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8 Day Northern Historic route by Air

Cultural Experiences in Ethiopia

Overview

Ethiopia has archaeological finds dating back more than 3 million years and this trip will enable you to get a real sense of the country’s ancient culture. Flying in to the capital Addis Ababa, there will be a visit to the National Museum where the remains of 3.2 million-year-old Lucy are on display – Lucy is the most complete skeleton of an early human ancestor ever discovered. Then it’s on by air to the Blue Nile Falls and the monasteries at Lake Tana. From here, we visit the ancient cities of Gondar (often called the Camelot of Africa) and Aksum, with its massive ruins and giant obelisks. A flight takes you to Lalibela - a place of pilmigrage and devotion - where you can marvel at the medieval monolithic cave churches of this 13th-century 'New Jerusalem' . Return to Addis Ababa for your flight home.

Safaris

Day 01 Addis Ababa
Arrive in Addis Ababa, Bole International Airport and meet Shama Travels Customer Service officer and transfer to the Hotel. Balance of the day at leisure for relaxation. 

Day 02 Addis Ababa
After breakfast we drive up to Mount Entoto. There is a panoramic view of the capital; we also visit the Museum at Mariam Church. Then we drive to down to visit the National Museum where we can see the 3.5 year of bone of Lucy. After Lunch we continue our tour to the institute of Ethiopian Studies where we can see the clothing, the art crafts, household utensils and painting of different regions of Ethiopia. Then we drive to Mercato, the largest market in Africa.

Day 03 Fly Addis Ababa – Bahir Dar
The check in time for the morning flight to fly to Bahir Dar is around. 6 am. So we leave our Hotel very early in the morning and arrive Bahir Dar around 9am and met by our agent in Bahir Dar.  In the morning we visit the Blue Nile Fall. After lunch we visit the monasteries by lake Tana. Please note that the Blue Nile fall reduced significantly because of the hydro-electric plant construction. Stay overnight at Tana Hotel.

Day 04 Drive Bahir Dar – Gonder 
After breakfast, we drive to Gonder, 185 km from Bahir Dar. We arrive around lunch time. After lunch we visit the town of Gonder and the 17th century Caltles and Palaces. Stay overnight at Goha Hotel. 

Day 05 Fly Gonder – Axum
We arrive Axum early morning, check in at Yeha Hotel. Today we tour the ancient town of Axum and steles. Overnight, Yeha Hotel. 

Day 06 Fly Axum- Lalibela
We check in at Tukul Lodge in Lalibela. Tour the magnificent rock-hewn churches of Lalibela, a UNESCO World Heritage site. These groups of eleven monolithic and semi-monolithic structures were carved directly into the stone of the mountainside at least 800 years ago.  This complex boasts the largest monolithic church in the world, a maze of passageways and tunnels, intricately carved reliefs, and fabulous examples of icon paintings.

Day 07 Lalibela
For the morning we have two choices:   Take a morning hike with mules to Mount Asheton, with its 13th century rock-hewn monastery and great views of the town;  - OR  -  Drive to Yemrehanna Kristos, a beautiful church situated in a shallow cave that predates the churches of Lalibela.  The drive to Yemrehanna will also give you the opportunity to view the rural countryside and villages of the Ethiopian highlands.   Following either option above continue with tour of Lalibela’s churches in the afternoon.  

Day 08 Fly Lalibela – Addis Ababa
Return to Addis Ababa and optional half day city tour of Addis Ababa with evening cultural dinner if departure is late evening.

Location

Ethiopia is situated in the Horn of Africa and has borders with Sudan, South Sudan, Kenya, Somalia, Djibouti and Eritrea.

Experiences

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s sprawling capital, is the country’s commercial and cultural hub. Its National Museum displays prehistoric fossils, including replicas of the famous early hominid known as Lucy, along with Ethiopian art and traditional crafts. The burial place of the 20th-century emperor Haile Selassie, the copper-domed Holy The traditional source of the Blue Nile, locally known as 'Abai', is a spring which feeds the little 'Abai', a stream which flows NE into Lake Tana from the highlands of 'Gishen'.

Lake Tana, the largest lake in Ethiopia, situated north of the beautiful town of Bahir Dar is the source from where the famous Blue Nile starts its long journey to Khartoum, and on to the Mediterranean. There are 37 islands scattered about the surface of Lake Tana, out of which some 20 have churches and monasteries of huge historical and cultural interest. The Lake Tana region and the Blue Nile gorge host a wide variety of birds, making the area an ideal place for birdwatchers. The Blue Nile got the 'blue' part of its name because of its muddy colour due to the huge amount of fertile soil it erodes from the Ethiopian highlands. The Blue Nile from the highlands of Ethiopia, and the White Nile from Lake Victoria meet in Khartoum, and merge in what Arab poets call 'the longest kiss in history', to form the Nile river. The Blue Nile Falls is one of the most dramatic spectacles on either the White or Blue Niles and is the second largest of its kind in Africa, and is one of the best sceneries in the entire continent. Gondar is a royal and ancient historical city and was the home of many emperors and princesses who led the country from the 12th century to the last decade of the 20th century. Gondar Castle, called the Ethiopian Camelot, is not a single castle, but is the name given to the entire complex of castles and palaces in the area. The ruins of the ancient city of Aksum are found close to Ethiopia's northern border. The massive ruins, dating from between the 1st and the 13th century A.D., include monolithic obelisks, royal tombs and the ruins of ancient castles. Lalibela is a town in northern Ethiopia famous for monolithic rock-cut churches. Lalibela is one of Ethiopia's holiest cities, second only to Aksum, and a centre of pilgrimage. Unlike Aksum, the population of Lalibela is almost completely Ethiopian Orthodox Christian.

Accommodations

Basic safari and eco lodges such as…. though there are some decent hotels in Addis Ababa, including the high-end Sheraton Addis.

Useful Info

Capital: Addis Ababa

Time: Three hours ahead of GMT and eight hours ahead of EST.

Money: The Ethiopian Birr is the currency of Ethiopia.

Health: You should be vaccinated against Yellow Fever, Typhoid, Hepatitis A and Tetanus/Polio/Diptheria. You should also consider getting vaccinated against Rabies, Hepatitis B and Cholera. Malaria is common in areas of the country below 2,000 metres, so precautionary measures are necessary.

Water: Water-borne diseases are common. Drink or use only boiled or bottled water and avoid ice in drinks.

Climate: Ethiopia is in the tropical zone laying between the Equator and the Tropic of Cancer. It has three different climate zones (tropical, subtropical and cool) according to elevation.

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