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Travelling with Inspiring Vacations allows you to explore the wonders of the world in a variety of different ways. We have partnered with a worldwide network of local travel experts to bring you culturally unique and delightfully unforgettable travel experiences. Whether it is meandering through narrow canyons by rail, cruising the idyllic waters of the Mediterranean or touring through the backroads of provincial towns, Inspiring Vacations trips offer amazing value and will leave you inspired.
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There will be a group meeting at the joining hotel at 6:00pm. Please look out for a note from your tour leader at the reception when you arrive giving more details about this important meeting.
If you are travelling to the Sudan and have arranged to pick the visa up in Addis Ababa, you will need to arrive at least 2 working days early to collect the visa.
We will start our journey today with a drive to the small town of Debre Markos. En route we will drive to the bottom of the dramatic Blue Nile Gorge and up the other side!
Today we will complete our drive to Bahir Dar, a small town on Lake Tana, the source of the mighty Blue Nile.
On our first full day in Bahir Dar, we will have an included boat trip on Lake Tana to visit the famous old monastery of Gabriel Ure Kideth and to visit the spot where the lake outflows into the start of the Blue Nile.
On our second day, we will head off in the truck to visit the Blue Nile Falls and take a short walk around the area to the historic Portuguese Bridge. We will have some free time in the afternoon to take optional visits to some other spots around Bahir Dar such as the 'Hippo bridge' and the Tigray war memorial.
Today we will drive to the ideological village of Awra Amba. Run by the infamous Zumra Nuru the village operates with the belief that everyone is equal and should have a say in how their home is run. We will take a tour of the village and camp on the outskirts.
Today we have a full day's drive through the beautiful scenery of central Ethiopia to reach the small medieval town of Lalibela.
On our first day in Lalibela, we will have an included full-day guided tour of the world-famous 13th-century rock churches of Lalibela. Our guide will be able to explain the fascinating history of Lalibela and its churches, and there will be plenty of time to explore, absorb the haunting atmosphere inside the churches, and take plenty of photographs of the incredible architecture and the religious rituals within.
On the second day, we will have a free day for further exploration or optional activities. We will have opportunity to hike up the nearby mountains to the Asheten Monastery, visit the Yemrehana Kristos cave church outside the town, or freely explore the Lalibela churches again at your own pace.
Leaving Lalibela behind us, we have a full days drive through increasingly mountainous scenery to reach the town of Mekele.
After breakfast meet your 4 x 4 vehicles and drive to Hamed Ella. On the way you will pass through the beautiful Tigre Villages and the escarpment of the Afar depression, this is commonly known as the cradle of mankind and is part of the Great East African Rift Valley. Along the way you will see camel caravans going to the traditional salt mine or to the North Eastern highlands of the country, loaded with salt bars in the old traditional way. We will also stop at Brehalle where we will get our permits and scouts for the trip into the Danakil Depression.
On the second day we drive to Dallol. Here in Dallol you will visit the beautiful land covered by salt, sulfur and different minerals that gives the area a spectacular colour. We will then continue on to Lake Asale to witness the beautiful salt flats.
This is an extremely intense environment and a very adventurous three days, certainly a once in a lifetime experience. However, if you feel like your personal fitness can not withstand this pressure then there is a chance this may not be the trip for you.
Today we will make our way back to Mekele ending our time in the stunning Danakil Depression.
Today we will visit one of the famous rock-hewn churches of Tigray (either the Abraha Atsbeha or Wukro Chirkos church), then continue through the increasingly breathtaking mountain scenery of the Adwa mountains to reach the ancient town of Axum in the far north of Ethiopia.
Today we will have an included half-day guided tour of the incredible historical sites of Axum, the capital of the once-mighty Axumite Empire - included in this tour will be seeing the Stelae Field, the Tomb of King Kaleb, and the Palace of the Queen of Sheba. We will have a free afternoon to make optional visits to other places such as the Church of St. Mary of Zion, the supposed resting place of the Ark of the Covenant.
Leaving Axum behind us, we continue our journey with a full day of driving through the foothills of the Simien Mountains to reach the small village of Debark. The roads here are very tough, but we are rewarded with more truly breathtaking scenery!
Debark is the gateway to the Simien Mountains NP, and on arrival we will have a briefing from our local mountain guide explaining the various trekking options that we will have during our excursion starting the following day.
Today marks the start of our 3-day excursion into the Simien Mountains NP. The area is home to some of Africa's most jaw-dropping mountain scenery and is a great opportunity to enjoy some incredibly beautiful treks and breathtaking views!
The area is also home many indigenous animals, and during our time here we hope to spot Lammargeyer vultures, geladas, Walia ibex, and (if we are very lucky) klipspringers and Ethiopian wolves.
We will spend 3 nights in the incredible Simien Mountains NP. On each day we aim to provide an option for a long trek (of 5-8 hours), a short trek (2-5 hours) or no trekking.
Please note that we must keep a flexible itinerary in the Simien Mountains, as our options will largely be determined by the weather.
Please also note that the camping areas in the NP are very basic, and are essentially wild camps with long drop toilets. Please also note that the food and provisions available in Debark and the NP are very limited, and it is also likely to be very cold at night (often dropping below freezing), so please be prepared! You will need to bring a suitable sleeping bag and mat with you from home to ensure you are ready for this environment.
Today we once again have the choice between joining a short trek or a long trek. Each one will have a guide and a superb route showing off the best the Simiens have to offer.
This is our final day of treking in the National Park. Once again there will be a choice between short and long routes as we soak in the final moments of the mountains.
Today we head back out to the mountains to Debark, and then finally join the tarmac road again to reach the ancient royal city of Gondar!
Today, we will have an included half-day guided tour of the historical sites of Gondar, including Gondar Castle, the King Fasilades' Baths and the Debre Birhan Selassie church.
Today is the end day for passengers finishing their trip in Gondar. Please note there is no accommodation included on the trip tonight - please contact the Sales Team if you are interested in booking extra nights of accommodation in order to fully explore and take part in some of the optional activities listed below.
Breakfasts x 20, Lunches x 5, Dinners x 5
Overland Expedition Vehicle, Boat
Two Dragoman Crew Members, Local Guides where necessary
Comfortable Hotel 12 nights
Basic Hotel 3 nights
Camping without facilities 5 nights
Deposit & Payments
Book now and secure your package with only a $380 deposit per person.
Pay a 2nd instalment of $558 per person within 28 days.
You will then be invoiced for final payment 90 days prior to departure.
Select the purple 'Reserve Your Seat' tab to begin your booking (you must 'Sign Up' first by entering your email and creating a password)
Then select the purple 'Book now' tab of the tour you have selected
Select your Departure Date, Departure City, Number of Passengers, Room Configuration, any Upgrade Options, and enter any Special Requests
Click the purple ‘Proceed to Secure Checkout' tab
Enter your credit card or PayPal details to secure your deposit/payment. You may also pay via BPAY (not available within 70 days of departure)
Once your order is complete, you will be prompted to complete a Booking Form so that we can fulfil your booking
Your position on the tour will be confirmed within 48 hours of completing your order. If your place cannot be confirmed, a full refund of the deposit will occur
Tour Kitty of USD $690 per person is not included in the price and it is payable locally (refer to Important Information)
Anything not mentioned in the itinerary or optional
Comfortable Hotel 12 nights
Basic Hotel 3 nights
Camping without facilities 5 nights
Dragoman's overland trips are designed for shared accommodation, whether camping or staying in hotels or hostels, and therefore do not involve a single supplement. Whilst our crew will do their best to accommodate couples travelling together in twin rooms, all our travellers should expect to stay in multi-share accommodation when staying in hostels, gers or yurts. The type, variety and standard of accommodation will vary greatly depending on what options are available at the time; hotels can vary from very basic rooms without electricity or running water to high standard hotels with good facilities! Generally in hotels most rooms will be single sex, twin-share, but in South America many rooms are triple/quad-share. Hostels, gers and yurts are nearly always multi-share and may be mixed sex.
The campsites will range from rather basic to those with excellent facilities, including swimming pools, restaurants and bars. In some cases it may also be possible to upgrade locally to bungalows, lodges or even tree-houses. One of the highlights of overlanding is that in more remote areas we wild camp away from the tourist crowds. Occasionally on some of our trips we are able to stay in villages or local homestays allowing us to get close to the indigenous population and ensuring that our money stays within the local community.
We do not offer a single supplement during the booking stage, as this will be unavailable for camping with a full truck, and difficult to confirm in many hotels. However, if you would like to ‘upgrade’ to having your own room whilst on the road then this is possible if you pay the difference yourself, subject to availability. Your tour leader will assist with this as they make ongoing bookings on the road.
The maximum group size we take on our overland journeys ranges from 19 to 22 depending on the geographical location; however the average number of passengers is more likely to be around 16. On some departures there may be more than one truck doing the same route. This means that you will be in the same hotel or campsite as another Dragoman group on some days. To ensure that you are not always at the same place at the same time as another group, your itinerary will most likely be slightly altered from the itinerary advertised on the website and in the Trip Itinerary. Even on the majority of our trips where there is only the one truck, you may from time to time meet up with other groups at points on the road, and may partake in activities jointly with other groups on these occasions.
Meals and Group Participation
On an overland journey you are more than just an individual passenger - you're part of the team. You are expected to pitch in to set up camp, shop for food, cook and generally help out. As part of your trip you will be assigned a truck job which could be collecting water and firewood, sweeping out the truck, loading the back locker, etc. While camping on overland journeys, the meals are included in the kitty. This means that you will have to work together to cook for everyone in your group. You will be divided into smaller units of 3-4 people and take it in turns to cook for the whole group according to a rota system. When it is your group's turn to cook you will have to plan the meal, shop for the ingredients in local markets or supermarkets and then prepare the meal for the whole group. The secret to cooking for 20+ people using a basic camping kitchen is to keep it simple! (On trips south of Nairobi we
have a cook on board the truck; however you will still be required to help them to prepare meals). An example of a typical camp breakfast might be toast with spreads, fruit and cereal as well as tea and coffee. When time allows it
will also be possible to serve something hot such as eggs or pancakes. Lunch is almost always a sandwich heaped high with healthy salad and assorted fillings, with fruit to follow. Dinner might be a BBQ, risotto or pasta dish and there is always the chance to try some local cooking. Generally our passengers find the more they put into a trip, the more they benefit from it.
Our Overland Trucks
Dragoman's fleet is truly unique. We use rugged and sturdy Mercedes-Benz trucks (known for their durability) that will take you off road and off the beaten track. They are specially modified at our workshop in Suffolk, UK, into our custom designed overland vehicles. Features such as our integrated cabs are unique to Dragoman trucks, and our customers regularly say that they make our trucks the best on the road. With their distinctive orange and white livery and their personalised names, our trucks have become iconic. All of our trucks are affectionately named and have their own individual personality. Many of our passengers remember the name of their truck many years after their trip!
Our trucks are fully equipped for self-sufficient wild camping, and have comfortable coach-style seating. All Dragoman trucks are owned and maintained by us, and our crew follow a strict maintenance schedule - this means we can manage the quality and safety of our fleet. We currently have 26 overland trucks (and 1 overland bus) on the road worldwide, and the fleet is growing all the time! For more information on our trucks, please visit: https://dragoman.com/overlanding/our-trucks/meet-the-fleet
In addition to the trip price on our overlanding trips, you will also be required to pay a kitty specified for your trip. The kitty is payable in instalments at the start of each section of the trip for combination trips, and in full at the start of the trip for individual trips. Each customer joining a trip pays their kitty into a central fund. The fund is managed by the Dragoman crew and the kitty accounts can be viewed by all throughout the trip. The kitty covers all things that the whole group does, such as:
• Hotel accommodation and campsite fees
• Meals whilst camping (not whilst staying in hotels)
• Activities listed as included (e.g. National Park or historical site entrances, excursions, etc.)
The kitty system is unique to overlanding and allows us to have flexibility and transparency on our trips. You can see exactly how your money is being spent and ensure that you are getting the best value by buying locally. It also helps to keep the costs competitive and save on administration costs so that we can pass the saving on to you. Dragoman makes NO PROFIT on kitties, as they are the group's fund. We constantly update the kitty prices on our website and the kitty advertised in the brochure is an estimate at the time of printing. Prices can go up or down with no notice, and exchange rate fluctuations will affect costs. If there is money left in the kitty at the end of your trip, then this is divided between the group and you receive a refund. Once you book your trip it is very important that you check our website on a regular basis and just before departure for any changes to the kitty amount. Some hotels and hostels increase their rates substantially over Christmas and New Year. Please therefore be aware that the kitty for trips in this period may be substantially higher than for the rest of the year and an additional amount may be required from you.
Paying your kitty
Remember to arrange to bring sufficient cash USD to pay your kitty at the start of the trip, or to arrange for prepayment (if available for your trip). If you choose to prepay your kitty then this must be done via bank transfer 3-4 weeks before the start of your trip. Please note that prepayment is not available for our trips to West Africa, Iran, Tajikistan, and any trip in Africa north of Nairobi. For more details on how to prepay your kitty, please refer to your Kitty Payments sheet which will been sent to you via email or visit this link: https://www.dragoman.com/files/Dragoman_Kitty_Document.pdf
If you are bringing the kitty out in cash, please ensure your USD notes are clean and undamaged and no more than 8 years old. If needed, your tour leader will be able to accept some of the kitty in local currency, and they will let you know the exchange rate locally. In most destinations you can withdraw local currencies from ATM machines, using either a cash passport or a credit/debit card. However, please bear in mind that most cards have a maximum withdrawal amount per day, local ATMs may run out of cash, and your bank could block the card despite you warning them of your travel plans, so it could be impractical to try to get the entire kitty out from an ATM.
Please note that we cannot accept traveller’s cheques on our trips.
Travel insurance is required to protect yourself against the unexpected. We have partnered with nib to offer our customers competitive rates for their travel insurance. You can book comprehensive or budget cover simply by clicking HERE to arrange your policy.
Visa & Passport information
It is the traveller's responsibility to ensure they have a valid passport. The passport must be valid for a minimum of six months from the intended date of your return.
Citizens of the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada and all EU countries will need a visa to enter Ethiopia as a tourist for up to 90 days.
If arriving into Ethiopia at Addis Ababa Bole International Airport, most nationalities can obtain a visa on arrival at the airport. If you are starting your
trip in Gondar, you will be able to obtain your visa in Addis Ababa airport and stamp into Ethiopia before changing planes to fly to Gondar. At the time of
writing (2015), the cost of a 30-day visa is USD50, and a 90-day visa is USD75. You will need two passport photos for the application. Please note that
citizens of many Eastern European countries cannot obtain the visa on arrival, and will need to get it in advance as detailed below.
There is also an option to obtain an e-visa. This visa is valid for 30 days from the date you enter the country. It can only be used to enter at Addis Ababa
and is single entry. This option currently costs 52USD (2018). Be warned that there are currently some fake e-visa websites online that will try to charge
an inflated price, the correct one to use is www.evisa.gov.et.
Please note that visas are not available on arrival at any land borders - if arriving at a land border (e.g. from Sudan or Kenya), then you must obtain
your visa in advance. This must generally be done at the Ethiopian Embassy in your country of residence only (or the closest place which has an embassy).
The Ethiopian Embassies in Cairo and Nairobi no longer issue visas to non-Egyptian or non-Kenyan residents respectively, so you will not be able to obtain
one in either of these places. Please see this website to find your closest embassy or consulate - http://embassy.goabroad.com/embassies-of/ethiopia .
Please also be aware that the visa is valid from the date of issue and not the date of entry into Ethiopia, and it is no longer possible to post-date the
visas, so please give careful consideration to the timing of your application and to which length of visa will be suitable for your stay.
If you are asked to provide an address in Ethiopia on your visa form, please use the address below:
Sarem International Hotel
Belay Zeleke Street
Tel: +251 11 126 2088
Important note: Those on longer Northbound combinations from Cape Town or Victoria Falls (specifically trip codes AGV, EEV, AAO, AGO, and EEW) will be
unable to apply for an Ethiopia visa before travel, as it will expire before you are able to use it.
We have previously advised people to apply for the visa before travelling and ask them to post-date the visa so that it becomes valid when you are due to
arrive in Ethiopia. Unfortunately Ethiopian Immigration Officers have now stopped doing this and are making their visas valid as soon as they are issued;
they remain valid up to a maximum of 90 days during which time you will have had to have entered and exited Ethiopia.
As such, there are now only 2 options for getting this visa successfully in order to continue the combination trip. Both options have been successfully
used in the past by those unable to get their visa post-dated.
Option 1 - obtain a 2nd concurrent passport before travel, send your visa application using this new passport to a specialist visa agency who can keep
hold of it and apply for the visa on your behalf later on while you are already in Southern Africa (travelling using your 1st passport). Then they will be
able to arrange to have it sent out to you in Nairobi (via DHL, FedEx, etc.) for you to pick up. You will likely need a letter from your employer and from
Dragoman to apply for a 2nd passport, but please contact Dragoman for further advice on this if you prefer this option.
Option 2 - continue on the trip as far as Samburu National Park, then temporarily leave the trip - as the truck heads North to Marsabit, you can travel
South back to Nairobi on local transport (which our local Samburu guides can help arrange). From Nairobi you can take a flight to Addis Ababa (where you
can obtain your Ethiopia visa on arrival) and then on to Arba Minch (airport code AMH). From here you can take a short drive in a local taxi or bus to the
town of Konso (this transport can be very easily arranged on arrival) - here you will meet the truck again and re-join the trip. The only section you will
miss by taking this option is the drive from Archer's Post - Marsabit - Moyale - Konso, a section without any real 'highlights'. Please contact Dragoman if
you would like to take this option and would like assistance booking the flights, or if you would like to discuss these options in more depth.
Please note that you cannot obtain your visa here while waiting for a connecting flight, and then later try to use this visa to enter at a land border (for
example - obtain the visa at Addis Ababa airport while waiting for a connecting flight to Nairobi, then later try to cross overland from Kenya to Ethiopia).
This is not accepted - they will check the Place of Issue of the visa and refuse you entry into Ethiopia if you have obtained your visa this way.
A valid yellow fever vaccination certificate is required from travellers coming from areas with risk of yellow fever transmission (including transiting
through an airport in an area of risk).
A valid international certificate of vaccination against Yellow Fever is required in many countries. You may need to present this on arrival at the airport or border crossing. Some countries will refuse entry if you are unable to present your certificate. It's also quite common for your home country to request a Yellow Fever certificate on your arrival back home. It is your responsibility to check with your doctor well in advance of leaving home about the Yellow Fever requirements for the countries you'll be visiting.
Malaria & Other other Mosquito-Borne Diseases
There is a risk of contracting malaria in some areas which we travel through. If your trip goes to a areas with malaria it is always best to get expert advice before travelling about the types of malaria pills available, whether they are recommended, and take any that are prescribed as instructed. Consult your GP or travel clinic for the most up-to-date requirements. Other mosquito-borne diseases such as yellow fever, dengue fever, chikungunya and Zika are continuing to spread and are becoming a bigger problem around the world. Mosquito bite prevention is vital to avoid contracting any of these diseases, as there are no vaccines or specific treatments available. Health professionals have issued warnings for pregnant women travelling to areas affected by the Zika virus. For more information about Zika please visit:
• WHO: www.who.int/en/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/zika-virus
• Center for Disease Control and Prevention: www.cdc.gov/zika
The Anopheles mosquitoes that transmit malaria usually bite between the hours of dusk and dawn, whereas the Aedes mosquitoes that transmit yellow fever, dengue fever, chikungunya and Zika bite both during the day and the night. To prevent being bitten, it is recommended to cover up by wearing long-legged and long-sleeved clothing, preferably light-coloured and buttoned at the wrists. Do not sleep without closing your windows, tent door, etc. and use a mosquito net in hotels or if sleeping outside where there are mosquitoes present. Use mosquito repellent applied directly to your skin or soaked into your clothing. Treating clothes and mosquito nets with a Permetherin solution also provides significant protection. It should be available at most travel stores. Mosquito coils are useful on still nights and in hotel rooms, but cannot be used inside the tents. For more advice on how to avoid bites please see: www.travelhealthpro.org.uk/factsheet/38/insect-and-tick-bite-avoidance
Recommended vaccinations and other health protections vary according to different regions and recent bulletins issued by health authorities. It is essential to get the latest specific health advice on the regions and countries you are planning to travel in, so please check with either your doctor or travel clinic in good time before you travel. The following websites are also a helpful resource: www.nathnac.net and www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk
Contingency Emergency Fund
Sometimes, civil or political unrest, or reasons beyond Dragoman's control (e.g. a natural disaster), can mean that an itinerary is disrupted and we have to make a contingency plan. This may involve hiring alternate transport or even the whole group flying over an area. Although Dragoman will help organise travel arrangements, in circumstances outside Dragoman's control you will be required to contribute the additional costs involved and therefore we ask you to bring the equivalent of USD400 as a contingency fund. In almost all cases trips run smoothly and this fund is therefore never used. We also recommend that you bring an internationally recognised credit or charge card with a decent limit in case of emergencies, such as medical treatment en route, or even the need to be repatriated; though these occurrences are rare. Remember that travel insurance policies in some instances only refund you for expenses after you have already paid out.
A Few Rules
We expect all group members to act respectfully towards our staff and other group members. Bullying will not be tolerated. Engaging in commercial or exploitative sexual activities, committing acts of violence or threatening violence towards local people, other group members or any member of our staff is not allowed. Any customer engaging in such activities will be required to leave the trip immediately with no refund of the trip price. You must at all times comply with the laws, customs, foreign exchange and drug regulations of all countries visited and conduct yourself in accordance with our responsible travel policy. Any customer found contravening such laws or regulations will be required to leave the trip immediately with no refund of the trip price. Although we are aware that in some parts of the world taking, carrying or selling drugs, or carrying weapons may be legal, it is not acceptable for Dragoman customers and our tour leaders have the right to ask you to leave the trip immediately with no refund of the trip price if you are found to be engaging in such activities.
Issues on the trip
While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local partner straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip. We recognise that there may be times when your group leader may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction. If this is the case please contact our customer relations department on email@example.com. You may also choose to provide details in your feedback questionnaire which we ask you to complete at the end of your trip, but we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete
Children must be 18 years old or over and share a room with parents at all times. Children are charged the same price as adults.
Final documentation will be provided approximately 30 days prior to travel.
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