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Lost Worlds of Ethiopia

Ethiopia, Africa

from $6,795* per person 17 Days January, September
Comfort accommodations Exertion level: 4
Operator: Wilderness Travel 8 people max
  • Addis ababa
  • Active & Adventure trips
Ethiopia is like no other place in Africa, from its Orthodox Christian heritage, revealed in stunning 12th century rock-hewn churches, to its kaleidoscopic array of animist tribes in the Great Rift Valley. We begin in the craggy northern highlands, discovering Ethiopia’s genuine mystique at fascinating places including the holy city of Axum, once home to the Queen of Sheba, and imperial Gondar, seat of Ethiopia’s emperors. Heading south, we encounter an amazing tribal heritage that includes the Mursi, with their enormous clay lip plates, and the nomadic Karo, known for their elaborate body painting. Our journeys include extraordinary festivals: January trips witness Timkat, a joyous celebration marking Epiphany on the Western Gregorian Calendar, and the September trip witnesses Meskal, The Finding of the True Cross, with its dancing, bonfires, and floats covered with golden meskal flowers.

Locations visited/nearby

Ethiopia, Africa

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Special information

  • May accommodate certain types of disabilities. Contact the operator for more information.

Itinerary

Days 1-3
Addis Ababa / Axum (January departures)

In Addis, a bustling city set at 7,000 feet, we meet with a deacon of the Orthodox church and visit the National Museum to view “Lucy,” the famous 3.2 million-year-old hominid discovered in Ethiopia in 1974. Flying to Axum, we visit the revered Church of St. Mary of Zion, where according to Ethiopian legend, the Ark of the Covenant resides within a special chapel. We also explore some of Axum’s unusual archaeological sites, including the impressive ruins of the Queen of Sheba’s palace.

Days 4-6
Lalibela / Gondar / Lake Tana

Hundreds of churches were chiseled deep into solid rock in the 12th century in Lalibela. We visit some of these astounding churches, with their stunning range of architectural styles, from Greek columns and Arabesque windows to Egyptian motifs. We also explore the mountain town of Gondar, Ethiopia’s royal capital until 1868, with its castles and battlements, and boat across Lake Tana to visit a medieval island-monastery.

Days 7-10
Harar / Timkat Festival

Harar is an ancient walled city known today for fine handicrafts including textiles and silverware. We visit the Harari Cultural Museum, which displays richly painted traditional Harari houses, and visit the former residence of the French poet Arthur Rimbaud. Later we head to Addis to witness dramatic Timkat celebrations that include lively outdoor processions of Orthodox priests in brilliantly-hued gowns and throngs of parishioners in the dazzling white of traditional Ethiopian dress. Ringing bells, blowing trumpets, wafting incense, and blessing rituals add to Timkat’s mystique.

Days 11-17
Omo River Valley / Tribal Ethiopia

Heading south into the Great Rift Valley as far as the Omo River, we encounter a fascinating mix of nomadic and semi-nomadic tribes who coexist in a harsh land all but forgotten by the rest of the world. We meet the Dorze, famous for their weavings, with a chance to explore their weekly market, and the Karo, who excel in body painting using pulverized red and yellow chalk-like minerals to create elaborate face and body decorations. The men of the Mursi tribe, renowned warriors, practice scarification and shave their heads in geometric patterns. We return to Addis on Day 16 and depart on Day 17.

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