Northern Ethiopia Circuit
Northern Ethiopia Circuit , Travel Northern Ethiopia, Discover: Bahir Dar, Gondar, Semien Mountains National Park, Axum, and Lalibela Rock Churches
Program: Northern Ethiopia Circuit
Tour Code: North 04
Duration: 6Nights (7 Days)
Transportation: Air & Land
Tour starts: Addis Ababa
Tour Ends: Addis Ababa
Day 1: Addis – Bahir Dar (monasteries on Lake Tana & River Blue Nile)
After breakfast; fly from Addis to Bahir Dar and drive to the small town of Tiss Abay (32km rough road) to visit the impressive Blue Nile Falls, locally known as Tis Isat 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. 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 fast and safe boat trip on Lake Tana to visit monasteries (constructed during 14 up to 18 century). You will visit the most 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. On the hill top of Bezawit Palace (Palace of Emperor Haileselassie I, overlook the source of River Blue Nile (known as Abay or Geon/Ghion in Ethiopia). Overnight – Hotel – Bahir Dar
Day 2: the Castles of Gondar, Jews Village & Simien Mountains National park
After breakfast; drive from Bahir Dar to Gondar (187km asphalt road). About 3hrs drive. Visit the Castles of emperor Fassiladas, his swimming pool, the empress Minitab’s Palace, the Banquet Room of Emperor Bakaffa… the 17century church of Debre Birhan Sillassie (Light of Trinity). After Lunch at Goha Hotel, drive ( at 1:30pm) to the Semien Mountains National Park. (138km 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. After Debark; drive to Semien Mountains National Park (until Chennek). At Chennek, you will have a best chance to see the endemic Walia Ibex. On the way; appreciate the alluring chained mountains of the Simien Park and Gelada baboons feeding on the ground at many places. Dinner & Overnight- camping – Chennek (in the heart of the park).
Day 3: Semen Mountains National Park & Axum
After Breakfast; drive back to Debark and drive to Axum (minimum of 6-7hrs drive). Photo stops on the way lunch in the town of Shire (at Gebar Shire Hotel) & proceed to Axum. . Overnight – at Yeha Hotel or similar (3*) –Axum
Day 4: Discover Axum
Fly from Gondar to Axum & explore the city of Axum for full day. Axum was oldest Ethiopian capital city. The attractions of Axum include: the archaeological museum, monolithic steles, the tombs of King Kaleb, and the legendary Bath and the ruins of ancient palace of the Queen of Sheba (Dengur palace), St Mary of Zion and the sanctuary that houses the original Ark of the Covenant. Almost all Ethiopian Orthodox Christians and some scholars believe firmly that the original Ark the covenant of God is resting here at the chapel- in the middle of St Mary of Zion and Emperor Fassiladas’ Castle of Axum. Visit also the monastery of Abba Pantelion at the hill side of Axum. Overnight – at Yeha Hotel or similar (3*) –Axum
Day 5: Lalibela Churches
Fly from Axum to Lalibela and after lunch, 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. Overnight – Overnight – Hotel – Lalibela
Day 6: Lalibela Circuit
Early morning. Trek to Asheten Mariam (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 (at 2630m above sea level), one of the most fascinating historical sites of Ethiopia.
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 –Roha Hotel or similar (3*) – Lalibela
Day 7: Lalibela – Addis – Departure
Fly back to Addis Ababa and departure (end of the trip)