Beaches to Mountains in the Heart of Africa 

 October 4-14, 2020

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Malawi and EthiopiaCome discover the wonders of 2 extraordinary countries which are 180 degrees from anything you have ever experienced! Each present fascinating cultures and unique wildlife and are steeped in a rich history. Both are well off the tourist trodden path and are the perfect destination for our AFS culture vultures and seasoned travelers who crave exotic places that are nothing like home. Lilongwe, Lake Malawi, Addis, Lalibela will flood your wanderlust.   

 Tiny Malawi, meaning “Fire Flames” gets its name from the fiery Sunrises over the crystal-blue lake that takes much of its territory. The welcoming grace of the friendly Malawian’s is legendary. This hidden gem smack in the middle of Africa is carpeted with scenic beauty and forested mountains. Madonna made it cool but it’s so popular today that Africans flock here for their holidays!

 We start in the capital of Lilongwe to get a taste of the rich culture before visiting the Lilongwe Wildlife Centre, an animal Great Rift Valleysanctuary dedicated to rehabilitating lions, elephants, monkeys and more.  The crown jewel is sparkling Lake Malawi. The ninth-largest lake in the world, it is itself a World Heritage site, forming part of the Great Rift Valley. Explorer Dr. David Livingstone called it “Lake of Stars.” Lie on the golden sand beaches and gaze out at what is essentially an inland sea. The clear, freshwater is perfect for diving, snorkeling, kayaking, beach BBQs and simply you-name-it watersports as well as village visits.  We’ll have 3 glorious days in our beautiful beach resort on the lakeshore where the Bantu people helped form the Maravi Kingdom 600 years ago. relatively undiscovered by tourists, we’ll soak up the unique culture before the masses begin to discover it. 

 Then fly to the ancient kingdom of Ethiopia where many believe the Garden of Eden was located.In the lush capital Addis Ababa, we explore museums and Africa’s greatest market. Indulge in traditional cuisines with fresh injera as your eating utensils. Traveling into indescribable Lalibela is like stepping into a Bible story. Deemed the “New Jerusalem” when King Lalibela decided to recreate Jerusalem in the 12thcentury. he carved church after church from volcanic rock, and he didn’t stop at one – today 11 remain waiting to be explored. The entire town is a UNESCO site for its remarkable historic marks of old empires. We will walk among rock-cut churches locals believe were carved by angels (Others believe they were carved by the Knights Templar Christian Crusaders) A highlight is our AFS Donkey Trek for an adventurous ride into the mountains. Then hike up to a Maryam monastery for spectacular views. Ride back down and visit a family for iconic Ethiopian coffee. Evenings are magical as we sit on ancient rocks under the stars to watch white-robed pilgrims gathering to sing and pray – totally surreal.

 It’s challenging to fly here on your own, but we make it so easy with the best land and air arrangements – and so much fun with your fellow AFSers who crave this kind of adventure. Our past group loved this because it opens doors to a world of culture and beauty that is virtually unspoiled.  Exotic, untapped, it’s an astonishing journey for your bragging rights.  Channel your inner explorer to join us to farther horizons on a vacation that will lend you endless stories to tell for years to come!

Malawi and Ethiopia

BOOK NOW  or call 770-432-8225 If trip full then WAITLIST  

Welcome to Malawi!

Malawi is beating faster now and the legendary welcome is there for all who wish to experience the unrivaled combination of Lake, Landscape, Wildlife & Culture in one of Africa’s most beautiful and compact countries.

Described as the ‘Warm Heart Of Africa’, this relatively little known gem of this diverse continent has so much to offer; wildlife, culture, adventure, scenery, and of course the third largest lake in Africa. A year-round destination, some even go as far to describe Malawi as the most attractive country in sub-Saharan Africa!

This may seem to be an extravagant claim for such a relatively small country but the truth lies in the unique combination of attractions that Malawi has to offer. Where else will you find such a genuinely warm welcome in a country at peace with itself? Where else can you experience such a diverse scenic kaleidoscope in such a small area? Here you have central Africa’s highest mountain, vast high plateaux with seemingly limitless views, forests and unspoiled game parks and, the jewel in the crown, Africa’s third-largest and most beautiful lake – truly an inland sea.

Lake Malawi

Lake Malawi is the jewel in the crown of the country’s tourist attractions. This is the ‘inland sea’ of the otherwise land-locked Malawi. This vast body of crystal clear freshwater fringed by beaches of golden sand is not only a scenic wonderland but it provides water sport opportunities for those looking for something beyond sun, sand and swimming. As one of the first Europeans to set eyes on the Lake Malawi over 150 years ago, the missionary-explorer Dr. David Livingstone christened it the ‘Lake of Stars’.

Lake Malawi sunsetIts approximate dimensions are 365 miles north to south and 52 miles broad, hence another nickname: ‘Calendar Lake”. In the north, Lake Malawi is quite extraordinarily deep: 2300 ft/700 m, plunging well below sea level. This reflects the enormity of the natural faulting of the Great Rift Valley, which is the origin of the Lake. The width of the lake’s shorelands varies from nothing to over 25 kilometers (16 miles), the edge of the Rift Valley rising steeply in places and more gently in others.

Because of its rich fish harvest, the Lake plays an important part in the economy. Fishing villages are scattered along the shore and the traditional industry and practices are an attraction to visitors. Access to the Lake is possible along much of its length but it is often necessary to take a short detour off the main roads in order to reach the beaches. Despite the villages, there are still very long stretches of totally uninhabited golden sand lakeshore, lapped by crystal clear waters.

Lake Malawi is a wonderland that offers all types of water sports and activities expected of any tropical beach destination. There are boats and boards of all types available to have fun with and to explore the waters, islands and beaches of the lake.

When it comes to small boats, the Lake is best known for its kayaking & sailing options with kayaks & canoes available at most beach lodges and even the option to take on longer expeditions along the lakeshore. A few lodges have small sailing boats for personal use or larger ones for a leisurely cruise. The crystal clear water of Lake Malawi make it an ideal location for snorkeling, and donning a mask will give immediate access to the colorful kaleidoscope of tropical fish that live in the Lake and feed from the rocks along the shore.

Lonely Planet says…

 Welcome to Ethiopia

Ethiopia is like nowhere else on the planet, a beautiful country blessed with a peerless history, fabulous wildlife and some of Africa’s most soulful peoples.

 Nature’s Bounty

Ethiopia is one of Africa’s most beautiful countries and its landscapes are epic in both scale and beauty. Here is a place where you can trek more than 3000m above sea level (the Simien and Bale mountains) or visit the lowest place on the African continent, the Danakil Depression. In between, there are lush highlands and stirring deserts, vertiginous canyons and sweeping savannah, vast lakes and high plateaus. If you look hard enough, you’ll also find landmarks of great significance, from the source of the Blue Nile to the mesmerizingly desolate Danakil Depression, peppered with an astonishing 25% of Africa’s active volcanoes.

 Historical Wonders

Ethiopia, the only African country to have escaped European colonialism, has retained much of its cultural identity and its story is one of Africa’s most fascinating. It all begins with Lucy, one of our most celebrated ancient ancestors, moves effortlessly into the realm of ancient Aksum with its obelisks and echoes of the Queen of Sheba, and then takes on power and passion as Christianity, with mysterious echoes of Ancient Israel, takes center stage. And unlike so many other places in Africa, the ancients here left behind some extraordinary monuments to faith and power which serve as focal points for so many wonderful journeys.

Peoples with Proud Traditions

When it comes to human cultures, Ethiopia has an embarrassment of riches. There are the Surmi, Afar, Mursi, Karo, Hamer, Nuer and Anuak, whose ancient customs and traditions have remained almost entirely intact. Venturing into these communities and staying among them is akin to receiving a privileged initiation into a forgotten world. A highlight of any trip here is witnessing one of the many festivals that are an integral part of the traditional culture, from age-old ceremonies marking rites of passage to Christian celebrations of singular passion, the impact upon those who witness such events can provide travel memories to last a lifetime.

Welcome to Lalibela

Lalibela (ላሊበላ) is history and mystery frozen in stone, its soul alive with the rites and awe of Christianity at its most ancient and unbending. No matter what you’ve heard about Lalibela, no matter how many pictures you’ve seen of its breathtaking rock-hewn churches, nothing can prepare you for the reality of seeing it for yourself. It’s not only a World Heritage site, but truly a world wonder. Spending a night vigil here during one of the big religious festivals, when white-robed pilgrims in their hundreds crowd the courtyards of the churches, is to witness Christianity in its most raw and powerful form.

 Welcome to Malawi

Apart from the legendary Malawian friendliness, what captures you first about this vivid country is its geographical diversity. Slicing through the landscape in a trough formed by the Great Rift Valley is Africa’s third-largest lake: Lake Malawi, a shimmering mass of clear water, its depths swarming with colourful cichlid fish. Whether for diving, snorkelling, kayaking or chilling out on beaches and desert islands, a visit to the lake is a must.

Suspended in the clouds in Malawi’s deep south are the dramatic peaks of Mt Mulanje and the mysterious Zomba Plateau, both a hiker’s dream, with mist-cowled forests and exotic wildlife. Further north is the otherworldly beauty of the Nyika Plateau, its rolling grasslands resembling the Scottish Highlands.

BOOK NOW  or call 770-432-8225 If trip full then WAITLIST

Our Glorious AFS Itinerary

BOOK NOW  or call 770-432-8225 If trip full then WAITLIST

Download printable PDF itinerary

Day 1 Oct 04 Depart  from the U.S.

All details to com in AFS Trip Tips with excellent group air on fabulous Ethiopian Airlines or you can arrange to Malawi.

Day 2 Oct 05   Welcome to Lilongwe, Malawi                                      D

 The tour officially starts today in Lilongwe at the airport around 1pm. Our local guide will meet us and take us to the Sunbird Capital Hotel, nestled in a park at the heart of the city. This 4-star hotel is convenient to everything.

We’ll quickly drop our bags and head out for a city tour. We’ll visit Parliament as well as the Kamuzu Banda Mausoleum, which honors Malawi’s first president after the nation gained independence from Britain. There’s time to do a little shopping for local crafts as we tour the marketplace and then we make our way to the World War I and II Memorial. We may have the opportunity to climb the tower at its center to have a breathtaking view of the city.  Enjoy our AFS Welcome Dinner tonight to get to know your fellow explorers.

Overnight: Sunbird Capital, Lilongwe (1 night)

Day 3 Oct 06 Lilongwe Wildlife Center to Lake Malawi         BD

 After breakfast buffet, start our day with a visit to theaward-winning Lilongwe Wildlife Centre. Set on almost 445 acres of beautiful, lush woodland, the center is both a sanctuary and rehabilitation facility for lions, monkeys, antelope, elephants and more. It not only offers a haven for the injured, its objective is to help return some of the animals to the wild.

We then travel about 2 hours to stunning Lake Malawi and the remarkable Sunbird Livingsstonia beach resort. Unpack for three amazing days on the sparkling shores of this massive lake from which the country gets its name. The Livingstonia is located on its own private beach and is the perfect place to either relax or take part in an almost unimaginable array of water sports. Choose from kayaking to water skiing to diving. The lush green mountains form the perfect backdrop to a day of snorkeling and swimming in the crystal-clear waters of the lake. We encourage you to sign up at the hotel beach activity desk for individual excursions to Lizard Island, Heaven Island or Cape Maclear.

Our official Welcome Dinner is this evening in the resorts 5-star restaurant.

Overnight: Sunbird Livingstonia Beach (3 nights)

Day 4 Oct 07    Lake Malawi Free Day for Culture           BD

 While this is a free day, we plan to arrange a visit to the Lifuwu community, which we encourage you to be a part of. This fishing community on the lakeshore gives you an insight as to how the people of Malawi have lived for centuries. Youwill be taken into the heart of a local community village to meet the village leaders and learn about daily life in a Malawi village. You also have a chance of buying interesting curios. Serious bargaining is encouraged! From the handicraft stalls, move on to Malawi’s unique tropical fish farm. The farm processes and exports fish to USA, Europe and within Africa. It is renowned for its export of the many different species of Malawi’s endemic and colorful cichlids, the envy of aquarists worldwide. This region is the AIDS orphan capital of the world and in fact, Madonna adopted five of her children from this area. We will visit a school and help bring joy to some of the children here.

Dinner is at the Sunbird this evening.

Overnight: Sunbird Livingstonia Beach

Day 5 Oct 08     FREE DAY FOR LAKE ACTIVITIES                               BD

One of the deepest lakes on the planet, Lake Malawi is the country’s top attraction. This glittering blue jewel stretches along the length of the country, with clear waters and sandy beaches and hundreds of species of colorful cichlid fish – more than in any other lake in the world. There are lots of ways to explore the lake: swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, yachting, kayaking, parasailing, jet ski etc.  are on offer. For the land lovers, explore the gardens or go horseback riding.  Boat tours can be booked onsite to amazing outer islands, craft museum, croc farm with 500 crocs,

Overnight: Sunbird Livingstonia Beach

Day 6 Oct 09 –  Addis Ababa – Welcome  to Ethiopia              BD

This morning we may our way back to Lilongwe to head to exotic Ethiopia! We fly from Lilongwe to Addis Ababa on Ethiopian Airways, arriving in the early evening. We head immediately to Jupiter International Hotel, one of the finest in Addis.

The name of the city, in Amharic, means “new flower” and its wide avenues are lined with jacaranda trees. Founded in 1886 by King Menelik II, at an altitude of a mile and a half above sea level with an excellent climate all year round.  Your evening is free to take advantage of the beautiful property and its gardens. Dinner is included at the hotel.

Overnight: Jupiter International Hotel  (1 night)


Day 7 Oct 10   Lalibela                                       BLD

After breakfast, we catch a flight to the “New Jerusalem” – Lalibella.  Listed among the ‘Eight wonders of the world’, the region’s rock-hewn churches must be seen to be believed. Literally carved into the side of the rocky terrain, the towering edifices will leave you in awe of what appears to have been superhuman abilities needed to create them   At the end of the 12th and beginning of the 13th centuries King Lalibela built a series of these churches with – as he claimed – the assistance of angels.

In total, there are now 11 cave churches, some of which date back to the 13th-century, and the most famous and iconic church being St. Georges, carved in the shape of a cross, two stories down into the rock. It is said the clusters represent earthly and heavenly Jerusalem respectively.

Our hotel the Mountainview has views of the churches and in the evening, we can see pilgrims, dressed in white making their way to the churches to worship.  (All meal included.)

Overnight: Mountain View Hotel (2 nights)


Day 8 Oct 11 –  Donkey Trek to Asheton Maryam Monastery              BD

Today, we go take a half day donkey trek high into the hills to the Asheton Maryam Monastery on Mount Abuna Yosef. Located at an altitude of almost two and a half miles above sea level, our sturdy little steeds will aid us in the trek. The view from the top is breathtaking and gives us a panoramic view of Lalibela and the surrounding region. The semi-monolithic church was carved out of a vertical cliff face and the surface quality of the rock is much rougher than in most other churches of Lalibela.

Overnight: Mountain View Hotel

 Day 9 Oct 12  – Addis Ababa City & Market Tour               BLD

After breakfast, we fly back to Addis Ababa where we will have a half day tour of the city. We start on Mount Entolo, high above Addis for an incredible panorama of this lush city.

Then continue with a visit to the ethnological museum located in what was once the palace of Ethiopia’s last emperor, Haile Selassie. Even for the museum, jaded, this is worth the stop for its journey through Ethiopian history. Also, we’ll visit the Holy Trinity Cathedral church: the official seat of the Orthodox Archdiocese of Addis Ababa. Our last stop is a shopper paradise – the Mercado – Africa’s largest open market – Merkato. Here you will find anything imaginable from food stalls, to everyday goods to amazing arts and crafts. And don’t forget to bargain!

Dinner at the hotel.

Overnight: Jupiter International Hotel (1 night)

Day 10 Oct 13  Markets and Departure                  BD

After breakfast, we visit the National Museum, known to be the best museum in Africa. Ethiopia is called “cradle of humanity” because of the first fossils of the human race found here.  It houses incredible cultural and archaeological relics, including a plaster cast of “Lucy,” the 3.2 million-year-old Hominid. We will also stop by at Shero Meda Market to see Ethiopian traditional clothes. There is a wide variety of beautiful fabrics, shawls, scarves, dresses, tops and jewellery with lots of choice and good gift ideas.

In the evening, enjoy a farewell traditional dinner where you will experience live cultural music and dance. After dinner we head back to the airport for an overnight flight back home.

Arrive home Oct 14 in the AM.

BOOK NOW  or call 770-432-8225 If trip full then WAITLIST

Land Price $2495 pp twin share

Deposit $500

Based upon 28 participants

Includes: AFS GTL,  all meals and tours listed, entrance fees, transportation, first class accommodations, guide

Not included:  Gratuities, visas

Group Air:  We will present a group air option 10 months prior in the tab labeled Trip Tips.

  •  All prices are per person twin share.  Single rooms limited per group and a single supplement applies.  Cost set by hotel/cruiseline and vary considerably.  AFS will find you a roommate match. All hotel rooms are “run of house.”  
  • Please review AFS Terms and Conditions as well as Heading Abroad with AFS.  
  • Land – Price based on a minimum number of trip participants, as well as local currency exchange rates which can fluctuate.
  • We write our itineraries over a year in advance. Though unlikely, we always reserve the right to modify schedules, tours and hotels if necessary. 
  • Group air – Airlines may add surcharges to offset fuel inflation or taxes. The total ticket cost is not final until we receive your final payment and the group is ticketed. If doing own air, airport transfer may or may not be included depending on your air schedule. Do not buy air until the group air is set or we advise – though unlikely, airlines, times and dates can change!

Sunbird Capital, Lilongwe

Sunbird Capital, Lilongwe

Sunbird Livingstonia Beach

Sunbird Capital, Lilongwe

Mountain View Hotel

Mountain View Hotel

  •  All prices are per person twin share.  Single rooms limited per group and a single supplement applies.  Cost set by hotel/cruiseline and vary considerably.  AFS will find you a roommate match. All hotel rooms are “run of house.”  
  • Please review AFS Terms and Conditions as well as Heading Abroad with AFS.  
  • Land – Price based on a minimum number of trip participants, as well as local currency exchange rates which can fluctuate.
  • We write our itineraries over a year in advance. Though unlikely, we always reserve the right to modify schedules, tours and hotels if necessary. 
  • Group air – Airlines may add surcharges to offset fuel inflation or taxes. The total ticket cost is not final until we receive your final payment and the group is ticketed. If doing own air, airport transfer may or may not be included depending on your air schedule. Do not buy air until the group air is set or we advise – though unlikely, airlines, times and dates can change!

Check back later

The Malawi Department of Immigration and Citizenship Services has announced the launch of an online E-visa service for visitors to Malawi effective 1st November, 2019, in an effort to streamline their services and make it easier and more efficient to travel to Malawi!

As a fast emerging complete destination with huge conservation success, stunning beaches and friendly culture we have some of the best experiences in the whole of Africa! Hopefully this new system will continue to grow Malawi’s tourism.

Through the online visa service, applicants will be able to register and login on the e-visa platform, fill and submit and applications, upload supporting documents and pay the visa fees in advance in line with new payment arrangements.

Once the application is approved, a notification is sent by email. Similarly on the login page, an approval document authorising entry into Malawi can be downloaded to facilitate the applicant’s travel arrangements and endorsement of a visa at the port of entry by an Immigration Officer.

To apply for a e-visa, register and login to the Immigration website: or

Majestic Malawi & Enchanting Ethiopia