Enjoy this 10-day northern Ethiopia itinerary which takes you to the churches of Lalibela, the Simien Mountains and the Blue Nile River
This trip for the north of Ethiopia offers a unique take on all that this mysterious east African nation has to offer. You’ll enjoy 10 days discovering the mysteries of Ethiopia, a land of deep traditions dating back more than 3,000 years, on this exclusive trip that combines the ancient cultural artefacts found in Axum, Lalibela, Gondar and Bahir Dar with stunning vistas of the Gheralta Massive and the unspoiled nature of the Simien Mountains National Park
Your first day in Ethiopia is spent in the hustle and bustle of the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa. A Ker & Downey® Africa representative will meet you upon arrival at Addis Ababa Bole International Airport and transfer you to your hotel for the night, the Sheraton Addis Ababa. This luxury hotel is located at the heart of the city, just around the corner from the National Museum and the United Nations Conference Centre. You will have a choice of 10 bars and restaurants to choose from, along with a refreshing outdoor swimming pool, spa and an illuminated fountain to enjoy during your stay. In the afternoon have a city tour of the capital visiting the Holy Trinity Cathedral, the museum and also Africa’s biggest open air market.
After a filling breakfast at the hotel you will be met by your driver for your return journey to the airport, where you will take a flight to Axum. The town of Axum is located in northern Ethiopia, dominated by towering carved stone obelisks and the centuries-old church of St. Mary of Zion, a pilgrimage site thought to have housed the biblical Ark of the Covenant. The town is one of the oldest in the country and is as much a part of Ethiopia as the capital Addis Ababa. You will discover the region on a day tour, visiting ancient tombs, the holy sites and the Ark of the Covenant, and the Park of Stelae for its many stone obelisks. You will retire for the night in your hotel, Yeha Hotel, which offers comfortable beds, a restaurant serving local dishes, and a well-stocked bar.
After breakfast at the hotel you will meet your driver for your onwards drive to the Gheralta region. Gheralta is a mountainous area dominated by its many ancient churches carved into the rock, with sheer rocks, steep hills and towering spires for as far as the eye can see. Your base for the night will be Gheralta Lodge. Each well-finished room boasts spectacular views of the Gheralta mountains, tall ficus trees and rocky hills provide some much-needed shade, and the simple onsite restaurant serves the finest local dishes. You will spend the day exploring the rock churches, ancient paintings and manuscripts that have made the region famous. You can hike at sunrise or sunset to watch the sun over the mountains or watch rare and endemic birdlife flying in the bright and hot skies. Enjoy traditional dishes at the lodge made from locally sourced ingredients.
Your next two days will be spent in the ancient town of Lalibela, a northern Ethiopian town famous for its UNESCO World Heritage-listed monolithic churches carved into the rock. The town is also one of Ethiopia’s most important religious pilgrimage sites for Ethiopian Orthodox Christians, much of the town believed to have been designed to replicate the ancient city of Jerusalem. After a tasty breakfast at your hotel in Gheralta you will transfer to Mek’ele for a transfer flight to Lalibela, where you will be met by a driver who will take you on a tour of the town, including its famous rock churches. You will spend two nights at Maribela Hotel, where you will enjoy spacious and modern accommodation with spectacular views of the Ethiopian highlands.
Whether enjoying the uninterrupted views of mountains and manicured gardens from your private balcony or sampling traditional Ethiopian food in the onsite restaurant, you are promised a memorable Ethiopian experience. After breakfast on your fifth day, you will have a chance to tour the south-east cluster of churches and monasteries. After an adventurous day exploring the sheer cliffs and dusty outcrops of Lalibela you will return home to your hotel for a welcome drink with a view of the highlands followed by a dinner of Ethiopian dishes. You can enjoy a nightcap each night around a bonfire, taking part in a complimentary coffee ceremony and sampling traditional Ethiopian Taj honey wine as the sun sets.
After a hearty breakfast in Lalibela you will meet your driver and transfer to the airport for your onwards flight to Gondar. The city is located in northern Ethiopia is famous for its walled Fasil Ghebbi fortress and the palace compound that was once home to Ethiopian emperors. The architecture of Gondar is a combination of Portuguese, Indian and local making this a unique city worth visiting. Upon arrival you will take a road transfer to the Simien Mountains National Park, a destination of deep valleys and grass-covered high plateaus. The Simien Mountains are home to rare Gelada Baboons and Walia Ibex, spectacular lookouts, and narrow and winding trails meandering through the rugged landscape.
Your two nights will be spent in the Limalimo Lodge, a beautiful base from which to explore the Simien Mountains. The lodge, with floor-to-ceiling windows is perched on the edge of a cliff, overlooking the endless mountains. Treks from the highly-acclaimed eco-friendly wooden lodge and birdwatching are both on offer here, as is yoga and champagne breakfasts. Once you have settled into the lodge, embark on an afternoon of guided fauna and flora walks. You might come across the rare Ghelada Baboon, a species of Old World monkey only found in the Ethiopian Highlands. The baboons spend much of their time foraging in grasslands and are famous for their red chests and pronounced noses. You might also want to connect with the local culture and people in nearby Limalimo Village, experiencing a traditional coffee ceremony, traditional cooking, beer making, guided market visits and beekeeping. You second day at the lodge can be spent at leisure. You can choose to spend time at the lodge or go on guided treks. You can choose to visit the ancient monastery of Nakuto Laab, the stone churches of the south-east cluster, or track rare Ethiopian wolves and Walia Ibexes.
After breakfast you will be transferred to Gondar where you will have the chance to learn more about the city on a day tour. Gondar city is home to the famous palaces and Fasil Ghebbi fortress which you can visit during your time here. You can also visit the village of Chenek, a traditional Ethiopian highland village, Sankaber Camp, a mountaintop camping site promising amazing mountain views, and Debre Berhan Selassie which is home to the only Gondarine church in the world. Your night will be spent at Mayleko Lodge, a special boutique lodge with a collection of thatched bungalows, an outdoor pool, a fitness room and a central lodge constructed from reclaimed hardwood and recycled materials.
After breakfast at Mayleko Lodge you will transfer to Bahir Dar, an area famous for its coffee forests and fruit plantations. You will take a 3-hour cruise on Lake Tana to the 18th century church of Narga Selassie, the traditional round Orthodox church of Ura Kidane Mehret, and the monastery of Azwa Mariam on the Zeghe Peninsula. You will also visit the coffee forest in search of churches with their impressive murals. Your last night in Ethiopia will be spent at Kuriftu Resort & Spa, located at the source of the River Nile. This unique hotel is an escape from the hustle and bustle of Ethiopia, with carved stone balconies, wooden furnishings, beautiful lake views or locals going about their everyday business, and lakeside dining on a stony outcrop.
Situated on the shores of Lake Tana, the Kuriftu Resort consists of 28 stone bungalows set in gardens by the lake. Each room is decorated in a traditional Ethiopian style with en suite facilities, a four-poster bed, lounge, and flat-screen television. The resort also boasts its own restaurant, spa, and swimming pool.
Wake up to be treated to a full house breakfast before setting off on your excursion to the Blue Nile Falls, an impressive waterfall on the Blue Nile River known as Tis Abay in Amharic. The ‘great smoke’ are estimated to stand at 45 meters high, with four streams that started as a trickle in the dry ground and is thought to be the source of the Nile.
On day ten you will sleep at Kuriftu Resort & Spa.
Transfer to the airport for a flight to Addis Ababa where you will have access to a day room before enjoying a tasty dinner before your evening flight home.
Ker & Downey® Africa is compliant with COVID-19 Industry Protocols.
Ker & Downey® Africa is compliant with COVID-19 Industry Protocols.