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"Experience the Ethiopian Rift Valley with its huge lakes and volcanoes, Visualise Ethiopia's powerful myths and legends.......
Feel the vibrancy of its diverse peoples"

Trevor Jenner : Ethiopia, Travellers' Handbook
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Nature, tribal culture and wildlife

Around the Rift Valley Lakes

Wonderful birds, Marabou storks, Lake Hawassa
  See our Tours schedule page and newsletters for latest developments  

Enjoy the wonders of nature with memorable scenery at every turn

Here is a wonderfully varied and relaxing tour, offering an almost safari experience with truly enormous crocodiles, families of hippos, herds of zebra and stunning birdlife. But here is also ever-changing, picturesque scenery, varied and colourful tribal cultures, ancient prehistoric sites and smiling and welcoming people. 

A wonderful tour of extraordinary exploration for just


plus flights and visa

Everything else is included - comfortable accommodation and good food amid

amazing scenery, all tourist costs, guide fees, coffee stops throughout the trip, tips and all land transportation.

Here are the dates for our next group tour in 2024. 

We'd love you to join us.

Departure on an evening flight
 Thursday, 31st October 
Return on a daytime flight
 Monday 11th November 
We would strongly encourage you to join one of our very friendly, small-group accompanied tours.
But if you'd prefer to travel alone, or as a couple, or as a group of friends, we can run this tour for you at any time of the year. You just need to get in touch and let's discuss your requirements.
Use the form at the bottom of this page.

The Itinerary

🇪🇹 Day 0:  

Evening flight

Heathrow to Addis Ababa

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Akaki wetlands and Bishoftu crater lakes

🇪🇹 Day 1:  We are met by our comfortable Toyota High Roof at the airport and, after some revitalising Ethiopian coffee, we set straight off in a southerly direction with the town of Bishoftu as our destination. But first we are going to Akaki for a gentle stroll and the chance of spotting flamingos on the wetlands. We inspect the oldest dam in Ethiopia, dating from the 1930's and producing just 6 megawatts of power (as opposed to the more than 5000 that will eventually come from the brand new Grand Renaissance Dam). We have lunch on the way and then soon arrive at Bishoftu (previously known as Debre Zeit - the Mount of Olives). 

🇪🇹 Day 2:  There are five impressive crater lakes in the vicinity of this town and we shall experience at least a couple of them while we are here, taking in some beautiful scenery and very varied birdlife. After lunch we set off to the south again, this time heading for one of the most impressive of the Rift Valley lakes, Lake Ziway, notable for its birdlife and its basking hippos. We stay in an attractive bungalow-style hotel very near the edge of the lake.

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" A truly wonderful trip, expertly and thoughtfully led, a wonderfully friendly driver, and very good times with fellow travellers."

Lake Ziway

🇪🇹 Day 3:   This morning offers us a trip out onto Lake Ziway. Particularly extraordinary birdlife awaits us even before we get into our boat and then we are off to Bird Island (spoonbills, cormorants, herons), Spider Island (spiders recently in short supply but with a nice little monastery at the top) and those lazily basking hippos at the western end of the lake. Eventually we are back on land and take a relatively short trip down to the next lake, Lake Langano, for lunch. The afternoon sees us over the road at Lakes Abiata and Shala where we find semi-wild ostriches, Grant's gazelles and again wonderfully varied birdlife and dramatic scenery. We return to our peaceful Ziway hotel for a second night.


🇪🇹 Day 4: Today we are on our way to the largest city in the Rift Valley, Hawassa (see our February 2021 newsletter) with its wide streets and welcoming atmosphere. The town sits right on the banks of Lake Hawassa and the views are extremely beautiful and appreciated by all. Guests not particularly keen on birdlife are sure to be won over here as we stroll along the lakeside in the late afternoon and see numerous different and beautiful species. Our hotel is centrally situated and is comfortable and convenient.

🇪🇹 Day 5:  We start today with a visit to the lakeside Fish Market where fishermen and birdlife are in very visible and active competition for the catch. Here the fish is not only caught, but filleted, cooked and eaten throughout the morning. After this, we shall all enjoy some free time to stroll back along the lakeside, watch the colobus and vervet monkeys, or even do a little shopping in town before meeting up for lunch. In the afternoon you might like to relax and explore the town, with an impressive modern church at the top of the high street, or perhaps take an hour's ride to the hot springs of Wondo Genet out in the countryside. We shall be at your service, whatever your choice. But a good dinner will definitely follow and possibly one last sit by the waterside.

Dilla and Yirgacheffe

🇪🇹 Day 6:  Prehistory is our interest today as we move down towards the town of Dilla and the stone field of Tutu Fella and its crop of phallic carvings. The countryside in this area is lush and colourful and provides endless interest. Lunch is had in Dilla itself before our prehistoric activities begin, after which we have only a short extra journey left to do, heading for the small village of Yirgacheffe, famous across the world to coffee lovers. Our simple hotel is there, as is a fine cup of coffee - or two.


🇪🇹 Day 7:   We have a substantial day of travelling in our Toyota today as we move around the bottom of the Ethiopian Rift Valley lakes and start moving north again up the western side. We break our journey for drinks and photos whenever we wish but we are heading for a town called Karat-Konso, the centre of Konso tribal life, and a hotel called the Kanta Lodge, one of the most beautiful hotels we use on our tours, drenched in colourful bougainvillea on the top of a hill outside the town.

🇪🇹 Day 8:  The Konso territories are our focus this morning as our tribal guide takes us to a natural rock formation which the locals call 'New York', followed by a relaxed walk along a country road to visit the celebrated traditional village of Mecheke, unlike any you will have seen elsewhere, with traditional beliefs and lifestyles very much in evidence. After a brief pause at the Thursday market and a quick lunch break, we are travelling once again on a three-hour trip to the north, to Arba Minch, our base for the next three nights.

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" Nothing could have prepared me for the most spectacular descent into the Rift Valley, the start of the most beautiful holiday imaginable."  

Arba Minch and Lake Chamo

🇪🇹 Day 9:   This is a major wildlife day as we drive down to Lake Chamo and transfer to our private boat for a true lake adventure. We are on the lookout for some of the largest crocodiles in the world at very close quarters and we shall undoubtedly spot hippos and their offspring in the shallower areas. The birdlife is extraordinary here, with fine photos to be had along the way. Later in the day we may well take a beautiful, flat woodland walk to see the 'Forty Springs' (Arba Minch) site that gives the town its name. We return to our hotel, with memories a-plenty.

🇪🇹 Day 10:  Chencha tribal market is our main focus this morning, but our local guide takes us first to a colourful Dorze village to be shown how the ensete - the false banana - provides the local people with everything from house-building materials to their daily bread. The market itself is right at the summit of these hills and Saturday is the day when people arrive from all over the area to replenish their stocks for the coming week. A late lunch back at the hotel still leaves us time for a village stroll and some relaxation before an impressive dinner overlooking Lakes Chamo and Abaya.

🇪🇹 Day 11:    Our time around the Rift Valley lakes is coming to an end and we need to take a short domestic flight back to the capital city, Addis Ababa. Perhaps some souvenir shopping will be the order of the day before a garden stroll and a final drink in the luxurious Sheraton Hotel bar. We return to our hotel for supper.

🇪🇹 Day 12:   Bidding Ethiopia a fond farewell, we take the daytime flight back to Heathrow and home.

  • We can never be sure of flight costs in advance but based on our past experience and the most recent increases in international flight prices, the complete package of two international flights and one domestic flight may well come to something around £1000 per person.

  • The cost of the tourist visa at the present time is about £65.

  • For other general information, see Our tours > All the tours information

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