Historical, Cultural, and Adventure Holidays.
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Excursions and Short Trips

Half Day - City tour and sightseeing of Addis Ababa
Full Day - City tour and sightseeing of Addis Ababa
1 or 2 Days - Debre Libanos and the Jemma River Gorge
1 Day- Melka Kunture, Adadi Mariam and Tiya

1 Day - Ambo and Wonchi Crater Lake
2 Days - Awash National Park and Bilen Lodge
2 Days - The Rift Valley Lakes - Zwai, Langano, Shalla & Abiata
2 Days - Lake Awassa

Half day City tour and sightseeing of Addis Ababa

Tour code: IETT 001

Program: City tour and sightseeing of Addis Ababa

Transport: Land

City tour and sightseeing tour of Addis Ababa which includes the National Museum, Merkato, Trinity Cathedral and Enotono.

The National Museum of Ethiopia: This is one of the best museums in quality and diversity of the exhibits. Archeological exhibits include the 3.5 million-year-old fossil of Lucy (or Dinkinesh – ‘thou art wonderful’- in the native language), a hominoid woman of the specious of Australopithecus Afarensis. The discovery of Lucy’s fossil in 1974 forced a complete rethink of human genealogy, providing that our ancestors were walking 2.5 million years earlier than had been supposed. The National Museum also contains many wonderful artifacts dating back to pre-Axumite civilization.

Drive to Entoto to visit Entoto Mariam church and the commanding panoramic view point mount Entoto which offers the stupendous view of the city, afterwards visit Trinity Cathedral and Merkato, the largest open-air market in the continent.
Full day City tour and sightseeing of Addis Ababa

Tour code: IETT 002

Program: City tour and sightseeing of Addis Ababa

Transport: Surface

City tour and sightseeing tour of Addis Ababa which includes the National Museum, Ethnographic Museum, Merkato, Trinity Cathedral, St. George Cathderal and Enotono.

In the morning, you will visit the National Museum and the Ethnographic Museum. The National Museum of Ethiopia: This is one of the best museums in quality and diversity of the exhibits. Archeological exhibits include the 3.5 million-year-old fossil of Lucy (or Dinkinesh – ‘thou art wonderful’- in the native language), a hominoid woman of the specious of Australopithecus Afarensis. The discovery of Lucy’s fossil in 1974 forced a complete rethink of human genealogy, providing that our ancestors were walking 2.5 million years earlier than had been supposed. The National Museum also contains many wonderful artifacts dating back to pre-Axumite civilization.

The Ethnographic Museum is very different to the National Museum, but equally absorbing, this museum exhibit, a varied array of artifacts and daily objects related to most ethnic groups in Ethiopia.

In the afternoon, drive to Entoto to visit Entoto Mariam church and the commanding panoramic view point mount Entoto which offers the stupendous view of the city, afterwards visit Trinity Cathedral, St. George Cathedral and Merkato, the largest open-air market in the continent.
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1 or 2 Days - Debre Libanos and the Jemma River Gorge

Tour code: IETT 003

Program: Debre Libanos and the Jemma River Gorge

Transport: Surface

After breakfast we drive north on the Gojjam road to Debre Libanos, about 110 km from Addis Ababa or approximately two hours’ drive.

Debre Libanos is an important monastic center for Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity, the monastery there was founded by the renowned 13th century mystic, Saint Teclehaimanot and there is a small cave near the church (which is of recent construction) where he is said to have stood for seven years on one leg, until the other wasted away and dropped off.

On this tour visitors can combine history and culture with some good bird watching, as we pass through the Sululta Plain we can see Black-winged plovers, Wattled Ibis, Blue-winged geese, Common Cranes and Wheat ears.

On arrival at Debre Libanos, we will first stop at the Jemma River gorge. The Jemma River is one of the tributaries of the Nile, and there is a drop of nearly 1000 meters to the valley below. Here at the gorge (and in the forest around the church) we can expect to see the Banded Barbet, the Black-headed Forest Oriole, the White-billed Starling, the Red-billed Starling, the White-winged Cliff Chat, the White-backed Black Tit, the White-cheeked Turaco and Hemprich’s Hornbill. We will also see one of Ethiopia’s endemic mammals, the Gelada or bleeding heart baboon. (In the gorge we will see a variety of vultures - Lamergeyer’s, Ruppell’s and Lappet faced vultures.)

Leaving the Gorge we proceed to the church. After the church visitors can make the climb to the cave of St Teklehaimanot. Near the cave monks may show visitors the remains of some 300 monks, slaughtered in 1936 by the Italian invaders. Mussolini and the fascist authorities saw the Ethiopian Orthodox Church as one of the key elements of an independent Ethiopian identity, and thought that by carrying out the massacre they would cow the Church and by extension the Ethiopian people into submission. Rather, this atrocity fed the flames of resistance.

If you continue up the hill from the cave from the top there’s a great view of the surrounding countryside.

At some stage we will take a picnic lunch, either at the Gorge or in the forest near the church. We will leave Debre Libanos around 4.30 PM, returning to Addis Ababa early evening.

With the opening of the Ethio – German Lodge (the owner is an Ethiopian who had been resident in Germany), it is possible to spend the night in a great location, overlooking the Jemma Valley Gorge. The scenery is stunning, and it is very peaceful.
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1 Day - Melka Kunture, Adadi Mariam and Tiya

Tour code: IETT 004

Program: Melka Kunture, Adadi Mariam and Tiya

Transport: Surface

Pick up after breakfast, and we then head south-west on the Jimma road, before turning due south on to the Butajira Road. Melka Kunture lies near the Awash River Gorge and is one of the most important neolithic sites in Ethiopia. Hand axes and various other implements have been found here. There is a museum at the site.

About 5 km further on the Butajira Road, is the rock hewn church of Adadi Mariam, contemporaneous with those of Lalibela - in fact local tradition ascribes it to King Lalibela who is said to have had it built on his visit to Mount Zuqwala in 1106. Damaged during the wars with Ahmed Gragn in the 16th century, it fell into disuse and was only reopened in the time of Menelik II. It is today in regular use.

Our final stop today is at Tiya, classified by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, where we can see the northernmost example of a peculiar type of engraved, standing stellae which stretch across parts of southern Ethiopia. These stellae are believed to have been erected between the 12th and 14th centuries and are almost certainly grave markers - recent excavations at Tiya have revealed the remains of young people of both sexes, aged between 18 - 30 and buried in foetal positions, and leave for the return journey to Addis Ababa midafternoon.
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1 Day - Ambo and Wonchi Crater Lake

Tour code: IETT 005

Program: Ambo and Wonchi Crater Lake

Transport: Surface

Pick up after breakfast, we will then head west on the new Ambo road. We will pass Menagesha Forest to the north of the road, the Holetta River (a tributary of the Awash), the small town of Addis Alem where Menelik II once planned to make his capital, before reaching Ambo, some 120 km from the capital.

The area between Addis Alem and Ambo contains the intersections of three of Ethiopia’s major river basins: those of the Awash, Omo and Guder.

We will stop for some refreshment in the town of Ambo, from where Ethiopia’s most famous mineral water is drawn, before driving up nearly 1000 meters in 27 km to the rim of the Wonchi crater, where visitors will see one of the most beautiful sites in Ethiopia - verdant forests, a lake with islands, all within the crater.

We can leave our vehicles here and descend either on foot or on horse, or drive down all the way to the crater. We will have a picnic lunch here and spend some hours walking or horse riding through the forest, visiting the hot springs, and taking a dug-out boat over to the island to visit the church. Mid afternoon we will start our journey back to Addis Ababa.

The formerly state owned Ethiopia Hotel in Ambo has been privatized is being refurbished and has great grounds. Across the road from the hotel is the swimming pool, fed by springs. This one day tour can easily be extended to 2 days, with an overnight at the Ethiopia Hotel.
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2 Days - Awash National Park and Bilen Lodge

Tour code: IETT 006

Program: Awash National Park and Bilen Lodge

Transport: Surface

Day 1: Heading south down the Rift Valley we turn east at Mojo for Awash and the Afar Region. We pass Lake Beseka (which has grown over the last decade, causing the Djibouti – Addis Ababa railway line to be raised on several occasions), and enter the Awash National Park to take a picnic lunch at the Awash River Falls. Leaving the park we come to the town of Awash. Just outside the town we get to the junction where the road forks, straight ahead for Dire Dawa and Harer, and left for Djibouti and the Red Sea. Some 60 km down this road, 40 km after the town of Awash Arba, you approach some new buildings, the new District Council Offices at Andido The exit is at the edge of Andido – there is a large sign post - and 10 km on a good gravel road brings you to Bilen Lodge, which is situated on Elalaytu, a hill overlooking the vast hot springs of Bilen and the sea of reeds which fringes them.

The lodge consists of 15 self contained, double units for visitors, with a restaurant bar and staff housing.
The units’ design reflects local cultural building traditions, are thatched on the outside and covered with reed mats on the inside. The units are situated at intervals along the hill overlooking the sea of reeds, each has its own thatched patio, a bedroom with two twin beds with mosquito nets, a bathroom, with shower, flush toilet and hand basin.

The restaurant serves western and Ethiopian food, along with local specialties such as barbecued goat. Vegetarians are well provided for. The bar is well stocked with local and imported beers, wines and spirits.

In a shorter trip, returning to Addis Ababa on the second day, on arrival we could take a stroll passing through the patch of natural forest at the northern end of Elalaytu hill, down past the some agricultural project buildings and on to the hot springs. On our way, we may bump into a family of wart hog, scurrying past with their tails erect like antennae, nervous dik dik, vervet monkeys (particularly around the project buildings) and mongoose. Less frequently seen are oryx, gerenuk and lesser kudu. You don’t have to worry about chance encounters with Bilen’s resident lions – if you’re lucky you may see them in the early mornings, emerging from the reeds to survey the world, and you may well hear them at night – they sometimes stroll through the compound of the lodge in the early hours of the morning , but they’re rather reticent and we don’t guarantee sightings.

There’ll be plenty of birds on the way, you may well see the following species: Black Scrub Robin, Somali Golden Breasted Robin, Nile Valley Sunbird, Lineated Pytilia, Yellow Throated Serin, Sombre Chat and Arabian Bustard. (If you are a keen ornithologist, ask for the Bilen Lodge Bird List.)

Entering the springs and advancing to the middle it is possible to stand on top of the springs and have a kind of gravel Jacuzzi, as the hot (but not uncomfortably hot) water swirls around your legs. From there we can cut back to the lodge.

The next day we could do an early morning game drive - returning to the main road and proceeding north for a couple of kilometers, we turn right and approach the Alledeghi Plains, where at the right time of day (early morning or late afternoon) a variety of plains animals can be seen, including zebra, gerenuk, ostrich etc.

After breakfast at the lodge we can go and visit some Afar villages – most of the lodge’s workers come from the nearby village and we can wander round there, taking photos and seeing how the Afar people live.

A 10 minute car ride will bring us to the Awash River, and here we can arrange to have camels ready on which we can load cool boxes with soft drinks and a picnic lunch. There is a well preserved riverine forest, and you can trek here in the shade, and stop at a picturesque spot by the river for lunch.

If it’s a 2 day trip we should leave after lunch back to Addis Ababa.
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2 Days - The Rift Valley Lakes - Zwai, Langano, Shalla and Abiata

Tour code: IETT 007

Program: The Rift Valley Lakes - Zwai, Langano, Shalla and Abiata

Transport: Surface

Day 1: We set off early down the Rift Valley, passing through Debre Zeit, and by the lakes of Koka and Zwai - if there are birders in the party, we will stop at Lake Zwai and head down to the lake shore where huge numbers of water birds are congregated. African Pygmy Geese, Yellow-billed Storks, Collared Pratincoles, Lesser and greater Jacanas, African Jacanas, White Pelicans, Fish Eagles, crowned and common cranes are some of the species to be seen here in impressive numbers.

At Lake Langano visitors now have a choice of hotels. There is the Abule Basuma Lodge at the northern end of the Lake, Wabe Shabelle a bit further south, Bekele Molla towards the southern end, opposite the entrance to Shalla and Abiata Park, and on the eastern shores, Wenney Lodge and Bishangari Lodge.

The last two are more expensive, but the eco-system on the eastern shores is more interesting and varied than the western, and there are more birds and wild life.

Lake Langano is bilharzia and crocodile free, and visitors can go for a swim, walk along the shores of the lake or go bird watching in the forests along the lake shores.

Later in the afternoon around 4.00 PM we could visit Shalla and Abiata National Park, very near to Bekele Molla, but further if we stay at Wenney or Bishangari, and after passing the tame ostriches at the gate, head first towards Shalla Lake which with a maximum depth of 300 meters is the deepest of the Rift Valley Lakes. We can stop at a look out point over the two lakes before heading down to the lake shore where there are a number of springs so hot that locals boil maize in them. We then head towards Abiata Lake, where by this time of day the lakes shores will be pink from the thousands of both lesser and greater Flamingo’s which feed in the shallows. African Pochard, Avocet, Gull billed Tern and Pintail, Ruff and a variety of ducks are among other species to be seen.

Day 2: you will spend the morning relaxing by the lake, take our lunch in the hotel and leave for Addis Ababa midafternoon, arriving early evening.
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2 Days - Lake Awassa

Tour code: IETT 008

Program: Lake Awassa

Transport: Surface

Day 1: Pick up from the hotel, and we then head south down the Rift Valley, passing through Debre Zeit, and by the lakes of Koka, Zwai Langano, Abiata and Shalla. We start to climb after passing Langano, leaving the drier acacia forest for the greener areas around Shashamene.

A short distance from Shashamene is the town of Awassa, capital of the southern region. We will check into the new Haile Resort (owned by the famous runner, Haile Gebre Selassie), situated on the shores of the lake. Lake Awassa with its mountainous background, is one of Ethiopia’s most beautiful lakes and is home to a huge population of birds, and walking along the shores one can also see hippo. Colobus and cervet monkeys and baboons are common in the hotel grounds. (The distance is about 280 km, the journey taking about 4 hours.)

Boats can be hired on the lake, and it is a great way to spend an afternoon, among the fishermen and watching the antics of the malakite king fisher and other water birds. There is a swimming pool in the grounds of the hotel, or visitors may like to walk along the shores of the lake or in the nearby Black Forest. Lunch and dinner will be in the hotel.

Day 2: Bird watchers may like to take an early morning trip to the fish market, and get really close to a variety of species that are very used to human company. Otherwise we will spend the morning relaxing in the hotel grounds, along the shores of the lake or on a boat. We will take lunch in the hotel, and set back to Addis Ababa mid-afternoon.

Upon request the above tour program can be modified, differently rearranged, combined with other itineraries and shorten or extended to suit your interest, time, and budget. Please contact us for further details.
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Whatever you want to experience, a unique holiday to the historical route, cultural tour to Omo Valley or adventure expedition to the Danakil depression, trekking in the Simien and Bale Mountains or short trips, we'll ensure you have the ideal vacation.