10 Days North by Surface and Air

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
  • Famous rock-hewn churches of Lalibela
  • 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:
Early morning flight to Bahir Dar.  After arrival and brief hotel check-in, 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, take a city tour of Bahir Dar, visiting Bezawit Hill and the former palace of Haile Selassie, as well as the bustling market.  Finish the day with a lovely sunset over the lake.  Overnight in Bahir Dar at Tana Hotel..

Addis Ababa Tana Hotel

Day 3:
After breakfast, depart out of town to the Blue Nile Falls for an easy hike in the area.  Afterwards, 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.  Overnight in Gondar at Goha Hotel, set on a hill overlooking the town of Gondar..

Day 4:
Today will be a full day 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, Debre Birhan Selassie church, with the most famous ceiling in Ethiopia and Kuskuam, a former palace in a partial state of ruin overlooking the city of Gondar.  Overnight in Gondar at Goha Hotel..

Day 5:
Early in the morning, depart for a day trip to 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.  Return to Gondar for overnight at Goha Hotel..

Day 6:
Morning flight to Axum, an unassuming town that used to be the former home of the mighty Axumite empire.  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 7
Continue this morning on a flight to Lalibela, the most famous of all of the Ethiopian historical sites.  After lunch, begin to explore the 11 rock-hewn churches of the remarkable king Lalibela, visiting the Northwestern Cluster of churches – Bet Medhane Alem, Bet Maryam, Bet Meskel, Bet Danaghel, Bet Mikael & Bet Golgotha (entry not permitted for women).  Overnight in Lalibela at Mountain View Hotel.

Day 8:
In the morning, visit 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.   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 9:
Return flight to Addis Ababa.  For early risers, take an optional morning 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 returning to Lalibela, it will be time for the return flight back to Addis Ababa.  In Addis Ababa, city tour will continue if not completed on first day.  (Cultural dinner may also be replaced today, depending on flight arrival times on first day.)  Overnight in Addis Ababa at Ghion Hotel (4-star)..

Day 10:
Transfer to airport for international departure.

End of Tour.
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.