Castles of Gondar

Discover Ethiopia 29 Days

Discover Ethiopia 29 Days

Discover Ethiopia 29 Days

Discover the rarely visited churches, open markets and wildlife at Simien / Semen and Bale Mountains National parks: Debre Birhan, Ankober, old palace of Emperor MenelikII, Senbete market, Afar People,   the Oromo and the Amhara tribes, Argoba women and men, Kombolcha, Bati Market, Dessie, Gishen Debre Kerbe monastery, Wegel Tena, Hayq Estifanos Monastery at Lake Hayq Lake, Weldeya, Genata Maryam Church, Churches of Lalibela, Asheten Maryam, cave church of Nakuto Leabe, Yimrahine Kristos, Bilbila Giorgis, Bilbila Chirkos, Arbatu Ensesa, Wukro Meskel Kristos, Korem, Lake Ashenge, Agula, Michael Imba (Michael Amba)  Church, Saturday market in Atsbi, Camel Caravans, Teka Tesfai Churches, Petros & Paulos, Mikael Melehayzenghi, Medhane Alem Adi Kasho, Negash Mosque, Abbi Addi, Abba Yohanni, Gebriel Wukien, Wukro Cherkos, Abreha-We-Atsbeha, Degum Selassie, Debre Tsion, the Megab and Hawzen markets , Maryam Korkor, Maryam Wukro, Temple of Yeha (Yeha ruins), Axum, St Mary of Zion, Shire (Inda Selassie) and animal market, Simien Mountains, River Tekeze, church of Debre Birhan Silassie Castles of emperor Fassiladas and his swimming pool, and palace of Empress Mentewab, Kuskuam Church, Awra Amba village,  Wanzaye hot spring,  Monasteries on Lake Tana and the Tis Issat of the Blue Nile, Mandura Market,  Debre Markos, Blue Nile Gorge, the Ras Darge’s Bridge,  Debre Libanos Monastery, Bale Mountains, Langano

Abijata – Shalla Lakes National Park, Tiya Stelae, Addai Maryam Church, Melka Kunture archeological site.

Itinerary

Program:  Historic Routes and Simien Mountains and Bale Mountains NP

Tour Code: GrandT 11

Duration: 28Nights (29 Days)

Transportation: Land (4X4) Toyota Land Cruiser

Tour starts: Addis Ababa

Tour ends: Addis Ababa

Day1: Arrival/ Addis Ababa – Old palace of Emperor MenelikII at Ankober

Arrive in the morning to Addis Ababa Bole International Airport on Saturday, 31January2015 then drive from Addis Ababa to Debre Birhan(130km asphalt road from Addis Ababa), excursion to Ankober( about 40km rough road)  is possible if  you leave Addis Ababa in the morning. Visit the old palace of Emperor MenelikII. Overnight – Ankober Lodge – Ankober (about 3000m above sea Level)  

Day2: Explore the Senbete Market

Sunday, morning, bird watching (optional) and drive to the town of Senbete for Sunday Market. Senbete market is a place where the highlands and lowlands meet, and brings together different ethnic groups: the Afar with their camels and distinctive knives, the Oromo, the Amhara, Gurage and Argoba.  Then drive to Kombolcha. Overnight – at Sunnyside Hotel – Kombolcha (1850m above sea Level)

Day3: Explore the Bati Market then to Kombolcha

Morning, drive to the town of Bati (about 40km from Kombolcha).  The market will be full at 11am local time for it is hot town.  The market is unique with Amhara, Oromo & Afar tribes with their traditional wearing style. Camel and other live stokes make the market so colorful and worthy to be here. Drive back to Kombolcha. Overnight – at Sunnyside Hotel – Kombolcha

Day4: Gishen Debre Kerbe Monastery (Gishen Mariam monastery)

Drive from Kombolcha to Dessie and to Gishen Debre Kerbe monastery (often called Gishen Mariam monastery) via Wegel Tena – 80km rough road and drive to Weldeya. On the way, visit Hayq Estifanos Monastery at Lake Hayq Lake.  Overnight –Dessie (2470m above sea Level)

Day5: Hayq Estifanos Monastery, Weldeya   – Lalibela

Drive from Dessie to Lalibela (300km).  This route is scenic. On the way, visit Hayq Estifanos Monastery at Lake Hayq Lake and Genata Maryam Church (near Lalibela).  Overnight –at Roha Hotel (3*) or similar – Lalibela (2630m of altitude)

Day6: 11 Churches of Lalibela, Asheten Maryam

Early morning; climb to Asheten Mountain for a panoramic view of Lalibela, its rural area and Monolithic Church of Asheten Mariam (the first excavated church in Lalibela).  Then afternoon, visit the first group of six churches: 1.Bet Golgotha, 2.Bet Mikael, 3.Bet Mariam, 4.Bet Meskel, 5.Bet Danaghel and 6.Bet Medhane Alem. Bet Medhane Alem is the largest monolithic rock hewn church in the world, built like a Greek temple! In a corner there are three empty graves symbolically dug for biblical patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

After lunch and a short siesta, visit Second groups: 7.Bete Amanuel, 8.Bete Marqorewos, 9.Bete Abba Libanos, 10.Bete Gabriel -Rufael and11 Bet Giyorgis. Bet Giyorgis is the most elegant of all Lalibela churches, which lies somewhat isolated in the southwest part of the town on a sloping rock terrace. Drive for the cave church of Nakuto Làabe (5kms away from Lalibela). Overnight –at Roha Hotel (3*) or similar – Lalibela

Day7: Lalibela – Yimrahine Kristos- Korem

Drive on rough road from Lalibela to Bilbila- Sekota then to Korem (about 200km rough road). On the way, visit the churches that all stand within 10km of the Bilbila Village: Yimrahine Kristos, Bilbila Giorgis, Bilbila Chirkos, and Arbatu Ensesa. The most visited Yimrahine Kristos Cave Church has been constructed by King Yimrahine Kristos during the13th Century. In the church, there are more than 5000 (five thousand) dead human skeletons (Bones) lying without any coverage for the past 700 years. They are supposed to be pilgrimages from Syria, Egypt and Ethiopia. The murals on the dark walls of the church, the year round spring water descending from the top of the church and the forest around are very impressive and worthy to be visited. Drive to Sekota and visit Wukro Meskel Kristos. Then drive to Korem. Overnight – at Girmay or Mirutse Hotel – Korem (2539m above sea Level)

Day8: Mekele

From Korem to Alamata to Lake Ashenge to Mekele. Overnight – at Axum– Mekelle (2220m of altitude)

Day9: Mekele – Wukro – Atsbi (235km)

Saturday; Drive from Korem to Atsbi via Agula for Michael Imba (Michael Amba) Church, Saturday market in Atsbi, Camel Caravans, being loaded rock Salt from Danakil Depression via Berahile then drive back to Mekelle. Overnight – at Axum– Mekelle

Day10: Teka Tesfai Churches – Mekelle Discover the Atsbi churches → Teka Tesfai Churches Petros & Paulos, Mikael Melehayzenghi, Medhane Alem Adi Kasho… Negash Mosque (possible if you need it). Overnight – at Axum– Mekelle

Day11: Abbi Addi

Drive to Abbi Addi (about 95km from Mekelle) and visit Abba Yohanni, Gebriel Wukien and back to Mekele Main market day – Monday. Overnight – at Axum– Mekelle

Day12: Geralta Rock hewn Churches (Wukro Cherkos and Abreha we Atsbeha)

Drive from Mekelle to Hawzen. This area is scenically spectacular and is a site for many architectural old rock hewn churches that are not found in the other areas of the country. Some of them are Wukro Cherkos, Abreha-We-Atsbeha, Degum Selassie, and Debre Tsion. Overnight at Geralta Lodge – Hawzen (2105m of altitude) 

Day13: Full day for Geralta Churches

Wednesday; explore the Megab and Hawzen markets + church: Maryam Korkor. Overnight at Geralta Lodge – Hawzen

Day14: Maryam Wukro &Yeha Temple

Drive from Hawzen to Axum via Nebelet town. On the way, visit Maryam Wukro, the 5th century B.C, Pre-Christian Temple of Yeha (Yeha ruins), and overlook the Adwa escarpment. Overnight at Sabean Hotel, in the center of the city- Axum (2131m of altitude)

Day15: the birth Place of Ethiopian History

Explore the city of Axum. Axum treasures the ancient Ethiopian history. The attractions of Axum include: the archaeological museum, monolithic steles, the tombs of King Kaleb, and the legendary Bath and the ruins of ancient palace of the Queen of Sheba, St Mary of Zion and the sanctuary that houses the original Ark of the Covenant. Almost all  Ethiopian Orthodox Christians and some scholars believe firmly about the presence of the original Ark of God for centuries here in Axum,  at the chapel in the middle of St Mary of Zion and Emperor Fassiladas’ Castle of Axum. Overnight at Chosen HotelAxum

Day16: Shire (Inda Selassie)

Saturday; drive from Axum to Shire (60km from Axum) and visit Shire and animal market. Overnight –at Gebar Shire Hotel –Shire (1953m of altitude)

Day17: Simien Mountains National Park

After breakfast; drive from Shire to Simien Mountains. On this day, after crossing the River Tekeze, you will appreciate the extremely fabulous Simien Mountains’ escarpments at the back. Arrive to Debark and collect entrance tickets at the Simien Mountains head office then drive to Sanka Ber (37km from Debark). Visit landscapes and Gelada Baboons (endemic).  Overnight- at Simien Mountain Lodge – Buyit Ras (3277m of altitude) 

Day18: Simien Mountains National Park- Chennek

Monday; 16February2015: drive and trek and drive and trek (based on your power of strength) until Buayt Ras (4430m above sea Level) via Chennek for Walia Ibex(endemic), main peak mountains view and more gelada  Baboons. Overnight- at Simien Mountain Lodge – Buyit Ras

Day19: Woleka – Gondar

Morning, explore the park afternoon; drive to Gondar. On the way near the town of Gondar; short visit of Woleka – a place of the Felasha or the black Jewish people for their synagogue and black pottery shop. Jews have amazing history with Ethiopians from Biblical (before Christ) up to the  Gonderine Civilization (17-19century).The history of the Original Ark of the Covenant, supposed to be in Axum now often relates with Ethiopian Jews. Overnight –– Gondar (2120m of altitude)

Day20: Gondar – Castles

After breakfast; visit the 17century church of Debre Birhan Silassie (Light of Trinity) unique in its murals, the Castles of emperor Fassiladas and his swimming pool, and palace of Empress Mentewab. Also visit Kuskuam Church (5km from Gondar). Overnight –at Goha Hotel (3*) – Gondar

Day21: Gondar Castles, Awra Amba Community Wanzaye Hot Springs (Fil- Wuha) & Bahir Dar

Drive to Bahir Dar. (180kms). on the way, visit Awra Amba village. Awra Amba communities are famous in their work activity. Any member, whatever the type of task or knowledge they perform, the share distribution among them is equal. They believe any member of the community should be treated fairly (denying the difference of knowledge, skill & task hardship) & get their support until death. When a member dies, only two people bury the dead body. No one cries for the dead but go working!!  The founder of the community is called Zumra, an old man, still alive!! Again on the way after the town of Wereta, you can visit Wanzaye, a place for natural hot spring water (9kms from the main route to Bahir Dar). It is very important for the local people (a curing spa against some diseases).People will immerse into the hot spring bath (a big room that accommodates from 40 to 80 people together) for about 6 hours (3 hours morning and 3hours afternoon) per day. In doing so, the patient will be cured or will have seen changes from his disease within a weak. Lunch, at Wanzaye Hotel and drive to Bahir Dar. Evening, visit the hill of Bezawit (roughly 5km after Gojjam – Gondar border Bridge). At this point, you will  visit the Palace of Emperor Haile SelassieI( entering is prohibited), the source of the Blue Nile- leaving Lake Tana and panoramic view of Bahir Dar and the full  sunset. Overnight – at Abay Minch Lodge – Bahir Dar (1830m of altitude)

Day22: Monasteries on Lake Tana and the Tis Issat of the Blue Nile

Morning, take a chartered boat trip on Lake Tana to visit monasteries (constructed during 14 up to 18 century). You will visit only the most accessible and representative of the monasteries on the lake, still serving their original function: Ura Kidane Mehret, and Azwa Maryam (in Zeghie Peninsula), Kibran Church (prohibited for women) & Entos Eyesus. Afternoon,  drive to the small town of Tiss Abay (32km rough road) to visit the impressive Blue Nile Falls, locally known as Tis Isat means in Amharic: ‘Smoke of Fire’. Much of the water is diverted for Hydro electric Generation plant but it is still worth visiting for remaining waterfalls, trekking around and to see a Portuguese Bridge (17Century) and the country side. The area around the waterfall is amazingly fertile and the Amhara people who live here farm wheat, sorghum and Teff (from which Injera, the national bread, is made). After the fall, return to Bahir Dar & make city tour of Bahir Dar which includes: market where you can find the pottery, traditional hand-made woven clothes, and Woito Basket market. Overnight at Abay Minch Lodge –– Bahir Dar

Day23: Mandura Market

Saturday; drive and visit the Mandura market. Overnight – at Abay Minch Lodge –– Bahir Dar

Day24: Debre Markos

Drive on fertile land of Gojjam, Amhara Villages and cattle. Overnight – at FM International Hotel – Debre Markos (2410m of altitude) 

Day25: Blue Nile Gorge

Drive from Debre Markos to Debre Zeyit via Addis Ababa. On the way, enjoy with the fabulous Blue Nile Gorge, the Ras Darge’s Bridge and the 13th Century monastery of Debre Libanos. Overnight – at Kuriftu Lodge – Debre Zeyit (1920m of altitude)

Day26: Bale Goba

Drive from Debre Zeyit to → Adama → Asela → Dodola → Goba. Overnight – at Goba Shebelle Hotel – Bale Goba (2743m of altitude)

Day27: Sanetti Plateau

Abyssinia Wolf, Senate Plateau & Harenna Forest: drive to  immensely beautiful Male Mountains for its landscapes and peak mountains( 2377m – Mt. Tulu Demtu), Abyssinian/Ethiopian Wolf    (often being seen), & Harenna Forest. Overnight – at Goba Shebelle Hotel – Bale Goba

Day28: Abijata – Shalla Lakes National Park

Drive to Langano. Take a refreshing time (swimming, walking, and playing on Langano Beach). Or discover  the Abijata  – Shalla Lakes national Park for  the Ostrich Farm, aquatic birds like the Pink Flamingos( on Lake Abijata), Hot springs ( at Lake Shalla) Dukes, Gosse, and many others.  Lake Shalla is the deepest Lake in Ethiopia (266m deep). Overnight –Sabanna Beach Resort Lodge or similar– Langano (1585m of altitude)

Day29: Langano – Addis Ababa    

Drive back to Addis Ababa possibly via Ziway – Butajira Road for Tiya stelae, Addadi Maryam semi Monolithic Church and Melka Kunture Archeological site. Departure in the evening (end of the trip)  

Notice: This itinerary can be amended up on request

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