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Arba Minch to Gondar
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This incredible overland route between Gondar and Arba Minch will take you from the historical splendours of Ethiopia's north to its remote tribal villages in the south. The wonderful country of Ethiopia is an extraordinary land with a unique cultural heritage of opulent monasteries, stunning churches carved out of the mountains, and incredible scenery. You'll visit all the historical sites, trek in the spectacular Simien Mountains, explore the bustling capital of Addis Ababa, and meet the unique tribes of the remote Omo Valley region.


Duration: 35 Days Guaranteed Departure: Yes
For lovers of: Active/Adrenaline Physical rating: Demanding
Accommodation standard:   Budget% Traveller Tour Rating: 0%  
Your Guide: English speaking Tour code: 162934
Starts: Arba Minch, Ethiopia Finishes: Gondar, Ethiopia
You will visit
  • Arba Minch
  • Moyale
  • Konso
  • Omo Valley Region
  • Wendo Genet
  • Awassa
  • Bale Mountains National Park
  • Lake Ziway
  • Addis Ababa
  • Debre Markos
  • Bahir Dar
  • Lalibela
  • Mekele
  • Woldiya
  • Axum
  • Debark
  • Adi Arkay
  • Simien Mountains National Park
  • Gondar

Itinerary

01

Day 1: Arba Minch

Border Information: If you are joining in Arba Minch, you will most likely enter Ethiopia at Arba Minch Airport (IATA code: AMH).

Welcome to Ethiopia! Today is the arrival day for those joining in Arba Minch, and will be a free day to explore the town. There will be a short informal meet-and-greet with our local Omo Valley guide at 6:00pm today - please note that if our truck is travelling up from Nairobi, you will not meet our regular Dragoman crew until your arrival in Konso tomorrow (as they will be travelling to the town of Moyale today).

In Arba Minch we will stay in a basic local hotel.

 

 

02

Day 2: Konso

Today we will travel to Konso, home to the local Konso people and our gateway to the very remote Omo Valley region of southern Ethiopia.

If our overland truck is travelling up from Nairobi, those joining in Arba Minch will take a transfer in a locally-chartered vehicle, and will meet our Dragoman crew this afternoon in Konso - there will be an important group meeting with your leader at 6:00pm this evening.

Estimated Drive Time - 3-5 hours (please note that all drive times given here are the approximate number of hours that the truck will be in motion only, and does not include any time taken for coffee or lunch stops, border crossings, photo stops, activities en route, comfort breaks, shopping stops, toilet stops, etc. The times given are approximate estimates only and whilst given with the best of intentions, the drive times are heavily dependent on traffic, road conditions, weather, police roadblocks, and many other factors - flexibility is essential on any overland trip!).

In Konso we will camp in the grounds of a basic lodge.

03

Day 3-5: Omo Valley Region

Over the next 4 days/3 nights we will be exploring the remote and rarely-visited tribal areas of the Omo Valley in southern Ethiopia.

We will keep these days on a flexible itinerary so that we can react to news of special events being hosted by particular villages or tribes; as such, we cannot provide an exact itinerary for these days. However, we will aim to visit various tribal villages in the area, such as villages of the Hamer, the Mursi and the Konso tribes. 

We will camp in basic campsites on all these nights without possibility of upgrades, and we will try to spend at least one of the nights camping in one of the tribal villages (this is not guaranteed to be possible on every trip). 

Estimated Drive Times - between 4-9 hours each day.

Please note that we will be travelling through very remote areas with rough roads and basic conditions on these days. Please also note that it is absolutely vital that you follow your tour leader's directions regarding responsible tourism in these regions, especially with regards to giving things away for free and taking photographs of the locals. 

04

Day 6: Arba Minch

Today we will exit the Omo Valley region and arrive in the town of Arba Minch, a small town overlooking Lake Chamo. 

In Arba Minch we will stay in a basic local hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 6-7 hours.

05

Day 7: Arba Minch

On the next day, we will have a free day for some well-earned rest after the Omo Valley, or to take an optional boat trip on Lake Chamo to the view the crocodiles that reside there.

06

Day 8-9: Wendo Genet

Today we will head north to the small town of Awassa, where we will visit the Awassa Children's Project in the afternoon. This is a home for local children orphaned by the HIV epidemic, and we will be shown around and see how public donations and the support of Dragoman goes towards feeding, sheltering and educating the children.

After our visit we will head to Wendo Genet, a small town in the hills above Awassa, where we will stay for the 2 nights.

Estimated Drive Time - 7-9 hours.

On the following day we will have a a free day to explore the region, go on an optional walk to some nearby waterfalls, and take a dip in the nearby hot springs.

In Wendo Genet we will camp in the grounds of a small local hotel.

07

Day 10-12: Bale Mountains National Park

Today we will leave Wendo Genet and drive to the stunning Bale Mountains National Park.

Estimated Drive Time - 4-6 hours.

We will enjoy 2 full days to explore the National Park. We will keep one day completely free to head out for optional guided walks - there are several possibilities for routes, including highland routes up the hills and moorlands searching for mountain nyalas, or lowland walks through the forest areas to look for Bale monkeys! On the other day we will drive in the truck up to the Sanetti Plateau, all the way to the second-highest point in Ethiopia (the 4359m summit of Tulu Dimtu) to explore the primeval landscape and search for Ethiopian wolves.

In the Bale Mountains we will stay in dorms in a basic lodge near the entrance to the National Park.

08

Day 13: Lake Ziway

Today we will leave the Bale Mountains and head to the small town of Ziway.

After lunch we will take an included boat trip across Lake Ziway to Tulu Gudo Island, where we will have a short guided tour of the ancient monastery there and view some of the old religious manuscripts.

In Ziway we will stay in a small local hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 4-5 hours.

09

Day 14: Addis Ababa

Today we will travel to the bustling Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa, where we will have a free afternoon to explore the city.

In Addis Ababa we will stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities.

Estimated Drive Time - 3-4 hours.

10

Day 15-16: Addis Ababa

Border Information: If joining in Addis Ababa, you will most likely enter Ethiopia at Addis Ababa Bole International Airport.

There will be a group meeting at the joining hotel at 6:00pm. Please look out for a note from your tour leader at the reception when you arrive giving more details about this important meeting.

On the next day, we will have a free day to explore Addis Ababa and visit the city's many museums and sights. If you are travelling to the Sudan and have arranged to pick the visa up in Addis Ababa, this day will be spend arranging this visa.

In Addis Ababa we will stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities.

11

Day 17: Debre Markos

We will start our journey today with a drive to the small town of Debre Markos. En route we will drive to the bottom of the dramatic Blue Nile Gorge and up the other side!

In Debre Markos we will stay in a basic local hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 8-9 hours (please note that all drive times given here are approximate estimates only and are given with the best intentions - however please be aware that the drive times are heavily dependent on traffic, road conditions, weather, police roadblocks, and many other factors - flexibility is essential on any overland trip!).

12

Day 18-20: Bahir Dar

Today we will complete our drive to Bahir Dar, a small town on Lake Tana, the source of the mighty Blue Nile.

Estimated Drive Time - 5 hours.

On our first day in Bahir Dar, we will have an included boat trip on Lake Tana to visit the famous old monastery of Gabriel Ure Kideth and to visit the spot where the lake outflows into the start of the Blue Nile.

On our second day, we will head off in the truck to visit the Blue Nile Falls and take a short walk around the area to the historic Portuguese Bridge. We will have some free time in the afternoon to visit some other spots around Bahir Dar such as the 'Hippo bridge' and the Tigray war memorial.

In Bahir Dar we will stay in decent local hotel.

13

Day 21-23: Lalibela

Today we have a full day's drive through the beautiful scenery of central Ethiopia to reach the small medieval town of Lalibela.

Estimated Drive Time - 8-9 hours.

On our first day in Lalibela, we will have full day guided tour of the world-famous 13th-century rock churches of Lalibela. Our guide will be able to explain the fascinating history of Lalibela and its churches, and there will be plenty of time to explore, absorb the haunting atmosphere inside the churches, and take plenty of photographs of the incredible architecture and the religious rituals within.

On the second day, we will have a free day for further exploration or optional activities. We will have opportunity to hike up the nearby mountains to the Asheten Monastery, visit the Yimrehane Kristos cave church outside the town, or freely explore the Lalibela churches again at your own pace.

In Lalibela we will stay in a local hotel.

14

Day 24-25: Mekele

Leaving Lalibela behind us, we have 2 days of driving through increasingly mountainous scenery to reach the town of Mekele.

On the first day of this journey we aim to wild camp near the town of Woldiya or Korem. On the second day we will stay in a decent local hotel in Mekele.

Estimated Drive Time - 7-8 hours each day.

15

Day 26-27: Axum

Today we will visit one of the famous rock-hewn churches of Tigray (either the Abraha Atsbeha or Wukro Chirkos church), then continue through the increasingly breathtaking mountain scenery of the Adwa mountains to reach the ancient town of Axum in the far north of Ethiopia.

Estimated Drive Time - 10 hours.

The next day we will have a half day guided tour of the incredible historical sites of Axum, the capital of the once-mighty Axumite Empire - included in this tour will be seeing the Stelae Field, the Tomb of King Kaleb, and the Palace of the Queen of Sheba. We will have a free afternoon to visit other places such as the Church of St. Mary of Zion, the supposed resting place of the Ark of the Covenant.

In Axum we will stay in a basic local hotel.

16

Day 28-29: Debark

Leaving Axum behind us, we continue our journey with 2 days of driving through the foothills of the Simien Mountains to reach the small village of Debark, via a wild camp en route. The roads here are very tough, but we are rewarded with more truly breathtaking scenery!

Debark is the gateway to the Simien Mountains National Park, and on arrival we will have a briefing from our local mountain guide explaining the various trekking options we will have during our excursion starting the following day.

On the first day of our journey we aim to wild camp somewhere nearby to the village of Adi Arkay. On the second day we will stay in a basic hotel in Debark.

Estimated Drive Time - 6 hours each day.

17

Day 30-32: Simien Mountains National Park

Today marks the start of our 3 day excursion into the Simien Mountains National Park. The area is home to some of Africa's most jaw-dropping mountain scenery and is a great opportunity to enjoy some incredibly beautiful treks and breathtaking views!

The area is also home many indigenous animals, and during our time here we hope to spot lammargeyer vultures, geladas, Walia ibex, and (if we are very lucky) klipspringers and Ethiopian wolves.

On each day we aim to provide an option for a long trek (of 5-8 hours), a short trek (2-5 hours) or no trekking.

On our first day we aim to wild camp at the area of Sankaber. On our second and third days we aim to wild camp at the area of Chenek (underneath Ras Bwahit, the second-highest mountain in the Simiens, which we hope to get the opportunity to summit).

Please note that we must keep a flexible itinerary in the Simien Mountains, as our options will largely be determined by the weather.

Please also note that the camping areas in the national park are very basic, and are essentially wild camps with long drop toilets. Please also note that the food and provisions available in Debark and the national park are very limited, and it is also likely to be very cold at night, so please be prepared!

18

Day 33-34: Gondar

Today we head back out to the mountains to Debark, and then finally join the tarmac road again to reach the ancient royal city of Gondar!

Estimated Drive Time - 7 hours.

On the next day, we will have a half day guided tour of the historical sites of Gondar, including Gondar Castle, the King Fasilades' Baths and the Debre Birhan Selassie church.

In Gondar we will stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities.

19

Day 35: Gondar

Border Information: if finishing in Gondar, you will most likely exit Ethiopia at Gondar Atse Tewodros Airport.

Today is the end day for passengers finishing their trip in Gondar. Please note there is no accommodation included on the trip tonight.

For passengers continuing their journey north on to Khartoum, the trip will continue on to Gedaref in the Sudan today. For passengers continuing south back to Addis Ababa on the Ethiopia Loop, we will leave today to reach Bahir Dar.

Inclusions:
    Activities
    • Journey through the remote Omo Valley, visiting several tribal communities along the way (possibly including the Hamer, Banna, Mursi, Ari, Konso or Danesesch tribes)
    • Visit the Dragoman-supported Awassa Children's Project, a home for orphaned children from the area
    • Relax in the hot springs at Wendo Genet
    • Head out on various walks through the forests, moors, and mountains of the beautiful Bale Mountains National Park
    • Head up to the incredible Sanetti Plateau on a day trip with our overland truck, stopping to explore the area on foot and search for Ethiopian Wolves
    • Take a boat trip across Lake Ziway to Tulu Gudo Island, and explore the old Coptic monastery on the island
    Accomodation
    • 0% Camping - 0% Hotels
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