CLASSICAL ETHIOPIA ROUTE

Welcome to CLASSICAL ETHIOPIA ROUTE

CALASSICAL ETHIOPIA TOUR HIGLIGHT

This journey passes through the scenic Ethiopian highlands, visiting the historical sites of northern Ethiopia. The trip covers Lalibella, which is renown as the Jerusalem of Ethiopia with its 11 rock hewn churches, still active places of worship centuries later; Mekelle and Gheralta Range, home to a quarter of Ethiopia’s rock churches, some famous for their stone workmanship, ancient paintings and old manuscripts; Axum, the ancient city of Ethiopia known for the famous obelisks standing in the center of town and where the ark of the covenant is believed to be kept; Gondar, the Camelot of Africa with its 16th century castles and churches; Bahir Dar, where one finds Lake Tana with more than thirty island monasteries.

DAY 01- DEPARTUTE FROM YOUR HOME COUNTRY

DAY 02- CITY TOUR OF ADDIS ABABA

The city is situated where the Great Rift Valley crosses Ethiopia’s mountain range at more than 7,000 feet above sea-level, Addis Ababa is a large sprawling city with a population of more than five million people. Visit Entoto Mountain, the site from which Addis Ababa’s founder, Menelik, descended down to the plains. Visit the two churches he built and his palace, which displays 19th-century royal attire, weaponry, furniture, and intricately designed crosses made with precious metals. Also enjoy expansive views of the city and the Entoto Mountain Range.

Continue visiting the National Museum. It is home to the skeleton of Selam, who like Lucy, is an Australopithecus afarensis. Often nicknamed Lucy’s baby, Selam actually lived nearly 150,000 years before Lucy. Continue on to the Ethnographic Museum of the Institute of Ethiopian Studies, located in a palace of former Emperor Haile Selassie. See precious pieces of Ethiopian Christian art. Visit Merkato, the largest open market in Africa where you can find various products showcased for sell and Piazza place with old houses.

Addis Ababab is the continent’s diplomatic capital, headquarters of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa. This morning enjoy a tour to visit Trinity Cathedral, the largest and most revered of all the churches. Continue to the Ethnological Museum, an ideal place to start learning about Ethiopia’s rich ethnic diversity.

Overnight Nexus Hotel or similar

DAY 03 – FLY LALIBELA

Lalibela is a striking town set at over 2500 metres in wild, craggy mountains with two-storey stone houses that are quite different to those in the rest of Ethiopia. We are here to visit the huge 12th and 13th century rock churches carved below ground level and connected by a maze of subterranean passages. Each of the churches is unique and intricately carved, and is in continuous use. Visit some of these unique churches cradled among the rocks – Bet Medhane Alem, Bet Maryam, Bet Mokael, Bet Danaghel, and Bet Golgotha.Designated a World Heritage Site in 1978.

Overnight Mountain View Hotel or similar.

DAY 04 – LALIBELA

Early morning drive to visit Yemrehane Kristos. Lying 42 kms northwest of Lalibela, Yemrehane Kristos is undoubtedly the finest church outside of town. Unusually, the church is built rather than excavated within a cave. The whole church rests on a foundation of carefully laid olivewood panels, which float it perfectly above the marshy ground below. Behind the church are the bones of countless pilgrims who chose to be buried there. There is also a tomb that includes the remains of Yemrehane Kristos.

Afternoon explore the most elegant of Lalibela’s churches, Bet Giorgis, located in an isolated part of the village on a sloping rock terrace. This is said to be one of the most finely executed and best preserved churches.

Overnight Mountain View Hotel or similar.

DAY 05 – DRIVE  MEKELLE

The drive will take you to one of the fastes growing and capital city of Tigrai regional state via Sekta.The landscape,the country side all the way through Tsilare riverwhere you are going to see a lot of baboobab trees,and interesting nature of the Agew country and then continue to Tigrai after crossing Zarema river through Samre short way to Mekelle.

Overnight Planet International Hotel or similar.

DAY 06- DRIVE HAWZIEN

After arrival, visit the palace of Yohannes IV. It is Mekelle’s oldest royal house and built during the emperor’s reign (1872-1889). The palace, situated behind a double rounded wall compound, is actually two buildings facing each other. The museum has among its collection the incredible throne of the emperor from 1874, the royal bed, ceremonial dress, rifles and many other valuable items of Ethiopian heritage.

In the afternoon,drive to Hawzein; en route visit Abreha we Atsbeha. This church was built in the 4th century by two royal brothers, Abreha and Atsbeha (known in the west as kings, Ezana and Saizana), who were responsible for converting Ethiopia to Christianity. The church is large and cruciform in shape, with interesting architectural features such as cruciform pillars and stepped capitals. There are also well preserved 17th century paintings depicting saints and biblical scenes. The church contains many valuable masterpieces including a beautifully decorated prayer cross, said to have belonged to Frumentius, the first Bishop of Ethiopia, whose ecclesiastical name was Abba Selama, meaning the father of peace.

Finally visit Yohannes Maequddi. This rectangular chapel has six free standing pillars that support a ceiling carved with geometrical designs. The church contains many early paintings which are thought to be at least 300 years old, and are very different in style to any other church paintings found in Gheralta. The walls of the building are dressed with murals of saints and apostles; it is the intense atmosphere that most visitors remember. From the village of matari it is around a 40 minutes’ walk (about 1km south of Dugem) via a steep footpath. Drive Hawzein for overnight.

Overnight Gheralta Lodge or similar.

DAY 07 – GHERALTA

Later visit Debre Tsion. It is about 40 minutes’ walk from the escarpment. It is a monastic cliff church carved in to a rusty sandstone face. It has an impressive and unusually symbolic exterior. The interior of the church is lovely decorated. The back walls of the holy of holies, the domes and wall panels are abundantly decorated with fine painting of saints and Apostles. Especially the dome is beautifully adorned with patterns. Because of the simplicity of the lines and colors, the paintings are estimated to be of the 15th century although the church officials prefer to date it, in the 14th century. A 15th century unique circular ceremonial fan (one meter in diameter) with wooden framework makes the visit to this church special. Each of its 34 panels is finely painted with figures of Apostles. Its walls are decorated with many geometrical designs and carvings in relief depicting Angels and Saints. It is indeed a manifestation of the great stone workmanship that was common in the whole of Tigrai both at that time and before.

Overnight Gheralta Lodge or similar.

DAY 08 – DRIVE AXUM

Morning drive to Medhane Alem (Saviour of the world).The church can be reached through a combination of asphalt and dirt roads through Freweyni via Hawzein. To access the church you climb a slope of exposed sandstone. It is covered with potholes which local people believe to be the hoof prints of St. George’s horse. This church is one of Tigrai’s oldest and finest rock-hewn churches. Its exterior and interior walls are roughly hewn, which only makes the elaborately carved coffered ceiling much more special. It is quite possibly the oldest rock-hewn church in Tigrai, or anywhere in Ethiopia.

The next visit will be at Petros Paulos church. It is situated in the same locality as Medhane Alem Adi Kesho. A ten minutes’ drive across fields brings you to this antiquity, which is visible from the main road because of its white-washed façade. It is on the top of a bluff, reached by carefully climbing a rickety ladder and platforms placed against the cliff side. The architecture of this church is not very impressive. It does, however, boast some fascinatingly primitive paintings. On the walls and on the chamber antecedent to the Holy of Holies a number of striking paintings depict the Madonna and Child, Angles, the Nine Saints, and Christ resurrecting Adam and Eve.

Finally, visit Yeha. This city was founded at least 2,800 years ago and served as the capital of a pre-Axumite empire. The well-preserved stone temple was built 2,500 years ago. It also served as a center of a monastic Christian community in the early 6th century. A modern church built next to the temple ruins contains some of the ancient temple stones and its treasury contains illuminated manuscripts and crowns.

Overnight Sabean Hotel or similar.

DAY 09 - AXUM

Recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in1980, Axum is a testament to the rich and glorious past of the mighty Kingdom of Axum (2nd C. BC-700 A.D.). This morning the visit will start with the famous stelae field with its Axumite stelae in various sizes and shapes. The archaeological museum is nearby and it offers an opportunity to bring context to relics on view today. In the afternoon you visit the Kaleb and Gebremeskel tombs, dating to the 6th century A.D and on the way to town, the Ezana inscription( Ethiopia’s Rosetta stone) is worth visiting.  Tradition has it that the Ark of the Covenant was brought to Ethiopia in the 10th century BC by Menelik I and later Ethiopian kings and emperors would proclaim their legitimacy to rule by their lineage to King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba.  Through the day we will discuss the development of Christianity in Ethiopia and its relation to the Ark, and the story of Queen of Sheba too.

Also visit the vernacular architecture of the old city of Axum. The Tukul and rectangular houses in Axum shows the diversification of architecture and, the change and continuity reveals for centuries. Here you will visit a family house where you will observe their daily life activities and have a coffee ceremony with the family.

Overnight Sabean Hotel or similar.

DAY 10 – DRIVE  GONDAR

We travel through the remarkable Tekezze Gorge where again altitude becomes below 800m absl. This route is also rich in natural attractions such as mountains; gorges baobab trees incense trees, and soon.and Limalimo Mountains through the Simien Mountain range and on to the Simien National Park. Our drive takes us through extraordinary scenery, pass small villages glimpsed between mountain massifs where people eke out an existence in this unforgiving countryside. We will stop for photo at view points across our drive.

Overnight Limalimo Lodge or similar

DAY 11 – EXCURSION  SIMIEN MOUNTAIN

After an early breakfast you will drive to the National park till Sankaber accompanied by a local guide and a scout. On our drive (40km) to this breathtaking landscape, we travel through a fertile landscape of wide open fields of a typical African tableau, undulating farmland and then to the most highland of Ethiopia. Today you will walk for 2 to three hours and enjoy the spectacular views and natural attractions of the park

Rising to over 15,000 feet, the Simien Mountain Range is a striking contrast to other regions in Ethiopia. This UNESCO World Heritage Site offers some of Africa’s most dramatic scenery: alpine peaks flanked by glaciers such as Mount Ras Dashen; steep escarpments rising above remote valley settlements; and an abundance of wildlife including the ibex, the endemic bleeding heart baboons, the walia Ibex and innumerable species of birds including the famous bird –Lammargeyers.

Overnight Goha hotel or similar 

DAY 12- GONDAR

After a hearty breakfast in the lodge, drive back to the imperial city of Ethiopia, Gondar. Gondar was the capital of Ethiopia for two hundred years. It was a center of great commerce trading with wealthy lands south of the Blue Nile, west to the Sudan, and north-east to the port of Massawa along the Red Sea. The city is known for its medieval castles and finely adorned churches. Upon arrival in Gondar, visit the Royal Enclosure, the Bath of King Fasilides, and the Debre Birhan Selassie Church, with its extensive murals of angels’ faces. Check into the Goha Hotel situated on a hill above the town center. A full day excursion travels deep into the park. En route back to Gondar, visit the former Falasha village of Waleka to see some examples of their traditional pottery still made by the few Jewish people remaining after the exodus to Israel in 1991.

Overnight Goha Hotel or similar

DAY 13 - DRIVE BAHIR DAR

On our drive (180km) to this ancient Imperial city, we travel through a fertile landscape of wide open fields of a typical African tableau and then undulating farmland. After arrival, take a boat trip on Lake Tana. Lake Tana is the source of the Blue Nile and is famous for its many monasteries, including the Ura Kidane Meret monastery with its renowned painted maqdas. Travel across the lake to the monastery islands will take you back to the ancient times when Greeks and Egypitans ha d close contact due to the Lake Tana the source of the longest river in the world.                            

Overnight Abay Minch Lodge or similar

DAY 14- EXCURSION BLUE NILE FALLS AND FLY ADDIS

Morning drive to the small town of Tiss Abay to visit to the impressive Blue Nile Falls, locally known as Tis Isat or 'Smoke of Fire'. The falls throws up a continuous spray of water droplets which drench onlookers up to a kilometre away. The surrounding area is extremely fertile and the Amhara people who live here farm wheat, sorghum and teff, which injera, the national bread, is made from. Finally, take a night flight to Addis Ababa.

Overnight Caravan Hotel or similar

Here you will have a lunch break on one of the shores of the lake, in Addis you will have some time to go around the Merkato for and the piazza areas for shopping.

Get ready for your final farewell dinner accompanied with local live music with all types of traditional foods then drive to the air port for your flight home.

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