Classic Ethiopia Historical Tour

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Run by: Rainbow Tours

Reference number: ITN-ETH002

From: £3225.00

This private tour, tailor-made tour can be done throughout the year and can be modified/adapted to suit your individual interests and requirements. 

Visit Ethiopia's best- known historical sites: Lalibela's rock-hewn churches, Axum's obelisks and ancient island monasteries on Lake Tana. These have attracted travellers to the region for centuries. In addition, Ethiopia has spectacular scenery, including the vast Rift Valley and some of Africa's highest mountains. Endemic mammals and birds, and a variety of contrasting habitats, add a fascinating natural dimension to our historical itineraries.

The country's diverse ethnic groups create a culture rich in ceremony and ritual. If you are travelling in mid January, you can experience Timket, Ethiopia's most widely celebrated festival. (If you trave in September you can witness Meskal or the Festival of the True Cross which too, is spectacular). As with all our Ethiopia tours, this itinerary ends with an evening feast complete with traditional dancing from the many regions. Visitors will receive a warm welcome and our English-speaking escort-guides, will ensure a hassle-free holiday.

Ethiopia can be visited at most times, but try to avoid the rainy season in July and August. January to March is especially popular as the weather is pleasant, and provides an excellent antidote for the northern hemisphere winter.

Itinerary

Day 1 Take the overnight flight from London Heathrow to Addis Ababa.

Day 2 On arrival in Addis Ababa off your international flight, you will be met and assisted by your guide and transferred to the Jupiter International Hotel to stay 1 night with breakfast and afternoon city tour included.

Day 3 Transfer to the airport to check in for the early morning domestic flight to Bahir Dar, adjacent to the deep blue Lake Tana, with its famous island monasteries and round, grass-roofed churches complete with magnificent wall murals. Overnight at the Abayminch Hotel with all meals included. (You can upgrade to Kuriftu Spa and Resort for £90 per person per night, subject to availability).

Day 4 Depart after breakfast on the scenic two and a half hour journey along the scenic shores of Lake Tana to Gondar, and from there continue another two hours along a recently upgraded road to the Simyen Mountains to stay overnight in a chalet at Simien Lodge, with all meals included. You will be able to visit high-lying Chennek to seek the critically endangered Walia ibex, of which only some 500 remain.

Day 5 In the morning, visit beautiful Sankaber in the Simien Mountains. The Simyen Mountains National Park is a World Heritage Site and contains some of the most dramatic scenery in Africa with many peaks over 4000 metres. Easy walks from Sankaber take you to some awe inspiring viewpoints. Return to Gondar to see the town's attractions, most impressive of which are the enchanting 17th century castles in the Imperial Compound. Overnight in a suite room at Goha Hotel, all meals included.

Day 6 Transfer to the airport for the early morning flight to Lalibela to see the first cluster of its rock-hewn churches, regarded as one of the wonders of the world. Even from the air, the churches, carved into the rugged mountainsides, create a breathtaking spectacle. Stay here for 2 nights at the family-run Jerusalem Hotel, all meals included.

Day 7 Visit the church of Ashetun Mariam by mule, or on foot if you prefer. There are wonderful views of the surrounding countryside from its mountaintop location. Alternatively, visit the cave church of Neakuto Leab, or make the 40 km journey to see the beautiful cave church of Yemrehane Kristos, perhaps the finest of them all.

Day 8 Transfer to Lalibela airport to check in for the quick flight to Axum from around 200 BC to 700 AD the seat of the Axumite Empire. This Empire extended to Arabia, and traded with India and China. It had its own alphabet, and was one of the four great powers of the ancient world. See the remarkable obelisks, the Axum Museum and Mariamtsion Church, within which a chapel is believed by Ethiopian Orthodox Christians to house the Ark of the Covenant, the original tablets of Moses. Stay 2 nights in a suite room at Sabean Hotel, all meals included. Please note that currently there are no good hotels in Axum, but we are using the best accommodation there is in this fascinating town.

Day 9 Travel for approximately 55km through scenic countryside to Yeha, Ethiopia's first city, which dates back more than 2,800 years. Visit the remains of the temple dedicated to Ilmuqeh, the Moon God. Next to the temple is the church of Abune Aftse, one of the 'Nine Saints' who did much to spread Christianity in Ethiopia. During the balance of the day your guide and driver will take you to see the rest of the sites in and around Axum.

Day 10 Transfer to Axum airport for the lunch time flight back to Addis Ababa and spend the afternoon shopping at the Merkato, Africa's biggest market. You can buy marvellous Ethiopian jewellery, exquisite locally-made clothing and fabrics, local music and much more. You have a farewell dinner with an authentic performance of traditional music and dance from the different regions of Ethiopia. Overnight in a standard room at the Jupiter Hotel, breakfast included. Alternatively, if your flight departs just after midnight, you will be transferred to Bole airport late in the evening for the Ethiopian Airlines check-in. (This means you will have a day room in your hotel).

Day 11 Transfer to the airport for the return flight to London Heathrow.

This trip has no fixed departures but restrictions may apply - check operator website

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