Addis Ababa, founded more than a century ago, means 'New Flower' in Amharic. At an elevation of 2400m, the third highest capital in the world, the climate is pleasantly cool. The city mixes past and present. Statues from the imperial times coexist with placards from the former Marxist Regime all over the city.
We will visit historical sites in Addis Ababa including the National Archaeological Museum, where we will view the 3.6 million year old remains of "Lucy", whose skeletal remains when discovered in 1974. We will also visit the Ethnological Museum at Addis Ababa University, Holy Trinity Cathedrals, Mercato- the biggest open market in Africa and Mount Entoto which rises up to an altitude of 3200 meters and offers the panoramic view of the metropolis.
Early in the morning, we depart north to Bahir Dar via Debre Markos. On the way visit the Debre Libanos monastery that lies 104 km north of Addis Ababa which is considered as one of most holy sites. The monastery was found in the 13th century by a priest credited not only with the spread of Christianity throughout the high land, but also with restoration of Solomonic line of kings. En route we will also visit the Portuguese bridge, which was the first bridge in Ethiopia. Continuing to Bahir Dar we will pass through the spectacular Blue Nile Gorge Overnight stay Hotel.
Bahir dar, a door step to the mystical Lake Tana, is described by it people as their Riviera and, with its wide streets shaded by palm trees and sweeping views across shimmering blue waters, it is hard to argue. In the morning, we will take a boat trip on Lake Tana to visit the island monasteries. Namely Azuwa Maryam and Ura Kidane mihiret; Zege peninsula’s most famous monastery known for its very beautifully painted 'Meqdas', it also holds Ethiopian religious iconography important collection of 16th and 18th century crosses and crowns. In the afternoon, drive to the majestic Blue Nile falls (water that smokes) for a short hike. The excursion to the Blue Nile falls is about 35kms from Bahir Dar. The falls is one of the most spectacular in Africa. We will return to the city late in the afternoon. We have the privilege to take a calm walk in the main streets of the city witnessing the vibe and the culture. Overnight stay Hotel.
Today we continue our journey to Gondar. It's not what Gondar is, but what Gondar was that is so enthralling. After settling in the hotel, we will explore the castles of King Fasilidas, which is said to be the wall of the castles bathed in blood and painted in the pomp of royalty. Often called the Camelot of Africa, this description does the royal city a disservice: Camelot is legend where as Gondar is reality. Drifting through the old palaces, banqueting halls and former gardens it's not difficult to imagine the courtly pageantry, ceremony and intrigue that went on here. The entire compound contains numerous castles and the place has been completely preserved with the aid of UNESCO and was made one of world heritage sites in 1979. By far Fasilada's palace is the most impressive and also the oldest building. Continue our visit to the one of the most famous and stunning church of the nation “Debre Birhan Selassie church”. The church would have probably been destroyed like most of the Gondar churches by the marauding armies of the dervishes in 1880s if it weren't for a swarm of bees. When the dervish show up at the gate of the church, a giant swarm of bees surged out of the compound and chased the invaders away.
Starting early in the morning from Gondar you will be driven through the mountainous country, The Simien Mountains. The Semien Mountains National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and contains some of the most dramatic scenery in Africa - great volcanic plugs, formed some 40 million years ago and eroded over the eons into fantastic crags, pinnacles and flat topped mountains. The 'chess pieces of the gods', as one writer described them, tower over precipitous gorges, river valleys and plains stretching all the way to Eritrea
You stop for an early lunch in the market town of Debark. Then head off to Sankaber to see the spectacular views of the Simien Mountains. There are particular good views between Michibi and Sankaber and do Look out for the gelada baboons. Overnight Camping /Hotel.
Drive through the remarkable Tekezze Gorge to the earliest capital of Ethiopia - Axum through the Semien mountain national park escarpments.
we explore the historical landmarks of the ancient Axumite Empire, including the Queen of Sheba's Bath, King Bazen's tomb, the ancient stelae erected as burial tombs for the most respected Kings and St Marry of Zion church. Axum is more than just a collection of lifeless ruins though, the town, albeit rural at heart, has vibrant life and continuing national importance very rarely found at ancient sites. Pilgrimage still journey here in their thousands to pay homage at it is believed that the Ark of the Covenant resides here. It is also considered to be one of world heritage sites and undoubtedly one of the most important and spectacular ancient site in sub -Saharan Africa.Overnight stay Hotel.
In the morning, we go even further back in history as we explore the ruins at Yeha, 58 km north of Adwa, which is considered the birth place of Ethiopia’s earliest civilization nearly three millennia ago. Yeha ruins are impressive for their sheer age, dating between the 5th and 8thcentury BC, and for their stunning construction. We will also stop at the Debre Damo monastery for the men to climb to the plateau above for a visit (women are not allowed.) for those scared of giant serpents, the monks will pull us up the cliff face using a slightly too-weathered looking leather rope. Overnight stay lodge.
Getting a taste for what's to come in Lalibela, we visit the rock-hewn churches of the Tigray region in the Gheralta cluster before proceeding to Mekele for overnight. Between Adigrat and Mekele there's plethora of churches, 120 at last count. Some of the 120-odd churches (plus a few invisible ones) mayeven predate those at Lalibela, and may possibly represent a crucial link between Axum and Lalibela chronologically, artistically and technically. The architectural features, though less perfect than at Lalibela, are just as remarkable and intriguing. Remember patience is essential for your enjoyment as it can often take an hour to locate some priests and also inaccessibility of visiting some of the church. With a full day, 4WD and quick-keyed priests, we can usually see three, possibly four churches. Namely Abreha Asbeha, Abune yemata, wukro cluster. Overnight stay Hotel.
Today we precede driving to Lalibela, en-route visit to NA'AKTOL'AB will make our tour more interesting. It lies 7 km before we reach Lalibela and it is attributed to king Lalibela's successor. It's simple but attractive and built under a natural cave. The church boasts various treasures that belonged to its founder, including crosses, crowns, gold painted drums and an illuminated bible. Overnight stay Hotel.
Morning visit the 1st group Northwestern group of the rock-hewn churches. Bet Medihaniyalem (savior of the world) impressive for its size and majesty. BetMaryam connected to Bete Medhaniyalem by a tunnel is a large courtyard containing three churches. In to the courtyard’s northern wall at Bete mariyam is the tiny semi-chapel of the Bet Meskel. Keep an eye out for the cross carved in relief beneath stylized foliage on one of the spandrels of the arches. Bet Denaghel found to the south of Bet Mariyam courtyard, said to have been constructed in memory of the nuns martyred on the orders of the 4th century Roman emperor Julian in Edessa (modern day Turkey). The third tunnel at the southern end of the Bet Maryam courtyard connects it to the twin churches of Bet Golgota & Bet Mikael (also known as Bet Debre Sina).
In the afternoon we will visit the remaining five southeastern group churches in Lalibela. Although smaller in number and in size than the northwestern groups, the south eastern cluster offers not only one of Lalaibela's most finely carved churches but also some intrigue, with various historians debating whether some churches had past as prisons and palaces. The names of the church are Bet Gabriel-Rufaiel, Bet Merkorios, Bet Amanuel, Bet Abba Libanos and Bet Giyorgis. Overnight stay Hotel.
Drive from Lalibela passing through the historical town of Wuchale via Woldia to Kombolcha. The drive to this old town situated below craggy hills is going to be gentle and scenic. En-route we pass through Dessie which is a major transportation hub to Lalibela. Our stop at the little town of Hayk for beautiful views over Lake Hayk will be worthwhile. We continue driving for our overnight stay in Kombolcha. Overnight stay hotel.
Our final day drive from Kombolcha to Addis Ababa through a fascinating topography and small villages along the road. Kombolcha is about 376 km from Addis Ababa. This is a full day's drive across the Shoan Plateau, the largest area of continuous altitude on the whole continent of Africa. It is where the Shoan Amhara princes left their legacies. Roadside views include fields of teff (an indigenous grain) and barley, shepherds, sometimes in their reed raincoats, with sheep, goats and cattle, and Amhara women in their pleated highland skirts.
Today you will be invited for a fare well dinner part with MAZ ETHIOPIA TOUR. You may choose to fly out that same evening/night or you have the choice of spending one more night in Addis. The preceding morning can be used for city tour, souvenir shopping, taking walks on the main streets of Addis, and discovering Addis' bustling outdoor markets, exotic dishes, espresso bars and patisseries which are reminiscent of Rome and the Mediterranean.
Bole Road, in Front of Bgm Hospital , Addis Ababa, Ethiopia - 56