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Ethiopia Tours & Safari Packages

Ethiopia is one of the most scenic countries in Africa. As the country has been associated with drought and famine for many years, you might expect a desert wasteland. Instead, Ethiopia is mostly lush, mountainous and incredibly fertile. While you won’t find many of the usual safari suspects, there is plenty of animal diversity here. Wildlife viewing is different in Ethiopia. It is mostly about finding endemic creatures unique to Ethiopia in a spectacular setting. Culturally the country is equally special. You might end up dancing with tribal people in the Omo Valley or praying with highlanders in the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela. Expect the unexpected in Ethiopia, one of the continent’s most exciting emerging travel destinations.

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1-20 of 119 trips, packages and vacations to Ethiopia

6 Questions About Ethiopia Tours


6 Questions About Ethiopia Tours

Answered by Ariadne van Zandbergen

What is the best time of the year for an Ethiopia safari?

“It is possible to visit Ethiopia at any time of the year. Ethiopia’s spectacular mountain scenery is at its best from September to December, when the sky is crisp and free of haze after the rains, but days are mostly sunny. September is especially recommended as during this month the mountains are covered in meskel flowers. Wildlife viewing is consistent throughout the year, but birding is at its best from November to March when Palearctic migrants are present. However, it might be best to avoid July and August, the peak of the Wet season. Travel during these months can be difficult, especially if you intend to do some hiking or camping. Although the historical circuit can be visited throughout the year, Bale Mountains and Simien Mountains National Parks can be cold and miserable during that time, and roads might deteriorate.”


What are the main tourist attractions?

“Ethiopia’s main attractions lie in the ‘historical circuit’: Bahir Dar, Gondar, Axum and Lalibela. Most visitors make use of the domestic flights connecting these towns. Bahir Dar is the base for visiting the thunderous Blue Nile Falls and the island monasteries on Lake Tana. Gondar’s main attractions are the European-influenced castles and painted churches, while the ancient city of Axum is the site of the intriguing towering stelae. Perhaps the most fascinating place on the circuit is Lalibela with its labyrinth of medieval rock-hewn churches. Nature-lovers should make a little diversion from Gondar to visit the rugged mountainous Simien Mountains NP and its endemic wildlife. Southern Ethiopia is characterized by the Rift Valley and its scenic lakes teeming with birdlife. Rising up from the rift is Bale Mountains NP, protecting the country’s most diverse habitats and endemic wildlife. Further south, reaching the Kenyan border, is South Omo, a cultural melting pot of different tribes living a traditional lifestyle, pretty much unchanged in hundreds of years. And then there is the Danakil. An inhospitable desert area that ranks amongst the lowest-lying places on earth. Highlights are looking into the earth’s inners at the bubbling psychedelic sulfur-caked hot springs of Dallol and spending a night on the active volcano Erta Ale.”


Is a holiday in Ethiopia safe?

“Ethiopia is a very safe holiday destination. Some borders with Eritrea, Somalia and Sudan are considered unsafe, but these remote areas are seldom visited by travelers. Although independent travelers might come across some minor hassles, visitors on organized tours are mostly shielded from this. Your guide will take care of your safety and avoid high-risk areas. However, there are some precautions you should take when in unfamiliar cities. For example, don’t walk around showing any valuables and never walk around unguided at night, always take a taxi. If in doubt ask your hotel receptionist or guide.”

Read more about Safety & Security in Ethiopia 3

Where in Ethiopia should I go on safari?

“Ethiopia is mostly known for its historical treasures, but its natural history is as fascinating. Ethiopia’s most popular safari destination is Simien Mountains NP. The dramatic mountain range is incised with tall cliffs and meandering river valleys. It encompasses the 4,533m Ras Dashen, Ethiopia’s highest peak. Although you can drive through the park on a day trip, the Simiens are best explored over a 3- to 10-day hiking trip. Aside from spectacular mountain scenery, the main attraction is the endemic fauna, which includes gelada monkeys and Walia ibex. While the Simiens are easily incorporated in a standard visit of the historical circuit, nature-lovers should make the journey south to Bale Mountains NP. It is the best place in the country to see a wide range of endemic mammals and birds, including the sought-after Ethiopian wolf. To look for these highly endangered dogs, you’ll drive up the world’s highest all-weather road onto the Afro-alpine moorland of Sanetti Plateau. Away from the mountains is Awash National Park in the Rift Valley, a hot and dry wasteland, interrupted by the Awash River, which tumbles down the stunning Awash Falls. This is the place to see several dry-country specials, including the endemic hamadryas baboons.”


How much will this safari cost?

“There are too many different tours to list here, but here are a few examples. A 10-day mid-range private tour of the historical circuit starts at around US$3,500 per person. To visit the Danakil Depression as part of an 11-day tour costs around US$5,000 per person. While a 10-day tour focusing on the main parks of Simien and Bale Mountains costs about US$3,000 per person. Ethiopia is a relatively affordable safari destination. There are many variables determining the price of an Ethiopia tour. The level of accommodation is a big factor. Local flights can make your trip more comfortable, but they also increase the overall cost. Another variable is the choice between a private or group tour. Ethiopia has a lot of different attractions and areas to visit.”


What animals can I expect to see?

“Ethiopia is not a regular safari destination. There is no Big Five to speak of. Instead you’ll be looking for some of Africa’s most endangered animals, mostly endemic to Ethiopia. Top of the endemics list is the Ethiopian wolf, classified as the world’s rarest dog species. These charismatic canines are remarkably relaxed on Sanetti Plateau where you might spot packs of them gathering at a den site. You’ll find big troops of the handsome golden-maned gelada monkeys in the Simien Mountains. They spend their nights on steep cliff edges, a habitat they share with the Walia ibex, a hoofed animal with impressive horns. Other endemic ungulates are the mountain nyala and Swayne’s hartebeest. A boat trip in Nechisar National Park gets you to a place called the ‘crocodile market,’ a favorite spot for these monstrous reptiles to gather and bask in the sun.”


Ethiopia Holiday Reviews

4.3/5 25 Reviews
Harriet Nimmo  –  
South Africa ZA

Harriet is a zoologist with more than 20 years’ experience. She has the privilege of working with the world’s top wildlife photographers and photo-guides.

Extraordinary, Epic and Endemics!

Ethiopia is like no other African country – it is truly extraordinary in every sense of the word. Its uniqueness is partly because it’s never been colonised by Europeans (though the Italians had a go in the mid-20th century). It is a...

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Stephen Cunliffe  –  
South Africa ZA

Stephen is a travel writer and avid conservationist whose work appears in prestigious magazines such as Africa Geographic and Travel Africa.

Safari uniqueness in the land of endemism

The stunning views and spectacular trails of the Bale and Simien Mountains, combined with the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela, impressive castles of Gondar, and a cultural extravaganza (that centres on the Omo Valley tribes) make Ethiopia an...

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Gerrud  –  
Germany DE
Reviewed: May 15, 2020
Ethiopia is awesome and allurung. The contry offers a varity on scenery and remarkable churches.

Our guides showed us their country from its best. I really enjoyed my trip to Ethiopia. The people were very frindly and did their best to show us the highlights of their contry. The trip was well organized and the guides gave us ample time...

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Jorge  –  
Spain ES
Reviewed: Jan 13, 2020
Unique safari in an unique country

Safaris in Ethiopia are different to what to might expect: that is why you will probably end positively surprised. Parks are wilder, less crowded, more genuine. Landscapes in Ethiopia are superb, difficult to fully capture by even the best...

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robelmazd3  –  
Ethiopia ET
Reviewed: Dec 21, 2019
Not really a safari destination

There are a lot of cool endemic animals and the scenery is just mind blowing.the weather is great all year round but the accommodation is not good even for an African country.the food is not a typical African food it's truly different and a...

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Phil Roberts  –  
Saudi Arabia SA
Reviewed: Nov 20, 2019
A country with incredible unique wildlife and birdlife that as a avid birder was simply amazing

We arranged a private tour which used a Toyota Land Cruiser 4WD and our driver guide was excellent providing great insights into the local countryside, people and culture. The duration of the tour was 8 days which meant we were unable to...

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