Day 15 Travel North with Lalibela- Geralta – Yiha – Axsum – Simien Mountain National Park – Gondar – BahirDar and to the South including Langano – Bale National Park -Yirgalm – and Addis Ababa
Your guide will meet you at the exit of Addis Abeba 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).
We take the early morning flight to Lalibela – to the unimaginable artwork and the eighth wonder of the world. 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 Virginity) and the twin church BeteSina (Church of the Sinai desert) and the adjoining, only for men accessible Beet Golgotha ( Church of Mount Golgota) also called the Bete Mikael with the Selassie Chapel.
Excursion to YimhranKerstos Church
The church stands beneath a massive rock overhang, protected by a modern wall, which initially obscures the view of the church from outside. Yemhrehane church was built in the axsumitic style of a combination of stone and wood. The king reigned the country 1133-1172.
In the afternoon we visit the remaining churches of Lalibela. We visit the second group of churches comprising 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.
Our journey continues by minibus to the north of Ethiopia to Hawzin.
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 breakfast we drive in the direction of Axsum,past Debre Damo and Yeha and we marvel at the landscape. We stop to visitthe 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 colonization, 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. This monastery is not accessible to women!
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 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.
fter 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!
After an early breakfast we drive to Simien National Park. Half of its area is above 1200 meters, more than 25 % over 1800 meters, more than 5 % even reach heights of over 3500 meters!
The World Heritage National Park is home to countless animals, birds and plant species. Particularly impressive is the breath-taking scenery, it is unbelievably beautiful here. Wetake a little hike. The national park is the home of the unique Ethiopian ibexes Walya, the miniature bushbuck, the Ethiopian wolf and more than 22,000 endemic bloodbath baboons.
Filled with impressions we drive on to Gonder.
We will visit the imperial city of Gonder, which is 2200 m above sea level. The city was founded in 1632 by the Emperor Fasilidas, and for many decades was not only the capital city, but also the centre of Ethiopian art, literature and science.
Another attraction, well worth the experience, is the Debre Berehan Selassie Church with one of the most beautiful murals in the country. In the afternoon we continue to Bahir Dar.
Since 1991, the city on the edge of Lake Tana is the capital city of the Amhara regions and is considered the most beautiful city in Ethiopia. We owe that to the palm-fringed streets.
In the morning we take a boat trip on the largest lake in the country. 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 the “copies of the ark of the covenant” are kept. The treasure house contains 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.
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.
For animal, plant or 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 make a great trip in the morning to the second highest mountainin Ethiopia, the DuluTimtu, 4377m above sea level.
Here,in the midst of a unique moorland landscape with Afro alpine vegetation, giant lobelias and much more, is the home of the endemic Ethiopian wolves.
Before we arrive in Addis Ababa, we will visit the World Heritage Site, the grave stelae of Tiya, on the way. In the evening we invite you to a farewell dinner with folklore.