The northern circuit and the east

The popular northern circuit can be covered in between five and eight days by air or two weeks by road. Append some time in Addis Ababa and take a detour to the Simiens and Harar if you have time.

1 Addis Ababa

Don’t miss the National Museum, a fine introduction to Ethiopian history, or the incendiary local food and dancing at Habesha 2000.

2 Lake Tana

Basing yourself at the port city of Bahir Dar, take a scenic boat trip to the monasteries of the wooded Zege Peninsula.

3 Blue Nile Falls

Witnessed in the rainy season, the Blue Nile Falls are one of the most spectacular cataracts anywhere in Africa.

4 Gondar

Head north from Lake Tana to absorb the Portuguese-influenced stone castles and churches of the former capital.

5 Simien Mountains National Park

Day walks or overnight hikes in this mountainous park come with a certainty of encountering, among others, the endemic gelada monkey and spectacular lammergeyer.

6 Aksum

Explore the ancient stelae and ruined palaces that litter this most ancient fulcrum of Ethiopian culture.

7 Lalibela

A tour of the town’s famous rock-hewn churches could be followed by a day hike to Asheton Maryam or a drive to the churches around Bilbilla.

8 Harar

Fly east, via Addis Ababa, to enjoy this Islamic walled citadel and its legendary hyena men.

The south

Ten to fourteen days is a good period of time to spend covering the Rift Valley lakes and South Omo. Allow longer to divert to the Bale Mountains.

1 Lake Ziway

Spot abundant birdlife from the fishing jetty, or take a boat trip to Tulu Gudo Island to see its ancient monastery.

2 Lake Langano

The most resort-like of the lakes could be bypassed by hyperactive, time-restrained travellers. Equally, you could chill out here for days.

3 Abijata-Shala National Park

This protected area near Langano warrants a day-trip, both for its aquatic birdlife and the dramatic Rift Valley landscapes.

4 Hawassa

Southern Ethiopia’s largest town is orderly and modern, and blessed with a gorgeous setting on a lake rimmed by monkey-filled forests.

5 Bale Mountains National Park

Allow at least three days for a diversion to the high plateaus and forests of this misty stronghold of the endangered Ethiopian wolf and mountain nyala.

6 Nechisar National Park

Basing yourself in Arba Minch, explore the best wildlife destination in the Ethiopian Rift Valley.

7 Karat (Konso)

Visit the Konso Museum and the fortified hilltop village of Mecheke.

8 South Omo

Continue southwest to this fascinating repository of traditional cultures, basing your itinerary around market days.

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