From Ethiopia's ancient churches to its other-worldly natural landscapes

Personalised journeys from start to finish

Every trip helps support Conservation

Every detail taken care of

  • Personalised journeys from start to finish

  • Every trip helps support Conservation

  • Every detail taken care of

Itinerary highlights

  • Discover the highlights of Addis Ababa
  • Explore Lalibela's incredible 11th-century churches
  • Head to the Gheralta Mountains and discover its ancient churches
  • Hike amid the incredible landscapes of the Danakil Depression
  • Encounter the unique sulphur pools and their incredible structures

What's included

  • Accommodation throughout
  • Private transfers
  • Private tours and experiences focused around Ethiopia's history, culture and natural landscapes
  • Full support from your travel designer and concierge before, during and after your trip
  • Our help with restaurant recommendations and reservations
  • Expert guides in each destination
Use this itinerary to inspire your bespoke journey

At a glance

Showcasing the very best of Ethiopia’s fascinating history and unique cultural identities, as well as its beautiful natural scenes and other-worldly landscapes; the History and Landscapes of Ethiopia tour provides the perfect presentation of one of Africa’s most rewarding and emerging countries. The tour sees you travel from the bustling capital city, Addis Ababa, to the site of one of the oldest organised Christian bodies in the world at Lalibela, before exploring the history and nature of the Tigray Region and ending at the Danakil Depression, one of the lowest, hottest and driest places on earth.

The tour begins in Ethiopia’s capital and largest city, Addis Ababa. During your time in the city, you’ll have the opportunity to delve into its character and culture, ticking off such sites as the National Museum, Ethnographic Museum, Cathedral Churches, Unity Park and Merkato while also gaining your first impression of the unique and delicious Ethiopian cuisine.

After an internal flight to Lalibela, you’ll spend the next two days exploring what is considered to be one of the oldest sites of Christianity in the world. The most famous attraction here, and one you’ll come to learn plenty about, is the 11 stone churches of Lalibela. Hewn from the rock of monolithic blocks, these incredible structures have hand-carved doors, windows, columns and floors, connected by passageways lined with hermit caves and catacombs.

The next stop on your tour is the Tigray Region, home to the incredible Gheralta Mountains and culture-rich settlements such as Axum. The Gheralta Mountains are considered one of the most beautiful areas in Ethiopia, home to around 120 rock-hewn churches dating back to the 6th century AD. You’ll also discover Abune Yemhata church, the highlight of the churches in the north, carved into the cliff face hundreds of metres above the valley floor.

The tour will end with two remarkable days in the Danakil Depression, as you discover everything from striking salt flats and pillars to incredible sulphur pools and bubbling hot springs – this truly is one of the world’s most unforgettable landscapes. After a few hours back in Addis Ababa to relax and explore, you’ll head to the airport for your onward travel.

Example trip itinerary

Days 1-2

Addis Ababa

Meet and greet at Addis Ababa airport Meet and greet at Addis Ababa airport
Flights & transfers

Transfer

Private transfer to your hotel in Addis Ababa

Accommodation in Addis Ababa

Addis Ababa city tour Addis Ababa city tour

This interesting tour includes a visit to the National Museum, which houses several hundred pieces of bone fossils representing 40% of the skeleton of a female of the hominin species, known as Lucy. You'll also see the Ethnological Museum and get the chance to witness a traditional coffee ceremony, as well as discover the city's churches, Unity Park and Merkato.

Flights & transfers

Transfer

Private transfer to Addis international airport

Transfer

Flight from Addis Ababa to Lalibela airport

Transfer

Meet and greet at Lalibela airport

Transfer

Private transfer from Lalibela airport to your hotel

Days 2-4

Lalibela

Accommodation in Lalibela

St. George Church in Lalibela Ethiopia
Discovering Lalibela's rock churches Discovering Lalibela's rock churches

Lalibela is Ethiopia's holiest city and a site of pilgrimage for many Orthodox Christians. The 900-year-old church of Bet Giyorgis - church of St. George - is located on the western side of the cluster of 11 churches. It was carved from a single piece of rock 40 feet into the ground in the shape of a Greek cross. There is a curtain that shields the Holy of Holies, in front of which usually stands a priest displaying scripture and paintings.

Yemrehana Krestos is a stone and wood church in the Aksumite style, located inside a dark cave 12 miles north east of Lalibela. Until 15 years ago, this church, could only be reached after a long and difficult journey by foot or donkey. You will also enjoy the sunset from Ashetan Monastery, with truly remarkable views.

Ethiopia tej wine
An evening at Torpido Tej House wine bar An evening at Torpido Tej House wine bar

Mingle with the locals in this popular bar where you can taste the local delicacy, Tej. This libation is a kind of Ethiopian mead, a delicious honey wine with a herby flavour. Patrons can also enjoy a traditional azmari song and dance until the early hours.

Flights & transfers

Transfer

Private transfer to Lalibela airport

Transfer

Flight from Lalibela to Axum

Transfer

Meet and greet at Axum airport

Transfer

Private transfer from Axum airport to your hotel

Days 4-6

Tigray Region

Accommodation in Tigray Region

The rock-hewn churches of Gheralta The rock-hewn churches of Gheralta

Very little is known about the origin of the 120 churches carved into the rock and cliffs, or their architectural history. Local tradition attributes most of the churches to the 4th century Aksumite Kings, Abreha and Atsbeha. Access to the churches involves some interesting hikes up the steep, and sometimes sheer, cliff faces. Inside many of the churches are colourful frescoes, hundreds of years old. The priests who live on these mountains follow a simple life that revolves around the Orthodox Christian calendar.

Abuna Yemata is known as Gheralta's church in the sky and is one of the most inaccessible place of worship on earth, perched on top of a vertical spire. Carved by hand from the rock in which it stands, this 5th century monastery is decorated in exquisite frescoes, and is so sacred that mothers bring their newborn babies up here to be baptised, and bodies have been laid to rest on this mountain.

The monastery of Abune Gebre Mikael has a modest whitewashed entrance set within the natural rock, with old wooden window frames. It opens into a beautiful and classical place of worship, cruciform in plan with dome ceilings, pillars and arche, covered in amazing unspoiled frescos of Christian saints and biblical scenes.

Rectangular in shape with six freestanding pillars, Debre Zion is known for its architectural features, including decorated dome ceilings, bas-reliefs and carved crosses on the walls. It also has beautiful, though faded murals and a unique ancient ceremonial fan.

Flights & transfers

Transfer

Private transfer to your hotel in the Danakil Depression

Days 6-8

The Danakil Depression

Accommodation in The Danakil Depression

Salt harvesting Salt harvesting

Arriving at Saba River, you'll settle into camp with a good lunch before setting out in the afternoon for an exploratory trip to the salt harvesters. Sitting on the edge of Lake Ase Ale, you’ll have sundowners and watch the camel trains make their way with their loads of salt off the flats and on towards the distant highlands.

Sulphur pools in Danakil Depression Sulphur pools in Danakil Depression

This morning, you’ll arise early and head across the lake to the sulphur pools. Incredible sculptures and colours abound in this constantly growing hillock. Salt pillars grow like stalagmites out of the lake bed and hot springs bubble in crystal-clear pools.

You'll then return to camp via the salt harvesters for a late brunch.

Saba River walk Saba River walk

Embark on a scenic and memorable walk up the Saba River, deep into the treeless mountains. The watercourse is quite spectacular and is the route for the camel trains to reach the distant highlands. During this walk, you will also visit small Afar communities for an impression of the local cultures and traditions.

Flights & transfers

Transfer

Private transfer to Mekele airport

Transfer

Flight from Mekele to Addis Ababa

Day 8

Addis Ababa

Day room at Best Western Addis Ababa Day room at Best Western Addis Ababa
addis-ababa-aerial
Day in Addis Ababa Day in Addis Ababa

Wander around this expansive capital of Ethiopia, which is the country’s cultural and commercial core and the fourth-largest city in Africa. Enjoy some shopping before feasting on delicious local delicacies.

Flights & transfers

Transfer

Private transfer to Addis international airport

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