Sightseeing of Addis Ababa
Arrival at Bole International Airport. Reception by SET guide and driver, transfer to hotel for check-in. City tour of Addis Ababa including the panoramic view point Entoto Mountain, Merkato, said to be Africa’s largest market of its kind, and the National Museum (home of Lucy, hominid skeleton dating back 3.2 million years) and the ethnographic museums. Overnight in Addis Ababa.
Addis Ababa Debre Libanos
after breakfast, 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
Lake Tana monasteries and Blue Nile Fallhidden
In the morning embark on a boat trip on Lake Tana to explore some of the monasteries on the shores and islands of Lake Tana. In the afternoon, depart outLake of town to the Blue Nile Falls for an easy hike in the area. End the day with a sunset over Tana from the top of Bezawit Hill, next to the former palace of Haile Selassie. Overnight in Bahir Dar
Sightseeing of the former capital, Gondar
After breakfast, a wonderful drive north to Gondar. The drive will take you through rural villages, offering insight into the Amhara culture and the traditional agricultural afternoon methods still in use today. After arrival in Gondar and brief check-in to hotel, we will 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 and the Debre Birhan Selassie church, with the most famous ceiling in Ethiopia. Overnight hotel in Gondar
Gondar-Simien Mountains National Park
Early in the morning, depart for the stunning Simien Mountains National Park. 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 in mountains-Axum Debark
After breakfast, continue to Axum, enjoying the final views of the Simien Mountains. Afterof stopping for lunch in Adarky, proceed driving through the Tekeze Valley to Axum, home the ancient Axumite Empire, the Queen of Sheba, and the Ark of the Covenant. Overnight inAxum Axum
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 Italy), the Queen of Sheba’s Bath (which well supplies water to Axum year-round), King Bazen’s tomb, and the Queen of Sheba’s Palace. You also visit the St. Mary of Zion church, where the Ark of the Covenant is kept, according to local Ethiopian tradition. Only men are allowed to enter the old church. Unfortunately, no one (except one specially chosen guardian monk) is allowed to enter chapel where the Ark is kept. Overnight in Axum Damo-Gheralta
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 atchurches-Mekelle Gheralta Lodge.
Gheralta – Tigray rock-hewn
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 in Mekele
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
Rock-hewn churches of Lalibela
Full day visiting the 11 rock-hewn churches of the remarkable King Lalibela. In the morning, visit the Northwestern Cluster of churches – Betnot Medhane Alem, Bet Maryam, Bet Meskel, Bet Danaghel, Bet Mikael & Bet Golgotha (entry 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, patron a huge monolith in the shape of a cross, and constructed in honor of St. George, the saint of Ethiopia. Overnight in Lalibela (tourist standard hotel).
Asheten Mariam-Yimrehane Kirstos Day
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. Overnight into Lalibela
Depart from Lalibela Kombolcha via Woldia, stopping for a visit in the town of Hayk, to visit the lake and the local monastery. Overnight in Kombolcha
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.
Farewell Party and End of Tour
In the evening, farewell party with cultural dinner and traditional special buffet and local drinks to experience Ethiopia’s cultural meals and drinks. After farewell party, transfer to airport for international departure. End of tour.