Luxury Travel Ethiopia: What is it & how is it evolving?

A picture of the Sheraton Hotel, luxury travel in Ethiopia

10 Nov Luxury Travel Ethiopia: What is it & how is it evolving?

As global wealth expands, the luxury travel industry continues to grow. But it is becoming increasingly harder to define. Because as a new generation of well educated, savvy travelers seek out luxury travel, it has evolved into a different definition of luxury. 

The new definition of luxury travel is no longer confined just to 6-star hotels and existing spas. Instead, it is beginning to embrace new elements such as adventure, experience, and authenticity.

Behind the Evolution of Luxury Travel 

Luxury travel, as we know it today, started in the early 1960s. In fact, four of today’s largest luxury travel companies started between 1962-1979. But they didn’t start out trying to be luxury. Instead, as commercial aviation became popular in the 1950s, these companies simply tried to offer the highest quality standards at the time. 

History of Luxury Travel in Africa

The world has always been intoxicated by Africa. As Rudyard Kipling said, “One cannot resist the lure of Africa.” Travelers, especially hunters, were drawn to East African countries where some of the best wildlife exists still to this day. Even the great writer, Ernest Hemingway, couldn’t resist. He set off in the summer of 1933 for his iconic, three-month safari through Congo, Rwanda, and Kenya. 

Other tourists began visiting places like Kruger National Park in South Africa. However, it wasn’t until 5 decades later when private reserves in the 1970s began offering high-end accommodation with the big-game experience. 

Eventually, luxury travel spread to other safari destinations as well. Soon after, luxurious accommodations began popping up in other locations on the continent. Instead of being limited to only game parks, luxury travel in Africa is now possible on beautiful beaches, waterfalls, UNESCO sites, and other photo-worthy destinations. 

FRANCK CHARTON

The rock-hewn churches of Lalibela in northern Ethiopia are a protected UNESCO site. Photo Credit: Franck Charton

Luxury Travel Ethiopia 

Just like luxury travel was confined to Europe and other elite locations, luxury travel that did expand into Africa never included Ethiopia. 

Ethiopia was shut out of the luxury travel industry, and often still is. The country which is still known too much for its famine in the 1980s and perceived lack of wildlife has never conjured up a luxury travel image. That is until now. 

What’s been considered the “hidden gem” of Africa, Ethiopia is perhaps one of the most remarkable countries on the continent. 

As the only country in Africa never to be colonized, it’s always held onto its unique diversity and culture. It’s by far one of the most ancient countries, with civilization dating back long before King Solomon. It has more UNESCO heritage sites than any other country in Africa. And it surprisingly has incredible wildlife that most don’t even know exists.

Disruption in Luxury Travel

As global wealth expands and new generations with different values come forth, luxury travel is getting a facelift. The hospitality industry has been forced to redefine what luxury is and its role as a service. 

Unintentionally, what new high-end travelers seek is more readily found in African destinations than anywhere else on the globe. More so, luxury travel in Ethiopia, in particular, is a seamless match. It’s unspoiled.  It’s a melting pot of adventure and luxury that is simply extraordinary.

luxury travel ethiopia mariam korkor church howzein

Luxury Travel Ethiopia Includes…

1) Culture

In a recent study, “27% of US international travelers said they view themselves as “sophisticated explorers” whose primary travel motivation is the desire to explore new cultures and traditions while on vacation.” 

These travelers want to learn new things and have unique experiences while abroad. They value cultural heritage, performance arts, storytelling, and luxury products that showcase unique traditions and techniques.

As a luxury tour company in Ethiopia, Kibran Tours is able to provide just that for travelers. Partly because Ethiopia is such an ancient country. So much so, that it’s considered the cradle of humanity with the oldest human fossils in the world found in Hadar, Ethiopia. 

Performance arts come to life easily in Ethiopia with over 80 diverse ethnic groups–each with their own culture, singing, and lively dances.

2) Food

All travelers need to eat. But luxury travelers seek out culinary experience as a hallmark of their vacation. That can include taking local cooking classes or using it as a theme for the trip (such as an Ethiopian coffee tour).  Local sourcing and sustainability issues also increase the allure of the destination’s food. 

Travelers report willing to pay more for the top-level cuisine but have high expectations of the quality and authenticity of the food. 

At Kibran Tours, we specialize in providing the best cuisine Ethiopia has to offer. This means serving both local food and international dishes with an authentic twist. 

Ethiopian food is consistently considered the best food in Africa. Unique only to the country, the staple food is, “injera,” which is a fermented flatbread made from teff. Teff, the tiniest grain in the world is considered a gluten-free, superfood boasting high amounts of iron, calcium, and amino acids.

What’s unique about Ethiopian cuisine is that it caters perfectly to meat-eaters and vegans/vegetarians. For meat-eaters, there is perfectly grilled beef and lamb, as well as a famous chicken dish called, “Doro Wat.” For those abstaining from animal products, there are dozens of hearty, staple dishes containing beans, lentils, and vegetables. 

Ethiopia, as the diplomatic capital of Africa, also has several high-end restaurants featuring dishes from around the world. Some of the favorites are spins on traditional dishes like pasta or pizza made with teff flour. It gives the taste you already love with a healthy dose of this Ethiopian super grain power. 

luxury travel ethiopia

Ethiopian food is one of the most fast-growing cuisines in the world. Photo Credit: Lucy Restaurant Addis Ababa

3) Custom Tours

Perhaps the biggest factor is customization. Luxury travelers want to orchestrate their own experience. The more choices they can make, the greater the satisfaction they report. This is disrupting the cookie-cutter itineraries of packaged tours and cruises. 

It’s paving the way for organizations like Kibran Tours who make sure each trip is a reflection of the traveler. Hand-picked, curated trips provide travel connoisseurs a front-row experience of this fascinating country that won’t disappoint.

Luxury Travel in Ethiopia— the other standards?

This isn’t to say that luxury travel no longer includes the finer things. It certainly still does. However, as George Morgan-Grenville, CEO of Red Savannah states, “There’s no denying that comfort factors still apply and high standards of accommodation and dining will always feature on the luxury traveler’s wish list. However, today’s luxury traveler seeks more depth of understanding and immersion into the local culture than ever before. ” 

Essentially, luxury travel appreciates the finer things in life while enjoying the hidden gems of Ethiopia’s local culture.  It builds an experience around your personal preferences that enriches your life, creating joy and education, and feeling the wonder and awe you experienced as a child when the world was new. All with a built-in social and environmental responsibility. 

luxury travel ethiopia

Luxury Travel in Ethiopia: Kibran Tours

Nyssa P. Chopra once said, “Luxury travel may be glamorous, but not always meaningful. Local culture may not always be glamorous, but it’s always meaningful.”

No one knows more than Kibran Tours that there is indeed another way. Our unparalleled experience in Ethiopia and luxury travel has allowed us to marry the two in such a way to create the high-end, deluxe experience with the immersion, education, and unique cultural insights discerning travelers crave.

The Future:

The future of luxury travel in Ethiopia will continue to evolve. But unarguably, it will continue to grow despite previously being under the radar. Start planning your unforgettable Ethiopian dream trip today. 

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