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Addis Ababa: the new flower is established in 1881 after Emperor Minelik made his permanent capital at Entoto (3000 meters above sea level) which is rich in Eucalyptus trees line up at the right and left side of the road. However, Entoto was soon decided not to be a site for the capital due to its cold weather. Therefore, Empress Taitu was said to have led the move down to the plain of Finfine, and to have named the new capital Addis Ababa, in Amharic the New Flower. Since then, Addis Ababa became the official capital of Ethiopia.

If you have a short time in Ethiopia, we offer you to visit the historical town – Addis Ababa with its museums, nearly 200 old houses, monuments, churches and the Grand market in East Africa – Merkato.

BahirDar: Situated at the shore of Lake Tana is found 564 kilometers from Addis Ababa or 55 minutes flight from Addis Ababa by Ethiopian airlines. The island monasteries on Lake Tana are the major sites to visit followed by the Blue Nile falls. It is possible to cross the lake to Gorgora and vice versa to visit the nice and recently restored medieval church of DebreSina Mariam.

 

 

Gonder: is distinguished by its castles, imperial compound and its churches, particularly Debre Brehan Selassie church whereby its walls and ceiling are completely covered by unique murals. It was the capital of the Ethiopian Empire almost 200 years and the gate to the Semien Mountains National Park where you can see the highest peak in Ethiopia named mount Ras Dashen measuring 4543 meters above sea level.

 

 

Lalibela: a series of rock hewn churches built by Priest King Lalibela At the end of the 12th and beginning of the 13th centuries. There are 11 rock hewn churches found in town which are constructed by the priest king with the help of Angels and considered as one of the wonders in the world.
Other interesting churches outside Lalibela which are highly recommended to be visited are Asheton Mariam, Yemrehane Kristos and Genete Mariam churches.

 

Axum: Axum was one of the four great powers in ancient world, along with China, Persia and Rome. It is during the 4th century that King Ezana of Axum introduced Christianity to Ethiopia as well as the first minting of coins.

The ancient town offers the obelisks (the large pieces of stone erected), tombs, monuments, castles, and Mariam Tsion church which is strongly believed by the Ethiopian orthodox believers that it resides the original arc of the covenant or the Tablet of Moses. A visit to Axum can be extended to the 800 BC pre-Axumite temple at Yeha, 55 km east of Axum, and a little further, the 7th century monastery at Debre Damo.

Semien Mountains: A chain of breathtaking mountains which displays the most dramatic mountain scenery in Africa. It is in the park where you find the highest mountain in Ethiopia and the 4th highest in Africa – Ras Dashen. Visitors will have a chance to see the three endemic wildlife namely Gelada baboon, Semien fox, Walia ibex and birdlife like Thick-billed Raven, Black-headed Siskin, White-collared Pigeon, Wattled Ibis, White-billed Starling, Spot-breasted Plover, White-backed Black Tit and Lammergeyer.

 

Harar: is a holy center for Muslims and is situated in Eastern Ethiopia. This walled city is a fascinating place, filled with Islamic and Christian history. The city's location gives wonderful views of the surrounding country - the vast Danakil desert to the north, the fertile Harar Mountains to the west, and the cattle rich Ogaden plains to the south. With its 99 mosques, including the 16th century Grand Mosque with is beautiful twin towers and slender minaret, it is considered to be the fourth most holy city in Islam after Mecca, Medina and the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem.

The 5 walls, Rimbaud museum, the colourful and well organized Harari tribe’s house and the Hyena man are the most important places of interest for visitors.

In addition, Medhane Alem church, built at the end of the 19th century, is in the town centre and contains excellent examples of traditional regional art. The 16th century Grand Mosque, with is beautiful twin towers and slender minaret lies on the road to the Erer Gate (Women are not permitted inside the mosque). The Ahmar Mountains around Harar produce some of the best coffee in Ethiopia.

Lower Omo valley:The lower Omo River valley in southwest Ethiopia is one of the last unspoiled wilderness regions in Africa. Isolated by the 4500m-high Ethiopian mountain range to the north, the impenetrable swamplands of the Nile to the west and the desert of northern Kenya to the south, the valley is mainly fed by the Omo River which bisects Ethiopia’s largest and most inaccessible parks: the Omo National Park which lies on its west bank and Mago National Park on its east Bank. The lower valley of the Omo unlike any other place on Earth has the largest diversity of ethnically different groups in the whole of Ethiopia and possibly in Africa. In an area of less than 15,000 square kilometers more than ten different languages are spoken. The entire Omo region is inhabited by ethno-cultural groups pertaining to two important linguistic lines: Nilo-Saharan and Afro-Asiatic. The Nilo-Saharan linguistic line includes Bume, Mursi and Surma while The Afro-Asiatic line is comprised of Karo, Bena, Bashada, Hamer, and Dizi who are Omotic and Dassanech, Erbore,

Tsamako who are Eastern Cushitic:The main ethnic groups in the Lower Omo valley region and its surroundings includes ,Dorze ,Konso , Tsemay, Erbore,Hamar, Bena , Geleb, Karo, Bume, Mursi, Ari, and Surma. The dry season (July to August and December to January) is the best time to visit the Lower Omo Valley and its people.

Danakil Depression: An inhospitable and varied land where you find the lowest place on earth (116 meters below sea level). It is a desert of sand and lava, active volcanoes as well as the endless salt caravans of the Afar tribes.

Dalol:is 100 km from North West of Erta’ Ale in the lowest part of Danakil Depression - 116 m below sea level is an extremely hot and inhospitable place but enjoyable and extraordinary colorful landscape with the nearby Lake Asale famous salt mining lake, which is supply salt consumption of the eastern Tigray highland people transport by camels. Still hundreds of camel caravans are on the road everyday except Friday and in the hottest month from June -September transport salt to the western highland. Dallol Depression it is the best and real place to experience desert life.

Erta Ale: is a continuously active basaltic shield volcano in the Afar Region of northeastern Ethiopia, the most active volcano in Ethiopia. It is found in the Afar Depression, and the volcano itself is surrounded completely by an area below sea level, making it one of the lowest volcanoes in the world.

The Monastery of DebreLibanos: is founded by the Ethiopian saint Abune Tekle Haimanot in 13th century. It is located 103 kms from Addis Ababa on the way to the Blue Nile gorge and bridge whereby nuns and monks do their day to day prayer. The monastery with magnificent murals stands majestically amidst the surrounding gorge.

Wonchi Crater Lake: is located 32 kms south west of Ambo town which is considered as the most spectacular natural scenery near to the nation’s capital. Ever green chains of mountain peaks surrounding the lake, the hot spring at the foot of the mountain, the peninsula and the islands in the lake are some of the features that are displayed.

 

Awash national park: is the oldest and most popular national park in the country located 225 kms east of Addis Ababa. The wildlife mainly consists of east African plain animals like greater and lesser Kudus, Oryx, gazelles, klipspringer and many more. The park is also a habitat for about 453 species of birds among which some are endemic to Ethiopia. The Awash River is one of the main features of the park, particularly the water falls at a point where the river drops in to a gorge. The other beautiful scenic are in the park is the palm spring, which is a hot spring site found about 32 kms west of the main entrance.
 

Bale Mountains national park: which is found in south eastern Ethiopia, is an area of high plateaus that are broken by numerous spectacular volcanic peaks, beautiful alpine lakes and rushing mountain streams that descends into deep rocky gorges. The park is famous as a home of the endemic Mountain Nyala, Red fox and Menilik’s bushbucks. Visit to the Senetti plateau will enable you to see beautiful wildlife and birdlife as well.



 

 

Mago national park: is located adjacent to Omo national park in the southern part of Ethiopia. Along with Omo national park, it is the only park in Ethiopia where herds of Elephants can be seen. A variety of Antelopes inhibit in the valley, like lesser and greater Kudus. There are also large populations of Tiang that lives with Lelwel’s hartebeest, Oryx and grants Gazelle. The Mago valley lies in one of the most culturally diverse areas of the country where you find the Mursi tribes living in the highlands crossing the park.

The rift valley Lakes and Abijatta Shalla national park: the Ethiopian rift valley separates western and eastern highlands and escarpments and contains chains of lakes of Zeway, Langano, Abijatta, Shalla, Awassa, Abaya and Chamo which are paradises for honeymooners and weekend vacationers.

Among the above, the Abijatta – Shalla national park has been reserved for aquatic birds like the great white Pelicans and greater and lesser flamingos. The small islands found in Lake Shalla are the breeding ground and is said to be the home to Africa’s most important breeding colony of great white pelicans.

Major churches outside Lalibela

Asheton Mariam, Lies at an altitude of almost 4000m on the high mountain overlooking Lalibela. The church is carved out of a cleft into a cliff face which houses some of the interesting crosses and other church treasures. This church is associated with King Neakuto ‘Leab who is believed to found it and buried in the chapel. The excursion to this church is either by walking or on mule back.

Neakuto ‘Leab monastery: is the easily accessible of all outlying churches named after the constructor – Neakuto Leab who is the nephew and successor of King Lalibela. The monastery accredited to Neakuto Leab consists of a church built around a shallow cave in which several holly pools are fed by natural springs. The church has many treasures that include paintings, crosses and illuminated leather bibles which are brought out in to the open area where they can be visited in decent light.

Yemrehane Kristos, is a remarkable built - up cave church by Axumite wood and stone construction found by King Yemrehane Kristos, a predecessor of King Lalibela. It is located around 42 kms north east of Lalibela. The church has become famous for the decoration of its interior where the ceiling over the sanctuary is domed and displays carvings and paintings.

Genete Mariam, (The paradise of Merry): is a monolithic church on a high plinth which can be reached by one hour drive from Lalibela. It is surrounded by green euphorbia with a colonnade of rectangular pillars like that of Bete Medhane Alem rock hewn church of Lalibela. The interior part of the church is rich in church paintings like saints and crosses of various shapes that often found in this area.

Major tribes in Omo valley:

Hamer, The most beautiful and elegant Hamer people are one of the most popular and welcoming tribes found in the Omo valley with unique hairstyle, cultures, ornaments and traditions. They have a weekly colorful market every Monday which is famous for its collection of many tribes from different direction of the area like Hammers, Bumes, Karos, Dassanech, and Banas.

The Hamer has traditional dance called “Evangadi” which can be arranged by your guide and if you are lucky, you can be able to see the Hamer people’s marriage ceremony where you can see the boy jumping over the bulls. This is an initiation ceremony whereby the boy will transfer to Manhood. Women who are sisters and relatives to the boy will be whipped by the Maza (boys jumped before him but not yet married) to express their respect and love to the boy.

Karo, Karo people are the best known for the elaborate body painting they indulge in before important ceremonies. They touch lightly their chest with white chalk paint, reputedly in imitation of the plumage of the guinea fowl. Colorful facemasks are painstakingly prepared with a combination of pastes made by mixing water with chalk, charcoal, powdered yellow rock and iron ore. They are also well known by their body tattooing.

Konso, The Konso peoples are found 594 KM from Addis Ababa who are famous by their terracing culture which awarded them to be one of the UNESCO world heritage site. Their language group is from Cushitic and their unique feature is their community based village. Besides this, the Konso people have a unique culture…. when some one from the family or clan died, they will arrange a special statue called “WAGA” made of wood by the rifle of the persons and they will put it on the cemetery. The statue will have different implication like sex and the achievement of the person. Normally this statue will be erected after three days of the death of the person.

Dorze, Dorze people who are living n the mountainous village called Chencha are well-known by their weaving of colorful cotton cloths as well as construction of their tall beehive-shaped huts made from bamboo measuring from 6-8 meters that are among the most distinctive traditional structures to be seen anywhere in Africa. From their village, you can enjoy a panoramic view over the two rift valley Lakes Abaya and Chamo.

The Mursi, One of the most original an eccentric branches of the Ethiopian native peoples known as Nara Surma are the Mursi They are pastoral transhumant of the Nilotic language group who raise cattle on the high plateaus of the upper Omo bordering the Omo river.

Symbolism is everything in this wilderness part of the lower Omo scars ostrich feathers topknots jewelry and even certain items of clothing all convey significant and unambiguous messages. Before attaining womanhood, young girls have to undergo various ritual mutilations. At about the age of ten the two lower incisors are extracted with the tip of a lance in order to make room for the future lip plate for which Mursi women are well known. During the next two or three years the ears are pierced to insert wooden or terracotta disks. Later on after the age of 15 the incision is made in the lower lip and the insertion of the first lip plate takes place.

The lip plate is inserted into the woman’s lip between the ages of 15-20. The process begins 6 month prior to marriage with the piercing of the lower lip. Successive stretching is achieved by placing increasingly larger plates into the pierced lip. After 6 month of stretching the lip is so elastic that a plate can be slipped in and out without difficulty. The plates must always be worn in front of men and can only be taken out at private mealtimes, when sleeping or in the presence of other women. In the past plates were wedge- shaped and made of balsa.

Wood more recently these have been replaced by round clay plates. Unlike lip plate clay ear plugs are worn by both young girls and women for decoration alone. Women make their own lip plates from locally dug clay color them with ochre and charcoal, and bake them in a fire. The Mursi specialize in the scarification of the body as well as the face seeing this as a way to attract the opposite sex. Men pluck their eyebrows and shave their entire body and head except for fine geometric stripes of hair on the crown.

Shaved heads are considered symbol of elegancy and refinement. They spend hours embellishing themselves and helping one other. Usually unclothed they something wears a coat made from tree bark that has been softened by pounding it with stoners. Mursi women wear long skin skirts similar to the Hamer in style but with a white striped type decoration in addition to metal. Their heads are shaved like the men.

Surma, Surma tribe are renowned for the strange custom followed by their women who, on reaching maturity, have their lower lips slit and circular or rectangular clay discs inserted. The Surma men are well known for their stick fighting, which is called Donga. Players are usually unmarried men. The winner is carried away on a platform of poles to a group of girls waiting at the side of the arena who decide among themselves which of them will ask for his hand in marriage. Taking part in a stick fight is considered to be more important than winning it. The men paint their bodies with a mixture of chalk and water before the fight.


Major tribes in Gambella:

The Anuak, The indigenous Anuak people are mainly fisher folk in Gambella region. There are few large villages as people prefer instead to group together around a mango grove in an extended family compound of no more than five or six huts. These buildings, used solely as Sleeping quarters have floors of polished, compact mud, Extremely low doorways let in to walls decorated with engraved patterns depicting animals and magical symbols and thatched roofs often of many tiers for better protection against tropical downpours and blazing sun that sometimes extend down almost to ground level.

The women, naked to the waist, wear elaborate bead necklaces and heavy ivory and bone bangles above the elbow, and have their hair closely cropped, sometimes shaven. Both men and women indulge in a further decorative fancy, common among all the Nilotic peoples of Ethiopia and Sudan, of having the front six teeth of the lower jaw removed at about the age of twelve.

The Baro, where the Anuak base their fishing is a beautiful river, rich in bird life- geese, egrets, ibises, kingfishers, and pelicans- and decorated with the greens and purples of floating water-hyacinth. Fish stocks are plentiful; both in the river itself and in the pools and lakes that flooding creates in the near reaches of the surrounding country side.

The Nuer, Past the sizeable settlement of Itang, the Anuak give way to their cousins, the Nuer, who are primarily cattle herders as well as fishers. Nuer and more social in their habits than the Anuak and live together in villages of several hundred at widely spaced intervals along the river banks

They are people, with long, handsome faces and extremely dark, satiny complexions. Both men and women favor a style of decorative which raises the skin of chest, stomach, and face in remarkable patterns of bumps and cicatrices. Other forms of personal ornamentation include heavy bone bangles, bright bead necklaces, and spikes of ivory or brass thrust through a hole pierced in the lower lip and protruding down over the chin. Bright-eyed, intelligent, and endlessly curious.

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