Visit Simien Mountains National park 

Historic Routes, Simien Mountains 35 Days

Historic Routes, Simien Mountains

Historic Routes, Simien Mountains

Historic Routes, Simien Mountains National Park, Danakil Depression, Harar and south Ethiopia 

Itinerary

Program; Surma Tribes, Nuér & Agnuak –Trekking 

Tour Code: GrandT 10

Duration: 34Nights (35 Days)

Transportation: on Land by Coaster Bus and 4WD

Tour starts: Addis Ababa

Tour ends: Addis Ababa

Northern Ethiopia

Day1: Arrival/ Addis Ababa. Overnight – Hotel – Addis

Day2: Addis Ababa – Bahir Dar

Morning, we will leave Addis Ababa on asphalt road,  by a modern Coaster Bus, equipped  with microphone and air conditioning to Bahir Dar (563).  On the way after 100km drive, visit Debre Libanos Monastery. This was founded in the late 13th century by Saint Tekle Haymanot, and is today famous for its miraculous spring. Again on the way after town of Goha Zion, discover the magnificent Blue Nile Gorge. Overnight –hotel- Bahir Dar

Day3: The Tis Issat of the Blue Nile and Monasteries on Lake Tana

Morning, drive to the small town of Tiss Abay (32km rough road) to visit the impressive Blue Nile Falls, locally known as Tis Issat 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 as well. 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.

Afternoon; take a chartered boat trip on Lake Tana to visit monasteries (constructed during 14 up to 19 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. Overnight –hotel- Bahir Dar

Day4: Drive from Bahir Dar to Awra Amba then to Lalibela

Drive to Lalibela, on the way; visit Awra Amba village. Awra Amba community is 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 equally, fairly and get their support until death (denying the difference of knowledge, skill and task hardship). 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!! Continue to Debre Tabor – Gashena – Lalibela overlooking the scenic landscapes – Overnight –hotel- – Lalibela

Day5: full day visit in Lalibela

Early morning; Hike to Asheten Mariam Mountain Church (optional) .After Asheten and a short siesta, 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. 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 – hotel- – Lalibela

Day6: Lalibela – Gondar

Drive back to Gashena – Debre Tabor – Wereta then to Gondar (370km). Overnight – hotel– Gondar 

Day7: Gondar Castles, Churches

 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, palace of Empress Mentewab and Church of Kusquam. Overnight – hotel – Gondar 

Day8: Simien Mountains National Park

Morning; drive to the Simien Mountains National Park – Chennek (158km rough but good road). 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 histories in Ethiopia even before the time of Gonderine Civilization (17-19century).The history of the Original Ark of the Covenant, supposed to be in Axum now is one to mention. Then continue driving to Debark (101km from Gondar). At Debark; we collect entrance tickets and a scout for the park. Leaving the town of Debark, we will proceed to Chennek (about 57km from Debark).  On the way; appreciate the majestic and chained mountains of the Simien Park and Gelada baboons feeding on the ground at many places. At Chennek, walk around for Walia Ibexes, more Gelada Baboons and the fabulous landscapes of the mountain (please note that the camping site of Chennek is the most rewarding place in the Mountain). Overnight – camping, lodge or hotel in Debark

Day9:  Drive Debark to Axum 

Morning, drive to Axum through Tekeze River Gorge and Tigrai villages. Overnight –hotel- Axum

Day10:  The City of Axum

All what is in  Axum,  visit – Obelisks park( the stelae field), Archaeological Museum, Tombs of King Kaleb, King Basen and King Gebre Meskal, Bath of Queen of Sheba( Mai Shum); ruins of Palace of Queen of Sheba, Cathedral of St. Mary of Zion and Sanctuary Chapel beside, Coronation yard and Aba Pantaleon Monastery – founded on a hill top. Overnight –hotel– Axum

Day11:   Drive Axum – Mekelle 

Breakfast & drive to Mekelle. On the way visit Temple of Yeha, Debre Damo Monastery (women are not allowed) and Negash Mosque (the 1st mosque in Ethiopia). Overnight –hotel – Mekelle

Danakil Depression

Day12: Mekelle – Hammed Ela

Morning drive from Mekelle via Berahile to Hammed Ela. On the way after the small town of Agula; visit Michael Imba, magnificent rock church and descend to the Afar Region. You will see many camel caravans, transporting rock salt from Lake Asalé to the town of Mekelle at many spots on the road. As we penetrate deep down to the region, the temperature becomes hotter and hotter. Lunch and some rest at the small town of Berahile (110km from Mekelle) where entrance tickets will be collected. Then we proceed towards Hammed Ela; accompanying with Afar polices and a local guide from Berahile. Overnight – camping (in Afar House) – Hammed Ela

Day13:  Dallol Depression and Lake Asalé

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

Day14: Arte Ale Volcano

 Morning; drive from hammed Ela towards Arte Ale (78km dirty road) via Kursewat. After arranging camels for Arta Ale Mountain, drive to Dodom and then climb Arta Ale, accompanying with camping gears, being loaded by Afar Camel (2-4hrs walk). After siesta, explore the extraordinary lava that babbles from its mouth of Arte Ale volcanic fire. During night time, the volcano will be fully seen with its magnificent color of zigzagging fire, produced from huge rocks. Therefore; in the evening, we will descend from Camping site to the volcano.  Overnight- camping on the top of Arte Ale

Day15:  Afdera

Morning; discover all sites around the Arte Ale area and descend down towards where your cars are camped. There; take your lunch and drive to Lake Afdera. In the Afternoon; visit the Salt Lake of Afdera. It is here where you can see people extracting edible salt in large quantity and transport it on trucks to Addis Ababa.   Overnight – at a very basic hotel (Horahor hotel) or camping – Afdera

Day16:  Yangudi Rassa & Awash National parks

Morning; Drive from Afdera to Awash National Park. Lunch at Logia and continue overlooking the Yangudi Rassa National Park that bisects the Ethio – Djibouti road. Discover The Awash National Park. The park is known mainly for Beisa Oryx. The Awash River fall is an additional value to the park. Overnight – Awash Falls Lodge – Awash Park

Eastern Ethiopia

Day17:  Babile and the Valley of Marvels & the Walled City of Harar

 Early morning; game view in the Awash National Park & drive to Babile (356km).  There are general Market on every Saturday, Camel Market on every Monday & Thursday at Babile. Visit the market if your schedule coincides with one of the market days otherwise proceed to the Valley of Marvels. The most visited one is the rock formation of Dakatta Rock, sited at 3km from the town of Babile. Drive back to Harar (30km) and discover the hyena man show in the evening. Overnight –hotel –Harar

Day18: the Walled City of Harar& Dire Dawa

 Morning; visit the walled city of Harar and after lunch; drive about 51km for Dire Dawa. The main attraction of Dire Dawa known also as Queen City of the Rift Valley is: Taiwan Market, the stimulant leaf knows as “Chat or khat” Market and the big market place which is frequented by Oromo, Somali Issa and Afar people. Based on the current information, possible to visit the Laga Oda (Lega Oda) cave paintings considered to be painted 7thousand years ago (38km from Dire Dawa).  Overnight – hotel –Dire Dawa

Day19: Nazret / Adama

Morning, Drive to Nazret (also known as Adama) – 475km. Adama is the capital city of Oromiya Region. Overnight – hotel –Adama 

Southern Ethiopia (untouched culture)

Day20: Adama – Yirgalem

Drive to the town of Yirgalem for the southern part of the trip. Overnight –hotel – Yirgalem

Day21: 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 – Moyalé Road, visit El Sod (Salt House) also known as, Chew Bet to discover people extracting salt there. Overnight – hotel/lodge – Yabello  

Day22: Yabello –Arbore – Turmi

Drive from Yabello to Turmi via Arbore. On the way, visit the Arbore people at their town named Arbore. Overnight –lodge – Turmi 

Day23: Turmi – Karo – Dus and Nyangatom tribes

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 Nyangatom 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 – lodge/camping – Murulle

Day24: 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 ,nearby the Omo River and cross the river by local boat. This area is inhabited by the Dassenech (formerly known as 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 at any place in south, during your stay here. Overnight –lodge – Turmi 

Day25: Turmi – Jinka

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

Day26: 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 for Jinka Ethnological museum. Overnight –lodge/hotel – Jinka

Day27: Konso People

Drive to Arba Minch (240km). On the way at Konso, 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 and continue to Arba Minch. Overnight –hotel/lodge –Arba Minch

Day28: 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 – hotel/lodge –Arba Minch

Bale Mountains National Park and Sof Omar

Day29: Arba Minch – (Dinsho)

 Morning, drive from Arba Minch to Bale Goba. On the way at Dinsho Forest (part of the Bale Mountains National Park), visit the Mountain Nyala, Menelik’s Bushbuck, Bohor… Overnight –hotel /lodge–Dinsho

Day30: Dinsho – Bale Goba

Morning, discover the Dinsho forest again and drive to the open plain of Gayssaye (Mountain Nyala Plain). Overnight –lodge/hotel –– Bale Goba

Day31: Abyssinia Wolf, Senate Plateau & Harenna Forest

Take lunch box & drive to immensely beautiful Bale Mountains National Park for its landscapes, peak mountains (2377m – Mt. Tulu Demtu), Abyssinian/Ethiopian Wolf (endemic, often being seen), and Harenna Forest with Bale Monkeys (endemic). Overnight –lodge /hotel –– Bale Goba

Day32: Discover Sof Omar- Africa’s largest natural cavern tunnel

 Morning, take lunch box from the hotel & drive back to Robe then to Goro-   Sof Omar for full day visit. This vast network limestone caverns the largest in Africa lies at about 100km east of the Bale Mountains range at an elevation 1300m. It has been curved by the Web River, descending from the Bale Region Highlands to the flat arid plains then stretches to Somali Border. The underground chamber, watering by the Web River reaches 16km long, the limestone pillars that support the caverns are high up to 20m.   The cavern is named after Sheikh Sof Omar, a 12century Muslim Chief who used the area as a refuge, remaining an important pilgrimage site for Ethiopian Muslims. Sof Omar Cavern best site for birdwatchers to see Salvadori’s Serin– with bold yellow throat (endemic),  & good to see acacia-scrub bird species  such as orange- bellied Parrot, Blue napped mouse bird, Somali Tit and more others.)Overnight –lodge/hotel –– Bale Goba

Day33: Bale Goba – Awassa

Drive to the capital City of Southern Nations. On the way, visit Swayne’s hartebeest at Sinkille Swaynes Hartebeest sanctuary (seeing them in groups is 100% Guaranteed). Overnight – at lodge/hotel – Awassa

Day34:    Wondo Genet for hot springs and swimming – Lake Langano

Drive to Wondo Genet/place of heaven/. Wondo Genet is a well developed hot springs resort.  The hot water comes pushing out of the rocks and you can stand underneath for a natural hydro massage. It is also a naturally heated swimming pool.  The scenery around the lodge is hilly and forested largely with Juniper tree.  While most visitors may prefer to relax around the spa, there are some very good walks in the hills, with plenty of bird life – the endemic Yellow-fronted Parrot, the Black-headed Forest Oriole and the Golden-backed Woodpecker can easily be seen, along with the Redwing Starling, Grosbeak Weaver, Mountain Wagtail and Black Rough wing Swallow – and wildlife – Colobus and velvet monkeys, Anubis baboon and bushbuck. Overnight lodge/ hotel – Wondo Genet or Shashemene or Langano 

Day35: Shalla – Abijata Lakes National Park – Addis

Visit Shalla – Abijata Lakes National Park for ostriches, antelopes (Grant’s gazelle), hot springs (at Lake Shalla) and enormous pink Flamingos at Lake Abijata. Drive to Addis Ababa via Butajira Road. On the way; visit Lake Ziway, Tiya Monuments, Addadi Maryam Semi Monolithic Church and Melka Kunturé archeological site then finally back to Addis Ababa (end of the trip)

Notice: This itinerary can be amended up on request

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