Ethiopia is one of those rare Africa destinations with two distinct diversified regions of historical and geographical uniqueness. Travel to the northern part of the country with its 17 centuries of Christian history. Visit three UNESCO World Heritage sites and learn about interesting historical parallels with Jerusalem and Queen of Sheba, the famous leader of the Axumite Empire. Proceed to southern Ethiopia and be amazed on how the culture and lifestyle is so different from their fellow Ethiopians to the north. Visit four distinct tribal villages and feel as though you have stepped back in time.
Day 1: Arrival at Addis Ababa Bole International Air port
Meet and Tours representative at exit of luggage claim and transfer you to the hotel. Overnight stay in the Jupitor hotel.
Day 2: City tour in Addis Ababa
Addis Ababa is the third highest capital of the world on an altitude of 2300-2500 m. with a pleasant climate and a background of green with eucalyptus trees covered mountains. The city is founded in 1886 by Emperor Menelik II and Queen Taitu.
Visit Entoto Mountains, with very nice view over the capital, the National/Ethnographic museum, St George church and the Merkato, biggest open air market in Africa. Overnight stay in the Jupitor hotel.
Day 3: Fly to Bahir dar and transfer hotel for check-in
Make a boat trip on Lake Tana to visit the medieval period island monasteries such as; Kibran Gabriel (only for men), Entos and on the Zegien peninsula visit Ura Kidan Mehiret, Azuwa Mariam, Mahal Giorgis.
In the afternoon drive to Tis Isat (smoking of Fire); Since a dam has been built upstream, the waterfall is reduced a little. Also the walk to the waterfall is nice and you can enjoy nature and watch birds. Overnight stay in the Homeland Hotel, Bahir Dar.
Day 4: City tour in Gondar
After having breakfast drive to Gondar, 180km asphalt road via a scenic route and marvelous landscape and Visit the Royal Enclosure that is surrounded by high stone walls containing the 17th century palaces of King Fassiladas, King Iyasu and Queen Mentewab and different other buildings. Visit also Fasiladas’ Bath, (that is filled with water for the important Timkat (epiphany) ceremony once a year)
Having a lunch in afternoon visit the rectangular Debre Brehan Selassie (Trinity at the Mount of Light) has a ceilings decorated with beautiful winged Angels. Depending on the time you can visit also Kweskwam Complex which is a royal compound built by the Empress Mentewab. Inside the palace look out the figures of crosses and Ethiopian characters and animals, such as St Samuel riding his lion. Overnight stay in the Florida Hotel
Day 5: Flight to Axum
Axum is a town with monuments that testify of the rich and glorious past of the mighty Kingdom of Axum (1-700 A.D.). And the town also recorded in UNESCO lists as a World Heritage Site. Upon arrival check in hotel then start to make a visit to the famous Axumi’s stelae, St. Mary of Zion church (which supposed to house the Ark of Covenant) and archeological museum, the ruins palace of Queen Sheba so called Dungur & palace.
Outside Axum you can visit also the tombs of Kings Kaleb & Gebre Meskel dating to 6th century. They are a great example of the sheer sophistication of Axumite architecture and building techniques. Overnight stay in Sabean Hotel.
Day 6: Flight to Lalibela
Lalibela and its rock-hewn church are thought, to date the 12th and 13th century during King Lalibela reign. The churches are remarkable since they are entirely freed from the rock, refined and concentrated in small land.
Start to visit the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela which are clustered in to three different places separated by River Jordan. Today visit the first and the third groups of churches. Overnight stay in Mountain View Hotel.
Day 7: Continue sightseeing around and in Lalibela
Make excursion to visit Asheton Mariam by mule or drive to 45km gravel road North of Lalibela to visit Yemrehan Christos church. In afternoon continue to visit the second groups of churches. Overnight stay in Mountain View Hotel.
Day 8: Flight to Addis Ababa
After an early morning breakfast flight back to Addis Ababa. Today you can continue your Addis Ababa visit that left from Day 2. Overnight stay in Jupitor International Hotel.
Day 9: Drive to Awassa via the Great Rift Valley
Today en route you will make a stop on Awash River and Lake Ziway to visit aquatic birds. Lake Ziway, the shallowest lake in the rift valley chain of lakes which depth 7m. Its extensive aquatic vegetation attracts a variety of water birds. Commonly seen and easily identified are; Saddle-billed stork, greater jacana, African fish eagle, darter, herons, darters and Wood hoope. In Awassa you can also walk around the ditch to for nice sunset and aquatic birds. Overnight stay in Oasis International Hotel.
Day 10: Drive to Arba Minch via Wolayta
Today before starting drive to Arba Minch you will visit the scenic morning Fish market in Awassa where the fisher man sell his fresh Tilapia, Catfish, and Barbus whereas Pelicans and Storks are competing to take the left over. You can also spot Black and White Colbous monkey around the Amor Gedele. En route make a stop and visit Wolayta villages. Overnight stay in Paradise Lodge, Arba Minch
Day 11: Make a boat trip to L. Chamo and in afternoon drive to Dorze
Make a boat trip on Lake Chamo where the longest and fattest crocodiles of Africa take a sunbath on the shores. Hippo’s hide themselves under the water and you will also see a good range of birds including; weavers, sunbirds, waxbills and colonies of pelicans.
Having a lunch drive to Dorze, the road slowly ascends to the top, where it gives you a panoramic view to the Lake Abaya and Lake Chamo then visit the Dorze village. The Dorze are famous for constructing distinguished beehive shaped huts, terrace cultivation and the best weaving work of Ethiopia. Overnight stay in Paradise Lodge, Arba Minch.
Day 12: Drive to Jinka via Key afar
Passing the terraced mountains of Konso with magnificent views into Weyto valley you drive to Jinka, if you the day is Thursday you will have the opportunities to visit the Key afar market, which gather; the Hammer, Benna, Ari and Tsmay tribes. Depending on your arrival you can visit also the Ethnographic museum of Jinka. Overnight stay in Jinka Resort.
Day 13: Excursion to visit the Mursi village via Mago National Park
To visit the Mursi you cross a part of the Mago NP on a track through the bush where many Dikdiks (small antelopes) and gazelle can be seen on the savanna plains.
The Mursi are well known for the big clay plates the women bear in their lower lip and ear. The origin of this tradition is not known but the Mursi themselves consider it as something that makes them distinguish from the surrounding tribes and to make the women unattractive for slave-market. But nowadays it is considered as a sign of beauty and wealth. Overnight stay in Jinka Resort.
Day 14: Drive to Turmi via Key afar-Dimeka
Drive to Turmi a small town of Hammer people. Visit the Hammer village. They are well-known for their Bull-Jumping ceremony and Evangadi dance. The Bull-Jumping occur when young boys reach the age of marriage he have to jump three times over the backs of a long row of bulls without falling. If this succeeds they have passed to adulthood from childhood. Overnight stay in Buska Lodge.
Day 15: Excursion to Omorate (Dassench/Gleb) village
Today you drive through the wilderness of the Omo valley to the Dassanech (or Galeb) who are living on the other side of the Omo River. To reach their village you cross the river in a canoe which is made of a hollow tree. Overnight stay in Buska Lodge.
Day 16: Excursion to Murille to visit the Karo villages
Drive to Murille to visit the Karo village Kolcho. The Karo people are thought to be one of the most endangered groups of the omo valley people. Overnight stay in Buska Lodge.
Day 17: Drive to Arba Minch
The society of the Konso boasts a rich culture and a highly specialized and successful agricultural economy by their indigenous way of terracing the steep slopes for cultivation of sorghum and different grains. Overnight stay in Paradise Lodge.
Day 18: Drive back to Addis Ababa via Tiya and Melka-Kuntare
On your way back to Addis Ababa via an alternative route through Ziway-Butajira, the green and fertile are of the Gurage people you can visit UNESCO registered the 600 – 800 years old Tiya stelae field and the interesting Melka-Kunture archeological site where thousands of Stone Age tools are found. There is also a small but interesting museum. Late in the afternoon have a farewell dinner then check-in for flight back home.