Location of Adventure
Group Size Limit
Approximately 10 Travelers
A very important feature of our Ethiopia safari is the small group size, as African safaris are best experienced with fewer travelers in order to enhance intimate encounters with wildlife and nature.
Specialized 4x4 Land Rovers and Land Cruisers
Our Private Leaders
Accommodations, all meals from dinner on Day 1 to dinner on final day, non-alcoholic drinks with meals and in vehicles, services of NHA Expedition Leader, local guides and lodge staff, some gratuities, airport transfers on Day 1 and final day, permits and entrance fees, and all taxes.
Travel to and from start and end point of trip (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia), internal flights, alcoholic beverages, some gratuities, passport and visa fees, video fees in Lalibela and Gondar, optional activities, items of a personal nature (laundry, massage, phone calls, souvenirs, etc.), airline baggage fees, airport and departure taxes, optional travel insurance, and required medical evacuation insurance.
Moderate to Strenuous
This adventure is suited for fit, healthy guests who will not be limited by mobility restrictions or altitude. Travelers must be able to participate in physical activity, including hikes and walks that take place between 10,000 and 14,500 feet above sea level. The lowest altitude on the trip is approximately 5,200 feet, with the highest point at or above approximately 14,500 feet. We highly recommend arriving in Addis Ababa, which sits at 7,700 feet, at least one day early in order to acclimate to the elevation and be ready to participate in all activities. Ideally, guests should be able to walk at these altitudes for at least two to three miles on both level trails and steep but even trails, as well as on rough terrain, at a leisurely pace for two to three hours. We can offer drives in some locations that will access wildlife viewing areas for guests who prefer not to trek the longer distances.
Participants should be prepared for some long and bumpy rides in 4x4 vehicles, which are not typically designed as well for rugged terrain as 4x4 custom vehicles used for safaris in other areas of Africa. Our longest drive is not more than 4–5 hours, but there are no organized toilet facilities on our more rural road journeys. We will still be able to make stops for guests who are comfortable using a private spot behind a bush. Guests must be able to climb into and out of 4x4 vehicles unaided. They must also be able to negotiate steep, uneven steps without handrails, especially in Lalibela. In Lalibela, some of the churches lie almost completely concealed within deep trenches, while others hide in the open mouths of quarried caves. Touring the churches involves easy climbing over rocks and maneuvering through a maze of tunnels. You will need to bring a headlamp or flashlight, as it is quite dark inside the churches and will be difficult to appreciate all the details without sufficient light. Travelers with a sense of adventure and willingness to be flexibile will get the most enjoyment out of this distinctive adventure.
Important Information About This Trip
Our Exploratory Adventures are inaugural trips to new destinations for a select small group of travelers. In our quest to continually offer fresh and exhilarating nature experiences, these first-time adventures offer an extra element of discovery (and often include surprises of which we are unaware). Travelers on these departures must be willing to “go with the flow” and expect the unexpected. If you have an exploratory spirit and are open to potential changes in schedules, itinerary, activities or accommodations as your trip unfolds, you may enjoy this opportunity to be among the very first Nat Hab guests to pioneer a new trip with us.
This itinerary surveys the Ethiopian Highlands, often called the "Roof of Africa," comprising the largest continuous area at this altitude on the African continent. Rather than focusing primarily on Ethiopia's cultural history and popular festivals, as many trips do, we concentrate on its natural history and unique wildlife, exploring by vehicle and on foot during the country's dry season. Wildlife viewing happens at high altitudes, typically ranging between 7,000 and 15,000 feet, in habitats where endemic plant and animal species thrive. Most activities involve walking or light hiking to access scenery and key wildlife viewing areas. While not a typical African wildlife safari, our Ethiopia adventure offers frequent sightings of the rare and endangered Ethiopian wolf, photogenic gelada baboons, walia ibex, and other species not seen elsewhere, in the context of stunning scenery. Ethiopia's national parks tend to border farming areas and are generally closer to civilization than many other African nature reserves, but we have included one of the few opportunities to visit Bale Mountains National Park, one of Ethiopia's largest continuous wilderness areas visited by very few tourists. We will also sample iconic cultural heritage sites such as the churches of Lalibela and the castles of Gondar.
Since the areas we travel to on this trip are remote and wild (that's why we go there!), we require medical evacuation insurance for our guests' safety. If you decline the medical evacuation insurance coverage offered by Natural Habitat, we request that you send us documentation of the independent coverage you have selected. We will add the cost of a medical evacuation policy to your tour invoice until you provide our office with proof of coverage including your insurance company's name, contact number and your individual policy number. Thank you for understanding that our policy exists exclusively in the interest of our guests' safety.
Getting There & Getting Home
You must arrive by 5 pm on Day 1 in order to join your group welcome dinner at 7 pm. For early morning arrivals, you may be required to pay for an early hotel check-in prior to 3 pm. We encourage you to arrive a day early to be well-rested for our early start on Day 2. You are free to depart Addis Ababa any time after 7 pm on the final day. Most international flights depart late at night, from 10:30 pm to after midnight, so we do include a dayroom and farewell dinner on the last day. We can best serve you if our Natural Habitat Adventures Travel Desk makes your reservations, as we are intimately familiar with the special requirements of this program and can arrange the most efficient travel. Please call us at 800-543-8917.