Northern Odyssey

In Ethiopia's northern highlands, the possibilities for adventure are endless. A lengthier trip leaves more room for exploration. Experience the core destinations north of Addis Ababa, then get right off the beaten track. In Ethiopia's northern highlands, the possibilities for adventure are endless. A lengthier trip leaves more room for exploration. Experience the core destinations north of Addis Ababa, then get right off the beaten track.
21 Days
$4,054

Northern Odyssey - 21 - $4,054

Itinerary Map

Start from Addis Ababa and end at Addis Ababa

Landmarks visited on Northern Odyssey

Itinerary

Day 1: The adventure begins!

Fly to Addis Ababa, where you will be met at the airport. After a transfer to your hotel, enjoy a little down time by the pool before taking your first steps into the city.

The Italian-built Piazza sits next to famous markets and bustling streets. Nearby are the Grand Anwar Mosque and the Ragual Church. The Mosque and church are within a stone’s throw of each other, highlighting the peace between different religions in Ethiopia.

Get lost in Mercato, the largest open air market in Africa. Its labyrinthine alleys are perfect for people watching or enjoying a coffee. Coffee ceremonies here are famous and a source of pride, be sure to try to experience this at least once on your trip!

Venture to the National Museum to see how it all started. Meet Lucy, the 3.2 million year old fossilised skeleton. Her discovery re-wrote the story of human evolution, as she was found to have walked on two legs.

See the Holy Trinity Cathedral, famed for its copper dome and neo-baroque architecture. It houses the tombs of the former Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassi, and the British suffragette Sylvia Pankhurst. A short drive up Mount Entoto will take you to the Palace of Emperor Menelik II. From this vantage point, you have an excellent view of the city.

On the way back to Addis, perhaps stop by Shiro Meda, the biggest garment market in the country, where hundreds of vendors line the busy Entoto Road and sell hand woven traditional cloths.

In the evening, enjoy a traditional dinner at one of the capital's fantastic cultural restaurants. 

Overnight: Capital Hotel or similar


Day 2 - Debre Markos

After a morning coffee and breakfast, your driver will pick you up from the hotel to begin your tour of northern Ethiopia.

Day two of the trip will take us to Debre Markos. On our way to Debre Markos, we will stop by Debre Libanos Monastery - which was founded in the 13th century by Saint Tekle Haimanot. In the close vicinity is also a historic Portuguese Bridge, which is the first bridge in Ethiopia. The area is also very rich in wildlife including the endemic Gelada Monkeys, and many endemic bird species. 

Continuing our adventure, we come across the breath taking view of Blue Nile Gorge. Situated at 210 km north of Addis Ababa, the gorge is formed by the Blue Nile river, the longest river in world. This gorge has a depth reaching 1,500 metres (4,900 ft) and is often compared with the American Grand Canyon.

Overnight: Gozamen or similar


Day 3 - Bahir Dar

On the third day of our trip we head Bahir Dar. After having lunch in the city, head out on a day excursion to see the famous Blue Nile Falls.  

The Blue Nile Falls have a height of 150 feet and a width estimated to be half a mile. The view is truly incredible, especially if you are visiting after the end of the rainy season. We will also walk through the footpath built in the 16th century by Portuguese explorers

In the evening, you might wish to visit one of the local Azmari houses, where you'll discover traditional songs and dances specific to the region.

Overnight: Kuriftu Resort & Spa


Day 4 - Gorgora

Full day boat trip from Bahir Dar to Gorgora, en route visit Ura Kidane Mihret and Narga Selassie churches. Alternatively, you can visit Ura Kidane Mihret from Bahir Dar and drive (4 hrs) from Bahir Dar to Gorgora.

In the morning, we will have breakfast and embark on a boat trip on Lake Tana to explore some of the monasteries hidden on its shores and islands. The lake also have interesting fauna, inlcuding hippos and various bird species. 

The lake have 37 islands and 20 of them are a home for churches and monasteries mainly founded in the 14th century. This trip will take us to Ura Kidane Mihret and Narga Selassie. As the monasteries are not easily accessible, they were used to store art treasures and religious relics from all over the country.

After we've explored the lake and its island treasures, continue the boat trip to Gorgora. If you prefer to go by car from Bahir Dar to Gorgora, that can also be arranged and the trip takes about 4 hours.

Overnight: Tim & Kim Village


Day 5 - Day at Leisure

Day at leisure at the lodge: visit local village, hiking and canoeing.

Overnight: Tim & Kim Village


Day 6 - Gondar

On day six of your trip, we will head to Gondar from Gorgora. The journey takes around an hour by car.

Gondar is a beautiful city and served as a capital of Ethiopia until 1855. Visit the Royal Enclosure, which has been listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site and the bath of Emperor Fasiledes who was emperor of Ethiopia from 1632-1667. The bath has huge religious significance to date for thousands of Orthodox Christian followers during the yearly Timket festival . 

In the afternoon, we will also visit the famous Church of Debre Birhan Selassie which was built by Emperor Eyasu II in the 17th Century. Debre Birhan Selassie is one of Ethiopia's most famous churches thanks to its interior wall paintings which depict biblical scenes and saints. The ceiling is also decorated with the faces of hundreds of angels.

Overnight: Goha Hotel or similar


Day 7 - Simien Mountains National Park

After driving for three hours from Gonder, we will arrive at Sankaber in the Simien Mountains National Park. From here we will start the hike to Gich which takes 5-6 hours. All our belongings will be carried by a mule. Navigate the escarpment before dropping down to get impressive views of the beautiful Jinbar Waterfall. 

From here we will head to our camp at 3600m above sea level, passing through terraced farmland. In the late afternoon, we will walk to mount Kedadit for an unforgettable sunset across the mountains.

Overnight: Gich Camp 


Day 8 - Simien Mountains National Park

Today is a 7-8 hour hike, and is undoubtedly the most spectacular park of our trek. After having breakfast at Geech Camp, we will start our hike by descending for about two hours through Afroalpine meadow, before descending to impressive views of Imet Gogo.  

The hike covers various peaks along the route, most notably Inateye (4,070m) and Imet Gogo (3925m). This is a great spot for bird watchers as many species are found here, including the tawny eagle, lammergeyer and augur buzzard. 

The final 2-3 hour descent will lead us to Chennek Camp where we will spend the night. Chennek is rich with giant Lobelia and also a good spot to see the endemic Walia Ibex

Overnight: Chennek Camp


Day 9 - Simien Mountains National Park

Wake up early in the morning to enjoy the the morning sunrise. After breakfast in the camp, begin to the trek to the summit of the Simien's second highest peak, Bwahit (4,430m). Bwahitlies to the south-east of Chennek camp. From here, you can have a great view of Berochwuha, Silki and the Lori village below.

This route is one of the most popular and it also leads to the summit of Ras Dejen, the highest spot in Ethiopia. 

Overnight: Chennek Camp


Day 10 - Axum

As your time in the Simiens comes to an end, leave the town of Debark and head to the ancient city of Axum. This is a long journey which will usually take around seven hours by road. However, looking over the Tekeze Gorge and the chain of never ending mountains, the views on the road trip are fabulous. 

Overnight: Sabean Hotel or similar


Day 11 - Axum 

Axum is the former capital of the Kingdom of Aksum which existed from 100 AD - 940 AD. The city is located in the Tigray region of northern Ethiopia and is 50 kilometres from the Eritrean border. 

Spend the day exploring the ancient Obelisks, the ancient tombs of Axumite kings, and the bath and palace of Queen Sheba. Axum’s Mary of Zion church is a holy place said to house the Ark of the Covenant after it was brought from Israel by Menelik I, the son of King Solomon of Jerusalem and Queen Sheba of Ethiopia.

Unfortunately, entry to the church is not permitted. That privilege is reserved for a single, specially chosen guardian monk.

Overnight: Sabean Hotel or similar 


Day 12 - Debre Damo

After having breakfast and Ethiopian coffee in Axum, we will hit the road for a four-hour drive leading to Hawzen in the Gheralta Mountains

On our way, we will visit Adwa, a city with significant historical importance for Ethiopians. It was the site of the Battle of Adwa, where the Ethiopian forces defeated a well-armed Italian colonial force in 1896. The date is now celebrated as a national holiday throughout the country.

Debre Damo is home to ancient monasteries which we will explore. 

Overnight: Debre Damo Hotel or similar 


Day 13 - Gohgot

From Hawzien, we drive an hour to Idaga Hamus, the start of 4-5 hour hike to Gohgot. These mountainous areas have great views across the Agame massif and villages below. There are also nearby churhces to explore in Gohgot.  

Overnight: Gohgot guesthouse


Day 14 - Enaf

Situated at 3000m above sea level, Enaf has the best views across the Agame massif and its valleys. The hike for the day will take around 6–7 hours and passes by lovely churches. One of these churches is Debre Giyorgis, a famous church built using ancient techniques. 

Overnight: Enaf guesthouse


Day 15 - Mekele

Hike (4 hrs) Enaf to Adigrat. Drive (2 hrs) Adigrat to Mekele.

The final stretch of hiking in the Tigrayan plateaus is a 4 hour route involving some steep sections. Agame massive is still visible thought the journey, and provides a stunning backdrop. 

Overnight: Axum Hotel or similar 


Day 16 - Lalibela

Drive (9 hrs) Mekele to Lalibela via Sekota or Woldya.

After breakfast, we will start the 470km journey to Lalibela. We will drive through the Ambalage chain of mountains. 

Overnight: Tukul Village Hotel or similar 


Day 17 - Lalibela

Visit the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela.

Lalibela is most famous for its rock-hewn churches which were built in the 12th-13th centuries. The churches are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and are often called the eigth wonder of the world. 

With a magnificent architecture and beautiful paintings inside the churches, Lalibela remains the religious epicentre of Ethiopia. 

Overnight: Tukul Village Hotel or similar 


Day 18 - Hudad Lodge

Hike (from 1.5 up to 5 hrs depending on starting point) to Hudad Lodge, en route visit the Asheton Maryam church.

We will leave Lalibela after breakfast and start our hike to Hudad lodge via Asheten Maryam, a monastery  carved out of the cliffs in the highlands around Lalibela. The setting of the monastery offers 360 degree views of the valley and town below.

The path to Hudad Lodge is a great opportunity to learn more about life in rural Ethiopia. We can follow two routes to accomplish today's hike. The first option is to hike from the trailhead to Hudad Lodge which will take between 4 and 5 hours. A second option is to hike for 2.5 hours and use the car for the remaining part of the journey.

Overnight: Hudad Lodge


Day 19 - Homestay in rural Lalibela

We stay on the plateau today and hike 4-7 hours from Hudad Lodge to a local village for a homestay. 

Overnight: homestay


Day 20 - Lalibela

Hike (4-7 hrs) from the local village to Yimrehane Kristos church and transfer (1.5 hrs) back to central Lalibela.

In the early morning we will hike to Yimrehane Kristos church. This is a beautiful decorated church built in the 11th century and was included on the 2014 World Monuments Watch list.

After visiting the church, our car will wait us back to central Lalibela. 

Overnight: Tukul Village Hotel or similar


Day 21 - Addis Ababa

As the adventure draws to a close, catch a flight from Lalibela back to Addis Ababa. A minibus is available for transport around Addis Ababa. Evening transfer to Bole International Airport for international flight home. 

Prices, Departures and Inclusions

Prices are per person based on 2 people travelling together. Price is guideline only. Price will depend on your final itinerary, group size, accommodation choices, and time of year. 

Includes

  • Domestic flights. 
  • Airport transfers and road transport around Addis Ababa and Lalibela by private minibus.
  • Road transport from day 2 until day 16 by standard 4WD with English-speaking driver/ guide, including fuel, driver allowances and accommodation.
  • Accommodation based on double/ twin room sharing.
  • Meal plan bed and breakfast. Full board (including mineral water) during camping and trekking.
  • Full camping equipment including tents, mattresses and sleeping bags for camping and trekking. Recommended to bring own sleeping bag.
  • Fees for entrances, local guides, compulsory scouts/ security personnel and boats for activities mentioned in the itinerary.
  • All government taxes for the services included in the tour price.

Excludes

  • International flights and visa fees.
  • Lunches and dinners, unless stated as included above.
  • Activities not mentioned or stated as optional in the itinerary.
  • Fees for photos and video.
  • Other personal expenses, souvenirs, tips and gratuities, etc.

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