Ethiopia

Ethiopia is one of the most beautiful countries in the world. From the dramatic Simien Mountains to Lake Tana, the source of the Blue Nile, it constantly challenges your preconceptions of it. It also offers one of the richest material cultures on the continent, from ancient stelae and the Ark of the Covenant to rock-hewn churches and medieval castles. It is a unique and fascinating destination.

You'll find a short guide to Ethiopia's main attractions below, along with some sample journeys and guide prices. Please do ask us for advice and a quote if you are interested in visiting Ethiopia.

Why Real Africa? We remain true to our roots - small, specialist and committed to conservation. We're dedicated to offering you a personal service and all-round quality experience - something we've been doing for over 16 years now. You won't find the same expertise on the high street.

16 days
From £4,095
Classic Ethiopia - the Northern Historic Route

This private guided tour covers all the main historic highlights of Ethiopia, a fascinating destination.

Attractions in Ethiopia

Aksum (Axum)

Believed by the Ethiopian Church to be the final resting place of the Ark of the Covenant, it was the capital of the Aksumite Empire from 400BC to 1000AD and is famous for its stelae or obelisks which are 1,700 years old.

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Attractions in Ethiopia

Bale Mountain National Park

The Bale Mountain National Park is a beautiful rugged area perfect for walking and can be added to a classic Northern Circuit tour of Ethiopia.

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Attractions in Ethiopia

Gondar

Known as the Camelot of Africa it was once the capital of Ethiopia and an important centre during the 16th century. It is home to a series of impressive medieval castles, royal palaces and ancient artefacts.

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Attractions in Ethiopia

Lake Tana and Blue Nile Falls

The islands of this beautiful lake are home to small monasteries which can be visited by boat. Lake Tana is also the source of the Blue Nile, which officially starts as the waters leave the lake over the Blue Nile Falls.

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Attractions in Ethiopia

Lalibela

Home to ancient monolithic churches hewn out of solid rock and then decorated elaborately. Set down within the rock itself, often below ground level, the mind boggles as to just how these unique places of worship were actually created in the 13th century.

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Attractions in Ethiopia

Simien Mountains

The Simien Mountains are the most rugged and dramatic mountains in Africa. Offering some of the finest scenery in the world their high plateaus, dramatic cliffs, jagged pinnacle peaks and deep gorges will take your breath away.

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Map

Camps
Attractions

When To Go

Ethiopia has a warm but wet climate year round with some variation due to the topography. With much of the country at 2,000 metres above sea level the highlands are pleasant for most of the year. The short rainy season arrives in early spring followed by a heavier rainy season June – September.
The dry winter months are sunny and warm. Average day time temperatures are around 20-25 degrees although it is cooler at night.

What To Do

Our holidays in Ethiopia use private 4x4 vehicles and guides, allowing us to plan your trips according to your specific interests and requirements. This is particularly important as there is such a variety of options, from boat rides and trekking to cultural tours. We also include short internal flights for certain journeys as the terrain in the north of the country is rough and the roads can be bumpy. This saves a lot of time.

The Simien Mountains National Park is home to some beautiful mountains which offer some of the finest scenery in Africa. With their dramatic cliffs and epic peaks all around the views will truly take your breath away. The peaks form the northern part of the Great Rift Valley range that runs all the way down the eastern side of Africa.. It is so beautiful and of such natural significance that it has been given protected status with an UNESCO World Heritage award. It is also home to the incredibly rare Ethiopian Wolf. 

Lalibela is one of the most famous places to visit in Ethiopia. It is home to ancient monolithic churches hewn out of solid rock and decorated elaborately. Set down within the rock itself, often below ground level, the mind boggles as to just how these unique places of worship were actually created in the 13th century. Like Aksum it is one of Ethiopia most holy cities and is said to have been created to mirror Jerusalem.

Aksum/Axu is the believed by the Ethiopian Christian Church to be the final resting place of the Ark of the Covenant. It is also another of Ethiopia’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites due to the importance of its historical sites. It was the capital of the region from 400BC to 1000AD and is famous for its stelae or obelisks which are 1700 years old. The Tississat Falls are the source of the Blue Nile.

Gondar was once the former capital of Ethiopia and is an important historical centre. It is home to a series of truly amazing medieval castles and ancient artefacts with a great historical museum where you can learn in depth about Ethiopia’s fascinating history. Omo Valley is home to various Ethiopian tribes, some living the same hunter-gatherer and pastoralist lifestyles as they have for millennium. Its possible to visit these trips, although visits should be restricted so as not to impinge on their lives.

Why We Love

Our director Robert led the first group tour to Ethiopia after the end of the Ethiopia-Eritrea war in the early 1990's. Even then, despite the raw scars, it was a country he fell in love with and is still one of his favourite countries in the World. Its people, its landscapes, its amazing attractions make it unique. 

We ate eggs and potato for two weeks, all the churches were infested with fleas and the roads so badly damaged we had to fly everywhere is a small 18 seater plane. We landed on mud strips, in a field once and when landing on the tarmac strips had to dodge bomb craters. Despite it all, the people were so lovely, the sites so breath-taking and the scenery so spectacular, we all had an unforgettable trip."

Ethiopia is still a poor country but tourism is an essential part of the economy that is beginning to improve slowly and steadily. As a tourist destination Ethiopia is famous for its ancient temples, castles and ruined churches as well as the beautiful landscapes of the Ethiopian Highlands. There is an abundance of wildlife for safaris as well as trekking and adventure holidays. The landscape varies massively across Ethiopia. Although many of us remember pictures of the desert from the terrible droughts that have afflicted this country, surprisingly most of the country is actually green and lush hill country at over 2000 metres above sea level and well watered by the rivers coming down from the volcanic highlands.

The lack of tourists and the stunning landscapes make this a perfect destination for a safari with a difference. There are over 200 species of mammals and over 800 species of birds making this a nature lovers paradise. The landscape is incredibly diverse with the high mountain ranges, lush forests, typical African savannahs, enormous lakes, rivers and deserts and this means there is a huge variety of wildlife on offer. The rare Ethiopian Wolf is one of the animals that most visitors are keen to see but be warned – they are rare and elusive!