YPT will take you everywhere you want to go in Ethiopia.
We will venture to the Danakil Depression, one of the most extreme climates found on Earth. We’ll hang out with the Hamar, Mursi, Karo, Dassench and Ari tribes in the Omo valley, and you’ll have a chance to experience their culture, ceremonies and way of life. We’ll experience Addis, the modern capital of Ethiopia and home to the African Union, and finally and most spectacularly, we’ll head to the small town of Lalibela, home to one of the world’s greatest and most sacred sights – the famous churches of Lalibela, eleven rock-hewn churches, each carved entirely out of a single block of granite with their roofs at ground level.
We use Ethiopian airlines for all our domestic flights. Ethiopian Airlines charges a surcharge for individuals who do not fly into the country with them. As such we have based the tour cost on the basis everyone will be using Ethiopian Airlines to arrive in Addis Ababa for the start of the tour. If you choose another airline the surcharge of €295 will apply.
Want to add to your adventure? Check out out trip to Somaliland here.
Morning arrival and transfer from airport to hotel.
Full day tour of Addis Ababa, introducing you to the history and culture of Ethiopia.
We’ll include visits to the “Red Terror” Martyrs’ Memorial Museum, Mt. Entoto, the National Museum, Shola Market, Holy Trinity Cathedral, the Tiglachin Monument and more!
We’ll also go on a food tour of Addis, learning about how unique Ethiopian dishes are made, sampling some of the most famous dishes as well as seeing some unique local eateries.
After a full day of sightseeing, we’ll go to dinner and if you fancy, you can try some of Ethiopia’s famous beers.
Overnight in Addis Ababa.
Day 2 Tuesday 7th May – Addis Ababa – Mekelle – Ertalle – Hamed Ela
Fly from Addis to Mekelle in the morning.
We’ll drive from Mekele to Hamede Ela via Berhale and you can witness for yourself the Danakil Depression.
We will pass through the small town of Berhale where even now, since there’s no car access, camel caravans stop before they proceed to the northern highlands. En route you’ll see many long camel caravans coming to the salt mine and others going out of the Danakil with their salt loaded camels.
The Danakil Depression is one of the most inhospitable regions of the world, but is nonetheless spectacular, full of eye-catching colours, and sensational sulphur springs. The depression has several points lying more than 100 meters (328 ft) below sea level.
Finally we’ll head to Dallol to see the sunset before camping overnight in the town of Hamad Rla, a small village of around 500 people.
Overnight in Hamad Ela.
Day 3 Wednesday 8th May – Dallol – Hamed Ela – Mekele
This morning we’ll drive to Ragad (Asebo), to see the famous salt mines. We’ll see salt being extracted from the ground, before being moulded into large blocks and then loaded onto camels to be transported.
We’ll head back to Dallol and lake Asale and visit the different landscapes formed by volcanic activity. Dallol is one of the lowest places in the world at 116 meters below sea level, and is a great way to continue our adventure through some of the most spectacular landscapes in the world.
We’ll meet and talk with the local Afar people in the afternoon before driving back to Mekele.
Overnight in Mekele.
Day 4 Thursday 9th May – Mekelle –Lalibela
Today we’ll drive to Lalibela.
We’ll arrive in the late morning and explore the first group of churches.
After lunch you’ll have some free time to explore this fascinating town.
Tonight we’ll head to the famous Ben Ababa for dinner, where a spectacular view and sunset await us. Perched on the edge of a ridge, the building itself is indescribable, and the menu boasts an interesting blend of Ethiopian and Scottish food you never thought possible.
After an early breakfast we’ll visit the second cluster of churches with our local guide.
We then fly to Addis before continuing our journey on to Jinka.
In Jinka we’ll drop our bags off at the hotel before visiting the Southern Omo Research Centre, a museum specialising in the differences and history of the traditional tribal groups in the Omo valley.
Our last item for the day is a visit to the Ari Tribe. Known for their amazing jewellery and colour, the Ari people paint themselves as well as scar themselves for appearance.
Overnight in Jinka.
Day 6 Saturday 11th May – Jinka – Turmi
In the morning we’ll drive to Mago National Park to see the untouched and unique Mursi tribe, who live on the southern edge of the park. Mursi women are famous for using lip plates to stretch their lips. The bigger the lip plate she can place in her mouth, the more beautiful she is considered.
After lunch in the afternoon we will explore the village of the Hamar tribe. The Hamar are known for their unique custom of “bull jumping”, which initiates a boy into manhood. First, female relatives dance and invite whipping from men who have recently been initiated; this shows their support of the initiation, and their scars give them a right to demand his help in time of need. The boy must run back and forth twice across the backs of a row of bulls or castrated steers, and is ridiculed if he fails.
Overnight in Turmi.
Day 7 Sunday 12th May – Turmi – Omorate- Turmi
Drive to Omorate, a town near the Kenyan border and the Omo river.
After exploring Omorate, it’s on to the Dasenech, a tribe that traces its origins in Uganda. Their lives depend on the Omo River and we need to cross it in very small, but luckily (hopefully!) safe wooden boats to visit the tribe.
Return to Turmi for lunch.
After lunch we’ll drive to the Karo Tribe, of which there are only roughly 1,000-3,000, making it the smallest tribe in Ethiopia. They are famous for their body painting, covering themselves daily with coloured ochre, white chalk, yellow mineral rock, charcoal, and pulverised iron ore; all natural resources local to the area. The specific designs drawn on their bodies can change daily and vary in content, ranging from simple stars or lines to animal motifs, such as guinea fowl plumage, or to the most popular – a myriad of hand prints covering the torso and legs. Both the Karo and the Hamar men use clay to construct elaborate hairstyles and headdresses for themselves, signifying status, beauty, and bravery.
Overnight in Turmi.
Day 8 Monday 13th May – Turmi – Arbaminch
Today we’ll drive from Turmi to Arbaminch.
On the way we’ll visit Karat Konso, the famous terraced hills, the newest UNESCO world heritage site in Ethiopia, having been inscribed in 2011. Konso, named after the Konso people, is known for its religious traditions, waga sculptures, and nearby fossil beds.
The waga sculptures are basically carved wooden grave markers, and a row of these are erected on the grave of any important Konso man – one symbolising the hero himself, the others his wives, his defeated enemies, or the dangerous animals he killed.
We’ll arrive in the mid afternoon in Arbaminch, where you’ll have free time for the rest of the day.
Overnight in Arbaminch.
Day 9 Tuesday 14th May – Arbaminch- Addis Ababa
Today we’ll make the long drive back to Addis Ababa. Although not hugely long in distance, travelling through Ethiopia can be slow with many stretches of unmade roads, pot holes and other obstacles.
When we arrive in Addis we’ll check into our hotel for the final night and if we missed anything on the first day, or if there’s anything else you’d like to see, we’ll try to fit it in.
Tonight we’ll have our farewell dinner and a few last lovely Ethiopian Beers (other beverages available for those who don’t like beer).
Overnight in Addis Ababa.
Day 10 Wednesday 15th May – Addis Ababa
For those of us continuing to Somaliland as part of the combo, we’ll all head to the airport together in the morning.
For those who are finishing their YPT experience here, you’ll be transferred to the airport according to your flight time.