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Ethiopia Tours & Tailormade Holidays

Group Tours    North Ethiopia    South Ethiopia & Tribal Tours    Tailormade Options    Route Map

As one of the oldest sites of human existence, Ethiopia is a country bursting with unique historical secrets. The second largest country in Africa has natural beauty, with soaring mountains and rushing rivers, a spirit that sees it overcome any adversities and the survival of ancient tribal traditions, and a heart as big as its land mass. An incredible range of animals, some endangered, have chosen Ethiopia as their home, and one look at the diverse landscape immediately tells you why. Ethiopia may be one of Africa's poorer countries, but it will richly reward you with a travel experience like no other.

Read our Ethiopia Blog

Michael Russell (Festivals of Ethiopia)
“Ethiopia is a country everyone should visit. It has the perfect combination of spectacular scenery, stunning architecture, unique wildlife and a wonderful culture. Seeing it with Travel The Unknown means that you see all the highlights but don't miss the details and surprises between. The excellent local guides ensure that you experience its wonders through Ethiopian eyes. An overwhelming, eye opening, awe inspiring, emotional adventure.”

Group Tours

These following tours are all scheduled group tours. If the dates do not suit you or you want to do them on a private basis please contact us and we will do our best to accommodate you.

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Tour Country Dates Days Price
Danakil Volcano Trek
Dramatic nature & nomadic life in the Afar Triangle

Off the beaten track :   
Activity :  
Ethiopia
11 Feb 2018
11 Mar 2018
18 Nov 2018
8 £ 2,195
Ethiopia's Historic North
Discover a land of mystery, history & jaw-dropping beauty

Off the beaten track :   
Activity :  
Ethiopia
16 Dec 2017
31 Mar 2018
14 Sep 2018
14 £ 2,495
Ethiopian Odyssey
Rock-hewn churches, endemic wildlife and tribal culture

Off the beaten track :   
Activity :  
Ethiopia
22 Apr 2018
24 Sep 2018
21 £ 3,295
Festivals of Ethiopia
Experience Ethiopia's Genna and Timkat Festivals

Off the beaten track :   
Activity :  
Ethiopia
06 Jan 2018
15 £ 2,795
Tribes & Landscapes of South Ethiopia
Tribes of the Omo, Rift Valley Lakes & Bale Mountains

Off the beaten track :   
Activity :  
Ethiopia
07 Apr 2018
20 Oct 2018
13 £ 2,295


North Ethiopia

Lalibela

Exquisite and exclusive to Ethiopia, Lalibela's rock-hewn churches are cultural and structural delights not to be missed. Not only pleasing to the eye, these 12th century churches are also engineering marvels, using an artesian geological system that brings the water up to the top of the mountain ridge on which Lalibela rests. Many theories echo around these ancient churches as to the exact how, why and when of their origin. Absorb their wonder in person and either create your own conclusions, or envelop yourself in the glorious mystery. In the immortal words of Francisco Alvares, one of the first Europeans to sight them in 1515, "these monolithic churches are the ultimate in rock-church design...one is amazed at the technical skill, the material resources and the continuity of effort which such vast undertakings imply".

Axum

Ethiopia's holiest city, former capital and once home to the Queen of Sheba, Axum's assorted history will please every traveler. Marvel at the Lioness of Gobedra rock art. Be wowed by the 4th century Ta'akha Maryam and 6th century Dungur palaces. Soak in the holy splendor of this pilgrimage destination during the T'imk'et Festival (known as the Epiphany in western Christianity), and the Festival of Maryam Zion. Admire the town's distinctive giant obelisks, some of which date from 500-2000 BC. Step inside St Mary of Zion church, allegedly holding the Ark of the Covenant. Most of all, revel in the fact that you stand in a city once the centre of one of the 3rd century's most powerful empires.

Blue Nile Falls

Admiring the Blue Nile Falls from afar, it becomes clear why the Amharic name for this magnificent waterfall is Tis Abay, meaning 'smoking water'. A pillar of cloud rises from Lake Tana below, almost otherworldly as Tis Abay's awesome power rumbles through your body. Ecology fans will find much of interest around here: the Blue Nile Falls isolate Lake Tana's ecology from the rest of the Nile, playing a vital role in the evolution of the precious endemic fauna of the lake. There's something for history fans too: Ethiopia's first stone bridge can be found at this site, built under Emperor Susenyos in 1626. Immerse yourself in Tis Abay's natural beauty and all that this waterfall means to Ethiopia past and present.


South Ethiopia & Tribal Tours

Witness living ancient history in the Omo Valley and Rift Valley Lakes, where over 200,000 tribal people still faithfully adhere to their ancestors traditions. No two tribes are the same: while a Hamer man comes of age by leaping over a line of cattle, the Suri tribe uses cattle to define wealth. The diversity continues onto the magnificent tribal attire: the clay lip-plates of the Muris women, the mud-covered, blue-painted, feather adorned heads of the Turkana men. Long after you arrive back home, the variety of colour, culture and customs of the Omo Valley tribes will continue to move and inspire you. For those who love to spot wildlife, some fearsome creatures that can be found in the two national parks (the Omo and the Mago) include the Bitis Arietans (venomous snake), crocodiles and hippopotami. For those wanting to immerse themselves in the tribal culture and customs of Ethiopia, then there are a number of suggested tribal tours available. These can be tailormade according to your requirements.

Tribes & Landscapes of South Ethiopia

Be captivated by the hustle and bustle of tribal market days in the Omo Valley. Encounter a variety of tribal groups, including the colourfully decorated Hamer people and lip plated Mursi women. This tour is also a treat for wildlife enthusiasts, with the Bale Mountains' nyala and elusive Ethiopian wolf, and Lake Chomo's lurking crocadiles and hippos. Nearby, you can lose yourself in Sof Omar's exquisitely sculpted labyrinth of caverns.


Tailormade Options

For a private and personal experience we can arrange a bespoke tailormade trip to cater specifically to your needs. Please review our group tours for tailormade ideas and complete our online tailormade enquiry form to let us know what you are looking to do and we will be happy to accommodate you.

Trekking

Home to dramatic mountain landscapes and the Great Rift Valley Lakes, Ethiopia is perhaps the best trekking destination on the African continent.

Simien Mountains

This spectacular UNESCO protected site will not fail to take your breath away, especially from the top of Ras Dahan, Ethiopia's, highest point at 4543m above sea level. Be awestruck in the landscape's every direction, from the deep valleys to the jagged mountain peaks. Once again, wildlife lovers will get a thrill from Ethiopia's animal range: over 20 large mammal species and over 130 bird species reside in the park. Amongst these, you can spot the gelada baboon, the carcal (large cat), and the three metre wing-spanned lammergeier bearded vulture). Endangered species can also be found, including the Ethiopian wolf and the walia ibex, a wild goat found nowhere else in the world. Some say the Simien mountains rival Colorado's Grand Canyon; the only way to find out is to see them for yourself.

Bale Mountains

A visitor to Southern Ethiopia is lucky to be offered not only one, but two majestic and distinctive mountain ranges. Grassland areas, waist-high wildflowers and juniper trees make up much of the landscape of the Bale Mountains National Park, along with dazzling alpine lakes and streams. The Harenna Forest covers almost half of the park, and offers gorgeous lichen-draped giant trees. More endemic animals live in the Bale Mountains than any other terrestrial habitat in the world. Just like the Simien mountains, the Ethiopian wolf makes his home here, as well as the mountain nyala (spiral-horned antelope), the Bale monkey and the giant mole rat. Look down from the second highest point in Ethiopia, Tulu Dimtu at 4377m above sea level, take a deep breath, and smile at all that Ethiopia's unbelievable landscape has to offer.

Great Rift Valley Lakes

Running through the whole eastern side of Africa from north to south, the Great Rift Valley lakes are a must-see within any South Ethiopia tour. If the sheer scale of their distribution is not impressive enough, these lakes are some of the oldest, largest and deepest in the whole world. The lakes are as varied as South Ethiopia's tribes, from the tranquility at Lake Awasa, to the aquatic sports at Lake Langano, to the lakes best bird-watching spot at Lake Abijatta. Climb to the hill that divides Lake Abaya and Lake Chamo, and see why it is often labelled 'the bridge of heaven'. On the edge of the lakes, you may find the Ganjulle and Gujji tribes going about their daily lives, while in the lakes themselves, an army of crocodiles lurk alongside 800 cichlid species of fish. Whatever you are looking for, the Rift Valley Lakes can provide a special spot just for you.

Danakil Depression (Afar Region)

Pulling apart in opposite directions, the bizarre landscape of the Afar region is one of the hottest places and lowest points on Earth. Encounter tribal communities, watch nomads loading camel caravans with salt, admire the psychedelic spectrum of lava pools, and camp by the crater of Erta Alle, a live volcano!

Tigray

Trek across sandstone escarpments, ridges and valleys to the remote rock-hewn churches and monasteries hidden in the Tigray Region. Observe village life and stay in rural communities, helping local people directly. Mule treks are also possible.

Birding

One of the world's birding hotspots, Ethiopia's mountains, lakes and cities are home to a bewildering diversity of birdlife. Over 280 species have been recorded in the Bale Mountains alone, including 7 species endemic to Ethiopia. With dramatic and varied landscapes, from the Entoto Mountains on the outskirts of Addis Ababa to the Great Rift Valley Lakes and the Simien Mountains, a birding itinerary can be put together to suit your interests. All tours are accompanied by expert birders and guides.

Archaeology

Trace the beginnings of civilisation in Ethiopia, widely believed to be the birthplace of humanity. Our Ethiopia's Historic North tour covers many of Ethiopia's prime archaeological sites, but this can be modified to include other noteworthy places in Tigray and Afar, as well as the palaeolithic site of Melka Kunture in the Awash Basin and the ancient embellished stelae in Tiya.

Great Ethiopian Run

Join thousands of runners for the Great Ethiopian Run (10k) which takes place in Addis Ababa every November. Raise money for charity and take in some of Ethiopia's other amazing sights before or after your run.

Click to enlarge route map





Watch our Ethiopia Video:







Jacinta & Robert Sterling (Best of Ethiopia)
"Travel the Unknown provided us with a memorable trip to Ethiopia. From pre-departure to the end, we were well taken care of. The organization made our trip seamless and ground staff (drivers and guides) were excellent. Both ground staff in Ethiopia and Travel the Unknown were interested post-trip to hear our opinions and reflections, with a view to fine-tuning an already great experience."




Bible




Lizard





Dave Avery (Tailormade Ethiopia)
“We were delighted with our trip to Ethiopia. The itinerary was tailored expertly to meet our wishes. Our drivers and guides were excellent; they were attentive to our needs but sensitive enough to know when to leave us alone. We felt safe, informed and comfortable at all times. Local guides were used where appropriate and they were of such a high quality it felt that they had been hand-picked. This was one of the most exciting and intrepid of our many travel experiences, the landscape was truly spectacular and our memories of it will live long.”




Ancient




Religious




Private & Tailormade Tour Options

The following tours can be run as private tours. They can also be customised, extended, shortened etc. or combined with a group tour to give you the perfect tour. Contact us and let us know how we can help you. Alternatively if you are interested in any of the trips below as a group tour, let us know and we will endeavour to make that happen. Prices shown are per person, based on 2 people travelling.

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Tour / When to travel Country Dates Days Price
Danakil Volcano Trek
Dramatic nature & nomadic life in the Afar Triangle

J F M A M J J A S O N D
✔✔ ✔✔ ✔✔ ✔✔ ✔✔
Ethiopia
Contact us
8 £ 2,895
Ethiopia's Historic North
Discover a land of mystery, history & jaw-dropping beauty

J F M A M J J A S O N D
✔✔ ✔✔ ✔✔ ✔✔
Ethiopia
Contact us
14 £ 3,295
Ethiopian Odyssey
Rock-hewn churches, endemic wildlife and tribal culture

J F M A M J J A S O N D
✔✔ ✔✔ ✔✔ ✔✔ ✔✔ ✔✔ ✔✔
Ethiopia
Contact us
21 £ 4,295
Festivals of Ethiopia
Experience Ethiopia's Genna and Timkat Festivals

J F M A M J J A S O N D
✔✔ ✔✔
Ethiopia
Contact us
15 £ 3,695
Tribes & Landscapes of South Ethiopia
Tribes of the Omo, Rift Valley Lakes & Bale Mountains

J F M A M J J A S O N D
✔✔ ✔✔ ✔✔ ✔✔
Ethiopia
Contact us
13 £ 2,995
Western Omo Explorer
Remote tribes of the Western Omo Valley

J F M A M J J A S O N D
✔✔ ✔✔ ✔✔ ✔✔
Ethiopia
Contact us
14 £ 3,395

Extensions & Ideas

These trips are intended either as extensions to group tours or to use as inspiration for ideas for tailormade tours. They can also be used for ideas of things to do on a private tour. Please contact us if you have any questions

Tour / When to travel Country Dates Days Price