to explore castles, built in the 17th and 18th centuries by several generations of Ethiopian kings. We also visit Debre Birhan Selassie church with its sensational angelic ceiling, and the bathhouse of Fasillades, where thousands of Ethiopians celebrate Timkat Festival every January.

Day 7

Simien Mountains

Meals

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Accommodation

  • Time

    4 hours

  • Distance

    5.6 miles

  • Ascent/Descent

    320m

Leaving city life behind, we transfer by road (3 hours approx.) to the remote Simien Mountains National Park for breath-taking views that give the Grand Canyon a run for its money. Known as the ‘Roof of Africa’, the park is home to some rare species, many of which we will hopefully spot during our time walking in the mountains.

On arrival in Debark (3250 metres above sea level), we’ll begin trekking to our first overnight at Sankaber Camp. While hiking through the national park, we may encounter Simien Fox (the Ethiopian Wolf) in the shadow of the Ras Dashen mountain, the highest in Ethiopia.

This evening will be the first of our three nights camping in the Simien Mountains. Most equipment is provided and transported for you each night, plus camp will be set up and taken down for you. The exception being a day pack and trekking poles which you will carry yourself. Please note that temperatures drop at night so you will need to bring warm clothing and a four-season sleeping bag.


Day 8

Simien Mountains

Meals

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Accommodation

  • Time

    7 hours

  • Distance

    7.45 miles

  • Ascent/Descent

    350/250m

Today will be our first full day trekking in the Simien Mountains. Along the scenic route to our next camp, we’ll stop and enjoy the incredible Jinbar Waterfall as it cascades down a sheer cliff on the other side of the valley. Throughout the day we will slowly gain in altitude, stopping along the way to take in the majestic views and catch our breath. Keep your eyes out for Gelada monkeys which are commonly spotted along the way.

Life in camp is simple and relaxing. We will stay in designated campsites, but services range from basic, to non-existent. This is one of the realities of hiking in such a remote corner of the world, but it enables us to achieve such magnificent views. Meals are cooked for you allowing you free time to stroll or simply relax and admire the views.

Day 9

Simien Mountains

Meals

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Accommodation

  • Time

    7 hours

  • Distance

    8 miles

  • Ascent/Descent

    650/570m

After breakfast we’ll head out for another incredible full day of walking as we make our way to Chennek, our final camp. The trek today takes in one of the finest walks in the Simien Mountains, the view from Imet Gogo point is considered the best view of the Simien range. We should have a good chance of Gelada monkey viewing today.

Day 10

Gondar

Meals

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Accommodation

  • Time

    5 hours

  • Distance

    3.1 miles

  • Ascent/Descent

    830m

Today we’ll have an exhilarating trek from Chennek Camp to Mount Bwahit, where we are rewarded with yet more spectacular views before boarding the coach back to Gondar (3 hours). We’ll return to our hotel in Gondar for a relaxing evening and enjoy dinner together in one of our favourite restaurants in Ethiopia – The Four Sisters Restaurant.

Day 11

Axum

Meals

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Accommodation

We fly to the ancient city of Axum for two nights and visit the famous monolithic stelae of Axum; the tallest remaining one is over 21 metres and the greatest one of them all, once 34 metres high, now lies toppled on the ground. The subterranean tombs, stone inscriptions of ancient Axumite kings, plus a small archaeological museum, are living witness to its ancient Axumite history.

In the afternoon we’ll visit the ruins at Dungur, as well as the Palace of the Queen of Sheba, who is said to have given birth to Menelik the First, fathered by King Solomon, the founder of Ethiopia's ruling family until the late Emperor Haile Selassie.

Day 12

Axum

Meals

Breakfast & Dinner

Accommodation

In the morning, we’ll drive to Yeha through the spectacular Adwa Mountains where we visit the Pre-Christian Great Temple of Yeha from around 700BC, the oldest standing structure in Ethiopia. The Temple of Yeha consists of large smoothly polished stone blocks, some as much as three metres long, neatly placed one above the other, without using any mortar. The roof and one side of the wall are missing but several square holes in the remaining walls indicate where a partition, probably of wood, once stood

Axum is the origin of Christianity in Ethiopia and claims to house the original Ark of the Covenant. In the afternoon we will visit the old church of Our Lady Mary of Zion - the first church to be built in Sub-Saharan Africa around 30CE. We then have a free afternoon so everyone can enjoy Axum at their own pace.

Day 13

Lalibela

Meals

Breakfast & Dinner

Accommodation

A short 30-minute flight takes us from Axum to Lalibela. As we have a guided tour tomorrow, today is either a free day or our tour leader will take the group on a walk into the mountains for views back across Lalibela. The duration will change depending on conditions.

Day 14

Lalibela

Meals

Breakfast & Dinner

Accommodation

Today we’ll enjoy a full day exploring Lalibela’s famous rock-hewn churches, designated one of UNESCO’s original 12 World Heritage Sites in 1978.

We begin by exploring the northern group containing seven churches, a tomb, a chapel and a sunken chapel. At the centre of the group is Bet Medhane Alem, measuring 33.5 metres by 23.5 metres and said to be the largest rock-hewn church in the world. A tunnel connects three of the churches in a courtyard to the east, whilst another tunnel connects two other churches to the west of Bet Medhane Alem. However, it is the Church of Saint George, carved in the form of a Greek cross and lying slightly apart from the main northern cluster, that is the most famous.

In the afternoon, we will visit the eastern group of five churches. Here is Bet Abba Libanos, unique among Lalibela’s churches because the roof and floor remain attached to the strata rock.

Day 15

Mekele

Meals

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Accommodation

Today we’ll transfer from Addis Ababa to Mekele, the transfer will take nine hours by road but the experience awaiting us will be well worth the drive. Please note, the remainder of the tour will be led only by a local guide, not a Ramblers Walking Holidays leader.

Day 16

Danakil Depression

Meals

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Accommodation

  • Distance

    5.64 miles

In the morning, we’ll leave the comfort of our hotel behind and drive to Erta Ale (180 kms, 5/6 hrs) mostly on Asphalt road and 40 kms on sandy and volcanic lava rock. Upon arrival at the base camp, we start our walk to the Erta Ale Volcano, one of the few volcanoes in the world with an almost persistent lava lake. It is likely that we will begin walking in the evening at dark so you will need a decent torch and pair of walking boots. The ground is extremely rocky and uneven so walking poles are recommended.

We’ll spend time standing close by to the lava field, watching the molten lava bubbling and boiling in the evening air. This is a true skin-pinching moment. We will camp in the open air tonight on mattresses provided, however using your sleeping bag which will be transported to the peak of Erta Ale for you. Please note, your sleeping conditions are extremely basic and will be without bathroom facilities.

Day 17

Danakil Depression

Meals

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Accommodation

In the morning we’ll descend from Erta Ale volcano, most likely beginning whilst the sky is still dark however, the sky will turn light quickly. The return journey to our base camp should take around four hours. Please note that base camp is extremely basic with no bathroom facilities or running water. Here we will enjoy breakfast before beginning the long drive to our next camp and arriving late afternoon. The camp has no facilities and is extremely basic in nature. There is one sleeping area and other groups who are visiting the Danakil Depression will also be staying nearby. Sleeping arrangements are either on open-air straw raised beds or inside a tent although it can be too hot for a tent at times. Please be aware that the lower accommodation standards, should pale into comparison when you experience the salt pans.

Then it is only a short drive to Lake Asale where the wide-open spaces of the salt pans await. Here you can observe mirror-image reflections of the clouds against the salty surface, watch as camel caravans return after a day mining salt, and sunset colours as hey light up the sky in this beautiful landscape wilderness.

Day 18

Mekele

Meals

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Accommodation

Following an early breakfast, we drive to Dallol (25 kms), the base of the hill is the lowest place in Ethiopia and one of the hottest places on planet Earth, with an average temperature of 34.4°C. We walk through this dramatic landscape formed by volcanic activity; here sulphur and iron oxide create some of Mother Nature’s greatest work. Unique greens, vivid yellows, browns and orange hues all merge together as though there has been an explosion in a paint shop.

On our route back, we’ll stop at the salt towers and Atsebo (the salt desert) to watch as local workers cut the salt from the ground, shape into rectangular blocks, and load them onto the camels for the salt caravan trade. We then begin the drive back to Mekele (140 kms, 3/4 hrs), arriving in the late afternoon. Time permitting, we may visit the War Museum before dinner.

Day 19

Addis Ababa

Meals

Breakfast & Dinner

Accommodation

We take a flight back to Addis Ababa and visit the oldest coffee shop in Ethiopia, Tomoca. By now, one thing that should have become evident is that Ethiopian’s know how to make a great coffee. In fact, coffee was discovered in Ethiopia in the 9th century and cultivated by the Arabs in the 15th century. Tonight we enjoy our final dinner together at a local restaurant.

Day 20

Addis Ababa

Meals

Breakfast

Today is a free day to relax at the hotel, enjoy last minute shopping, or take the opportunity to explore further throughout Addis Ababa. Whilst we need to check out of our hotel rooms, we have arranged for two-day use rooms to be available for the group, so you are able to shower and store your luggage.

Late in the evening, we will transfer to the airport for our overnight flight which departs just after just after 01:00.

Day 21

London

This morning we arrive back into London Heathrow just before 07:00am, with a bag full of memories from our Ethiopian adventure.

From (GBP)£3,779

Departure dates for your selected tour

14th Nov 2020 - 4th Dec 2020 (20 Nights)

19th Dec 2020 - 8th Jan 2021 (20 Nights)

Travel Details

  • Return flights from Heathrow to Addis Ababa (Ethiopian Airlines)
  • Arrival transfer by road c.20-30mins
  • Upgrades are available on most flights. For scheduled flights, this may be Premium Economy, Business or First Class. Most low-cost carriers also have extra legroom seats.
  • If direct regional flights are not available, we can often offer add-on flights to a London airport at a competitive rate. Please ask us for details and a competitive quote.
  • An Ethiopian eVisa is required prior to arrival (at your own expense)

Accommodation

Accommodation information

Below is the accommodation featured on this holiday across all departure dates. Please refer to the Itinerary for more detail about each nights' accommodation for each departure date.

Addis Regency Hotel

Addis Regency Hotel offers accommodation with a garden and located only a 9-minute walk from the Ethnological Museum. Rooms include a desk, a flat-screen TV, kettle and a private bathroom, and some rooms have mountain views. Buffet breakfast is included and relaxing sun terrace.

Homeland Hotel

Homeland Hotel is located near Lake Tana and offers free Wi-Fi to customers. Each room is air conditioned and features a flat-screen TV with satellite channels. Some units have a seating area and balcony or terrace. A refrigerator and coffee maker can be found in the room. The private bathroom equipped with a bath and shower. Homeland Hotel has an onsite restaurant and bar.

Gondar Hills Resort

Located on a mountaintop overlooking the famous Fasil Ghebbi (Royal Enclosure), Gondar Hills Resort combines traditional stonework with a modern stone-and-glass finish. The hotel provides a luxurious experience while exploring Gondar's historic sights. Gondar Hills features 78 en suite rooms and amenities include a swimming pool, restaurant and bar, and incredible views across the city.

Wild Camping

Camping in the Simien Mountains is basic. To enjoy views as magnificent as this, it is deemed worthy of the drop in standard. Campsites will have little to no facilities and toilets will be completely wild.  It does get cold in the mountains so it is recommended that you bring a four-season sleeping bag. Any views you fall asleep and wake up to will make the camping experience worth it.

Sabean Hotel

Sabean International Hotel offers accommodation with a restaurant, bar and shared lounge. The hotel includes free Wi-Fi, currency exchange and rooms include a flat-screen TV.

Harbe Hotel

Situated deep in the hilly historic area of Lalibela lies the beautiful Harbe Hotel. The hotel is nearby to the historical churches and sites and the Lalibela Airport. Free Wi-Fi is available. Each room is fitted with a reading desk, satellite TV, balcony and en-suite bathrooms. Guests can enjoy their meals at the onsite restaurant with options ranging from local to International cuisine.

Zemarias Hotel

Zemarias hotel a hotel located in the business district of Mekelle with rooftop balcony and bar.

Wild Camping - Danakil Depression

Camping in the Danakil Depression is very basic and remote due to its location. One night you will likely be sleeping on mattresses on the ground outside, the other night you will either sleep in a tent or on straw mattresses outside. Due to the extreme heat, both nights are likely to be outside. Bathroom services are non-existent and shower facilities are not an option. Please bring wet wipes with you. There is no alternative and to experience such beauty, there must unfortunately be a reduced service for two nights.

Trip Information

All the details you need

Holiday Grade

This is a Grade 6 moderate holiday which includes full day walks with appreciable amounts of ascent and descent with walks in some remote areas. Paths are mostly good, but there may be some steep and rough ground. Walks will last up to 6 hours and could involve as much as 750m of ascent and descent. See the 'Proposed Itinerary' section for more information.

Walks & Excursions

Local Transport Costs

All local transport costs in conjunction with the advertised activity programme are included in the holiday cost. There may be occasions where additional visits or excursions are added to enrich your experience, these will be paid for locally by you if you choose to participate. Local transport can be a mix of private hire coaches, taxis, local buses and ferries depending on the itinerary.

Optional Excursions

A range of local excursions and activities may be available to book at your destination through a local operator. We have no involvement in such activities or excursions which are not run, supervised or controlled in any way by us. Your contract will be with the local activity supplier and we accept no responsibility for their actions or omissions.

Spending Money

Holiday Budgeting

When budgeting for your holiday, you will need to consider drinks, any meals not included in the holiday price, non-included entrance fees, optional excursions you may choose to participate in locally and any souvenirs or additional services such as laundry. A general guideline for lunches and drinks is £10-£20 per person per day.

Country Currency

The national currency of Ethiopia is the Ethiopian Birr (ETB), with an exchange rate at the time of publication (September 2019) of approximately 35 to the GBP, 29 to the USD and 31 to the EUR.

ATMs can be found throughout the itinerary except for the Simien Mountains and Danakil Depression (if this tour included it). Credit cards are not accepted in most establishments, so it's a good idea to change enough money to last for a few days at a time. We do not recommend you bring travellers cheques. One thing you will notice is that there is no lack of banks in Ethiopia.

Bring extra spending money if you wish to buy some local crafts such as jewellery, Ethiopian dresses, scarves, carved wooden crosses, basketwork, frankincense and Ethiopian coffee. Lunches not included in the itinerary will cost around 150 Birr each, so it is suggested that you take additional money to cover meals and other incidentals.

Tipping

Whilst tipping is entirely optional, tipping is customary in this part of the world. We encourage our Ramblers Walking Holidays leader to collect the amount of US$70 from each person on day two after arrival into Addis Ababa. This is to cover tips for tour guides, drivers, porters and other hotel staff over the course of the trip. Please note it does not include the RWH leader.

Tour Leaders & Local Guides

Tour Leaders

Your tour leader makes the world of difference to your holiday and ours are as passionate about discovering the world on foot as you are. They're resourceful, organised and widely travelled. They will handle all the local administration and other needs that might arise to ensure that you don't have to worry about planning your days and you can enjoy your holiday. Although leading group holidays, they won't forget that every group is made up of individuals. Each tour leader has their own individual style, talents and professional backgrounds and all are trained, qualified, experienced and dedicated to making your holiday as enjoyable, interesting and inspiring as possible.

Leader's Evening Briefing

Each evening, your tour leader will discuss with you the programme for the following day. This will be your opportunity to discuss the details and ensure the planned activities suit your walking ability. If you have concerns on clothing or equipment, this can be discussed then also. If you do not wish to join the organised group programme, please let the leader know.

Your Travel Details

We fly direct from London Heathrow to Addis Ababa with Ethiopian Airlines. This is an overnight flight arriving early in the morning.

Travel in Ethiopia is conducted on foot, by vehicle and boat on Lake Tana. Please note that the road system in Ethiopia is not always maintained to the same standard found in Europe, and occasionally detours or delays may occur due to blockages or road works. Even travelling short distances can at times take longer than you might expect.

If you are joining or leaving the holiday abroad, we assume unless you advise us otherwise, that you will meet the party at the first hotel and leave at the last hotel – please contact us before departure to confirm the hotel details! However, should you wish to join the holiday at Addis Ababa airport or wish to make other alternative arrangements, please be sure to let us know in writing at least five weeks before departure.

Booking Your Own Travel Arrangements?

If you wish to organise your own flights from a non-UK or provincial airport or travel by rail or car to your holiday destination, 'land only' reductions are often available. Please contact us for details.

Before finalising any independent travel arrangements, please check with us first - especially if doing so 12 weeks or more before your intended date of travel. If you do intend to join your holiday locally please do tell us at least 14 weeks in advance.

If you are joining and leaving your holiday overseas we assume, unless you advise us otherwise, that you will join and leave the holiday at your hotel.

Although airport transfers are not included for those making their own independent travel arrangements, if you wish to join the group at the overseas airport, depending on your flight arrival time, you may be able to be included on the group's transfer. Please contact us at least 5 weeks before departure for more details. 

Please note that your flight must arrive within 30 minutes of the group flight to be able to join the group transfer. We also need your flight number, arrival time and departure point so that the group leader is able to meet up with you.

Luggage Allowance & Travel Documents

For all those booking a flight or rail inclusive holiday, details of your travel arrangements and baggage allowance will be confirmed in your travel documents, sent to you approximately 10 days prior to departure.

Personal Details Check

To ensure that we can accurately administer your holiday arrangements, please confirm that the personal details we hold for you are up to date and that you have provided the information we need to secure your holiday travel and accommodation arrangements. Please check your passport details, date of birth and any other important details necessary for us to properly manage your holiday booking. You can view and update information already provided, and add details not yet asked for, by using the Manage My Booking facility on our website www.ramblersholidays.co.uk, or by calling our Sales and Reservations team on +44 (0)1707 331133. When you receive your booking confirmation please check the details as soon as possible.

Passports and Visas

General Passport Advice

It is a good idea to carry photocopies of the personal details pages of your passport. Should you lose your passport, this may assist with the issue of replacement documents and your return to your home country.

Passport and visa requirements can change at any time. It is your own responsibility to ensure that you inform yourself from a professionally qualified source on, and comply with, such requirements.

General travel and destination advice for UK nationals is available from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office at www.fco.gov.uk/travel and at www.gov.uk/travelaware.

Visa

All nationalities require a full passport that must be valid for 6 months beyond the intended length of stay. It is your responsibility to have the correct personal documents and to obtain your own visa, if one is necessary, in accordance with the regulations of the country you are to visit. The information below is primarily for UK passport holders, and other nationalities should check with their travel agent or the relevant embassies. We are not responsible for the actions of local immigration and customs officials, whether at points of entry or otherwise, and any subsequent effects.

All nationalities require a visa for Ethiopia which can be obtained before departure (at a cost of GBP26) or on arrival (at a cost of USD$50 - be prepared to queue for a while). Please note that the Ethiopian government may change their visa on arrival policy at very short notice so make sure to check the latest advice.

A certificate of Yellow Fever vaccination may be required in order to obtain your visa, for instance if you're travelling from a country at risk of Yellow Fever transmission - please check with the embassy for the latest advice. For assistance with obtaining visas please call Travcour on 020 8543 1846. Visa regulations can change without notice: please check the current regulations in good time to obtain a visa if one is required.

Meals

On this tour, 13 breakfasts, 14 dinners and 5 lunches are included. If booking the standard tour with Danakil Depression extension: 16 breakfasts, 9 lunches, 17 dinners). Typically breakfasts and dinners are included in the holiday price, plus all means whilst camping in the Simien Mountains. Breakfast will be taken at the hotels and dinners will be split between the hotels and local restaurants. Some breakfasts may be packed for early starts. Bottled water is widely available, but we encourage you where possible, to use a Water-To-Go bottle which filters tap water (do not drink straight from the tap). Bottled water will be supplied whilst in the Simien Mountains.

Whilst hiking in the Simien Mountains, you will be wild camping and staying at official and unofficial campsites. The standard is basic with few to no facilities on offer. Bathroom breaks tend to be wild without flushing water. This is one of the sacrifices to get further off the beaten track. It gets cold in at night, so we recommend you bring a four-season sleeping bag with you. Camping mats are provided.

Contrary to belief, the cuisine in Ethiopia is fantastic, offering a wide selection of both meat and vegetarian dishes. Local dishes tend to be very good if you like hot, spicy food although milder versions can be requested. Local food is traditionally eaten with the hands. The sour bread known as injera is used as a scoop from the casserole dishes known as wat. Ethiopia is the birthplace of coffee. It is normally drunk black with sugar. The coffee ritual is something to be experienced at least once on your trip. It is possible to get coffee with milk which the Ethiopians call Macchiato.

The Ethiopian diet is meat-based except for fasting days. Fasting food is completely vegan as fasters should not consume any animal by-product. Clients who have special dietary requirements must contact us to discuss if they can be accommodated. Ethiopia is a poor country and they are not familiar with gluten or lactose-free diets.

Footwear & Kit List

Footwear

Lightweight waterproof walking boots with a good moulded sole (such as Vibram or similar) and a deep tread and which provide ankle support are strongly recommended and may be essential for some walks. 

Footwear As Hand Luggage

We recommend that you either wear your walking boots or shoes or pack them and some waterproofs in your hand luggage as in the unlikely event that your hold luggage is delayed, you will still be able to participate in the holiday programme.

General Kit List

Outdoor activities are always safer and more enjoyable if you are prepared.

If you have not travelled with us before the following list might be of use:

  • Waterproof jacket (Goretex or similar) and trousers
  • Lightweight quick-drying trousers
  • Walking T-shirt/shirts
  • Walking socks
  • Fleece or jumper
  • Sun hat, sunglasses, lip salve and sun block
  • Warm hat and gloves (if appropriate)
  • Swimwear (if appropriate)
  • Day sack (this should be able to carry all you would need for the day's activity)
  • Day sack liner
  • Water bottle - at least 1 litre capacity (more than 1 bottle may be required)
  • Basic first aid kit
  • Lunchbox
  • Walking poles (should you find them useful)
  • Sit mat

This list is not exhaustive and every walker is different and may have their own preference.

Travel Documents Checklist

Documents and Information to take with you:

  • Passport (make sure it's yours and valid)
  • Your travel tickets or e-ticket itinerary
  • Any visa or electronic travel authorisation (if required)
  • Holiday money
  • Credit or debit cards (and separate details of who to call if lost)
  • Car parking ticket and car park directions (if prebooked)
  • Coach or rail travel tickets (if prebooked)
  • Your holiday Booking Confirmation document
  • Your travel insurance details
  • Alternative form of identification (such as a driving licence)
  • Photocopy of the personal details pages of your passport
  • A valid European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) if relevant
  • Details of any medical condition or allergy your holiday leader should know about

Country Electricity

Ethiopia's is supplied at 220 Volts. If you wish to use electrical equipment you will need the following plus types: C, E, F establishments often take two round pin plugs.

Water To Go

An alternative to bottled water from single-use sealed water bottles is filtered water from a refillable bottle containing its own water filter such as a Water-to-go bottle available from www.watertogo.eu. Just fill up from any water source and save the environment from disposable plastic bottles.

We have negotiated an exclusive 15% discount with our partners Water-to-Go for you as a thank you for helping the environment. Please go to their website at www.watertogo.eu and enter the code RWH17 when ordering. In addition, Water-to-Go will match the discount with a donation to our charity, Heart & Sole, which will allow us to continue to make a difference in the countries you visit on our holidays.

Maps, Guidebooks & Other Information

The Map Shop

Maps and guidebooks relating to your the areas you will be walking in may be brought before your holiday from The Map Shop at www.themapshop.co.uk

Weather

Visit the following websites for an idea of the climate in your destination:

Staying Healthy On Holiday

Health requirements can change at any time. It is your own responsibility to ensure that you inform yourself from a professionally qualified source on, and comply with, such requirements at least 6 to 8 weeks before departure. Advice on vaccinations is available from your GP.

Further Travel Advice

For further advice please visit:

You might wish to take a small bottle of antibacterial hand gel with you for times when you're unable to wash your hands.

Travel Insurance

You must be adequately insured to join our holidays. We do not insist that you insure with us but we require that you are adequately insured for the nature of your holiday. You will be unable to participate in our local walking and other activity programmes without being able to demonstrate that you have valid travel insurance.

Please ensure that as a minimum your travel insurance policy covers you for travel to your holiday destinations (country and geographical region) and for medical expenses, mountain rescue (including helicopter rescue) and emergency repatriation to your home country in the event of illness or injury. Your policy should also provide adequate cover for the activities, included and optional, you are likely to participate in during your holiday.

See our brochure or website for further advice regarding holiday insurance.

Whoever you insure with, please ensure that you take full details, and ideally the policy itself, with you on holiday and provide our tour leader with your insurer's name, the policy number and emergency assistance contact numbers.

Please note that it is very difficult to obtain travel insurance once your holiday arrangements have started.

Personal Safety

The UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office provides up to date information on security and local laws for travellers, together with current passport and visa information, at www.gov.uk/travelaware. Please take a few minutes to look at the current advice on your planned destination.

Please be aware of what's going on around you, take sensible precautions with your credit cards and passport and avoid displays of wealth such as wearing expensive jewellery or watches. Do not carry more cash on you than you will need for each day, and we recommend that a money belt is used.

Cultural Awareness

Responsible Travel

We're committed to ethical tourism in all our destinations. Our holidays are designed for you to discover the essence of the country you are visiting. Travelling in small groups not only gives you an up close and personal experience of your destination, but minimises your impact on the immediate environment. We feel that the most important starting point to protect the environment is to be out in it. For more details visit our website.

The Ramblers Holidays Charitable Trust

Unlike many tour operators we have our own trust through which RWH Travel’s profits are channelled back into a variety of outdoor, walking-related or environmental conservation projects in the UK. The focus of the Trust’s financial support is Britain’s leading walking charity, The Ramblers, and their role in promoting the benefits and importance of walking to the British public. In addition the Trust welcomes applications for small grants from local organisations in the UK who need support for walking-orientated activities. This includes the establishment of footpaths and bridleways, funding for rebuilding bridges and renovating huts, as well as bursary funding for the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award for children who could not otherwise afford to do it. Please visit the ‘About Us’ section of our website and click on the Charitable Trust link for more details.

Heart and Sole

We appreciate that we are in a fortunate position to be able to use our profits to help make a difference to people's lives. Heart & Sole is a venture managed by our office staff, whose aim is to reach the heart of the communities in the countries we visit. Through Heart & Sole, we hope to make more of a long term, direct impact to these communities, particularly in less developed countries where even a small amount goes a long way. See our website for more information and details of some of the projects we support.

Staying In Touch

Mobile Phones

Please do provide us with a mobile phone contact number. We will only use this to contact you with important information relating to your holiday arrangements. 

Do keep your mobile phones switched on and readily available when travelling to the airport or if delayed in transit so that we can contact you with any last minute information relating to your travel arrangements.  

As a matter of courtesy, please switch off your mobile phone during walks, or endeavour to minimise its use. Please also try to minimise the use of mobile devices during group meals.

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Useful Information

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Ethiopia

  • Capital

    Addis Ababa

  • Currency

    Ethiopian birr

  • Language

    Amharic

  • Time Difference

    3 hours

  • Flight duration

    8 hours

Visas and Passports

eVisa required.

Average weather

  • January

    23°C

    Avg. Rain: 20mm

  • February

    25°C

    Avg. Rain: 36mm

  • March

    25°C

    Avg. Rain: 67mm

  • April

    25°C

    Avg. Rain: 105mm

  • May

    25°C

    Avg. Rain: 116mm

  • June

    23°C

    Avg. Rain: 141mm

  • July

    21°C

    Avg. Rain: 221mm

  • August

    21°C

    Avg. Rain: 222mm

  • September

    22°C

    Avg. Rain: 133mm

  • October

    23°C

    Avg. Rain: 39mm

  • November

    23°C

    Avg. Rain: 17mm

  • December

    23°C

    Avg. Rain: 24mm

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