Delve into a largely unknown side of African history on an incredible journey. We visit the amazing rock cut churches of Lalibela – one of the continent’s highlights – the medieval monasteries of Lake Tana and the little visited churches of Tigray. As well as this we explore royal heritage at Gondar and ancient history at Axum.
Maximum Group size 12 - Regular, guaranteed departures
Day 1 – Addis Ababa
Arrive in Addis Ababa and transfer to hotel. The rest of the day is free to relax. Overnight Dreamliner Hotel or similar.
Day 2 – Lalibela
Fly to Lalibela with its wonderful rock cut churches, known in some circles as the 8th wonder of the world. In the afternoon we visit some of these intriguing monuments to discover more about Ethiopia’s enigmatic past. Overnight in Roha Hotel or similar. (BD)
Day 3 – Lalibela
Morning excursion by mules to the Asheten Mariam Church, known for its wonderful views. Alternatively a visit will be arranged by car to the cave church of Naktuleab. Afternoon visit to the remaining churches in Lalibela. Overnight in Roha Hotel or similar. (BD)
Day 4 - Mekelle
After an early breakfast start the journey to the town of Mekelle. Along the way there will be plenty of opportunities for photo stops as we pass through small Amhara villages. Overnight Axum Hotel or similar. (BD)
Please note that today involves between 9 and 10 hours driving.
Day 5 – Tigray churches
Today we explore the marvellous rock-hewn churches dating from the 8th to the 15th centuries that dot this remote and inspiring landscape. Many of the churches are carved directly into the cliff walls of the ‘Ambas’ - typical Ethiopian mountains with flat tops and almost vertical sides. Overnight Agoro Lodge or similar. (BD)
Day 6 – Axum
Today we drive to Axum through some spectacular views. En route we visit the 5th century temple of Yeha, displaying incredible skills in stonework and in fact the oldest building still standing in Ethiopia. Overnight Yeha Hotel or similar. (BD)
Day 7 - Axum
Visit the amazing sites of Axum, including its collection of ancient stelae, the bath and the palace of the Queen of Sheba and St Mary of Tsion Church, which legend says is where the Ark of the Covenant is located. Overnight Yeha Hotel or similar. (BD)
Day 8 – Simien Mountains
A long drive today to the Simien Mountains, a spectacularly scenic area with interesting endemic mammals, including the gelada baboons and as well as various species of birds. Depending on our arrival time we may have time to do a short walk in the park before our main walk tomorrow to experience the breathtaking beauty of these mountains. Overnight Simien Lodge or similar. (BD)
Please note that due to intermittent road construction activity the driving time on this day can be up to 10 hours.
Day 9 – Simien Mountains
We spend today walking through the mountains to visit awe-inspiring viewpoints and spot some of the wildlife. For those that do not want to do a long full day trek a shorter alternative can be taken. Overnight Simien Lodge or similar. (BL)
Day 10 – Gondar
Drive to Gondar, a city famous for its amazing collection of old castles and palaces. We visit the main sites of the town, including the palaces and castles of King Fasiladas and the beautifully decorated Debre Birhan Selassie Church (Light of Trinity) with its wonderful murals. Overnight Goha Hotel or similar. (BD)
Day 11 –Bahir Dar
We head to Bahir Dar, stopping en route for any sites of interest. On arrival we drive to the Blue Nile Falls where we take a short walk to view the falls themselves. Later we return to Bahir Dar, where our hotel tonight overlooks Lake Tana, source of the Blue Nile. Overnight Tana Hotel or similar. (BD)
Day 12 – Lake Tana
This morning we take boats out onto Lake Tana to explore its fantastic collection of ancient monasteries, dramatically situated on the lake’s islands and peninsulas. This afternoon is free to explore Bahir Dar, with the option of visiting Bezawit Palace, built for Emperor Haile Selassie. Overnight Tana Hotel or similar. (BD)
Day 13 – Addis Ababa
Fly back to Addis. Subject to time you will have an afternoon tour of the capital. Visit the Entoto Mountains, with a fantastic view over the city the National Museum, St George’s Cathedral and the Merkato, reputedly the biggest open air market in Africa. Overnight Dreamliner Hotel or similar. (BD)
Day 14 – Addis Ababa
Tour ends. (B)
B = Breakfast , L = Lunch, D = Dinner (Meals included)