Skim the clouds in a chopper then swoop into some of the most remote landscapes on earth in the north of Ethiopia. Each day you’ll witness panoramic views from the cabin of your private helicopter as it takes you to places only a handful of people have ever stood. Touch down in the Simien Mountains as first light illuminates its pinnacles and plateaus. Here, bearded vultures plunge from cliffs, scavenging for carcasses in the deep valleys below. Bleeding-heart baboons, found only in Ethiopia, journey in harems of 800, and rare Ethiopian wolves and walia ibex roam the World Heritage-listed national park.
This is a land steeped in history, with all the traditions you'd expect from one of the world’s oldest Christian nations. You’ll visit churches hidden in caves and hewn from rock almost 1,000 years ago.
And if hell were a tangible place it would take the form of the otherworldly Danakil Depression, where temperatures throttle the thermometer, making it the hottest place on the planet. Magma from the Erta Ale volcano spits and hisses from the ground and acid lakes sit in lurid ponds.
In the afternoon, you’ll soak out the heat in freshwater pools and return at night to lodges that nod to the traditions of the region, with the addition of modern amenities and luxurious trimmings. It’s an experience unlike any other – after all, more people have visited the moon than set foot in some of the locations you’ll explore.
- Feeling like a bearded vulture as you soar above the diverse landscape of Ethiopia
- Having up-close encounters with rare animals
- Learning about the rich culture and history of the nation
- The views from the helicopter are incredible, but the immense heights could be a little intimidating for some
- The price tag; personalised helicopter tours definitely don’t come cheap!
The 10-day helicopter tour with Journeys by Design through the highlands of Ethiopia costs US$39,560 a person, based on four people sharing the helicopter.