ARRIVAL AND CITY TOUR OF ADDIS ABABA
Land at Bole International Airport and transfer to the hotel. Check in and have some rest. Take a city tour of Addis Ababa. Situated where the Great Rift Valley crosses Ethiopia’s mountain range at more than 7,000 feet above sea-level, Addis Ababa is a large sprawling city with a population of more than five million people. Visit Entoto Mountain, the site from which Addis Ababa’s founder, Menelik, descended down to the plains. Visit the two churches he built and his palace, which displays 19th-century royal attire, weaponry, furniture, and intricately designed crosses made with precious metals. Also enjoy expansive views of the city and the Entoto Mountain Range.
Overnight Harmony Hotel
The city is the heart of ancient Ethiopia, when the Kingdom of Axum was the most powerful state between the Eastern Roman Empire and Persia. The archaeological and historical attractions in Axum include: monolithic steles or obelisks, the tombs of King Kaleb and King Gebre Meskal, and the legendary Bath of the Queen of Sheba, and the ruins of her ancient palace. We visit the new and the old Cathedral of St Mary of Tsion and the sanctuary that houses the original Arc of the Covenant. The older of the two cathedrals, built in the 16th century, is believed to be built on an earlier 4th century church, and is the holiest church in Ethiopia.
Overnight Sabean Hotel
Lalibela is a striking town set at over 2500 metres in wild, craggy mountains with two-storey stone houses that are quite different to those in the rest of Ethiopia. We are here to visit the huge 12th and 13th century rock churches carved below ground level and connected by a maze of subterranean passages. Each of the churches is unique and intricately carved. Its rock-hewn Christian churches are rightfully a UNESCO World Heritage site. These churches have been in continual use since their construction! Visit some of these unique churches cradled among the rocks – Bet Medhane Alem, Bet Maryam, Bet Mokael, Bet Danaghel, and Bet Golgotha.
Afternoon explore the most elegant of Lalibela’s churches, Bet Giyorgis, located in an isolated part of the village on a sloping rock terrace. This is said to be one of the most finely executed and best preserved churches.
Overnight Roha Hotel
Fly Gondar, capital of Ethiopia for two hundred years. Gondar was a center of great commerce that traded with wealthy lands south of the Blue Nile, west to the Sudan, and north-east to the port of Massawa along the Red Sea. The city is known for its medieval castles and finely adorned churches. Upon arrival in Gondar, visit the Royal Enclosure, the Bath of King Fasilides, and the DebreBirhan Selassie Church, with its extensive murals of angels’ faces. Check into the Goha Hotel situated on a hill above the town center.
Overnight Goha Hotel
EXCURSION TO SIMIEN MOUNTAIN
Rising to over 15,000 feet, the Simien Mountain Range is a striking contrast to other regions in Ethiopia. This UNESCO World Heritage Site offers some of Africa’s most dramatic scenery: alpine peaks flanked by glaciers such as Mount RasDashen; steep escarpments rising above remote valley settlements; and an abundance of wildlife including the ibex, the endemic bleeding heart baboons, the Simien Wolf, and innumerable species of birds. A full day excursion travels deep into the park. En route back to Gondar, visit the former Falasha village of Waleka to see some examples of their traditional pottery still made by the few Jewish people remaining after the exodus to Israel in 1991.
Overnight Goha Hotel
DRIVE BAHIR DAR
On our early drive (180km) to this modern city Bahir Dar but has Islands of many history, we travel through a fertile landscape of wide open fields of a typical African tableau and then undulating farmland.
Drive to Bahir Dar on Lake Tana. Lake Tana is the source of the Blue Nile and is famous for its many monasteries, including the Ura Kidane Meret monastery with its renowned painted maqdas. Travel across the lake to the monastery islands. Due to strict genders regulations governing access to monasteries, the ladies will visit Entos and the men will visit Kibran Gebreael.
Afternoon excursion to the Blue Nile falls is about 35kms from Bahir Dar. Hike to the falls crossing over the Blue Nile via the historic Portuguese bridge, and then proceeding along a path that takes you to the bottom of the falls to experience it from close. Bahir Dar, a fast-growing town considered one of the more attractive towns in Ethiopia with its ideal location on the shores of Lake Tana and its palm tree-lined streets. At 68km wide and 73 km long, Lake Tana is Ethiopia's largest lake and is dotted with islands, on many of which are found old monasteries.
If time allows, visit Weyto village, known for the skillful production of traditional papyrus reed boats and afternoon at leisure.
Overnight Abay Minch Hotel
FLY ADDIS ABABA
After a morning hearty breakfast, we check in to the airport for your flight to Addis Ababa.
After arrival in Addis, visit the National Museum. It is home to the skeleton of Selam, who like Lucy, is an Australopithecus afarensis. Often nicknamed Lucy’s baby, Selam actually lived nearly 150,000 years before Lucy. Continue on to the Ethnographic Museum of the Institute of Ethiopian Studies, located in a palace of former Emperor Haile Selassie. See precious pieces of Ethiopian Christian art. Also, have a visit to the oldest rail way station dated to 1896 and the largest market, Merkato.
Finally, have a brief tour of craft shops along Churchill Road before returning to the farewell dinner. This evening enjoy a farewell dinner at a traditional Ethiopia restaurant while enjoying traditional Ethiopian music.
Finally, proceed to the airport for your departure.