Tucked in between the Middle East and Africa, Ethiopia sits in the middle of these distinctive regions and yet takes on a cultural mosaic and aesthetic that’s tangibly distinct. On this 10-day tour you’ll see just what we mean with Christian churches hewn from solid rock; the National Park’s vivid, green peaks; and fascinating cities where luxury sports cars and assorted livestock hang out together in perfect harmony.
As today is the arrival day, you may arrive at any time and an arrival transfer is included. If would like to explore Addis Ababa we can book you an optional day tour. You will either need to arrive early this morning or fly in the night before if you wish to have the day tour. We can book you a pre-night if you would like.
There are no planned activities until an evening welcome meeting. Check the notice boards or ask at reception for the exact time and location of the group meeting, typically 6:00 p.m. or 7:00 p.m. After the meeting, you might take the opportunity to head out for a meal in a nearby local restaurant to get to know your tour leader and traveling companions further. Please make every effort to arrive on time for this welcome meeting. If you are delayed and will arrive late, please inform us. Your tour leader will then leave you a message at the front desk informing you of where and when to meet up.
Addis Ababa, founded more than a century ago, means “new flower” in Amharic. At an elevation of 2,400 m (7,874 ft), it’s the third highest capital in the world and the climate is pleasantly cool. The city mixes past and present, the streets a mishmash of expensive cars, old Russian (Lada model) taxis, along with donkeys, sheep, and goats. Traditional mud houses stand not far from austere fascist architecture and private-sector banks.
Accommodation in Ethiopia is not to the standard of the west or other parts of Africa where tourism is more developed. Please see Trip Notes section further below for more information.
This morning, we fly to Axum, where we will spend the afternoon exploring the many archaeological sites found in the city.
Axum is Ethiopia’s oldest and holiest city and was once the home of the Queen of Sheba. We will explore the Axum historical site, including visits to the main stelae field, the Queen of Sheba’s palace and bath, and the Church of Tsion Maryam (St. Mary of Zion), which is believed to be the first church in Sub-Saharan Africa and claimed to house the Ark of the Covenant.
Approximate travel time: 1.5 hrs by plane
Today, we travel, via the Lima Limo Valley, to Debark, our base for visiting Simien Mountains National Park. At the end of the long day’s journey, relax in the lodge, featuring stunning views of the mountain ranges of the Park.
Approximate travel time: 9-10 hrs by private vehicle
Today, we enjoy a day visit to Simien Mountains National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site. In the morning, we hike from Sankaber campsite to the Jinbar waterfalls. Later, depending on road conditions, we drive as far as the Chenek campsite for a picnic lunch and short excursions in search of wild animals and to soak up more of the indigenous landscape. Those not interested in hiking can spend the day relaxing at the lodge.
The scenic Simien Mountains are a good break from the busy cities of Ethiopia. Rising high above an eroded landscape of deep gorges and valleys, they rank as one of the continent’s most beautiful (and unusual) mountain ranges. A number of peaks reach well over 4,000 m (13,123.4 ft), and Ras Dashen, the highest peak in Ethiopia, is one of Africa’s highest mountains. Here, you can see some of Ethiopia’s remarkable flora and fauna, including Gelada baboon, Walia ibex, and, if you’re lucky, the Ethiopian wolf. The huge lammergeyer (or bearded vulture) can also be found soaring over the valleys here.
In the late afternoon, we continue on to Gondar.
Approximate travel time: 4-5 hrs by private vehicle
We spend the morning today with a guided exploration of the area around Gondar, during which we will learn about the different traditions and cultures of the Amhara region and Ethiopia and try our hand at traditional Ethiopian Injera (bread) making. We return to Gondar in time for lunch.
In the afternoon, we visit Debre Berhan Salassie Church, the country’s most famous church and a highlight of Gondar. Its ceiling is covered with famous paintings of Ethiopian cherubs and the walls portray Ethiopian saints, martyrs, and lore.
Approximate travel time: 30 mins by private vehicle
In the morning, we visit the Fasiladas’ Castle compound, which covers an area of over 70,000 sq m (229,659 sq ft), surrounded by high stone walls. Emperor Fasiladas’s Palace is the oldest and perhaps most impressive of the castles. It is two stories high and has an imposing parapet and four small domed towers. Thought to be designed by an Indian architect, it reflects Indian, Portuguese, Moorish, and Aksumite influences. Following the castle visit, we drive to Emperor Fasiladas’s bath and wander around the grounds shaded by huge fig trees.
In the afternoon, we drive to Bahir Dar.
Approximate travel time: 3-4 hrs by private vehicle
We start the day with a boat trip on Lake Tana, taking in the stunning scenery and visiting two monasteries on the lake. Both men and women can visit these monasteries, Ura Kidane Mehret and Azwa Maryam. From Ura Kidane Mihret, go for a 20-minute walk through the forest on Zege Peninsula to a second monastery, Azwa Maryam. Following a short visit at this monastery, we once again board the boat for its return journey.
In the afternoon, we enjoy a 2-hour guided hike to the Blue Nile Falls, crossing over the Blue Nile via the historic Portuguese bridge. You can also take a path to the bottom of the falls to experience a close-up view. During full flood (July-September), the falls increase to 400 m (1,312 ft) across and 45 m (148 ft) drop.
Today, we spend most of the day driving to Lalibela, a good place to taste the local beverage, tej (honey wine), accompanied by local traditional song and dance.
Approximate travel time: 6-7 hrs by private vehicle
In the morning, you may opt to take a 3-hour hike to Asheton Maryam for panoramic views of the town and countryside. Set at 3,150 m (10,335 ft) on top of the highest peak, this hike can be strenuous and demanding, but there is an option for those who wish to hire a mule.
You may enjoy the rest of the day exploring the rock-hewn churches, including St. George Church, and other historical sites. Lalibela is considered by many as the greatest of the religio-historical sites. The churches, carved out of single rocks, date back to the 11th and 12th century AD and are still in use. Visit various churches here, learning more about the culture and history of the area.
In the morning, we take a short flight back to Addis Ababa, where the tour ends on arrival at Bole International Airport. Please note: Given the uncertain nature of timing when it comes to air travel, we strongly advise booking onward travel for only after 5:00 p.m.
Approximate travel time: 1-2 hrs by plane
Want more adventure? GEEO will give you a discount for booking more than one program in the same summer! Book two or more GEEO programs and receive 10% off on the lesser value program (up to 3 programs). For more details please click here.
Want more adventure? Book two or more GEEO trips in the same year and receive a discount! GEEO will give you 10% off of the lesser value program(s) (up to 3 programs).
If you don’t see a program that interests you that pairs with this trip, but still would like to extend your time abroad, let us know. We will work with you to find a non-teacher trip from our tour operator’s much larger catalog. Even better, if you are an educator, we can still offer you a discounted price on the trip you choose!
Visit our recommended reading page to see the list of books GEEO recommends reading before your program (this is not required reading). We also have lesson plans and Pinterest boards that may be useful for you as you learn about your destination and prepare to bring lessons back to your classroom.
It is very important for you to visit our Terms and Conditions page before signing up for this program.
All cancellations must be submitted to GEEO in written form by emailing your request for cancellation to email@example.com. If you do not receive a confirmation that we have received your written cancellation request, please call us at 1-877-600-0105. Verbal cancellation requests will not be honored.
All GEEO/G Adventures group trips are accompanied by one of G Adventure’s group leaders, which they refer to as Chief Experience Officers (CEO). The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. They will provide information on the places you are traveling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues, and introduce you to our local friends. Our itineraries often have plenty of free time to explore on your own.
While not being guides in the traditional sense, you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the countries visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious, and social aspects. We also use local guides where we think more specific knowledge will add to the enjoyment of the places we are visiting – we think it’s the best of both worlds.
Trip includes moderate hiking and other activities that require an average/moderate level of fitness to enjoy. You can skip the longer hikes if you wish.
Half of the people that travel with GEEO are traveling by themselves, so please don’t worry if you have no one who can join you on your trip. Our pricing is based on double occupancy or, in other words, two people to a room. You never have to pay for a single room unless you want one. GEEO can find you a roommate of the same gender. Most of our trips have a “My Own Room” option, also known as a “Single Supplement,” which is an extra fee that will allow you to have a room to yourself. If you want to room alone, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. To see the price for the “My Own Room” option, please click here where you can look up your trip in the extra services spreadsheet.
Day 1 is an arrival day, and no activities have been planned. Upon arrival to the city on Day 1, or earlier if you have booked pre-accommodation with us, please make your way to the joining hotel. Please note: Check-in time will be in the afternoon. Once you arrive at the hotel, look for a note at reception from your tour leader. This note will give the details of your Welcome Meeting on Day 1, usually between 6:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m., at which you will get a chance to meet your tour leader and other travelers, as well as learn more about how the tour will run. If you don’t see a note, please ask reception for details!
An arrival transfer is included on this trip when you arrive on Day 1, or when you arrive up to 3 days prior to the tour, provided that you have booked your pre-accommodation through GEEO/G Adventures in our joining hotel. (Due to customer experience and quality considerations, all services related to the tour must be continuous.)
If you are obtaining your visa upon arrival at the Bole International Airport, the queue is just before you go through immigration check point. There are a couple bank kiosks to the far right of the visa counter where you can exchange U.S. Dollars (USD) and Euros (EUR) for Ethiopian Birr. These give the current bank rate.
After completing immigration procedures and claiming your luggage in the airport, exit to the large arrivals hall. Turn right at the meet/greet area and look for the Azzeman Hotel booth against the far wall. The Azzeman Hotel staff at the booth will direct you to the shuttle bus that will take you to the hotel. If the greeting staff happen not to be at the booth upon your arrival, wait for 30 min and if they have not arrived please call the hotel reception at +251 (0) 11 16393131.
Should you need to contact G Adventures during a situation of dire need, it is best to first call their local G Adventures office. If for any reason you do not receive an immediate answer, please leave a detailed message and contact information, so they may return your call and assist you as soon as possible.
EMERGENCY CONTACT NUMBERS
G Adventures Local Operator (Ethiopia)
During Office hours (Weekdays, 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. Local Time)
From outside Ethiopia: +251 11 6 299 863
From within Ethiopia: 011 6 299 863
After hours emergency number:
From outside Ethiopia: +251 911 478 058
From within Ethiopia: 0911 478 058
G Adventures Local Office (Nairobi, Kenya)
From outside Kenya: +254 727 208 832
From within Kenya: 0727 208 832
If you are unable for any reason to contact G Adventures’ local office, they have a toll-free line within North America which will connect you directly with their Toronto office: 1 888 800 4100. If outside North America, dial +1 416 260 0999.
Please read this article on GEEO’s blog for our staff’s suggestions on the best gear to pack for your upcoming travels. You must be prepared to carry your own bags and be comfortable carrying them up and down stairs, on and off transportation, and to hotels. As a rule, we try not to have to walk more than 15-20 minutes with your bags, which is why we recommend keeping the weight of your bags between 22-30 lb. Most travelers carry a backpack or rolling bag of small to medium size. No XXL bags please! A daypack is also essential for carrying everyday items. Space is limited on transportation, so there is a limit of one main piece of luggage per person plus a daypack per person.
It is important to pack clothes for warm days and cool evenings; a warm jacket is recommended. In the Simien Mountains, you will be trekking at high altitudes, and you will be passing through a number of different climate zones, so you should pack to prepare for a number of extremes – hot and sunny, cool, cloudy, and misty, fog, rain, wind, and lastly cold. You may experience one or all of these conditions in the same day on your trek. The use of lightweight, breathable, easily removable layers of clothes works best to allow you to adapt to local conditions. We recommend breathable, moisture-wicking fabrics made of wool or synthetic fibers. Cotton is not recommended for hiking as it does not allow for heat or moisture to enter or escape, and it will not dry once wet. It gets cold at high altitude, and for this, in addition to several warm layers and good boots, you will need warm protection for your hands and head. Lastly, though only a few degrees north of the equator, and at altitude, the sun’s effects are heightened. Use a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen and wear proper clothing to protect yourself from the sun, to reduce the risk of sunstroke. A set of smart casual clothes is also advisable.
Hand washing of clothes can be done at most of the hotels in which we stay. We recommend you bring a non-polluting/biodegradable soap, as well as a roll of simple string to act as a drying line for your clothes. If you arrive in the late afternoon, or if there is poor weather, it may not be possible for your clothes to completely dry. Your start/end hotel may also have laundry service for a fee.
All GEEO trips require that the participant have a valid passport. Please see our general FAQ for information on obtaining a passport. As with all of our trips, we try to provide the most accurate information we can, but governments sometimes change visa rules. It is your responsibility to double check the information we provide below by searching here.
You must get your Ethiopian visa before arriving. To do so please go to https://www.evisa.gov.et. Under normal circumstances, the processing time for tourist visa is 3 days, and travelers should submit their application at least 3 days before their estimated date of arrival. We recommend, however, applying at least 2 months before departure. For a single entry tourist visa with validity up to 30 days, the fee is $52 USD.
Ethiopia has ATMs in major towns. Credit cards accepted in some top-end hotels, especially in Addis, but in very few restaurants or even midrange hotels. Bring U.S. Dollars in cash. As currency exchange rates can fluctuate often, we ask that you refer to the following website for daily exchange rates: www.xe.com.
Tipping is an expected, though not compulsory, component of your tour program. The gesture serves as an expression of appreciation for exceptional service, and amounts given are up to your discretion.
Tipping is one of the most direct ways that you can have a positive economic impact within the African community. Although it may not be customary for you, it is an important source of income for those in the tourism industry. Giving a tip should be a seen as a formal “thank you,” and the action should in no way be awkward.
The best method of tipping someone that has served the whole group is to plan in advance, and not rush when it comes to saying goodbye. A suggestion would be for each group member to contribute anonymously by putting their tip into an envelope. This often works the best and the group should gather to present the gift to the recipient(s), offering their thanks and showing their appreciation. This method brings the action out into the open, allowing for a friendly and appreciative interaction between the group and the recipient(s).
You may use the following as a guideline, all given in a per person format:
Tour leader: $5-8 USD (per day)
Driver: $3-5 USD (per day)
Local guides: $1 USD (per hour)
Restaurant/café staff: $10% of the total bill cost
Hotel Porters: $1
We legally cannot give you any medical advice. It is very important to consult your doctor or a travel clinic about which vaccinations you will need for your trip. Please take this seriously!
We often find the best prices for purchasing flights is 60 days before departure, but of course this varies greatly from route to route and year to year. You must wait until this trip is confirmed with the minimum number of required participants before you book your flights. Typically, we reach the minimum number needed at least 90 days before departure. GEEO and G Adventures bear no responsibility for any flights purchased before the trip is confirmed. You can find out whether this trip has been confirmed here.
This program begins and ends in Addis Ababa. Please double check our itinerary for the date by which you must arrive in Addis Ababa. You can arrive at anytime you choose, but try to make it in time for our 6:00 p.m. Welcome Meeting on Day 1. Your trip ends in Addis Ababa, but your flight home should not depart any earlier than 5:00 p.m. on that final day.
There are two components to provide external power to your device: adapters and transformers. The adapter is the plug, adapting the prongs on a standard U.S. two to three-pronged power cord to match the prongs required by the local outlets. The transformer changes the local voltage to that required by your device.
Ethiopia uses a European-style two circular prong plug. Their voltage is 220 Volts. U.S. outlets are 120V. Most new devices (phones and laptops) can handle the different voltage rates, but some devices only work on the U.S. standard of 120V. Check your device to see what voltage range it handles. Most transformer blocks will have an “Input” line that defines its voltage capacity. For example, “Input: 100-240V” means that it will work on voltages from 100V to 240V. If your transformer can’t handle the different voltage, you’ll need to purchase a voltage converter. You can find world regional voltage converters power packs at various vendors.
Before you decide on traveling with GEEO, it is important that you read all of the information about the program you are considering. Remember, our programs are quite adventurous.
Hopefully this is the kind of adventure you are interested in!
While it is our intention to adhere to the routes described on our website, there is a certain amount of flexibility built into the itinerary and on occasion it may be necessary, or desirable, to make alterations. The itinerary is brief, as we never know exactly where our journey will take us. Due to our style of travel and the regions we visit, travel can be unpredictable. The information on our website is a general guide to the tour and region, and any mention of specific destinations or wildlife is by no means a guarantee that they will be visited or encountered. Additionally, any travel times listed are approximations only and subject to vary due to local circumstances.
July and August are very rainy. Expect some days with a light drizzle and other days with downpours. The temperatures will be in the 60’s and 70’s with night time lows in the 50’s.
Please keep in mind this trip offers some free time to pursue activities that interest you. Make sure you look over all of the optional activities and note these additional costs when deciding whether you can afford this program. Breakfasts and a few dinners are included in this trip, giving you the opportunity to eat out according to your own resources. The prices below are in U.S. Dollars and are rough estimates so you can budget your trip.
See top right corner for program fee
Roughly $1,200-$2,200 USD
If you require assistance in booking your international airfare, we would be happy to help you.
Please note: It is mandatory for all of our travelers to have Emergency Medical insurance that covers both emergency evacuation and repatriation to the sum of $200,000 USD. We also strongly recommend purchasing cancellation insurance as well.
We recommend $75 USD for your tour leader, $40 for your driver, and another $20 for other tips.
Make sure you budget for these types of expenses
Variable. Please consult your doctor.
$52. Purchasable online as an e-Visa.
Variable. At your personal discretion.
$100 USD (Suggested donation)
This is only for non-educator guests traveling with an educator on a GEEO trip. Educators and retired educators should not make this donation.