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 Ras Amba Hotel.
Day 2: 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: 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: 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: Fly to the royal city of 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.
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. 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 cultural musician bars(Azmari Bet).
Day 7: 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: 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. Our stay in Turmi is in camping. Before reaching.
Day 15, Tuesday: Turmi - Dimeka - Murle (90 km gravel road). Drive from Turmi to Dimeka another town of hammar people and visit the weekly colorful market. This is one of the vibrant market in the area. After visit of the market we continue to Murlle, the area of Karo people. En route we stop at the village called Kisso to see the traditional danse of the Hammar people. Camping in Russos camp on the shore of River Omo.
Day 16: Murle - Qorcho - Lubook - Mago Park (81 km). En -route you visit two villages of the Karo people called, Duss and Qorcho. At Qorcho the scenery of the surrounding with river Omo crossing the desert is wonderful. Among the people living along the Omo River, the Karo excel in face and body painting as well as body scarification. In Labook you enjoy the traditional dense of the Karo. Arrive at Mago Park and camp under the huge trees on the side of Neri River.
Day 17: Mago - Mursi - Jinka (95 km gravel road). We live Mago national park after breakfast and to the western direction of the park to see the Mursi people. They mostly live in separate villages of small groups. Ladies use lip plate on their lower lip. Drive back and continue to Jinka for over night in resort hotel.
Day 18: Jinka - Konso - Yabelo (260 km gravel road). En route you cross the territory of Ari, Tsemay, Gewada and Konso people. Between konso and Yabelo chance fully we can see the colorful market of Borena people. Arrival in Yabelo and night stay in mobile Hotel.
Day 19: Full day in Yabelo. Morning visit of the Borena's Singing Well. These are underground water wells that the pastoralist Borena people use to water their cattle. They sing song during their work of watering the cattle. back to hotel for lunch and afternoon visit of the Saturday market.
Day 20: Yabelo - Awassa (290 km asphalt road). This is a change of drive from lowland to highland. The vegetation of acacia gives place to broad leaf. Visit Sunday Market after 25 km drive. Aafter 100 km out of Borena people, is the area of coffee production. This is the part of Ethiopia which is ever green. En route you pass through the tribes of Guji, Gedo and Sidama all with different culture. lunch at Dilla. Reach Awassa in the afternoon, after bird watching around lake Awassa drive to Shashemene for night stay in bekele Mola Hotel.
Day 21: Awassa - Addis Ababa drive (273 asphalt road). Morning visit "Amora Gadal", the daily fish market on the shore of Lake Awassa and continue to Addis Ababa. This evening we dine out for a special dinner in one of Addis Ababa’s fine restaurants for traditional dinner and dance (good by party).
Day 22: Departure. End of the tour.
Also see tour packages in:
Africa Ethiopia Spiritual Odyssey Pilgrimage/Spirituality
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