Tailored Safari Specialists

Ethiopia, the cradle of humankind


Axum, Gondar, Lalibela, Bahir Dar, the Blue Nile

from $2,250 per person sharing

Cultural

Ethiopia, the cradle of humankind

Indication Price (from): $2,250 per person sharing * View all prices.
Length: 8 days
Group Size: 2 - 6
Location: Axum, Gondar, Lalibela, Bahir Dar, the Blue Nile
Departure Dates: To suit you
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INDICATION PRICES

Final prices vary, subject to factors such as exchange rates, time of year and availability. Contact us to fine-tune these prices and to tailor-make your dream safari.

OUR CHARGES

We do not charge you for our services. We generate revenue from our lodge suppliers, based on the volume of business that we generate for them.

What if we told you this expedition will take you through the cradle of Africa’s richest historical periods? An African History 101 course that traces the birth of the Axumite empire as it flourished and ruled trade and commerce in northeast Africa for over 7 centuries (100BC-700AD).

A period that witnessed Queen Shebas’ travels (Makeda) to the old and wise King Solomon, father of her first son Menilik I, Ethiopias first regent and the one who according to legend brought the original Ark of the Covenant from Jerusalem to Axum. Inevitably, Axum has been blessed from time immemorial by both wealth and confluence of cultures resulting in an impressive collection of ruins, monuments, tombs and archeological artifacts, and the birth of a solid, articulate, confident, literate, resourceful and strong nation – Ethiopia. Axum’s most popular attractions include the magnificent fileds of Stellaes or obelisks, the tomb of King Kaleb and King Gebre Meskel, and the legendary palace and baths of Queen Sheba.

Further south we visit Gondar, located in the foothills of the Simien Mountains at an altitude of 2,200meters above sea level, home of the World Heritage Site known as King Fasilides Complex – The Camelot of Africa. Here, a massive and imposing collection of castles, are testimony to what once was the seat and capital of Ethiopia during almost 200 years. A period of amazing creativity, wealth and prosperity that fueled arts such as painting, music, dance, poetry, architecture and many other disciplines. Nearby, stands the unassuming Debre Berhan Selassie (Trinity and Mountain of Light) Church famed for its exquisite ornate interior – Ethiopia’s very own Sistine Chapel, professed to have been built by an emperor and preserved by an archangel. The walls of this church are a sight that every African person hungry for a historical past should scrutinize with its own eyes.

High in the heavens, carved out from the entrails of Lasta Mountain, you will visit Lalibela’s awe-inspiring and magnificent Rock-hewn church complex. These are a MUST SEE feat for all humanity to witness, for words cannot explain this feat, and even Portuguese priest Francisco Alvares when shown Lalibela in 1521, doubted that his compatriots would believe what he had seen. Massive, tall, unique, carved below ground level, ringed by trenches, moats, courtyards, and connected to each other by a maze of tunnels and tight alley ways, each church is unique in shape and size, precisely carved and exquisitely decorated.

Before returning to Addis, we shall visit Bahir Dar lying on the shores of Lake Tana 1,800 meters above sea level, and one of the long hidden sources of the Blue Nile. Here, we will enjoy the Tiss Isat falls as the Blue Nile departs towards Khartoum.

Join this Africa Geographic discovery expedition and quench your need and thirst for a culture rich, and history brimming tour through a country that defies everything you have ever been told about it, and promises to ravage your senses and steal your heart.

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Detailed Itinerary

WELCOME to Ethiopia!!

On arrival you will meet an Africa Geographic representative and you will be transferred to your hotel.

Overnight in Addis 
After breakfast you will be transferred back to Bole airport for your flight to Axum. (07:00/08:05)

This simple frontier town is a city of great importance as it is the ancient capital of Ethiopia.

According to local legend, Axum was home to Queen Sheba and the current resting place of the Ark of the Covenant.

As we explore Axum, and its ancient relics, a sense of adventure and imagination guides us through this mysterious and historic place.

On arrival, you will get your first glimpse of the history of this area with a city tour that includes the Archeological museum of Axum and the Cathedral of St. Mary of Zion. The original church was built by Emperor Fasilides, founder of Gonder, in 1665. It’s thought that this church is built on the original foundations of a temple built by King Ezana or King Kaleb in the 4th or 6th centuries, making this the oldest Christian site in Africa. Keep your eye out for the guarded chapel, which is said to be the home of the Ark of the Covenant. The modern St. Mary’s of Zion cathedral dates from the 1960s when Emperor Haile Selassie had it built. The architectural style is painfully out of place within the ancient city, but the contrast between the buildings on the site is fascinating. We also spend time exploring the on-site museum under the church, which houses many of Ethiopia’s priceless relics (the museum was recently opened to both women and men, photography is not allowed).

In the afternoon, we will visit the famous ‘Stele field’ (4th Century AD and UNESCO World Heritage Site, the ruin palace and tomb of King Kaleb and King Gebre Meskel (5th and 6th Century AD) and the residence of the legendary Queen of Sheba (9th century BC). The North Stellae Park contains over 120 Stellae, some are upright, some are buried and others have been removed. The Rome Stellae, the tallest at 25m high, was shipped to Italy in 1937 under orders from Mussolini, but has since been returned and re-erected.

Overnight in Axum 
Today you need to rise early for the short flight (11:10/11:55) over the amazing rust colored canyons and high peaks to Lalibela.

The small town of Lalibela is situated high in the Lasta Mountains perched at 8,500 feet in elevation.

Lalibela is arguably one of the most important religious and historical sites in all of Africa and the entire Christian world. Ethiopia was the first country to adopt Christianity as a state religion, and the Ethiopian Orthodox religious practices is rooted deep in Judaism and practiced throughout the country.

There are no less than 200 churches in the Lasta Region of Lalibela, some hidden in enormous caves, but it is exceptional to find 11 churches of such magnitude and master craftsmanship in one enclave. These brilliant feats of engineering and architecture are often referred to as the “Eighth wonder of the world”. The churches are said to have been constructed during King Lalibela reign during the 12th and 13th centuries when Lalibela (then known as Roha) was the capital of the Zagwe dynasty. Many different theories exist on how they were built and by whom, including angels and the Knights Templar’s. Legend has it that King Lalibela was exiled in Jerusalem and returned to Ethiopia to build a New Jerusalem.

After you check in to your hotel, we will visit the first group of churches that represent the earthly Jerusalem. This group includes Bete Medhanialem (Saviour church), Bete Miriam, Bete Denagel, Bete Meskal, Debra Sina, and Bete Golgotha. Standing 38 feet tall with seventy-two pillars, Medhane Alem is not only the largest in Lalibela, but 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. Bet Golgotha houses remarkable reliefs of figures, and early Christian art that is rarely seen in other parts of Ethiopia.

Overnight in Lalibela 
This morning rise early and enjoy an excursion out of town to Asheten Mariam or Nakutola’ab. We visit Asheton Mariam, atop a mountain overlooking Lalibela, by mule back. The mountain views are impressive and panoramic and it’s easy to understand why the priests at this church believe they are the “closest to God.”

In the afternoon, visit the Second group of the churches representing the heavenly Jerusalem. In this group are the Bete Gabriel & Raphael, Bete Merquorios, Bete Emmanuel, and Bete Abba Libanos Finally, visit the most interesting cross-shaped church of Bete Giorgis (St. George), which is said to be the symbolization of Noah’s ark. 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.

Overnight in Lalibela
After breakfast you will be transferred to the airport and fly to Gondar.

With the castles of the Royal Enclosure, ornate churches and resplendent bathing pools, it’s easy to imagine Gondar in all of its glory as the capital of Ethiopia in the mid 1600s. King Fasilides named Gondar as the capital in 1636 and by his death in 1667, Gondar’s population had reached 65,000, its wealth and beauty was well known throughout the land.

A morning is spent exploring the Royal Enclosure and its buildings, the nearby bath of King Fasilides (where modern-day Timkat ceremonies are performed). The enclosure is surrounded by a 300-foot wall, the fortress is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The oldest and most impressive structure is the two-story palace of Emperor Fasilides, built of solid basalt stones. Other royal buildings that will be visited 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.

Finally, we climb the hill to visit the Church of Debre Birhan Selassie, an imposing structure with its harmony of brightly colored ceilings completely covered with intricately painted and endearing angel faces.

Overnight in Gondar 
After breakfast you will depart for a three hour drive to Bahir Dar- the beautiful lake side city.

You will pass rural villages, cross mountain passes with stunning vistas and get your first glimpse of the impressive city of Bahir Dar.

In the afternoon, you head out on Lake Tana to the Zege Peninsula and its famous monasteries. While on board, keep an eye out for a variety of bird species and the traditional tankwa crossing the lake.

After a short hike through local villages and coffee farms, you will reach the monastery of Ura Kidane Meret, which is home to an important collection of crosses and crowns dating back to the 16th century. The painted maqdas, colorful and well-preserved, tell the stories of Ethiopian saints.

The second monastery that you will visit is Azwa Maryam, a small and pleasant site with gardens and a humorous young priest. Then sail back to Bahir Dar for overnight.
After breakfast you will be transferred to the airport and fly back to Addis Ababa. On arrival (09:05/10:10) you will be taken for lunch at the hotel and thereafter on a short tour of Addis Ababa.

Founded in 1886 by Emp. Menelik II, Addis Ababa is the capital of Ethiopia and the seat of the African Union (AU). Addis Ababa is the third highest capital in the world and one of the largest cities in Africa with a population well over 5 million. It is located at 2500 m above sea level at the foot hills of the highest peak of the Entoto Mountain chain (3200m above sea level), it enjoys an excellent climate all year round; with an average temperature of 16 C. Addis Ababa is a pleasant city with wide avenues of Jacarandas, interesting museums and one of the largest open-air markets in Africa, known as Merkato.

In the evening, you will be invited to a farewell dinner party at one of the best traditional restaurants in Addis where you will have a chance to a taste variety of Ethiopian meals, and watch the folkloric dancers and music diversity of the Ethiopia, as your trip to Abyssinia comes to and end.

Overnight in Addis 
After breakfast you will be transferred to Bole International airport for departing flights.

End of services 

*Please note: This tour may precede or follow any other Ethiopian tours offered by Africa Geographic Travel. 

Indication Price (from):

$2,250

  per person sharing

Departure Dates: To suit you

If Flying into Addis with Ethiopian Airlines
Number of travellersCost per person sharing
2$3,122
4$2,467
6$2,250

 

If NOT flying into Addis with Ethiopian Airlines
Number of travellersCost per person sharing
2$3,553
4$2,898
6$2,680

 

Single Supplement for both options above : $345

Price Includes:
Meet and greet in Addis and all transfers to and from Addis airport. All accommodation on twin room sharing basis, all meals out of Addis and only breakfast in Addis, domestic flights (cost based on International flight into Ethipia with Ethiopian airlines, see costs for flight supplement). All ground transportation using a minibus, driver and full costs. All entrance fees and access to churches, museums, and castle complexes mentioned in the itinerary. Boat hire in Bahir Dar. Mule ride to Asheton Maryam. Professional English speaking guide. Portage and all local guides fees, bottled mineral water (1lt pp per day other than the non-alcoholic beverage served during each meal), government taxes and levies. 24/7 office support

Price Excludes:
International flights, lunch and dinners in Addis, any alcoholic drinks, visas, items of personal nature, telephone calls, laundry, travel and medical Insurance, tips, excess baggage charges, any activities not specified in the itinerary.

Suggested itineraries: We offer safaris to most accredited lodges in sub-Saharan Africa. Those appearing below are some of those on offer. Contact us to adapt these itineraries to your needs.
INDICATION PRICES

Final prices vary, subject to factors such as exchange rates, time of year and availability. Contact us to fine-tune these prices and to tailor-make your dream safari.

OUR CHARGES

We do not charge you for our services. We generate revenue from our lodge suppliers, based on the volume of business that we generate for them.

  • Climate:
    This tour visits several distinct topographical regions. The central plateau and highlands of (Addis, Gondar and Lalibela) which have moderate climate with minimal seasonal temperature variations (6° C – 26° C). Temperature variations in Axum can be greater (15 C – 30 C). Heavy rainfall occurs in most of the country during June, July, and August. The High Plateau experiences a second, milder, rainy season between December and February. However, average annual precipitation on the central plateau remains a paltry 122 cm (48 in).
  • Accommodation:
    All accommodation throughout this tour is 3-4 star accommodation, providing en suite facilities and hot water throughout.
  • Difficulty:
    This tour is not strenuous. Activities such as the mule ride to Asheton Maryan can be tough on the body, but visiting the church complexes, temples and sites is always done at a very easy and relaxed pace.
  • Booking and payment details:
    Once you have decided to join one of our safaris, you will need to contact us for a booking form, which will include details relating to deposit and final payment.
    For further information on traveling to Ethiopia, see this article: Nothing like a good grooming – Ethiopia style!.

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