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Itinerary: Historic Ethiopia

Historic Ethiopia

Delve into a largely unknown side of African history on an incredible journey visiting rock cut churches, medieval monasteries and stunning mountain scenery.

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Historic Ethiopia

Ethiopia has to be one of the most exciting countries in Africa, a nation that is overflowing with history and culture yet quietly keeps its charms to itself, devoid of the visitors one might expect. This tour explores Ethiopia’s historic northern region, a land of ancient monasteries and castles where tradition rules. Starting off in Addis Ababa, we explore its many sites before flying to one of the jewels of the country – enchanting Lalibela with its amazing 11th century rock cut churches. We spend time exploring both the main churches and lesser known ones before driving to the region of Tigray – similar to Petra with churches hewn out of the surrounding landscape, but many feel far more spectacular, with many churches built halfway up almost inaccessible cliff faces. We spend time learning about the history of the ancient Axumite Empire at Axum then travel to ‘Africa’s Camelot’ – the wonderful castles and palaces of Gondar. Ethiopia’s natural beauty reveals itself in the Simien Mountains, where we walk amidst some of Africa’s most captivating scenery, looking for endemic gelada baboons. And to round off our exploration we visit the isolated island monasteries on Lake Tana, home to treasured religious artefacts and strong monastic traditions. This two week tour gives a fantastic insight into the cultural heritage of this spectacular nation.

Day 1 – Addis Ababa
Arrive in Addis Ababa and transfer to hotel. The rest of the day is free to relax. Overnight Ghion Hotel or similar. (D)

Day 2 – Lalibela
Fly to Lalibela with its wonderful rock cut churches, known in some circles as the 8th wonder of the world. In the afternoon we visit some of these intriguing monuments to discover more about Ethiopia’s enigmatic past. Overnight in Roha Hotel or similar. (BD)

Day 3 – Lalibela
Morning excursion by mules to the Asheten Mariam Church, known for its wonderful views. Alternatively a visit will be arranged by car to the cave church of Naktuleab. Afternoon visit to the remaining churches in Lalibela. Overnight in Roha Hotel or similar. (BD)

Day 4 - Mekelle
After an early breakfast start the journey to the town of Mekelle. From the 8th to the 15th centuries, in this region hundreds of rock-hewn churches were carved and constructed out of one rock. Many of the churches are carved directly into the cliff walls of the ‘Ambas’ - typical Ethiopian mountains with flat tops and almost vertical sides. Along the way, we visit some of the churches. Overnight Axum Hotel or similar. (BD)

Day 5 – Tigray churches
Continue our exploration of the marvellous churches that dot this remote and inspiring landscape. Overnight Axum Hotel or similar. (BD)

Day 6 – Axum
Today we drive to Axum through some spectacular views. En route we visit the 5th century temple of Yeha, displaying incredible skills in stonework and in fact the oldest building still standing in Ethiopia. Overnight Yeha Hotel or similar. (BD)

Day 7 - Axum
Visit the amazing sites of Axum, including its collection of ancient stelae, the bath and the palace of the Queen of Sheba and St Mary of Tsion Church, which legend says is where the Ark of the Covenant is located. Overnight Yeha Hotel or similar. (BD)

Day 8 – Simien Mountains
Drive to the Simien Mountains, a spectacularly scenic area with interesting endemic mammals, including the gelada baboons and as well as various species of birds. We have the opportunity to take walks in the area, and take in the full breathtaking beauty of these mountains. Overnight Simiens Lodge or similar. (BD)

Day 9 – Simien Mountains
We spend today walking through the mountains to visit awe-inspiring viewpoints and spot some of the wildlife. Overnight Simiens Lodge or similar. (BL)

Day 10 – Gondar
Drive to Gondar, a city famous for its amazing collection of old castles and palaces. We visit the main sites of the town, including the palaces and castles of King Fasiladas and the beautifully decorated Debre Birhan Selassie Church (Light of Trinity) with its wonderful murals. Overnight Goha Hotel or similar. (BD)

Day 11 –Bahir Dar
We head to Bahir Dar, stopping en route for any sites of interest. On arrival we drive to the Blue Nile Falls where we take a short walk to view the falls themselves. Later we return to Bahir Dar, where our hotel tonight overlooks Lake Tana, source of the Blue Nile. Overnight Tana Hotel or similar. (BD)

Day 12 – Lake Tana
This morning we take boats out onto Lake Tana to explore its fantastic collection of ancient monasteries, dramatically situated on the lake’s islands and peninsulas. This afternoon is free to explore Bahir Dar, with the option of visiting Bezawit Palace, built for Emperor Haile Selassie. Overnight Tana Hotel or similar. (BD)

Day 13 – Addis Ababa
Fly back to Addis. Subject to time you will have an afternoon tour of the capital. Visit the Entoto Mountains, with a fantastic view over the city the National Museum, St George’s Cathedral and the Merkato, reputedly the biggest open air market in Africa. Overnight Ghion Hotel or similar. (BD)

Day 14 – Addis Ababa
Tour ends. (B)


Price Includes
All accommodation based on twin/double share
All transport and transfers
Domestic flights
Meals as listed above
Park entrance fees
An English speaking guide

Price does not include
International flights
Travel insurance
Drinks
Visa
Single Supplement

Departure Dates
Please contact us for up to date departures

This itinerary is not suitable for children

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