Day 1: Addis Ababa- Bahirdar
Early in the morning, depart north to Bahir Dar via Debre Markos. On the way visit the Portuguese bridge, said to have been the first bridge in Ethiopia. Afterwards, you will pass through the spectacular Blue Nile Gorge. The gorge extends nearly 400km and reaches depths up to 1500m. Overnight in Bahir Dar (hotel).
Day 2: Bahirdar
In the morning, take a boat trip on Lake Tana to visit a selection of the monasteries hidden on the islands and shores of this sacred lake. Visit the Zege Penninsula and the monasteries of Azuwa Maryam and Ura Kidane Mehret and the island monastery of Debre Maryam near the outlet of the Blue Nile River. In the afternoon, drive out to the Blue Nile Falls for a short hike in the area. Finish the day with the sunset over the lake. Overnight in Bahir Dar (hotel).
Day 3: Bahirdar to Gondar
After breakfast, continue north to Gondar. The four-hour drive will take you through rural villages, offering wonderful insight into the Amhara culture. After briefly settling in your hotel, explore 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, Ras Gimb Palace Museum and the Debre Birhan Selassie church, with the most famous ceiling in Ethiopia. Overnight in Gondar (hotel).
Day 4: After breakfast drive to Simien Mountains
After breakfast drive to Simien Mountain National Park. Debark is a small market town at an altitude of 2700 meters close to the boundary of the Simien Mountains National Park. Corrugated–iron–roofed buildings surround the colourful and busy market area. Before entering the park, you have to register at the park headquarters just outside town. Here, armed scout – one of the park regulations, joins you. Then drive to Sankaber for the best view. En route, pass through pretty country, the foothills of the Semen Mountains, with carefully tended field, open pasture with grazing horses, stands of trees and distant rocky peaks. At the high point of the road, there are superb views across the weirdly eroded foothills of the range and you may also be lucky enough to spot you first Lammergeiers and Gelada Baboons of the trip.
Day 5: After breakfast drive to Axum
Early morning, depart to Axum, enjoying spectacular views of the Simien Mountains. After stopping for lunch in Adi Arkay, proceed driving through the dramatic Tekeze Valley, offering some of the best landscapes in the country. Proceed to Axum, home of the ancient Axumite Empire, the Queen of Sheba, and the Ark of the Covenant. Overnight in Axum (hotel).
Day 6: Simien Mountains -Axum
Today will be a full day visiting the sites of Axum, including the famous obelisks (one that was recently erected after being returned from Italy) and the archeological museum, the Queen of Sheba’s Bath (which supplies water to Axum year-round), Ezana’s enscription, King Kaleb’s tomb, King Bazen’s tomb, and the Queen of Sheba’s Palace. You can also visit the St. Mary of Zion church, where the Ark of the Covenant is kept. 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 (hotel).
Day 7: Axum - Yeha -Hawsein
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. Proceed through the state of Tigray, stopping en-route for a visit to the rock-hewn church of Medhane Alem Adi Kesho. Overnight in (hotel or lodge).
Day 8: Hawsein - Mekele
In the morning, visit either Abuna Yemata Guh or Maryam Korkor. Both churches involve an approximate one-hour hike but offer commanding views of the surrounding area. After lunch, continue your visit with the more easily-accessible churches of Abreha we Atsbeha and Chirkos. Afterwards, proceed driving to Mekele for overnight (hotel).
Day 9: Drive to Lalibela
Early in the morning, embark on a full day of driving to Lalibela. Here you will pass through several small villages, with typical sandstone homes of the Tigray people. Proceed through this rural area for the stunning approach to the home of Ethiopia’s most prized destination – Lalibela. Overnight in Lalibela (hotel).
Day 10: Exploring Lalibela
In the morning, start your tour of the rock-hewn churches of 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). After lunch, continue with the Southeastern Cluster of churches – Bet Gabriel-Rufael, Bet Merkorios, Bet Amanual, and Bet Abba Libanos. Finally, you will visit the most famous of all the churches – Bet Giyorgis, constructed in honor of the patron saint of Ethiopia – Saint George. Overnight in Lalibela (hotel).
Day 11: Exploring Lalibela and surrounding
Early in the morning, take a mule trek up to the Asheton Maryam monastery, set on the mountain overlooking the town of Lalibela. After lunch, drive out of town to visit the church of Yimrehanne Kristos, the most popular church in the surrounding region. Created in the late-Axumite style, this church is set in the entrance to a cave with a skeleton graveyard in the back of devout pilgrims who visited this church. Return to Lalibela for overnight (hotel).
Day 12: Drive to Kombolcha
After breakfast, visit the nearby monastery of Na’akuto La’ab, set on the side of a cliff. After the visit, proceed driving to Kombolcha via Woldia. On the way you will stop for a rest in Hayk where you can enjoy the views of this stunning lake, visit the local monastery (open for men only) and enjoy the birdlife. Overnight in Kombolcha (hotel).
Day 13: Kombolcha - Bati -Awash National Park
In the morning, continue driving to Awash via Bati. (If this day is a Monday, you can visit the Monday camel market in Bati.) You will also pass through the Yangudi-Rassa National Park, home to the rare wild African ass. In the evening you will have a chance to do a short game drive to see the local wildlife, such as oryx, baboons, greater and lesser kudu, warthogs, gazelles, colubus monkeys. Additionally, you’d be very lucky to see leopards, lions, and other cats. The landscapes in the park are beautiful, looking over the Awash Gorge. Overnight in Awash National Park (lodge or camping).
Day 14: Visit Awash National Park
Early in the morning, depart from the lodge to drive deeper into the park. You will depart to the far north of the park, to the Filwoha Hot Springs. This is the most likely spot to see lions, although it is rare. Returning south, visit the stunning Mt. Fantale, a dormant volcano rising from the plains. Overnight in Awash National Park (lodge or camping).
Day 15: Awash National Park - Sodere - Addis
After breakfast, depart from Awash, returning to Addis Ababa. On the way you can stop in Sodere to take a shower in the therapeutic hot springs waters.
END OF TOUR
The program can be customized upon request.