Ten Days Historic Route 

Addis, Bahir Dar, Gondar, Simien Mountains, Aksum, Lalibela



10 days

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Tour Plan

You will be met on arrival in Addis Ababa this morning and transferred to hotel check-in. 

After checking in, embark on a leisurely full-day tour of Addis Ababa. Founded in 1886 by Menelik II, Addis is located 2,500m above sea level in the Entoto mountain chain, where it enjoys an excellent year-round climate, with an average temperature of 25°C. Start the tour with a visit to the National Museum which is among the best in Africa, containing an impressive collection of archaeological relics, foremost among them the plaster cast of "Lucy," the 3.2-million-year-old Hominid. After touring the museum, continue to the Ethnographic Museum which used to be the former palace of the late King Haile Selassie I. In the afternoon visit the Holy Trinity Cathedral the second holiest site in Ethiopia, and, time-allowing, end the day with a visit to Merkato, said to be Africa’s largest market of its kind followed by dinner in town. 

Overnight: your hotel

Depart Addis Ababa on the morning flight to Bahir Dar. This is a pleasing city situated 1,800 meters above sea level on the shores of Lake Tana, the largest lake in Ethiopia. On arrival check into your hotel for one night.

This afternoon, embark on a boat tour of Lake Tana to explore some of its unique island monasteries, including the famous 14th-century monastery of Ura Kidanemihret; then walk through the coffee trees to Azewa Maryam to see the wonderful 16th-century mural paintings,

crowns, crosses, and many old church treasures, and finally, cruise back to Bahirdar

Late afternoon Bahir Dar’s local market. You’ll find everything imaginable at this lively open-air market—from grains, spices, and prayer blankets to live chickens and goats. We’ll return to our hotel and dinner at the local restaurant, featuring traditional Ethiopian cuisine.

Overnight: your hotel

Leave Bahir Dar this morning and drive to Gondar (approx. 4 hours). Gondar is famous for its medieval fort and stunning mountain setting; Gondar was founded in the early seventeenth century as the capital city of the Ethiopian Empire during the reign of Fasilides. The town served as the imperial capital for about 250 years and has been the center of Ethiopian art and culture. Its unique imperial castles (world heritage site) were built during the 17th and 18th centuries by

Fasildeus and his descendants display the era's rich architecture. The walled royal enclosure that dominates the city center surrounded by high stone walls contains several well-preserved castles and other buildings. Of several old churches dotted around Gondar, Debre Berhan Selassie the most beautiful church with its walls and ceilings lavishly decorated represents a masterpiece of the Gonderine religious School of art. 

Overnight: your hotel

Today we will depart our lodge to witness some of the most breathtaking scenery in Africa the Simien Mountains, stopping for coffee en route. Known as the “Roof of Africa,” the Simien Mountain range has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site both for Africa’s most beautiful mountain scenery as well as flora and fauna that is endemic to the region. Massive erosion over millions of years on the Ethiopian plateau has left behind a beautiful landscape dotted by deep ravines, sharp precipices, and jagged peaks rising to 15,000 feet. 

The wildlife is hugely varied and includes the Walia ibex, Gelada baboon, bearded vulture, thick-billed raven, and eagle.

Many gelada baboons can be seen on the escarpment and flatter grounds grazing in large troops. They are adorned with exaggerated hairstyles and colorful noses and chests. The park with its a variety of extremely rare animals, including the Ethiopian wolf and the Walia ibex, a goat family found nowhere else in the world. After check-in and lunch, enjoy a short hike along the escarpment before returning to the lodge. 

Overnight: your hotel

Depart Simien Mountain Lodge after breakfast and drive to Chenek (3,600m). From Chenek, you can enjoy a relaxed hike across the gently rising plateau to the famous viewpoint at Imet Gogo (3,920m). Here you may be lucky to see the rare Walia Ibex on the crags far below, so do approach Imet Gogo quietly. During this day you should also see the giant lobelias and troops of Chelada baboon. After the trek and picnic lunch, return to Simien Mountain Lodge on your way set off on a short nature and wildlife hike to witness Jinbar Falls, one of Africa’s highest waterfalls. While taking in the vistas of this narrow ribbon of water dropping some 1,600 feet through a vertical canyon wall.

Overnight: your hotel

After breakfast, continue to Axum, enjoying the final views of the Simien Mountains. After stopping for coffee on the way, proceed driving through the Tekeze Valley to Axum, Ethiopia’s most ancient city and former the capital of the great Aksumite kingdom, the home Queen of Sheba, and the Ark of the Covenant. Evening at leisure. You’ll have time to explore Axum tomorrow on a full-day tour. 

Overnight: your hotel

Ethiopia’s most ancient city and former capital of the great Aksumite kingdom was the only internationally recognized independent African monarchy of important power status in its age. Around the second and first century BCE, the Aksumite Kingdom rose to power in the northern part of the country with its capital at Aksum, and grew into a major power and trading route along the Red Sea controlling the caravan routes from the hinterland of Africa. Ethiopian Orthodox tradition, preserved in the Kebre Nagast (˜Book of Kings”), holds that during this era Menelik, the son of the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon, brought the Ark of the Covenant to Axum where it remains to this day, enclosed in a sanctuary at the heart of the city.

Your full-day tour of Aksum a UNESCO world heritage site will take in the main highlights, beginning with the famous granite monoliths obelisks dating from pre-Christian times and decorated with symbolic engravings, before continuing to the church of Saint Mary of Zion, Ethiopia’s holiest temple, which houses the crowns of Ethiopian kings among other treasures. During our time here, we’ll also visit the Queen of Sheba Baths, a huge water reservoir that is carved into solid rock and her palace, and a pair of tombs attributed to the sixth-century King Kaleb and his son. Take a short walk in the town before you return to the hotel. 

Overnight: your hotel

In the morning we’ll depart our hotel and drive to the airport for our flight to Lalibela, a mountain town situated about 2600 m above sea level. Upon arrival, we’ll transfer to our hotel and check in. The mountain town of Lalibela is remote and it has long been a holdout for the Orthodox Ethiopian Church, untouched by the Islamic conquests of the 16th century and later European attempts at colonization.

UNESCO world heritage site, Lalibela is of course most famous for its 12th-century monolithic churches, of which there are 11, each carved out of pink granite rock and collectively considered to be one of the wonders of the world. Each of the churches has a unique architectural style, though they share many features; most notably, each has been carved from the top down, a technique not practiced anywhere else in the world. The churches are intertwined and connected by a warren of tunnels, some churches were chiseled into the face of the rock; others stand as isolated blocks, including the iconic church of Saint George (Ethiopia’s patron saint). For Orthodox Ethiopians, the pilgrimage to the churches of Lalibela, where services are still held daily, nowhere in Ethiopia does the spirituality of its people echo louder than in Lalibela.

The complex is divided into two groups of churches with each cluster representing the earthly and heavenly forms of Jerusalem. This afternoon we explore the northern complex visiting six churches. 

Overnight: your hotel

In the morning, a trip to visit an ancient cave church that is one of the lesser-known treasures of the region Yimrehane Kristos. This church is built with stone and wood, in the late-Axumite style, and predates the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela by almost a century. As we explore the church, you may notice the large pile of bones at the back of the cavern they are the remains of some thousands of pilgrims who came here to die over the centuries.

We’ll hike back down to our vehicle and then drive back to Lalibela in time for lunch.

In the afternoon, visit the second group of churches located very near the others. the churches in this second grouping differ greatly in architecture and style and feature more intricate exteriors along with interconnecting trenches and tunnels. Finally, visit the Church of Saint George (separated from the two groups) said by many the most beautiful church of Lalibela. Of all the churches at Lalibela, Beta Giyorgis is the best preserved and it is also one of the latest churches at the site.

 Overnight:  Hotel in Lalibela 

Fly back to Addis Ababa. After lunch visits the Ethnographic Museum which used to be the former palace of the late King Haile Selassie I and shopping. In the evening, farewell party at the traditional restaurant in Addis with a cultural special buffet and local drinks. After the farewell dinner, transfer to the airport for your departure.

End of tour 

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