Tribes & Traditions of Ethiopia - A Limited Edition Small Group Journey (2021/22)

An incredibly diverse country, Ethiopia is rugged and mysterious. Pack a sense of adventure on this exclusive journey which combines the rich history, culture and landscapes of the north with the tribal heritage in the south.

Journey Overview

An incredibly diverse country, Ethiopia is rugged and mysterious. Pack a sense of adventure on this exclusive journey which combines the rich history, culture and landscapes of the north with the tribal heritage in the south. You’ll visit the source of the Blue Nile, see the skeleton of ‘Lucy’ and spend a night in the Simien Mountains. There is rare wildlife amidst high peaks, extraordinary rock-hewn churches, World Heritage sites and an incredible number of different ethnic groups in and around the Omo Valley. You’ll explore their villages, learn about local customs and wander through bustling markets.

Journey Highlights 

  • Explore the markets, churches, museums and palaces of Addis Ababa
  • Venture to the source of the Blue Nile
  • Soak up breathtaking vistas and drink coffee like a local
  • Gaze at medieval frescoes in the extraordinary rock-hewn churches of Lalibela
  • Hike through the rugged Simien Mountains in search of rare wildlife
  • Marvel at the remarkable stelae and tombs of ancient Axum
  • Discover tribal customs and culture in the villages and markets of the Omo Valley
  • Witness a spectacular display of song, dance and prayer at the annual christian festival of Timkat (January 2022 departure only)
  • Typically features a small group size of 10–12 guests

Journey Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Arrive in the Ethiopian capital to a warm A&K welcome and enjoy a private transfer to your hotel. 

Addis Ababa is a city of contrasts – new skyscrapers stand on dirt roads and international business conferences meet next to traditional markets where rural customs are preserved. Many travellers still see the capital as a mere stopover on the way to more remote areas of the country, the hectic city can be daunting, but ‘Addis’, as it is known to locals, is an exciting cultural hub with plenty to see and do – and excellent food. 

Settle in with a welcome briefing at your hotel, before a welcome dinner. Savour a taste of Arabia on a culinary journey across the Middle East to the drifting tunes of Arabic music. Your expert chef from Syria and his talented team capture the essence of Middle Eastern cuisine with an extended buffet and live cooking demonstration.
Sheraton Addis | Meals: D

Day 2: Addis Ababa | One of the World’s Highest Capitals

Your adventure begins with a panoramic introduction to the city from the summit of Mt Entoto (3,200 metres). Stop for a steaming cup of Ethiopian coffee on the way and, after admiring the view, take a glimpse inside the Entoto Maryam Church, which was constructed by Emperor Menelik II. Step into the small local museum and the Menelik Palace and, on the return journey, admire traditional textiles and garments at the Shero Meda Market. 

This afternoon, visit the National Archaeological Museum, where the 3.2 million-year-old bones of Lucy (a female Australopithecus afarensis, or extinct species of Southern ape skeleton) reside, followed by an exploration of the Ethnographic Museum. Easily one of the finest museums in Africa, it showcases the full sweep of Ethiopia's cultural and social history across two floors.
Sheraton Addis | Meals: BLD

Day 3: Axum | Centre of the Aksumite Kingdom

Fly to Axum, the oldest city in Ethiopia, in the far north of the country. Considered one of the four great powers of the ancient world, Axum was an important centre of trade and innovation. It is known for its tall, carved obelisks, relics of the ancient Kingdom of Aksum. 

Venture to the impressive heritage listed stelae fields and marvel at the enormous obelisk-like structures. See the royal tombs and ruins of ancient castles before heading to the Axum Museum and Mariam Tsion Church, built on the site of Ethiopia's first church. A chapel within the church compound is believed by Ethiopian Orthodox Christians to house the Ark of the Covenant, or the original tablets of Moses.
Atranos Hotel | Meals: BLD

Day 4: Lalibela | Medieval Rock-Hewn Churches

Fly south to the small town of Lalibela, home to one of the world's most astounding sacred sites comprising 11 medieval rock-hewn churches. Visit the first of these churches via a network of labyrinthine tunnels and crypts which connect the galleries and grottoes, pausing as you wander to drink in the history of the monuments around you. 

Pause at Bet Medhane Alem, the largest rock-hewn church in the world, which has been constructed like a Greek temple. Surrounded by 34 large, rectangular columns, three of these are joined and are thought to represent the Holy Trinity. 

After your exploration, travel to your hotel.
Mezena Lodge | Meals: BLD

Day 5: Lalibela | New Jerusalem

Today offers another day exploring Lalibela's extraordinary churches. The southeast cluster is more irregular in design than the rest and several are thought to have been secular in origin, with some predating the reign of King Lalibela by five centuries. 

Then visit Bet Giyorgis, probably the most elegant and majestic of all the Lalibela churches, only accessible through a tunnel. A 15-metre high three-tiered plinth in the shape of a Greek cross - it's a perfectly proportioned shape that required no internal pillars. Inside, light filters in from the windows and illuminates the ceiling's large crosses. Peer over the curtain to see the maqdas' beautiful dome. Look for the two 800-year-old olive-wood boxes (one with opposing corkscrew keys) that locals believe were carved by King Lalibela himself and now hold the church's treasures. 

After lunch, visit the monastery of Nakuto Le'ab, a fascinating example of Lalibela's eastern group of rock-hewn churches. The church boasts various treasures said to have belonged to its founder, including crosses, crowns, gold-painted drums and an illuminated Bible. 

Later, visit the open-air market and experience warm Ethiopian hospitality at a traditional coffee ceremony.
Mezena Lodge | Meals: BLD

Day 6: Gondar | Imperial City of Fasilides/ Timkat Festival

Today, journey by air to Bahir Dar, and onwards by road to to Gondar, the capital and commercial centre of Ethiopia from the 17th to mid-19th century. It is known for the walled Fasil Ghebbi fortress and palace compound, once the seat of Ethiopian emperors. Dominating the city is the immense 17th-century castle of Emperor Fasilides, which combines Portuguese, Indian and local architectural styles. 

Explore a number of castles in the royal enclosure before visiting Debre Berhane Selassie church, the only church saved from the Mahdist invasion in the 1880s. Admire the wonderful murals before continuing to the bath of Emperor Fasilides, best known for the annual Christian festival of Timkat where local worshippers descend into the pool to commemorate the baptism of Jesus, re-enacting the holy act and coming together in a spectacular display of song, dance and prayer. Participants on the January 2022 departure will be lucky enough to witness this incredible celebration.
Gondar Hills Resort | Meals: BLD

Day 7: Simien Mountains | Endemic Wildlife & Breathtaking Views

This morning, immerse yourself in the colourful Timkat celebrations once again (Jan 2022 departure only), before driving northeast to the Simien Mountains National Park and your lodge on the edge of an escarpment with breathtaking views. Admire the endemic animal and birdlife including the Walia ibex, Ethiopian wolf, Menelik's bushbuck and the Gelada baboon. Head out on foot with an expert guide, in the hope of getting close to a troop of Gelada baboons as you spend time exploring the beautiful park.
Limalimo Lodge | Meals: BLD

Day 8: Bahir Dar | Blue Nile Falls

Drive through lush countryside this morning to Bahir Dar, on the southern shore of Lake Tana, the source of the Blue Nile. Stop in villages along the way to meet locals and get a taste of the day-to-day lifestyle before visiting the magnificent Tis Isat Falls (Blue Nile Falls). The river pours over the side of a sheer 42-metre high chasm and explodes into a melange of mists and rainbows before continuing on its tumultuous path to Khartoum, where it finally meets the White Nile. 

Afterwards, continue to your accommodation, with your evening at your leisure to relax.
Kuriftu Resort & Spa | Meals: BLD

Day 9: Bahir Dar | Island Monasteries

This morning, board a local boat for the trip across Lake Tana to nearby Zeghie Peninsula. At this breathtaking site, explore two 14th century monasteries, steeped in history, renowned for their round, grass-roofed churches and magnificent murals which depict scenes from the Old and New Testaments. 

One of these structures, the monastery of Ura is known especially for its fine frescoes, manuscripts, ecclesiastical objects like crown of various emperors dated from the 14th century, processional crosses of silver & gold, silver-drum and royal vestments.
Kuriftu Resort & Spa | Meals: BLD

Day 10: Addis Ababa | Design Your Day

Today you will board your return flight to Addis Ababa. The afternoon is yours to Design Your Day:

  • Tempt your tastebuds on a taste of Addis food tour 
    Gain a deeper insight into the history and culture of Ethiopian food as you explore local markets in search of fresh produce and flavourful spices to help craft delicious local fare under the watchful eye of a local chef. Eat with your fingers at a traditional restaurant, and partake in a typical Ethiopian coffee ceremony.
  • Explore eco-art at ZOMA Museum 
    Pay a visit to ZOMA Museum, an environmentally conscious art institution in Addis Ababa. Discover cutting-edge ecological art and architecture, the museum itself built using traditional construction techniques, using a combination of natural materials like mud, straw, stone and wood, combined with cement.
  • Immerse yourself in an Ethiopian Jazz night 
    Ethiopian Jazz, termed ‘Ethio-jazz,’ is a unique fusion of traditional Ethiopian music with jazz, Afro-funk, soul, and Latin rhythms. Music lovers will revel in a visit to the African Jazz Village, an intimate venue to enjoy great musicians, including the timeless Father of Ethiopian Jazz Dr Mulatu Astateke. 

Sheraton Addis | Meals: BL

Day 11: Jinka | Cultures of the South Omo

Today, travel by air to Jinka, continuing to Yetnebersh village to witness an engaging demonstration of traditional spirit making from sorghum, garlic and maize. 

Afterwards begin your explorations of the diverse regions and cultures of the Omo Valley, stopping first at the South Omo Research Centre and Museum, guided by an expert as you take a deep dive into understanding the history and cultures of the  many ethnic groups living in the region. 

Following your explorations, return to your hotel for an evening at leisure.
Eco Omo Lodge | Meals: BLD

Day 12: Turmi | Tribal Customs

Today starts a deep dive into the South Omo, exploring the fascinating range of cultures there. Visit a Mursi village, and be immersed in their unique customs, learning the significance of their age-old traditions including the intriguing lip plates and large decorative ear plugs. 

Meet the proud Hamar, known for their body decoration, moonlight dances and bull-jumping, and the Karo, recognisable by their elaborate body scarifications and lower lip piercings. They are considered masters of body painting when preparing for a dance, feast or celebration. 

After an unforgettable encounter, continue to Turmi. a market town in south-western Ethiopia and settle into your accommodation.
Buska Lodge | Meals: BLD

Day 13: Turmi | Village Visits & Handicraft Markets

After breakfast, travel by road to the village of Kolcho and visit the Karo tribes. 

Return to Turmi to visit one of the smaller villages. Constructed entirely from mud, wood and thatch, one of the most striking aspects of these small villages is the total absence of non-organic or western artefacts. 

Pay a visit the Dimeka and Alduba markets, getting lost among the incredible handicrafts, including jewellery, carved masks and pottery, perhaps finding the perfect souvenir as you go.
Buska Lodge | Meals: BLD

Day 14: Arba Minch | Terraced Hillsides and Konso Traditions

This morning drive to Arba Minch pausing to admire the beautiful terraced hillsides of the Konso people who are also well known for their woven materials and the carved totems which decorate their graves. Be welcomed into the village by these proud people, taking time to learn about the incredible culture and traditions that make up their daily life. Afterwards, continue to your hotel and settle in for the evening.
Haile Arba Minch Resort | Meals: BLD

Day 15: Arba Minch | Beehive Dwellings

In the morning, set out on a boat trip across Lake Chamo, located in the mountainous and verdant landscapes of Ethiopia’s Rift Valley, keeping a weather eye out for hippos and Nile crocodiles. Take in the stunning panoramic views of soaring mountain ranges and open savannah plains. 

Afterwards, visit Chencha village, home to the Dorze whose tall beehive-shaped dwellings are among the most distinctive traditional structures in Africa. Immerse yourself in their local way of life, learning the history of the people and their captivating local traditions.
Haile Arba Minch Resort | Meals: BLD

Day 16: Addis Ababa | Highland Hub Farewell

Board your return flight to Addis Ababa and transfer to your hotel, with the rest of your day at leisure to take in some final sights of the capital. 

In the evening freshen up before a farewell dinner with your group.
Sheraton Addis | Meals: BLD

Day 17: Depart Addis Ababa

This morning transfer to the airport for your departure flight.
Meals: B

Journey Details

Internal air included: Addis Ababa–Axum/Axum–Lalibela/Lalibela–Bahir Dar/Bahir Dar–Addis Ababa/Addis Ababa–Jinka/Arba Minch–Addis Ababa

Maximum Group Size: 18

Departures are guaranteed to operate with a minimum of 2 guests.

Tour Inclusions

  • All accommodation as detailed with private facilities
  • Meals as specified in itinerary, including welcome and farewell dinners
  • Internal flights as mentioned in itinerary
  • Services of English speaking A&K Resident Tour Director
  • Airport welcome
  • Porterage
  • Group transportation by private air-conditioned vehicle
  • Bottled water during transfers and touring
  • Wine & beer during lunch and dinners (selected by Resident Tour Director)
  • All entrance fees
  • Planning, handling, operational and communication charges
  • All tipping

Tour Exclusions

  • International flights to the tour start point and from the tour end point
  • Visas and other border fees
  • Insurance coverage of personal loss, injury, illness or damages incurred during your trip
  • Items of a purely personal nature such as drinks (unless specified), laundry, dry cleaning, internet, fax or phone charges
  • Transfers, sightseeing or meals not specified in itinerary
  • Excess baggage charges

Please Note: Outside Addis Ababa, accommodation used on this journey is not luxurious, from both a facility and service perspective. Accommodation is 3-star to 4-star, or is not appropriately categorised with a star rating.  Accommodation is however clean and comfortable, with air-conditioned rooms and buffet breakfast, and meets most key international health and safety standards. Some accommodations have a swimming pool, and most have WI-FI, although service can be intermittent or in reception areas only. Abercrombie & Kent’s use of simple accommodation is due to a genuine lack of choice and the relative under-development of Ethiopia and its tourism industry. We do request that guests understand in advance that the basic nature of accommodation used on this journey (which can sometimes be very atmospheric) can make for a unique, memorable stay.

For further information please contact A&K and speak to one of our groups specialists. 

Tailor-Made Travel with A&K

If scheduled departure dates don’t work for you, or you would prefer to travel privately, please talk to one of our expert Journey Designers or your travel agent about creating the perfect bespoke tailor-made journey for you, or your own small group with family or friends.

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Preferred Accommodation

Preferred Accommodation

This journey features the following Preferred Accommodations:

Sheraton Addis

Tribes & Traditions of Ethiopia - A Limited Edition Small Group Journey (2021/22)

Opposite the National Palace and seven kilometres from Bole International Airport, Sheraton Addis is renowned for its service, and the ... Read more

Mezena Lodge

Tribes & Traditions of Ethiopia - A Limited Edition Small Group Journey (2021/22)

Situated on the eastern side of the city of Lalibela in extensive grounds, Mezena Lodge opened in late 2017. A blend of classic Ethiopian ... Read more

Limalimo Lodge

Tribes & Traditions of Ethiopia - A Limited Edition Small Group Journey (2021/22)

Perched on the edge of the escarpment, 14-room Limalimo Lodge is a beautiful place to experience Ethiopia's Simien Mountains National ... Read more

Kuriftu Spa & Resort

Tribes & Traditions of Ethiopia - A Limited Edition Small Group Journey (2021/22)

Located on the shores of Lake Tana, Ethiopia's largest lake, the Kuriftu Resort and Spa is just a short drive from the airport. Designed ... Read more

Dates & Prices

Journey Dates & Prices

Prices are per person, based on double occupancy

Jan 17, 2022 - Feb 2, 2022
Price AU$15,615pp Single Supplement AU$2,235 Internal Air (From) Included Availability Available Enquire

* You must be a Qantas Frequent Flyer member to earn points. Membership and points are subject to the Qantas Frequent Flyer program terms and conditions, available at Eligible Product(s) means any new International and Domestic private tour land itinerary or Limited Edition Small Group Journey with a land itinerary of seven nights or more* created by Abercrombie & Kent Australia.


Related Brochures

  • Small Group Journeys 2021-22