15-Days North by Surface

Trip Highlights:

• Lake Tana Monasteries and Blue Nile Falls in Bahir Dar
• Royal Compound and Debre Birhan Selassie church in Gondar
• Spectacular views and endemic wildlife in the Simien Mountains
• Historical ruins of mighty Axumite Empire, Queen of Sheba’s palace in Axum
• Ruins of Yeha Temple, dating back to 8th to 5th century BC
• Lesser-visited rock-hewn churches of Tigray state
• Famous rock-hewn churches of Lalibela and surrounding area
• National Museum, merkato, Entoto Mountain in Addis Ababa

Trip Itinerary;

Day 1:
International arrival to Ethiopia at Bole International Airport. Transfer to hotel. City tour of Addis Ababa including Entoto Mountain (the capital of Ethiopia before Addis Ababa), merkato, said to be Africa’s largest open-air market, and the National Museum (home of Lucy, hominid skeleton dating back 3.2 million years). In the evening, traditional Ethiopian dinner with cultural music and dance show. Overnight at Ghion Hotel (4-star).

Day 2:

Hammer People and Ethiopian Culture
Early morning departure north to Bahir Dar via Debre Markos. On the way visit the Debre Libanos Monastery and the Portuguese Bridge, which was the first bridge in Ethiopia. After lunch in Debre Markos, you will pass through the scenic Blue Nile Gorge. Overnight in Bahir Dar at Tana Hotel.

Day 3:
In the morning, embark on a boat trip on Lake Tana to explore some of the monasteries hidden on the shores and islands of Lake Tana. In the afternoon, depart out of town to the Blue Nile Falls for an easy hike in the area. End the day with a sunset over Lake Tana from the top of Bezawit Hill, next to the former palace of Haile Selassie. Overnight in Bahir Dar at Tana Hotel.

Day 4:
After breakfast, proceed driving north to Gondar. The drive will take you through rural villages, offering wonderful insight into the Amhara culture and the traditional agricultural methods still in use today. After arrival in Gondar and brief check-in to hotel, the afternoon will be spent exploring the sites of Gondar, including a visit to the Royal Enclosure, with six castles and several other buildings. Additionally, visit Fasilidas’s Pool, still used for Timket celebrations today and the Debre Birhan Selassie church, with the most famous ceiling in Ethiopia. Overnight in Gondar at the Goha Hotel, set on a hill overlooking the town of Gondar.

Day 5:
Early in the morning, depart for the stunning Simien Mountains National Park, the only natural inclusion of Ethiopia’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The jagged mountains and deep valleys lend spectacular views to these mountains, home to many of the endemic animal species of Ethiopia including the gelada baboon (guaranteed to be seen) as well as the rare Walia ibex and Ethiopian wolf. The afternoon will be available for hikes in the area surrounding the lodge. Overnight at the Simien Lodge.

Day 6:
After breakfast, continue to Axum, enjoying the final views of the Simien Mountains. After stopping for lunch in Adarky, proceed driving through the Tekeze Valley to Axum, home of the ancient Axumite Empire, the Queen of Sheba, and the Ark of the Covenant. Overnight in Axum at Remhai Hotel.

Day 7:

South Ethiopia Lodge
Today is a full day visiting the sites in Axum. Sites to visit include the famous obelisks (one that was just erected after being returned from Italy), the Queen of Sheba’s Bath (which supplies water to Axum year-round), King Bazen’s tomb, and the Queen of Sheba’s Palace. You will also visit the St. Mary of Zion church, where the Ark of the Covenant is kept, according to local Ethiopian tradition. Men only 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. Overnight in Axum at Remhai Hotel.

Day 8:
After breakfast, drive to visit the ruins of Yeha, dating from the 8th to 5th centuries BC, and thought to be the capital of Ethiopian civilization before Axum. Afterwards, visit the Debre Damo monastery, where the men (sorry! No women allowed.) must climb up a 15-m rope to enter. Overnight in Hawsein at Gheralta Lodge.

Day 9:
Continue through the state of Tigray to explore some of the less-visited rock-hewn churches of Ethiopia. Some of the most popular churches are Abuna Yemata Guh, and those in the Gheralta cluster. Continue to Mekele for overnight at Aksum Hotel.

Day 10:
Today is a full day drive from Mekele to Lalibela, passing through the dramatic landscapes of the Ethiopian Highlands. The highlight of the day will be the ascent from Woldia to the stunning ascent to Mount Abuna Yosef. Overnight in Lalibela at Mountain View Hotel.

Day 11:
Full day visiting the 11 rock-hewn churches of the remarkable king Lalibela. In the morning, visit the Northwestern Cluster of churches – Bet Medhane Alem, Bet Maryam, Bet Meskel, Bet Danaghel, Bet Mikael & Bet Golgotha (entry not permitted for women). After lunch, continue with the Southeastern Cluster of churches – Bet Gabriel-Rufael, Bet Merkorios, Bet Amanual, and Bet Abba Libanos. 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 in Lalibela at Mountain View Hotel.

Day 12:
In the morning, take a hike up the mountain overlooking the town of Lalibela to the Asheton Maryam monastery. Hiking may be done on foot, or with mule, if desired. After lunch, take an afternoon trip to visit the church of Yimrehanne Kristos. The most popular of the churches outside of Lalibela, this church is built in the late-Axumite style, with layers of wood and granite, set in the entrance to a large cavern. After the visit, return to Lalibela for overnight at Mountain View Hotel.

Day 13:
Depart from Lalibela to Kombolcha via Woldia, stopping for a visit in the town of Hayk, to visit the lake and the local monastery. Overnight in Kombolcha at Tekle Hotel.

Day 14:
Return driving to Addis via Debre Birhan. On the way you pass the Mezezo Escarpment, with a good chance to see the endemic gelada baboons. Also, if this day is a Monday, there will be a short detour in the morning to stop in Bati for one of the largest markets in the country, including the interesting camel market. Overnight in Addis Ababa at Ghion Hotel (4-star).

Day 15:
Transfer to airport for international departure.
College of Biological and physical Sciences. School of Biological Sciences. School of Physical Sciences. Department of Meteorology. Department of Physics. Department of Chemistry. Department of Geology. Institute for Climate change and Adaptation. Centre for Biotechnology and Bioinformatics. School of Computing and informatics.
End of Tour.