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History, food and culture

Northern Ethiopia


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Northern Ethiopia
Natural Wonders, Historic Sights and Manmade Wonders

 

Join us on a two week expedition to Northern Ethiopia starting with a week-long journey in time from Addis Ababa, the country’s modern capital to its capital cities of centuries past Gondar and Lalibela and finally the 4th century seat of the Axum Empire. We will explore Lalibela’s and Tigray’s rock-hewn churches, Gondar’s castles Axum’s stellae and obelisks, and celebrate Timkat, the Epiphany, with the revelers in Gondar. On this trip we will also see Northern Ethiopia’s natural wonders – majestic Blue Nile Falls and Lake Tana, the candy coloured landscape of the Danakil Depression, also known as the hottest place on Earth, and with luck see the lake of fire in the caldera of Erta Alle Volcano

 
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Highlights

  • Celebrate the Epiphany, or Timkat with thousands of revelers at Gondar’s historic King Fasiledes’ Baths

  • Explore Africa’s answer to Camelot – the 17th century castles and palaces of Gondar  Cross the Nile to see the spectacular Blue Nile falls and cruise Lake Tana outside Bahir Dar alongside the traditional papyrus boats

  • Tour Lalibela’s magical rock-hewn churches and brave the climb up a rock face to Abuna Yemata Church in Tigray for the amazing mountain views and unique frescoes.

 

  • Discover the 4th century capital of the Axum Empire with its ancient obelisks, stellae fields and the reported resting place of the Ark of the Covenant.

  • Follow the salt caravan trail to the hottest place on Earth – the Danakil Depresssion with its sulphur springs and unique colorful mineral formations.

  • See traditional salt mining by hand at Lake Asale.

  • Trek up Erta Ale volcano and try your luck getting a good view of the lava lake at the caldera’s center.

Dates

Jan 15 – 28, 2020.

Cost

$4500 USD

Itinerary

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Itinerary

Day 1
Arrive Addis Ababa.

  • Our guide will meet all arrivals at Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa and arrange hotel transfers. Check in to hotel, rest and lunch. Free time after lunch with optional taxi tour of Addis Ababa (National Museum, Mount Entoto, Tomoca Coffee shop) -

  • Group introductions during dinner at Makush Bistro and Art Gallery -

  • Meals included - Dinner

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Day 2
Addis Ababa – Bahir Dar.

  • After early breakfast depart at 7AM for Bahir Dar. Today we will drive through the Ethiopian countryside and get a flavor for life outside the capital. We will make a few stops on the road for lunch and photo opportunities.

  • Overnight at hotel in Bahir Dar. Bahir Dar literally means “by the sea”, referring to the city’s position on the coast of Lake Tana, the origin of the Blue Nile. Upon arrival we will head to viewpoint on Bezawit Hill to watch the sunset.

  • Meals included - Lunch

Day 3
Bahar Dar.

  • In the morning we will hire a boat and local guide to take us on a Cruise on Lake Tana to the Convent of Mercy and see the 16th century Ura Kidane Mehret, a beautifully frescoed church, our first introduction to Ethiopia’s unique religious art. On the way we will see local fishermen at work on the lake in traditional papyrus boats.

  • After a lakeshore lunch we will take a 1-hour drive to Blue Nile falls. - Upon return to Bahir Dar we will find a lakeside restaurant to enjoy a sunset dinner on the Lake and retire early. Overnight in Bahir Dar.

  • Meals included – none.

 

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Day 4
Bahir Dar – Gondar.

  • We will depart early in the morning for a scenic 3-hour drive to Gondar, the country’s 17th After lunch we will start with a tour of the17th century castles in Gondar’s Royal Enclosure, often described as Africa’s Camelot; Debre Berhane Selassie Church and the abbey of Empress Mentewab.

  • After the tour we will join the evening celebration of the Eve of Timkat (the Epiphany), the biggest religious holiday of the year in Ethiopia.

  • Early night to rest before the morning Timkat festivities.

  • Meals included – none.

Day 5
Gondar .

  • Early start at 4AM and make our way to King Fasiledes’ Baths to witness the main Timkat celebrations, where we will observe the faithful renew their baptismal vows in the pools and then watch the celebrations until the early afternoon.

  • After lunch those of us who are tired can return to the hotel for some rest, and the rest will remain in town to partake in the ongoing celebrations.

  • Meals included – none

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Day 6
Lalibela

  • In the morning we will drive to Gondar Airport for an early flight to Lalibela, the 12-13th century capital, built as a symbolic “New Jerusalem”. On arrival transfer to Tukul Village Lalibela.

  • After a quick lunch we will explore the 13 rock-hewn churches of Lalibela, improbably carved in the 12th century with a local guide to help us navigate the tunnels between the churches. End our visit with the city’s most famous and striking church – the St George.

  • Overnight in Lalibela.

  • Meals included – none.

 

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Day 7
Axum

  • Morning flight from Lalibela to Axum, the first capital of what was then the Axum Empire, one of the first Christian nations of the world.

  • After hotel check in we will head into town to visit the Archeological Museum, the Stelae Fields and the Necropolis of Kings Gebre-Meskel and Kaleb

  • Most interestingly we will learn about the local belief that Queen Sheba lived in Axum and visit the ruins of what is considered by the locals to be her former palace and baths. Furthermore, the Ethiopians believe that her son by King Solomon, Menelik stole the Ark of the Covenant from Jerusalem and brought it back to Axum with him, where it remains to this day at Tsion Maryam Church. Although no visitors are allowed to see the Ark, copies of the tabots (the stone tablets holding the inscription of the 10 Commandments) are held in the inner sanctum of all churches in Ethiopia.

  • Meals included - none

Day 8
Axum to Hawzien

  • We depart Axum for Hazien and start exploring the northern region of Tigray also known for its rock-hewn churches carved between the 5 th and 13th centuries. Enroute we will visit Yeha Temple, Arbuta Insesa and Abreha We Astbeha Churches, stopping for lunch in the town of Adigrat and at any interesting spots we find along the way, including local markets.

  • We arrive for dinner and rest at the Hawzien Gheralta Lodge.

  • Meals included - none

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Day 9
Hawzien

  • The adventure part of our tour begins in earnest today. Early in the morning we will drive to Abuna Yemata Church, accessible by a short barefoot climb on a rock face. Our efforts will be rewarded by the spectacular scenery from the church entrance and the frescoes on the cave wall, which appear as vibrant today as when they were first painted centuries back. We will return to the lodge for lunch. - After lunch we do this again when we visit two more mountain churches

  • Mariam Kokor and Daniel Kokor. - Return to Hawzien Gheralta Lodge for dinner and rest.

  • Meals included – none.

Day 10
Hawzien – Ahmed Ela

  • We say goodbye to Tigray in the morning and drive into Afar country, headed towards the Ahmed Ela Camp Site. On the way we will stop in a town called Berahile for permits and coffee, as well as to get any last-minute supplies. We will have to be completely self-reliant for the next 3 days and all our supplies with us.

  • Upon arrival we will go watch the camel salt caravans headed into and out of the Danakil. - For the next two nights we will be sleeping under the stars in Ahmed Ela

  • Meals included – Lunch, Dinner

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Day 11
Ahmed Ela

  • After an early start we drive into the Dallol area to see the Sulphur springs and colorful exotic rock formations, followed by a visit to the saltpan at Lake Asale and watch the backbreaking manual labor of the salt miners.

  • After a break in the early afternoon, to seek shelter from the heat and have lunch, we return to the Danakil’s Sulphur springs and watch the sunset over Lake Asale.

  • Meals included – Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 12
Ahmed Ela – Kursewad – Dodom – Erta Ale

  • In the morning we start to a strenuous drive to Dodom (85km), at the base of Erta Ale Volcano. - Upon arrival in Dodom we hire camels and pack them with supplies for our overnight stay at the volcano.

  • After an early dinner we start a 3-hour trek to Erta-Ale’s caldera. As the sun goes down, with luck we will enjoy a great view of the fireworks. Please note that sometimes the volcano produces too much smoke to see the lava lake at the center of the caldera and it may take several attempts to catch a clear view sometime during the night, but this cannot be guaranteed.

  • We spend the night camping in stone huts on the top of Erta Ale.

  • Meals Included - Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 14
Erta Ale – Dodom – Mekele

  • We get up at sunrise for our last look at Erta Ale and trek back to Dodom where we have a light breakfast.

  • After breakfast we drive via Debarti to Mekele (250km). On arrival we check into the Mekele Planet hotel.

  • Meals included - Breakfast

Day 15
Mekele – Addis Ababa

  • AM transfer to Mekele Airport for morning flight to Addis Ababa

  • Check in to Addis Ababa day room and with optional taxi tour of Addis Ababa

  • Evening transfer to Bole International Airport for flight home

  • Meals included - none




PRICING

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Northern Ethiopia
january 15-28, 2020

COST
 

 

$4,500 USD

(Double occupancy)

 
 

 
 

WHAT'S INCLUDED

  • All domestic airfares. Please note that the pricing is based on your international flight being with Ethiopian Airlines.

  • All meals and drinking water in the Danakil Depression/Erta Ale portion of the itinerary

  • Enough plastic bottled mineral water per day per person

  • All camping gear required for the Danakil Depression (tents, mattresses, pillows, beds, chairs, tables, cooking utensils, generator and other necessary equipments), cook, camels for transporting camping gear + food while trekking to Erta Ale Transfers & sightseeing’s in tourist standard private vehicles; for Danakil part 4WD but the rest minibus

  • Entry, scout, police, militia, village, road and camping fees

  • Guide services;

  • All taxes - Domestic flights fare, priced with the assumption of arrival in Addis Ababa on Ethiopian Airlines. Please note a $150 supplement will be required if you fly in on another airline to cover the foregone domestic fare discount.

WHAT'S NOT

  • Any meals not explicitly listed in the itinerary and all alcoholic beverages

  • Expenses of personal nature such as laundry, telephone, tips and fees for photography and videography.

  • Return travel to Addis Ababa from your home location and visa fees.