Trekking, Churches and Remote Deserts – Wild Ethiopia
This route allows visitors to see some of the most extraordinary landscapes that Ethiopia has to offer.
When chatting about new trips to offer through Ethiopia, our experts Ben, Marc and Peter wanted to focus on their favourite elements of the country, the amazing trekking, historic Churches of Lalibela and the stunning Danakil Depression – one of the remotest, most inhospitable yet strangely alluring spots on Earth.
Peter’s love of the unusual naturally draws him to the Danakil Depression, which he describes as “an other-worldly landscape, unmatched for dramatic scenery, vibrant colours and hardy Afar tribespeople who mine salt from Lake Abay”. Ben’s natural affinity to be active means he heartily endorses the TESFA Trekking element of this trip which allows visitors to see some truly incredible landscape and contribute to remote local communities along the way. The incredible rock-hewn churches of Lalibela are a personal favourite of Marc’s and have drawn him back to Ethiopia time and time again.
Starting off with an overnight flight to Addis Ababa you will spend your first night in the Ethiopian capital, enjoying a tour of this bustling, modern city which is evolving day-by-day. The following morning you will fly up to Lalibela where you will be met and transferred in to mountains outside of the city, an area known as Wollo. Spend three nights trekking through these stunning mountains, sleeping in community-built camps along the rim of the mountain escarpment and learn about the lives of these remote villagers through the interpretation of your guide. Once the trekking is done you will be driven down to Lalibela where you will be spending 2 nights as the base for exploring the rock-hewn churches that are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. From Lalibela you will continue by road to Mekelle, the jumping-off point for your trip in to the foreboding but beautiful Danakil Depression. Two nights exploring here will allow a night camping on the rim of the active volcano at Erta Ale and the staggering Dallol sulphur springs. A night back in Mekelle will allow for some time to relax before flying back to Addis Ababa late in the evening, connecting on to your flight back to London.
- Exploring the Merkato – Africa’s largest open-air market
- 3 nights trekking through Ethiopia with our partners at TESFA Trekking and Tours
- Walking through the beautiful Wollo region with its stunning views
- Visit the spectacular cave Monastery at Yemerehanna Kristos
- Explore the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela – 13 in total
- Experience Danakil Depression, one of the most remote and inhospitable regions on Earth
- Camping on the rim of a volcano
This wonderful adventure allows you to see the best of what Ethiopia has to offer – mesmerising scenery, challenging but exciting walking, riveting history and the chance to spend time with some of the friendliest and most engaging people you could ever wish to meet. A true adventure and one not to be missed.
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Day 1 - Your adventure begins:
Take an overnight flight from London Heathrow to Addis Ababa with Ethiopian Airlines.
Day 2 - Exploring Addis Ababa:
Land in to Addis Ababa this morning where you will be met and transferred to the Impress Hotel where you will drop off your bags before setting out on an orientation tour of the city. This will include time exploring the Merkato – Africa’s largest open-air market, a trip down Independence Way and a visit to the Cathedral. Enjoy a tour of the very interesting National Museum before heading back to the hotel for some time at leisure to relax.
Day 3 - These boots were made for walking:
After breakfast we will be flying up to Lalibela, arriving in the late morning where vehicles will be waiting for the transfer up to the Wollo region, the mountains that surround Lalibela for a 3 night trek with our partners at TESFA Trekking and Tours. A traditional Ethiopian lunch of injira – a flat pancake with vegetarian side dishes – will be served before setting off on the trek, walking roughly 4 hours to reach the first village where the night will be spent. Enjoy dinner and then a peaceful night enjoying the starry night skies.
Day 4 - Exploring Ethiopia on foot:
Breakfast will be served as the sun rises over the mountains today, before you set off on the morning walk, stopping again for a traditional lunch before moving on to your second camp. The walking is around 7 hours today, with lunch to break things up.
Day 5 - Walking the Wollo region:
Continue your walking through the beautiful Wollo region today, enjoying the spectacular views to the valleys way below, the challenging, but enjoyable walking and the chance to learn more about the rural communities who are hosting you and supported by TESFA. It truly is a remarkable project and has made a huge difference to an area with next to no employment opportunities.
Day 6 - Cave Monastery at Yemerehanna Kristos:
You will enjoy breakfast in the mountains today before a final morning walk back down to the pick-up point for the drive in to Lalibela. We will take a slight detour to head up to the spectacular cave Monastery at Yemerehanna Kristos, a hugely important site of pilgrims visiting Ethiopia with a delightful brown and white outside design which resembles something one would see in a bakery! Hopefully this whets the appetite for dinner in Lalibela this evening, with some excellent restaurants to enjoy and the next 2 nights will be spent at the excellent Lalibela Lodge.
Day 7 - The rock churches of Lalibela:
Spend a full day exploring the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela – 13 in total – which are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the undoubted highlights of any visit to Ethiopia. The churches are found in two clusters – Northern and Southern which we will visit either side of lunch. Round off the day with a visit to Beit Gyorgis – the only one of the churches which is a freestanding monolith and is arguably the most famous and photographed of them all.
Day 8 - Ethiopian road trip:
Today will be a full day in the car as we drive from Lalibela across to Mekelle, the gateway town to the Danakil Depression. Spend the night at the Genfel Hotel and the evening will be at leisure for you to relax.
Day 9 - Sunset at Erta Ale:
Today will see an early start to drive in to the Danakil Depression, one of the most remote and inhospitable regions on Earth. A stop for lunch will be followed by some time to rest, before setting off on the walk up the lower slopes of Erta Ale as the sun sets. Arrive on the volcano rim once darkness has taken over and enjoy the mesmerising view down in to the cauldron of lava in the caldera well below.
Day 10 - Volcano camping:
Camping on the rim of the volcano will see you wake as the sunrises to enjoy the peace and tranquillity that this remarkable spot enjoys. Head back down for breakfast at the base-camp before driving on to the sulphur springs at Dallol – a remarkable spot of bubbling lakes, a huge array of colours and stunning rock formations. After the Dallol visit you will drive on to the campsite for an overnight stay.
Day 11 - Camel trains and salts of Lake Afera:
This morning we will drive up to Lake Afera, the spot where the hardy Afar Tribesmen mine salt from the shores of the lake and where the camel trains start to make their way back to Mekelle to sell the salt. After the visit we will drive back to Mekelle for another overnight stay in the Genfel Hotel.
Day 12 - Return back to the UK with a plethora of memories:
Enjoy a day at leisure to relax at the hotel before flying back to Addis Ababa in the evening, connecting on to the following morning’s early flight back to London Heathrow.
Duration: 12 Days
Location: Ethiopia Holidays, Africa
UK departure dates
- 3rd November 2020 - £2445 per person
- 2nd March 2021 - £2525 per person
This will run with a maximum of 12 guests and has the following inclusions
- All International and Domestic flights
- Accommodation as indicated
- Guiding and transport fees
- Breakfast in all hotels, as well as lunch and dinner when TESFA Trekking and in the Danakil Depression