World Vision Ethiopia Explorer

World Vision Ethiopia Explorer

Trip Highlights

  • Marvel at the monolithic churches of Lalibela
  • Discover the medieval castles in the old capital of Gondar
  • Day trek in the Simien Mountains
  • Explore the capital, Addis Ababa
  • Visit the ancient obelisks of Axum
  • Visit World Vision's communities where WASH programs have been implemented
  • Learn about World Vision's holistic model for transformational development

Trip Summary

Ethiopia is an African enigma, combining a rich history, mosaic of cultures and incredible geographic diversity. The highlands strong Orthodox Christian heritage has been formidably maintained over the millennia, alone amongst Islam and tribal cultures in surrounding Africa. From the colourful chaotic sprawl of the capital Addis Ababa to the medieval castles of Gondar it is indeed a land of contrasts. This itinerary includes walking in the Simien Mountains for a look at highland life as well as time to take in the greatest of the ancient churches and monasteries home to art and religious icons, including the amazing 12th-century rock-hewn churches of Lalibela and ancient obelisks of Axum. The tremendous ethnic diversity and resplendent cultures of Ethiopia are evident as we explore the only country in Africa to have escaped colonialism. After a thorough immersion into the cultural context of this captivating country, we will visit the communities of the World Vision Area Programs in the Tigray Region. You will interact with the families and staff that are working together to transform their community by gaining access to clean water, education and hope.


Although there is no commitment to extended walking on this journey we nonetheless want to keep the ‘accent on the active’. There are regular early mornings and late evenings throughout the trip and we therefore advise that any physical training you complete before undertaking the trip will be to good effect. The fitter you are the more this will enhance your experience.


On arrival in Addis Ababa you will be met at the airport and transferred to the group hotel for the evening. Addis Ababa is the third highest capital city in the world located at 2,400 metres above sea level in one of the highest parts of the Entoto mountain chain. The altitude may fatigue you so take it easy, drink plenty of fluids and rest if needed. Overnight Jupiter Hotel 4* or similar

Meals:  Nil

After breakfast we have a full-day city tour, which departs at 9:00am from the hotel. We take time to explore the city and lunch out is included. We will visit the National Museum (home of the remains of the famous hominid fossil, “Lucy”) and the Ethnological Museum at the Addis Ababa University (housed in the former palace of Emperor Haile Selassie). We will also witness the bustle of Mercato. Eastern Africa’s largest open air market where one can meet and interact with the local people. It has an array of fascinating goods and curios, providing a great place for exploration and people watching. Overnight Jupiter Hotel 4* or similar

Meals:  B,L

Very early this morning we take a flight of about 1 hr from Addis Ababa over the Ethiopian plateau to Lalibela, located at an altitude of 2,600 metres above sea level. The city contains 11 monolithic churches that were built in the 12th century and are carved out of the local pink granite rock; they have been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Each church has a unique architectural style and all are superbly carved. Most of them are decorated with fascinating and well-preserved paintings. The entire city is considered by many as sculpture dedicated to the glory of God. On arrival in Lalibela we will have some time to relax. After lunch, we will spend time admiring and exploring the 1st group of rock-hewn churches and exploring the city itself. Lalibela is situated amongst a series of flat-topped mountains; there is a difference in altitude of 1500m between the lower lying airport and the city. Overnight Mountain View Hotel or similar (Please note: flight schedule is subject to change and availability)

Meals:  B,L,D

Today is dedicated to visiting a hill-top monastery the second group of rock hewn churches. This morning we visit the Monastery of Asheton Maryam, about 7km outside the city. After driving a short distance, the monastery itself (3150m) is reached on foot by means of a 3-hour return walk (some steep sections) or by riding on a mule (done at own risk and own expense). In the afternoon we will visit the second group of the rock hewn Churches in Lalibela. In the evening, an optional visit to a traditional music house can be arranged (own expense). Overnight Mountain View Hotel or similar

Meals:  B,L,D

Today you will be transferred to the airport to catch your flight to Gondar. Gondar was once the capital city of the Ethiopian empire, which began in 1632 with the reign of Fasilidas. The morning will be dedicated to discovering the imperial city of kings and then you will have lunch in a local restaurant. In the afternoon, we visit a small palace called "Fasiladas bath" built outside of the city, and discover the most beautiful church of Ethiopia, Debre Berhan Selassie whose walls are covered with beautiful paintings. Overnight stay Goha Hotel or similar

Meals:  B,L,D

This morning we take the drive to the Simien Mountains, a gentle highland at altitudes above 3600 meters above sea level, which are undoubtedly among Africa’s most beautiful ranges. In the park, the highest mountain is Ras Dashen, at 4,543 meters above sea level and is appropriately named as ‘The Roof of Africa’. These spectacular segments of the Simien Mountains are termed as the wildest of all the Ethiopian landscapes and are home to many endemic animals like the Ethiopian Wolf, Waliya Ibex and plants like Giant Lobelia. This massive 4,000 meters-high table of rock offers easy but immensely rewarding trekking along the edge of a plateau that falls sheer to the plains far below. The scenery and the variety of wildlife will leave you speechless. The afternoon is dedicated to trekking and exploration in the mountains. Overnight stay Simien Lodge or similar (driving approx. 135km or 3hrs)

Meals:  B,L,D

In Amharic, ‘Simien’ means ‘north’ so these are literally the north mountains. Six hundred million years ago, the mountains were an enormous volcanic mass. Rain and ice have carved deep fissures into them and rivers have continued the erosion, creating one of the greatest sculptures on the planet. The landscape is stunning with peaks, canyons, gorges, clefts and pointed, amethyst-colored pinnacles like obelisks making dramatic panoramic vistas. We have the opportunity to walk in the area and take in the immense beauty of these mountains. We can try to spot some of the region's endemic wildlife, which includes various species of monkey including gelada baboons. Overnight stay Simien Lodge or similar

Meals:  B,L,D

This morning you shall have a journey 295Km from the Simien Mountains to Axum. The legends narrated in the Kebre Nagast "Book of Kings" recount how the city of Axum as early as the 10th century B.C was already the city in which the Queen of Sheba resided. It is recounted that the son of the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon brought the Ark of the Covenant to Axum and it remains there to this day, preserved in a sanctuary. Famous long before the time of Christ, Axum was the capital of the long Axumite reign, one of the oldest African empires, and represented a crucial connecting-point between Africa and Asia for almost a thousand years. Overnight stay Yared Zema Hotel or similar (driving time - approximately 7 hours)

Meals:  B,L,D

Axum, also spelt ‘Aksum’ is believed to be Ethiopia’s oldest city, and is known for its massive, towering sculptures and huge granite pillars that are more than two thousand years old. Today, a visit is organized to these stelae: granite monoliths dating from pre-Christian times and decorated with symbolic engravings. In ancient times, there were seven stelae. During the Italian occupation of Ethiopia, Mussolini had taken one of them to Rome. It has since then been returned and re-erected in Axum. There is also a visit to the church of Saint Marry of Zion, which is considered to be the holiest Christian sanctuary in the country and contains the crowns of Ethiopian kings and other treasures. There is an old and a new church in the compound as well as a museum but the most significant building is a tiny chapel constantly guarded by monks. Only one specially chosen guardian is allowed access to this chapel as this is where the Ark of the Covenant, containing the tablets on which Moses wrote the Ten Commandments and carried from Mt Sinai in Egypt, are believed to be stored. Overnight stay Yared Zema Hotel or similar

Meals:  B,L,D

Today you shall drive to Mek’ele and experience some spectacular views. En route you will visit the Yeha ruins and the battle field of Adawa. Yeha is found 58 Km north of Adwa, is considered to be the birth place of Ethiopian civilization. Yeha’s ruins are impressive for their sheer age dating between the 5th and the 8th century BC and for their stunning construction. Some of the temple's building blocks measure over 3meters in length .The whole temple is a grid of perfect lines and geometry. And for Ethiopians the town of Adwa holds a huge significance. It was in the surrounding mountains that emperor Menilik II defeated the Italian colonial army, thereby ensuring that Ethiopia would be the only independent county in Africa. Tonight you will be joined by World Vision staff at a welcome dinner to introduce you to the communities your will encounter over the next couple of days. Overnight Planet Hotel or similar

Meals:  B,L,D

World Vision staff will escort you to the communities of Samre and Wukro Area Programs. You will come to understand World Vision’s unique and effective transformational model to end global poverty. Our holistic, community driven, approach includes the importance of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) in these communities. You will interact and learn from the staff about the methods and efforts to gain access to clean water, eliminating water borne illness and creating futures for women and children. Hearing from the village members, they will share the struggles they face and how interventions have enabled them to pursue education, adequate healthcare, livelihoods and hope. On a water walk, step into the shoes of young woman who performs this task multiple times per day. Solving the global water crisis is imperative to ending extreme poverty. We believe every child deserves clean water and we believe this crisis can be solved in our lifetime. Return to Mek’ele each evening. Overnight Planet hotel or similar

Meals:  B,D

After breakfast you shall be transferred to the airport to catch your flight to Addis Ababa. After lunch with the World Vision National Director you will have time to tour the National Office and explore more of the capital or maybe do some shopping. In the evening, there is a farewell traditional dinner where you will experience live cultural music and dance. Your tour concludes by being dropped to Bole International Airport to catch your flight home.

Meals:  B,L,D

What's Included

  • 12 breakfasts, 10 lunches and 11 dinners
  • bottled water with each meal
  • airport transfers by private vehicle
  • 2 nights in 4 star hotel in Addis and 8 nights in best available hotels elsewhere on a twinshare basis
  • private road transport
  • site entrance and national park fees per itinerary
  • English speaking tour leader throughout plus local guides at each location

What's Not Included

  • international flights - your internal flights will be discounted if your international flights are ticketed with Ethiopian Airlines.
  • internal flights Addis Ababa/ Lalibela /Gondar and Mek'ele/Addis Ababa.
  • aerated and alcoholic drinks
  • items of a personal nature such as phone calls, internet, laundry, etc.
  • travel insurance
  • visa
  • tips

Upcoming Travel Dates



Duration:13 Days
Starting Point:Addis Ababa
Finishing Point:Addis Ababa
Activities:Adventure Touring
Grade:Adventure Touring  Click for more information
Trip Code:SOG4612
Prices From:USD$2990