Experience the magnificent mountains, majestic lakes, and astonishing variety of human settlements of Ethiopia. Discover the capital of Addis Ababa and Tissiat Falls on the upper reaches of the Blue Nile. Visit Lake Tana’s Kidane Meheret monastery which depicts scenes from the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. Explore Gondar’s castles and the Simien Mountains. Discover Axum where ancient obelisks stand as reminders of the city’s glory. Marvel at the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela. Optional 7-day/6-night extension to Southern Ethiopia.
Depart the U.S. (SFO flights will require checking in on October 8.) Arrive in Addis late on October 9 or early morning of October 10. Upon arrival transfer to our hotel.
Sheraton Addis Ababa Hotel
After a morning to rest, meet up in the afternoon for an orientation tour. Visit to the Holy Trinity Cathedral, the largest Orthodox church in Ethiopia. Dinner at Yod Abyssinia for traditional cuisine and dance. Sheraton Addis Ababa Hotel (B,D)
Enjoy a full day of sightseeing starting at Mt. Entoto with amazing city views. Visit Entoto Beth Artisan, providing fair-trade employment to local women. Lunch at the Ansi Gallery with its dynamic owner. Visit the National Museum with its replica of the 3.5 million year old skull of “Lucy”. Then visit the Mercato before a meeting at the US Embassy. Traditional dinner in a private art collector’s home. Sheraton Addis Ababa Hotel (B,L,D)
Morning visit with Dr. Rick Hodes, an American doctor who is the subject of the HBO documentary “Making the Crooked Straight”. After lunch fly to Bahir Dar, on the southern shore of Lake Tana, the source of the Blue Nile. Late afternoon drive to the Kuriftu Resort and Spa for dinner and overnight. Kuriftu Resort and Spa (B,L,D)
Travel by boat across the lake sailing past ‘tankwas’, traditional boats made of papyrus reed. Visit the Ura Kidane Mehret Church to admire colorful frescoes depicting biblical scenes. After lunch stop at the market and enjoy seeing the wide variety of local people and goods for sale. Visit Tis Isat (Blue Nile) Falls where the Blue Nile plunges over a 150 foot rock face to form one of Africa’s most spectacular waterfalls, which are surrounded by rainforest filled with monkeys and multi-colored birds. Kuriftu Resort and Spa (B,L,D)
This morning drive to Gondar where an extensive compound contains the impressive ruins of a group of imposing castles. At one time inner walls here were decorated with ivory and precious stones. Stop at the small Debre Berhan Selassie Church where winged heads of 80 Ethiopian cherubs cover the ceiling. End the day meeting with Nigisti Gebreselassie, the dynamic director of an organization called Yenege Tesfa (Hope for Tomorrow) that works with street children. Transfer to the Goha Hotel for dinner and overnight. Goha Hotel (B,L,D)
Depart this morning for a full day excursion to the lush and beautiful Simien Mountains, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Enjoy a gentle walk past steeply terraced fields and tiny villages set against the jagged peaks. There is little here to take away from the ageless, changeless rhythm of Ethiopian life. Enjoy a picnic lunch before returning to the hotel for dinner and overnight. Goha Hotel (B,L,D)
Morning flight to Axum, Ethiopia’s most ancient city. It was to Axum that Christianity was brought in 340AD by two Syrian priests. Learn about this city’s noble past and witness the extensive ruins of temples, fortresses and vast, carved granite monoliths. After lunch visit the 17th century Church of St. Mary said to be the last resting place of the original Ark of the Covenant. Dinner and overnight at the Yeha Hotel (B,L,D)
Join an early morning religious ceremony where, guided by candles, worshippers walk barefoot to the Church of St. Mary of Zion. After breakfast visit a number of famous obelisks, dating to the 3rd century, and made of single pieces of granite. After lunch drive to King Ezana’s inscription, a 4th century Ethiopian version of the Rosetta Stone. Continue on to visit the tombs of King Kaleb and Gebre Meskel. Dinner at a local restaurant. Yeha Hotel (B,L,D)
Morning flight to Lalibela, famed for its eleven remarkable rock-hewn churches. In the 12th century King Lalibela gathered the world’s greatest craftsmen to carve a number of rock hewn churches. Connecting all the churches is a complicated network of tunnels with offset crypts and galleries. This is a cool subterranean world, shaded, damp, and silent except for the faint echoes of distant steps as priests go about their timeless work. Dinner and overnight at the Maribela Hotel (B,L,D)
Continue exploring this vast complex including Bet Giorgis, the most majestic of all. Enjoy a farewell breakfast at the Ben Arena Restaurant, with stunning architecture and views. Maribela Hotel (B,L,D)
Morning return flight to Addis Ababa. Upon arrival, transfer to the Jupiter Hotel, where we have day rooms until the early evening. Transfer to the airport for international flights (B,L)
Cost and Details
Trip Cost: $5,845 per person, based on double occupancy
Single Room Supplement: $1,440
Accommodations and meals as per itinerary; All sightseeing in an air-conditioned vehicle; Internal flights; Entrance fees & special events listed; Services of a local Ethiopian tour manager/guide; Commonwealth Club tour representative at 13 travelers; Gratuities
International airfare to/from Addis Ababa (approximately $1,000); Visa fees ($52 at time of printing); Excess luggage charges; Medical expenses; Trip Insurance; Items of a purely personal nature
Omo Valley Extension (7 days / 6 nights)
Extension Cost: $2,965, per person, based on double occupancy
Single room supplement: $240
1 nights’ accommodation at the Haile Resort in Awassa; 2 nights’ accommodations at Paradise Lodge in Arba Minch; 2 nights’ accommodations at te Buska Lodge in Turmi; Meals throughout; Extensive sightseeing and guided visits; local guide; gratuities to local guides and driver. (A detailed itinerary can be provided.)
Participants must be in good health and able to keep up with an active group. In order to participate one should be able to walk 1-2 miles daily, use stairs without handrails, and be able to stand for 1-2 hours. Fall is a lovely time to travel in Ethiopia when temperatures range from 60-85 degrees.
Terms and Conditions
A $1,000 per person deposit, along with a completed and signed reservation form, will reserve a place for participants on this program. The balance of the trip is due 90 days prior to departure and must be paid by check.
Cancellation and Refund Policy
Notification of cancellation must be received in writing. At the time we receive your written cancellation, the following penalties will apply:
Cancel 91 days or more before departure: $250 penalty
Cancel 90-60 days before departure: $1,000 penalty
Cancel 59-1 days before departure: No refund.
The tour can also be cancelled due to low enrollment. Neither the Commonwealth Club (CWC) nor Distant Horizons (DH) accepts liability for cancellation penalties related to domestic or international airline tickets purchased in conjunction with the tour.
We require membership to the Commonwealth Club to travel with us. People who live outside of the Bay Area may purchase a worldwide membership. To learn about membership types and to purchase a membership, visit our membership page or call (415)597-6720.
Trip Cancellation and Interruption Insurance
We strongly advise that all travelers purchase trip cancellation and interruption insurance as coverage against a covered unforeseen emergency that may force you to cancel or leave trip while it is in progress. Baggage insurance is also recommended. In the event you must cancel your participation in the travel program, trip cancellation insurance may be the only source of reimbursement. Information will be sent upon registration and can be viewed Travel Insurance Services website
Participation in this program requires that you be in good health. It is essential that persons with any medical problems and related dietary restrictions make them known to us well before departure.
Itinerary Changes & Trip Delay
Itinerary is based on information available at the time of printing (January 2018) and is subject to change. We reserve the right to change a program’s dates, staff, itineraries, or accommodations as conditions warrant. If a trip must be delayed, or the itinerary changed, due to bad weather, road conditions, transportation delays, airline schedules, government intervention, sickness or other contingency for which CWC or DH or its agents cannot make provisions, the cost of delays or changes is not included.
Limitations of Liability
CWC and DH its Owners, Agents and Employees act only as the agents for any transportation carrier, hotel, ground operator, or other supplier of services connected with this program (“other providers”), and the other providers are solely responsible and liable for providing their respective services. CWC and DW shall not be held liable for (A) any damage to, or loss of, property or injury to, or death of, persons occasioned directly or indirectly by an act or omission of any other provider, including but not limited to any defect in any aircraft, or vehicle operated by such other provider, and (B) any loss or damage due to delay, cancellation, or disruption in any manner caused by the laws, regulations, acts or failures to act, demands, orders, or interpositions of any government or any subdivision or agent thereof, or by acts of God, strikes, fire, flood, war, rebellion, terrorism, insurrection, sickness, quarantine, epidemic, theft, or anyother cause(s) beyond their control. The participant waives any claim against CWC/DH for any such loss, damage, injury, or death. By registering for the trip, the participant certifies that he/she does not have any mental, physical, or other condition or disability that would create a hazard for him/herself or other participants. CWC/DH shall not be liable for any air carrier’s cancellation penalty incurred by the purchase of a nonrefundable ticket to or from the departure city. Baggage and personal effects are at all times the sole responsibility of the traveler. Reasonable changes in the itinerary may be made where deemed advisable for the comfort and well-being of the passengers.
Commonwealth Club of California-CST# 2096889-40