Landmarks visited on Historic North and Luxury Lodges
Day 1: Evening arrival in Addis
Upon arrival at Bole International Airport, your driver will meet you just outside the iinternational, Addis Ababa, met and pickup with a guide and driver waiting outside the airport terminal and transfer to a hotel to check in. (if arriving early, possible to do the city tour at the capital city).
Overnight: Capital Hotel & Spa
Day 2: Addis Ababa
Pickup from the hotel city tour, visit the main museums, a few key churches and a market in Addis. The visit includes; Selasie, Entoto, Merkato, National Museum and Ethnographic museum.Overnight: Capital Hotel & Spa
Day 3: Bahir Dar
An hour flight north to Bahir Dar. Here your guide will accompany you on a boat trip on Lake Tana, Ethiopia’s largest lake. Visit some of the peaceful monasteries nestled on the islands and peninsulas around the lake and, if you are lucky, wander through coffee plantations, enjoy some of the local brew and meet local farmers. As the monasteries were used for religious retreats, the lake and its islands serve as an unofficial nature reserve. Look out for white pelicans and ‘airbreathing’ catfish. Your boat tour will end at Zege peninsula. There is a short path walk towards Ura Kidrane Mehret, arguably the most beautiful of all the churches at Lake Tana, with hundred-year-old characterful frescos.
Later venture towards the only outflow of the lake: Blue Nile Falls. These 42 metre falls create such large amounts of spray that they are known in Amharic (Ethiopia’s official language) as ‘Tis Abay’ meaning ‘Smoking Water’, which can soak you from a kilometre away. A short distance down the Blue Nile lies a stone bridge built in 1626: potentially one of the famed seven stone bridges built by the emperor Fasilides. This river and another, the White Nile, are the two main tributaries to the Nile, the world’s longest river.
Overnight: Blue Nile Avanti
Day 4: Lalibela
Scenic drive across the lowlands beside lake Tan, and up inot the mountains, passing volcanic plugs, forst and very high area around Mount Guna. Sections of the road have great views to the north and south, notably crossing a road bridge between Wollo and Gondar provinces. Head north at Gashena and drop off the highlands crossing rovers on before climbing back up to Lalibela. Visit the rock-Hewn Churches of Lalibela found in three groups as many as possible.
Overnight: Tabor Hotel
Day 5: Lalibela
Morning, visit the remaining rock hewn churches and spend a relaxing free time at a hotel.
Overnight: Tabor Hotel
Day 6: Gondar
A midday flight to Gondar, the old capital of the country. Your first stop will be Debre Berhan Selassie Church, whose heavy and unassuming stone facade hides the colourful frescoes inside.
After this you will head to the well-preserved Fasil Gebbi in Gondar, described by some as the ‘Camelot of Africa’ for a guided tour. Now known as the Royal Enclosure, this was initially founded in 1636 and built by Emperor Fasilides as his home, but successive emperors and rulers added to his blueprint. Now, the buildings span over 70,000 square metres of land and include palaces, libraries, two lion houses, royal baths, and a women’s vocational school built by Mentewab, the Empress of Ethiopia. Within the enclosure there there are multiple architectural styles and influences jostling for position. The influences include Indian, Portuguese, Moorish and Aksumite.
Overnight: Goha Hotel
Day 7: Simien Mountains National Park
Drive on up to the Simiens, a good asphalt road, with some great view points. Most westerly part of the trek in the Simien National Park. You will get some great views from the escarpment edge, large troops of Geladas, and raptors on the thermals. Lots of Erica woodland in the valleys coming up from the south, and on the escarpment edge. A good area to sttretch the legs without any serious walking. Enjoy a sundown drink with the stunning views from Limalimo Lodge before retreating inside for dinner and the roaring fire.
Overnight: Limalimo Lodge
Day 8: Simien Mountains National Park
Drive along the main road through the park to Chenek. Back to the lodge at the end of the day. Drive into park, visit the main view points looking for wildlife and birds. Take short walks from the vehicle, enjoy a picnic with a view, see around Chenek (maybe Walia Ibex?), return to Lodge for sundowners.Back for second night at this stunning lodge.
Overnight: Limalimo Lodge
Day 9: Axum
Drive down the switchbacks from the Simien mountains to the Tekeze river. Cross the river and drive along the Tigrayan plateau to Shire and Axum . 7 hours, See some of the sights of Axum today. The Obelisks look good in the afternoon sun and see the tombs wioth the massive stone arcitecture.
Overnight: Sabean Hotel
Day 10: Hawzien
Early in the morning visit the church compound. A church of some form has stood here since the earliest days of Ethiopian Christianity and although the original church is long gone there are stones from ancient times remaining with Sabean script. The complex includes the new church, old church, museum and the chapel said to house the Ark of the Covenant. In a pretty valley south of Hawzien and signposted off the Megab-Wukro road, Maryam Papaseit is one of the most accessible and rewarding churches in the region. It's a semi-monolithic structure (only the 'Holy of Holies' is hewn from the rock) while the main sanctuary has some exceptional paintings, most of which date from the 17th century. The church is a moderate one-hour walk from the end of the road. Stay in Korkor Lodge with stunning views to the Gheralta mountains.
Overnight: Korkor Lodge
Day 11: Hawzien
Visit another church in the Gheralta area. Back to the lodge to spend the overnight.
Overnight: Korkor Lodge
Day 12: Return to Addis
Many wonderful rock churches lie along the route from Hawzen to Mekele or can be visited from it. These include the magnificent Abreha we Atsbeha and Wukro Cherkos. Both are easy to access and can be reached on the drive between Hawzen and Mekele. Also known as Adi Kesho, after its location, this is one of Tigray’s oldest, tallest and finest rock-hewn churches. Its exterior and interior walls are roughly hewn, which only makes the elaborately carved coffered ceiling that much more special. Ask to watch them unlock the door from the inside: rather ingenious indeed! From the end of the 4WD track, it’s a relatively easy 10-minute walk up the hill to the church. Transfer to the airport, to check in to domestic flight back to Addis.
Prices, Departures and Inclusions
Prices are per person based on 2 people travelling together. Prices guideline only, actual price swill depend on final itinerary, accommodation choices, and time of year.
- Domestic flights based on discounted Ethiopian Airlines rates enjoyed when travellers fly internationally with Ethiopian Airlines.
- All ground transport via private minibus or 4WD.
- All accommodation as indicated in the itinerary.
- Meal plan bed and breakfast. Full board at Limalimo Lodge and Korkor Lodge.
- Fees for entrances, local guides and compulsory scouts for activities mentioned in the itinerary, unless listed as excluded.
- All government taxes for the services included in the tour price.
- Any meals not mentioned as included.
- International flights and visa fees.
- Other personal expenses, souvenirs, tips and gratuities, etc.
- Any activities not mentioned as included.
- Church entrance fee in Tigray.