Ethiopia: A Grand Tour    *alt*

23 days, from £4898
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Explore Africa's oldest independent country - Ethiopia - on this comprehensive 23-night Saga tour

Discover the fascination of Ethiopia on this 23-night escorted tour, where you'll travel as part of a small group and explore the unique tribal and religious heritage, breathtaking natural beauty and remarkable wildlife.


nights in hotels and 2 in flight

meals: 20 breakfasts, 22 lunches and 22 dinners

Excursions and visits
- City tour of Addis Ababa
- The Blue Nile Gorge area
- Tour of Bahir Dar
- Boat trip on Lake Tana
- Gondar and Fasil Ghebbi
- Simien Mountains National Park
- Tour Axum and its Stelae Field
- The rock-hewn churches of Lalibela
- Addis Ababa market
- Visit the Melka Kunture prehistoric archaeological site
- Visit the 13th-century Adadi Mariam church
- Visit the villages of Gurage and Oromo
- Visit the 12th-century decorated stone columns of Tiya
- Explore the Bale Mountains National Park,home to the endangered Ethiopian wolf
- Discover the Sanetti Plateau and Harenna Forest.
- Walkabouts in the tribal villages of the Halaba and Dorze peoples
- Boat trip on Lake Chamo
- Visit to the South Omo Research Centre
- Visit a Mursi village for an informal walkabout
- Explore Key Afer's weekly market where Ari, Benna and Tsemai tribes trade
- Meet the pastoralist tribe of the Dasenech
- Visit a village of the Hamer people
- Weekly market of the Hamer and Benna tribes, in Dimeka.
- Walled villages of the Konso tribe
- Informal walkabout in a village of the Gamo people
- Ethiopian food tasting and traditional tribal dancing in Addis Ababa.

Plus all this:
- VIP door-to-door travel service
- Optional travel insurance and additional cancellation rights, or a reduction if not required
- Return flights and transfers
- Local expert guide
- Sundowner drinks at a memorable location
- Porterage at all hotels.


 Day 1 UK to Addis Ababa

After taking Saga's UK included door-to-door travel service to the airport, depart in the evening for your overnight flight to Addis Ababa.
Addis Ababa Ethiopia Africa

 Day 2 Addis Ababa

Enjoy an afternoon tour of Ethiopia's capital where you'll visit Holy Trinity Cathedral and the National Museum, home to the famous three-million-year-old skeleton known as 'Lucy'. Stay two nights at the Capital Hotel and Spa (4Q) or Golden Tulip (4Q). L, D

 Day 3 The Blue Nile Gorge area

Spectacular scenery awaits on an included visit to the dramatic Blue Nile Gorge area. En route you'll visit the ancient monastery of Debre Libanos. B, L, D

 Day 4 Addis Ababa to Bahir Dar

Take a morning flight to the lakeside city of Bahir Dar where an afternoon tour reveals a colourful market with stalls selling coffee beans, local handicrafts and fragrant spices. Stay two nights at either the Avanti Blue Nile Resort (3Q) or the Kuriftu Resort and Spa (3Q). B, L, D

 Day 5 Bahir Dar

This morning you'll discover the Blue Nile Falls, nicknamed 'smoking water', on an included excursion. Later perhaps join an excursion to visit some local villages, or simply relax beside the lake. B, L, D

 Day 6 Bahia Dar to Gondar

Take a morning boat cruise on Lake Tana, source of the Blue Nile, looking out for a variety of birdlife. You'll leave from Bahir Dar and visit the island monasteries of Ura Kidane Mihret and Azwa Mariam. After lunch at Bahir Dar, drive to Gondar, visiting local villages en route. Stay for three nights at Goha Hotel (3Q) or Mayleko Lodge (3Q). B, L, D.

 Day 7 Gondar

Enjoy a leisurely sightseeing tour of Gondar and the fortress-city of Fasil Ghebbi, where ancient palaces, churches and monasteries are encircled by a vast, crumbling wall. B, L, D.

 Day 8 Simien Mountains

Today an included full-day excursion visits the spectacular UNESCO-listed Simien Mountains National Park, where you may be lucky enough to spot the extremely rare Gelada baboon and Walia ibex, a goat found nowhere else on earth! B, L, D.

 Day 9 Axum

Fly to Axum, where an inculded tour reveals the 20th-century Church of St Mary of Zion and the 17th-century church of the same name, next door to which is the chapel that supposedly houses the Ark of the Covenant. Later explore the Axum Stelae Field with its huge granite obelisks before heading to the Sabean Hotel (3Q) or Yared Zema Hotel (3Q) for an overnight stay. B, L, D

 Day 10 Lalibela

Fly to Lalibela where an included afternoon tour reveals one of Africa's most important religious and historic sites, the medieval rock-hewn churches of Lalibela including the cross-shaped church of Bete Giyorgis (St George). Stay two nights at the Maribela Hotel (3Q) or at the Mountain View Hotel (3Q). B, L, D.

 Day 11 Lalibela

This morning you visit more of Lalibela's monolithic cave churches. This afternoon you'll experience traditional Ethiopian hospitality and cuisine during an included visit to a local guest house. B, L, D.

 Day 12 Lalibela to Addis Ababa

Fly back to the capital and explore the vibrant open-air market of Merkato, one of the largest in Africa. Spend the rest of the day at leisure, immersing yourself in the sights and sounds of one of the biggest cities in Africa, perched on the step of Entoto Mountain, at 2500 metres. Stay overnight at the Golden Tulip (4Q). B, L, D.

 Day 13 Addis Ababa to Langano

This morning, depart for Sabana Beach Resort (3Q+) by road. Your journey includes a collection of stops in areas of cultural and natural significance, including the Melka Kunture archaeological site dating back to prehistoric times; the Adadi Mariam church, which is carved from rock and dates back to the 13th century; the villages of Gurage and Oromo; the Rift Valley lakes of Ziway and Langano; and the 12th-century decorated stone columns of Tiya. Enjoy sundowners and dinner overlooking Lake Langano. B, L, D.

 Day 14 Langano to Bale Mountains

After breakfast, depart by road for Bale Mountain Lodge (3Q+) and Bale Mountains National Park, which boasts the world's highest level of animal endemicity and is a paradise for bird watchers, photographers and lovers of wildlife. A stop in Dinsho provides the perfect opportunity to spot mountain nyala, bushbuck, colobus monkeys, warthogs, lions and a host of raptors and the endangered Ethiopian Wolf. Stay two nights at the Bale Mountain Lodge (3Q+) with its boutique guest chalets and main 'Tukul', with central fireplace and snug. B, L, D

 Day 15 Bale Mountains

Get set for a day of incredible natural contrasts, breathtaking scenery and unique bird and wildlife spotting. Ascend the Bale Massif in the early morning, travelling through 'cloud forests' to the alpine moorlands of Sanetti Plateau. Here, find the plateau's unique bird population and resident Ethiopian wolves, the world's rarest canid. In the afternoon, you descend into the lichen-draped Harenna Forest, famous for its endemic mammals, amphibians and birds, including the very rare painted hunting dog and forest lions. Return to the lodge for dinner. B, L, D

 Day 16 Bale Mountains to Awassa

This morning, travel to Sennete to enjoy its exceptional beauty and unique wildlife and hopefully spot Ethiopian wolves hunting their favourite diet of mole-rat. Then drive on to the lakeside resort of Haile (4Q), where you can either relax by the pool or set out on a variety of sightseeing tours, including hippo-spotting boat trips and other attractions (all at extra charge). B, L, D.

 Day 17 Awassa to Arbaminch

After breakfast, set out for Arbaminch and an overnight stay at the Paradise Lodge (3Q). Visit the fish market of Lake Awassa and enjoy walkabouts in the tribal villages of the Halaba and Dorze peoples. The Halaba are known for their wood and mud thatched homes, while the Dorze are famous for their tradition of weaving, visible in the construction of their woven bamboo beehive huts and colourful fabrics and clothes. Enjoy dinner at the lodge, overlooking the lakes of the Rift Valley and 'The Bridge of Heaven'. B, L, D

 Day 18 Arbaminch to Jinka

Take a morning boat trip on Lake Chamo, reputed to be the best of its kind in Ethiopia because of its abundant hippo, giant crocodiles and extensive birdlife, including African fish eagle, great white pelican and egrets. There is also very good fishing to be had, with Nile perch a common catch. In the afternoon, drive on to Jinka, with a stop at the South Omo Research Centre, a quaint museum that gives a detailed insight into the tribes of the Omo Valley. Stay overnight at Eco Omo Lodge (3Q). B, L, D

 Day 19 Jinka to Turmi

After breakfast, drive to a Mursi village for an informal walkabout to observe their uniquely built homes, the dying custom of women wearing lower lip plates and ritual duelling of the men. In Turmi, stop at Key Afer's weekly market where the Ari, Benna and Tsemai tribes sell their produce, livestock and crafts. Stay three nights at Buska Lodge (3Q), enjoying dinner and an insight into the Hamer community tonight. B, L, D

 Day 20 Turmi

Join a morning excursion to meet the pastoralist tribe of the Dasenech and walk among their domed homes made from branch frames, hides and woven boxes. A second visit to the Key Afer market is planned or you can spend the afternoon at Buska Lodge relaxing. B, L, D

 Day 21 Turmi

After breakfast, visit a village of the Hamer people for an informal walkabout to witness their way of life firsthand. Their costumes of cowry decorated leather, copper and colourful beaded jewellery and ochre tinted skin and hair make for incredible pictures and you might be lucky enough to catch a 'bull jumping' ceremony, a Hamer boy's rite of passage. In the afternoon there's a opportunity to attend the weekly market of the Hamer and Benna tribes, in Dimeka, before dinner at the lodge. B, L, D

 Day 22 Turni to Konso

This morning, drive to Konso, which was recently added to the official list of World Heritage Sites for its 'cultural landscape'. Wander through the serene walled villages of these successful farmers, who cultivate the nearby terraced mountain slopes and, if he is in residence, you may be granted an audience with the charismatic Chief Kala Gezahegan. The Konso are known for their colourful hand-woven costumes, beaded jewellery and the wooden statues, or Wakas, erected in memory of important figures in the community. Stay overnight and dine at the Kanta Lodge (3Q+), in traditional Konso Tukuls. B, L, D

 Day 23 Konso to Addis Ababa

After breakfast, transfer to Arbaminch, with a visit to a village of the Gamo People. Gamo means 'lion' and describes their heritage of physical strength and heroism. In the afternoon fly to Addis Ababa and spend the evening eating Ethiopian delicacies in a traditional restaurant, while watching tribal dancers. Later, transfer to Addis Ababa International Airport for your overnight flight to the UK. B, L, D
Addis Ababa Ethiopia Africa

 Day 24 Addis Ababa to UK

Arrive in the UK for your included UK door-to-door travel service home.