• Lake Tana Monasteries and Blue Nile Falls in Bahir Dar
• Royal Compound and Debre Birhan Selassie church in Gondar
• 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
• Lakes of the Great Rift Valley
• Lake Chamo and the “crocodile market”
• Jumping of the Bulls Ceremony of the Hamer Tribe
• The famed Mursi tribe, with their lower lip plates
• National Museum, merkato, Entoto Mountain in Addis Ababa
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).
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.
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.
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.
Early in the morning, continue to Axum, enjoying the 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.
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.
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. 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. Overnight in Mekele at Aksum Hotel.
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.
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.
Early 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. Afterwards, depart from Lalibela to Dessie via Woldia, stopping for a visit in the town of Hayk, to visit the lake and the local monastery. Overnight in Dessie at Tossa Hotel.
In the morning, continue driving to Awash via Bati. If this day is a Monday, you can visit the Monday camel market in Bati. Continue through the Yangudi-Rassa National Park (home to the endangered African wild ass), and along the edge of the Awash National Park. Overnight at Bilen Lodge.
In the morning, go for a game drive in Awash National Park, which is one of Ethiopia’s most popular national attractions. Here you will enjoy wonderful birdlife and many mammals, such as gazelles, kudus, waterbuck, warthogs, baboons, and colobus monkeys. It might also be possible to see lions, leopards and other cats, if you’re lucky! After the drive, continue driving through the Great Rift Valley to Langano. Overnight at Sabana Beach Resort.
After a refreshing morning swim, continue to Arba Minch. On the way, ascend into the Gughe Mountains to visit the Dorze people, who are known for their tall beehive-like houses and their fine cotton weaving. Market days in Dorze village are Mondays and Thursdays and in Chencha on Tuesdays and Saturdays. After the visit, continue to Arba Minch for overnight at Paradise Lodge.
In the morning, take a boat trip on Lake Chamo to visit the crocodile market and hippo pods. After the visit, continue driving to Jinka via Weyto (market day Sunday) and Key Afar (market day Thursday). Overnight in Jinka at Jinka Resort.
Drive to Mago National Park to visit the Mursi tribe, who are known for their lower lip and earlobe plates. Afterwards, return to Jinka to visit the South Omo Museum & Research Center for more information about the tribes. Additionally, Tuesdays and Saturdays are market days in Jinka, which will be visited. Overnight in Jinka at Jinka Resort.
Depart from Jinka to Turmi, home of the Hamer people. On the way, stop in Dimeka for the local market, which is on Tuesdays and Saturday. This is one of the most colorful markets in the South Omo and is visited by Hamer, Benna, Karo, Tsemai and Ari tribes. Overnight in Turmi at Buska Lodge. At night, see the traditional night dancing of the Hamer people, known as Evangadi.
In the morning, drive to Omorate and cross the Omo River by local boat ato visit the Dasennech tribe (also known as Galeb tribe). Afterwards, return to Turmi and, if there is Jumping of the Bulls traditional Hamer wedding ceremony, it will be visited. Monday is market day in Turmi. Overnight in Turmi at Buska Lodge.
Depart from Turmi to Konso, via Erbore in the Weyto valley. Friday is market day in Erbore, so if passing on this day, the market will be visited. Market days in Konso are Mondays and Thursdays. The Konso people are known for their totems erected in honor of the dead and their intricate agricultural terracing techniques. Overnight in Konso at Strawberry Fields Ecolodge.
In the morning, visit a local Konso village and the “natural New York village”, which gets its name from the tall sand formations that resemble skyscrapers. After the visit, proceed driving to Awassa for overnight at Lewi Hotel.
In the morning, visit the fish market on the shores of Lake Awassa. After the visit, depart north to Addis Ababa. On the way, stop at Wondo Genet, the favorite weekend getaway of former Emperor Haile Selassie for a swim in the pool and a shower in the therapeutic hot spring waters. Finally, visit the Abiatta-Shala National Park. Lake Shala is a very deep crater lake (over 260 meters deep!) and Lake Abiatta is a soda lake, which attracts thousands of flamingos. Overnight in Addis Ababa at Ghion Hotel (4-star).
Transfer to airport for international departure.
End of Tour.