Mysteries of Ethiopia

National Geographic Journeys, Addis Ababa to Addis Ababa

Image by G Adventures

Tour description provided by G Adventures

Ethiopia stands at the cultural crossroads of Africa and the Middle East. Discover its dramatic landscapes and diverse cultures on a 13-day adventure. Trek into the stunning Simien Mountains, explore the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela, and introduce yourself to the residents of the progressive village of Awra Amba. In this unique country, surprises await around every turn of the dusty road.

What’s included

  • Your Journeys Highlight Moment: Awra Amba Community Visit and Lunch, Gondar Area Your Journeys Highlight Moment: Ploughshare Women's Association Visit, Gondar Area Your Journeys Highlight Moment: Community Injera Making Demonstration and Tasting, Gondar Area
  • Arrival transfer
  • Excursion to Blue Nile Falls
  • Boat trip on Lake Tana
  • Bahir Dar market visit
  • Guided tour of Debre Berhan Selassie Church, Fasiladas's Bath, and historic castles in Gondar
  • Simien Mountains trek
  • Visit to Axum historical sites
  • Guided tour of the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela
  • Asheton Maryam hike
  • Internal flights
  • All transport between destinations and to/from included activities


  • Discover rock-hewn churches in lalibela and castles in gondar
  • Visit the awra amba community and learn about the local way of life
  • Enjoy a traditional coffee ceremony at the ploughshare women's crafts training center
  • Learn how to make injera (ethiopian flatbread) before a delicious traditional dinner


Day 1 Addis Ababa Addis Ababa, founded more than a century ago, means “new flower” in Amharic. At an elevation of 2,400m (7,874 ft), it's the third highest capital in the world and the climate is pleasantly cool. The city mixes past and present, the streets a mishmash of expensive cars, old Russian (Lada model) taxis, along with donkeys, sheep, and goats. Traditional mud houses stand not far from austere fascist architecture and private-sector banks. Additional Notes: Accommodation in Ethiopia is not to the standard of the west or other parts of Africa where tourism is more developed. Please see about accommodation section in trip details for more information. Included Activities: Arrival Day and Welcome Meeting Transport: Private Vehicle
Day 2 Addis Ababa/Bahir Dar (1B) Take a late morning flight to Bahir Dar. Enjoy a guided hike to the Blue Nile Falls. The falls are some of Africa's most scenic and are known as Tis Issat, which means “smoking water.” Included Activities: Blue Nile Falls Hiking Excursion Transport: Plane (1.00-1.50 hours, 565km) Private Vehicle
Day 3 Bahir Dar (1B) Take a boat trip on Lake Tana to enjoy stunning views and visit monasteries including Ura Kidane Mehret and Azwa Maryam. In the afternoon, take a city tour with a visit to the Bahir Dar market. Included Activities: Lake Tana Boat Trip (Monastery Visit) Bahir Dar Market
Day 4 Bahir Dar/Gondar (1B, 1L) Visit the egalitarian community of Awra Amba with a local expert. You’ll learn about the unique way of life that sets men and women equally in all community, social, and labour matters. After a tasty local lunch provided by some of the community members, continue to Gondar and visit the Kusquam Castle. Included Activities: Awra Amba Community Visit and Lunch Kusquam Castle Visit Transport: Private Vehicle
Day 5 Gondar (1B) Explore Gondar and visit Debre Berhan Salassie Church, Fasiladas's castles, bath, and gardens. Visit the Ploughshare Women Crafts Training Centre in a Falasha village where underprivileged single mothers can learn pottery, weaving, and other technical skills that enable them to make a living independently. There may be some free time in Gondar in the afternoon, where you can opt to visit the local market. Included Activities: Fasiladas Castle and Bath Visit Ploughshare Women's Association Visit Debre Berhan Selassie Church Tour Transport: Private Vehicle (0.50 hour(s), 20km)
Day 6 Gondar/Simien Mountains NP (1B) Visit the Kossoye Community where you’ll learn about the staples of Ethiopian food and have an Injera making demonstration and tasting, then travel to Debark, our base for visiting Simien Mountains National Park. Relax at the scenic lodge with views of the stunning mountain ranges. Additional Notes: It is cold in the morning, during the day, in the evening, and at night when there is cloud cover or sleet. Ice often forms on water in the early mornings during the cold period of December through February, and afternoon spurts of hail frequent the beginning of the rains (April through September). Included Activities: Community Injera Making Demonstration and Tasting Transport: Private Vehicle (4.00-5.00 hours, 170km)
Day 7 Simien Mountains NP (1B) The scenic Simien Mountains are a good break from the busy cities. Rising high above an eroded landscape of deep gorges and valleys, they rank as one of the continent’s most beautiful (and unusual) mountain ranges. A number of peaks reach well over 4,000m (13,123.4 ft), and Ras Dashen, the highest peak in Ethiopia, is one of Africa’s highest mountains. Here, you can see some of Ethiopia's remarkable flora and fauna, including Gelada baboon, Walia ibex, and, if you're lucky, the Ethiopian wolf. The huge lammergeyer is also found soaring over the valleys here. Additional Notes: Today is a full day of hiking. Those not interested in hiking can spend the day relaxing at the lodge. Included Activities: Simien Mountains Trek Transport: Hiking
Day 8 Simien Mountains NP/Axum (1B) Drive to Axum, Ethiopia's oldest and holiest city, which was once the home of the Queen of Sheba. Transport: Private Vehicle (9.00-10.00 hours, 280km)
Day 9 Axum (1B) Spend the day exploring Axum, Ethiopia's oldest city. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church was founded here in the 4th century and it remains the holiest city in the country. Visit archaeological sites and Axum Tsion church. Included Activities: Axum Historical Site Visit Transport: Private Vehicle
Day 10 Axum/Lalibela (1B) Lalibela is a good place to taste the local beverage, tej (honey wine) accompanied by local traditional song and dance. Included Activities: Lalibela Churches Tour Transport: Plane (0.75-1.00 hours) Private Vehicle
Day 11 Lalibela (1B) In the morning, enjoy a hike to Asheton Maryam, for panoramic views of the town and countryside. In the afternoon, we'll continue our tour of the second group of churches. Included Activities: Asheton Maryam Hike Lalibela Churches Tour Transport: Private Vehicle
Day 12 Lalibela/Addis Ababa (1B) Take a late morning flight to Addis Ababa. Opt to enjoy a farewell dinner at a local restaurant. Transport: Plane (1.00-2.00 hours) Private Vehicle
Day 13 Addis Ababa (1B) Depart at any time. Included Activities: Departure Day