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, NOV 29
Arrive Addis Ababa, where you will be met by guide and driver and taken to hotel for check in and the chance to rest. Today we rest at hotel, 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, NOV 30
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, DEC 1
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, built from wood and stone and hidden in a cave. The drive into the countryside permits us to see rural life in Ethiopia. Return in late afternoon to Lalibela for sunset drinks and dinner at Ben Abeba Restaurant, considered one of Ethiopia's coolest restaurants. Overnight at
DAY 4: THURSDAY, DEC 2
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, DEC 3
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. Afternoon visit to local markets. Late afternoon sunset from our hotel on the shore of the lake. Overnight at
DAY 6: SATURDAY, DEC 4
Blue Nile Falls
Relax this morning at our lakeside resort, later in day we drive one
hour to Blue Nile Falls, these impressive 150 foot fallsare set in rural
Ethiopia. The 45-minute hike (there is a shorter, though less scenic
route for those who prefer less walking) takesus through beautiful
countryside and across a 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, DEC 5
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, DEC 6
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, and 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, DEC 7
We depart Gonder for a 2.5-hour-drive 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, DEC 8
Today we spend the entire day exploring Simien Mountans National Park, by vehicle and by foot. Overnight at Simien Lodge.
DAY 11: THURSDAY, DEC 9
Simien Mountains to Gonder
Mid morning return to Gonder where we stop en route to visit Wolleka,
formerly one of the towns inhabited by Ethiopia's Jewish community. In Gonder a visit to the last to be constructed palace,and one of Ethiopia's most beautiful churches, Debre Berhan Selaisse. Overnight at Goha Hotel.
DAY 12: FRIDAY, DEC 10
Gonder to Addis Ababa
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, DEC 11
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 13 nights in Ethiopia, a day room for the final day, all meals, bottled water in the vehicle, 4 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 4 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 $250).
For those arriving before December 1, we can arrange additional nights in the hotel.
Ethiopian visa is easily available on arrival for $50.
On the final day of the journey we will provide you will a day room at Addis Ababa hotel, as most flights depart in the evening. If you wish to stay the night in Addis Ababa, we are happy to provide hotel reservation for this night or any additional nights.
Those continuing on to the Omo Valley will have only air connection in Addis Ababa, onward flight is not long after arrival from Dire Dawa.