Ethiopia| Founders Series

Ancient Land of Mystics and Mystery


Join Cross Cultural Journeys with the Founders Series on an remarkable journey to Ethiopia, one of the least traveled, and most interesting countries in the world-- full of history, intrigue, mysticism and mystery. Ethiopia is the oldest independent country in Africa, having a recorded civilization dating from the 2nd millennium BC. The Ethiopians are a people of extraordinary grace, beauty, strength, resilience and intelligence whose spiritual and tribal traditions, and sense of cultural and personal dignity have remained intact throughout the centuries. Ethiopia is the only country in Africa that has never been colonized or sold its own people into slavery.


This journey is divided into two portions -- in the North, we explore the ancient, sacred spiritual traditions of Orthodox Christianity that predate Western society by centuries. Some historic Jewish traditions are still retained to this day and incorporated as rituals in the Orthodox Christian beliefs. Many say that Ethiopia is the site of the Garden of Eden. You will visit Lalibela and walk in awe and wonder into these ancient and historic hand-hewn underground churches.


As the story goes, an angel appeared to King Lalibela and told him to build churches, which he built over the next 25 years. How they were built remains a mystery. Some say they are the eighth wonder of the world.


The second portion of the journey is an overland adventure. We fly in a small aircraft into the remote tribal lands of the south, to visit tribal people living in traditional village compounds, far from any beaten path. This is a journey straight out of the pages of National Geographic magazine. We will visit the Hamar, Konso, Mursi, Karo, and Dassenesch tribal people, scouting for ceremonies to observe as we travel. Everyone will return home with a larger understanding of the world, their own culture, and themselves. You will be changed forever, touched by the majestic African continent and her people.


Day 1 | Wednesday, February 1 |Addis Ababa, Ethiopia You will be met upon arrival and transferred to your hotel. Take time to rest after the long flight, then join fellow travelers for an orientation meeting and dinner, our first meal together.  Jupiter Hotel 


Day 2 | Thursday, February 2| Addis Ababa We begin our city tour of Addis with a drive up to Mount Entoto to view the city and orient ourselves geographically. We will then visit the National Museum that houses archeological findings from this ancient land, including “Lucy” a 3.2 million year old female skeleton found in the Afar region of Ethiopia in 1974. After lunch, we will visit the Ethnological Museum, with its two main sections covering local crafts, regions, and people. These are ideal places to start learning about Ethiopia’s rich ethnic diversity. The Ethnological Museum has an impressive array of religious crosses made by local people from Italian silver coins after the Italians were unsuccessful in colonizing Ethiopia and left the country. There are beautiful triptychs and murals as well as Haile Selassies’s bedroom. Then proceed to the Merkato, the largest open-air market in Africa, offering an array of colors, aromas, customs, produce and jewelry. Jupiter Hotel 


Day 3 | Friday, February 3 | Fly Addis - Bahir Dar We drive to the airport for the hour flight to Bahir Dar where we are met and transferred to our hotel. Later we will walk to the Blue Nile Falls, the origin of the Blue Nile River which runs to Egypt. Avanti Blue Resort


Day 4 | Saturday, February 4 | Bahir Dar Today, we will take a boat cruise on Lake Tana, the largest lake in Ethiopia and the source of the Blue Nile River. There are 20 islands with centuries old round reed churches built on them which are still in use today. We will visit the 14th century Monastery of Ura Kidane Mihret which is the most famous of the Zege peninsula monasteries. It has intact ancient beautiful painted Maqdas (murals) and a priceless collection of silver crosses and crowns. After a picnic lunch on the lake we will visit Azwa Mariam monastery. Kuriftu Resort 


Day 5 | Sunday, February 5, | Bahir Dar / Lalibela After an early breakfast we will fly to Lalibela, known as “Africa’s Petra”. It is the site of the famous hand hewn underground churches and the scene of major ancient, and present, religious ceremonies. We will visit many of these magnificent churches, often called the “Eighth Wonder of the World”.  Built in 800-1200 AD, they are still active today.  Tukul Village Resort


Day 6 | Monday, February 6| Lalibela After breakfast we take a trek (or ride if you prefer) to the 13th century rock-hewn monastery of Ashton Mariam outside Lalibela. The road is steep and looks like a twisted rope hugged against the wall. The walk is beautiful and Genete Mariam is one of the most interesting outlying churches. It has been carved into a pink-tinged rock outcropping near the source of the Tekaze River. This church is carved into a cliff and is very different from any of the other carved churches in Lalibela, which are underground. In the afternoon we will visit a teahouse run by local women which was the first project of the Cross Cultural Journeys Foundation. Tukul Village Hotel 


Day 7 | Tuesday, February 7 | Fly Lalibela / Arba Minch in the tribal South Today we fly to the south of Ethiopia. Our next adventure will take us to the tribal lands in the Omo Valley. We fly from Lalibela to Addis Ababa where we transfer to a flight arriving Arba Minch at 4pm. The name Arba Minch means forty springs. We will begin our exploration into the tribal areas which have remained relatively untouched  for centuries. We proceed to visit a nearby Dorze village where they are famous for their weavings. Paradise Lodge


Day 8 | Wednesday, February 8| Arba Minch / Turmi This morning we drive to Turmi, along the way visiting the villages of the Tsemay and Abore people. Buska Lodge


Day 9 | Thursday, February 9| Turmi Today we visit the colorful Key Afer weekly market where the various tribes of Arbore, Hamar, Tsemay, Ari and Male  bring their goods to sell, buy supplies and see friends.Turmi at the Buska Lodge


Day 10 | Friday, February 10| Omorate/Jinka We will start the morning with an early breakfast and proceed to Omorate to visit the Dasench people at the Western Bank of the Omo river. We will return to Turmi for lunch and in the afternoon we will proceed to Jinka. Eco Omo Lodge


Day 11 | Saturday, February 11| Jinka / Konso Today an excursion to the colorful Mursi people who are known for the clay lip plates the women wear as a sign of beauty to stretch their lips. (yes, they take them out to eat!) Kenta Lodge 


Day 12 | Sunday, February 12 | Konso / Arba Minch Today we return to Arba Minch and plan a boat excursion on Lake Chamo to see the vivid wild life around the lake. The area has a huge concentration of crocodiles with an interesting crocodile market. There are herds of hippo to be observed as well as many species of birds. Paradise Lodge


Day 13| Monday, February 13| Arba Minch/Addis Ababa/ Home We catch a morning flight from Arba Minch to Addis, leaving time for last minute souvenir shopping, or personal sight seeing upon arrival. There will be shared day rooms available at the hotel to clean up before your flights home. In the evening there will be a gala traditional dinner and dance show before evening flights depart for home. We end our time in Ethiopia with fond memories of a land in Africa that remains as we imagined it would be, vastly different than any place or people we have known before.


Journey Details


NOTE: This itinerary is subject to change to take advantage of the serendipity of the moment when we are in meet someone special (we have been going to Ethiopia for over twenty years and have many friends there), to engage in an activity that might occur unexpectedly, or to accommodate circumstances beyond our control. Restaurants or hotels may change in similar category.


INCLUDED:  Hotels (double occupancy); group airport transfers from airport to hotel upon international arrival and departure; in country transportation per itinerary by coach, 4-wheel drive vehicles and small aircraft; all meals; English speaking Ethiopian leaders, Kelly Yadessa and Worku Sharew; CCJ leaders Carole Angermeir and Wilford Welch; guest speakers; all entrance fees on itinerary; preparation materials; tips for bellman and meals on itinerary; bottled water on the bus.


NOT INCLUDED: International air to Addis Ababa; alcoholic drinks; excursions not on the itinerary; tips for local leaders, guides, drivers (optional, yet customary); visa fee upon arrival (approx. $25) travel, medical, cancellation or evacuation insurance (strongly recommended, info will be sent upon registration).



Cost: $5,990 (Double Occupancy)

Add: $600 (Single Room)


National Guides


KELLY YADESSA will be the guide for the group throughout the journey. He is from the South Omo Valley and has extensive knowledge about and experience with the tribal people we will meet. Kelly has been escorting CCJ groups for a number of years. He is extremely knowledgeable, enthusiastic, with a keen sense of humor and attention to detail. He has become a favorite of our groups.


WORKU SHAREW will be with the group in the North. Worku is a mystic and Orthodox Christian scholar living in Addis Ababa. He left his homeland in his teenage years, studied philosophy at St. John’s University in Annapolis, Maryland, then returned to Ethiopia where he pursues the study of Coptic Christianity and ancient mysticism as a writer and English translator. Gentle, articulate, an excellent teacher with a wonderful sense of humor, Worku provides a bridge between Western thinking and that of ancient and present day Ethiopia. He has been a guide for our groups in Ethiopia since 1992.


Founders Series Journey Leaders


CAROLE ANGERMEIR is the founder of Cross Cultural Journeys and was its CEO from 1991 to 2014. This trip reflects what Carole said in a 2014 American Airlines video: “CCJ does not go to a country just to look at the people. We go to be with and learn from the people about their cultures in ways that will enrich our lives”.  Her first trip to Ethiopia was in 1992.


WILFORD WELCH has lived in or traveled to over one hundred countries during his years as a U.S. diplomat, as the publisher of a world affairs magazine in twenty-six countries in six language editions, as an international business consultant and as the leader of many CCJ journeys over the past twenty-five years. Like Carole, he is intrigued by the rich cultures and wonderful people of Ethiopia and is very much looking forward to returning next spring.

woman in the northws

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