Trip reference number: ITN-ETH002

Trip Operator: Rainbow Tours

Classic Ethiopia History Tour

From: £3750.00

This private, tailor-made, individual tour can be done throughout the year and the itinerary can be amended to suit your individual interests and requirements. Visit Ethiopia's best- known historical attractions. These included the incredible rock hewn churches of Lalibela; the pre-Christian stelae at Axum; the marvellous 17th century castles in Gondar and the island monasteries in Lake Tana. This phenomenal selection of sites has attracted travellers to the region for centuries. In addition, Ethiopia has spectacular scenery including some of Africa's highest mountains. You will visit the Simien Mountains, for some of the continent's finest mountain scenery. Additionally, you can also appreciate the unusual rocky landscapes in the Gerhalta area in Tigray. Endemic mammals and birds, and a variety of contrasting habitats add a fascinating natural dimension to our historical itineraries. The diverse ethnic groups create a culture rich in ceremony and ritual. If you are travelling in mid January you can experience Timket, the country's most widely celebrated annual festival.Or if you trave in September you can witness Meskel, which too, is spectacular. As with all our Ethiopia tours, this itinerary ends with an evening feast complete with traditional music 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 year round but try if you can, to avoid the rainy season in July and August.


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 Golden Tulip Hotel to stay 1 night with breakfast and afternoon city tour included.

Day 3 Transfer to Bole Addis Ababa airport to check in for the early morning domestic flight (duration 1 hour) to Bahir Dar, adjacent to the deep blue Lake Tana, with its famous island monasteries and round, grass-roofed churches replete with magnificent wall murals. Best known of the monasteries include Debre Maryam, Daga Estefanos, Tana Cherkos and Narga Selassie. While out on the lake, you'll see fishermen on their seemingly frail reed and wooden boats called 'tankwa' and if lucky, some hippos along with plenty of waterbirds. Overnight in a Superior lake-view room at the Avanti Blue Nile with all meals included.

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 variable road to the Simien Mountains to stay overnight in a chalet at Simien Lodge, with all meals included. Owned by our friend, British philanthropist Nick Crane, this is Africa's highest-lying lodge. Today you might well be able to take in the 'Gelada Experience' - one of Africa's lesser-known but most unusual, primate experiences.

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 at Goha Hotel, all meals included.

Day 6 Transfer to Gondar airport for the mid 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. The last of the churches you visit today is the iconic, cruciform Bete (Beta) Giorgis. Stay for 2 nights at Maribela Hotel, all meals included. Lunches will be enjoyed at some of the town's choice restaurants, from where views over the surrounding countryside are mind-blowing. (On the first evening, we recommend Ben Abeba for its awe inspiring views and sunsets, and for lunch on the second day, we recommend Seven Olives, where on warm days, dining outside in the garden is delightful as there's so much birdlife about).

Day 7 Your guide will take you to see the second group of Lalibela's awe inspiring monolithic and semi monolithic churches this morning. After lunch, you will be taken on the 40 km drive through wonderfully scenic countryside, to see the remarkable cave church of Yemrehane Kristos - it is very different than what you would previously have seen.

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. Transfer to Sabean International Hotel where you stay overnight with all meals included.

Day 9 After breakfast, 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. Continue into the Tigray towards Mekelle. You will be taken to see some of the more accessible rock-cut churches in this area, where constructions are impressive albeit far lesser known than those of Lalibela. The scenery in this area is dramatic, with finger-shaped rocky outcrops rising abruptly out of the flat Gerhalta Plains. Overnight in the sought-after Gerhalta Lodge with all meals included.

Day 10 Morning for guided sightseeing in the Gerhalta area. In the afternoon you will be transferred to Mekelle airport (about 90 minutes' drive). to check in for the early evening Ethiopian Airlines flight to Addis Ababa. Transfer on arrival to Golden Tulip airport where you either have the use of a day room/ evening room, or if your flight out is the next morning, stay overnight in a standard room with breakfast. If your flight departs just after midnight, you will be transferred to Bole airport late in the evening for the Ethiopian Airlines check-in.

Day 11 Take the morning flight back to London Heathrow or selected other UK airports.

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

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