10 Days North – Historic and Cultural
9 nights hotel, eco-lodge.
Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.
Domestic flights and hotel transfer for these flights. Mini-van inter-city & for all included activities.
Addis tour, Bahr Dar tour, Blue Nile Falls, Gonder tour, Axum tour, Lalibela churches, Hudad hike, wildlife watching, traditional bar, music and dance (Torpido), sunset views (Ben Abeba), visit to famers’ family home, shopping tour.
Day 1: Addis Ababa
You can arrive at anytime as there are no activities planned until a meeting at 5pm to meet the group and your tour leader, Eyayaw. If you can’t arrange a flight that will arrive in time, consider arriving a day early, in which case contact us and we can arrange the hotel. If your flight arrives early, you will have a free day to explore and get a feel for the bustling capital.
Addis Ababa, established by the Emperor Menelik II in 1887, is a thriving metropolis where century old traditions mingle with 21st century technologies. You’ll see people herding goats to market past grand hotels, people attending church in white robes, and shops with the latest fashion all in one location.
Day 2: Addis
We’ll take a city tour in the morning, visiting the National Museum, where you’ll find the remains of “Lucy”, the oldest human fossil and learn about the fascinating history of they Abyssinian Empire. We’ll also visit the Ethnographic Museum, located in the palace of former Emperor Haile Selassie, where you will discover the fascinating customs of the 80 different ethnic groups and tribes of Ethiopia.
The afternoon is free. Optional activities include a visit to Mount Entoto, where you’ll have spectacular views across the whole city, or to Mekarto – the largest market in Africa.
Day 3: Bahr Dar
You will take the morning flight (08:05 am, 08.10am or 11:00am) to Bahir Dar. You will have a boat trip on Lake Tana, with 37 islands, 32 of them have churches and monasteries of considerable historical and cultural interest. In the afternoon you will have an excursion to the Blue Nile Falls, also known locally as Tissisat (smoking waterfall): 100 m wide, the water plunges for 45m, giving rise to steam clouds and rainbows. Late in the afternoon, drive back to Bahir Dar and finish the day with a lovely sunset over Lake Tana.
Day 4: Gonder
After breakfast, you will drive to Gondar. The city has a European feel and was the capital of the Ethiopian Empire from 1635–1855. In the afternoon, visit Fasiladas’ Palace, probably the most impressive of all the castles found in the area and the oldest one! Continue to the Church of Debre Berham Selassie (Light of the Trinity). The interior is decorated with beautiful frescos, cherubs and paintings.
Day 5: Axum
Morning flight to Axum. We will take a tour of the incredible historical sites of Axum. Visit the obelisk fields, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, several tombs, the ruins of the Queen of Sheba’s palace and St Mary of Zion Church, the first built in sub-Saharan Africa, which is said to house the most fabled biblical relic in history – the Ark of the Covenant.
Obelisks (or stele) are carved from a single piece of granite, and are often elaborately decorated. The field is home to over 100 obelisks– the largest one measuring 33 metres and weighing 517 tones. Noteworthy tombs include that of King Kaleb and Gebre Meskel.
Axum was the first capital of the Abysinian Empire – Africa’s oldest empire. The Kingdom of Axum lasted from 1 AD to 700 AD and was one of the most powerful kingdoms of the ancient world. Centrally located on an important trading route from Egypt to the Mediterranean Sea and onward to India, the Axumite society was rich, well organized and technically advanced. In this period Christianity was introduced to Ethiopia, bronze, silver and gold coins were produced, and amazing tombs and monoliths were constructed.
Day 6: Lalibela Rest Day
We will fly to Lalibela and have lunch in one of the world’s most isolated yet extremely significant historical and religious cities. Lalibela, set at 2500 meters in wild, craggy mountains, was the capital of the powerful Zagwie dynasty from the 10th-13th Century.
Eyayaw will take you to his favourite Juice Bar, down the road from where he grew up, then the afternoon is free. You can spend time in the beautiful Seven Olives garden, listening to the local birds and connect to world with wifi. After dinner we will watch the sunset over the mountains from the out-of-this-world architectural restaurant Ben Abeba.
Day 7: Lalibela Churches
We’ll spend a full day visiting the remarkable rock-hewn churches of Lalibela, carved from single blocks of pink granite stone, and classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Constructed in the 12th and 13th centuries, there are 11 churches, a tomb, a chapel, and tunnels connecting many of them. The largest, Bet Medhane Alem, measures 33.5 metres by 23.5 metres, while Bet Giyorgis (St George’s), carved in the form of a cross is the most famous. To conclude this majestic day we will visit “Torpido”, a traditional music and honey wine venue where will see traditional live music and dancing and taste the unique national drink “Tej”.
Day 8: Hudad Hike
We will hike up (1.5-2hrs) to the Hudad community, located at an altitude of 3300m. Mules will carry your luggage. On the way we will visit the Asheten Marian Monastery, the first church built around Lalibela, and it has fantastic views over the whole Lalibela region.
The Hudad-Abune Joseph area offers a fine blend of spectacular landscapes and unique flora and fauna. A remnant forest of afro-alpine vegetation provides one of the few remaining refuges for many endemic and endangered species, including the Gelada Baboons, Ethiopian red fox and many others. You will enjoy the magic of the mountain cliffs and ravines and watching the Lamagi (a huge vulture) and other birds and wildlife.
Day 9: Hudad
You have many options today to explore the mountain area.
– See the The Hudad Primary School & Development Project, by Friends of the Hudad, which aims to improve the wellbeing of this community in the Ethiopian highlands. This project integrates environmental, social and economic sustainability, and focuses on capacity building through education. Friends of the Hudad is a grassroots organisation based in Melbourne, founded by 5 members with personal ties to Ethiopia. The organisation is a registered NGO with charity status in Australia and Ethiopia and works collaboratively with the Hudad community. Find out more at their website. Stay overnight at Hudad.
– Visit the local village, see how the people live and have coffee made the traditional with a family in their home. Stay overnight at Hudad.
For the more adventurous types there are various optional activities for this day.
– Take a walk through the beautiful forest, abundant with wildflowers and Abyssinian roses after the rainy season and refreshingly cool in the shade of ancient Junipers. Stay overnight at Hudad.
– Hike further into the mountains for the day, up to the next plateau en-route to the Abune Joseph Mountain, the 3rd highest peak in Ethiopia. Stay overnight at Hudad.
– You can return to Lalibela via the amazing Yimrhane Kristos Monastery, built inside a cave on a cliff top. This is a 5 hour walk. Overnight stay Lalibela.
Day 10: Return to Addis
We will travel down to Lalibela in the morning (if you didn’t choose to visit the Yimrhane Kristos Monastery). We will fly back to Addis and spend the afternoon in the two best shopping areas – Shiromeda, the famous cloth market and Ambasa Dihr for handicrafts and souvenirs. The tour finishes in the evening.