ethiopia galeda baboons simien mountains

Ethiopia: From Ancient Rock Churches to the Simien Mountains

A Cultural, Wildlife, and Hiking Adventure

Overview

Enter the vibrant world of Ethiopia’s ancient culture, hike spectacular trails in UNESCO-listed Simien Mountains National Park, watch troops of gelada baboons scamper across the Simien grasslands and cliffsides, explore 13th century cave churches “carved by angels,” and boat across Lake Tana to ethereal island-monasteries. For this exciting WT Expedition, our veteran Trip Leader is Dawit Yehualashet, a historian with a passion for Ethiopia’s heritage—and a love of traveling to its wilder corners (where he seems to know everyone!). Our cultural and hiking journey will have you watching white-robed pilgrims at their early morning devotions, meeting farm families and traditional azmari singers, being welcomed with traditional coffee ceremonies, and celebrating the unique heritage of country whose founding kingdom dates back to 980 BC. Ethiopia is tremendously rewarding for WT-style adventure, with its jagged mountain peaks, unique wildlife, cherished customs, and world-renowned treasures including Lalibela, whose underground rock-hewn churches are one of the wonders of ancient Christendom. Join us for an incredible experience of Ethiopia.

Itinerary at a Glance

Days 1-2
Addis (7,726’) / Bahar Dir (5,906’)/ Lake Tana

Boat across vast Lake Tana, source of the Blue Nile, to visit medieval island-monasteries that hold a treasury of illuminated manuscripts and unique religious art.

Days 3-5
Hiking the Simien Mountains / Gelada Baboons and Walia Ibex

From our wonderful ecolodge, Limolino, set at 10,000 feet on the edge of the park, hike amid the jagged sandstone spires of the Simien Mountains and keep an eye out for unique wildlife including gelada baboons, with their leonine manes, and graceful walia ibex. These rare species are stunning to observe against the backdrop of sweeping highland valleys and towering rock pinnacles. Our lodge was built in partnership with the local community and promotes conservation practices throughout the park.

Days 6-7
Family Farm / Traditional Singers / Gondar’s Castles

En route to Gondar, we are welcomed by a farm family and visit a village of azmari singers, where we’ll experience the traditions of these poet-musicians. In Gondar, we’ll be welcomed for a coffee ceremony and explore the treasures of the UNESCO-listed medieval palaces of King Fasilides and his successors.

Days 8-10
Axum / Lalibela

In Axum, we explore the holy site of Church of St. Mary of Zion, where the Ark of the Covenant resides in a special chapel. Lalibela’s World Heritage-listed rock-hewn churches must be seen to be believed, and we’ll follow their pathways and descend into catacombs as well as attending an early service with worshippers. Outside Lalibela, we enjoy the serene setting of the cave-monastery at Nakuto Leab.

Days 11-12
Addis / Depart

Our city explorations include the Ethnological Museum and famous National Museum, and we depart on Day 12, with time for final explorations in Addis.

Highlights

Highlights

Be welcomed into Ethiopian culture with historian and Trip Leader Dawit Yehualashet
Discover Lake Tana’s remote island-monasteries, with their superb murals
Hike spectacular trails and see gelada baboons and walia ibex in UNESCO-listed Simien Mountains National Park
Insider’s visit to the holy city of Axum and extraordinary Lalibela, with its 13th century rock-hewn churches
Travel in a small group for more in-depth cultural and wildlife experiences

Details

Length: 12 days
Cost From: $8595  
Arrive: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Depart: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Lodging: 2 nights at the 5-star Sheraton in Addis, 9 nights hotels and lodges
Meals: All meals included as indicated in the Detailed Itinerary (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
Activity: Cultural Adventures, Walking
Trip Level:

Rugged road travel by 4WD vehicle, mountain hikes, cultural explorations