Bahirdar, Gondar, Simien Mountain National Park, Axsum, Geralta, Mekelle, Lalibela, Langano, Bale National Park, Yirgalm, Dorze, Arba Minch, Konso, Hamer, Dasanech, Mursi
Visit 7 UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Your guide will meet you at the exit of Addis Ababa Bole International Airport and accompany you to your hotel.
Addis Ababa is 2400 to 3100 meters above sea level. This makes it the third highest capital in the world. The city was founded in the time of Emperor Menelik II in 1887. It has been the most important city in the country ever since. Addis Ababa is not only the capital of Ethiopia, but also the seat of the Organization of African Unity founded in 1963 (OAU today African Union).
Since 1991, the city on the edge of Lake Tana is the capital of the Amhara regions and is considered the most beautiful city in Ethiopia. We owe that to the palm-fringed streets.
In the morning, a boat trip on the largest lake in the country is on the itinerary. The lake is 84 km long, 66 km wide with an area of 3250 km2, about 6 times larger than the southern German Lake Constance. You go by boat to a church on one of the islands in Lake Tana. The interior walls of the monasteries are decorated with magnificent murals and in the sanctum of the round churches copies of “The ark of the covenant” are kept. The treasure house keeps precious icons, bibles, processional crosses and imperial crowns from the Middle Ages. The murals tell about the gospel. A certain knowledge of the Bible is an advantage …
After a nice lunch break we drive to the beautiful waterfalls of the Blue Nile, about 32 km to the TissIsat (locally known as the smoking Nile). The Blue Nile (Abay) is the longest river in the world at 6650 km. The source of the Blue Nile is in the North Western highlands of Ethiopia starting as the FelegeGhion, one of the four streams of paradise mentioned in Genesis (Genesis 2:13). The river rises south of Lake Tana and flows from here into Sudan. The river then flows through Sudan to Khartoum where the Blue Nile meets the White Nile, forming the Great Nile, which after flowing through Egypt finally discharges into the Mediterranean Sea.
We visit the Imperial city of Gondar, located 2200 meters above sea level. The city was founded in 1632 by the Emperor Fasilidas and for many decades was not only the capital, but also the centre of Ethiopian art, literature and science.
Gondar has another attraction, the Debre Berehan Selassie Church with one of the most beautiful murals in the country.
After breakfast a drive to Simien National Park is on the menu. Half of its area is above 1200 meters, more than 25 percent over 1800 meters, more than 5 percent even reach heights over 3500 meters!
The World Heritage National Park is home to countless animals, birds and plant species. Particularly impressive is the breathtaking scenery, it is unbelievably beautiful here. We take the time for a little hike. The national park is the home of the unique Ethiopian ibexes Walya, the miniature bush-buck, the Ethiopian wolf and more than 22,000 endemic bloodbath baboons.
After breakfast we drive through an extraordinary landscape with rugged mountain ranges and sparse Afro-alpine vegetation. Our journey takes us over a high plateau to the deep gorge of the Tekezze River, where you can see baobab trees and incense trees from a short distance.
On the way we will visit a primary school and get to know the Ethiopian school system. We meet – hopefully – very friendly children. If you want to donate, please bring school supplies to the tour guide, which will be handed to the teacher. This would be very valuable and appreciated!
Please do not distribute gifts to children directly, otherwise they will learn to beg!
Today we reach Axsum.
According to the histories of Herodotus, the empire of Axsum belonged to the most powerful countries of the world. At that time, Greek was spoken at the court of Axsum.
From the 1st to the 9th century, Axsum was the most important trade centre in eastern Africa. Even back then Ethiopia had a very good trade relationship with Europe.
From the peak days of the Axsumitian empire are also the monolithic grave steles over 33 m high. Even before the Western European states, King Ezana introduced Christianity as the state religion in the 4th century. According to the Ethiopian tradition, the originals of Moses’ law book are preserved in St. Mary’s Church.
The holy ark of the covenant was said to have been brought from the temple in Jerusalem to Axsum by King Menelik I (about 1000 years before Christ). He was the first Ethiopian king, son of the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon. Ancient ruins of former palaces with strong Sabaean (Yemeni) influence, royal tombs, the “Bath of the Queen of Saba” and other historically interesting buildings can be admired today.
We drive past Debre Damo and Yeha and we marvel at the landscape. We stop to visit the temple of Yeha with walls up to 12 meters high and an estimated age of about 2500 years. A photo stop in the Adaua Mountains, where the battle between Italians and Ethiopians took place in 1896, victorious for the Ethiopians, is next on the itinerary! This important victory, allowing Ethiopia to escape the fate of colonisation, is to this day instilling pride onto every Ethiopian.
The journey continues to the oldest monastery of Orthodox religion, Debre Damo Monastery, founded in the 6th century by Emperor GebreMeskel. Unfortunately, this monastery is not accessible to women!
We reach our beautiful lodge and enjoy the view of the sandstone massif of Geralta from our rooms.
There are more than 150 rock churches in Ethiopia, most of them in the Tigray region.
According to today’s knowledge of the rock church, the oldest churches of the Orthodox religion come from this area. They exist since the introduction of the faith by the kings Ezana and Saizana in the 4th century. The church of AberhawaAtsbeha was built during this time, when Christianity was declared a state religion. The church has been carved out of the upcoming sandstone.
The trail might prove a little difficult, in which case we can adjust/change the program – although the magnificent views from the rock church over the surrounding landscape might be well worth the effort!
After the visit, the journey continues to Mekele, the capital city of the Tigray region since 1991. After a brief city tour we arrive at our hotel for the night.
Drive to the unimaginable works of art, the eighth wonder of the world cultural heritage, to Lalibela.
Before we arrive in Lalibela, we will visit Yimhran Kerstos Church, built in the pre-Lalibela period. The church stands under a rock overhang, protected by a modern wall, which initially obstructs the view from the outside of the church. The Yemhrehane church was built in the axsumite architectural style of a combination of stone and wood.
The day ends with a visit to a farming village. This will be an unforgettable memory for you.
The miracle Lalibela is since 1978 not only a cultural heritage, but also the eighth wonder of the world!
At this place, formerly known as Roha, a new “African Jerusalem” was built in the midst of Christian Ethiopia surrounded by Islamic realms at 2500 m above sea level. The world-famous rock churches were built by King Lalibela in the late 12th and early 13th centuries. An architectural marvel completely carved out of the rock. Some churches are even monolithic. Today you visit the so-called “first group” of the eleven churches of Lalibela carved out of the raw rock:
BeteMedhanialem (World Savior Church), BeteMeskel (Cross Church), Bete Mariam, BeteDenegal (Church of the Virginity) and the twin church BeteSina (Church of the Sinai desert) and the adjoining, only for men accessible beet Golgota ( Church of Mount Golgota) also called the Bete Mikael with the Selassie Chapel.
In the afternoon we visit the remaining churches of Lalibela. We visit the second group of churches comprising of the twin churches BeteGabreel and Bete Raphael (St. Gabriel and St. Raphael church), BeteMarquoreos (St. Markurios church), Bete Emanuel (Emanuels church) and Abba Libanos (Church of Saint Libano). We also visit what is considered the crown piece of all the churches, BeteGhiorghis (St Georges Church), which is located away from the two main groups. This church was carved downwards out of solid rock in the form of a cross.
After the morning flight to Addis Ababa we continue to Lake Langano, the only lake in the country where one can take a refreshing swim and relax for the rest of the afternoon
After breakfast drive to Bale National Park
Bale National Park is the second highest national park.
It is located between 1550 and 4377 meters above sea level. There are more than 1600 plant species, of which 160 species are endemic, only in Ethiopia. Of these, 34 species occur only in the Bale, about 41% of the medicinal plants known in Ethiopia are also found there.
There are only endemic plant species to be found, but there are so many bird and animal species
Only in Bale occur: `Ethiopian wolf, green monkey, Ethiopian highland hare, black-gray brush hair, look grass rat, we always meet reedbuck, bushbuck, warthog, mountain Nyala and the African wild dog. For birdwatchers the park is home to a huge variety of birds, such as blue-winged goose and many more.
For animal, plant and bird lovers, this is a highlight of the journey. After breakfast we drive to the second highest mountain chain in Ethiopia, situated in the Bale National Park. Before we arrive at our accommodation, we will go for a walk in Dinsho Park.
We drive to Yirgalm, one of the main areas for coffee plantations.
If time permits, we will walk through the coffee plantation. Maybe you can take a coffee plant home with you.
Shortly before Arba Minch we make a detour to a village of Dorze. The Dorts differ considerably in respect of the leadership of the tribe from the other races. The tribe has no chief or king, but a leader chosen by the council of elders for a short period of time. The Dorze have a great tradition in weaving cotton. Their fabrics are very colourful. Another feature of the Dorze is the beehive-like construction of their houses, which are up to 10 meters high.
After breakfast, we take a boat trip on the Chamo lake to observe hippos, giant crocodiles and seabirds. Then we begin our journey to one of the region’s most remarkable ethnic groups: the Konso. The villages are mostly surrounded by a stone wall. The tombs of war heroes and kings were marked with wooden steles. The fields in the area of the Konso are terraced to improve irrigation and protect the soil from erosion in this relatively dry and hilly region. The region has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2011.
Slowly we dive into the more unusual cultures of different tribes. A visit of a Hamer village is on the program. Today we may have the opportunity to participate in the celebration of the “Bullsprung”. That’s not guaranteed, but we try our best!
Todays first stop will be Omorate. The Dasanech are a tribe celebrating the transfer of girls to women. An elaborate celebration is the conclusion, in which the Dasnanech dress specially, e.g. with leopard skins. The women wear aprons made of leather, to which metal pieces are sewn. Numerous arm and leg bracelets create a rhythmic sound when walking. A colourful face painting can be seen on the Dasanech. After the village tour we will drive back to Turmi.
On todays drive from Turmi to Jinka, we stop to visit the tribe of the Bena and the tribe of the Ari.
A trip to the people of Mursi, a tribe secluded from the modern world.
The visit to the Mursi will be very interesting for you. Known for its eye-catching plate lips, a visit to the Mursi is a highlight of the journey. The women decorate their lips and ears with round discs, the men attach themselves ornamental scars according to their hunting success.
Morning flight from Lalibela to Addis Ababa. Depending on the time of your return flight, we will provide you with a day room to relax until 7pm at which time we are to invite you to a farewell dinner with folklore. Possibility to visit the Ethnological Museum.
After that we accompany you to the airport and check you in.