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.
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.
Explore the ancient stelae and ruined palaces that litter this most ancient fulcrum of Ethiopian culture.
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.
Fly east, via Addis Ababa, to enjoy this Islamic walled citadel and its legendary hyena men.
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.
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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