Your journey will begin on the enchanting island of Zanzibar before spending time at an exclusive game lodge in Kenya. But nothing quite prepares the traveller for Ethiopia’s breathtaking beauty, remarkable ancient history, rich culture, and sheer diversity of people. From the rugged Simien Mountains to dramatic desert landscapes and lush countryside. Ethiopia was the only country in Africa never colonised and the lack of outside influence gives visitors an insight into an old and original Africa. It was here the first humans roamed and today the rich tribal culture and strong Coptic Christian beliefs offer an amazing contrast. We visit the most important sites including Lalibela and its 12th century rock-cut Christian churches, and Axum, the ruins of an ancient city with obelisks, tombs, castles, and Our Lady Mary of Zion church.
Attend the Meskel festival in Ethiopia
Ethiopia is renowned for its colourful festivals and Meskel is one of the major highlights of the year. Witness people dancing and singing around bonfires in Meskel Square, Addis Ababa.
Visit the Mursi Tribe
Living in one of the most isolated regions of Ethiopia, the Mursi people in the beautiful Omo Valley are one of the most fascinating tribes in Africa. Still wearing brightly coloured traditional dress, they are best known for the clay plates that women start wearing in their lips from their late teens.
The Dallol Depression
Numerous sulphur springs, volcanoes, geysers, acidic pools, vast salt pans, and colourful mineral-laden lakes dot this alien-looking landscape.
Tue 10: Auckland > Doha Afternoon departure from Auckland to Doha arriving late evening. Overnight in a hotel.
Wed 11: Doha > Zanzibar Fly to Zanzibar and settle into our luxury hotel overlooking the dhow harbour and the Indian Ocean.
Thu 12: Zanzibar (B,D) Morning walking tour of the Stone Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with fascinating influences of Arab, Indian, Persian, European, and Swahili culture. Welcome dinner included this evening.
Fri 13: Zanzibar > Amboseli (B,D) Fly to Amboseli National Park via Nairobi. We spend three nights in this spectacular national park with its views of Mt Kilimanjaro.
Sat 14 & Sun 15: Amboseli (B,L,D) Enjoy two full days of game drives, walks, sundowners and bush meals both inside the Amboseli National Park and within a private 30,000 acre game concession. Fantastic opportunities for wildlife viewing and photography.
Mon 16: Amboseli > Addis Ababa (B) After breakfast fly to Nairobi and connect to Addis Ababa.
Tue 17: Addis Ababa > Simien Mountains (B,L,D) This morning take a short flight to Gondar then continue by road to our lodge on the edge of the Simien Mountains. Enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding area and relax at the lodge for the rest of the day.
Wed 18: Simien Mountains (B,L,D) We spend the day in Simien National Park with its spectacular views of this unique ecosystem. We can expect to see the endemic Gelada baboons, klipspringers, lammergeyer vultures, and bushbuck all framed in breathtaking scenery.
Thu 19: Simien Mountains > Gondar (B,D) After breakfast we drive back to the city of Gondar, the former capital of Ethiopia and one of the country’s largest and most impressive cities, with its walled Royal Enclosure. Gondar’s most famous monuments are its exceptionally well-preserved 17th century castles and the ‘Pavilion of Delight’ ““ a huge walled private bath built for King Fasilidas.
Fri 20: Gondar > Axum (B,D) We fly to Axum, the seat of the ancient capital of the Kingdom of Axum, which was once one of the most powerful civilisations in the ancient world. Axum is also the origin of Christianity in Ethiopia and believed to be the resting place of the Ark of the Covenant. We will also visit the ruins of the palace of the Queen of Sheba. This will be a very special day!
Sat 21: Axum > Lalibela (B,D) Take a short flight to Lalibela and we will visit the first cluster of rock hewn churches in the afternoon. Lalibela, the ‘New Jerusalem’, is thought to have been constructed some 800 years ago by King Lalibela.
Sun 22: Lalibela (B,D) Today we will visit the church of Yimrhane Kristos, which is a masterpiece of Axumit wood and stone construction. In the afternoon, we explore the remaining rock-hewn churches of Lalibela and absorb the atmosphere of this extraordinary town with its Tukul or round houses.
Mon 23: Lalibela > Mekelle (B,D) We fly to Mekelle and have an afternoon at leisure.
Tues 24: Mekelle > Dallol Depression > Mekelle (B,L,D) A fascinating day’s drive by 4×4 passing salt workers and caravans of camels into the Dallol Depression. This unique landscape is full of marvels including limestone terraces that perhaps remind us of how Rotorua’s Pink and White Terraces could have looked. Return to Mekelle for overnight.
Wed 25: Mekelle > Addis Ababa (B,D) We fly back to Addis Ababa and explore the city which was founded in 1886 by Menelik II. Visit the National museum which houses the 3.5 million year old remains of ‘Lucy’, the oldest hominid ever found. This evening a special Ethiopian dinner and traditional show.
Thu 26: Addis Ababa (B) A highlight of our journey will be attending the Ethiopian Orthodox festival of Meskel. The festival celebrates the finding of the true cross and is celebrated by lighting bonfires topped with crosses and flowers. Once they are blessed, dancing and singing takes place. A photographer’s delight.
Fri 27: Addis Ababa > Jinka (B,D) We take a short flight south to the small town of Jinka and visit the Ari Village nearby.
Sat 28: Jinka > Mursi > Turmi (B,L,D) Early morning drive to Mago National Park where we visit one of Ethiopia’s most unique tribes, the Mursi, known all over the world for the decorative lip plates that adorn the lower lips of the Mursi women. The plates stretch the lower lip beyond imagination and the women’s beauty, pride, and desirability is determined in direct proportion to the size of the plate. Not to be outdone, the Mursi men are also famous for their hairstyles! After lunch in Jinka, we will drive into the Omo Valley where we will visit the Hamer tribe who use their bodies as canvases, elaborately decorating and painting their bodies and faces with spontaneous and beautifully detailed designs and patterns.
Sun 29: Turmi > Addis Ababa (B) Return to Jinka to take the flight back to Addis Ababa and stay overnight.
Mon 30: Addis Ababa > Doha (B) Day at leisure until our late evening transfer to the airport for our flight to Qatar.
Tue 01: Doha Arrive Doha this morning and transfer to our hotel. Afternoon tour of the city including the souq and the Museum of Islamic Art. Late evening transfer to the airport.
Wed 02 Doha > Auckland Early morning departure for Auckland.
Thu 03: Auckland Early morning arrival.