Trip reference number: ITN-ETH003

Trip Operator: Rainbow Tours

Discover Ethiopia 15-Day Private Tour

From: £5455.00

This long-standing favourite with our clients who prefer an individual tour, combines the best best- known of Ethiopia's historical attractions with its two chief hotspots for endemic mammals and birdlife. Stops of historical interest include Bahir Dar, Gondar, Lalibela and Axum.  Scenery is unbeatable, from the awe-inspiring Simien and Bale Mountains to the panoramic Rift Valley Lakes and the Blue Nile Falls. Ethiopia has among the largest complements of endemic mammals and birds of any African country, so for those keen to experience an incomparable blend of natural history, culure and historical highlights, this is a wonderful option to choose. We can tailor it to suit individual interests and requirements. Accommodation is comfortable throughout, including the best lodge in the country, Bale Mountain Lodge. Our excellent, experienced, knowledgeable, professional English-speaking guides and capable drivers, will ensure that you are superbly taken care of.  The itinerary can be done all year except in July and August, when the lodges in Bale and Simien Mountains close for the rainy season.  


Day 1 Fly from London on an overnight Ethiopian Airlines flight to Addis Ababa.

Day 2 On arrival, your guide will drive you to the Golden Tulip Hotel. An afternoon city tour including visits to Entoto Hills, some of the city's more spectacular cathedrals and the National Museum, where you see among other exhibits, the bones of 'Lucy'.If you wish, you can have an introduction to traditional cuisine (pictured), an element of which is 'injera', a pancake made out of a fine grain called teff. Overnight at Golden Tulip, breakfast included.

Day 3 Transfer to the airport to fly to Bahir Dar, on the shores of the deep blue Lake Tana. Your guide will take you to the Zeghe Peninsula to see some of the island monasteries. Overnight in a superior room at Avanti Blue Nile, all meals included.

Day 4 After breakfast, depart on the 2 - 3 hour journey to Gondar stopping along the way to see the Blue Nile Falls. Lunch in Gondar, before the 2 hour drive up to the Simien Mountains. Stay two nights an en-suite chalet at Simien Lodge, all meals included. * If you want to upgrade to Limalimo Lodge, let us know.

Day 5 Spend the day exploring the awe inspiring Simien mountains, where you can take in some of the most dramatic scenery in Africa. In the early morning, you will be driven up to Chennek to seek endangered Walia ibex and various raptors. You should have the 'Gelada Experience' today - these delightful if odd baboon-like monkeys are the world's only primates that graze and they congregate in large numbers, allowing a close approach.

Day 6 You will be driven back to Gondar today, to see the Imperial Compound with its wonderful castles and Debre Berhan Selassie church, where people come to see the country's single most iconic frieze with rows of angel faces, plastered to the ceiling and walls.

Day 7 Transfer to the airport for the morning flight to Lalibela. Here you will be taken to see the 'first cluster' of the famed monolithic or semi monolithic, rock-hewn churches cut top-down into the rugged mountainsides. Stay 2 nights at Maribela Hotel, all meals included. The last church you see today is the iconic, cruciform Bete Giorgis, which makes for a superb end to this unforgettable excursion.

Day 8 After breakfast, your guide and driver will take you to see the second cluster of Lalibela's churches. Enjoy lunch at a restaurant like Seven Olives, which also has outdoor seating in the garden. Then, visit Yemrehane Kristos, arguably the finest of the churches around Lalibela. It is about 40km from the town and makes for a superb afternoon outing.

Day 9 Fly to Axum in northern Ethiopia where you will see the incredible monolithic obelisks or stelae, the Queen of Sheba's Bath, the church where it is said the Ark of the Covenant is housed, and an interesting museum. Overnight in the Sabean International Hotel, with all meals included. .

Day 10 Transfer to Axum airport for the flight back to Addis Ababa where you will be met by your guide and driver. Travel southwards for about 4 hours along good roads in your very comfortable, air-conditioned 4-wheel drive vehicle, with your guide into the Rift Valley. Your destination for the night is Lake Langano in the Ethiopian Rift Valley Lakes region. Among many bird species found here is the Black crowned crane (photographed here by ETO). In the woods around the hotel you can find a selection of mammals and numerous birds. Overnight at the the lovely Hara Langano Lodge, all meals included.

Day 11 Drive to Goba in the Bale Mountains National Park, via the park HQ in Dinsho. In the juniper-hagenia woods around Dinsho, keep a lookout for endemic mammals like the Mountain nyala and Menelik's bushbuck. There is excellent birding here, with local specials including one of Africa's finest songsters, the Abyssinian catbird. Stay 3 nights in style at the superb Bale Mountains Lodge, all meals included.

Day 12 Your guide and driver take you for a drive up to the high-lying Sanetti Plateau, where wildlife enthusiasts come to look for the world's rarest canid, the Simien wolf. They are easy to see - most of the approx. 400 individuals are concentrated in Bale. Their future remains very precarious, as a rabies outbreak which started among feral dogs in villages around the park, killed a substantial proportion of the wolves in Bale during the last year. Watching these beautiful animals hunt by day for their favourite prey - giant mole rats - is an unforgettable experience! The Sanetti Plateau is included in all birding itineraries to Ethiopia, because it is the best place for endemics like the Blue-winged goose (Africa's only true goose), Spot-breasted lapwing and Rouget's rail. All of these are easy to see at puddles or small ponds along the road.

Day 13 Your guide and driver take you in your comfortable, air-conditioned 4-wheel drive to the wonderful Harenna Forest, where the lodge is located. (Photo: Derek, 2016). This vast evergreen forest is a treasure trove for naturalists, with several new reptiles and frogs discovered here in recent years. Mammals present include lion, giant forest hog, warthog, Menelik's bushbuck and birds are abundant and diverse. Regularly seen highlights include Narina trogon, White-cheeked turacou and look around the lodge for Abysinnian catbird.

Day 14 Ethiopian Airlines is now operating flights Goba airport (thrice weekly = Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays: 13h15 - 14h05), so you will be transferred back over the escarpment and Sanetti Plateau, to the airport to check in for the flight back to Addis Ababa. Here you are met and transferred to Golden Tulip where you stay overnight with breakfast included, or if your flight departs early next morning, you'll have the use of a day/evening room. During the afternoon, visit the Merkato for some shopping with your guide. (You can stock up on some amazing Ethiopian coffee for example). If your flight departs in the early hours next morning, you'll be transferred to Bole airport to check in for the Ethiopian Airlines flight home.

Day 15 Fly back to the UK on Ethiopian Airlines flight.

This trip has no fixed departures but restrictions may apply - check operator website

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