Starting from $1000 per person [1]

14 days touring

Travel by Private Car

Tour Available: All year round

Meals: 13 Breakfasts; 14 Lunches; 13 Dinners; [2]

Fitness level required: Medium

This 14 day tour of the northern part of Ethiopia is an excellent itinerary for those travelers who are not in a hurry and really want to explore the Christian history and traditions of northern Ethiopia.

This main focus of the route will be on on the ancient churches of North Ethiopia. Starting off from Addis Ababa, we drive to north to Lalibela – famous for it’s rock-hewn churches. After Lalibela, we continue farther north to Mekele and take our time to visit rock churches of Eastern Tigrai (Gheralta). Then we drive right to the top of Ethiopia, to visit Axum, stopping off at Debre Damo monastery along the way. From Axum we turn to the southwest, to spend one night camping in the Simien Mountain National Park. After visiting the national park, we head south to the town of Gondar; famed for it’s castles. From Gondar we head future south, to the lakeside modern town of  Bahir Dar. From here we can visit the isolated island monasteries on Lake Tana. After Bahir Dar, we complete our loop by heading back to Addis Ababa, stopping off at Debre Libanos monastery along the way.

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(Prices start at $1000 per person.)







Churches of Northern Ethiopia – 14 Day Tour

Day 1: Addis Ababa - Kombolcha - Lalibela

The tour will depart very early (5.00 am ) from Addis Ababa and head north in the direction of Lalibela. This will be a very longs days drive and we will stop for lunch in the town of Kombolcha.

Arrive Lalibela around 5.00 pm. Rest for the evening.

Meals Included on this Day

Lunch & Dinner

Private Vechicle

Addis Ababa - Kombolcha - Lalibela

9h-10h

680km

Stretch out and scan the scenery from the comfort of a private vehicle.

Overnight at: Maribela Hotel [3]

Day 2: Lalibela

On this day, we’ll forget about the car and use our feet to do a walking tour around the town of Lalibela. The tour will visit all the rock-hewn churches in this small historic town. In the morning, visit 6 churches then take a break for lunch. In the afternoon, continue visiting the remaining churches.

Lalibela’s Rock-Hewn Churches

Lalibela

Lalibela’s Rock-Hewn Churches have to be seen to be believed. In total there are 11 cave churches, some of which date back to the 13th-century, and the most famous and iconic church being St. Georges.

Meals Included on this Day

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Overnight at: Maribela Hotel [3]

Day 3: Lalibela

On our second day in Lalibela, we will visit a church on the outskirts of the town called Yemrehanna Kristos Church.

If time permits us, we can also do a hike to visit Asheton Maryam Monastery which affords a great panoramic view of the surrounding regions.

Yemrehanna Kristos Church

Lalibela

This exquisite church, a masterpiece in wood and stone (called style sandwich) is famous for its interior decoration, its beautiful wooden ceiling medallions decorated with hexagons and figurative and geometric motifs. The founder of the church, King Yemrehanna Kristos was the predecessor of King Lalibela. The church is located six hours on foot and by mule in the hills near the peak Abune Yosef watching from the northwest heights the town of Lalibela.

Asheton Maryam Monastery

Lalibela

The Asheton Maryam monastery is located high above Lalibela on Mount Abuna Yosef at an altitude of nearly 4,000 metres. The view from the top is breathtaking and gives you a panoramic view of Lalibela and the surrounding region. The semi-monolithic church was carved out of a vertical cliff face and the surface quality of the rock is much rougher than in most other churches of Lalibela.

Meals Included on this Day

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Private Vechicle

Stretch out and scan the scenery from the comfort of a private vehicle.

Overnight at: Maribela Hotel [3]

Day 4: Lalibela / Mek'ele

After breakfast, depart Lalibela and head further north to the town of Mek’ele. The distance is around 300km and will take 5 – 6 hours.

Meals Included on this Day

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Private Vechicle

Lalibela - Mek'ele

5h - 6h

300km

Stretch out and scan the scenery from the comfort of a private vehicle.

Overnight at: Moringa Hotel [3]

Day 5: Mek'ele / Gheralta

After breakfast, depart Mek’ele in the direction of Gheralta. The Gheralta area will give us a chance to explore some of the rock churches of the Tigray region. Two specific churches that we will visit will be Maryam Korkor and Daniel Koror.

After the days exploring, relax at the Gheralta Lodge.

Maryam Korkor and Daniel Korkor Rock Churches

Gheralta

Mariam Korkor and Daniel Korkor rock churches are located on the top of a rock formation near the small town of Megab. To get to the churches, you will have to hike up a fairly steep mountain for around one hour. The two churches are pretty much side by side and the view from the top is amazing.

Meals Included on this Day

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Private Vechicle

Mek'ele - Gheralta

1h - 2h

130km

Stretch out and scan the scenery from the comfort of a private vehicle.

Overnight at: Gheralta Lodge [3]

Day 6: Gheralta / Axum

After breakfast, depart Gheralta and head right to the top of Ethiopia to the famous and historic town of Axum. On route, there will be a stop off at the Debre Damo monastery.

Debre Damo Monastery

Debre Damo

Debre Damo is a 6th-century monastery in northern Ethiopia. The monastery, accessible only by rope up a sheer cliff, 50 feet high, is known for its collection of manuscripts and for having the earliest existing church building in Ethiopia still in its original style, and can only be visited by men. Tradition claims the monastery was founded in the sixth century by Abuna Aregawi.

Meals Included on this Day

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Private Vechicle

Gheralta - Debre Damo - Axum

3h - 4h

200km

Stretch out and scan the scenery from the comfort of a private vehicle.

Day 7: Axum

Today will be a full day dedicated to sightseeing in Axum. The town of Axum has a fascinating history. From the 10th to the 1st centuries BC, it was the capital of the great Axumite Empire. It is also the place where Christianity arrived to Ethiopia in the fourth century and as a result it is considered the holiest city of the Ethiopian Orthodox faith. The town also boasts a number of archaeological artifacts of major significance.

Tombs of Kings Kaleb & Gebre Meskel

Axum

Set on a small hill 1.8km northeast of the Northern Stelae Field and offering views of the jagged mountains of Adwa, local tradition attributes these two tombs to the 6th-century King Kaleb and his son, King Gebre Meskel.

The Axum Obelisk

Axum

The Obelisk of Axum is a 1,700-year-old, 24-metre-tall granite stele/obelisk, weighing 160 tonnes, in the city of Axum in Ethiopia. It is ornamented with two false doors at the base and features decorations resembling windows on all sides.

Meals Included on this Day

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Day 8: Axum / Simien Mountain National Park

Early morning, depart Axum heading east towards the Simien Mountain National Park. That night we will camp in the national park. The journey is around 300 km and will take approximately 5 – 6 hours. We should arrive in the park by early afternoon after which you will have a chance to explore the areas around the campsite.

Simien Mountains National Park

Simien Mountains

Simien Mountains National Park is one of the national parks of Ethiopia. Located just north of Gondar, the park includes Ras Dejen (also referred to as Ras Dashen), the highest point in Ethiopia (4,533m). The park is also home to the a large variety of wildlife including gelada monkeys, walia ibexes as well as over 180 species of birds.

Meals Included on this Day

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Private Vechicle

Axum - Simien Mountain National Park

5h - 6h

300km

Stretch out and scan the scenery from the comfort of a private vehicle.

Day 9: Simien Mountain National Park

Rise early and after breakfast, there will be a 3 – 4  hour hike in the national park. The hike will take us to a spectactular viewpoint overlooking the Jinbar Waterfall. The Jinbar Waterfall, at more than 500 m high, is one of the tallest waterfalls in Africa.

After lunch, there will be the option to hike another 4 hours to Chenek campsite. If you don’t feel like hiking, a car can take you there instead. The views from Chenek campsite are spectacular and there is a good chance to see the Walia Ibex as well.

Meals Included on this Day

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Private Vechicle

Axum - Simien Mountain National Park

5h - 6h

300km

Stretch out and scan the scenery from the comfort of a private vehicle.

Day 10: Simien Mountains National Park - Gondar

After breakfast, explore the area around the campsite. Early mornng is good opportunity to photography the Gelada monkeys coming up from the cliff face.

Mid morning, depart the campsite for Gondar.

Meals Included on this Day

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Private Vechicle

Simien Mountains National Park - Gondar

3h - 3h30m

150km

Stretch out and scan the scenery from the comfort of a private vehicle.

Overnight at: AG hotel [3]

Day 11: Gondar / Bahir Dar

After breakfast, sightseeing in the town of Gondar. Gondar is known as the “Camelot of Africa” due to the existence of a number of castles in the heart of the city. Other sightseeing destinations on this day will be the Debre Berhan Selassie Church and Fasilides’ Bath.

After sightseeing, depart Gondar and drive 3 hours south to the lakeside town of Bahir Dar.

Fasil Ghebbi (Royal Enclosure)

Gondar

Fasil Ghebbi (Royal Enclosure) is the remains of a fortress-city within Gondar, Ethiopia. It was founded in the 17th and 18th centuries by Emperor Fasilides (Fasil) and was the home of Ethiopia’s emperors. Its unique architecture shows diverse influences including Nubianstyles. The site was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979.

Debre Berhan Selassie Church

Gondar

The Debre Birhan Selassie Church in Gondar is famed for its beautiful examples of Ethiopian church art. It was the only church in Gondar that survived the destruction inflicted by Sudanese Mahdist Dervishes in the late 19th century. The outside of the church is quite plain, but its interior walls are covered in art depicting biblical scenes, saints and angels.

Fasilides’ Bath

Gondar

King Fasilides commissioned the construction of what is know as Fasilides’ Swimming pool, or Fasilides’ Bath, beyond the the heart of the city north-west of the Qaha River. There is a two-storeyed battlemented palace standing in a square pool which receives it water from a canal filled by the river, but which is empty most of the time for sanitary reasons.

Meals Included on this Day

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Private Vechicle

Gondar - Bahir Dar

2h30m - 3h

175km

Stretch out and scan the scenery from the comfort of a private vehicle.

Overnight at: Rahnile Hotel [3]

Day 12: Bahir Dar

Today will be a full days sightseeing in Bahir Dar. In the morning, there will be boat trip on Lake Tana (Ethiopia’s largest lake also the source of the Blue Nile river) to visit the monastery of Ura Kidane Mihiret. After lunch, we’ll visit the Blue Nile Falls.

Ura Kidane Mihiret monastery on Lake Tana

Bahir Dar

Ura Kidane Mehret is a church of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, located on the Zege peninsula in Lake Tana. The convent was founded in the 14th century by the saint Betre Mariyam, although the present circular church dates from the 16th century.

The Blue Nile Falls

Bahir Dar

The Blue Nile Falls is a waterfall on the Blue Nile river in Ethiopia. It is known as Tis Abay in Amharic, meaning “smoking water”. It is situated on the upper course of the river, about 30 km downstream from the town of Bahir Dar and Lake Tana.

Meals Included on this Day

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Overnight at: Rahnile Hotel [3]

Day 13: Bahir Dar / Debre Markos

After breakfast, depart Bahir Dar and drive south in the direction of Addis Ababa. To do the drive to Addis Ababa in one day is too much so we’ll break the trip up with a stop off at Debre Markos.

Meals Included on this Day

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Private Vechicle

Bahir Dar - Debre Markos

3h30m - 4h

255km

Stretch out and scan the scenery from the comfort of a private vehicle.

Overnight at: Tilik Hotel [3]

Day 14: Debre Markos - Addis Ababa

After breakfast, continue our drive south to Addis Ababa. At one point the road snakes through the Blue Nile Gorge offering spectacular views.

Around one and a half hours from Addis Ababa, there will be a stop off at the Debre Libanos Monastery and Portuguese Bridge for some sightseeing.

Once we arrive back in Addis Ababa, the program will end.

Debre Libanos Monastery

Debre Libanos

Founded in 1284 by the legendary Ethiopian saint Abuna Tekle Haimanot, Debre Libanos monastery played an important part in spreading Christianity in central Ethiopia. The church and its surrounds witnessed many historic events, including arrival of the first Portuguese mission to Ethiopia in 1520, resistance of the Ethiopian patriots during the Italian invasion of 1936 – 1941, and much more.

The modern church was built in 1950, by king Haile Selassie to replace the one destroyed by the fascists. It is located in a small wooded gorge, 3 km off the main road. The landscape around the church is beautiful and serene, wooded hills are boosted by several streams and waterfalls, and the cave where St. Tekle Haimanot prayed until his death (at the age of 98) is also found nearby.

Portuguese Bridge

Debre Libanos

The “Portuguese Bridge” bridge, was not as it’s name suggests built by the Portuguese but was in fact built in the 19th century by an Ethiopian, called Ras Dargein. It as built in the style of the 17th century bridges around the Nile. The view in this area is simply breathtaking, with a waterfall and a deep gorge leading down to the Jemma River valley. It is also a habitat of several rare birds (lammergeyer, Abyssinian ground hornbill, endemic banded barbet, Abyssinian woodpecker and much more) and endemic Gelada baboons.

Meals Included on this Day

Breakfast & Lunch

Private Vechicle

Debre Markos - Addis Ababa

4h - 4h30m

300km

Stretch out and scan the scenery from the comfort of a private vehicle.


Points to note:

[1] The "price per person" amount is a guide price only. Please submit a quote request for a more definite price.

[2] The price for meals includes a soft drink / water plus tea and coffee with each meal. Alcohol is not included but can be purchased at an extra cost.

[3] Hotels listed on individual days of the tour will be booked where possible but may be changed subject to availability.

Starting from $1000 per person

14 days touring

Travel by Private Car

Tour Available: All year round

Meals: 13 Breakfasts; 14 Lunches; 13 Dinners;

Fitness level required: Medium

Addis Ababa

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Lalibela

Lalibela, Amhara, Ethiopia

Mekele

Mek'ele, Tigray, Ethiopia

Gheralta

Gheralta, East Tigray, Tigray, Ethiopia

Debre Damo

Debre Damo, East Tigray, Tigray, Ethiopia

Axum

Axum, Tigray, Ethiopia

Simien Mountains National Park

Simien Mountains National Park, Wag Hemra, Amhara, Ethiopia

Gondar

Gondar, Amhara, Ethiopia

Bahir Dar

Bahir Dar, Amhara, Ethiopia

Debre Libanos

Debre Libanos, North Shewa, Oromia, Ethiopia

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Highly recommended ! Simian mountains tour was fantastic , very well organised and enjoyed by everyone. Thank you very much Alex

Kate Mwikali