VIVA ETHIOPIA TOUR
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Title: Exploring the Historic Route

Tour code: VET200

Tour Duration: 11 Days/10 Nights

Transportation: Surface & Air

Type of Vehicle:  2009/10 Nissan Patrol or 2009/10 Toyota Land cruiser &

2010 Double AC Toyota HIACE minibuses for city tours

Tour Customizable: Yes

Tour highlights: city tours, boat trip & gorges, world heritage sites, camping, monasteries, castles & obelisks, beautiful scenery…

Day-to-day program:

Day 1:  Arrive In Addis Ababa

On arrival in Addis Ababa, you will be met, assisted and transferred to your Hotel. Time permitting, your guide and driver will take you on a city tour. The first stop is scenic Mount Entoto. At 2500 m, Addis Ababa is the third highest capital in the world and Entoto is several hundred meters higher. Within Entoto's old Imperial Compound, you will visit the churches of Mariam and the Archangel Raguel. Afterwards, stop at the National Archaeological Museum where exhibits include the 3.5 million-year-old bones of 'Lucy'.

Overnight Hotel in Addis Ababa


Day 2: Addis Ababa/ Bahar Dar

An hour's flight takes you to Bahir Dar, an attractive town with tree-lined avenues and the deep blue Lake Tana in the background. Lake Tana is Ethiopia's largest lake and is dotted with islands. Many of these islands are the sites of churches and monasteries. After lunch, depart by boat to the Zeghe Peninsula, known for its 14th century, round, grass-roofed churches with their magnificent wall murals. You will visit two, Betra Mariam and Ura Kidane Mehret, walking through dense forest with prolific bird life. Bahir Dar has several clubs and bars where you can enjoy both traditional and modern Ethiopian music and dancing.

Overnight Hotel in Bahar Dar

  

Day 3: Bahar Dar 

Your guide and driver will take you on a morning excursion to the Blue Nile Falls, about 30 km from Bahir Dar. They are Africa's second largest waterfalls and are at their most spectacular during and after the rainy season (from about June to January). This is where the Blue Nile, which contributes 85% of the main Nile, begins its long journey to the Mediterranean. After lunch, explore Bahir Dar, including the market and a visit of the Palace of the late Emperor Haile Selassie at Bizeit.

Overnight Hotel in Bahar Dar

  

Day 4: Bahar Dar/Gondar

Transfer to the airport for the 25 minutes flight to Gondar. Your hotel is set on a hill with a panoramic view of the town and its monuments. From the terrace, you can watch unforgettable sunsets. Gondar was the imperial capital from the 17th to the mid-19th century. Visitors come to see the Imperial Compound, with the enchanting 'Fasalidas' castles still in good condition. There is also the bath of King Fasilides. Here, at Timkat (Ethiopian Epiphany), a nearby river is diverted to fill an area the size of a small swimming pool and worshippers plunge into the cold water in a re-enactment of the baptism of Christ in the River Jordan. Although many of Gondar's churches were destroyed in the Mahdist invasion from Sudan in the 1880s, one fine example, Debre Berhan Selassie, survives. According to the legend, a swarm of bees diverted the invaders. The walls and ceiling are covered with vivid murals: the angels' faces on the ceiling have become a common motif in Ethiopian design. The tour ends with a visit to the ruined palace of Queen Mentowab and the church of Qusquam. The Mini Fogera is worth visiting in the evening for Asmari music and Ethiopian food.

Overnight Hotel in Gondar 


Day 5: Gondar/Sankaber/Gondar

A full day excursion into the awe-inspiring Semien Mountains. In the early morning, depart for Debark, about 100 km north, through clouds and mist. From Debark, where your game scout joins you, drive up to Sankaber Camp. 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. There are many peaks over 4000 metres. At 4620 m, Ras Dashen is the highest in the country and the fourth highest in Africa. In the Semien Mountains, visitors can see the endemic Gelada or 'bleeding heart' baboon, Klipspringer, Rock hyrax and endemic birds such as the Thick-billed Raven, Black-headed Siskin, White-collared Pigeon, Wattled Ibis, White-billed Starling, Spot-breasted lapwing and White-backed Black tit. Lammergeyers, Ruppell's griffons and Egyptian vultures are often seen. On the way back to Gondar, you will visit the former Felasha (Ethiopian Jew) village at Wolleka, where you can purchase characteristic pottery.

Overnight Hotel in Gondar 


Day 6: Gondar/Lalibela

Fly to Lalibela. At the end of the 12th and beginning of the 13th centuries, King Lalibela of the Zaghwe dynasty built a series of rock hewn churches, now rightly acknowledged as one of the wonders of the world. Even from the air, the churches, carved into the rugged mountainsides, are a breathtaking spectacle. There are 11 churches in the town named after him, with others in the surrounding countryside. All are still in use. You will be taken on a tour of the first group of churches, return to your hotel for lunch, and continue the tour in the afternoon. It is estimated that it took 25 years to construct the churches. For the kingdom to have kept a large work force engaged in economically unproductive labor for such a period means it was very wealthy.

Overnight Hotel in Lalibela


Day 7: Lalibela

Visit the church of Ashetun Mariam by mule - or on foot. There are wonderful views of the surrounding countryside from its mountaintop location. Alternatively you may visit the cave church of Neakuto Leab. 40 km from Lalibela is the beautiful cave church of Yemrehane Kristos, much finer than that of Neakuto Leab. If you are willing to do a full day's touring, you can see both churches today.

Overnight Hotel in Lalibela


Day 8: Lalibela/Axum

Transfer to the airport for the flight to Axum. From around 200 BC to 700 AD, Axum was the seat of an empire that extended across the Red Sea to Arabia, traded with India and China, had its own alphabet, constructed great engineering works and, in the 4th century, was one of the four great powers of the ancient world. You can see the remarkable stelae or obelisks, which are the largest single pieces of stone standing anywhere on the world. It is still not understood how they were transported from the quarry and erected. There are also tombs and castles of former monarchs, the Axum Museum and Mariamtsion Church, built on the site of Ethiopia's first church. A chapel within the church compound is believed by Ethiopian Orthodox Christians to house the Ark of the Covenant, or the original tablets of Moses. Your tour starts with a visit to the museum and the stelae. Then you ascend a hill to see the castle of King Kalab, passing Mai Shum (the bath of the Queen of Sheba) on the way. Coming back into town, you will see the tomb of King Basen, visit the small museum inside the church grounds (the priests may likely put on display crowns of past kings for visitors to see), and end the day with a visit to the site known locally as Queen Sheba's Palace, although in fact it is of a later date, the villa of an Axumite notable from around the 1st century AD.

Overnight Hotel in Axum


Day 9: Axum

Visit any remaining sites. You then travel 55 km to Yeha, Ethiopia's first city - settlement dates back more than 2800 years. Visit the remains of the temple dedicated to Ilmuqeh, the moon god. Next to the temple is the church of Abune Aftse, one of the 'Nine Saints' who did much to spread Christianity in Ethiopia. On the return journey, some 5 km out of Axum, you should have the ideal light for photographs of the "teeth of Adwa", with its dramatic mountain backdrop.

Overnight Hotel in Axum

 

Day 10: Axum/Addis Ababa

You fly to Addis Ababa. In the afternoon, go shopping at the Merkato, Africa's biggest market. You can buy marvelous Ethiopian jewelry, exquisite locally-made clothing and fabrics, local music and much more. Enjoy a farewell dinner, where you will see a fascinating performance of traditional music and dance from the different regions of Ethiopia.

Overnight Hotel in Addis Ababa


Day 11: Addis Ababa/ Departure

Morning, have a relaxing breakfast and getting your language ready for your flight back home.  Transfer to the airport. End of tour

Remark:

  You will be given an adjusted program of this tour that goes along with your arrival time in Ethiopia upon request

  Extension or reduction of this tour is possible

  This tour can be re-programmed to fit your interest, time and budget

 

 

 


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