WHY IT'S DIFFERENT?
Visiting tribes, hiking among Gelada monkeys, feeding hyenas and exploring the Danakil. This is truly the ultimate intrepid adventure.
There are around two-dozen tribal groups in the Omo Valley. You'll be visiting 3 tribes including the Hamer tribe. If you're lucky you'll get the opportunity to attend a bull ceremony which a once in a lifetime experience.
The meeting point of 3 tectonic plates, where the ground has sunk to over 120m below sea level causing the alien like sulphur fields and active volcanoes. Quite literally no other place on earth like it.
The Mountain Scenery
With Ethiopia or the "roof of Africa", containing 70% of Africa's mountains, you can't fail to notice just how beautiful and vast the landscape is and with such contrasting scenery, it's hard to comprehend it's all in one country.
The Gelada Monkeys
Troops of up to a few hundred monkeys roam the meadows of the Simien Mountains. The gelada baboon, is also known as the ‘bleeding heart’ baboon for the distinctive bright red marks stamped onto their chests.
The Rock-Hewn Churches
Lalibela’s extraordinary UNESCO rock-hewn churches is a unique experience and it's difficult not to be impressed with manor in which they were built. There are 11 medieval churches, you'll be taken to the most impressive.
Enclosed by the medieval walls, the muslim city of Harar feels like it's not changed in centuries. It's famed Hyena men call out to the hyena's allowing you to feed them. The traditional was first recorded in the 1950s.
From the biggest market in Africa in Addis to the surreal tribal Turmi market and finally the colourful souks of Harar, each with their very own flavour they will awaken your senses like never before.
Coffee originated in Ethiopia, with the first coffee plant believed to come from Harar. It's now ingrained in Ethiopian culture and you will experience a coffee ceremony which is interesting and tasty in equal measure.
“Wow - what an incredible country! We saw so much, creating many many highlights. Our afternoon with a Hamer tribe is something I'll never forget and the Danakil was like no other place I've ever been. Shigo was a legend - nothing was too much trouble.”
Sara Platt - Guest
Ethiopia is the ultimate land of extremes—from the Simiens Mountains and its Gelada monkeys, to the volcanoes of the Danakil Depression and the tribes of the Omo Valley, the hyenas of Harar and the Rock Hewn Churches of Lalibela. It’s truly a unique country making it the perfect destination for the intrepid traveller. It’s not, however, for the faint hearted; you’ll encounter some testing environments and a busy schedule, but if you are up for the challenge it will be a epic adventure you will never forget.
NEED TO KNOW
|GROUP SIZE||8 people|
|FLIGHTS||For more information on flights from the UK please refer to the Trip Details section.|
|VISA||UK, EU & US required|
Arrive in Addis and transfer to your hotel for a rest, followed by lunch. Afternoon visit to the National History Museum where you will see primative human remains believed to be 3.2 million years old and Red Terror Museum, a memorial to the matyrs of the Derg regime.
Morning transfer to Addis Airport for flight to Dire Dawa. Transfer to the eastern walled city of Harar, followed by a walking tour and evening visit to see the Hyena man for hyena feeding.
Morning transfer back to Dire Dawa airport before flying to Mekele. Rest of the day at your leisure.
Early morning transfer to outpost military town of Hamed Ela before visiting Dallol and the salt mines. Travel back to Mekele.
Travel to Erta Ale to see the continuously active volcano which is in the Afar Depression near the border of Eritrea. Hike to the volcano’s crater, then have dinner before camping down for the evening.
Sunrise hike back to the nearby outpost. Enjoy breakfast before transferring back to Mekele for lunch. Rest of the afternoon and evening at your leisure.
Morning transfer to Hawzen for lunch. Optional afternoon hike up to one of the many hidden mountain Rock Hewn Churches.
Day at your leisure with optional hikes either side of lunch or a long hike with a picnic lunch.
Transfer to Axum, the home of the Ark of the Covenant, optional Church & Stelae Tour.
Day 10: Morning transfer to Debark for lunch. Transfer to the Simien Mountains to hike along the ridge and spend the afternoon with the Gelada monkeys.
Day 11: Optional morning trek, lunch at your hotel. Afternoon transfer to Gondar, evening at your leisure.
Morning transfer to the airport before flying to Lalibela. Afternoon tour of the Unesco Rock Hewn Churches dating as far back as the 12th century.
Morning transfer to the airport for your flight to Arba Minch. Transfer to Dorze Tribe village, sample local food and drink, learn about the tribal traditions and see a typical Dorze home.
Morning transfer into the Omo Valley. Stopping for a look round a Konzo village before having lunch in Keyafer. After lunch you will visit the Turmi Market before heading to your hotel.
Early morning visit to a nearby Hamer village where you will have local tea in one of the village huts and learn about their way of life. Transfer back to Arba Minch, stopping for lunch along the way.
Optional morning Crocodile and Hippo Tour. Afternoon transfer to Arba Minch for your return flight to Addis Abba. Dinner in town before returning to the airport for your evening flight.
A selection of our accommodation, which is subject to availability, however alternatives are always of a similar price, grade and location.
We choose the best lodges available in the town, all located close to the neighbouring lake with its abundance of hippos and crocodiles.
Typical Accommodation: Paradise Lodge or similar
Our selection of comfortable hotels are perfect for relaxing after an afternoon drive and a morning hiking in the Simien Mountains.
Typical Accommodation: Mayleko Lodge or similar
All our hotels are conveniently located near the main sights and close to the airport giving you more time to relax when not exploring.
Typical Accommodation: Hotel Hub or similar
Either located in the National Park or by the entrance we choose from the very best on offer. The more intrepid you can even camp in the park.
Typical Accommodation: Semien Mountain Lodge or similar
Home to the Hamer Tribe, Turmi is the perfect location to go and explore the Omo Valley and possibly witness a Bull Jumping ceremony.
Typical Accommodation: Buska Lodge or similar
This religious city is rumoured to house the Ark of the Covenant, this is disputed by many outside of Ethiopia, especially as it's not on public display.
Typical Accommodation: Sabean Hotel or similar
Situated in the most northern region of Tigray, Hawzen is the perfect location to explore the stunning landscape and hidden churches.
Typical Accommodation: Gheralta Lodge or similar
Our hotels are situated on a ridge overlooking the plains below, just a short transfer from the UNESCO rock-hewn churches.
Typical Accommodation: Maribela Hotel or similar
With all our selection of hotels comfortable and central, they are perfect for relaxing after a long day exploring the Danakil Depression.
Typical Accommodation: Debre Amo Guest House or similar
With only basic guest house lodging available in Harar, what our choices lack in mod cons they more than make up for in character.
Typical Accommodation: Annisa Guesthouse or similar
WHERE YOU'RE GOING
When you think of Ethiopia, you may be inundated with images of extreme poverty set against an unforgiving desert landscape, ravaged by war. Put the preconceptions aside, however, and you’ll discover a colourful nation that stands apart from every other country on the African continent. Along with being the only African country to have resisted colonisation, scientists have declared Ethiopia to have been the beginning of mankind thanks to the discovery of the 3.5 million year old fossils from ‘Lucy’, the first human being on record. Ethiopia rests on a plateau at 2,500 metres above sea level and boasts staggering landscapes rich in natural beauty with gushing waterfalls and winding rivers set amongst fertile highlands and the flat-topped peaks of the vast Simien Mountains.
"For an intrepid adventure such as this, it's important to do all you can to stay fit and healthy, so although we encourage you to immerse yourself in the local culture, it's best to be a little cautious when eating in the more remote areas"
Shigo - Untravelled Paths
Be sure to wash your hands regularly to ensure you don't catch or pass on germs as hygiene standards aren't as high as they could be. On such a busy adventure you don't want to be unwell.
We work hard to maintain mutual respect between local and visitor to ensure an authentic visit, so we ask that you avoid giving gifts to the locals, you donate by visiting.
As a UK / EU passport holder you can get an e-visa or obtain one on arrival. However as rules tend to change fairly regularly it's always prudent to double check as one of our team can testify!
Ethiopia does require vaccinations, so please book an appointment with your nearest clinic. Some take time to take effect, so be sure to allow plenty of time before departure.
Relax & Rest
Make no mistakes this is an unforgettable adventure not a relaxing holiday so when you have the opportunity to relax in the schedule then take it as it's a packed itinerary.
Ethiopia is a religious country so women in particular will need to cover up so be sure to have scarf with you to cover up when necessary. It's also useful for protection from dust.
Not Ethiopia's strength, we pick the best of what is available which are absolutely fine but remember it's the unique, authentic culture which is the reason to visit this incredible country.
Stick with your Guide
Ethiopians are very friendly people, we've never had any issues with safety or security, but with cultures being so different it's good to stick close to your guide in the event of any issues.
As a tour operator we are not able to offer inclusive flights as part of our experiences however we are more than happy to help you find the most appropriate incoming and outgoing flights for you. All the listed airports fly in and out of Addis Ababa with multiple different airlines to choose from. We highly recommend using Ethiopian Airlines as they are very affordable, the only airline that flies direct and most importantly will give you up to a 50% discount on internal flights if you have booked your international flight with them. They are the only domestic carrier in Ethiopia.
Internal flights typically cost £200 - £250 per person for all the connections listed above. We can reserve your international flights and domestic flights for you, provide you with a reference number with a quote and then you can simply call their reservations centre and they will take your payment.
In order to be fully covered on your trip should anything happen, we suggest getting an insurance before you travel. We recommend True Traveller, designed especially for adventure travel, who will be able to tailor an insurance package based on your needs. You can find out more here.
Our prices are based on people sharing, for solo travellers who would prefer a private room the price per person will include a solo occupancy fee.
If you wish we can also organise extra nights at either end of your trip for you.
Book your trip in a few easy steps.
Once you’ve chosen the dates you’d like to travel on using our availability calendar all you need to do is head over to the booking page and fill in the enquiry form.
BOOK YOUR FLIGHTS
We will get back to you answering any questions you might have and confirming availability. If all is good, we can hold the places for you for 48 hours while you book your flights. Please note that this stage does not represent a guarantee of the booking.
Once you have made your necessary arrangements, we will send you a booking form you will need to fill in with your details and any other relevant information.
PAY FOR YOUR TRIP
As you fill in the booking form, you will also be asked to make the payment through a secure link; if you are travelling in less than 8 weeks, the payment will be paid in full, otherwise only a 35% deposit will be taken.
Shortly after you pay, you will receive a confirmation invoice, followed by a personalised itinerary and digital booklet. All you need to do now is write the dates in your diary, prepare your packing list and look forward to your next adventure!
Please note deposit is non-refundable. The balance will only be refundable if you cancel with more than 8 weeks in advance. More information about the cancellation policy can be found in our Terms & Conditions. We highly suggest getting insurance before you travel to avoid any problems. Our personal recommendation is using True Traveller.
Ethiopia's currency is the Birr (ETB). Notes are printed in denominations of 100, 50, 10, 5 and 1. Coins come in 50, 25, 10, 5 and 1 cent pieces, the former of which can be useful for small tips or donations. The Birr is one of the most stable and strongest currencies in Africa.
While there are plenty of major bank branches across Ethiopia that can exchange foreign currency into Birr, the easiest and most convenient way to get hold of your holiday cash is to withdraw it from a local bank on arrival in Ethiopia. With dozens of cash machines dotted around the city, Addis Ababa is the most sensible place to do this. We also recommend obtaining some US dollars before you travel as this currency is widely accepted and can be helpful at the start of your trip if you can't access a cash machine immediately. You'll also need dollars to pay for your entry visas.
Cash machines are now widespread across Ethiopia particularly in Addis Ababa so accessing a cash machine to withdraw funds should be your first port of call on arrival (maximum withdrawals tend to be restricted to around 4,000 Birr. Outside of Addis Ababa, the best place to withdraw cash in the Omo Valley is in the Arba Minch, other villages will not have cash machines or even banks so bear this in mind. When withdrawing money from a cash machine you'll be offered two exchange rates, one from the local bank and another from your UK bank. Make sure you opt to take your UK bank's exchange rate as it will be substantially better value. Please also note that most cash machines charge approximately £1.50 per withdrawal so use them sparingly.
While cash transactions are commonplace, most major credit and debit cards (Visa & Mastercard) have become more widely acceptable particularly in Addis Ababa and other major towns. While you're unlikely to have issues using your card to pay for drinks or dinner in places like Addis Ababa using your PIN number, most of the villages in the Omo Valley only accept cash and don't have cash machines available so do make sure you've got enough on you as well as small change for small purchases. It is always advisable to inform your bank that you're travelling abroad in order to avoid the frustration of having your card blocked.
All visitors to Ethiopia must obtain an entry visa. UK and other EU passport holders do not need to get hold of one before travel and the relevant one-month visa can be purchased on arrival at Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa. The fee for a single-entry visa upon arrival is $50 and is valid for 30 days. For up to date fees and requirements, we highly recommend you consult the Ethiopian Embassy website.
In order to give you some direction on how much spending money to budget for your trip to Ethiopia, we thought it would be a good idea to offer some guidelines in terms of costs. Costs in Ethiopia are incredibly reasonable and as a general rule, you'll be able to have a good lunch for around £5 a head and will pay around £10 a head for a nice evening meal. Naturally, the type of establishment you choose to eat in and what you order will dictate the cost of your meals. Be aware that ordering imported drinks can cause your bill to sky-rocket so drinking local wines, beers or spirits is advisable. We reckon around £300 - 400 for meals, drinks and snacks for two people is more than enough. Please note that these are rough estimates and you can always choose to spend more or less depending on your budget and preferences.
The vast majority of the country is blessed with a fairly pleasant year-round temperature, but like much of the rest of Africa, Ethiopia also experiences wet and dry seasons unlike our traditional autumn, winter, spring and summer seasons. In the north and in Addis Ababa, the rains typically fall between June and early October, while the wet season in the Omo Valley arrives around June and continues for a few months. The south is significantly warmer than the north where temperatures are more moderate with cold evenings.
Layers of clothing (light, loose and comforable); warm cardigan or woollen jumper (for evenings and cool termperatures in Addis Ababa); light waterproof jacket (protection against wind and/or rain); sunglasses and hat (sun protection); scarf or snood (to shield nose and mouth against Omo Valley dust); trainers or closed-toe shoes (comfortable and protective against dust); sandals or flip-flops; small day pack (for excursions); camera (with plenty of memory and battery); correct adapter plug; flashlight (power is erratic in the Omo Valley); ear plugs and eye mask (for sleeping); spare set of clothes (packed in hand luggage in case suitcases get delayed); medical kit; US dollars.
You will need to ensure that your passport it is valid for at least six months after the date of return and that it contains a minimum of two blank pages (opposite each other). We recommend packing two passport copies in your main luggage. Depending on where you're travelling from or to you may also need a yellow fever certificate.
You are highly advised to get yourself all the necessary vaccinations for your time in Ethiopia. Many need to be administered in advance (sometimes 8 weeks prior), so we recommend looking into this as soon as possible.
As Ethiopia is truly off-the-beaten-track, we highly recommend taking out a travel insurance policy that covers emergency assistance in case of injury or illness, personal liability, and lost and stolen possessions. This will need to cover you for the entire period you are away.
The basic components of almost all traditional Ethiopian dishes are meat and vegetables. This is usually in the form of rich, spicy stews called wat, combined with flavourful sauces and a medley of vegetables served atop the ubiquitous injera, a spongy, sour-tasting flatbread. The most popular wats (stews) are made from chicken (doro), lamb (yebeg) and fish (asa). Eat like the Ethiopians and dig into a shared tasting platter of assorted stews (beyaynetu), using your right hand to tear off strips of injera to scoop up bites of spicy meat and sauces.
In the unlikely event you experience any problems whilst travelling in Ethiopia with Untravelled Paths please contact our local Ethiopia manager, Shigo Ayele on +251 916 443 333. Alternatively, if you cannot get through call the Untravelled Paths office on +44 207 101 4061.