Ethiopian Road Trip. History, Nature, Culture: 25 Days / 24 Nights

Itinerary, Tour CO-24

This 25 day tour includes all the major historical sites of the north including the  rock churches of Tigray and the Simien Mountains National Park.  This tour also visits the eastern city of Harar before continuing south to the Omo Valley.  From the Omo we have an overnight excursion to the Bale Mountains National Park.   Travel for this tour is all surface.

Day 01  Arrival - Addis Ababa 
For morning Arrivals at Bole International Airport you may begin your tour after checking into your hotel.  For clients arriving in the afternoon or evening, you may begin your tour the following day.  An Awaze Tours representative will meet all clients arriving at the airport regardless of arrival time.

Visit the Ethnographic Museum, a great introduction to Ethiopian culture and history. Tour the Mercato, one of Africa's largest outdoor markets, and Trinity Cathedral, resting place of Emperor Haile Selassie.
Overnight Hotel - Addis Ababa 

Day 02  Addis Ababa - Bahar Dar
Drive to Bahar Dar via the Blue Nile Gorge, the "Grand Canyon" of East Africa. Stop at the historically important Monastery of Debre Libanos, rebuilt since it was razed by the Italians during the 1930's. 
Overnight Hotel - Bahar Dar  

Day 03  Bahar Dar 
Visit the Bahar Dar marketplace. Take a boat tour on Lake Tana, the source of the Blue Nile, and visit ancient island monasteries. 
Overnight Hotel - Bahar Dar  

Day 04  Bahar Dar - Gondar
Drive through the countryside to Gondar. Tour the Royal Enclosure, a UNESCO World Heritage site featuring five castles built by a succession of Ethiopian Kings beginning in the early 17th century. Having survived several wars, including air raids during World War 2, the castles are a testament to the resilience of this once mighty African Empire. Visit the church of Debre Birhan Selassie, famous fo religious art and especially its iconic ceiling depicting angels.
Overnight Hotel - Gondar 

Day 05  Gondar - Sankabar 
Drive to Sankabar the gateway to the Simien Mountains National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Enjoy some light hiking in the afternoon in the park. 
Overnight Lodge 

Day 06  Sankabar - Axum 
Take a scenic drive to Axum, capital of the ancient Axumite Empire and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Frequent stops at viewpoints along the way. Arrive in Axum late afternoon.
Overnight Hotel - Axum 

Day 07  Axum
Tour the ancient stelae fields, standing for 2000 years. Visit the new and impressive Archeological Museum. Visit other tombs and archeological sites as time permits. 
Overnight Hotel - Axum 

Day 08  Axum - Ghiralta Lodge 
Drive to the Ghiralta Lodge passing the Adwa battlefield, site of Emperor Menelik II's 1895 victory over the invading Italians. Visit the 2,500 year old ruins of Yeha, an ancient moon temple.  Continue past Adigrat and visit Aba Gerima and Petros Paulos, two of the Tigray region's oldest and finest rock churches.   

* On this day, we will pass the 6th century monastery of Debre Damos which is perched atop a remote plateau.   The monastery is only accessible using a rope and the monks will help pull visitors up the 20 - 25 meter cliff.  However, we only recommend this for physically fit individuals.  Women are not allowed on the grounds of the monastery, and therefore, it is not part of our regular tour itinerary.  However, we can stop here for those on a custom or private tour.  
Overnight Ghiralta Lodge

Day 9  Ghiralta Lodge - Mekele
Visit more of Tigray's remote and ancient rock-hewn churches:  Abraha Atsbeha, dating from the 10th century; the beautiful Wukro Chirkos; and  Medhane Alem Kesho.  Drive to Mekele.
Overnight Hotel - Mekele 

Day 10  Mekele - Lalibela 
Drive on a scenic road to Lalibela. Arrive at your hotel in the late afternoon and enjoy the sunset from the terrace. 
Overnight Hotel - Lalibela 

Day 11  Lalibela
Tour the magnificent rock-hewn churches of Lalibela, a UNESCO World Heritage site. This group 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. 
Overnight Hotel - Lalibela

Day 12  Lalibela - Weldiya 
For the morning you 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. After lunch, drive to Weldiya.
Overnight Hotel - Weldiya

Day 13  Weldiya - Awash National Park
Drive to Awash National Park. En route visit a village of the Afar people. 
Overnight Hotel - Awash National Park

Day 14  Awash National Park - Harar
Early morning game viewing. Afterwards, drive to Harar via Harege Plateau a region of coffee and chat plantations. 
Overnight Hotel - Harar

Day 15  Harar 
Stroll through the 16th century walled city of Harar, the fourth most important city in the Islamic World. See the home of Arthur Rimbuad, renowned French poet who worked and lived in Harar as a "gun-runner" during the 19th century. Visit the National and Harari museums; the house of Ras Mekonnen (father of Haile Selassie); and a traditional Harari home. In the evening see the "Hyena Man" feeding the hyenas that gather nightly outside the town. 
Overnight Hotel - Harar

Day 16  Harar - Lake Langano
Drive to Langano, one of the Rift Valley Lakes for relaxation at the Sabana Lodge. Lake Langano is Bilharzia free and safe for swimming and has fantastic birdlife. 
Overnight Lodge - Lake Langano

Day 17  Lake Langano - Arba Minch
Drive to Arba Minch via Melka Kunture, a stone-age archeological site; Adadi Mariam, a 12th century rock-hewn church; and Tiya, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with its mysterious stelae, thought to be grave markers, dating from the 12th century. Also visit a Dorze Village in the Guge Mountains. The Dorze are known for their tall, beehive-shaped bamboo houses. If the base becomes infested with termites, the entire house can be lifted and moved to another location.
Overnight Hotel - Arba Minch

Day 18  Arba Minch - Jinka 
Take a boat trip on Lake Chamo and view some of the largest crocodiles in the world sunning on the banks of the lake. Hippopotami and birdlife are also abundant. Drive to Jinka visiting various peoples such as the Gamo and Derashe. Stop at Key Afar's weekly market (if on a Thursday) and wander among the various tribes such as the Benna and Ari that have gathered to barter their goods. 
Overnight Lodge - Jinka 

Day 19  Mago National Park Excursion
Early morning drive to the Mago National Park to visit the Mursi people. The Mursi women are known for the clay plates they insert into their lower lips. Time permitting, visit the Omo Valley Museum in Jinka. 
Overnight Lodge - Jinka 

Day 20  Jinka - Turmi 
Drive to Turmi to visit the Hamer people who are well known for the scarring of their bodies, using clay to shape their hairstyles, and the unique practice of "bull-jumping" which every young man must accomplish prior to marriage. En route to Turmi, visit the Benna and Ari people.
Overnight Lodge - Turmi 

Day 21  Omorate Excursion
Excursion to Omorate to visit the Dassanech people, known for their elaborate body-painting.  Cross the famous Omo River by canoe.  Return to Turmi for the evening.
Overnight Lodge - Turmi

Day 22  Turmi - Konso
Drive to Konso, recently designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site. A highland people, the Konso are known for the ancient and intricate terraces that encircle their well-planned villages.
Overnight Lodge - Konso

Day 23  Konso - Hawassa
Drive to the lakeside town of Hawassa. Relax and recover from your journey at one of Hawassa's fine resorts.   
Overnight Resort - Hawassa

Day 24  Hawassa - Bale Mountains National Park 
Drive to the Bale Mountains National Park and meet with park guide. Arrive at the park headquarters in the afternoon, in time for a leisurely afternoon hike, possibly spotting two endemic mammals that frequent the area: Menelik's Bushbuck and the Mountain Nyala. Birds in this area include the Blue-Winged Goose, the Spot-Breasted Lapwing, the Abyssinian Long Claw, the Wattled Ibis, the Black-Headed Siskin, Rouget’s Rail, and numerous other species.
Overnight Hotel - Bale Mountains National Park

Day 25  Bale Mountains National Park - Addis Ababa
Drive to Addis Ababa. Optional souvenir shopping if time permits. Enjoy a Farewell dinner at a traditional Ethiopian restaurant featuring dancers and musicians representing some of the country's many ethnic groups.  Transfer to airport for late night departure if needed.

  • For arrivals before the tour begins or for later departures, additional hotel bookings can be made upon request.
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