Ethiopia: Luxury & Private Safaris
Ethiopia is country of unexpected diversity. A country that often flies under-the-radar for tourists, we consider Ethiopia a true hidden gem for travelers unafraid to explore a more offbeat destination that few visit. Twice the size of Texas, Ethiopia’s diversity ranges from cloud-shrouded mountains to lush valleys, and from a rich ancient—and prehistoric—history to more than 80 distinct ethnic groups found there today, each with its own traditions, language and culture that date back over 3,000 years. For centuries it’s been a melting pot between North Africa, Sub-Saharan, and Middle Eastern civilizations. It leaves its mark with unique cultural character and chock full of historical sites still in active use, such as Lalibela and Axum (must-sees for history enthusiasts in the north). Yet long before civilizations could meet, early hominids called this region home, with archaeological findings dating back some four million years, expanding our knowledge of human beginnings. Ethiopia may not be your typical wildlife safari destination, but we love it for its vibrant cultural elements, history, and ample selection of outdoor excursions.
Secrets and Tips from our Experts
- If budget isn’t a concern, take a helicopter over the Danakil Depression to get a full appreciation of the psychedelic lakes.
- If you’re craving a water element on your trip, take a boat ride to visit the island monasteries on Lake Tana
- Coffee connoisseur? Taste some of Ethiopia’s finest roasts on a coffee tour in a few different regions
- Add a wildlife element to your Ethiopian circuit by visiting the Gelada Baboons in the Simien Mountains
- Experience remote and traditional cultures in the Omo Valley
Is Ethiopia the right destination for you?
Ethiopia is perfect for travelers who have been on safari before and want a different and more offbeat Africa experience. What the country lacks in big game, it more than makes up for in big culture; travelers should love exploring and learning about different people and traditions, rich history and an abundance of sites to visit, plus a stunning variety natural landscapes. Additionally, the best travelers for Ethiopia aren’t looking for premium thread counts; even the country’s luxury accommodations often fall well below 5* standards in other destinations. If you’re okay “roughing it”, you won’t regret it.
When to visit Ethiopia?
Due to Ethiopia’s vast range of landscapes and altitudes, there’s no single “best” season to go. Most travelers, however, can typically expect October through May to be cool and dry, optimizing sightseeing and outdoor excursions. The highlands, especially Addis Ababa, maintain comfortable conditions in the 70s. The lowlands can still get quite hot during this time, however. July and August see the heaviest rains, typically ending by September.
Heavy summer rains can make some roads or remote areas impassable. The southern Omo Valley sees two, brief, rainy seasons in the fall (October-November) and spring (April-May); avoid those months for travel in the Omo Valley.
How much should I budget for a trip to Ethiopia?
A typical 10-day Ethiopian safari may start at approximately $6,000 per person sharing. All our safaris are carefully tailored to each client, though, so consider this only a starting point to begin exploring your options. We highly recommend a resident guide to accompany you throughout!
Our favorite areas
- For the active traveler – Simien Mountains or Hawzen are a must see with the most breathtaking hikes
- For the cultural traveler – Omo Valley is a must stop with unforgettable tribal experiences
- For the historian – Axum provides for historic sites that give a well- rounded experience and in depth appreciation for the country
- For a spiritual/religious experience – Lalibela is a must stop no matter your outlook or religious beliefs. The architecture and upkeep of these churches is astonishing
What else should I know before planning a safari to Ethiopia?
- Ethiopia: Luxury & Private Safaris: Ethiopia is a destination for the intrepid traveler and someone who is looking to further their appreciation for African culture and history. While it’s wonderful if it’s your first trip to Africa, we highly recommend it for the experienced traveler. If you have been on safari or to other African destinations previously, you should be aware that accommodation and service levels in Ethiopia aren’t quite up to speed with destinations like South Africa, Botswana or Tanzania. While Ethiopia has a few wildlife spots, we do not consider this country to be a safari destination. It does, however, combine seamlessly with Kenya or Tanzania for a perfectly well rounded itinerary.
Ways to experience Ethiopia
- Experience cultural immersions like no other destination in Africa in the Omo Valley
- Visit the iconic rock churches of Lalibela and attend a mass, if interested
- Taste the local dishes (injera) in Addis Ababa, and spend a night out in town absorbing the local music scene
- Trek to the most beautiful views in the Simien Mountains and stop for a picnic lunch
- Spot the Ethiopian wolf in the Bale Mountains
Wildlife you will see
Ethiopia is not a good country for big game-viewing when compared with other safari destinations like Kenya. However, the country’s mountains are home to some very special and rare species including the Mountain Nyala, Ethiopian Wolf, Gelada Baboons, and the Walia Ibex.