Travel back in time to Ethiopia’s world famous historical attractions. Marvel at the iconic castles of Gondar and the 12th century obelisks of Axum. The medieval rock-hewn church of St George in Lalibella makes a highlight of this tour.
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Upon arrival at the airport in Addis Ababa, we meet a representative of Kibo Slopes for transfer to the Friendship hotel. We will cater for our own lunch today. After checking in and a pre-safari briefing we embark on a tour of the city and head to Mt. Entoto which is the highest peak overlooking Addis Ababa and forms part of the Entoto mountain chain. We will also visit the Trinity Church among other attractions. In the evening, we will go to a local restaurant where we will receive a warm Ethiopian welcome with dinner and music. Late in the evening, we return to Friendship Hotel for overnight.
Early in the morning we depart north to Bahir Dar via Debre Markos. On the way, we will visit the Portuguese Bridge, which was the first bridge in Ethiopia. After lunch in Debre Markos, we will pass through the spectacular Blue Nile Gorge. Our dinner and overnight stay will be at the Abbey Minch Lodge.
In the morning, we take a boat trip on Lake Tana to visit the Island monasteries, such as those on the Zege Peninsula and Kibran Gabriel (which do not allow entry for women). In the afternoon, we drive to the Blue Nile Falls for a hike around the area. In the early evening, we complete our tour of Bahir Dar with a drive up to Haile Selassies’ old palace and watch the sunset over the source of the Blue Nile. Dinner and the overnight stay will once again be at the Abbey Minch Lodge.
After breakfast, we drive to Gondar with lunch on the way. We appreciate the stunning landscape of the Amhara tribe. Once in Gondar, we visit the Castles of King Fasilides and the Debre Birhan Silassie Church, which has the most colourful ceiling with array of paintings. Dinner and the overnight stay will be at the Goha Hotel.
We have breakfast before checking out for the day’s drive to Axum in the north. On the way, we will enjoy spectacular views of the Semien Mountains before proceeding through the Tekeze Valley to Axum. On the way we stop for lunch in a local restaurant. Axum is home of the ancient Axumite Empire, the Queen of Sheba, and the Ark of the Covenant. Dinner and overnight stay will be at the Sabiyan Hotel..
We will spend today visiting the sites of Axum, including the famous obelisks, the Queen of Sheba’s Bath), King Bazen’s tomb, and the Queen of Sheba’s Palace. We can also visit the St. Mary of Zion church, where the Ark of the Covenant is kept. Only men are allowed to enter the old church. Unfortunately, no one (except one specially chosen guardian monk) is allowed to enter the chapel where the Ark is kept. Meals and overnight stay will once again be at the Sabiyan Hotel..
We check out after breakfast before transfer to the airport where we board a scheduled flight to Lalibela. We are picked up at the airport by a car from Panoramic Hotel and arrive at the hotel just in time for lunch. We marvel at the magnificent views down the valley as we enjoy our lunch. In the afternoon, we take a guided tour to a group of monolithic rock-hewn churches of the King Lalibela..
After breakfast, we take a short hike for about an hour which takes us to another set of rock hewn churches. Lalibela is one of Ethiopia's holiest cities, second only to Aksum and a center of pilgrimage for most of the country. Unlike Axum, the population of Lalibela is almost completely Ethiopian Orthodox Christian. The layout and names of the major buildings in Lalibela are widely accepted, especially by the local clergy, as a symbolic representation of Jerusalem. Lunch, dinner and overnight stay will once again be at the scenic Panoramic Hotel.
After an early breakfast we undertake a guided tour which includes a visit to the spectacular ancient obelisks. They are cut out of one piece of granite and are up to 40m in length. Axum had its heydays in the 4th century. This is the time when it also embraced Christianity. The Orthodox Church believes that the Church of our Lady Mary of Zion houses the Biblical Ark of Convenant. We visit the church and the museum. After lunch we take a 200km drive to Mekele for dinner and overnight stay at the Axum hotel.
Today after breakfast we drive to Diri Dawa with a lunch stop on the way. After checking in the Samrat Hotel we have time to explore the town, its large market and the old French Railway Station. It's a pleasure to walk around the city, look at the colorful people and bargain at the markets in a unique friendly and welcoming atmosphere. Dinner and overnight stay will be at the Samrat Hotel.
After breakfast we head for Harar, the 16th century walled city and the fourth most important city in the Islamic World. As we walk through the narrow streets, we come across the home of Arthur Rimbuad, a renowned French poet who worked and lived in Harar as a "gun-runner" during the 19th century. At Harar we have opportunity to visit the hyena man feeding wild hyenas outside the walled city. We will have our lunch in one of the town’s numerous restaurants and leave in the late afternoon for our dinner and overnight stay at the Samrat Hotel in Diri Dawa.
Today we check out for a drive to Dire Dawa airport where we board a flight to Addis Ababa to connect to our international departure flight.