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Historical Route by surface, 14 days

For us this is the classic 'Historical Route'. It takes you to all the important historical sites of northern Ethiopia without flying. It is a very balanced tour with a full day in the Simien Mountains and two days in Lalibela. You will enjoy the extraordinary natural beauty and meet the fascinating people of the country while traveling by car. Ample time is available to explore on foot.

Day 1 Addis Ababa

The Holy Trinity CathedralWe will meet you at the airport and take you to your hotel for check-in. The first day we spent in the fascinating capital of the country: Addis Ababa. Depending on your time of arrival we take you on a half day or full day city tour visiting some sites of your choice like the Ethnographic Museum, National Museum, Trinity Cathedral, Mercato (the largest market of Africa) or the Entoto Hills just outside Addis Ababa.

Day 2 Addis Ababa - Bahir Dar, 553 km/ ~10,5 hr

After an early breakfast we leave Addis Ababa for a long drive to to the north. The journey leads us through the rolling hills of the Ethiopian Highlands where a lot of agricultural activity is taking place. We will enjoy the natural beauty of the Blue Nile Gorge on the way. Just before sunset we arrive in Bahir Dar.

Day 3 Bahir Dar

Inside Uhre Kidane MihretToday we have a full day boat trip on Lake Tana to explore some of the beautiful churches. Before we are heading to the churches the boat takes us to the the source of the Blue Nile where we find many water birds and maybe a hippo. It is about one hour by boat to reach Zeghe Peninsula where we visit the most famous church Uhre Kidane Mehret. We enjoy a walk on the forested peninsula to the other churches and might meet monkeys and beautiful birds on the way. At the other side of the peninsula the boat is waiting and takes us to Kibran Gabriel Island (unfortunately women are not allowed) and finally back to Bahir Dar late afternoon. At the end of the day we enjoy the panoramic view and the sunset from Bezawit Hill.

(It is possible to visit churches further afield like on Dek Island)

Day 4 Bahir Dar - Gondar, 174 km/ ~3 hr

The Blue Nile Falls near Bahir DarAfter an early breakfast we drive for about one hour to reach the small village of Tissisat. Here we enjoy a lovely walk in the cooler morning hours. We cross the Nile by the 17th century Portuguese Bridge and continue the walk to the falls, meeting local people on the way. After admiring the falls we cross the Nile by small boat to find our car waiting for us. We are heading back to Bahir Dar for lunch and proceed to our next destination Gondar.

Day 5 Gondar - Simien Mountains, 122 km/ ~3 hr

The castle of FasilidasWe will spent the morning to visit the highlights of Gondar: the Royal Enclosure, Fasilidas Bath and Debre Birhan Selassie, the church with the angel faces painted on the ceiling. After lunch we proceed towards to Simien Mountains encountering spectacular scenery on the way as a good preparation for tomorrow. We enjoy the sunset at our destination the Simien Lodge.

(budget/ tourist class accommodation is available in Debark, a 45 minutes drive outside the park)

Day 6 Simien Mountains

A Gelada baboonThis is a full day visit to enjoy the natural beauty of the Simien Mountains. There are several opportunities to explore the park, on foot or by car. Depending on your interest and fitness we choose where to go. It is almost guaranteed you see the gelada baboon. The walia ibex and Ethiopian wolf are much more difficult to find.

(it is possible to add any number of days for additional hiking in the Simien Mountains)

Day 7 Simien Mountains - Axum, 274 km/ ~10 hr

A long but spectacular day takes us to Axum. Just outside Debark we start our first decent down the Italian build Lima Limo road and the rest of the day goes up and down until we finally cross the Tekeze River gorge. The scenery is awesome.

Day 8 Axum

The stelae fieldAxum is the place where facts and legends meet. Is the Ark of the Covenant found in Axum? We take you in the footsteps of the famous Queen of Sheba and Ezana, the emperor who converted to Christianity. You will see the spectacular stelae of Axum and visit the Maryam of Tsion churches. (unfortunately the old church is not open for woman). Many more sites are available to visit or you might take a couple of hours at leisure to digest your overwhelming experiences of Ethiopia.

Day 9 Axum - Mekele, 247 km/ ~5,5 hr

The Yeha Temple in TigrayToday we continue our journey through breathtaking scenery of Tigray. On the way we first visit the Yeha Temple, the oldest structure found in Ethiopia. En route to Mekele a small detour leads us to the Abreha Atsheba church, one of the best excamples of the rock-hewn churches of Tigray.

Instead of one of these places it is possible to visit Debre Damo, the monastery on the top of a cliff. Only accessible by a 15 meter long rope and unfortunately for men only.

(it is possible to add additional days to explore more of Tigray)

Day 10 Mekele - Lalibela, 335 km/ ~7,5 hr

A long but beautiful drive takes us to the highlight of your visit to Ethiopia: Lalibela. If the day goes smoothly and you feel energetic we might have time to visit Yemrehane Kristos church en route.

Day 11/ 12 Lalibela

The Giyorges churchThe 12th century rock-hewn churches are the legacy of king Lalibela. It is said his visit to Jerusalem inspired him to build the 11 churches. A full day is necessary to get a good impression of these truly amazing places of worship.

There are quite a few options to spent the rest of our time. For example a visit to the Yemrehane Kristos church or a hike to the Asheton Maryam church. On Saturday there is the weekly market in town. Maybe you want to have some time at leisure too.

(it is possible to add additional days to explore more of Lalibela and the surrounding area, excellent hiking opportunities are available)

Day 13 Lalibela - Kombolcha, 316 km/ ~7 hr

After a remarkable visit to Lalibela we are on the road again. It is a full day drive to Kombolcha through mountainous area with wonderful vistas.

(when you arrive in Kombolcha on a Sunday it is recommended to add one day to you tour to visit the Bati market on Monday and spent one extra day in Kombolcha)

Day 14 Kombolcha - Addis Ababa, 376 km/ ~8 hr

The last day of your unforgettable visit to Ethiopia brings us back to Addis Ababa. A hotel room for day-use is available. We say goodbye to dear friends with a visit to a cultural restaurant, enjoying the great Ethiopian food together with traditional music and dance from all over this fascinating country. After diner we take you to the airport for your flight back home.

(it is possible to fly from Lalibela to Addis on day 13)

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