Private Custom Travel: Ethiopia
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Private Custom Travel: Ethiopia

3 min read

At TCS World Travel, our expert Luxury Custom Travel consultants find inspiration for our custom journeys by scoping out the destinations themselves. Whether you’re interested in visiting traveler-favorite spots or someplace undiscovered, they use their insider knowledge to create unique experiences just for you.

Little-visited Ethiopia is a fascinating country where you can find awe-inspiring mountain landscapes, a distinct national cuisine and the highest concentration of UNESCO World Heritage sites on the African continent. Wendy Clark, one of our Luxury Custom Travel consultants, sat down to tell us about her recent scouting trip to this East African destination.


Where did you go? 

Addis Ababa, Gondar, the Simien Mountains and Lalibela. 

Where should our guests start in Ethiopia?

I recommend starting in Addis Ababa. After spending some time in the sprawling capital, it’s very easy to fly to other destinations in the country.

What are some can’t-miss experiences and destinations?

Lalibela is famous for its rock-cut churches and one of the most important religious and historical sites in Africa. There are about 200 churches in the area, and the 11 churches constructed under King Lalibela are considered candidates for the Eighth Wonder of the World. Carved underground from a single rock, these monolithic buildings are truly an incredible sight. I was there during Lent, so there were a lot of locals gathered for prayer.

In the city of Gondar, situated in northern Ethiopia southwest of the Simien Mountains, a visit to the Royal Enclosure is a must. This fortress-city was the home of Ethiopia’s emperors, and today is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Visit the bath of Emperor Fasilides, where Timkat ceremonies are performed each year. Timkat refers to the Ethiopian Orthodox celebration of Epiphany, which takes place on January 19th corresponding to the tenth day of Terr in the Ethiopian calendar.

While you’re in Gondar, don’t miss the chance to take a day trip into the Simien Mountains. Simien Mountains National Park is another World Heritage Site, and the pinnacles and valleys of the rugged landscape are spectacular. The area is also home to the gelada monkey, or the gelada “baboon.” They look ferocious, but in reality, you can walk right up to them and they don’t even notice. 

You scouted some remarkable properties. What made them special?

One thing to note is that Ethiopia does not have what we would consider 5-star hotels, especially once you get out of Addis Ababa. Rooms tend to be pretty basic, but they make up for it with 5-star views! One exception to this is the opulent Sheraton in Addis Ababa, which boasts exquisite suites and villas as well as 11 restaurants and lounges.  

My personal favorite was Limalimo Lodge, a stunning and eco-friendly property perched on the edge of the Simien Mountains. The outside terrace is the perfect vantage point for the breathtaking mountain scenery, and just 12 rooms create an intimate setting. I found it impressive that the lodge gives back to the community by hiring locals and purchasing local produce for the kitchen. 

Describe some of your favorite food experiences.

Injera, which is a spongy sourdough flatbread served with a wide variety of toppings. It’s the national dish of Ethiopia. Because I was visiting during Lent, all the toppings were vegetarian, such as lentils, cabbage, stewed spinach and potatoes.

What surprised you about Ethiopia?

I had no idea how naturally beautiful the country is, nor did I know that it is one of just two African nations that was never colonized (though briefly occupied by Italy in the 1930s). It was also the first African nation to adopt Christianity. And here’s a top tip for you: make sure to be at the airport at least two hours ahead of time, even if it’s only a 30-minute flight. Ethiopian airlines reserve the right not to accept passengers who arrive later than two hours before their scheduled departure. 

Interested in exploring Ethiopia? We’d love to create a custom itinerary perfectly matched to your personal interests and trip goals. Travel with us and we’ll show you the best that this destination has to offer. 


Let’s Get Started

We are ready to create a one-of-a-kind journey just for you. Get in touch with us today.

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