Ethiopia's Historic Route: 16 Days / 15 Nights

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Itinerary, Tour HN-15

Our sixteen day historic tour includes all the major historical sites of the north, including the rock-hewn churches of Tigray. 

Day 01 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. Visit 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 Marketplace in Bahar Dar. Continue with a boat tour of Lake Tana, the source of the Blue Nile, and visit ancient island monasteries. 
Overnight Hotel - Bahar Dar

Day 04  Bahar Dar - Gondar
Depending on the season,morning drive to see the Blue Nile Falls.  Return to Bahar Dar for lunch.  In the afternoon, drive to Gondar, north of Lake Tana, stopping at the village of Awra Amba.
Overnight Hotel - Gondar

Day 05  Gondar
Visit the remote ruins of Kuskuam, built for Empress Mentewab in the 1700’s. After lunch, 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 for its religious art and especially its iconic ceiling depicting angels.
Overnight Hotel - Gondar

Day 06  Gondar - Simien Mountains
Drive to Sankabar the gateway to the Simien Mountains National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Take in the spectacular scenery and spot wildlife. 
Overnight Hotel - Lodge

Day 07  Simien Mountains - 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 08  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 09  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 Hotel - Ghiralta Lodge

Day 10  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 11  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 12  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 13  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.
Overnight Hotel - Lalibela

Day 14  Lalibela - Addis Ababa - Harar
Fly to Dire Dawa via Addis Ababa on Ethiopian Airlines. Visit to colorful Dire Dawa daily market.  Continue by vehicle from Dire Dawa to Harar.  
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 - Addis Ababa
Morning visit to the colorful Islamic Market. Drive from Harar to Dire Dawa with optional stop at Ethiopia’s largest “chat” market. From Dire Dawa, fly to Addis Ababa. 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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