2017 Land Cost Per Person (double occupancy)
January 7th – $4461
Single supplement: $465
This tour operates with a minimum of 2 and a maximum of 10 travelers. Other rates available on request.
a) The flight fare for the sector Addis – Bahir Dar – Surface – Lalibela – Addis for customers using ET for their International Flight would be $137 per person.
b) The flight fare for the sector Addis – Bahir Dar – Surface – Lalibela – Addis for customers NOT using ET for their Internationa Flight would be $319 per person.
- 1 night Hilton Hotel Addis Ababa BB
- 1 night Abay Minch Lodge
- 2 nights Goha Hotel
- 1 night Simien Lodge
- 2 nights Yeha Hotel
- 2 nights Gheralta Lodge
- 1 night Axum Hotel
- 3 nights Roha Hotel
- Day use room at Hilton (2 persons sharing 1 room)
- Meet and greet at airport
- All accommodations based on double room occupancy
- Meals outside Addis (full board basis)
- Mineral water
- Farewell dinner
- All entrance fees at sites and churches
- Full-day boat trip on Lake Tana
- Well-maintained and insured Land Cruiser/Minibus/Coaster Bus with driver
- Guide from Addis
- Local Guide fees and Government taxes
Price Does Not Include:
- International flights and airport tax
- Alcoholic drinks
- Video filming and photography fees
- Incidental meals, snacks, and drinks
- Tips and items of personal nature (e.g. laundry, souvenirs, etc.)
- Anything not listed above
Wednesday, January 7, 2015: Arrive in Addis Ababa (Ethiopian Christmas)
Arrive in Addis Ababa. Meet and assist at the airport and transfer to your hotel. After a brief rest, begin your tour of Addis Ababa, the third highest capital in the world. The tour includes the Entoto Hills, a place from which the Emperor Menelik, founder of Addis Ababa, used to descend to the plains. Entoto enjoys a wonderful panoramic view of the city and is home to two churches built by Menelik, one of which was the site of his coronation. Nearby is Menelik’s former palace, still intact and open to visitors; inside you can see some real clothes, war items, furniture, and old books. Your city tour also includes the National Museum, one of the most important museums in sub-Saharan Africa. The museum is home to the skeleton of Selam, a hominid fossil found in December 2000 in Dikika, in the Afar region of northern Ethiopia. Selam is believed to have lived over 150,000 years before Lucy! After your museum visit, take time for lunch on your own. Then, in the evening, visit the Merkato, the largest open market in East Africa. Here you will see such diverse items as spices and jewels… there is nothing that cannot be found in this vibrant and immense market! Overnight at Hilton Addis Ababa.
Thursday, January 8: Addis Ababa – Bahir Dar
After an early breakfast, you will be transferred to the airport for your 45-minute flight to Bahir Dar, one of the most attractive cities in Ethiopia. Bahir Dar, with its wide avenues delineated by rows of palm trees, is located on the southern shore of Lake Tana, Ethiopia’s largest lake. Bahir Dar is the best base for visiting the monasteries built on the inner islands of Lake Tana and the headwaters of the Blue Nile. After checking into your hotel, drive to the Blue Nile Falls at Tississat, about 30 kilometers from the city. A 20-minute walk will take you to the falls, which show their most spectacular face during and after the rainy season (June to January). Here the Blue Nile, which contributes 85% of the flow of the Nile River, begins its long journey to the Mediterranean. Return to your hotel for lunch, then embark on an afternoon city tour of Bahir Dar. The tour includes the city itself and a visit to the people of Woito, who are known for their production of reed boats called Tankwa. Continue with a visit to the former palace of Emperor Haile Selassie in Bezawit, at the exact spot where the Blue Nile flows from the lake. Here you can take in excellent views of the city and visit some local markets. Overnight at Abay Minch Lodge.
Friday, January 9: Bahir Dar – Gondar Gorgora (8 hours including picnic and views)
Today begins with a boat trip on Lake Tana, where you will visit some of the ancient monasteries that were built around the lake and on many of the islands within. Visit the Zeghe Peninsula to see the churches of Ura Kidane Mehret and Azewa Mariam, which were built in the late 13th and 14th centuries, and whose walls are covered with incredible murals from the 16th century. You’ll also visit the church of Dek Stefanos, which has a valuable collection of icons as well as the remains of several medieval emperors; the church of Kibran Gabriel (closed to women); and, finally, the Church of Narga Selassie. Take a break for a picnic lunch on the boat, then continue on your way to the town of Gorgora to visit the church Debreseina Mariam. Meet up with a vehicle in Gorgora for the 60-kilometer journey to the city of Gondar. In the evening, dine at your hotel as you enjoy panoramic views over the city. Overnight at Hotel Goha.
Saturday, January 10: Gondar
The Emperor Fasiladas Gondar founded Gondar as his imperial seat in 1636, and the city remained the region’s capital and main commercial center until the 19th century. Today you will visit the Royal Enclosure, or Fasil Gibbi, as well as castles built by various emperors who ruled throughout Gondar’s history. Two kilometers from the city center are the baths of King Fasilidas where, during Timkat (Ethiopia’s Epiphany celebration), the waters from a nearby river are diverted to fill an area the size of a small pool. Faithful locals and pilgrims are dipped in cold water in a recreation of Christ’s baptism in the Jordan River. Next, visit the church of Debre Berhane Selassie, the only church to survive the 1880s Mahdist invasion. According to legend, a swarm of bees chased away the invaders who sought to plunder the church. The walls and ceiling of this church are completely covered with murals, including the faces of angels on the ceiling, which have become a common motif in Ethiopian design. Stop for lunch at the hotel, then continue on to the ruined palace of Queen Mentowab and Qusquam Mariam Church, located on a hill outside the village. In the evening, take in the view from your hotel which often reaches all the way to Lake Tana. Overnight at Hotel Goha.
Sunday, January 11: Gondar – P.N. Simien Mountains
This morning, travel to the Simien Mountains in the highlands of northern Ethiopia, where you will find some of the most spectacular mountain scenery in the world. Enjoy lunch at Simien Lodge. In the afternoon, drive to Sankaber to explore the Simien Mountains National Park, which was added to the list of World Heritage in 1979. With a total area of 190 square kilometers, the park contains 57 tree species and varieties of herbaceous plants, 22 large mammal species, including the Walia goat, Ethiopian wolf, and Gelada baboon-and 13 small mammal species, plus about 180 species of bird. Spend the night at Simien Lodge, the highest hotel in Africa at an altitude of 3260 meters. Overnight at Simien Lodge.
Monday, January 12: P.N. Simien Mountains – Axum (285 km, 7-8 hours)
Depart early in the morning for of Axum, crossing the Tekeze river canyon without ever losing sight of the Simien Mountains. Stop for a picnic on the along way. Overnight at Yeha Hotel.
Tuesday, January 13: Axum
Between 200 BC and 700 AD, Axum was the capital of an empire that stretched beyond the Red Sea to the Arabian Peninsula, traded with India and China, had its own alphabet, and executed large engineering projects such as building dams. It has been described by historians as the fourth largest and most powerful empire of the fourth century. Axum is known for its extraordinary stelae and his church Tsion Mariam, which is believed to hold the remains of the original Ark of the Covenant. The city tour includes the Church of St. Mariam, stelae of Axum, the tombs of the king Kaleb and his son Gebre Meskel, and the Mai Shum, held in tradition to be the bathing place of the Queen of Sheba. Overnight at Yeha Hotel.
Wednesday, January 14: Axum – Hausein (190 km, 6-7 hours including lunch and stops)
Make your way toward Hausein via the towns of Adwa and Adigrat. The town of Adwa has enormous significance for Ethiopians, as it was here in the surrounding hills that Emperor Menelik II achieved the greatest defeat of a colonial army in the history of Africa, winning temporary recognition of Ethiopia as an independent state. About 11 kilometers east of Adwa is Abba Garima Monastery, which is said to have been founded by one of the nine saints of the sixth century. The monastery is known for its collection of religious objects, including three tenth-century Gospels. Using Adwa as a base, visit Yeha and Debra Damo. Yeha is famous for its huge and remarkable temple which, according to 19th-century German scholar Heinrich Müller, is believed to date back about seven or eight centuries before the birth of Christ. This temple is considered the oldest standing building in the country. To the side of this temple is a church dedicated to Abba Aftse, one of the famous nine saints who came to Ethiopia from the Roman Empire in the sixth century to teach the gospel. After Yeha, continue up the road to the monastery of Debre Damo, which is only accessible to men who must use a rope to climb up the rocky promontory on which it is located. Later, continue to Adigrat to eat at a local restaurant. Adigrat is the second largest city in the region of Tigrai, after Mekelle, and is an important trading route linking Ethiopia with Eritrea. Finally, pass through Sinkata on your way to Hausein, which is located 36 kilometers south of Adigrat. Hausein is a quiet and attractive village of stone houses with a stunning view over the plains of Gheralta, and an ideal base for exploring Gheralta’s rock-hewn churches. Overnight at Gheralta Lodge.
Thursday, January 15: Hausien
Today make your way to the foot of the mountains of Gheralta. En route you’ll visit Debre Mariam Korkor, a church most notable for the richness of its materials. After lunch at your hotel, visit the little rock-hewn church known as the “prayer room,” Abba Daniel. Those passengers who need a break can enjoy some free time this afternoon. Overnight at Gheralta Lodge.
Friday, January 16: Hausien – Mekelle (160 km, 6-7 hours including picnic and stops)
Travel to Mekelle via the town of Wukro where you will visit the Church of Abreha Atsbeha, recognized as the most impressive rock-hewn church of the province of Tigrai. The church is dedicated to the famous twin kings of Axum, Atsbeha and Abreha (also known by their throne names Saizana and Ezana), who introduced Christianity to Ethiopia in the fourth century. The church, which is 16 meters wide by four meters deep and two meters high, has 13 huge pillars supporting the roof, and its rectangular shape resembles the church of Wukro Cherkos. Its roof and interior contain patterns which show a rare precision and attention to detail. Abreha Atsbeha is decorated with splendid murals and 17th-century paintings depicting biblical scenes and figures of saints, and it contains several valuable treasures. According to church officials, the most important prayer crosses belonged to Frumentius, the first bishop of Ethiopia, who was referred to as Abba Salama, or Father of Peace. After a picnic lunch, continue on to Mekelle, the capital of the Tigrai region. This city owes its importance to the Emperor Yohannes IV who made it his capital in the late 19th century. Finally, if time permits, take the opportunity to visit Bete Yohannes, a museum which was once a castle and home of Emperor Yohannes. Overnight at Axum Hotel.
Saturday, January 17: Mekelle – Lalibela (385 km, 8-9 hours including lunch and stops)
Today you will journey along some rugged northern Ethiopian terrain, passing through Korem and Maichew before stopping for a picnic lunch. Continue on via Sekota to this evening’s destination, Lalibela. Overnight Roha Hotel.
Sunday, January 18: Lalibela, Eve of Timkat (Ceremony at Night)
Between the late 12th and early 13th centuries, King Lalibela (of the Zaghwe dynasty) constructed a series of rock-hewn churches, referring to the area as “New Jerusalem.” Today, Lalibela is deservedly recognized as one the greatest wonders of the world. The village contains 11 rock-hewn churches, with others in the vicinity, all of which are in use to this day. This morning’s schedule includes a visit to the first group of churches: Bet Golgotha, Bet Mikael, Bet Maryam, Bet Meskel, Bet Denagel, and Bet Medhane Alem. The latter, and largest, resembles a Greek temple. On a corner are three empty graves, symbolically excavated for biblical patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Return to the hotel for lunch, then resume touring with a visit to Bet Giyorgis, possibly the finest of all the churches of Lalibela. Bet Giyorgis is located on a hillside terrace of rock on the southwest side of town, and can only be accessed through a tunnel.
The rest of your day will be used to observe and enjoy the start of the Timkat Ceremony. Axum, Lalibela, Gondar, and Addis Ababa are the best places to experience this cultural celebration. Timkat (the Epiphany) is the final great religious festival in the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo church calendar. It commemorates the baptism of Jesus by Saint John the Baptist in the Jordan River. The festival starts in the early hours of the eve of Timkat, two weeks after the Ethiopian Christmas. On the eve of the Timkat celebration, all the Tabots (altar slabs symbolizing the Ark of the Covenant and Ten Commandments) are taken out of every church with a large procession. The monks shake systrems (religious bells) and blow winding horns. The Tabots are carried on the heads of priests and are hidden in layers of colorful velvet, not to be viewed by unfaithful people. The procession takes them to a large grass area where they are stored in special ceremonial tents. The priests and the monks will spend the whole night praying, and crowds of people will spend the night in the surrounding area to be close to the Tabot. All will be dressed in white, which makes the day vibrant. Overnight at Roha Hotel.
Monday, January 19: Lalibela (Timkat Celebration)
In the morning you can continue enjoying the celebrations of Timkat. As the ceremony culminates, the Tabots are taken to a nearby body of water. Priests bless the water and perform a communal baptism, splashing water on everyone; if the body of water is large enough, the most fervent followers will immerse themselves. Following the baptism, the Tabots are paraded back to their churches, accompanied by church members and believers, chant, dancing, drum-beating, and prayer stick waving. In the afternoon, you will visit the second group of churches of Lalibela, located south of the River Jordan. This includes the churches of Bete Emanuel, Bete Mercuries, Bete Abba Libanos and Bet Gabriel-Rufa’e. Overnight at Roha Hotel.
Tuesday, January 20: Lalibela-Addis Ababa
After breakfast, catch an early afternoon flight back to Addis. Lunchtime is free to explore or make use of your day room to relax and refresh. In the evening you will have a farewell dinner at one of Addis Ababa’s noteworthy restaurants, where you will get a taste of Ethiopian culture with traditional dancing and traditional food and drink, including the renowned honey wine called Tej. As your evening concludes, transfer to Addis Ababa International Airport for your homeward flight.
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Custom itineraries available to this or any of the destinations we travel to.
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Kutrubes Travel also offers a variety of other tours throughout this region. Contact us for detailed itineraries and descriptions.