Starts any day. January to December9 days from $5495.00
Arrive Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Welcome to Ethiopia! You are met upon arrival in Addis Abba, and escorted to your hotel in this pleasant capital city of wide Jacarandas edged avenues, interesting museums and lively markets.
This afternoon, enjoy a tour of the city. Visit the Ethnological Museum for an overview of Ethiopia’s the history, culture and traditions, including collections from thousand-year-old nomadic tribes. See beautiful baroque style Trinity Cathedral to view scripts of the imperial families and the coffins of Emperor Haile Silassie I.
Addis Ababa to Bahir Dar
This morning fly to Bahir Dar, a tropical city on the southern tip of Lake Tana, the largest lake in Ethiopia. You are met upon arrival and taken on a private boat cruise on Lake Tana, viewing the islands dotted with historic churches and monasteries. Disembark for a short hike through local villages and coffee farms, to the monastery of Ura Kidane Meret. Tour the monastery’s collections of stunning frescoes, ancient biblical manuscripts and old crosses dating back to the 16th century. The painted maqdas, colorful and well-preserved, tell stories of the Ethiopian saints. Also explore the small Azwa Maryam monastery and its pleasant gardens.
Return to Bahir Dar for lunch. In the afternoon, enjoy a journey to the source of the Blue Nile, Ethiopia's link to the ancient world, the Blue Nile Falls (Tis Abay). One of the most spectacular falls in Africa, they can get up to an impressive 1300 feet wide and 150 feet high. Enjoy bird watching as you stroll to the viewpoint, while spying hippos and crocodiles on the banks of the river below. (B,L,D)
Bahir Dar to Simien
Depart Bahir Dar this morning, driving past rural villages, and over mountain passes with stunning vistas, to Sankaber, the headquarters of Simien Mountains National Park. The park’s elevation ranges from 4500 to 6200 feet, with three botanical areas and a wide variety of flora. Settle into your private ‘turkel’ at the Simien Eco Lodge, designed as a replica of a traditional Simien Village. At over 10,000 feet, it is the highest lodge in Africa.
Enjoy an afternoon walk around the lodge, welcoming the breathtaking alpine scenery and watching for the mischievous Gelada baboons, endemic to Ethiopia. (B,L,D)
Simien Mountains National Park
Today, enjoy a full day hike to explore the pinnacles, valleys and wildlife of this stunning region. Follow the century-old picturesque footpaths, admiring the panoramic vistas overlooking the deep gorges of the Escarpment. Watch for the endemic Walia Ibex, and those Gelada Baboons. (B,L,D)
Simien Mountains to Gondar
This morning, travel through mountainous areas adorned with amethyst-colored peaks and deep gullies as you drive to Gondar, first capital of the Ethiopian empire.
This afternoon, tour some of the city’s 17th century castles and palaces. See the Royal Enclosure, and the bath of King Fasiledes, a UNESCO World Heritage Site surrounded by a 300-foot-long wall. Visit the oldest and most impressive structure, the two-story palace of Emperor Fasilidas, built of solid basalt stones. Tour the library of Emperor Yohannes I, Fasilidas’ son, and the royal House of Song. View the Church of Debre Birhan Selassie, an imposing structure with its harmony of brightly colored ceilings completely covered with intricately painted angels. It sits on a hilltop, surrounded by fortified walls. (B,L,D)
Gondar to Lalibela
Take a short early morning flight over amazing rust colored canyons and high peaks to Lalibela, a small town set high in the Lasta Mountains. Lalibela is one of the most important religious and historical sites in all of Africa and the Christian world, with more than 200 churches, some hidden inside enormous caves. It is a mystery as to who really built these magnificent churches, but they are thought to have been built in the 12th and 13th centuries, during the reign of King Lalibela. Ethiopia was the first country to adopt Christianity as a state religion, and Lalibela (then known as Roha), was the capital.
This afternoon, visit the group of the churches that represent earthly Jerusalem, including Bete Medhanialem (Savior church). At 38 feet tall, it is the largest in Lalibela and largest monolithic rock-hewn church in the world. See Bet Maryam, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, where remains of exquisite early frescoes can be seen on the ceiling and upper walls. And visit Bet Golgotha, housing remarkable reliefs of figures and early Christian art. (B,L,D)
Arise early this morning for an excursion to up to the Asheten Mariam (Nakutola’ab) Church by mule. Riding slowly up to the mountain top overlooking Lalibela, gaze upon the impressive and panoramic views, understanding why the local priests called this place “the closest to God.”
In the afternoon, visit the interesting and beautiful cross-shaped church of Bete Giorgis (St. George), thought to symbolize Noah’s ark. Its interior is dominated by depictions of Saint George killing the dragon. (B,L,D)
Lalibela to Axum
Today, drive through the rugged landscape around Lalibela, to the airport for your flight to Axum, the ancient capital of Ethiopia. Founded three centuries before the birth of Christ, Axum was a crucial connection between Africa and Asia for almost a thousand years.
Upon arrival, enjoy a city tour, beginning with a visit of the 17th century Cathedral of St. Mary of Zion, home of Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity. It was built on the foundations of a 4th century temple and where the Ark of the Covenant is reputed to be stored. See the modern St. Mary’s of Zion cathedral, built by Emperor Haile Selassie in the 1960s, and explore the museum under the church which houses some priceless Ethiopian relics.
In the afternoon, explore the ‘Stele field,’ a pasture of more than 120 carved monoliths from pre-Christian times and deemed a UNESCO World Heritage Site. See the ancient residence of the legendary Queen of Sheba, various 5th century palace ruins, and the controversial Obelisk of Axum, stolen by Italian forces in 1937, and only recently returned. (B,L,D)
Axum to Addis Ababa & Depart
Fly back to Addis Ababa in the morning, and tour more of the city. Visit the National Museum, with its many archaeological findings including the famous complete fossil remains of 3 million year-old “Lucy." Explore the ‘Merkato,’ one of the largest open-air markets in the world. Wander through the vast range of goods and artifacts.
You will have a day room to freshen up and relax.
This evening, dine at a traditional restaurant to sample true Ethiopian cuisine as you watch a colorful folkloric dance show.
After dinner you are taken to the airport for your late night flight home or to your next destination. (B,D)
Sheraton Addis, Addis Ababa
The Sheraton Addis Hotel is located in the center of Addis Ababa and is a sanctuary of Ethiopian grandeur, where a landscape of vibrant greens and colorful wildflowers meets the African sky. Experience an exceptional level of personal service at the Sheraton Addis Hotel. From glittering pools with enchanting underwater music to an indulgent menu of soothing massages at the hotel's Aqva Club to a large variety of restaurants with sophisticated options to dine and socialize, the Sheraton Addis Hotel delights all the senses. The Gaslight Night Club located in the hotel is one of Addis Ababa's greatest nightlife places. Guests can explore beautiful Ethiopian art throughout the hotel which launched a yearly art exhibition called "Art of Ethiopia" to help young Ethiopian artists to showcase their artwork and contribute funds to local art schools in Addis Ababa.
Kuriftu Resort & Spa, Bahir Dar
Located on the shores of Ethiopia's largest lake just 10 minutes from Bahir Dar Airport, Kuriftu Resort & Spa offers comfortable accommodation and hospitality. Designed with a clever blend of native Ethiopian architecture and décor, this Lakeside resort boasts 28 guest rooms in individual bungalows facing either the expanse of Lake Tana or set among some of the lovely tropical gardens. All the rooms are furnished in Ethiopian style with traditional yet modern beds and furniture. All are handsomely appointed with every modern comfort, including flat-screen TV. Refreshment centers are amply stocked. But at the end of the day, it's about a good night's sleep. So slip in between the sheets of the sumptuously comfortable beds to ease your path to dreamland - but when you awake, remember to visit the Ethiopian Classic Spa!
Simien Lodge, Simien Mountains National Park
Explore the striking beauty of Simien Lodge, the highest hotel in Africa at 3,260m. Wildlife surrounds the lodge, which is set in the Simien Mountains National Park. Guests should keep a watch to see Gelada monkeys, dozens of species of birds, hyenas, leopards, Tawny eagles and many more. The rooms at Simien Lodge are called Tukels, high quality accommodations featuring a private bathroom and shower, solar under-floor heating, a sheltered balcony and fiberglass insulation in the ceiling, walls and floor.
Mayleko Lodge, Gondar
The hotel is located in the historic city of Gondar, near the University of Gondar. Facilities and services include a business center with complimentary Wi-Fi, a swimming pool, fitness center, steam room & sauna, beauty salon, and gift shop. There is a full service restaurant and lounge. The 60 guest rooms are large with a flat screen TV, coffee/tea maker, Wi-Fi access and a hairdryer.
Maribela Hotel, Lalibela
Lalibela is generally regarded as Ethiopia's greatest attraction. Staying at Maribela Hotel can make all the difference in making your trip great. The hotel's brand new architecture, very attractive setting and professional, friendly staff offer you highest class hospitality. Quiet and restive environment in bedroom area with private bathroom, balcony and daybeds. Great scenery as the setting of the hotel overviews a large chain of mountains.
Sabean Hotel, Axum
Sabean International Hotel is proud to bring innovation to the historical city of Axum. We pride ourselves by our customer service standards whether guests come to attend an event, dine in the hotel's fine restaurants, or visit the city. Sabean International Hotel is strategically located only 8 kilometers from the airport. It is backed by team of qualified and experienced staff who provide efficient service to our esteemed guests. Our spacious rooms are set around tranquil, scenic views and provide excellent comfort. All guest rooms are tastefully furnished with a lavish bed, plush arm chair and coffee lounge table, and a private bathroom.