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.
See what's planned
- Spend four nights in the Simien Lodge; the highest lodge in Africa.
- Explore the rock churches and surrounding area of Lalibela on foot.
- Visit the National Museum of Ethiopia in Addis Ababa; see the 3.2-million-year-old fossil called Lucy.
- Enjoy a walk around Lake Tana, visit monasteries and wander around the market in Bahir Dar.
- Visit a monastery in the foothills around Addis Ababa with a short walk down the mountainside.
- Walk along different sections in the Simien Mountains for incredible views of the ‘Roof of Africa’.
- See local wildlife such as hippopotamus, ibex and Gelada monkeys.
- Local guides throughout for expert knowledge and country insights.
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!
- Return flights from Heathrow to Addis Ababa (Ethiopian Airlines). If you book a land only tour, you must travel with Ethiopian Airlines internationally otherwise an internal flight supplement will apply.
- Internal flights & airport transfers.
- Nine nights in hotel or lodge accommodation.
- 9 breakfasts, 8 lunches and 9 dinners.
- English speaking local guides and RWH leader.
- All local transport costs.
- Entrance fees for attractions listed as part of the itinerary.
What's not included?
- Entrance fees (unless otherwise specified)
- Personal expenses (such as your bar bill)
- Discretionary tips
- Optional excursions
- Travel Insurance (you can add this when you book)
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.
Our bottom line is happy travellers, and to that end we trust our tour leaders to use the itinerary below as a basis for providing you with a great holiday. We expect our leaders to make adjustments to the itinerary if the weather, group ability or other local conditions make that necessary. There are normally more options available to our leaders than those listed below and one or more of these options may well be chosen. All distances, heights & timings are approximate.
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.
Sapphire Addis Hotel
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.
Breakfast, lunch, dinner
Abay Minch Lodge
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.
Breakfast, lunch, dinner
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.
Bahir Dar to the Simien Mountains National Park
Breakfast, lunch, dinner
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.
Simien Mountains National Park
Breakfast, lunch, dinner
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.
Simien Mountains National Park
Breakfast, lunch, dinner
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.
Simien Mountains National Park
Breakfast, lunch, dinner
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.
Breakfast, lunch, dinner
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.
Breakfast, lunch, dinner
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.
Lalibela to Addis Ababa (overnight flight)
Breakfast, lunch, dinner
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
Arrival back into the UK
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.
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.
Tour Leaders & Local Guides
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.
Your Travel Details
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.
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.
Footwear & Kit List
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:
- 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
- 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
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
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 the areas you will be walking in may be bought before your holiday from The Map Shop at www.themapshop.co.uk
Visit the following websites for an idea of the climate in your destination:
Find out more
Visas and Passports
Avg. Rain: 20mm
Avg. Rain: 36mm
Avg. Rain: 67mm
Avg. Rain: 105mm
Avg. Rain: 116mm
Avg. Rain: 141mm
Avg. Rain: 221mm
Avg. Rain: 222mm
Avg. Rain: 133mm
Avg. Rain: 39mm
Avg. Rain: 17mm
Avg. Rain: 24mm
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.
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
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.
Staying In Touch
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.
We welcome all comments about our holidays and value ideas for the future. If you have provided us with an email address we will invite you to complete an online questionnaire or to add feedback to our page on the independent review site 'Feefo'.
Please note that this Holiday Information sheet may be periodically updated and reissued.
In most cases the revisions will be minor and the overall nature
of the holiday will remain unchanged. Should we make a major change
to your holiday arrangements between you booking your holiday and
your date of travel we will notify you to specifically draw your
attention to any significant change.
You may wish to review the latest version of this Holiday Information Sheet online prior to travel.
Please note that any advertised offers, benefits or initiatives may be discontinued at any time.
Ramblers Walking Holidays
Our office is open and our Sales & Reservations team are available to speak to you from:
- 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday
Please quote your Booking Reference number and Tour Code whenever contacting us.
We wish you an enjoyable holiday!
Our holiday walking grades
Grade 4 Sightseeing
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.
Discover more about our walking grades