Tour – 11: Northern historic route and trekking in Semein mountains ( 11 Days )
Day 1/ Arrive at Addis Ababa and connection flight to Bahir DarTrip. In Bahar Dar visit the Island monastery of Lake Tana The blue Nile falls.
Lake Tana is the source of the Blue Nile, and the most dramatic wonder here is the Blue Nile Falls; in flood-stage it is more than 1300 feet wide. After dropping over a sheer chasm more than 150 feet deep, the mist drenches viewers a half mile away. In a gorge created by the waterfall is a small rain forest lush with tropical vegetation and inhabited by lively monkeys and a multitude of spectacular birds. Now a days more than 90% of the waterfall is used for hydro electric power. January is the best time of the year to see the falls. But to go there and walking in the river gorge and the surrounding scenery is god experience. After visiting the waterfall at 35 km from Bahir Dar.
After lunch board a boat for a cruise on Lake Tana to visit two of the island’s monasteries. Located on the forested Zege Peninsula, Ura Kidhane Mihret is the most impressive of the southern monasteries. The walls of the church are completely covered with remarkable 16th-century murals that offer a revealing look into medieval Ethiopia. Back to Bahir Dar and over night stay in Summerland Hotel.
Day 2/ Bahar Dar – Gonder dfrive and visit , Taye Hotel.
After breakfast we start the drive to Gondar. The road is crossing many types of highland and lowland agricultural fields. On your way you see farmers and people from the rural villages walking to the nearby towns to/from small town markets. In Northern Ethiopia Saturday is market day and Sunday rest day. We will have several stops for pictures. Arrive Gondar after around 3 hours drive and check in to Taye Hotel.
After lunch we start the visit of the sites. Gondar is where magnificent fortified palaces dominate the landscape. The oldest and most impressive is the two-story palace of Emperor Fasilidas, built of solid basalt stones. Other royal buildings include the library of Emperor Yohannes I, the House of Song where royal ceremonies took place, the elegant reception and banquet hall of Emperor Bakaffa, and the palace of this king’s wife. Just outside of town is the Bathing Palace where Epiphany is celebrated each year. Also visit the Church of Debre Birhan Selassie, an imposing structure with its harmony of brightly colored ceilings completely covered with intricately painted angels.
We visit Woleka, Falashas (Ethiopian Jews) village is Just 3km north of Gonder, several craft stalls with ‘Stars of David’ and ‘’ signs signal what’s really the former Falasha village of Wolleka. Once the home to a thriving population of Falashas, most were taken to Israel in the 1980s and today none remain. There are, however, a few original houses with interesting artwork on their fronts.
After the adoption of Christianity as the state religion, Falashas had their land confiscated for refusing to convert. To survive, many became skilled craftspeople. Research suggests Falashas may have provided the labour for the construction and decoration of Gonder’s castles.
Another interesting place to see at the nearby is Project Ploughshare Women’s Crafts Training Center which is helping disadvantaged women rekindle this craft, along with traditional Amhara weaving and basketry. You can watch the women working Monday to Saturday and buy the high-quality pottery every day
Day 3/ Gondar – Debark drive and trek to Snkaber ( about 2 hours ).
Drive to Dabark (the gate of Semein mountain park) arrangement of mules for loading materials and scout start trekking from Buyit Ras camp site and continue to Sankaber. This day trekking is a practice and a type acclimatization with the high altitude. En route you walk on the edge of the escarpment which has good view of the surrounding and there is chance to see the endemic Gelada baboon.
These baboons are grass eaters and will be seen in family units in many areas of the Semein. They are also known as the “the bleeding heart baboon” as there are red areas on the chest. Generally Debark – Buyit Ras – Sankaber is a trek that leads mainly through cultivated areas. Few indigenous trees will bee seen in the area except the introduced eucalyptus. In some areas, plants such as St. John’s wort and heather will bee seen. Also many smaller herbs like Alchemila, Kiniphofia, red-hot pocker and Lobelia will be seen. In the afternoon reach Sankaber camp.
Day 4/ Sankaber – Geech trekking ( about 7 hours ).
After early start you walk directly east ward, looking the escarpment northward, get in the valley of Koba rive. Viewing on the left the Geech Abyss reach the wonderful fall of Jin Bar (some times this fall is dry). Lunch from box and continue the trekking. Cross Jin Bar River, climb the steep land on the other side of the river, reach Geech camp (3600 mt. alt). En route you can view some endemic birds such as thick-billed raven, black-heade siskin, white-collared pigeon, wattled Ibis, and spot breasted plover. Geech is a camp site where you can see one of the biggest bird Lammergeyer.
Day 5/ Geech – Imitgogo – Sahaa – Geech( about 7 hours ).
After early start from Geech with pack lunch trek to different wonderful view points including Imitgogo with 3926 mt altitude gives the most spectacular views of the Semein both to north and east direction, the same to the View point of Saha. Back to Geech in the afternoon.
Day 6/ Geech – Chenek ( about 8 hours ).
After early breakfast start trekking through forested valleys, cross Jin Bahir River, continue crossing the steep plain with the small hills, reach the escarpment of Enatiye which gives good view of the lowlands and the mountains of the surrounding. Take the chance and observe the endemic Walia Ibex grazing on the escarpments of the area. The walia Ibex is member of the wild goat family has magnificent heavily ridged horns sweeping back over it’s shoulders.
Day 7/ From Chenek drive back to Gondar and over Taye Hotel.
Day 8 / Fly to Axum and Visit of the sites, Sabean hotel.
This ancient city, with its half buried ruins of palaces, monolithic stele, and subterranean tombs, is one of Ethiopia’s most historic sites. Reputedly the capital of the Queen of Sheba, Axum is the now hub of Ethiopian Christianity. Visit the Park of the Obelisks where several colossal monoliths still stand together, marking the tombs of the Axumite royals. Nearby, is the subterranean Tomb of Ramha, a former king of Axum. Beneath the Palace of Kaleb, steep stone steps lead to underground galleries and chambers, locally believed to be the treasury of Emperor Kaleb.
Visit a historically important dedicatory stone dating back to approximately about 320 AD with an inscription written in three languages – Sabaean, Ge’ez (earliest written Ethiopian language), and Greek, and explore the tomb of King Basen, who ruled at the time of the birth of Christ. Also explore Gobadura, where Axum’s giant stelae were quarried, and see the impressive relief drawing of a lion cut into a large boulder. Axum is where the Ark of the Covenant of Biblical fame is reported to be hidden within the compound of the Church of Saint Mary of Zion. The new, and rather garish church was built with the support of the late Haile Selassie. Overnight in Sabean Hotel.
Day 9/ Fly to Lalibela. Tour Lalibela, Lal Hotel.
Eight hundred years ago King Lalibela created a marvelous gift to the world. Often called the Eighth Wonder of the World, Lalibela contains towering churches that were carved from the soft, volcanic tuff in which they stand. Some lie almost completely hidden in deep trenches, and others stand in open quarried caves. A complex and bewildering labyrinth of tunnels and narrow passageways with crypts, grottoes, and galleries connects them all. Within this mystical world, priests go about their daily tasks, seemingly oblivious of the outside world. Standing 38 feet tall with seventy-two pillars, Medhane Alem is not only the largest in Lalibela, it is the largest monolithic rock-hewn church in the world. The oldest of the churches, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, Bet Maryam is the only Lalibela monolith with a porch. The remains of exquisite early frescoes can be seen on the ceiling and upper walls, and there are many elaborately carved details on the piers, capitals, and arches. Overnight for two night Tukul Hotel.
Day 10/ Visit one of the churches out of Lalibela and village life. Tukul Hotel.
Day 11/ Fly back to Addis in the morning and city tour of Addis Ababa and departure.
After the flight to Addis visit the museum of Institute of Ethiopian studies is an ethnographic museum.
Fly to Addis Ababa, lunch, visit the national museum or ethnological museum of Addis Ababa University depending your arrival time in Addis.
National Museum :The museum is presenting selected artifacts worthy of exhibition using the best display techniques available as a means of education and enjoyment for the general public. Exhibits of the national museum are displayed under different sections. Paleontology and pre- history; – Lucy and other fossils including stone tools, Historical and Archaeological findings that depict the early history from the pre-Axumite times to the 16th century AD, Ethnography: – Traditional and ceremonial costumes, jewellery… etc. reflecting the diversified cultures of the various ethnic groups, Modern Art: – Selected paintings and sculptures from different Ethiopian artists, such as; Maitre Artist Laureate Afework Tekle. Almost every object has captions so that visitors can learn about the Nation’s rich history.
Ethnological Museum of Addis Ababa University : This contemporary museum truly displays superb artifacts and handicrafts from Ethiopia’s peoples. Instead of following the typical static and geographical layout that most museums fall into, these displays are based upon the life cycle. First comes Childhood, with birth, games, rites of passage and traditional tales. We particularly enjoyed the ‘Yem Tale’, a story of selfishness, dead leopards and sore tails! Adulthood probes into beliefs, nomadism, traditional medicine, war, pilgrimages, hunting, body culture and handicrafts. The last topic is Death and Beyond, with burial structures, stelae and tombs. The exhibition gives a great insight into Ethiopia’s many rich cultures.
Afternoon shopping and then dinner in traditional restaurant with traditional song and dense and departure.