|Typ of Tour||:||Culture, History, Natur|
|Duration||:||13 nights (14 days)|
|Transportation||:||Land / Air|
|Tour starts /ends||:||Addis Ababa|
This cultural tour focuses on the ancient history and culture of Ethiopia as well as the people and nature on the classic Historic Route of Ethiopia. Among other things, on this tour, you will visit four UNESCO World Heritage Sites as we follow the footsteps of the legendary Queen of Sheba.
As you travel by road on the classic Historic Route of Ethiopia, you will be able to explore more of the country’s less-visited sites, beautiful nature, culture, and history as all these unfold in front of you each and every mile. On your drive you will pass through many villages and small towns.
On arrival in Addis Ababa you will be met at the airport and transferred to the hotel. Addis Ababa is the third highest capital city in the world. Located at 2,400 meters above sea level in one of the highest parts of the Entoto mountain chain, the altitude may fatigue you, so you will take the day easy by exploring the city such as visiting the National Museum (home of the remains of the famous hominid fossil, “Lucy”) and enjoy the view from Entoto Mountain.
This morning you will take a flight to the lake side city of Bahir Dar, which is one of the most well-planned cities in Ethiopia. Located at 1,800 meters above sea level it is situated on the shores of Lake Tana, the largest lake in the country. Upon arrival, you will take a boat trip on Lake Tana to fully appreciate the sheer size of this waterway. There are a myriad of monasteries and churches on the islands; some are private and not accessible to the public. You will visit Ura Kidane Mihret church on Zeghie peninsula with its rich history and ornate frescoes. In the afternoon you will visit Tissisat to marvel at the Blue Nile Falls - or “Smoke of Fire”. The falls are located about 2hrs drive (on a rough, dusty road) from Bahir Dar but the result is worth it. The Falls are 400 meters wide when in flood and fall over a sheer chasm more than 45 meters in height. .
After breakfast, you will drive to Gondar through the beautiful countryside scenery of Fogera to arrive at Gondar around lunch time. the capital of Ethiopia in the 17th and 18th Centuries. Gondar is still one of Ethiopia’s most impressive cities, with its walled Royal Palace Enclosure (listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage monument). This enclosure lies at Gondar’s center and contains several well-preserved castles and other buildings. In the afternoon you will visit the Royal Palace Enclosure (listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage monument). This enclosure lies at Gondar’s center and contains several well-preserved castles and other buildings. In Gondar, there are a dozen castles built by various emperors over the course of 236 years. The city seems more European than African and also has Islamic influences. You will visit the palaces, residences, and baths of Fasilidas and also the church of Debre Berhan Selassie (Light of the Trinity) which is located at the summit of a hill and surrounded by fortified walls. The interior is decorated with beautiful frescoes.
After breakfast, drive from Gonder to Simien Mountain National Park, which is 130 kms. This 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 its colorful and busy market area. Before entering the park, you have to register at the park headquarters just outside town. Here a scout – one of the park regulations, joins you. Then drive to Sankober for the best view. En route, pass through pretty country, the foothills of the Semen Mountains, with carefully tended fields, 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 lammergeyers and gelada baboons of the trip.
Hike through an impressive mountain world with overwhelming landscapes and endless views, rugged rock faces with great flora and endemic wildlife such as Gelada baboons, Ibex ;Walia or vulture. If you're lucky you'll get to see some. After this active and wonderful day in the Simien Mountains, enjoy the evening back at the lodge
After having your breakfast, we drive to the ancient town of Axum through the chains of the Simien Mountains and the Tekeze river valley with fantastic views on the way.
Today you will have a city tour in Axum, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The legends narrated in the Kebre Nagast (Book of Kings) recount how the city of Axum as early as the 10th century B.C was already the city in which the Queen of Sheba resided. It is recounted that the son of the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon brought the Ark of the Covenant to Axum and it remains there to this day, preserved in a sanctuary. Famous long before the time of Christ, Axum was the capital of the long Axumite reign, one of the oldest African empires and represented a crucial connecting-point between Africa and Asia for almost a thousand years. Visit the Granite stone Stele of Axum, The Tombs of King Kaleb and his son King G/Mesekel, The Ezana’s stone inscription, The Queen of Sheba’s palace and Swimming pool, and the Church of Zion, which is the final resting place of the True Arc of The Covenant.
Today is a nice drive to Geralte through the beautiful Adwa Mountains, passing the Adwa battlefield, site of Emperor Menelik II's 1895 victory over the invading Italians. On the way visit Yeha Temple, which is more than 2500 years old and small museum in the Church compound. And then drive to the impressive, situated Debre Damo, which is the first monastery in Ethiopia and found in 6th C by Abune Aregawi, who was one of the Nine Saints. Stop in Adigrat for lunch and continue visiting if time permits Aba Gerima and Petros Paulos, two of the Tigray region's oldest and finest rock churches
Today, you will visit some of the most beautiful medieval churches with impressive viewpoints such as: Abuna Yemata Guh, Debre Maryam Korkor or Abreha WeAtsheba church. It requires climbing a steep mountain to reach these churches so good walking/mountain shoes are recommendable.
Enjoy the wonderful views and the typical countryside life along the way. Stop for buna, visits of a marked or visit more of Tigray's remote and ancient rock-hewn churches: Abraha Atsbeha, dating from the 10th century; the beautiful Wukro Chirkos; and Medhane Alem Kesho then drive to Mekele.
Drive on a scenic road to Lalibela. Arrive at your hotel in the late afternoon and enjoy the sunset from the terrace.
Tour the magnificent rock-hewn churches of Lalibela, a UNESCO World Heritage site. This group of eleven monolithic and semi- monolithic structures were carved directly into the stone of the mountainside at least 800 years ago. This complex boasts the largest monolithic church in the world, a maze of passageways and tunnels, intricately carved reliefs, and fabulous examples of icon paintings. In the late afternoon, enjoy a traditional coffee ceremony and learn the process for baking injera (a staple food for much of Ethiopia.)
For the morning we have two choices: Take a morning hike with mules to Mount Asheton, with its 13th century rock-hewn monastery and great views of the town; - OR - Drive to Yemrehanna Kristos, a beautiful church situated in a shallow cave that predates the churches of Lalibela. The drive to Yemrehanna will also give you the opportunity to view the rural countryside and villages of the Ethiopian highlands. Following either option above, continue with a tour of Lalibela’s churches in the afternoon.
Fly to Addis Ababa. Optional souvenir shopping. Enjoy a farewell dinner at a traditional Ethiopian restaurant featuring dancers and musicians representing some of the country's many ethnic groups. Transfer to airport for late night departure or additional hotel night booked upon request.