6 Questions to ask yourself
1. What's on offer in Ethiopia?
2. What do you hope to get out of the experience?
3. Are you most interested in natural beauty and outdoor activities, or learning about history and culture?
3. When's the best time to visit Ethiopia?
4. What's your budget?
5. How fit and active are you?
6. Are you looking for luxury accommodation, camping, mid-range hotels and lodges, or a mix?
What's on offer in Ethiopia?
Natural Beauty in Ethiopia
Ethiopia offers some of the most extraordinary landscapes anywhere in Africa. From the jagged-peaks of the Simien Mountains, the thick afro-alpine forests of the Bale Mountains, or…
Hiking and Trekking in Ethiopia
Ethiopia's northern highlands offer some exceptional trekking experiences. The Simien Mountains and Bale Mountains are common favourites, and the Community Trekking trails set up …
Historical Monuments of Ethiopia
Ethiopia has a tremendously rich history dating back to the dawn of humanity. Humans have been navigating life in Ethiopia for millennia with each civilisation leaving behind …
When you think of cultural experiences in Africa, few countries come close to Ethiopia. Travelling the country is to gain a new perspective on humanities place in the world, from …
Ethiopia Community Trekking
Trek through rural Ethiopia and stay overnight at charming, community run guesthouses with views among the best you'll find anywhere in Africa. The majority of money for our …
In Ethiopia, the emphasis is on rarity, endemism, and bio-diversity. The Simien Mountains, Bale Mountains, and Gambella National Park are the best places for safari in Ethiopia.
Your Travel Plans
When can you travel?
Ethiopia is a large country and different regions have different seasonal characteristics.
The extreme north and east has a desert climate, central Ethiopia is milder and southern Ethiopia is more tropical. High season is October to March, although there are great experiences available in the off-season.
June through early September is the rainy season in the northern highlands, with the worst showers in July and August. The rains come earlier in the Omo Valley, which means the Omo Valley is great during the northern circuits rainy season.
How active are you?
While the main sites in the north and south can be enjoyed from the comfort of hotels and lodges, there are some exceptional experiences on offer for those keen to get outdoors. Ethiopia is a very mountains country, particularly in the north, which means it has some of the most exceptional trekking routes in the world.
Community trekking in Wollo or Tigray, or trekking the main trail of the Simien Mountains are popular choices. Hiking to Hudad Lodge or through the Harenna Forest are underrated options, and Ankober and Kosoye are countryside retreats that make for fantastic respites along busier itineraries.
The major cities of Ethiopia have the usual portfolio of accommodation options. Addis is the only place you'll find 5 star hotels, but there's still plenty of choice along the classic northern trail.
The south of Ethiopia is less developed than the north, and here you'll find a selection of more modest lodges. There are some good quality, picturesque lodges across the Rift Valley, and more basic but functional options in the Omo.
Ethiopia has a small selection of luxury accommodation, but plenty of boutique and eco lodges dotted all over the country. Ethiopian hotels and lodges often suffer from maintenance and upkeep issues. Nothing that will ruin your stay, but important to keep in mind.
What's your budget?
While Ethiopia remains cheaper than some other East African destinations, it's important to understand what's realistic given your travel dates, trip length, and interests.
How many people you're travelling with, the standard of accommodation, and how much ground you want to cover are the main drivers of cost.
Our team will talk you through your options, and we'll work to design an itinerary that fits your budget.
5 Questions to help plan your adventure in Ethiopia
Ethiopia is most famous for its soaring mountain ranges, particularly the Simien Mountains National Park. In the nearby town of Lalibela are three clusters of 13th century rock-hewn churches, some of the most beautiful pieces of architecture in the world and of extreme historic and cultural importance in Ethiopia.
The Danakil Depression in the extreme north of the country boasts alien landscapes and bubbling lava lakes, and is another common favourite among first-time visitors of Ethiopia. Heading south, the Omo Valley and the incredible tribal communities that call it home are often visited.
There is ample trekking opportunities in Ethiopia. In the north, you can explore the Simien Mountains National Park at a pace that works for you. If you’re an active hiker, you can try your hand at the mighty Ras Dashen, standing tall at over 4000m. If you’re keen to find some of the best views in the world, but don’t want anything too strenuous, there are plenty of more gentle trails that still pass through all the best spots.
In Tigray and Lalibela, community trekking is among our favourite experiences in the country. Staggering views during the day and at night, and overnights at charming, locally run guesthouses.
Hike up near-vertical cliffs to discover the Debre Damo Monastery, or trek through the rolling hills of Lalibela, stopping for dinner at the incredible Ben Abeba restaurant.
Further south, the Bale Mountains offer some fantastic hiking opportunities, and it’s here that you’re most likely to spot the endemic Ethiopian Wolf (and maybe even a lion or two).
None of these treks are technical, and can be as intense (or not) as you want them to be. We don’t presume any fitness level on our travellers and we can tailor the itinerary so that it feels perfect for you.
The north of Ethiopia is distinctly different from the south. Both are equally wondrous, with the north bursting with history and stunning views, and south home to over 88 cultural communities, and, well, more stunning views! You can combine the north and south into a single itinerary thanks to Ethiopia’s extraordinary domestic flight system, but if you are limited on time your best bet is to focus on one region and really get the most out of it.
There are plenty of incredible experiences to be had off the beaten track. The south of Ethiopia is less developed than the north, which means accommodation is often basic lodging. In the north, accommodation options include luxurious 5 stars in the capital, modest and comfortable 3 stars, and basic but beautiful home-stays. If you’re heading in the Danakil Depression, be prepared for accommodation at its most basic – a sleeping bag and starlight!
If you're going to Ethiopia, you definitely want to visit some of the must-sees, that includes the big 4 but also incredible places like Gondar, Bahir Dar, Harar, Axum, the Rift Valley, Tigray, the Bale Mountains National Park, and countless others.
With so much to do in Ethiopia, it can be hard to know where to start and what to include. Ethiopia is a big country, and although it’s well-connected, journey times can add up if you’re travelling across the country. Therefore, how long you have to play with is a huge factor in what you can do.
If you only have a week or so, you should think carefully about what you’re most excited about seeing and doing. Let us worry about all the logistics, and focus on deciding what you want to see most – we’ll then craft you an itinerary to match.
If you’ve got between one and two weeks, you’ll be able to combine the classic sites in the north with other places like the Danakil Depression or the Rift Valley Lakes.
If you’ve got 2 weeks or more, you can start thinking about a comprehensive tour of the country. Of course, the longer you’re travelling for, the more expensive it gets – consider bringing friends and family to keep the costs down and share the memories!
What our customers think
Marc and Kiros made my trip amazing. They took care of every detail of my travels and were flexible and great at communicating everything. I highly recommend them to anyone looking to travel around Ethiopia!
Britta United States January 2019
The team at Brilliant Ethiopia were flexible and very responsive to my requests in putting together an excellent itinerary at very short notice. The partners they work with in Ethiopia provided excellent, knowledgeable and personable guides at every location. The trip ran perfectly smoothly, allowing my son and I to concentrate on enjoying the experience of a unique destination that constantly surprises the visitor. I cannot recommend Ethiopia more highly, and if you are going, Brilliant Ethiopia is the perfect partner.
Jonathan UK February 2019
We absolutely loved the trip - Omo Valley, baboons at Simien, Christmas as Lalibela, a last minute add of Hudad Lalibela one night stay. We had an incredible time. In particular, we LOVED Dawit (Addis), Sisay (Omo) and Yawkal (Lalibela).
Claudia US January 2019
Simon and I would like to say a huge thank you for all your efforts for making our Ethiopian adventure happen. We were extremely well looked after by you, the guides and the drivers and delivered safe and sound everywhere on time. Please, pass our special thanks to Geetam ( not sure about the name spelling, sorry) who drove us for a few days through most challenging roads, always with a gentle smile, attention and care. Thank you! All the guides were very knowledgable and good fun, particularly in Aksum. And special thanks to Alex in Addis for introducing us to Ethiopian cuisine and for all the insights to Ethiopian culture and history.
Natasha and Simon UK October 2018
Popular Trips to Ethiopia
A true adventure across the northernmost reaches of Ethiopia. Experience community trekking on the plateaus of Tigray, where horizons stretch for miles, distant mountain peaks morph into hazy silhouettes lit by the evening sun, and pockets of light and shadow…
Fusing history, culture, landscapes and wildlife along a perfectly paced circuit, this trip is a synthesis of the very best experiences on offer in Ethiopia’s northern highlands. Explorations of the ancient cities Axum, Gondar, Bahir Dar and Lalibela are broken…