Ethiopian Highlights,8 Days

Ethiopia (Addis Ababa, Bahir Dar, Gondar, Lalibela, Axum)

Come and tour the many highlights of Ethiopia, one of the most storied countries in the world with 9 UNESCO world heritage sites. Explore its myriad of ancient cities including Addis Ababa, Gondar, Axum, and Lalibela with their centuries old murals, churches, and castles. Visit one of the sources of the Nile at the magnificent Blue Nile Falls, the second largest waterfall in Africa.

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  1. Day 1 Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

    Arrive Addis Ababa; meet assist and transfer to Hotel.

    Meal(s) Included: No

    Overnight at Ghion Hotel or Similar

  2. Day 2 Addis Ababa

    City Tour of Addis Ababa; the first stop is scenic Mount Entoto. At 2500 m, Addis Ababa is the third highest capital in the world and Entoto is several hundred metres higher. Within Entoto’s old Imperial Compound, you will visit the churches of Mariam and the Archangel Raguel. Afterwards, stop at the National Archaeological Museum where exhibits include the 3.5 million-year-old bones of ‘Lucy’. Dinner at the Crown Hotel; enjoy fascinating performances of traditional music and dance from the different regions of Ethiopia.

    Meal(s) Included: Breakfast, Dinner

    Overnight at Ghion Hotel or Similar

  3. Day 3 Bahir Dar

    Transfer to the airport for flight to Bahir Dar;  go on an excursion of the Blue Nile Falls, about 30 km from Bahir Dar. They are Africa’s second largest waterfalls and are at their most spectacular during and after the rainy season (from about June to January). This is where the Blue Nile, which contributes 85% of the main Nile begins its long journey to the Mediterranean. After lunch, explore Bahir Dar, including the market and a visit of the Palace of the late Emperor Haile Selassie at Bizeit.

    Meal(s) Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

    Overnight at Kuriftu Resort or Similar

  4. Day 4 Bahir Dar to Gondar

    Transfer to the airport for the 25 minutes flight to Gondar. Gondar was the imperial capital from the 17th to the mid-19th century. Visitors come to see the Imperial Compound, with the enchanting ‘Fasalidas’ castles still in good condition. There is also the bath of King Fasilides. Here, at Timket (Ethiopian Epiphany), a nearby river is diverted to fill an area the size of a small swimming pool and worshippers plunge into the cold water in a re-enactment of the baptism of Christ in the River Jordan. Although many of Gondar’s churches were destroyed in the Mahdist invasion from Sudan in the 1880s, one fine example, Debre Berhan Selassie, survives. According to the legend, a swarm of bees diverted the invaders. The walls and ceiling are covered with vivid murals: the angels’ faces on the ceiling have become a common motif in Ethiopian design. The tour ends with a visit to the ruined palace of Queen Mentowab and the church of Qusquam. The Mini Fogera is worth visiting in the evening for Asmari music and Ethiopian food.

    Meal(s) Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

    Overnight at Hotel Goha or Similar

  5. Day 5 Gondar to Lalibela

    Fly to Lalibela. At the end of the 12th and beginning of the 13th centuries, King Lalibela of the Zaghwe dynasty built a series of rock hewn churches, now rightly acknowledged as one of the wonders of the world. Even from the air, the churches, carved into the rugged mountainsides, are a breathtaking spectacle.There are 11 churches in the town named after him, with others in the surrounding countryside. All are still in use. You will be taken on a tour of the first group of churches, return to your hotel for lunch, and continue the tour in the afternoon. It is estimated that it took 25 years to construct the churches. For the kingdom to have kept a large work force engaged in economically unproductive labour for such a period means it was very wealthy. The area was fertile and agriculturally productive then, whereas deforestation and ecological degradation have since made it barren.

    Meal(s) Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

    Overnight at Tukul Village or Similar

  6. Day 6 Lalibela

    Visit the church of Ashetun Mariam by mule – or on foot. There are wonderful views of the surrounding countryside from its mountaintop location. Alternatively you may visit the cave church of Neakuto Leab. 40 km from Lalibela is the beautiful cave church of Yemrehane Kristos, much finer than that of Neakuto Leab. If you are willing to do a full day’s touring, you can see both churches today.

    Meal(s) Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

    Overnight at Tukul Village or Similar

  7. Day 7 Lalibela to Axum

    Transfer to the airport for the flight to Axum. From around 200 BC to 700 AD, Axum was the seat of an empire that extended across the Red Sea to Arabia, traded with India and China, had its own alphabet, constructed great engineering works and, in the 4th century, was one of the four great powers of the ancient world. You can see the remarkable stelae or obelisks, which are the largest single pieces of stone standing anywhere on the world. It is still not understood how they were transported from the quarry and erected. There are also tombs and castles of former monarchs, the Axum Museum and Mariamtsion Church, built on the site of Ethiopia’s first church. A chapel within the church compound is believed by Ethiopian Orthodox Christians to house the Ark of the Covenant, or the original tablets of Moses. Your tour starts with a visit to the museum and the stelae. Then you ascend a hill to see the castle of King Kalab, passing Mai Shum (the bath of the Queen of Sheba) on the way. Coming back into town, you will see the tomb of King Basen, visit the small museum inside the church grounds (the priests may likely put on display crowns of past kings for visitors to see), and end the day with a visit to the site known locally as Queen Sheba’s Palace, although in fact it is of a later date, the villa of an Axumite notable from around the 1st century AD. The Yeha Hotel, is set on a hill overlooking the stelae field and the Mariamtsion Church.

    Meal(s) Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

    Overnight at Yeha Hotel or Similar

  8. Day 8 Axum to Addis Ababa

    You will fly to Addis Ababa; afternoon at leisure; attend farewell dinner.
    Transfer to the airport for your flight back home

    Meal(s) Included: Breakfast

Trip Includes

  • Meeting and assistance upon arrival and departure
  • All domestic flights, transfers and assistance
  • Accommodation in the properties listed
  • Tours in private vehicles
  • Experienced tour guides
  • Admissions to all listed sites
  • Luggage handling
  • Meals indicated

Not Included

  • Flight to/from Ethiopia
  • Visa fees
  • Travel insurance
  • Gratuity to drivers and guides
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8 Day Tourstarting from$3995 / person
two per room
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