Addis AbabaBahir DarSimien Mountains National Park LalibelaAxum Gondor

The Historic Route tour of Ethiopia is a perfect introduction to exploring the Historical and cultural splendour of a country with over 3000 years of history. From big cities to protected UNESCO World Heritage sites, the northern regions of Ethiopia encompass some of Africa’s most beautiful and awe-inspiring landscapes, from the Rift Valley to the highest mountains. Start your tour in the diplomatic capital of Africa, Addis Ababa, before visiting Bahir Dar and embarking on a cruise of Lake Tana, the highest lake in Africa and the source of the Blue Nile. Travel to Gondor, the ancient capital of Ethiopia, known as the Camelot of Africa, for its medieval castles and churches. Take an excursion to the Simien Mountains, Ethiopia’s most popular hiking destination, hosting the fourth-highest mountain in Africa. Then, visit Axum, the land of the Queen of Sheba and the resting place of the Ark of the Covenant. Before spending a few days in Lalibela, the “Jerusalem of Africa”, home of the fascinating rock-hewn churches from the 12th century. Ending your adventure back in Addis Ababa.

Itinerary Highlights

  • Visit UNESCO World Heritage sites
  • Explore Addis Ababa’s Culture
  • Journey to the Rock Churches
  • Hike the Simien Mountains
  • Visit the renowned Island Monasteries

What’s included

  • Private tours for most included activities
  • Meet & greet airport service
  • Luxury or boutique accommodation at your chosen level
  • Expert guides in each destination

flexibility

This is an example itinerary. It is fully flexible; you can add or detract days and include hotels at your chosen budget. It departs daily.

8

Nights

Price Guide

$TBC pp

Our quotes are bespoke for your customised trip. The prices displayed are indicative only, read more

Day 1

Fly to Addis Ababa

plan line
Day 2

Bahir Dar

Today you will be transferred to the airport for your flight to Bahir Dar, You will be met on arrival and will drive to the Blue Nile Falls. After lunch, enjoy a boat trip over Lake Tana to visit two of the renowned Island Monasteries of the Lake; namely, Ura Kidane Mihret and Azua Mariam. Both have wonderful wall-paintings which depict scenes from the Old and the New Testaments of the Holy Bible. Later in the afternoon, you’ll visit the market, where you can find the typical hand-woven capes and scarves made of good, local cotton. Also, you can visit Weyto village, 2km west of town, known for its production of Tankwa boats. Lastly, you’ll encounter the Palace of Emperor Haile Selassie at Bizeit, with great views of the town and the lake, including where the Blue Nile flows from the Lake.

Historic Northern Route
Historic Northern Route
Day 3

Gondor

After breakfast, transfer by vehicle to Gondar, You’ll check in to the hotel before embarking on your exploration of Gondar, the imperial city of Fasilides. The city was the first capital of the Ethiopian empire, which began in 1632, with the reign of Fasilides; and the kings of Ethiopia based their power there for over two centuries, During this day of remarkable sights, you will pause for breath and for lunch at the Four Sisters Restaurant, which offers the finest cuisine in Gondar.

Day 4

Simien Mountains National Park

After breakfast, you’ll drive to the Simien Mountains National Park, which will take approximately 2hours.

The Simien Mountain National Park is an area of highlands in the northern part of Ethiopia consisting of some of the most spectacular mountain scenery in the world. It was added to the World Heritage Site list in 1978. With a total area of 190km2, the Simien Mountains boast 57 tree species, a wealth of herbaceous plants, 22 large and 13 small mammals and about 180 recorded bird species. Of these, the Walia ibex, Ethiopian wolf, Menelik’s Bushbuck and the Gelada baboon are endemic.

Before heading to Sankaber, you’ll stop at Bauit–Ras for an unforgettable view of the Chain Mountains. You will then drive (or, walk, for those who wish) from Bauit–Ras to Sankaber. Here you can observe the beautiful landscape and animals like the Gelada Baboon (or the ‘bleeding-heart’ Baboon) and the lion monkey. Afterwards, you’ll return to Gondar.

Historic Northern Route
Historic Northern Route
Day 5-6

Lalibela

You will be transferred to the airport for your flight to Lalibella after breakfast.

Lalibela is rightly acknowledged as being one of the Wonders of the World. At the end of the 12th and beginning of the 13th centuries, King Lalibela of the Zaghwe dynasty built a series of rock-hewn churches in this spot, calling it New Jerusalem. 11 churches in the town are named after the King.

After checking in to your hotel, you’ll begin your tour of the first group of six churches in town, and then continue to explore the others later in the afternoon. During the day you’ll have lunch at Ben Abeba restaurant, which offers traditional Ethiopian & western food, in comfortable surroundings, with a spectacular view.

Visit to a Naktolaab Church just outside Lalibela. It is named after its constructor, the nephew and successor of King Lalibela. This relatively simple church is built around a shallow cave in which several holy pools are fed by natural springs. It has many treasures, some of which are claimed to have belonged to Naktolaab himself. These include paintings, crosses and a leather bible.

Day 7

Axum

Today, after breakfast, you’ll transfer to the airport for your flight to Axum.

After refreshing at the hotel, you can start to explore Axum, which is renowned for its cathedral of St. Mary Zion, where, as legend has it, the original Ark of the Covenant is housed. There are several standing monolithic stelae which are made of single pieces of granite, on which three have identical decoration. Another treasure includes The Queen of Sheba’s Palace. The site contains the remains of what was once a massive palace with finely-mortared stone walls, deep foundations and its own impressive drainage system. It is believed to be the oldest building in Axum.

Historic Northern Route
Historic Northern Route
Day 8

Addis Ababa

Today you will transfer to the airport for your return flight to Addis Ababa.

After taking a rest you’ll drive up to the Entoto Hills, which offers captivating insight into Addis Ababa. Mt. Entoto is the highest peak in Addis reaching 3,200 meters above sea level, giving the opportunity to catch stunning views over the city and the surrounding area from the summit. It is the first settlement in Addis Ababa where Emperor Menelik II resided and built his palace in 1887 and offers a unique glimpse into the history of Ethiopia’s distinct culture. The compound at the peak hosts the Entoto Mariam church, an Ethiopian artefact museum, as well as Menelik II palace.

As you tour up the hill there is an appreciable drop in temperature and the air is filled with the scent of the Eucalyptus trees which line the road.

On the way up the roadside, stalls offer fresh Ethiopian coffee. If you have an interest in Ethiopian traditional clothes, it will be possible to stop by at the Shero Meda Market, time permitting. There is a wide variety of beautiful fabrics, shawls, scarves, dresses, tops and jewellery with lots of choices and offers an opportunity to buy gifts or souvenirs.

Your last night in Ethiopia will be a memorable farewell dinner at one of Addis Ababa’s wonderful cultural or international restaurants.

Day 9

Fly home

A note on price

The prices outlined above are a rough guide to give you an idea of costs and enable you to budget for your trip.

Guide prices are generally for private arrangements based on twin share, in well located, good quality accommodation (excluding international flights).

Please note costs are indicative and may vary due to a number of factors such as; travel date, hotel choice, room category, number of people travelling and prevailing exchange rates.

Price Guide $TBC per person

When to travel

jan feb mar apr may jun jul aug sep oct nov dec

The optimum time to visit Ethiopia is from mid-October to January when the rainy season has come to an end and the countryside is still quite green. This is also the peak tourist season, so facilities and sites of interest tend to be busier than at other times. It is well worth aiming to be in Lalibela or Gondar for Timkat (Ethiopian Epiphany), another wonderfully colourful celebration held on 19 January (except on leap years). Dry season, from February to May, is also a good time to visit, though the scenery tends to become drier and browner towards the end of this period, except in the far south where the first rains often start as early as April. Wildlife can be observed throughout the year, November to March – is particularly rewarding for bird watching.

Add on’s

There is a multitude of options to add to your Ethiopian Historic Northern Route tour, for example visiting many of Ethiopians national parks, for wildlife watching or trekking.

Visit the Danakil region is the lowest point of Africa and also one of the hottest. This deep depression in the desert is the result of the rifting process which formed the Red Sea and the great African Rift Valley.

Or visit neighbouring countries like Tanzania, Kenya or Sudan,

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