Discover Ethiopia: Exploring the Omo Valley, Lalibela, Gheralta & Bale Mountains

Highlights

Let us take you to the mysterious land once ruled by the Queen of Sheba, a land whose language and history are among the world’s oldest. Enjoy the Italian influence in sophisticated Addis Ababa (be sure to take time out from sampling restaurants and coffee to visit the 3.2 million year old remains of “Lucy” at the Natural History Museum). Explore extraordinary landscapes and wildlife in Bale Mountains National Park, hike to rock hewn churches dating from 4th century in Gheralta, visit the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela, and get to know fascinating tribes living along the Omo River.

Days 1, 2, 3:

Fly to the Bale Mountains in the south. The beautiful high country of the Bale Mountains ranges from plateaus soaring over 13,000 feet where the endangered Ethiopian wolves roam to the Webb Valley far below. The Bale Mountains are home to 20 animal species endemic to Ethiopia, five of which are found only here! Other mammals here include the mountain nyala, the Menelik’s bushbuck, spotted hyena, lion, leopard and African wild dog. The ethereal Harenna forest of trees are draped in fern and home to Bale monkeys. Spend your days walking, horseback riding, mountain biking and driving.

Day 4:

Rest up in Addis Ababa, a melting pot of a city where you may wish to visit the “Mercato”, the largest open-air market in Africa or some of the city’s museums.

Days 5, 6, 7:

You now fly north to the stunning sandstone landscape of Gheralta, the bread basket of Ethiopia. The area is steeped in religious history with some of the world’s earliest Christian churches. Mohammed’s daughter was sheltered here so there is also an ancient Moslem community. Hidden among the many sheer rock faces are awe-inspiring hand-hewn churches complete with intricate artwork within that are still in use today. Most of the churches are carved into the rocks on high cliffs, so hiking up these impressive mountainsides is part of the experience.

Days 8, 9:

Spend the next two nights at Lalibela, stopping enroute to visit the stelae field of Axum and learn of the Axumite empire.

The medieval site of Lalibela is home to eleven rock hewn monolithic churches believed to have been built by King Lalibela in the late 12th or early 13th century. These amazing structures are carved, both internally and externally, from the volcanic rock in which they stand and are considered among the wonders of the world. Each building is beautifully carved and architecturally unique. The scenery around Lalibela is mountainous with amazing views in all directions. Great hiking opportunities abound and the cave church of Yemrehana Cristos is not to be missed.

Days 10, 11, 12, 13:

Fly south to the Omo Valley where you will spend five nights in one of the most culturally diverse regions in the world. From your luxury tented camp you will learn about the many ceremonies and traditions of the communities here. Traveling by boat along the languid Omo River you’ll see monkeys, crocodile over 100 species of birds. Visit the local villages of Hamar, Kora, and Nyangatom people. Overnight in a fly camp far away from any civilization where you will be joined by the Mursi people, noted for the lip plates worn by the women and extensive scarification. Join the Kara as they turn their faces and bodies into works of art in preparation for an evening of dance; visit markets, and experience daily life along the river. The Omo Valley provides insight into lifestyles vastly different from Westerners’ yet deeply emotionally powerful for all who visit.

Summary

  • 3 Nights – Webb Valley Tented Camp – Bale Mountains National Park

  • 1 Night – Sheraton Hotel – Addis Ababa

  • 3 Nights – KorKor Lodge – Gheralta

  • 2 Nights – Maribela Hotel – Lalibela

  • 4 Nights – Lumale Camp – Omo River Valley

Price

Starts at $14,440 per person based on 4 people traveling together.

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Jamie Mehrotra