Discover Ethiopia, Combined tour

Discover Ethiopia, Combined tour 

Nature: The Danakil Depression, the chained Simien Mountains- nearby the town of Gondar, the Bale Mountains, the landscape of the Great Rift Valley system and many more….

History:  Northern parts of Ethiopia (Historic Routes): the Monolithic & semi- monolithic Rock Hewn Churches of Lalibela (most visited destination), the stele (ancient stone slab)of Axum, Castles of Gondar & the waterfalls of the Blue Nile and Monasteries on Lake Tana and many more….

 Culture: The southern region is a unique place for diversified ethnics with their untouched culture. Surma & Mursi (both ethnic’s women cut their lips to insert the clay plates as a sign of beauty), Hamer (also spelled Hamar), Karo, Nyangaten, Arbore, Konso, Borena, Bena & etc… Bull Jumping rituals being performed by Hamers- frequented between Septembers – October and at random time before/after the main rainy season (February – May).  DONGA – stick fighting of the Surma ritual performed mostly in every September, and many more….

 Religious Festivals: The best season for overwhelming religious activity falls on every 17-20January (Ethiopian Orthodox Epiphany). It is more traditional in Lalibela & Gondar. Ethiopian Xmas (on every 5-8Janaury) and many more….

Visit Ethiopia : Danakil Depression and Arta Ale, Afar People, Camel Caravan, Culture in South Omo – Hamer, Mursi, Bena, Arbore, Arba Minch, Konso Jinka,  Turmi, key Afer, Dassenech, karo, Dus, Omo Park, Surma, Jinka, south Omo Markets and Hamer Bull Jumping and more…

Well-Thought-Out Tour Itinerary

Program:  Historic Routes, Danakil Depression & Lower Omo Tribes

Code: Grand Tour  01

Duration: 21Nights (22 Days)

Transportation: Air & Land (4WD)

Tour starts: Addis Ababa

Tour ends: Addis Ababa

Day 1: Arrive and City Tour of Addis Ababa

Addis Ababa is centered at the heart of the country. Addis Ababa in Amharic language means “New Flower”.  It was founded by Emperor Menelik the 2nd in 1886. Addis is graced as Africa’s diplomatic capital with the presence of the head quarter for the African Unity, a seat for numerous embassies and is the port of entry for most travelers.

In the morning, arrive at Addis Ababa bole International Airport, meet with us  and transfer to your Hotel then after Breakfast, we drive to the Entoto Mountain (3300m) for a panoramic view of Addis, Entoto Museum with historical and royal exhibit, The Church of St. Mary, built in 1885 and the old palace of emperor MenelikII. Take some images of Addis Ababa and surroundings at Mount Entoto.  We drive back to Addis for Ethnological Museum (at Addis Ababa University) that exhibits the culture and handicrafts of various Ethiopian ethnic groups, the National Museum in which you are visiting different archaeological findings (including Lucy’s Skeleton). After lunch, visit the Trinity Cathedral, Mausoleum of emperor MenelikII at Bààta Church (you will discover many turtles that have been here even before Addis Ababa was established in1886) and finally Merkato. Overnight – at chosen hotel – Addis Ababa

Day 2: The Tis Issat of the Blue Nile and Monasteries on Lake Tana

After breakfast; fly from Addis Ababa & drive to the small town of Tiss Abay (32km rough road) to visit the impressive Blue Nile waterfalls, locally known as Tis Isat means in Amharic: ‘Smoke of Fire’. Walk around to see the 17Century Bridge constructed by Portuguese by missionaries. The country side occupied by Amhara people is worth visiting. After the waterfall, 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. Afternoon; 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 Gabriel (prohibited for women) & Entos Eyesus. Overnight – at chosen hotel – Bahir Dar

Day3: Awra Amba Communities and Gondar Castles

After breakfast; drive to Gondar (187km best asphalt road). Near Bahir Dar, visit the Bezawit Hill tops and the palace of Emperor Haile SelassieI (entering is prohibited) & the Blue Nile (we, Ethiopians call it Abay or Gi’hon as the Bible Puts it on genesis Chapter two verses 13), leaving its source – Lake Tana. Ahead towards Gondar & again on the way; visit Awra Amba village/Communities. 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 & 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!!Proceed to Gondar. Afternoon, 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. Visit also the Jewish / Felasha Village – about 2km from Gondar.  Overnight – at chosen hotel – Gondar

Day4: Axum – the ancient City Ethiopia or Abyssinia or Habesha 

Morning, fly from Gondar to Axum and visit the town of Axum. Axum treasures the ancient Ethiopian history. The attractions of Axum include: the archaeological museum, monolithic steles/obelisks, 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. Note that almost all  Ethiopian Orthodox Christians and some scholars believe firmly on  the presence of the original Ark of  the covenant for centuries here in Axum,  at the chapel in the middle of St Mary of Zion and Emperor Fassiladas’ Castle of Axum. Visit also the monastery of Abba Pantelion (requires about 30 minutes walk) at the hill side of Axum (prohibited for women).  Overnight – at chosen hotel –Axum

Day5: Lalibela Rock Hewn Churches

Morning, fly from Axum to Lalibela and 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! Inside, there are three empty graves symbolically dug for biblical patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Overnight – at chosen hotel – Lalibela 

Day6: 2nd group of Rock Hewn Churches – Lalibela

Early morning, Climb Asheten Maryam (optional) for a panoramic view of the region and a mountain Church named Asheten. After breathing on the top (more than3000m), descend down to Lalibela. After lunch and a short siesta, continue exploring the fascinating churches (Second group): 7.Bete Amanuel, 8.Bete Marqorewos, 9.Bete Abba Libanos, 10.Bete Gabriel -Rufael and11. 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. Also visit Nakuto Làabe Cave Church (5km from Lalibela).  Overnight – at chosen hotel – Lalibela

Lalibela: 2630m high above sea level, one of the most fascinating historical sites of Ethiopia – is the wonderland of Lalibela where at the end of the 12th and the beginning of the 13th century King Lalibela of the Zagwe dynasty built a series of rock-hewn churches. All physically praised from the rock in which they stand, resulting in towering buildings that seem absolutely superhuman in scale of workmanship and concept. It is thought to have around 1000 of such rock-hewn churches in Northern Ethiopia, but there is no other site like Lalibela, where over 11 of them are in walking distance from each other. These churches are so magic – referred to the “Eighth wonder of the world”. The churches in Lalibela are divided into two groups by the river Jordan.

Day7: Yimrahine Kristos –Mekele

 Full day excursion to the cave church called Yimrahine Kristos (42km from Lalibela). This Church has been constructed by King Yimrahine Kristos during 13th Century. In the church, there are more than 5000 (five thousand) dead human skeleton 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 and the forest around are very impressive and worthy to be visited.  Visit the church and proceed to Mekelle. Overnight – at chosen hotel – Mekelle 

Day8:   Mekelle   – Hammed Ela or Ahmed Ela

Drive from Mekelle via Berahile to Hammed Ela. After the small town of Agula; we descend to the Afar Region. At many spots on the road, you will see many camel caravans, transporting rock salt from Lake Asalé to the town of Mekelle. As we penetrate deep down to the region, the temperature becomes hotter and hotter. Some rest at the small town of Berahile (110km from Mekelle) where entrance tickets will be collected or being checked. Then we proceed towards Hammed Ela; accompanying with Afar polices and a local guide. Overnight – camping (in Afar House) – Hammed Ela

Day9:  Danakil /Dallol Depression and Lake Assale

 Early morning (at about 6:30am); excursion to the Danakil depression, also named as Dallol. On this day; surely, you will be overwhelmed with strong feeling of admiration, because of the awesome of Dallol. After Dallol; proceed to the traditional salt extraction site from where camels are waiting to be loaded those rock salts –it is just nearby the Salt Lake of Asalé. Then approach to Lake Asalé. Overnight – camping (in Afar House) – Hammed Ela

Day10: the Eternal fire of Arte Ale, Active Volcano Lake

Morning; drive from hammed Ela towards Arte Ale (78km dirty & sandy road) via Kursewat &Waydodom –  Dodom and then climb Arta Ale (3-4hrs walk). Explore the extraordinary lava that babbles from its rim of Arte Ale volcanic fire. During night time the volcano will be fully visible with its magnificent zigzagging shape, producing from huge rocks. Therefore; in the evening, descend from Camping site to that active & oldest volcanic event.  Overnight- camping on the rim of Arte Ale

Day 11: Arta Ale – Afdera/ Afréra

Descend to where vehicles are camped and drive to Afdera. Visit Lake Afdera (also spelled as Afrera). Overnight – basic hotel – Afdera

Day 12: Afdera – Awash National park

Drive from Afdera to Awash National Park. Lunch at Logia and drive overlooking the Yangu Di Rassa National Park and Awash River; the only river that waters the desert area of the Afar Region.  Overnight – at chosen hotel /lodge- Awash National park

Day13: Awash National park & Yirgalem (370km)

Morning, Game view in Awash National Park: Oryx, Dik Dik, Bustard, & Secretary Birds are some expected wildlife. Then drive to the town of Yirgalem (370km asphalt road). Overnight – at chosen hotel/lodge– Yirgalem

Day14: Singing Wells & Chew Beth (El Sod)

After breakfast; drive to Yabello. On the way, at Wenago, visit the Tutu Fella stelae field – a unique collection of carved stones. Just nearby Yabello, visit Dublock (Borena Village), and Singing Wells. The Borena ethnics move every time in groups across a large area in search of food and water for their herds of zebu cattle.  The zebu cattle are poorly adapted to the arid area so they must be watered regularly at the desert wells – about 20-30 meters deep.  While watering their cattle the Borena have special songs, glorifying their cattle. On the way to Mega – Moyale Road, visit El Sod (Salt House) also known as, Chew Bet to discover people extracting salt there. Overnight – at chosen hotel – Yabello  

Day15: Yabello – Arbore – Turmi

Drive from Yabello to Turmi via Arbore. Visit the Arbore people at their town named Arbore. On the way after 105 km drive, visit town of Konso (UNESCO World Heritage Site) – The people of Konso are well known for their intricately terraced hillsides, fine woven materials, carved totems made of wood, decorated graves (mainly the king & his wife), impressive village and etc. Explore The Konso King, totems, Konso villages, and Gesergiyo (New York)-magnificent rock formation. Overnight – at chosen lodge – Turmi

Day16: Turmi – Karo – Dus and Nyangaten tribes

With lunch box, drive from Turmi to Dus & Karo villages (60km rough road). In Dus, visit the unique house – made in wood for wedding & bull jumping ceremony, then drive back to another Karo village called Kolcho.  The Karo tribes are mainly known for their special hairstyle and body paintings. Then drive to Nyangaten tribes through Murulle. They are settled at the Omo River bank. Therefore, cross the Omo River by a boat and reach the villages of Nyangatom tribes. Overnight – at chosen lodge – Turmi

Day17: Omorate – Dassenech/Galeb –Turmi market

Monday, the area around Turmi is where the Hamer (Hamar) tribe lives; famous for their bull-jumping ceremonies and great in body decoration. There is a popular Hamer and Bena market held in Turmi on every Monday, this is what you have to  schedule your  visit for, but the market  will not be full until mid-afternoon, so this morning, after early breakfast, first drive to Omorate (75km),nearby the Omo River and cross the river by local boat. This area is inhabited by the Dassenech (Galeb) people, known for their very interesting house design and body painting. You will stay with them for a couple of hours, then cross the river again and drive back to Turmi, for lunch and a short break from the heat &  visit the Turmi Market. The Hamers dominate this market. The Hamers are a fine looking people, both men and women take great pride in their appearance, shaving and coloring their hair, oiling their bodies and decorating themselves with beads and bracelets worn around arms and legs. Late afternoon; approach to some Hamer villages to discover their lifestyle at home and attend the Evangadi Dance. You will be attending if Bull Jumping Ceremony is taking place in any place in south, during your stay here. Overnight – at chosen lodge – Turmi

Day18: Turmi – Jinka

Drive from Turmi to Jinka via Dimeka. Stop at Dimeka if this day falls on market day. Overnight – at chosen hotel/lodge – Jinka

Day19: Mursi tribes & Mago National Park

Morning; drive to Mago National Park 32km for game view. If it is early morning, visible wildlife could be: Kudu & dik-dik. In the park, discover the lifestyle of Mursi & their villages. Mursi women split and stretch their lower lips time after time to make bigger room for bigger & bigger discs.  A women having bigger disc is consider the most beautiful amongst women in the tribe!  Drive back to Jinka and to Arba Minch (240km). Overnight – at chosen hotel/lodge -Arba Minch

Day20: Nechsar National Park & Lake Chamo

Drive to Nechsar National Park for bird watching and game view. Nechsar is the home of some mammals like the endemic Swayne’s Hartebeest (the park was primarily established to protect the endemic Swayne’s Hartebeest), Thomson’s gazelle, Berchule’s Zebra, Greater Kudu, Dik-Dik, and common Baboons. Afternoon; boat trip on Lake Chamo. This Lake is known for its enormous population of Crocodiles, Hippopotamus & pelicans. Overnight – at chosen hotel /lodge -Arba Minch

Day21: Arba Minch – Addis Ababa- (505km)

Drive from Arba Minch to Addis Ababa. On the way, visit the Dorzé Village, near Arba Minch. Overnight – at chosen hotel –Addis Ababa

Day22: Departure

Based on time,  you can  visit Addis ( if you have any not visited on day 1) or shopping such as coffee, go to handicrafts center  ….and go home/ departure after dinner in restaurant with live tribal dance.  (End of the trip)

Notice: This itinerary can be amended up on request

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