Wonders of Ethiopia - TravelQuest International
Click Here for COVID-19 Travel Updates from TravelQuest

May 2 - 18, 2021

Wonders of Ethiopia

Tour Destination: Ethiopia

Tour Destination: EthiopiaMany of us first discovered the rich culture and haunting landscapes of Ethiopia decades ago, flipping through the pages of National Geographic magazine. Back then it was a uniquely mysterious corner of the modern world. And even today, this vast land in northeast Africa – the only nation on the continent never colonized by Europeans – remains largely unexplored by travelers.

In May 2021, TravelQuest will change all that – with a one-of-a-kind trip venturing deep ...Show more


  • Enjoy an all-inclusive adventure: expert local guides, full accommodations, virtually every meal, private ground transportation and all flights within Ethiopia.
  • Discover East African tribal cultures never subject to European colonial rule, including the Mursi people, with their distinctive lip plates.
  • Explore the Great Rift Valley, visiting various UNESCO-protected sites and cultural communities.

Following your early-morning arrival in Addis Ababa (airport code: ADD), your TravelQuest representative arranges the quick transfer to our central hotel, where breakfast awaits you. Enjoy a driving tour of the city, including a visit to the National Museum of Ethiopia and a stroll through the Merkato, East Africa’s largest open-air market. After lunch we return to the hotel to check in; then you can relax for the rest of the afternoon, enjoying dinner on your own or with others in our group.

DATE(S): Sunday, May 2, 2021

MEALS: Breakfast / Lunch

ACCOMMODATION: Sheraton Addis Hotel or similar

After breakfast we transfer to the airport for our flight to Dire Dawa, where we arrive in time for a lunch of authentic regional fare. In the afternoon we visit the Ethio-Djibouti Railway station, which dates from the late 1800s. Next, we journey to the colorful spice market at Kefira, a traditional outdoor venue frequented by camels, donkeys and two-wheeled horse carts. Then it’s on to the old walled town of Harar, our home for the night, where you can stroll the bustling marketplace with the region’s Amhara, Oromo and Adere (Harari) peoples. In the evening we pay a visit to the Hyena Men, who collect offal and bones from around the city and then invite visitors to watch them feed wild hyenas – from their mouths. It’s an experience you won’t soon forget!

DATE(S): Monday, May 3, 2021

MEALS: Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

ACCOMMODATION: Wonderland Hotel or similar

Today is devoted to exploring Harar, Ethiopia’s medieval capital, regarded by many as the fourth holy city of Islam next to Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem. Set on a plateau cut with deep gorges and surrounded by both desert and savannah, the city is protected by an encircling wall built in the 16th century by the Emir Nur ibn Mujahid. In addition to Harar’s fortifications and gates (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), we visit the former palace of Emperor Haile Selassie, as well as a traditional Harari village and the house of the renowned 19th-century French poet Arthur Rimbaud, who worked here as a coffee trader after giving up writing at age 21.

DATE(S): Tuesday, May 4, 2021

MEALS: Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

ACCOMMODATION: Samrat Hotel or similar

In the morning we drive from Harar back to Dire Dawa for our return flight to Addis. Then after lunch we head overland through Ethiopia’s famed Great Rift Valley – one segment in a line of deep fissures that extends 6,000 km (3,800 miles) from the Middle East through the heart of Africa to Mozambique. As a result of massive shifts in the Earth’s tectonic plates, the rift is punctuated by many lakes, each teeming with fish and supporting hundreds of species of birds. We stop to view two of the most beautiful, Lake Ziway and Lake Langano, and along our route have chances to spot a diverse array of wildlife, including hippos, monkeys, baboons and warthogs. Our final destination is the lakeside town of Awassa.

DATE(S): Wednesday, May 5, 2021

MEALS: Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

ACCOMMODATION: Haile Resort Awassa or similar

In the morning we visit Awassa’s famed fish market, the largest in Ethiopia, then head southwest along the shores of Lake Abaya to the community of Chencha. Here you meet the Dorze people, once feared as warriors and now renowned as weavers of fine cotton textiles – including their colorful robes, or shammas, which are popular throughout Ethiopia. The Dorze are also famed for their two-story “beehive” huts, which are constructed so skillfully from woven bamboo and enset (Ethiopian banana) that they last up to 80 years.  Getting to know our Dorze hosts is a fascinating cultural experience, and the warmth of their welcome will stay with you as we carry on to our destination for tonight, the town of Arba Minch.

DATE(S): Thursday, May 6, 2021

MEALS: Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

ACCOMMODATION: Haile Resort Arba Minch or similar

Our morning begins with a boat cruise on Lake Chamo, where you’re likely to spot hippos, great white pelicans and other species of water birds. Chamo also boasts one of the world’s most spectacular concentrations of giant crocodiles – to the point where locals call it “The Crocodile Market.” Driving southward, we stop at a remote village of the Konso people, set on a hillside among outcrops of basalt and protected by a network of stone-walled alleys. By the time we reach our final destination, an eco-lodge near the market town of Turmi, you can count on having plenty of vivid memories (with a camera full of images to match).

DATE(S): Friday, May 7, 2021

MEALS: Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

ACCOMMODATION: Buska Lodge or similar

After breakfast we drive through the Omo River Valley to visit a village of the Karo people, who are known for elaborately decorating their faces and bodies before important ceremonies. Using white chalk and charcoal, as well as earth in hues of red, yellow and ochre, Karo men and women create striking paintings on their flesh, often imitating the plumage of guinea fowl. Many also scar their chests, making cuts and then rubbing them with ash to raise patterns in the skin. Our hosts show us their meeting grounds and ritual dancing place, along with the simple shelters, or shuppas, where they retreat from the midday heat – often to play a traditional board game called warre. In the afternoon we journey on to the market at Dimeka, a popular crossroads for members of the Hamer, Bena, Tsemay, Ari and other Omo Valley peoples.

DATE(S): Saturday, May 8, 2021

MEALS: Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

ACCOMMODATION: Buska Lodge or similar

Today we meet another of the ancient tribes of southern Ethiopia: the Hamer, who tend their cattle herds among remote villages east of the Omo River. Decorating themselves with chalk paint and natural ornaments, the Hamer are known for their extraordinary cattle-leaping ritual: to mark their passage into manhood, young men must jump naked over a line of up to 30 bulls without falling. While such ceremonies last several days, unfortunately we can’t guarantee that any will coincide with our visit; but if you’re lucky enough to witness one, it’s a sight you won't soon forget. Further up the Omo Valley we visit a village of the Bena people, gaining a firsthand look at their unique way of life. Like the Hamer, most Bena adults color their bodies with white chalk; women string beads through their buttered hair, while men wear colorful clay caps decorated with feathers. Finally, after a very full day, we drive on to the small market town of Jinka and our next lodge.

DATE(S): Sunday, May 9, 2021

MEALS: Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

ACCOMMODATION: Eco Omo Lodge or similar

Today’s explorations take us deeper into the Omo Valley, where we encounter two more fascinating cultures. The Mursi people, like their neighbors, use body painting and ornamentation to express their spiritual beliefs. But they’re perhaps best known for the fact that Mursi women, when they reach maturity, insert large clay plates into their lower lips. Possibly originating as a way to thwart slave traders, it’s a tradition you won't see practiced quite the same way anywhere else in the world. We also pay a visit to a village of the Bodi people, who herd cattle in remote corners of the valley. Among many interesting aspects of their culture, the Bodi celebrate girth as a sign of prosperity – to the point where young men regularly gorge on cow's blood and milk in a bid to be honored as the community’s fattest man.

DATE(S): Monday, May 10, 2021

MEALS: Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

ACCOMMODATION: Eco Omo Lodge or similar

Today we conclude our journey through the Omo Valley with a visit to a village of the Ari people, whose traditional lands are the most extensive in the region. The Ari tend large herds of cattle and also grow grains, coffee, fruits and honey. If you’re interested in taking home a piece of pottery, there are many women artisans in the village – beautifully decked out in beads, bracelets and other jewelry, and wearing hand-woven enset (banana leaf) skirts. In the afternoon, we catch our return flight to Addis Ababa.

DATE(S): Tuesday, May 11, 2021

MEALS: Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

ACCOMMODATION: Sheraton Addis Hotel or similar

After a morning flight to Bahir Dar, we head to Lake Tana, the largest in Ethiopia, whose many islands shelter churches of significant historical and cultural interest. Traveling by boat, we visit the monasteries of Ura-Kidane Mihret and Azwa-Mariam for a closer look at treasures of the Ethiopian Coptic Christians. And on the Zege Peninsula, you can stroll among coffee shrubs that were likely planted by early monks. The other highlight today is our visit to the Blue Nile Falls, one of the most spectacular in Africa, cascading 45 m (148 ft) across a 400 m (1,300 ft) span when the river is in full flood. The gravel road providing access to the falls can be a bit rough, but once we’re there it’s an easy half-hour walk to a vantage point that offers spectacular views and great bird watching.

DATE(S): Wednesday, May 12, 2021

MEALS: Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

ACCOMMODATION: Kuriftu Resort or similar

Today we journey overland to Gondar, Ethiopia’s capital from the 16th to the 18th centuries, often called the “the Camelot of Africa” by admirers of its six castles. The oldest and most magnificent is Fasiledes, named for the king who founded Gondar in 1632. Also remarkable is the Church of Debre Birhan Selassie, an imposing structure with brightly colored ceilings covered in intricately painted angels.

DATE(S): Thursday, May 13, 2021

MEALS: Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

ACCOMMODATION: Mayleko Lodge or similar

This morning, we fly to the northern Ethiopian city of Axum. After an introduction to the region’s rich history at the archeological museum, we visit the famed Cathedral of St. Mary of Zion. Built from 1665 on foundations that likely date back a thousand years earlier, this is the oldest Christian site in Africa, with a guarded chapel that’s said to house the Ark of the Covenant. The modern cathedral, built in the 1960s by Emperor Haile Selassie, presents a striking contrast to its ancient setting. The other focal point of our visit is Axum’s renowned array of stelae – more than 120 stone monuments dating from the 4th century and now protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can also walk among the ruins of various palaces and tombs, including the residence of the legendary Queen of Sheba, who may have lived here some 3,000 years ago.

DATE(S): Friday, May 14, 2021

MEALS: Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

ACCOMMODATION: Sabean Hotel or similar

Our morning flight takes us to Lalibela, situated high in the Lasta Mountains at more than 2,500 m (8,500 ft) above sea level. This is arguably one of the most important religious sites in all of Africa, and indeed the entire Christian world. While there are at least 200 churches across the region, some of them hidden in enormous caves, Lalibela boasts 11 structures whose engineering and craftsmanship have rightly earned renown as architectural wonders. Perhaps the most impressive is Medhane Alem, the largest monolithic rock-hewn church in the world, with 72 carved pillars. Everywhere you explore among these magnificent buildings, you find a wealth of cultural treasures, from faded frescoes gracing the stone walls to elaborately carved details on the piers, capitals and arches.

DATE(S): Saturday, May 15, 2021

MEALS: Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

ACCOMMODATION: Maribella hotel or similar

Today begins with an excursion to Yimerhane Kirstos, named for the 12th-century ruler who built this beautiful monastery with its olivewood panels and exterior of whitewashed marble. Next we discover a cluster of churches built to represent the heavenly Jerusalem, making our way to the centerpiece of the compound: cross-shaped Bete Giorgis, which boasts a spectacular interior dominated by depictions of its namesake, Saint George, slaying the dragon.

DATE(S): Sunday, May 16, 2021

MEALS: Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

ACCOMMODATION: Maribella hotel or similar

This morning we fly back to Addis Ababa, where you can spend the rest of the day relaxing on the grounds of our luxurious hotel.

DATE(S): Monday, May 17, 2021

MEALS: Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

ACCOMMODATION: Sheraton Addis Hotel or similar

After a late checkout, enjoy an expert-guided tour of Addis Ababa, including a visit to Holy Trinity Cathedral, a baroque-style Orthodox church that is the burial site of Emperor Haile Selassie, as well as many Ethiopians who resisted the Italian occupation during the 1930s. Join us this evening for a farewell dinner at one of the best traditional restaurants in Addis, where we sample cuisine from around the country while enjoying folkloric dances and the music of various Ethiopian peoples. After dinner, it’s time to part ways following an amazing adventure together as we transfer you to the airport for your evening flight onward.

DATE(S): Tuesday, May 18, 2021

MEALS: Breakfast / Dinner

Optional Add-ons

For those wishing to arrive in Addis Ababa a night or two early, TravelQuest has reserved a limited number of rooms at the Sheraton Addis Hotel.


The cost per night, including the transfer from Addis airport, breakfast and tax: $340 USD per person based on two people sharing one room. $614 USD for single occupancy.


Level 3 – Moderate – Some demanding walks and hikes over uneven and occasionally hilly terrain, with rugged travel conditions and a few long drives, at elevations up to 2,590 m (8,500 ft).

At TravelQuest, we want to be sure you find the trip that best suits your interests and level of fitness. Please email or call if you have any questions regarding the itinerary.


  • TravelQuest, working with our partners, makes every effort to follow the published itinerary. However, please keep in mind that it is subject to change depending on weather and other local conditions.

Prices are per person in US Dollars based on the number of people in a room.






  • TravelQuest, working with our partners, makes every effort to follow the published itinerary. However, please keep in mind that it is subject to change depending on weather and other local conditions.
  • All tour prices, taxes and airfares quoted in this brochure are based on tariffs, costs and United States dollar exchange rates that were in effect at the time of publication. Consequently, prices herein are subject to change. Due to fluctuations in global oil prices, a fuel surcharge may be added to your tour fee. You will be advised of details and costs prior to departure.


  • 16 nights' accommodation at select hotels
  • All ground transportation
  • All domestic flights within Ethiopia, via Ethiopian Airlines
  • Services of your TravelQuest Trip Leader
  • Expert, English-speaking local guide throughout your journey
  • Meals as specified in the itinerary, including coffee, tea and water
  • Sightseeing admissions as noted in the itinerary

Not Included

  • International air transportation to and from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (ADD). Travelers flying internationally into and out of Addis Ababa using Ethiopian Airlines (ET) will receive a domestic flight credit of US$640 off the cost of this tour.
  • Luggage handling
  • Gratuities to driver and local guide
  • Meals and activities not specified in the itinerary
  • Beverages at meals (other than coffee, tea and water)
  • Expenses of a personal nature, including spa services, laundry, souvenirs, etc.
  • Passport & visa fees, along with any required immunizations
  • Trip Cancellation Insurance

Payments & Terms

  • An advance payment of $2,000 USD per person, along with the completed reservation form, are required to secure your reservation.
  • Final payment is due by March 5, 2021.

Cancellation Terms

  • Cancellations must be made in writing via email, fax or mail.
  • All advance payments, less a $700 USD per person cancellation fee, are refundable until January 6, 2021.
  • From January 7 to March 5, 2021, all advance payments, less a $1,400 USD per person service fee, are refundable.
  • There are no refunds after March 5, 2021.
  • International air cancellation terms are additional.

What Happens if TQ Cancels My Trip due to COVID-19-Type Travel Restrictions?

If we need to cancel a trip because of COVID-19-type travel restrictions, you can choose between the following 2 options:

  1. Transfer to a future TQ tour, or take a 100% travel credit good for any tour booked through December 2022. This credit has no cash value.
  2. A full refund of what you have paid us, less any penalties by hotels or local service providers that we are unable to waive. We will use our best efforts to recover and refund as much money as possible.

Traveler Health

We at TQ want to be sure you find the trip that best suits your interests and level of fitness. Prior to submitting their booking, it is the responsibility of each traveler on the booking to thoroughly read the itinerary, as well as acquire and understand all pertinent medical advice to determine whether or not they are of an appropriate physical and healthy state to undertake the trip. At minimum, participants must be able to climb into and out of buses, vans and trains without assistance, keep up with the pace of the trip, and carry their own luggage. If you have any questions about your trip’s itinerary or its level of difficulty, please contact us prior to booking.

Travel Insurance

Whether your destination is domestic or international, we recommend that you consider purchasing travel protection. TravelQuest International recommends that you purchase a travel protection plan to help protect you and your travel investment against the unexpected.

You may purchase this insurance on your own, or you may contact our friends at Travelex who are familiar with our trips and offer a “Travel Select” plan to help protect you and your travel investment against the unexpected. The Travel Select plan includes coverage for Trip Cancellation, Trip Interruption, Emergency Medical and Emergency Evacuation/Repatriation, Trip Delay, Baggage Delay and more. To be eligible for the waiver of pre-existing medical condition exclusion, this plan must be purchased within 15 days from the time you make your initial deposit with TravelQuest. Otherwise, the plan may be purchased any time prior to departure.

For more information on these plans or to enroll, click on the link below or contact Travelex Insurance Services direct at 1-800-228-9792, and reference location number 03-6043.

TravelEx Insurance

A Note About Fuel

In the uncertain, often volatile oil market, it is difficult to predict long-term fuel costs, and more specifically, costs at the time of the voyage. Our prices are based on the prevailing fuel rates at the time of the brochure publication, which is well in advance of departure. While we will do everything possible to maintain our prices, if fuel prices increase significantly at or before the time of the trip, it may be necessary to institute a fuel surcharge.


No traveler's experience added yet.