Colourful bible, Axum, Ethiopia

Ethiopia Holidays

Discover rock-cut churches, trek the Simien mountains and visit the city of Harar, where hyenas stalk the streets. For the more adventurous, camp in the remote reaches of the Omo Valley, meeting traditional tribal communities.

Ethiopia’s landscape is magnificent, the people incredibly welcoming and the sense of history tangible. The old decorative art in the churches, the castles at Gondar, the rock-cut churches at Lalibela and the 1,700-year-old monolithic stelae at Axum are all inspiring.

Ethiopia is fascinating, both historically and culturally, a magical country to visit.

Kara, Body Paint, Ethiopia
Kara, Omo Valley, Ethiopia
Dassenach, Dimi, Ethiopia
Omo Valley, Ethiopia
Fasilides Castle, Gondar, Ethiopia
Fasilides Castle, Gondar, Ethiopia
Gelada, Simien Mountains, Ethiopia
Gelada, Simien Mountains, Ethiopia

Why we like Ethiopia

The focus of most holidays to Ethiopia is on the natural world, and there are parts of the country to delight any nature lover. The wildlife is truly unique with Ethiopian wolves, Gelada baboons and Walia ibex to be found in the Simien and Bale Mountains. A good starting point is our Highlights of Ethiopia itinerary.

Simien Mountains, Ethiopia
Simien Mountains, Ethiopia
Cattle Drive, Awash, Ehtiopia
Omo Valley, Ethiopia
Kara, Body Paint, Ethiopia
Omo Valley, Ethiopia
Laibeila Church, Ethiopia
Lalibela, Ethiopia

What to expect on your Ethiopia Holiday

If spas, luxury hotels and fine food are high on your list of priorities, then Ethiopia is probably not for you. The standard of accommodation has improved with the emergence of a few new and exciting properties, but a holiday to Ethiopia is about what surrounds you rather than the luxuries in life.

What you will find is a safe, delightfully friendly country of dignified people. A country that will smash all your preconceived ideas. Ethiopia is one of the most unusual countries in Africa, complete with myth, wonder, relics and stories of emperors and queens. It is said to be home to the Ark of the Covenant and Harar is the fourth most important haj city of Islam.

One of the first countries to adopt the Christian faith, northern Ethiopia tells a story of the persecution of Christians by the Arabs and dogged resolution. In the south, the roots of Africa dig deep into a remote and esoteric tribal wilderness.

Lava field at sunset, Danakil Depression, Ethiopia
Danakil Depression, Ethiopia

Discover extraordinary in Ethiopia

  • Plan your visit to coincide with a Christian festival
  • No visit is complete without seeing the remarkable rock-cut monolithic churches at Lalibela
  • Try a few days trekking in the beautiful Simien or Bale Mountains
  • If time allows head south to the tribal areas, where women have large lip plates and men indulge in bull jumping and stick fighting
  • Soak in the tranquillity of Bishangari Lodge
  • Visit Harar, the only predominantly Muslim city in Ethiopia, which was founded in the 7th century
  • Venture into the depths of the western Omo (not on the tourist route) or to the hottest place on earth: the Danakil Depression
  • For the ultimate holiday, explore Ethiopia by helicopter and visit otherwise inaccessible areas

Explore Ethiopia

  • Axum
  • Bale Mountains
  • Gondar
  • Lalibela
  • Simien Mountains
  • Lake Tana
  • Omo Valley

Experiences

Tell us what you love doing and we’ll curate a journey that’s perfect for you.

Yemrehana Kristos, Lalibela, Ethiopia

Church of Yemrehanna Kristos

Visit the remote and deeply sacred church of Yemrehanna Kristos, which sits within a vast cavern. Here, the remains of more than 10,000 pilgrims are said to lie.

Suggested Holiday Idea

Unique monolithic rock hewn Church of St. George (Bete Giyorgis), UNESCO World heritage, Lalibela, Ethiopia

Visit Bet Giyorgis at Dusk

Visit the outlying Bet Giyorgis, arguably Lalibela’s most beautiful church. Carved into the shape of a Greek cross and perfectly preserved, this masterpiece is best appreciated in the late afternoon sunlight.

Suggested Holiday Idea

Dassenach, Dimi, Ethiopia

Meet the Dassenach

Visit the crocodile-hunting Dassenach people, staying at a mobile camp nearby, in the Omo Valley.

Suggested Holiday Idea

Kara, Body Paint, Ethiopia

Meet the Kara

Meet the colourful Kara people of the Omo Valley, renowned for painting their bodies with a tapestry of colours.

Suggested Holiday Idea

Local people by Omo River, Ethiopia

Explore by Boat

Explore the Omo Delta by boat, visiting isolated and rarely encountered communities in this culturally rich and varied region.

Suggested Holiday Idea

Mursi girl, Omo Valley, Ethiopia

Photography in the Omo Valley

Meet the local and tribes and spend time getting to know them, establishing a relationship with them. Then have the chance to photograph them in a respectful, non-exploitative fashion.

Suggested Holiday Idea

View over Axum, Ethiopia

Discover Axum

Learn about Ethiopia’s ancient capital and the holiest city of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.

Suggested Holiday Idea

The Chapel of the Tablet, Axum, Ethiopia

The Ark of the Covenant

Visit a small church that is said to house the Ark of the Covenant, one of Christianity’s most precious relics. It is watched over by a priest who has dedicated his life to this task.

Suggested Holiday Idea

Fasilides Castle, Gondar, Ethiopia

“Camelot of Africa”

Explore Gondar, with its beautifully preserved medieval castles – which have led to it being dubbed the “Camelot of Africa”.

Suggested Holiday Idea

Rock Church of St. George in Lalibela, Ethiopia

Rock-cut Churches

Visit Lalibela’s iconic rock-cut churches, which are hewn into the hillside. Built during the 12th and 13th century, these still-active religious edifices are cut into the red volcanic rock.

Suggested Holiday Idea

Where to stay

Some of the wonderful places to stay that we frequently recommended.

Limalimo Lodge £££££

  • Ethiopia
  • Safari and Wildlife Lodge

Spread across a wide ridge in the Simien Mountains, this modern lodge looks out towards an undulating mishmash of vegetation-strewn valleys. It sits high above the surrounding landscape, affording spectacular views of the verdant lowlands. Designed in an unobtrusive, yet minimalist style, Limalimo makes the most of its unrivalled views. Communal areas are bright and airy, with the 12 rooms employing a similar design. Each one features floor-to-ceiling windows, allowing the spectacular scenery to be appreciated from the bed. These rooms are simple and clean in design, decorated with pale woods.

View Property

Gheralta Lodge £££££

  • Ethiopia

Located in the heart of the Historic Route, between Axum and Mekele, Gheralta Lodge is a comfortable and friendly base from which to explore this scenically beautiful area. The lodge has great views over the Gheralta Mountains and its bungalow rooms are tastefully decorated in Tigray style. Owned and run by an Italian couple, the restaurant serves up hearty Italian food with ingredients grown on site.

View Property

Bale Mountain Lodge £££££

  • Ethiopia
  • Safari and Wildlife Lodge

Set in a forest clearing, this Eco-lodge features 15 thatched mahogany and stone rooms made from sustainable wood and furnishings. With wood-burning fires and private terraces, all rooms will enjoy wonderful views. Views are taken advantage of here with a glass-walled restaurant and a glass-bottomed spa. Combine with the Simien Mountains in the north and the Rift Valley in the south.

View Property

Lale’s Camp £££££

  • Ethiopia

Named after its owner, Lale, a proud local Kara, Lale’s Camp sits on the edge of a sweeping ox-bow bend of the River Omo. The camp comprises of four large tents each with a veranda and en-suite facilities including a flush toilet, sink and bucket shower. Large fig trees provide welcome shade around the camp and the mess area sits under a cool spacious tree canopy offering exceptional views of the river. The camp is only available on an exclusive basis.

View Property

Simien Lodge £££££

  • Ethiopia
  • Safari and Wildlife Lodge

Simien Lodge is perched high up in the mountains with breath-taking views over the Simien Mountains. Built using local materials to resemble a typical Simien village, the hotel’s 20 Tukel rooms have either twin or double beds, en-suite bathrooms, and underfloor heating powered by solar energy.

View Property

Meet our experts

A passion for travel runs right through every one of our experts - meaning they're always ready with first-hand insight about their specialist countries.

Illona Cross

Born in a small South African town, I have always followed my passion for nature and discovery. After studying Nature Conservation in Pretoria, I was one of the first women to complete a very tough cadetship in the Natal Parks Board. It was here where I cut my teeth in African wildlife management.

Talk with our experts
  • 1 800 571 2985

Frequently asked questions about Ethiopia

Can everyone enter Ethiopia's religious buildings?

What is the climate like?

What are travel conditions like in Ethiopia?

Start planning your trip


Send us an enquiry

Complete our enquiry form and start your next journey.

Review Contact Form

Name(Required)
Hidden

Why Choose Steppes?

Our knowledge, curiosity and expertise set us apart, driving us to create remarkable holidays and Beautiful Adventures tailored perfectly to you, carefully curated to help protect and conserve our planet.

Are you ready to Discover Extraordinary?


More about Steppes

F L E X I B I L I T Y P R O M I S E B O O K W I T H C O N F I D E N C E