Witness sights that few will ever see!

This extraordinary tour visits the most isolated communities and the rarest wildlife on earth in a truly memorable journey.

And all our tours are not-for-profit! By coming with us you will be supporting and helping the education of Ethiopian children. What could be better!

Dates:

Normally in July – 2018 dates to be confirmed on request

Cost: 2018 costs to be confirmed

Our Tour costs includes all accommodation, meals, transport, etc. Excludes flights.

Other tours

If you’re already familiar with the areas of Ethiopia that this tour covers you can read more about our Historic Ethiopia tour here, and our Rift Valley tour here

The itinerary

Day 0: To Ethiopia

(Thursday)

Evening flight to Addis Ababa.

Day 1: Addis Ababa/Arba Minch

(Friday)

We arrive in Addis Ababa early morning. After restorative coffees, we take you high into the Entoto Hills to see where Menelik II and his Queen Taitu lived and planned their ‘New Flower’ capital (Addis Ababa). The early afternoon sees us on a flight to Arba Minch where we meet our Toyota Landcruisers and drivers, with us for the whole trip. The clean and comfortable Ezana Hotel is our base for this first night, with dinner overlooking Lakes Chamo and Abaya.

Day 2: Arba Minch to Jinka

(Saturday)

Having prepared the first of our picnics for this tour, we take the scenic route to Konso, where we have our picnic lunch, before proceeding to Jinka to meet our local guide, arriving just in time for the end of the Saturday tribal market. The very peaceful Eyob Hotel, set in large gardens on the edge of the town, is our home for two nights.

Day 3: Mursi village

(Sunday)

After breakfast, a reasonably prompt start with our guide in attendance takes us towards the isolated Mago National Park and the first of our encounters with tribal communities. This Mursi village is set on a dry area on the edge of the Park and will present you with a unique experience of the simplest possible living conditions. Certainly the ladies with their unbelievable lip plates will not be forgotten. We move back to Jinka for lunch before going with our guide on our second visit of the day, a very different area inhabited by people of the Aari tribe, specialists in pottery and metalworking, deep in the woodlands. A brief but fascinating museum visit completes our memorable day.

Day 4: Jinka to Turmi

(Monday)

After picnic-making, a four-hour drive is needed today to take us towards the south-eastern corner of Ethiopia to Turmi, the heart of Hamer tribe culture. Here too we manage to catch the weekly market, an extraordinarily colourful occasion in so many ways. We shall spend the late afternoon and evening in the company of our Hamer guide in one of his traditional villages, with dancing, relaxation, and very beautiful and welcoming people. Our night is spent at the well-appointed Turmi Lodge Hotel.

** There is just a small chance that, if we were extraordinarily lucky, we might catch the right moment to witness a coming of age bull-jumping ceremony. We have managed that just once so far (out of five visits) so we would not wish you to put too much store to that idea. But if it were to happen, it would provide you with one of the most memorable experiences of your life. We can show you the photos!

Day 5: Turmi to Arba Minch

(Tuesday)

This is our most substantial day of travelling so far as we start back towards Konso via a new route through Banna tribal territory, offering constant interest along the way. If all goes well, we are once again high over the lakes in Arba Minch at the end of the afternoon with the Ezana Hotel again our base for the night.

Day 6: Arba Minch to Wondo Genet

(Wednesday)

We have a more relaxed day of travel and experience today as we turn north-east to the busy town of Sodo for a hotel lunch, followed by a relatively short onward trip to the village of Wondo Genet, where we explore the late-afternoon birdlife in the spacious government hotel grounds and eat another enjoyable meal before sleeping in the Abyssinia Hotel set in a leafy glade in the very centre.

Day 7: Wondo Genet/Goba

(Thursday)

Picnic creation starts the day here, after which our canny drivers, who have been here before on several occasions, take us well and truly off-piste for a morning visit to the large area of hot springs outside of town where the water is almost at boiling point. We shall take some eggs with us!

Our onward journey sees distinct changes in the countryside as we climb ever higher towards the Bale Mountains and our home for three nights in Goba. We check into the posh-looking Wabe Shebelle Hotel and prepare ourselves for the very different experiences of the next few days.

Day 8: Bale Mountains

(Friday)

Today we wrap up warmly before picking up an expert guide at the National Park headquarters and venturing high onto the decidedly chilly Sanetti plateau to see unique fauna and almost certain sightings of the Ethiopian Fox, one of the rarest mammals in the world. After lunch in town we return to the National Park headquarters  where, not far away, we see Menelik’s Bushbuck, Mountain Nyala and warthogs a-plenty – at very close quarters.

Day 9: Sof Omar caves

(Saturday)

Once again we are with our knowledgeable guide as we drive out to the extreme east for a couple of hours, to the very welcome warm sunshine and to the village of Sof Omar with its extraordinarily architectural river caves. Vervet monkeys and rock hyrax will also share our interest. We briefly take in the Moslem Saturday market before having our picnic in one of the rare shady spots of the vicinity.

Day 10: Goba to Lake Ziway

(Sunday)

Sunday sees us moving back to a more populated Ethiopia. We stop for lunch in Shashemene, the spiritual home of all Rastafarians, where we take a short tour of their church compound and little museum before continuing for our night near the banks of Lake Ziway. The beautiful Bethlehem Hotel is where we shall spend the night, having taken a short early evening stroll to see marabou storks and other characterful birdlife.

Day 11: Ziway to Addis Ababa

(Monday)

We have discovered a new ‘finale’ to this very varied tour. We head north from Ziway and cut along a side road to bring us out just south of a magnificent (but rarely visited) field of prehistoric carved stones, the best in the country. And once we have spent a little time there, we shall continue towards Addis Ababa and make another short stop at the archaeological site and museum of Melka Kunture with its many important fossils and Stone Age artefacts.

But we are soon heading for the capital city and our new Addis base, the rather special Sheba Guesthouse set in a secure area of embassies and other private residences. The Antika Restaurant will provide our final dinner together.

Day 12: Flight to home

(Tuesday)

It is no great distance to Bole Airport and our daytime flight back to Heathrow – and onwards to home.

The facts

Who is the Tribes, Mountains and Caves tour for?

This is a very special tour, designed for people who have already had experience of travelling in Ethiopia and who want to witness some truly extraordinary sights. It takes guests into some of the most startling tribal communities on earth, living as they have since time immemorial. This is not a trip for ‘tourists’ but for truly interested and thoughtful travellers who will respect and value the idiosyncratic communities whom they meet along the way. And that respect is equally essential in the second phase of the tour, the Bale Mountains, with its remote and extraordinary landscape providing a home to hugely endangered endemic species.

Why come with us?

Unrivalled experience – we have worked and travelled in Ethiopia for over twenty years.

Expert guides – accompanied throughout by one of our UK team as well as Haile Ayano , Link Ethiopia’s Tour Coordinator and other members of our friendly, local staff, but also by local experts with truly detailed and intimate knowledge.

Friendly, small groups – generally limited to a maximum of eight guests or even fewer.

All profits going to a good cause – this is a totally non-profit trip. Your leader is a volunteer in all his work with Link Ethiopia. And part of the overall cost is a generous donation to our work and will be spent exclusively helping the education of the children of that country.

Unique opportunities – our knowledge of Ethiopia and fluency in the local language enables and facilitates this extraordinary tour which often leaves the tourist trail far behind.

Transport

Ethiopia is served by several reliable international airlines and a tried and tested domestic airline. We use reliable and well-maintained Toyota Landcruisers throughout the entirety of this tour and our drivers are chosen by us for their skills, their safety, their experience and their good nature. The main roads in Ethiopia are often newly tarmaced and facilitate comfort and efficiency. But this tour frequently goes off-piste to explore much more unusual areas, making the comfort and quality of our vehicles of utmost importance.

Accommodation

The hotels we use are always comfortable, clean and secure. Twin, double or single rooms available. This particular tour has one or two memorable hotels in fine situations.

Food and drink

All meals are included in the cost of this tour without any restrictions, and a drink will always be offered at every meal. The only expense not covered here is for any alcoholic intake you may wish to indulge in. The general quality of food has improved hugely in Ethiopia in the past few years and the main restaurants and hotels now serve some very enjoyable and tasty dishes indeed. Local food may be sampled at will, but the main menu of our journey will consist of very enjoyable dishes influenced by all sorts of international cultures – pastas, pizzas, wonderful fresh fish dishes, a range of meat stews and roasts, etc. The choice will be yours.

Climate and clothing

On this Tribes, Mountains and Caves tour, guests can expect very warm/fairly hot pleasant days and refreshingly cooler nights in most places visited. For most of the trip there will be constant sunshine with no rainfall. But when we are in the Bale Mountains, guests must be prepared for extremely different temperatures, with even snow a possibility during our Sanetti Plateau visit! Warm clothing for that short period will be a necessity, but elsewhere rainwear is unlikely to be needed, although a lightweight umbrella can serve as a welcome sunshade. A light sweater or shawl can come in handy when dining on the terrace in the evening.

Who travels with us?

You will always be travelling throughout with one of our UK team, as well Haile Ayano, Link Ethiopia’s local Tours Coordinator. In several places on the tour, you are also in the company of local expert guides, members of the tribal communities that we are visiting, who share their detailed knowledge with us.

Finances and visas

Deposit

A deposit of £500 is needed to confirm your tour place.

Visa

Visas are easily obtained on arrival at the airport in Ethiopia and this is included in the overall cost of the tour. Please note that you must have a minimum of 6 months left on your passport at the date of leaving Ethiopia.

Financial protection

For your financial protection, Link Ethiopia is a member of Trust My Travel and our membership number is TMT10806. All money paid by guests for the main tour cost is paid directly into an independently managed Trust Account held at Barclays Bank in the UK. This means that, in the unlikely event of our financial failure, you will receive a refund for all the services you have paid for. This money is not received by Link Ethiopia until you have completed your trip and all suppliers have been paid. Trust My Travel is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority under the PSR 2009: No. 569641. For more information about how your payments are protected please visit www.trustmytravel.com/logos/ for more information.

Health matters

Please consult your doctor regarding vaccinations. The main Ethiopian towns have frequent clinics with knowledgeable doctors in attendance and, despite the unusual nature of this tour, we shall never be very far from these facilities. A little more detailed information on this aspect will be shared while preparing for this tour.

Safety

Unlike the places visited on the Historic Ethiopia tour, this Tribes, Mountains and Caves tour takes you to some truly extraordinary and rarely visited places. But the people are always welcoming and happy to meet you and interact with you, with the local tribal guides being essential facilitators. Everyone accompanying you is experienced in Ethiopian travel, and their guidance and care ensure a thoroughly memorable and enjoyable experience.

What is Link Ethiopia?

Link Ethiopia is an organisation that has been supporting education in that country for more than twenty years. It has offices in Finsbury Park in London, as well as in northern Ethiopia (in Gondar) and in southern Ethiopia (in Bishoftu/Debre Zeit). The London office steers projects and activities, while in Ethiopia over twenty committed and energetic local employees making sure that Link Ethiopia’s work is carried out efficiently and productively. Link Ethiopia manages and supports nearly a hundred links between UK and Ethiopian schools. Its Child Sponsorship scheme ensures that many of the poorest children are able to be educated in a regular and meaningful way. Volunteers from the UK and many other countries work for varied periods of time in Link Ethiopia’s programme to help improve English skills. And Link Ethiopia also works alongside communities in facilitating training, providing resources and building very necessary school resources – toilets, clean water, classrooms, libraries, etc.

Terms and conditions

Our standard booking conditions can be found here: Standard Booking Conditions.

Interested?

We hope you will join us! To register interest and receive more details with no commitment, please fill out the form below, or you can email us at [email protected]

If you would like to see our brochure for this trip, click here