The coast, villages and countryside of the Eastern Algarve and then explore the treasures of this most westerly corner of Europe.
Ethiopia or Abyssinia as it is otherwise known delivers the magnificence of the Simien Mountains and nights in the highest lodge in Africa, wildlife and monasteries of Lake Tana, plus rock churches of Lalibela.
What does this mean?
Tour codes: 48470
Full and half day walks at a moderate pace over hilly terrain. Half day walks will probably involve about 3 hours of walking, with full day walks having around 5 hours. Expect ascents and descents of up to 600m. Some days of this holiday will be dedicated solely to sightseeing (or include an element of sightseeing). To enhance your experience, a knowledgeable local guide will accompany your small group for part (or the majority) of the holiday.
Ethiopia is truly a land of contrasts and extremes, a land of remote and wild places. Some of the highest and most stunning places on the African continent are found here, such as the jaggedly carved Simien Mountains, one of UNESCO's World Heritage Sites - and some of the lowest, such as the incredibly hot but fascinating Danakil Depression.
Ethiopia, also known by the exonym Abyssinia, is old beyond imagination with its culture and traditions dating back over 3,000 years. Far earlier than this lived "Lucy" or Dinknesh, the 3,2 million old fossilized hominid meaning 'thou art wonderful', as she is known to the Ethiopians, whose remains were found in a corner of this country.
Many people visit Ethiopia because of the remarkable manner in which ancient historical traditions have been preserved. Indeed, the ceremonies and rituals of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church open a window on the authentic world of the Old Testament. In no other country is it possible to be dramatically transported back in time or to participate with such freedom in the sacred rituals of an archaic faith.
However, the best way to explore the country is on foot. On this 12-day holiday, you will explore off the main destinations of northern Ethiopia Highlands including Addis Ababa, Bahir Dar, Simien Mountains, and Lalibela. Not only that but you will stay in the highest lodge in Africa, with one of the most exceptional views to be found. They don’t call it the ‘Roof of Africa’ for nothing!
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
Itinerary & Travel
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.
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we may unfortunately need to withdraw a tour that is currently confirmed to operate and we therefore reserve the right to cancel your booking. We would always do our utmost to give you plenty of notice should we have to do this. Selected elements of this tour, including local attractions and restaurants, may change at late notice. Please ensure you have valid insurance cover before you travel.
After arrival into Addis Ababa, we meet our local guide and transfer to the hotel. If rooms are available, we may check-in upon arrival, failing this we have free time to relax ahead of our city tour and we will check in when we return.
After lunch, we enjoy a city tour around the fourth highest capital in the world, Addis Ababa. Given the altitude of 2,400 metres above sea level, the walking today will be minimal with some basic city strolling and a downhill walk in the surrounding mountains. The city tour includes a visit to the National Museum of Ethiopia, where the 3.2 million years old fossil called Lucy resides, as well as visiting Emperor Haile Selassie’s former palace – a must-see while you are in Ethiopia. We enjoy a downhill walk in the mountains surrounding Addis Ababa and a driving tour in Merkato, the largest open market in Africa. Being a large city, it is not uncommon for there to be traffic issues.
Early morning, we transfer to the domestic airport for our flight to Bahir Dar, where we arrive at 08:30 a.m. Whilst this does entail waking extremely early, this flight has been selected to ensure you do not lose a day of the holiday. Our local guide will meet us on arrival and transfer to your hotel for check-in if rooms are ready.
Bahir Dar located in the northwestern area of Ethiopia and sits at an elevation of 1,840 meters (6,036 feet). It possesses a subtropical climate and is positioned along the southern shores of Lake Tana, the biggest Lake in Ethiopia and the source of the Blue Nile River.
Today we will walk along the shores of Lake Tana for about 10km to the source of the Blue Nile. We walk past papyrus reed beds full of weaver birds, and then on to the place where the Blue Nile leaves Lake Tana and begins its journey to join the White Nile in Khartoum. Later we visit the local market of Bahir Dar where we can purchase pottery, traditional hand-made woven clothes or local baskets.
After breakfast we enjoy a private boat trip on Lake Tana to visit the ancient hidden monasteries around the islands of Lake Tana. We will be dropped on one side of a peninsular where we walk through coffee groves, before reaching the monastery of Ura Kidane Mihret whose painted walls serve as a visual encyclopedia of Ethiopian history. Many of the churches have incredible treasures with contents that range from medieval books to crosses and crowns. On the way back you will pass by hippo in the shallow waters, observe pelicans and a multitude of coloured birdlife.
Today we make our way towards the Simien Mountains National Park, the only UNESCO World Natural Heritage site in Ethiopia, via the city of Gondar. This is a great chance for you to observe the landscape of northern Ethiopia.
Simien Mountains National Park is Ethiopia’s most popular walking destination, its highest peak Ras Dashen sits as 4,543 metres (14,900 feet) above sea level, making it the fourth-highest mountains in Africa. The Simien Mountains was recognised as a UNESCO world heritage site and is famous for being home to three wonderful endemic mammals; Walia ibex, Gelada monkeys, and Ethiopia wolves.
The drive from Bahir Dar to Simien Mountains is 300 km and will take the most part of the day with a break in Gondar for coffee and lunch. We then continue on an asphalt road before making a stop in Debark town to complete the park paperwork and collect our guide and scout/rangers. We then continue 22kms to the lodge along a bumpy gravel road where after checking into the highest lodge in Africa, we enjoy a short 2-3 hour walk to admire the spectacular mountains scenery from various viewpoints. Later this evening, we will watch a documentary movie about the mountains in the lodge’s bar by a roaring fire.
After a hearty breakfast, we travel by road and are dropped at the Checkwanit area to begin our walk to Sankaber campsite. Today’s walking time is approximately six hours and we are rewarded with spectacular views, plus very likely spot large groups of the Gelada monkeys and Lammergeier vultures gilding over the escarpment.
Sankaber campsite area is an area covered with Afro-montane forest and dominated by Juniper, Hagenia Abyssinia, St John’s wort, giant heather and the like. After passing Sankaber we walk towards the Jinibar waterfalls for approximately one hour where we stop for a picnic lunch (carried by you from the lodge) and the chance to absorb your surroundings. From here we continue for two hours to Sankaber campsite where our transport returns us to the lodge.
This morning we take a packed lunch and travel by road to the starting point of our walk at Chennek campsite (3,620m). Along the way, we stop at various viewing points to observe Gelada monkeys.
From Chennek, it is a 1-2 hour walk to one of the most incredible vantage spots on the trip; Bwahit Pass 4,200 metres, the second-highest summit in Ethiopia. The Bwahit Pass provides excellent views of the impressive rock formation of Imetgogo and Inatiye. There will be more chances to see Walia ibex which are endemic to the Simien Mountains and one of the world's endangered species. In the late afternoon, we will be picked up for our return to the lodge.
One of the most fascinating aspects of this tour is to walk amongst hundreds of Gelada monkeys in the Simien Mountains. It is widely regarded as one of the most interesting wildlife interactions in Africa after walking with gorillas. Walking within two meters of these fierce-looking yet harmless primates is a memory to treasure. Today’s total walking duration will be approximately five hours.
We begin today's walk from an area called Aynameday, located a mid-way between Sanakber and Chennek campsites (3620 metres). As well as the outstanding views of the Simien escarpment and the Gitch Plateau, we will also see the endemic plant Giant Lobelia in abundance. We enjoy a 3-4 hour walk to Imetgogo, one of the best-known viewpoints in the park for watching magnificent Lammergeyer vultures.
The first hour will take us through the undulating meadow, before climbing uphill until we reach the summit at 3,926 metres, and then continue onto Chennek where wonderful views await and potentially more Gelada monkeys and Walia ibex. Our transport will collect us here and return us to the lodge.
Departing very early at 5:30 am with a takeaway breakfast, we will drive to Gondar airport for our flight to Lalibela, located in the mountainous region in the heart of Ethiopia where eleven medieval monolithic churches are carved out of the rock.
Their building is attributed to King Lalibela in the 12th century who set out to construct a ‘new Jerusalem’ after Muslim conquests halted Christian pilgrimages to the Holy Land. Lalibela flourished after the decline of the Aksum Empire. In Lalibela, there are two main groups of churches – to the north of the River Jordan and to the south.
We will explore the first group of magnificent rock-hewn churches which are so magnificently carved out of the volcanic rock, that UNESCO registered them as world heritage in 1978. Among these churches is Biete Medhane Alem (House of the redeemer) which is the largest with 5 aisles, 72 pillars, a vaulted dome, and molding decoration. Biete Mariam (house of St. Mary) is the most decorated among the rock-hewn churches.
This morning we walk to Ashton Mariam monastery, located 10km from the center of the town. This journey takes us through lovely Lalibela countryside to the top of the hill where we are rewarded with commanding views in all directions. The altitude is at almost 4,000 metres.
Ashton Mariam Monastery is an ancient monastery carved from stone. The monastery showcases harbours impressive crosses, illuminated manuscripts, and other treasures. On the way up we pass through farmland before a priest is waiting to show us the sacred monastery items including an illustrated bible. We later visit a local community house.
In the afternoon we continue to the second group of the rock-hewn churches; Biete Emanuel (house of Emanuel) and Biete Giyorgis (the house of George) which historians have remarked as architecturally the finest of all the churches in Lalibela. Total walking time walking on this day will be around 4 hours.
Early morning, we transfer to Lalibela airport for our flight back to Addis Ababa where we have a day-use room to use ahead of our night flight. The rest of the day is free time to unwind before our farewell dinner of traditional Ethiopian food with live folklore music and dance. We then transfer to the airport for our overnight flight home
Departure dates for your selected tour
4th Apr 2021 - 16th Apr 2021 (12 Nights)
Below is the accommodation featured on this holiday across all departure dates. Please refer to the Itinerary for more detail about each night's accommodation for each departure date.
This hotel is 10-minute walk from the Medhane Alem Cathedral, 2 km from Addis Ababa Bole International Airport and 6 km from the National Museum of Ethiopia. The rooms come with flat-screen TVs, minibars, and tea and coffee making facilities, as well as private balconies. Wi-Fi is also available. Other amenities include 2 restaurants and a bar, along with a fitness centre and a spa.
Abay Minch Lodge is located in Bahir Dar, 1.9 km from Blue Nile viewing point. It offers free Wi-Fi, lush garden and hot tub. All units have a seating area, a TV and a private bathroom with a shower and free toiletries. All units have a balcony overlooking the garden. The lodge has a sun terrace.
The highest hotel in Africa, built in the Simien Mountains of Ethiopia. Perfect for trekking and visiting some of the rare wildlife of this fascinating country. The hotel is small and exclusive and caters to people who like to overnight in areas of natural beauty. Wildlife around the hotel includes Gelada monkeys, Walia ibex, and Simien wolf, all of which are endemic to Ethiopia. But there are also some leopard, hyena, jackal and serval cat.
Roha Hotel provides a restaurant with a choice of Ethiopian and European dishes, bar area, Wi-Fi connection (may not be strong), laundry service and a well-kept garden area. Some of the rooms can appear tired although will be clean and comfortable. We have been informed that the hotel plans on updating the rooms over time.
This Grade 4 moderate holiday includes full and half day walks at a moderate pace over hilly terrain and is likely to include an element of sightseeing as well. Half day walking will probably include about 3 hours of walking, with full days having around 5 hours. Expect ascents and descents of up to about 600m. See the 'Proposed Itinerary' section for more information.
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.
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.
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.
Although entirely at your own discretion, tipping is an important aspect of tourism and hospitality life and expectations are fairly high. In order to simplify tipping, we strongly recommend that you allow your leader to take care of making sure tips are given to hotel and restaurant staff & to local guides and drivers. This will be done using some funds provided by us together with, if you wish, a contribution from you, which he/she will collect during the holiday.
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.
In each city, we have a local guide who is able to share their knowledge and bring out the different flavours of Ethiopia. Whilst in the Simien Mountains, we also have trekking guides who know the area well and an armed guard for safety. This is a national park requirement.
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.
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.
This tour is offered on a full board basis (as per the daily itinerary). Breakfast will be taken at the hotels, lunches in local restaurants or packed lunch, 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.
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.
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.
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:
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:
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.
The Map Shop
Maps and guidebooks relating to the areas you will be walking in may be bought before your holiday from The Map Shop at www.themapshop.co.uk
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Visas and Passports
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