• Atlas Mountains

Discover Ethiopia

From the medieval city of Lalibela to the peaks of the Simien Mountains, our Discover Ethiopia tour takes you on a journey to all the best sights of this warm and friendly country. This nine day tour will leave you immersed in Ethiopia’s unique cultural heritage, as well as spellbound by some truly incredible African scenery.

Nature enthusiasts will be enthralled by the breathtaking national parks of Ethiopia, teeming with unique and endangered wildlife such as the gelada monkeys, the ibex of the Simien Mountains and the Abyssinian wolves of Bale National Park. With its vast Rift Valley and volcanic lakes, much of Ethiopia, the ‘Roof of Africa’, is fertile and well-watered, dominated by highlands 2,000 metres above sea level.

A diverse natural wonderland, each day brings a new setting for your adventures. Highlights of our Ethiopia itinerary include a relaxing boat trip on Lake Tana, visiting the island monasteries of Ura-Kidane Mihret and Azwa-Mariam. Marvel at the beauty of Blue Nile Falls, considered to be one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Africa and explore the awe-inspiring rock-cut monolithic churches of Gondar, regarded as one of the great wonders of the world.

Experts in tour holidays, join a Hayes & Jarvis tour for the trip of a lifetime. Expect thought and inspiration in every detail, from the moment you land to your final departure.

9 days
Best time to go
October to June
Private basis, Escorted
Start your journey
Atlas Mountains

Trip highlights

  • Explore Lake Tana, the largest lake in Ethiopia and prepare to be spellbound by the beauty of the Blue Nile Falls
  • Wander through the eerie and distinctive rock-cut churches of Lalibela, the 8th Wonder of the World.
  • Visit World Heritage Sites such as the old fortress-city in Gondar, Fasil Ghebbi and the ancient Kingdom of Axum.
  • Immerse yourself in the beauty of Ethiopia’s untouched nature and breathtaking landscapes at Simien Mountains National Park.

Upon arrival to Addis Ababa, you will be met at the airport, where you’ll be transferred to your hotel. The rest of the day can be enjoyed at your own pace. Relax in your room at the hotel or venture into the city to explore the sights. You may like to begin your adventure in African style, sampling some of the region’s classic - and delightful - Injera.

Suggested Accommodation

  • Golden Tulip Hotel or Similar Hotel

After breakfast at the hotel, a transfer will take you to the airport to catch a flight to Bahir Dar. Upon arrival you will be transferred to your hotel, either the Kuriftu Resort and Spa or something similar. Here, you can unpack, relax and use the hotel facilities at leisure.

In the afternoon, a guide will collect you from the hotel to take you to Lake Tana. Lake Tana is the largest lake in Ethiopia (3,600km) and home to thirty-seven islands, of which twenty shelter churches of significant historical and cultural interest.

Here, you will set off on a boat trip to see the island monasteries of Ura-Kidane Mihret and Azwa-Mariam, providing a chance to take a closer look at some of the treasures and paintings of scenes of biblical lore of Ethiopian Copts. The monasteries are located on Zeghe Peninsula where you can also see the wild coffee plantation thought to be planted by monks who used to live here.

In the evening enjoy dinner at the hotel or explore some traditional Ethiopian cuisine in the town of Bahir Dar.

Suggested Accommodation

  • Kuriftu Resort and Spa or Similar Hotel

Following some breakfast, a driver will collect you from the hotel to take you on an excursion to Blue Nile Falls. Travelling 32 km southwest of Bahir Dar, arriving in the small town of Tiss Abay, you’ll embark on a short thirty minute walk to visit the famous Blue Nile Falls. Considered by many as one of the most spectacular falls in Africa. At 400 m wide and 45 m high, when in full flood, the falls are a magical sight.

In the afternoon, you’ll return to Bahir Dar for a city tour. Bahir Dar is known as one of the most beautiful cities in Ethiopia. This tour offers a chance to explore the ancient monasteries on Lake Tana and buy local goods such as as traditional clothes and souvenirs at Bahir Dar market. In the evening retire to the hotel for an evening at leisure.

Suggested Accommodation

  • Kuriftu Resort and Spa or Similar Hotel

After a final breakfast at your hotel, a transfer will take you on a three-hour journey to the city of Gondar. Arriving at your hotel, you can unpack and explore the facilities at leisure before a city tour of Gondar in the afternoon.

Gondar, 17th & 18th century capital of Ethiopia, is popularly known as the Camelot of Africa. Your Gondar city tour will begin at the castle compound. In this compound, there are 6 castles including the oldest and most magnificent Fasiledes castle. King Fasiledes was the founder of the town in 1632 and lead until 1667 where his son Johannes succeeded him. Your tour will then move on to explore the Church of Debre Birhan Selassie, an imposing structure with its harmony of brightly colored ceilings completely covered with intricately painted angels.

Suggested Accommodation

  • Goha Hotel or Similar Hotel

After breakfast, a transfer will be waiting to take you on an excursion to Simien Mountain. The Simien Mountains National Park occupies a surface area of 180 km sq. The park, situated between 4,430 and 1,900 meters (6,200 - 4,500 feet), boasts varied flora with three marked botanical areas. The highest parts have meadows with little vegetation, characteristic of afro alpine zones.

This location lies home to the endemic Lobelia rhynchopetalum, small groups of perpetual flowers, Helichrysum, and the striking Kniphofia foliosa. You’ll also find three of the most colorful endemic mammals in Ethiopia: the Walia Ibex (Capra ibex Walie) which lives wild at an altitude of more than 2,500 meters (8,200 feet), the Gelada Baboon (Theropithecus gelada) which inhabits the Simien Plateaux, and the Simien Wolf (Canis Simensis) which is also found in great numbers in the Bale Mountains.

Suggested Accommodation

  • Goha Hotel or Similar Hotel

In the morning, after breakfast, a transfer will be waiting to take you to the airport for your flight to Axum. Upon check in at your hotel, you’ll have time to relax and check out the facilities before an afternoon city tour of Axum. Your first glimpse of the history of this area is with a city tour that includes the Archeological Museum of Axum and the Cathedral of St. Mary of Zion. Keep your eye out for the guarded chapel, which is said to be the home of the Ark of the Covenant. The modern St. Mary’s of Zion cathedral dates from the 1960’s. The architectural style is painfully out of place in the ancient city, but the contrast between the buildings on the site is fascinating. You will also spend time exploring the on-site museum under the church, which houses many of Ethiopia’s priceless relics.

Later; Visit the famous ‘Stele field’ (4th Century AD and UNESCO World Heritage Site, the ruin palace and tomb of King Kaleb and King GebreMeskel) and the residence of the legendary Queen of Sheba (9th century BC). The North Stelae Park contains over 120 stelae, some are upright, some are buried and others have been removed. The Rome Stelae, the tallest at 25m high, was shipped to Italy in 1937 under orders from Mussolini, but has since been returned and re-erected.

Suggested Accommodation

  • Sabean Hotel or Similar Hotel

Following breakfast, a transfer will take you to the airport for your scheduled flight to Lalibela. You’ll have some time to relax at the hotel and use the facilities at leisure before and afternoon tour of Laibela’s churches.

The small town of Lalibela is situated high in the Lasta Mountains at over 8,500 feet in elevation. Lalibela is arguably one of the most important religious and historical sites in all of Africa and the entire Christian world. Ethiopia was the first country to adopt Christianity as a state religion, and the Ethiopian Orthodox religious practices root lies in Judaism and areas of the country practiced. There are no less than 200 churches in the Lasta Region of Lalibela, some hidden in enormous caves, but its exceptional to find 11 churches of such master craftsmanship in one locale. These brilliant feats of engineering and architecture are often referred to as the ‘Eighth wonder of the world’.

This group includes Bete Medhane Alem (Saviour church), Bete Miriam, BeteDenagel, BeteMeskal, Debra Sina, and Bete Golgotha. Standing 38 feet tall with seventy-two pillars, MedhaneAlem is not only the largest in Lalibela, but it is the largest monolithic rock-hewn church in the world. The oldest of the churches, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, Bet Maryam is the only Lalibela monolith with a porch. The remains of exquisite early frescoes can be seen on the ceiling and upper walls, and there are many elaborately carved details on the piers, capitals, and arches. Bet Golgotha houses remarkable reliefs of figures, early Christian art rarely seen in other parts of Ethiopia.

Suggested Accommodation

  • Maribella Hotel or Similar Hotel

After breakfast, a driver will collect you from the hotel for your excursion to Yimerhane Kirstos. Yemrehanna Kristos is one of Ethiopia's best-preserved late Axumite churches, and is named for a twelfth-century Zagwe priest-king and saint. It is set in a spectacular landscape of juniper trees located inside a large natural cavern on a hill in northern Ethiopia, predating the famous nearby rock-hewn churches of Lalibela by almost a century.

In the afternoon, you’ll visit Lalibela’s second group churches. In this group are the Bete Gabriel & Raphael, BeteMerquorios, Bete Emmanuel, and Bete Abba Libanos

Finally, you’ll visit the most interesting cross-shaped church of Bete Giyorgis (St. George), which is said to be the symbolization of Noah’s ark. The cruciform-shaped Bet Giorgis is the perfect and beautiful church here; its interior is dominated by depictions of Saint George killing the dragon.

Suggested Accommodation

  • Maribella Hotel or Similar Hotel

In the morning after breakfast, a transfer will take you to the airport for your flight to Addis Ababa. Upon arrival you’ll check in to the Capital Hotel, available for day use whilst you explore the city.

In the afternoon, you’ll embark on a half day city tour of Addis. Your tour will include a visit to the National Museum where you can discover many archaeological and historical findings
including the famous complete hominid fossil remains of ‘Lucy’ locally known as ‘Dinknesh’ meaning wonderful.

You will also visit the Trinity Cathedral, a beautiful church with a baroque style of European architecture which is unique to both Ethiopia and Africa and is dedicated to the Holy Trinity. Here you will find scripts of the imperial families, statues done by a Greek sculpture, Stained glass window paintings from the Old and New Testament in the Bible and coffins of Emperor Haile Silassie-I; the founder of the church.

Later that afternoon a transfer will take you to the airport for your connecting flight. Your Discover Ethiopia tour ends here.

Suggested Accommodation

  • Capital Hotel


  • Accommodation on a twin or double room sharing basis
  • Meals-Bed and breakfast in Addis and Full- board elsewhere
  • All entrance fees as per the itinerary
  • All airport transfers
  • All ground transportation.
  • Local guide at each spot
  • Professional English speaking guide accompanying you throughout the trip
  • Scout fees
  • Government tax
  • Boat rent on Lake Tana

Not included

  • International airfare and domestic airfare
  • Lunch and Dinner in Addis
  • Any Alcoholic drinks
  • Personal expense like souvenirs, laundry, etc.
  • Tips
  • Any expense which is not stated in the ‘Included List’ above