Tour – 5: Tour to Ancient North and Remote South Ethiopia ( 19 days )
Day 1: Arrive in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia. Transfer to hotel and city tour of the town. Drive north to Mount Entoto. In 1881 Emperor Menelik II made his permanent camp here, after the remains of an old town, believed to have been the capital of the 16th century monarch Lebna Dengel, were discovered. Menelik took this discovery to be a divine and auspicious sign for his new capital. We will view the Church of Mariam, where Menelik was crowned Emperor of Ethiopia in 1889, and the Church of Archangel Raguel. Gather this evening for our festive welcome dinner party. Over night in Hotel.
Day 2: Addis Ababa – Axum flight. Transfer to the airport for our flight to Axum. This ancient city, with its half-buried ruins of palaces, monolithic stelae, and subterranean tombs, is one of Ethiopia’s most historic sites. Reputedly the capital of the Queen of Sheba, today Axum is the 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 to 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. We will see the new, and rather garish church built with the support of Haile Selassie, and the small outbuilding nearby that purportedly houses the renowned Ark. Overnight in the Ramhai Hotel.
Day 3: Axum – Yeha – Adwa back to Axum : An all day road trip takes us east through dramatic volcanic formations to Yeha, the capital of the earliest kingdom in Ethiopia. Here, the pre-Axumite Temple of the Moon is the oldest known sacred site in Ethiopia dating to about 700 B.C. It is reputed to be the best preserved example of South Arabian style temple architecture in the world. Next to the shrine is the Church of Abune Aftse, one of the “Nine Saints” who did much to spread Christianity in Ethiopia. This building’s front facade has been fitted with carved stones from the original temple. Back to Axum for over night.
Day 4: Fly from Axum to Lalibela. 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 nights at the Lal Hotel.
Day 5: Another day in Lalibela : Spend today exploring more of the rock-carved churches of the area. The cruciform-shaped Bete Giorgis is the most perfect and beautiful church here; its interior is dominated by depictions of Saint George killing the dragon. Bet Golgotha houses remarkable reliefs of figures, early Christian art rarely seen in other parts of Ethiopia. We will also visit Yemrehane Christos, a striking church sited within a cave built by King Yemrehane Christos (let Christ show the way) who ruled before King Lalibela. (Note: To reach this church we must hike a short distance up rather steep terrain.)
Day 6: Lalibela – Gondar flight: Gondar 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. Overnight at the Goha Hotel.
Day 7: Gondar – Bahir Dar drive and Afternoon Boat trip. Fter breakfast we start the drive to Bahir Dar. After arrival and 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. Nearby is Azuwa Maryam, containing several fascinating paintings. Back to Bahir Dar. In the evening, after dinner we go out to enjoy the traditional music in one of the small
Bahir dar is still visited by tankwas, papyrus boats made by the Woyto people who live on the shores of the lake, and with luck we will see them. 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. It is by chance you can see the fall. But to there and walking in the river gorge and the surrounding scenery is god experience.
Day 8: Bahir Dar – Addis flight: Today’s flight returns us to Addis Ababa with the rest of the day free.
Day 9: Addis – Wondo Ganat (280 km asphalt and 45kms gravel road). An early morning departure by car takes us south of Addis Ababa towards the Rift Valley. Our first stop is at Melka Kunture, one of the most important Paleolithic sites in Ethiopia, where one of the excavators will give us a private tour and lecture. Along the Awash River where Melka Kunture is located, have been found the fossils of hippopotamus, rhinoceros, and elephants. Our second stop is at Tiya, classified by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, where we can see the northernmost example of a peculiar type of engraved stele. Coffee and Tea stop in Ziway town and drive to Langano, Bekele Mola Hotel located on the shore of Lake langano for over night stay.
Day 10: Wondo Ganat – Arba Minch (290 km asphalt road). After breakfast start drive to Arba Minch. We drive south down the Rift valley passing lakes Koka, langano, Abiyata and Shalla before turning west at the town called Shashamane. Then we drive through the rolling hills of Wolayta. En- route you visit the different house styles of the Alaba Oromos, the Wolaita’s, and Hadiya. Short stop to visit the potter’s village. Before getting Arba Minch, we stop to visit the colorful Thursday market of Dorze people. Also visit the Dorze people culture of weaving and their beehive style house made from bamboo on the top of Mt. Goge. Reach Arba Minch town located between two lakes, Abaya and Chamo and over night stay in Bekele Mola hotel, a hotel located on one of the best views in Africa.
Day 11: Full day in Arba Minch. Morning visit to Nech Sar National Park to see zebras, gazelles, heart beasts, and variety of birds. in addition to the wild life, the surrounding scenery is wonderful. Back to hotel for lunch. In the afternoon, boat excursion on lake Chamo to see crocodiles and hippos and many birds.
Day 12: Arba Minch – Konso (90 km gravel road). This day is a day to start to drive in the remote south Ethiopia and to see different people culture in wilderness. Around Konso you see the people of Derashi, Gidole and Gewada mostly with traditional short skirt. Afternoon visit to the Konso people village to admire their house style and village complex, their farming style. Konso people are known for their intricately terraced hill side farm, fine woven materials and the carved totems with which they decorate their graves. Konso is a site recorded by UNESCO as World Heritage. Saturday is market day in Konso. Night stay in Kidsit Maryam hotel.
Day 13: Konso – Turmi (170 km gravel road). After early start direct to the western direction of Konso. Cross the territory of Gewada people who have the same culture with Konso. Around Woyto river the people of Tsemay and Benna with their animal skin made clothes and their body is decorated with shells, bids, quarry shells and metals and unique hear styles. After refreshment stop at Woyto continue to Turmi En route you visit the Erbore people village. Camping on the side of Keske river bed. There is Sunday market on Woyto.
Day 14: Full day in Turmi. This a day with half day rest and short walks to the near by villages of Hammar people. The center of Hammar people is Turmi. The Hamer are a fine looking people, both men and women take great pride in their appearance, shaving and coloring their hair, oiling their bodies and decorating themselves with beads and bracelets worn around arms and legs. They are also famous for their annual celebration of initiation of boys to transform to adult hood, a ceremony called Bull-Jumping. Bull-jumping is a precondition of marriage for men of Hamar people. June up to September, which is after harvest time in the area is a time for bull-jumping.
Day 15 : Around Turmi( market day) and drive to Jinka, Resort hotel.
After a relaxed breakfast and walking in the surrounding of the area we visit the weekly market of the Hamar people. Saturday is a very colorful and one the vibrant market of the area. Here the Hamar and the Benna people meat for exchange of their products. The tribal people walk to this market from all over the area to buy and sale. This gives you a big hint about the daily life of the people, their products and the traditional materials on daily use.
After the visit if the market drive t Jinka for vernight stay in Resrt hotel.
Day 16 :Jinka – Mursi – Jinka,( 95 km) Resort Hotel.
We live Jinka after breakfast and to the western direction of Mago park to see the Mursi people. They mostly live in separate villages of small groups. The famous Mursi women sport remarkable lip decorations, flat slabs of dried clay which can be the size of a small plate, inserted into the lower lip. The men are renowned warriors; very slender, they rarely cover up their body which proudly bears the scars of their combats. Drive back to Jinka for over night in Resort Hotel.
Day 17 :Jinka – key Afer – Konso – Arba Minch, Tourist Hotel
After early start direct to the Eastern direction of Konso. Cross the territory of Ari and Benna people. Your first stop is to visit the Benna people village. Around Woyto river the people of Tsemay and Benna with their animal skin made clothes and their body is decorated with shells, bids, quarry shells and metals and unique hear styles. After the visit continue to Arba Minch via Konso.
Day 18: Drive back to Addis. Overnight in Addis in Panaroma Hotel.
On this drive we are taking another route which can show us the different landscape of the Wolaita, Kembata and Hadiya. After a short stop for lunch in Hossana town we continue the drive and will stop to see the Archaeological site of the Tiya staele.
Arrive Addis late afternoon and check in to Panoroma Hotel.
Day 19 : Addis Ababa, city tour, shopping, evening departure.
City tour of Addis which includes the view point from mount Entoto, National Museum of archaeology, The Trinity Cathedral, lunch time, visit of the open air market Mercato, shopping, dinner in traditional restaurant with local dense, transfer to the airport and departure.