Ethiopia

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9 nights Lake Tana, Simien Mountains & Lalibela, Ethiopia

Explore Ethiopia

  • A mixture of culture, adventure, wildlife and spa treatments
  • Visit the world famous 12th century rock churches of Lalibela
  • Stay at the highest lodge in Africa with spectacular mountain views

Our lodges in Ethiopia

Kuriftu Lodge and Spa

Kuriftu Lodge and Spa

Bahir Dar, Lake Tana
Simien Lodge

Simien Lodge

Simien Mountains
Mountain View Hotel

Mountain View Hotel

Lalibela
Bale Mountain Lodge

Bale Mountain Lodge

Bale Mountain National Park

Why we recommend Ethiopia

  • Visit the hand carved churches of Lalibela
  • Explore 'The Roof of Africa' in the astonishing Simien Mountains
  • Immerse yourself in the rich historical culture of this unspoilt country
Map of Ethiopia
About Ethiopia

Possibly Africa’s most intriguing destination at the moment, Ethiopia is much celebrated for the variety and quality of experience it can offer international tourists. A truly unique destination, caught between eras; in some ways like walking back in time, in others existing fiercely in the present. It’s a destination for wildlife enthusiasts, with numerous endemic species and wonderful birdlife. Somewhere rich in cultural and religious history, both past and present, a place of fascination for anthropologists and archaeologists. Dominated by dramatic landscapes and littered with Unesco World Heritage Sites, more than anywhere else in Africa. It is easy to see why Ethiopia is hot right now.

Of course, Ethiopia has welcomed international visitors for years, but for those with less time on their hands and keen to experience the country in a little more comfort and convenience than from the back of a bus the country is slowly opening up. You will not find accommodation of the quality associated with somewhere like Kenya, in fact it is safe to say Ethiopia is 20 years behind its better-known neighbours in this regard. However, the True Luxury Travel team work closely with fantastic guides and independent lodges across the country, from the hustle and bustle of vibrant Addis Ababa to the epic landscapes and wildlife of the Simian Mountains; the extraordinary rock-hewn churches of Lalibela to the island monasteries of Lake Tana and the cultural diversity of the Omo Valley. Give us a call to find out how we would recommend approaching this, one of Africa’s most diverse and rewarding destinations.

While the accommodation options are slowly improving in Ethiopia, the international airline is very forward thinking and setting an impressive example to many of the other regional options. Operating a fleet of Boeing 787 Dreamliners on a direct route between Addis and Heathrow, Ethiopian Airlines provides an easy route in and also on to almost every regional destination: Johannesburg, Zanzibar, Nairobi, Oman and the Middle East among others. Within the country a wide variety of domestic flights can cut out long days in the vehicle, however, this travelling by road is one of the joys of Ethiopia, you never know what you are going to see around the corner and we like to feature some driving in our guests itineraries.

For a truly extraordinary experience, contact our team of specialists to ask about our helicopter tours of Ethiopia. If you want to take the experience to another level, step truly off the beaten track then this could be just the thing, it’s not cheap but it is epic.

October to May is the dry season, therefore the most popular time to visit. June until September is when Ethiopia receives the most rainfall however there is still a lot of sunshine and can also be a lovely time to visit. Temperature is reflected in the altitude, it can be considerably hotter at lower altitude and cooler in the mountains. The Danakil Depression, one of the most hostile places on Earth and only accessible by helicopter is below sea level and temperatures over 60OC have been recorded here.

Snapshot of Ethiopia

Capital city: Addis Ababa
Flight time: 8hrs from UK
Language: Amharic, English, Arabic, Italian, French
Population: 94 million
Religions: Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Paganism
Sun hours / day: 7
Max. temperature: 24
Min. temperature: 22

Seasons in Ethiopia

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Peak Mid Low
Where to go

Lake Tana

Lake Tana’s beauty can only be truly appreciated when you get out beyond the city and see its azure waters lapping on lush shores, islands dotting its distant horizon and squadrons of pelicans flirting with its surface. There’s also some artificial beauty in the form of centuries-old monasteries full of paintings and treasures.

Lalibela

Lalibela pulls international visitors to Ethiopia from across the world. These Ethiopian Orthodox Christian churches have been hewn directly out of the rock a remarkable feat of engineering and religious dedication from the 12th century. Visit the castles of Ethiopia’s Emperors in Gondar, Ethiopia’s very own Camelot, an are just asking to be explored with it’s rich and abundant history. Laka Tana is the source of the Blue Nile and Bahar Dar the sleepy lakeside town. This area is famous for its island monasteries, found on 20 of Lake Tana’s 37 islands, these monasteries date back to the 16th century as have barely changed since. Completing the highlights of the north is Axum, sometimes called Aksum, this is one of Ethiopia’s holiest towns and believed to house the Ark of the Covenant.

Simien Mountains

One of Ethiopia’s greatest attractions and understandably so. Home to the critically endangered and endemic Ethiopian wolf and troops of impressive gelada baboons, made famous by David Attenborough. The Simien Mountains are one of Africa’s most impressive ranges, rising to 4,000 metres, huge escarpments and craggy cliffs are home to giant lammergeyer vultures. Accessible via road, but best experienced on foot high in the mountains, this is an incredible destination you could explore for months. 2016 sees some exciting new lodge openings in this area giving more options to international tourists than in the past.

Southern Ethiopia

The most diverse and culturally different destination in Ethiopia, home to some 20 tribes whose customs haven’t changed for centuries. Scarification, lip plates and body painting are just some customs, this is stepping into a different world from your own and an incredible educational experience. This is a beautiful area of the country, the rich Ethiopian highlands, rift valley lakes and Bale Mountains National Park offer some magnificent landscape and are rich in wildlife.

Practical info

Currency

Ethiopia’s currency is the birr. It’s divided into 100 cents in 1, 5, 10, 25 and 50 cent coins, and there are 1, 5, 10, 50 and 100 birr notes. The birr is one of Africa’s most stable currencies. One regulation that’s strictly enforced is the conversion of birr to US dollars, Euros and Pounds; this transaction can only be done for people holding onward air tickets from Ethiopia. This means people leaving overland must budget accordingly. Bigger branches of the Dashen Bank in Addis Ababa, Bahir Dar, Gonder and Mekele now have ATMs that accept international visa cards. Note that Mastercard, Solo, Cirrus or Plus cards do not work in any ATM.

Travelling with children

Lodge Specific

Passports and Visas

Passports: Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry into Ethiopia. Make sure you have two blank pages in your passport on arrival.
Visas: Nationals of 33 countries receive one-month visas (US$20) at Bole International Airport. These include USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and most of Europe. Ethiopian embassies abroad charge up to US$63 for visas, and usually require an onward air ticket (or a visa for the next country you’re visiting), a yellow-fever vaccination certificate and proof of sufficient funds. African Ethiopian embassies are less strict. Visas can be extended to a maximum of three months in Addis Ababa at the Department of Immigration. It takes 24 hours and costs US$20.

Vaccinations

Confirm primary courses and boosters are up to date as recommended for life in Britain. Courses or boosters usually advised: Diphtheria; Hepatitis A; Poliomyelitis; Tetanus; Typhoid. Other vaccines to consider: Cholera; Hepatitis B; Meningococcal Meningitis; Rabies; Yellow Fever. Yellow fever vaccination certificate required for travelers over 1 year of age arriving from countries with risk of yellow fever transmission and for travelers having transited more than 12 hours through the airport of a country with risk of yellow fever transmission.

Insurance

Comprehensive travel insurance is essential, including medical cover. We also highly recommend trip cancellation cover. You are 100% financially protected through our membership of the Travel Trust Association.

Weather

J F M A M J J A S O N D
A 24 24 25 25 25 23 21 21 22 23 23 23
B 15 16 17 17 18 17 16 16 16 15 14 14
C 15 35 65 85 75 120 235 245 140 30 5 5
A = Maximum average temperature (C)
B = Minimum average temperature (C)
C = Average rainfall (mm)

Ethiopia’s climate is typically very mild, with temperatures on the wide-ranging highlands averaging below 20C. Only on the lowland fringes of western, eastern and southern Ethiopia can temperatures soar past 30C.
The heaviest rains traditionally fall June to early October, making the rest of the year prime time to visit. Directly after the rains the highlands are wonderfully green, covered with wildflowers and sublime for trekking.

Weather

Ethiopia JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC
min. temperature ( ℃ ) 15 16 17 17 18 17 16 16 16 15 14 14
Max. temperature ( ℃ ) 24 24 25 25 25 23 21 21 22 23 23 23
Rainfall ( mm ) 15 35 65 85 75 120 235 245 140 30 5 5

Popular destinations in Ethiopia

What Our Clients Say

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