Mystical Ethiopia

Mystical Ethiopia

Group trip dates: From 06 January 2024 To 21 January 2024
Duration: 16 Days

Ethiopia is a thoroughly Mystical country, full of mysteries from the beginnings of Christianity in its northern part and countless tribes and ethnic groups in the south. Beautiful landscapes of the south, especially the Omo Valley, where the Konso, Hammer, Dassanach and Mursi tribes dominate. They delight and shock with their dissimilarity of body decorations and clothes, as well as the way of life as before several centuries BC. In the north, Lalibela is dominated by monolithic monasteries and churches. In Gondar - the ancient capital of Ethiopia, we will see five castles that remind us of the rich history of kings from the 5th and 6th centuries. Here we will also observe and even participate in the celebration of the TIMKAT Festival, the most important part of which is a colorful procession. This tourist trip is a journey through time that will help you understand why Ethiopia was the only country in Africa that was never a colony. Get to know and experience it with us. We invite you to join us!

w/international flights from Newark

Day 1. (01/06. Sat.)        Departure from Newark

Overnight flight to Addis Ababa. Meeting at Newark Airport at 7:00pm at the Ethiopian Airways booth. Departure at 9:15pm and overnight non-stop flight to Addis Ababa. ET 509. Dinner and breakfast on board the plane.

D. 2. (1/07. Sun.)            Arrival in Addis Ababa

Arrival at 9:25pm (local time). Welcome by our local guide and transfer to our hotel in the city center (2,455m above sea level) for a welcome dinner and overnight stay. (D)

D. 3. (1/08. Mon.)          Addis Ababa City Tour

After breakfast, sightseeing of the city, which we will start with a trip to the Entoto hill (3200 m.a.s.l.) from where there is a panorama of the entire Addis Ababa - the capital of Ethiopia. A visit to the National Museum where you can get acquainted with the history and present day of Ethiopia. Its greatest attraction is Lucy, i.e. the skeleton of our great-great-great-ancestor discovered in 1974 and dating back 3 million 200 thousand years. Visiting the Cathedral of St. Trinity with the tomb of Emperor Haile Selassie and the university in his former palace. Our tour will end at the fair - Mercato, the largest market in Africa. Overnight in a hotel in the city center. (B, L, D)

D. 4. (1/09. Tue.)            Flight: Addis Ababa - Arba Minch

After breakfast transfer to the airport. Departure at 1:30pm with Ethiopian Airways to Arba Minch. After arriving at 3:20pm, depart for the mountains to the village of the Dorze tribe. Dorze are famous for their specific houses in the shape of an elephant's head. These amazing buildings, made of bamboo poles and leaves of the so-called fake banana trees reach 15 m in height and are very durable. The village is very colorful, you can buy clay dishes, fabrics, unique souvenirs. Dinner and overnight at our Lodge in Arba Minch. (B, L, D)

D. 5. (1/10. Wed.)          Passage: Arba Minch - Konso

After an early breakfast, we will start the drive towards the village of Konso (90km) through the lands of this people. A visit to the village of Konso, we will admire the colorful costumes, picturesque terraces in the fields. Konso villages, their culture and way of farming have been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Dinner and overnight at Lodge near Konso. (B, L, D)

D. 6. (1/11. Thu.)            Drive: Konso - Hamer tribe territory - Turmi

Early in the morning after breakfast drive to Turmi (190km). We will enter the southern part of the Omo River Valley, which can be easily compared to the famous Garden of Eden. You can meet dozens of different tribes, cultures and costumes here. One of the significant ones is the Bena Tsemay people and their very unique culture. We will visit the Thursday market in the village of Key Afer. In the afternoon we will enter the area of the Hamer people and where, if we are lucky (because this ceremony cannot be organized for tourists), we will see e.g. a special inaugural "bull jump" ceremony that initiates a boy into manhood. First, the female relatives dance and invite men who have recently been declared adults to flog; this shows their support for the jumper, and their scars give them the right to claim his help in times of need. The boy has to jump back and forth twice over the backs of bulls or castrated oxen, and is ridiculed if he fails. The Hamera people are semi-nomadic shepherds and are known for their highly decorative costumes. Dinner and overnight at Lodge in Turmi. (B, L, D)

D. 7. (1/12. Fri.)              Drive: Turmi - Omorate - Karo - Turmi

After breakfast, drive to Omorate (72km) and cross the Omo River by boat (maybe dugout canoes) to visit the village of the Dassanach people. Here, all roles in everyday life are fulfilled by women, while the role of men comes down to protecting the village. On our return we will go to our Lodge in Turmi for lunch. After a short rest, we continue to the small village of Karo Kortcho (120km). The people here are experts in body decoration, which they paint in various ways, and the men sculpt and shave their hair into extravagant shapes. Dinner and overnight at our Lodge in Turmi. (B, L, D)

D. 8. (1/13. Sat.)             Drive: Turmi - Dimeka - Jinka

After breakfast, we will start the drive to Jinka via the Dimeka settlement (120km). Tuesdays and Saturdays are market days in Dimeka. The market is laid out in the square, but also along a series of alleys; food and goo  ds for sale are mainly honey, dried coffee skins for tea, pumpkins and other vegetables. Some sellers also sell clothing, firewood, animal skins, beads, shoes, red powder, this is ocher, which Hamer women use for their hairstyles: they mix ocher powder with water, butter or incense. Dimeka Market is one of the most colorful markets in the area and is frequented by many tribes including Hamer, Benna and Karo. boxed lunch. For dinner and overnight we will arrive at our Lodge in Jinka. (B, L, D)

D. 9. (1/14. Sun.)            Drive: Jinka - Mursi tribal village - Jinka

After breakfast, drive to Mago National Park where the Mursi tribe lives. This is the most recognizable tribe of the peoples living in the valley of the Omo River. When Mursi women enter adulthood, their lower lip is cut open and a clay or, less commonly, wooden disc is placed in it. The discs are exchanged for larger and larger ones, the most impressive ones are even 35 cm in diameter. The size of the ring and other ornaments, which are abundant all over the body, determine the woman's attractiveness and her value (the fiancé must pay the family for the future wife). Men from this tribe decoratively paint their bodies, their faces are usually covered with white patterns. Box Lunch. Return for dinner and overnight stay at the Lodge in Jinka. (B, L, D)

D. 10. (1/15. Mon.)        Flight: Jinka - Addis Ababa

After breakfast we will visit the local museum Departure from Jinka airport at 2:05pm to Addis Ababa. Upon arrival at 4:45pm, transfer to our hotel for dinner and overnight. (B, L, D)

D. 11. (1/16. Tue.)          Flight: Addis Ababa - Lalibela

After breakfast transfer to the airport. Flight to Lalibela (2,630m), considered the eighth wonder of the world. Departure at 9:45am. Accommodation in a hotel located in the city center. On the same day, visiting the historical and amazing churches from the 13th century, carved into the stone slope of the mountain, inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. This is the most important point on the Ethiopian historical trail. According to the legend, during the construction of eleven churches workers worked during the day and angels at night. Church of St. George is shaped like a Greek cross, Bete Medhane Alem is the largest monolithic church in the world, full of a maze of passages and tunnels, intricately carved bas-reliefs and wonderful examples of icon paintings. Dinner and overnight at our hotel in Lalibela. (B, L, D)

D. 12. (1/17. Wed.)        Drive/Hike: Lalibela - Asheton Maryam Monastery – Lalibela

In the morning after breakfast, a short drive to the foot of the mountain from where we will start an approximately 1-hour climb up to the semi-monolithic church and monastery of Asheten Maryam from the 13th century, built or rather carved on Mount Asheten (3,150m above sea level) from which there is a beautiful panorama of Lalibela. After lunch, continue to visit the others churches carved into the stone slope. Meals and overnight stay at our hotel. (B, L, D)

D. 13. (1/18. Thu.)          Flight: Lalibela - Gondar

After breakfast, a short visit to the Ecclesiastical Museum of Lalibela before transfer to the airport. At noon, a 30-minute flight to Gondar (2,200 m). Upon arrival, transfer to our hotel. Gondar - called Camelot of Ethiopia served as the imperial capital for 300 years and has 5 impressive 16th century castles and Debre Birhan Selassie Church, famous for its religious art and iconic ceiling - depicting angels. Hotel and dinner in Gondar. (B, L, D)

D. 14. (1/19. Fri.)            Gondar: TIMKAT Celebration

We'll split our full-day tour of Gondar into visiting the Royal Gardens, a UNESCO World Heritage Site built by successive Ethiopian kings, and watching the preparations for the special TIMKAT religious celebration. Castles that have survived several wars, including World War II, are a testament to the resilience of this once mighty African empire. Timkat is a very important 3-day holiday for Orthodox Christians commemorating the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River. A colorful procession where a replica of the Ark is taken down from the church altar and wrapped in colored cloth before being paraded. The largest and most colorful procession takes place in Gondar, ending at Fasil's Pool to recreate the original baptism. Hotel and dinner at the hotel in Gondar. (B, L, D)

D 15 (1/20. Sat):             Gondar: TIMKAT Celebration. Fly to Addis Ababa

Morning we will observing and participating in Timkat ceremonies which are unique and impressive. Afternoon transfer to the airport and 1h flight to Addis Ababa. In the evening, a farewell dinner with traditional music and a dance show in a typical Ethiopian restaurant. (B, L, D)

D. 16. (1/21. Sun.)          Fly: Addis Ababa – Newark/NYC

Early morning transfer to the airport for flight to NYC. Departure at 8:45am with ET #508. Breakfast and lunch on board. Arrive Newark at 7:15pm.

* * * End of the itinerary * * *


Ethiopia, officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia is a country located in the Horn of Africa. It shares borders with Eritrea to the north and northeast, Djibouti and Somalia to the east, Sudan and South Sudan to the west, and Kenya to the south. With over 100 million inhabitants, Ethiopia is the most populous landlocked country in the world, as well as the second-most populous nation on the African continent. It occupies a total area of 1,100,000 square kilometres (420,000 sq mi), and its capital and largest city is Addis Ababa.

Some of the oldest evidence for anatomically modern humans has been found in Ethiopia. It is widely considered as the region from which modern humans first set out for the Middle East and places beyond. According to linguists, the first Afroasiatic-speaking populations settled in the Horn region during the ensuing Neolithic era. Tracing its roots to the 2nd millennium BC, Ethiopia's governmental system was a monarchy for most of its history. In the first centuries AD, the Kingdom of Axum maintained a unified civilization in the region, followed by the Ethiopian Empire circa 1137. During the late 19th-century Scramble for Africa, Ethiopia was the only territory in Africa to defeat a European colonial power and retain its sovereignty. Many newly-independent nations on the continent subsequently adopted its flag colours. Ethiopia was also the first independent member from Africa of the 20th-century League of Nations and the United Nations. In 1974, the Ethiopian monarchy under Haile Selassie was overthrown by the Derg, a communist military government backed by the Soviet Union. In 1987, the Derg established the People's Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, but it was overthrown in 1991 by the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, which has been the ruling political coalition since.

Ethiopia's ancient Ge'ez script (Ethiopic script) is one of the oldest alphabets still in use in the world. The Ethiopian calendar, which is approximately seven years and three months behind the Gregorian calendar, co-exists alongside the Borana calendar. A majority of the population adheres to Christianity (mainly the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church and P'ent'ay), whereas around a third follows Islam (primarily Sunni). The country is the site of the Migration to Abyssinia and the oldest Muslim settlement in Africa at Negash. A substantial population of Ethiopian Jews, known as Bete Israel, also resided in Ethiopia until the 1980s. Ethiopia is a multilingual nation with around 80 ethnolinguistic groups, the four largest of which are the Oromo, Amhara, Somali and Tigrayans. Most people in the country speak Afroasiatic languages of the Cushitic or Semitic branches. Additionally, Omotic languages are spoken by ethnic minority groups inhabiting the southern regions. Nilo-Saharan languages are also spoken by the nation's Nilotic ethnic minorities.

Ethiopia is the place of origin of the coffee bean, which was first cultivated at Kefa, one of the 14 provinces in the old Ethiopian administration. It is a land of natural contrasts, with its vast fertile west, jungles, and numerous rivers, and the world's hottest settlement of Dallol in its north. The Ethiopian Highlands are the largest continuous mountain ranges in Africa, and the Sof Omar Caves contains the largest cave on the continent. Ethiopia also has the most UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Africa. Additionally, the country is one of the founding members of the UN, the Group of 24 (G-24), the Non-Aligned Movement, G-77 and the Organisation of African Unity. Its capital city Addis Ababa serves as the headquarters of the African Union, the Pan African Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, the African Standby Force, and many of the global NGOs focused on Africa. In the 1970s and 1980s, Ethiopia experienced civil conflicts and communist purges, which hindered its economy. The country has since recovered and now has the largest economy (by GDP) in East and Central Africa. According to Global Fire Power, Ethiopia also has the 41st most powerful military in the world, and the third most powerful in Africa.

Addis Ababa

Addis Ababa or Addis Abeba (the spelling used by the official Ethiopian Mapping Authority), is the capital and largest city of Ethiopia. It has a population of 3,384,569 according to the 2007 population census, with annual growth rate of 3.8%. This number has been increased from the originally published 2,738,248 figure and appears to be still largely underestimated.

As a chartered city, Addis Ababa has the status of both a city and a state. It is where the African Union is and its predecessor the OAU was based. It also hosts the headquarters of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and numerous other continental and international organizations. Addis Ababa is therefore often referred to as "the political capital of Africa" for its historical, diplomatic and political significance for the continent.

The city is populated by people from different regions of Ethiopia. It is home to Addis Ababa University.


The Konso, also known as the Xonsita, are a Lowland East Cushitic-speaking ethnic group primarily inhabiting south-central Ethiopia.


According to Hallpike (1972), Konso family traditions indicate that they are a composite people, both physically and culturally, with members originally hailing from all the surrounding areas.

In terms of physical appearance, the Konso tend to be small and wiry, with high cheekbones and pointed chins. Skin color ranges from reddish brown to almost black, but is dark brown on average. Some individuals more closely resemble the Oromo, possessing thin lips and greater stature; others have a distinctly more 'africoid' phenotype and are much shorter. According to Hallpike (1972), the latter somatic characteristics are more marked amongst Konso women. George Murdock (1959) attributes the pronounced 'negroid' influence on the Konso in general to early inter-mixture with the agricultural pre-Nilotes, who entered the Ethiopian highlands about 5000 years ago.


Hamer is one of the woredas in the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples' Region of Ethiopia. It is named after Hamer people who are living at this woreda. Part of the Debub Omo Zone, Hamer is bordered on the south by Kenya, on the southwest by Kuraz, on the west by Nyangatom, on the north by Bena Tsemay, and on the east by the Oromia Region; the Weito River separates it from the Oromia Region. Hamer includes part of Lake Chew Bahir along its southeastern border. The administrative center is Dimeka; other towns in include Turmi. Hamer was part of former Hamer Bena woreda.


The Mursi (or Mun as they refer to themselves) are a Nilotic pastoralist ethnic group in Ethiopia. They principally reside in the Debub Omo Zone of the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People's Region, close to the border with South Sudan. According to the 2007 national census, there are 7,500 Mursi, 448 of whom live in urban areas; of the total number, 92.25% live in the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People's Region (SNNPR).

Surrounded by mountains between the Omo River and its tributary the Mago, the home of the Mursi is one of the most isolated regions of the country. Their neighbors include the Aari, the Banna, the Bodi, the Karo, the Kwegu, the Nyangatom and the Suri. They are grouped together with the Me'en and Suri by the Ethiopian government under the name Surma.


Axum or Axum is a city in the northern part of Ethiopia. The town has a population of 56,500 residents (2010), and is governed as an urban wäräda.

The original capital of the Kingdom of Axum, it is one of the oldest continuously inhabited places in Africa. Axum was a naval and trading power that ruled the region from about 400 BCE into the 10th century. In 1980 UNESCO added Axum's archaeological sites to its list of World Heritage Sites due to their historic value.

Located in the Mehakelegnaw Zone of the Tigray Region near the base of the Adwa mountains, Axum has an elevation of 2,131 metres (6,991 ft). Axum is surrounded by La'ilay Maychew wäräda.


Lalibela is a town in Amhara Region, northern Ethiopia famous for monolithic rock-cut churches. The whole of Lalibela offers an exceptional testimony to the medieval and post-medieval civilization of Ethiopia. Lalibela is one of Ethiopia's holiest cities, second only to Axum, and a center of pilgrimage. Unlike Axum, the population of Lalibela is almost completely Ethiopian Orthodox Christian. Ethiopia is one of the earliest nations to adopt Christianity in the first half of the fourth century, and its historical roots date to the time of the Apostles. The churches themselves date from the seventh to thirteenth centuries, and are traditionally dated to the reign of the Zagwe dynasty king Gebre Mesqel Lalibela (r. ca. 1181–1221 AD).

The layout and names of the major buildings in Lalibela are widely accepted, especially by local clergy, to be a symbolic representation of Jerusalem. This has led some experts to date the current church forms to the years following the capture of Jerusalem in 1187 by Muslim leader, Saladin.

Lalibela is located in the Semien Wollo Zone of the Amhara Region, at roughly 2,500 meters above sea level. It is the main town in Lasta woreda, which was formerly part of Bugna woreda. The Rock-Hewn Churches were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978.

Trip cost with all flights included: $5,390

• per person in a 2-person room, min. 15 travelers
• Single supplemental payment: +$980

Trip cost includes:

• Flights: Newark - Addis Ababa - Newark
• All (5) domestic flights for the entire tour route
• Accommodation in hotels, 4* and 5*
• Most meals: all breakfasts, dinners and lunches except on flight days.
• Private transport with local English-speaking guides and Polish and English-speaking pilot
• In the south, transport by 4WD Land Cruisers (4 people + driver) and in the north in 14 or 20 passenger minibuses.
• Entrance to ruins and museums and National Parks along the tour route.

Trip cost does not include:

• Services not listed in the program
• Costs of optional excursions
• Tips for local guides and drivers approximately $120.
• Insurance which is compulsory for Ethiopia.
• Personal travel expenses

Additional comments

• Citizens of the USA do not require travel visas to Ethiopia. We remind you that passports MUST be valid 6 months after your the trip return date.
• If you plan on taking part in this trip with a group of 10 or more friends/relatives and would need a connecting flight to reach the starting destination of the trip (NYC) there is the possibility of receiving group discounts on the connecting flight. Please contact as soon as possible if this is the case.
• In the event that there is an odd number of group participants, the person to last join the group will be required to buy a single supplement for the trip or, when possible, share a 3 person room.
• In the event that 60 days before the trip departure date the number of trip participants is under 12, an additional supplemental payment of $150 per person may be required.

Trip Reservation

In order to secure a reservation for this trip each participant must pay a deposit of $500 and complete and sign a trip participation form. For guided group trips the number of space is limited – reservations are accepted in the order that they are received in. Full payment is required 90 days before departure. If the departure date is already within 60 days, then full payment is required immediately. If payment is not made in this time frame, the trip price as well as a spot reserved on the trip are not guaranteed.

For the quickest turnaround, please request your reservation through our website (use the “Request Reservation” option on the trip page). Our agents will email you with the invoice, payment options, all applicable forms, and instructions on how to complete the reservation. You may also request a reservation by emailing us at, or by calling our office toll free 1-800-774-6996.

Trip Cancellation

Any cancellation by a client must be made in writing and be acknowledged by the company in writing (mail/email/fax). The date on which the request to cancel is received by the company or its agents will determine the cancellation fees applicable. The cancellation fees are expressed hereafter as a percentage of the total tour price, excluding insurance.

Cancellation 120 or more days before the trip: return of deposit, less $20 for office fees.
Cancellation 119-90 days before departure: Loss of entire deposit.
Cancellation 89-60 days before departure: 50% of cost of services booked.
Cancellation less than 60 days before departure: 100% of cost of services booked.

Cancellation of trip by Classic Travel

Classic Travel reserves the right to cancel a trip under any circumstances. Cancellation cannot be made under 60 days to trip departure date, except under circumstances of "Force Majeure," which our agency has no influence or control over.

When it comes to trip cancellation, the client has the following options:

Use the trip deposit payment towards another trip as a deposit or partial payment (if the amount is larger than $500).
Receive a full refund of the paid deposit for the canceled trip

Classic Travel is not responsible for any costs incurred to the clients in preparing for the trip.

Required Documentation

Trip participants must be in possession of a valid passport, any applicable visas, and their insurance policy. Passport must be valid 6 months past the return date. It is highly recommended that participants have at least three photocopies of these documents. The trip participant accepts full responsibility for obtaining all such documents and is responsible for any adverse consequences resulting from missing or defective documentation. At the time of booking Classic Travel will advise on what documents are required for your trip.

Travel Documents Issued by Classic Travel

No later than two weeks prior to departure, all trip participants will receive via mail and/or email a packet that contains flight tickets (if purchased through Classic Travel), a detailed trip itinerary, additional information & brochures, baggage tags, and a list of suggested items to bring.

For the complete terms and conditions, click here.

Travel Insurance

Insurance is not included in the cost of this trip. Medical insurance is mandatory for all trips and it is up to the trip participant to choose an insurance package that fits their needs. Prior to the commencement of the trip, Classic Travel will request all trip participants to provide a copy of their travel insurance certificate. Medical insurance should cover accident and sickness expenses and emergency evacuation.

We also highly recommend that cancellation insurance is purchased. This will allow you to recover your costs in case you must cancel the trip due to an unforeseen circumstance (sickness or death of yourself or a close family member, extreme weather conditions, terrorism, loss of employment, etc).

Travel insurance can be purchased through Classic Travel - our plans are available to all our clients regardless of nationality and residency. We offer travel medical insurance as well as more comprehensive insurance packages that cover trip cancellation, trip interruption, travel delay, baggage loss, and more. During the reservation process we will provide you with our insurance options and rates.

You may choose to purchase travel insurance with us or with any other venue, so long as you are insured!

Click here to learn more about travel insurance.

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