- Tour Plan
- Additional Info
- Domestic Airfare
- English-Speaking Guide
- Entrance Fees
- Meals - Full Board
- Airfare- International
- Optional Activities
- Personal Expenses
- Trip Insurance
- Visa Services
- Day 1 / June 10, 2020
- Day 2 / June 11, 2020
- Day 3 / June 12, 2020
- Day 4 / June 13 2020
- Day 5 / June 14, 2020
- Day 6 / June 15, 2020
- Day 7 / June 16, 2020
- Day 8 / June 17, 2020
- Day 9 / June 18 2020
- Day 10 / June 19 2020
- Day 11 / June 20, 2020
- Day 12 / June 21 2020
- Day 13 / June 22, 2020
Arrive to Addis Ababa at Bole International Airport, meet and greet with one of our partner’s staff (outside the airport building) for the transfer to the Hyatt Regency Hotel where you will be spending your first Ethiopian night at an altitude of over 2400 m above the sea level.
Today you have a full day guided city tour of Addis Ababa which comprises a visit to the National Museum which hosts the famous 3.2 million year old fossil of Lucy, the Ethnographic Museum, Entoto St. Mary Museum, St. Trinity Cathedral church and Merkato market, the largest open-air bazaar of Eastern Africa. Lunch in a restaurant; dinner and overnight in the in the hotel.
Early breakfast and transfer to the airport for the flight to Bahir Dar. After check-in in Blue Nile Avanti Hotel, we drive to the Blue Nile Falls, known locally as Tissisat (smoking water) fall: 100 m (328 ft) wide, the water plunges for 45 m (148 ft) giving rise to steam clouds and rainbows. After lunch we will have a boat trip on Lake Tana which hosts 37 islands and 32 of them have churches and monasteries of considerable historical and cultural interest. We visit the monastery church of Ura Kidane Mihiret which is the best known of the monasteries and has an important collection of religious icons from the 16th to 18th centuries A.D. Dinner and overnight in the hotel.
After breakfast we drive to Gondar, which is 180 km away from Bahir Dar. Gondar was the first capital city of the Ethiopian Empire which began in 1632 with the reign of Fasilidas. The city hosts a dozen castles built by various emperors over the course of 236 years and seems more European than African. After lunch, we visit Fasilidas' Palace, probably the most impressive of all the castles found in the area and the oldest one! We continue to the Church of Debre Berham Selassie (Light of the Trinity). The interior of Debre Berham Selassie is decorated with beautiful frescos, cherubs and paintings. Debre Berham Selassie is rumored to once have been the proposed final resting-place of the Ark of the Covenant. Dinner and overnight in AG hotel.
Gondar- Simien Mountain National Park - Gondar
Today you have an excursion trip to the majestic Simien Mountain National park. Early morning, with the lunch box, we drive to Debark. This is a small market town at an altitude of 2700 meters near the boundary of the Simien Mountains National Park. It is famous for its corrugated iron roofed buildings along with its colorful and bustling market area. Before entering the park, you need to register at the park headquarters just outside the city. Here an armed Scout will join the visitors: it is one of the park regulations. Simien National Park is a spectacular landscape, where massive erosion over millions of years has created jagged mountain peaks, deep valleys and sharp precipices dropping some 1,500 m.
The is of global significance for biodiversity conservation because it is home to globally threatened species, including the iconic Walia ibex, a wild mountain goat found nowhere else in the world, the Gelada baboon and the Ethiopian wolf. At the height of the road there is a magnificent view of the strangely eroded foothills of the series and you might be lucky enough to spot your first bearded vulture and gelada baboons of the trip. After the visit to the National park, drive back to Gondar. On the way visit the Fellasha (Ethiopian Jews) village. Dinner and overnight in AG Hotel.
Drive to Axum
After breakfast we drive to the ancient town of Axum through the chains of the Simien Mountains and the Tekeze river valley. A major tributary of the Atbara River, itself a tributary of the Nile, the Tekeze rises near Lalībela and flows in a deep ravine, north and then west, where it forms part of the border between Ethiopia and Eritrea, to enter Sudan below Om Hajer. Tekeze represents a major link between the north and south of the country. The scenery of today will be a gradual change from what you have seen so far in Ethiopia. Lunch in a restaurant, dinner and overnight in Sabean Hotel.
Today you will get to know the enchanting and historically precious city of Axum which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The legends narrated in the Kebre Nagast (Book of Kings) recount how the city of Axum as early as the 10th century B.C was already the city in which the Queen of Sheba resided. It is recounted that the son of the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon brought the Ark of the Covenant to Axum where it remains to this day, preserved in a sanctuary.
Famous long before the time of Christ, Axum was the capital of the long Axumite reign, one of the oldest African empires and represented a crucial connecting-point between Africa and Asia for almost a thousand years. Visit the granite stone Stele of Axum, the Tombs of King Kaleb and his son King Gebre Mesekel, he Ezana’s stone inscription, Queen of Sheba’s palace and swimming pool, and the Church of Zion, which is the final resting place of the True Ark of the Covenant. Overnight in Sabean hotel.
Gheralta and Yeha
After breakfast we drive to Adigrate by the Adwa Mountains with a city tour of Adwa. The small town of Adwa, just 20 km east of Axum, is of great importance to Ethiopians since it was in the surrounding hills that emperor Menelik II defeated the Italian Army on 1 March 1896, thereby ensuring that his empire would be the only African State to enter the 20th century as a fully independent entity. In the city center, we can admire the outside of the Church of Adwa Inde Selassie built by Emperor Yohannes IV in 1868 whose inside is decorated with superb contemporaneous murals (note: the church is not always open to tourists).
The day proceeds with the visit Yeha Temple, which is more than 2800 years old and the small museum in the Church compound. This is one of the region’s most important sites as it still hosts Ethiopia’s most impressive pre-Axumite archeological site. Founded at least 2800 years ago, Yeha served as the Capital of D’mt for many centuries prior to being usurped by Axum in the 1st century BC. Yeha’s single most remarkable antiquity is the well preserved 12 m high Almaqah Temple comprising at least 52 layers of masonry.
Other two Tigray rock churches will be visited today: Aba Gerima and Petros Paulos. Lunch in restaurant; dinner and overnight in Gheralta Lodge.
After breakfast, drive to Mekele with, en route, visit three among the finest rock-hewn churches of Tigray.
Abraha Atbesha: a 10th-century legacy. It’s large and cruciform in shape, with cruciform pillars and well- preserved 17th- and 18th-century murals and a wonderful wooden door. Some of the church treasures, including what’s believed to be King Atsbeha’s golden shoes, are properly displayed in glass cases in the adjacent museum. The obtrusive portico was an attempt by Italians to win over locals by proving they weren’t Muslims.
4th C rock church of Wukro Cherkos: a semi-monolithic crooked cruciform sandstone church which boasts beautiful cruciform pillars, cubical capitals, an outstanding Aksumite frieze and a barrel-vaulted ceiling. In 1958 Haile Selassie himself, apparently, ordered the angular roof squared with concrete for either aesthetic reasons or to protect the church from water seepage.
Medhane Alem Kesho: Also known as Adi Kesho, after its location, this is one of Tigray’s oldest, tallest and finest rock-hewn churches. Its exterior and interior walls are roughly hewn, which only makes the elaborately carved coffered ceiling that much more special. Ask to watch them unlock the door from the inside: rather ingenious. From the end of the 4WD track, it’s a steep-but-easy 10-minute climb to the church. Lunch en route, dinner and overnight in Planet hotel.
Drive to Lalibela
After breakfast, departure to reach the mythical Lalibela. The route winds through the spectacular scenery of the Amba Alague and Alamata mountains, with peaks of over 3000 meters and where vegetation varies continuously. Lunch en route; dinner and overnight at Tukul Village Hotel.
After breakfast, visit the first and the third group of churches, which have seven rock churches. After lunch visit the second group of churches, which have four rock churches. Lunch in a local restaurant, dinner and overnight at Tukul Village.
Lalibela - Eclipse Viewing
Today the wake-up call is early as we will be experiencing one of nature’s most breath-taking events: an annular solar eclipse. It is uncommon, on a globe that is seven-tenths water, to have an eclipse that is largely over land, but in the case of the annular eclipse of 2020, more than 80 percent of the track rests on terra firma. Only the last fifth of the Moon’s path falls over the Pacific. The extended terrestrial nature of the track means that eclipse travelers can choose to sample from one or more of many countries and many climates. Along the way, average June cloud cover ranges from as low as 5 percent in the deserts of the Arabian Peninsula to nearly 95 percent in the monsoon weather of China and Taiwan. This is an attractive eclipse for the enthusiastic traveler, as its extremely short duration—around 20 seconds — promises a display of solar structure that is normally reserved for total eclipses.
The core of the Moon’s shadow first makes planetfall a few degrees north of the equator at the border between the Republic of the Congo and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), heading northeastward across Central African Republic (CAR), South Sudan, Ethiopia, and Eritrea to reach the shores of the Red Sea. On the Ethiopian Highlands, the eclipse comes in the midst of the rainy season but before its much wetter peak in July and August. Data shows a decline in cloudiness from west to east across the Highlands, and so Lalibela, one of Ethiopia’s most popular tourist destinations and smack on the central axis, is one of the better sites for eclipse visitors. Its sunshine statistics are not particularly impressive compared to regions farther along the track, but the satellite images show that the morning cloud is most often composed of small cumulus buildups that would disappear during eclipse cooling.
We will then return to the hotel for a quiet moment and an early lunch. In the afternoon, visit of Yemrehanna Kristos Church which predates the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela by about 80 years and is built inside a cave. Note: the steep 15 minute walk up to Yemrehanna Kristos, at this altitude, can be exhausting. The alternative is to use a mule. Inside the cave, a beautiful church presents itself, built the traditional way (not like the churches of Lalibela) this church is laid out on a foundation of Africa Olive Wood. While the main structure is a combination of wooden and granite struts. Once inside the church, it is the wooden ceiling that is spellbinding - the attention to detail is extraordinary.
Dinner and overnight in Tukul Village Hotel.
After breakfast, transfer to the airport and our flight back to Addis Ababa where you will have a bus and guide at your disposal for personal visits and shopping. Day use of rooms at the Hyatt Regency Hotel.
In the evening, after the dinner program in one of the traditional restaurants with live music and dances, transfer to the airport for international departure.
End of the tour.
More about Ethiopia
More about this tour
Join Caravan-Serai Tours for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to witness an annular eclipse of the sun at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Lalibela in Ethiopia. We will enjoy a sightseeing tour of Ethiopia before heading to the viewing site, giving you an insight into this East African country with its medieval and post-medieval civilizations, it's natural beauty and stunning mountainous landscape, Christian monuments and more.
- All airport transfers
- Domestic flights
- Full board accommodations in hotels mentioned (breakfast + dinner in hotel and lunch en route) on twin/double sharing basis
- 4 WD with experienced driver
- Fuel, car insurance
- 3 passengers max, per car
- Water in the car
- Drivers + guide allowances
- All entrance fees
- Local guides in each destination
- Boat excursion on Lake Tana
- 24/7 assistance from Head Office in Addis Ababa
- Local taxes and service charges