Ethiopian in Depth. History, Nature, Culture: 21 Days / 20 Nights

Itinerary, Tour CO-20

This 22 day tour includes all the major historical sites of the north including the  rock churches of Tigray and the Simien Mountains National Park.  Following the northern part of the tour, we continue to the Omo Valley via surface.  Near the end of the tour, we have an overnight excursion to the Bale Mountains National Park.   This tour includes a total of two domestic flights on Ethiopian Airlines.

Day 01  Arrival - Addis Ababa 
For morning Arrivals at Bole International Airport you may begin your tour after checking into your hotel.  For clients arriving in the afternoon or evening, you may begin your tour the following day.  An Awaze Tours representative will meet all clients arriving at the airport regardless of arrival time.

Visit the Ethnographic Museum, a great introduction to Ethiopian culture and history. Tour the Mercato, one of Africa's largest outdoor markets, and Trinity Cathedral, resting place of Emperor Haile Selassie.
Overnight Hotel - Addis Ababa 

Day 02  Addis Ababa - Bahar Dar 
Fly to Bahar Dar on Ethiopian Airlines. Visit the marketplace in Bahar Dar. Take a boat tour on Lake Tana, the source of the Blue Nile, and tour ancient island monasteries. 
Overnight Hotel - Bahar Dar 

Day 03  Bahar Dar - Gondar
Drive through the countryside to Gondar. Tour the Royal Enclosure, a UNESCO World Heritage site featuring five castles built by a succession of Ethiopian Kings beginning in the early 17th century. Having survived several wars, including air raids during World War 2, the castles are a testament to the resilience of this once mighty African Empire. Visit the church of Debre Birhan Selassie, famous for its religious art and especially its iconic ceiling depicting angels.
Overnight Hotel - Gondar 

Day 04  Gondar - Simien Mountains National Park 
Drive to Sankabar the gateway to the Simien Mountains National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Enjoy some light hiking in the afternoon in the park and spot wildlife such as the endemic Gelada baboon.  

Overnight Lodge 

Day 05  Simien Mountains National Park - Axum  

Take a scenic drive to Axum, capital of the ancient Axumite Empire and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Frequent stops at viewpoints along the way. Arrive in Axum late afternoon.
Overnight Hotel - Axum

Day 06  Axum
Tour the ancient stelae fields, standing for 2000 years. Visit the new and impressive Archeological Museum. Visit other tombs and archeological sites as time permits. 
Overnight Hotel - Axum

Day 07  Axum - Ghiralta Lodge
Drive to the Ghiralta Lodge passing the Adwa battlefield, site of Emperor Menelik II's 1895 victory over the invading Italians. Visit the 2,500 year old ruins of Yeha, an ancient moon temple.  Continue past Adigrat and visit Aba Gerima and Petros Paulos, two of the Tigray region's oldest and finest rock churches.   

* On this day, we will pass the 6th century monastery of Debre Damos which is perched atop a remote plateau.   The monastery is only accessible using a rope and the monks will help pull visitors up the 20 - 25 meter cliff.  However, we only recommend this for physically fit individuals.  Women are not allowed on the grounds of the monastery, and therefore, it is not part of our regular tour itinerary.  However, we can stop here for those on a custom or private tour.  
Overnight Ghiralta Lodge   

Day 08  Ghiralta Lodge to Mekele 
Visit more of Tigray's remote and ancient rock-hewn churches:  Abraha Atsbeha, dating from the 10th century; the beautiful Wukro Chirkos; and  Medhane Alem Kesho.  Drive to Mekele.
Overnight Hotel - Mekele

Day 09  Mekele - Lalibela
Drive on a scenic road to Lalibela. Arrive at your hotel in the late afternoon and enjoy the sunset from the terrace. 
Overnight Hotel - Lalibela

Day 10  Lalibela 
Tour the magnificent rock-hewn churches of Lalibela, a UNESCO World Heritage site. This group of eleven monolithic and semi-monolithic structures were carved directly into the stone of the mountainside at least 800 years ago. This complex boasts the largest monolithic church in the world, a maze of passageways and tunnels, intricately carved reliefs, and fabulous examples of icon paintings. 
Overnight Hotel - Lalibela

Day 11  Lalibela
For the morning you have two choices: Take a morning hike with mules to Mount Asheton, with its 13th century rock-hewn monastery and great views of the town; - OR - Drive to Yemrehanna Kristos, a beautiful church situated in a shallow cave that predates the churches of Lalibela. The drive to Yemrehanna will also give you the opportunity to view the rural countryside and villages of the Ethiopian highlands. Following either option above continue with tour of Lalibela’s churches in the afternoon. 
Overnight Hotel - Lalibela

Day 12  Lalibela - Addis Ababa - Lake Langano 
Fly to Addis Ababa and then drive to the Rift Valley Lake Langano. Relax at the Sabana Lodge. Lake Langano is safe for swimming.  
Overnight Lodge - Lake Langano

Day 13  Lake Langano - Arba Minch
Drive to Arba Minch, one of the main towns in Southern Ethiopia. On the way, visit a Dorze Village in the Guge Mountains. The Dorze are known for their tall, beehive-shaped bamboo houses. If the base becomes infested with termites, the entire house can be lifted and moved to another location. 
Overnight Hotel - Arba Minch

Day 14  Arba Minch - Jinka
Take a boat trip on Lake Chamo and view some of the largest crocodiles in the world sunning on the banks of the lake. Hippopotami and birdlife are also abundant. Drive to Jinka visiting various peoples such as the Gamo and Derashe. Stop at Key Afar's weekly market (if on a Thursday) and wander among the various tribes such as the Benna and Ari that have gathered to barter their goods. 
Overnight Lodge - Jinka

Day 15  Mago National Park Excursion  
Early morning drive to the Mago National Park to visit the Mursi people. The Mursi women are known for the clay plates they insert into their lower lips. Time permitting, visit the Omo Valley Museum in Jinka. 
Overnight Lodge - Jinka

Day 16  Jinka - Turmi
Drive to Turmi to visit the Hamer people who are well known for the scarring of their bodies, using clay to shape their hairstyles, and the unique practice of "bull-jumping" which every young man must accomplish prior to marriage. En route to Turmi, visit the Benna and Ari people.
Overnight Lodge - Turmi

Day 17  Murele Excursion
Drive to Murele and visit the Karo people, known for their elaborate body-painting. Also visit a village of the Dassanech people. Return to Turmi for the evening.
Overnight Lodge - Turmi 

Day 18  Turmi - Konso 
Drive to Konso, recently designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site. A highland people, the Konso are known for the ancient and intricate terraces that encircle their well-planned villages.
Overnight Lodge - Konso

Day 19  Konso - Hawassa 
Drive to the lakeside town of Hawassa. Relax and recover from your journey at one of Hawassa's fine resorts. 
Overnight Resort - Hawassa

Day 20  Hawassa - Bale Mountains National Park 
Drive to the Bale Mountains National Park and meet with park guide. Arrive at the park headquarters in the afternoon, in time for a leisurely afternoon hike, possibly spotting two endemic mammals that frequent the area: Menelik's Bushbuck and the Mountain Nyala. Birds in this area include the Blue-Winged Goose, the Spot-Breasted Lapwing, the Abyssinian Long Claw, the Wattled Ibis, the Black-Headed Siskin, Rouget’s Rail, and numerous other species. 
Overnight Hotel - Goba

Day 21  Bale Mountains National Park - Addis Ababa
Drive to Addis Ababa. Optional souvenir shopping if time permits. Enjoy a Farewell dinner at a traditional Ethiopian restaurant featuring dancers and musicians representing some of the country’s many ethnic groups. Transfer to airport for late night departure if needed.

  • For arrivals before the tour begins or for later departures, additional hotel bookings can be made upon request.
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