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With a friendly atmosphere, a country brimming with history, fascinating tribes, scenic National Parks, and dramatic landscapes, Ethiopia is a country that is as diverse as you can get on the African continent. The north contains spectacular mountains and highlands, including the breath taking Simien Mountains National Park which contains a bewildering array of wildlife! The east contains vast lowland deserts and depressions, and the south has lush valleys and stunning lakes. Ethiopia is a country full of life and colour, which is expressed through an interesting variety of the music, from the rhythmic folk music of the remote tribal areas to the incredibly cool Ethio Jazz styles of Addis Ababa. Ethiopia’s cuisine is unique, including injera, the sourdough pancakes that are ubiquitous across the nation. A journey into Ethiopia is a journey into some of the most interesting, amazing and varied areas of Africa, and should be high on everyone’s lists!
Day 1: Addis Ababa
Our representative will meet you on your arrival to Bole International Airport then transfer to your hotel. Depends on your arrival time you will go for Addis city tour, Visit “Lucy” one of the oldest complete hominid skeletons ever found at the National Museum.
Stroll through the Addis Ababa Mercato – one of the largest markets in Africa
Visit the St. George’s Cathedral (Giorgis Cathedral), built to commemorate Ethiopia’s victory over the Italians in 1896. Explore the fascinating Ethnological Museum one of the best museums in Africa set in a former palace of Haile Selassie.
Overnight stay at a nearby hotel.
Day 2: Flight Addis – Bahir Dar
Take a morning short flight to Bahir Dar, on arrival to Bahir Dar meet the team and drive to hotel. After check-in to your hotel, we go for a city tour. Bahir Dar is situated on the shore of Lake Tana, the largest lake in the country with 37 islands most of which have monasteries from the 14th – 19th century. Bahir Dar has Mediterranean type weather. Its palm-lined streets make Bahir Dar one of the most attractive cities in Africa. The city is the capital of the regional government for the Amhara people. After lunch we visit the pleasant town and its vibrant market. At the end of the day we enjoy the panoramic view and the sunset from Bezawit Hill.
Overnight Lake Mark Hotel.
Day 3: Bahir dar
After an early breakfast we drive for about one hour to reach the small village of Tissisat. Here we enjoy a lovely walk in the cooler morning hours. We cross the Nile by the 17th century Portuguese Bridge and continue the walk to the famous waterfalls, meeting local people on the way. After admiring the falls, we cross the Nile by small boat to find our car waiting for us. In the afternoon, we take a boat across Lake Tana to the Zege peninsula. On the peninsula, we do a short walk and visit two monasteries from the 14th century – Azwa Mariam and Ura Kidane Mehret. The architectural style of both monasteries is a typical example of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, with its round shape, mud walls, and conical straw roofs. In Zege, we also find a diverse bird species and Columbus Baboons in the forest.
Day 4: The Castles of Gondar
Visit the Castles of Gondar, Bath of the Fasilides and Debre Birhan Selassie Church. Our trip continues to Gondar (185 km) via a magnificent landscape of the Amhara region. The farmlands of the Amhara people are visible on the roadside. We will have a quick stop at Awra Amba community, egalitarian society. Unlike other parts of the country, in this community women have equal rights as men, and there is no distinction in divisions of labor between men and women.
Then continue driving to the city of Gondar, which used to be the seat of many Emperors who ruled Ethiopia in the 17th and 18th century. The town is the gateway to the Simien Mountains and lies at an altitude of 2,200 meters above sea level. After lunch, we will visit the famous castles of the town, where former rulers built numerous palaces for themselves and their families.
We continue our journey to the bath of King Fasilidas, where Timkat festival is annually hosted. This is one of the famous festivals in Ethiopia and held annually to celebrate the baptism of Jesus. We finish the day with a visit to the church of Debre Berhan Selassie, which is famous for its beautiful ceiling paintings. The motif of the angelic face became a symbol of the Ethiopian art.
Overnight at a nearby hotel.
Day 5: Drive to Simien Mountains
Morning Drive to Simien Mountains National Park (135 km) that were designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1969. The UNESCO described the mountains as “one of the world’s most spectacular landscapes on the Ethiopian plateau.” The park is full of breathtaking landscapes and abundant flora and fauna. Over 10,000 of the rare & endemic Gelada baboons live in the park and can be observed at a close distance.
We will have an easy hike (approx. 3 h) from Sankaber (3.260 m) to Geech. We pass picturesque scenery, as well as Ethiopia’s highest waterfall Jinbar, also called “gateway to hell.” then we drive back to lodge for overnight.
Overnight at a nearby lodge.
Day 6: Simien Mountains National Park
In the morning, we will return to Simien Mountains National Park. The jagged mountains and deep valleys lend spectacular views to these mountains, Continue our drive to Chenek camp, the home for the Walia Ibex and the Ethiopian Wolf. The afternoon will be available for hikes in the surrounding area. In the late afternoon/early evening we will drive back to the lodge for overnight.
Overnight stay at nearby Lodge.
Day 7: Drive to Axum
We drive almost 260 km to Axum. The drive takes us through the spectacular landscapes adjacent to the Simien Mountains. Axum is the oldest political capital of ancient Ethiopia. The town used to be a major trade center for caravan traders along the red sea.
Overnight at Yared Zema International Hotel.
Day 8: Axum – The Begining of Ethiopian Civilization
Today we visit Axum, a small ancient town in the northern Ethiopia which lies at about 2,100 meters above sea level. The history of Axum goes back to 3,000 years when the Axumite civilization flourished and was one of the four greatest powers of the ancient world in its heights.
Axsum is also one of the sacred places in Ethiopia. According to the Ethiopian Orthodox church, Axum’s church of Mary of Zion hosts the original Ark of the Covenant with the tablets of the Ten Commandments.We visit the gigantic stelae and obelisks of Axumite time, ancient king’s palaces, the Mary of Zion church and the palace of the legendary Queen of Saba.
Overnight at a nearby Hotel.
Day 9: Drive to Gheralta Mountains – Hawzen
Drive to the rock-hewn churches of Gheralta (190 km). We will have a quick stop at the Adwa Mountains, the greatest battlefield of the victorious Ethiopians against Italy in 1896. The attempts of the Italians to colonize Ethiopia was unsuccessful, and Ethiopia remained an independent nation.The next notable stop is to the see the ruins of Yeha, a small town with a 12-meter-high ruined temple. The temple is more than 2,500 years old built in Sabaean architectural style. We continue driving through the semi-desert Tigray region with the different yet extraordinary scenery. We will arrive at Hawzen in late afternoon.
Overnight at a nearby lodge
Day 10: Hiking Gheralta Mountains
Today we will hike to Gheralta Mountains. Our first hike is to the top of one of the mountains which takes almost two hours. The hike goes through some steep and narrow passages. On the top of the mountain, we will have a fantastic view of the dry land of Tigray region. Besides the view, there are two 14th century old rock-hewn churches called Maryam Korkor and Daniel Korkor. We then hike down for lunch before the next hike.
After lunch, we hike to Abune Yemata Gughe. To enjoy a breathtaking view, we have to hike for another two hours. This part of the hiking needs a bit of physical fitness as it includes climbing about a 10 meters high and steep rock. Local farmers will also help you climb by providing ropes. At the top, you will be rewarded with one of the best views of Gheralta Mountains and nearby regions.
Overnight at a nearby lodge.
Day 11: Gheralta to Ahmed Ela (Danakil Depression)
With an early start, drive to Ahmed Ela visiting the people of Tigre and the nomadic people of Afar. At Ahmed Ela visit the deep water wells used by the nomadic people of Afar, and the interesting Camel Caravans, which transport bars of salt to the Tigray Highlands.
Day 12: Danakil to Gheralta Lodge
After an early morning breakfast, we will drive ahead to Dallol and visit the difference landscape formed by volcanic activity, Dallol + Lake Assal. Excursion to Dallol (116 meters below sea level, one of the lowest places in the world) colorful salts mining, visit Lake Assal and walk with the Afar people. Drive back to Hamedela and proceed to Gheralta.
Day 13: Gheralta to Lalibela
After breakfast, drive to Lalibela, passing through the dramatic landscapes of the Ethiopian Highlands. The highlight of the day will be the ascent from Weldyia to Mount Abuna Yosef, a prominent mountain in the Ethiopian Highlands.
Lalibela is the most famous of all of the Ethiopian historical sites. This rural area world renowned for its churches carved from within the Earth from living rock (aka ‘Rock-Hewn’), earning its nick-name as “New Jerusalem”. These towering edifices seem to be superhuman in scale, workmanship, and concept.
Overnight at a nearby hotel.
Day 14: Churches of Lalibela
After breakfast, we will explore a few the churches of Lalibela in each of the 4 groups (north, south, east, west) Finally, visit the most famous of all the churches Bet Giyorgis, a huge monolith in the shape of a cross, and constructed in honor of St. George, the patron saint of Ethiopia.
Overnight will be at a nearby Hotel.
Day 15: Lalibela
After breakfast, drive to Yemrehana Krestos Church, which predates the rock-hewn churches outlined above. This is one of the most beautiful built-up cave church, built from marvel, wood and beautifully decorated from inside and outside with untold skill of architecture. In the back side of the cave, you will also see many mummified bodies of pilgrims from centuries ago. In the afternoon, visit the southeastern cluster of churches.
Overnight will be a nearby hotel.
Day 16: Flight Lalibela – Dire Dawa
After breakfast, we will take a flight to Dire Dawa and on arrival you will be picked up by our driver and drive to Harar and check into your hotel.
Later, we will stroll through the 16th century walled city of Harar, the fourth most important city in the Islamic World.
Overnight at a nearby hotel.
Day 17: Harar
After breakfast, we will visit the colorful Islamic market, tour the National and Harari museums and the house of Ras Mekonnen, sculpted in 1959 and destroyed in 2020 (father of Haile Selassie.) A long-standing tradition of feeding meat to hyenas. In the evening see the “Hyena Man” feeding the hyenas that gather nightly.
Overnight at a nearby hotel.
Day 18: Harar – Addis Ababa
Drive from Harar to Dire Dawa with optional stop at Ethiopia’s largest “chat” market in Aweday, open 24/7, catering not only to the domestic market but also Somalia, Yemen, Saudi Arabia to name a few. From Dire Dawa we will fly to Addis Ababa.
We conclude our Ethiopia trip with dinner, music and dancing at a traditional Ethiopian restaurant. then Transfer to airport for late night departure.