Day 1: Arrive Addis Ababa
On arrival in Addis Ababa you will be met by Ethioder Tours and travels staff, soon after transfer to Elilly Hotel. Overnight at Elilly Hotel. Your accommodation will be on BB basis.
Day 2: Addis Ababa / Axum
Fly to Axum. Rising to prominence around the time of the birth of Christ, the Axumite Kingdom was considered one of the great powers of the world, ruling the two southern sides of the Red Sea. The kingdom dominated the vital crossroads between Africa and Asia for almost a thousand years. The Axumites introduced a written language, Ge'ez and created a new imperial power and political cohesion. They also gave Ethiopia its first organized religion - Christianity - in the 4th century AD.
The town abounds in archeological remains that include graves of kings, foundations of palaces, inscribed tablets and great obelisks. Also of interest is the 16th century Church of Saint Mary of Zion, which stands on an earlier 4th century church and is considered Ethiopia's holiest Christian shrine. The church is divided into an older building, built by Emperor Fasilidas, and a newer part that was erected by Emperor Haile Selassie. The older structure is the repository of many royal crowns and valuables but sadly is closed to women. Within its sanctuary is said to rest the Ark of the Covenant - a claim connected in Ethiopian tradition to the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon, whose son Menelik is said to have brought the Ark to Axum 3,000 years ago from King Solomon's Temple in Jerusalem. Tonight, stay at the comfortable Yeha Hotel that opened in 1993. (B,L,D) Yeha Hotel.
Day 3: Axum /Lalibela
Fly to Lalibela. Lalibela is a 'World Heritage Site' and there is every reason for it to be one. The 12th century rock-hewn churches have been dubbed the 'Eighth Wonder of the World'. There are no less than 1000 churches in the Lasta region of Lalibela, some hidden in enormous caves, but it is exceptional to find eleven churches of such master craftsmanship in one locale. Seeing all of Lalibela's churches takes a long time, but they are well worth the effort, particularly during the Ethiopian Christmas (January 7) and Timkat celebrations (January 19). The first group of six churches lies in rock cradles one behind the other: Bet Golgotha, Bet Mika'el, Bet Maryam, Bet Meskel, Bet Danaghel and Bet Medhane Alem. Bet Medhane Alem, the largest one, is built like a Greek Temple and its stone floor is so polished by the countless numbers of visitors that it reflects shafts of light from apertures in the walls high above. In a corner are three empty graves symbolically dug for biblical patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Bet Giyorgis, possibly the most elegant of all the Lalibela churches, lies somewhat isolated in the southwest part of the village on a sloping rock terrace. It can only be reached through a tunnel. The group of four, south of the Jordan River, comprise of Bet Emanuel, Bet Mercurios, Bet Abba Libanos and Bet Gabriel-Rufa'el. Bet Emanuel's elaborate exterior is much praised by art historians. (B,L,D) Roha Hotel.
Day 4: Lalibela / Gondar
Fly to Gondar, known as the 'Camelot' of Africa. Gondar was the 17th and 18th century capital city of Ethiopia and was home to a number of emperors, courtiers and kings who built several castles and palaces around the area. Nestled in the foothills of the breathtaking Simien Mountains in northwest Ethiopia, Gondar became the capital during the reign of Emperor Fasilidas (1632-1667) and emerged over the years as an important administrative, commercial, religious and cultural center. Its importance declined in the 19th century and in 1880 it was looted by the Sudanese Dervishes. The oldest and the most impressive Gondar structure is the two-story palace of Emperor Fasilidas, built of roughly hewn brown basalt stone held together with mortar and is said to be the work of an Indian architect. Several notable Gondarine structures - the 'Bath of the King' and the 'Debre Birhan Selassie' can be seen. (B,L,D) Goha Hotel.
Day 5: Gondar / Bahir Dar
In the morning depart driving to Bahirdar on the edge of Lake Tana. It is the capital city of its region and an important commercial centre. In the afternoon, take a boat trip on Lake Tana and visit the island monasteries. There are 37 islands scattered about on the 3000 square kilometer lake which is the source of the Blue Nile. About 20 of these islands house the churches and monasteries that are of immense historical as well as cultural interest. Some are decorated with beautiful paintings and contain innumerable treasures. Most churches forbid women inside; however, the church of Ura Kidane Mehret on the Zeghe peninsula is open to women. This church is a walk inland of about 20 minutes. When moving around on the lake, be sure to notice the tankwa boat, little papyrus boats that appear so flimsy yet are capable of carrying passengers and their goods around the lake as they have done for many centuries. (B,L,D) Papyrus Hotel.
Day 6: Bahir / Addis Ababa
In the morning, pay a visit to the impressive Blue Nile Falls, locally known as Tis Isat or 'Smoke of Fire'. 400 meters wide when in flood and 45 meters deep, the falls throws up a continuous spray of water droplets which drench onlookers up to a kilometer away. The area around the river is extremely fertile and the Amhara people who live here farm wheat, sorghum and teff (from which injera, the national bread, is made). After the Falls you will have lunch and fly to Addis, indulge in some shopping and transfer you to the airport for the evening flight to your next destination. An extra day will have to be spent in Addis if your international flight is in the afternoon (extra charges apply). End of our services