EXPLORE Ethiopia'S WONDERS AND RICHES
Ethiopia fascinates us, a heady mixture of ancient and modern, with many of the ancient sites continuously occupied since their construction lending a timelessness to the country. The home to Africa's only castles and the world's only rock hewn churches, carved out underground from single solid piece of stone, and still full of devout parishioners. There is so much in Ethiopia to make you say "wow." And while Ethiopia does not have the vast numbers of animals seen in some parts of Africa, its nature is really out of this world, with rock formations and vegetation not found elsewhere on the planet, and these areas are home to many birds and some unusual and rare mammals. All of which we are likely to see as we make our way from central to northern Ethiopia, traveling in comfortable vehicle, taking local flights and spending the night in some of the best lodges and hotels Ethiopia has to offer.
DAY 1: MONDAY, OCT 11
Arrive Addis Ababa, where you will be met by guide and driver and taken to hotel for check in and the oppurtunity to rest. Today is day to relax, with a driving tour of the city for those interested. Welcome dinner to get acquainted with your fellow travelers. Overnight at Best Western Hotel.
(Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
DAY 2: TUESDAY, OCT 12
Addis Ababa to Lalibela
Morning 1-hour flight takes us to Lalibela. Another UNESCO World
Heritage site, and the home of 11 rock hewn monolithic churches
constructed in the 12th century. Imagine excavating 4 stories down into
the rocky ground and carving underground churches
from single piece of stone. Access to the churches is via a maze of passageways and tunnels, and inside are intricately
carved reliefs and astonishing icon paintings; yours
to gaze upon and photograph. All 11 churches are
still in use, as we explore them we meet priests,
deacons, nuns and parishioners. Overnight at Sora
DAY 3: WEDNESDAY, OCT 13
Day excursion to countryside and Na'akuto La'ab Church
A short drive into the countryside brings us to the uniquely beautiful Na'akuto La'ab Church. This is a cave church and different from the rock churches, it makes an interesting contrast the the rock churches and it filled with fascinating religious treasures. The drive into the countryside permits us to see rural life in Ethiopia. Return to Lalibela for sunset drinks and dinner at Ben Abeba Restaurant, considered one of Ethiopia's coolest restaurants. Overnight at Sora Lodge.
DAY 4: THURSDAY, OCT 14
Further exploration of the rock-hewn churches
We have saved the most impressive of the 11 churches for last, and today will visit the northwestern group of churches, including the most famous of all, St. George's. Overnight at Sora Lodge.
DAY 5: FRIDAY, OCT 15
Drive from Lalibela to Bahar Dar
Today we have a 6-hour drive across interesting landscape to reach Bahar Dar on the shores of Lake Tana, Ethiopia's largest lake by mid afternoon. Bahar Dar is sometimes called the
Ethiopian Riviera due to its attractiveness and pleasant vibe. The many islands in the lake are home to many lovely churches and monasteries of historical and
cultural interest. In the afternoon we explore the city and market, return to
the resort to watch the sunset over the lake. Overnight at Kuriftu Resort.
DAY 6: SATURDAY, OCT 16
Blue Nile Falls
Relax this morning at our lakeside resort, and later in day we drive
one hour to Blue Nile Falls, these impressive 150 foot falls
are set in rural Ethiopia. The 45-minute hike (there is a shorter,
though less scenic route for those who prefer less walking) takes
us through beautiful countryside and across 4-century old
Portuguese built stone bridge. Return to hotel for relaxing late
afternoon and sunset drinks by Lake Tana. Overnight at Kuriftu Resort.
DAY 7: SUNDAY, OCT 17
Lake Tana Monasteries
A scenic and comfortable boat ride takes us to 2 of the monasteries on the lake. These ancient monasteries have picturesque surroundings and great historical significance in Ethiopia's storied past. A local guide explains their origins and describes their remarkable paintings and treasures which tell the story of Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity. On the lake we observe plentiful bird life and search for hippopotamus which inhabit the shallow coves. Overnight at Kuriftu Resort.
DAY 8: MONDAY, OCT 18
Bahar Dar to Gonder
A morning 3-hour drive brings us to Gonder: the Camelot of Africa. Gonder's wealth and splendor were legendary in the 17th century, when Emperor Fasilides made this his capital and a series of 7 phenomenal castles were constructed by him and his descendants. We explore the compound of this once grand empire, and visit all the atmospheric castles/palaces. Gonder is a pretty town, with interesting churches, Italian era buildings and one of the best restaurants in Ethiopia, the famed Four Sisters where we'll enjoy food and entertainment. Overnight at Goha Hotel.
DAY 9: TUESDAY, OCT 19
A 2.5-hour drive brings us to the Simien Mountains, a UNESCO
World Heritage site and considered one of Africa's most
beautiful mountain ranges. The large plateau with gullies, cliffs
and pinnacles is home to different vegetation zones, interesting
wildlife (gelada monkeys, walia ibex, Ethiopian wolf and fantastic
birdlife) and much natural beauty. We'll take several hikes here
with our guide and a park ranger. Overnight at Simien Lodge.
DAY 10: WEDNESDAY, OCT 20
Today we spend the entire day exploring the Simien Mountains National Park.
Overnight at Simien Lodge.
DAY 11: THURSDAY, OCT 21
Simien Mountains to Gonder
A leisurely mid-morning return to Gonder, where we have the day to explore the other castles, some interesting churches and one of the towns inhabited by Ethiopia's ancient Jewish community. Overnight at Goha Hotel.
DAY 12: FRIDAY, OCT 22
Gonder to Addis Ababa
A return to Addis Ababa and the opportunity to relax or see more the Ethiopia's capital, the superb Ethnological Museum, and soak up some of the flavor of the city in its traditional cafes.
Overnight at Best Western Hotel.
DAY 13: SATURDAY, OCT 23
Those continuing to the Omo Valley will have midday
flight to Arba Minch, those returning home will have
evening flight and a guide to help with any plans or
PRICES & REGISTRATION INFORMATION
(Inclusive of 12 nights in Ethiopia, all meals, bottled water in the vehicle, 2 internal domestic flights, ground transportation; entrance fees; services of licensed Ethiopian guide and driver; services of USA-based trip leader.)
$5300. (Based on double occupancy)
$5900. (Based on single occupancy)
NOTE: International airfare, gratuities, alcoholic beverages other than local beer with meals, laundry, souvenirs, items of a personal nature and travel insurance are NOT included. Negative Covid-19 test required for entry to Ethiopia and re-entry to USA also NOT included.
As travel in these pandemic times is not the same as it was (though we are confident it will still be enjoyable and safe, there are some additional requirements). Proof of Covid-19 vaccine and negative Covid-19 test are required for participation on this trip. Travel insurance also required for this trip.
Participants are responsible for their own air transportation to Addis Ababa airport where the journey begins. Many airlines serve this airport, including ETHIOPIAN AIRLINES, a highly regarded carrier with high marks for both safety and service. Ethiopian Airlines is a member of the Star Alliance. The 2 internal flights on this journey are also with Ethiopian Airlines and are included in the cost of the journey IF you travel to Ethiopia with Ethiopian Airlines (if not there is a surcharge of $110).
For those arriving before October 11 we can arrange additional nights in the hotel.
Ethiopian visa is easily available on arrival for $50.