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Although we are now working from home, if you are due to travel shortly we will be in touch to support and guide you in either postponing or cancelling your trip, based on Foreign Office advice and your insurance arrangements.
 
When you feel ready to do so, we are here to help you plan your next holiday, knowing availability in many key destinations is already tight for next year. To help you move forward with confidence, our booking conditions have been relaxed in case you are unable to travel due to COVID-19 issues beyond your control (eg a new wave of infections; visa restrictions; mandatory quarantine; or cancellation of your international flight).
 
Thank you for your ongoing kindness & support in these difficult times. And remember that all our holidays are fully financially protected, wherever in the world you live.

Warm regards

Claire Farley, Managing Director
Ethiopia Holidays Tours Omo Valley Lalibela Simien Bale Mountains Park

Historic Ethiopia - Privately Guided


YPA11A
11 NIGHTS
FROM £3,795
Per person sharing
International flights quoted separately
Ethiopia Tour Lake Tana Simien Mountains Gondar Axum Lalibela Churches

Explore awesome historic sites on this private Ethiopia tour. Starting in Bahir Dar, visit the ancient monasteries on Lake Tana & Blue Nile Falls, then drive to the Simien Mountains with its gelada baboons. Visit Gondar with its palaces & castles, fly to Axum where the Ark of the Covenant is said to reside & Lalibela with its astonishing rock-hewn churches. All transfers, sighseeing & private English speaking guides included.

Ethiopia Tour Lake Tana Simien Mountains Gondar Axum Lalibela Churches
• 
Bahir Dar
• 
Lake Tana Monasteries
• 
Blue Nile Falls
• 
Simien Mountains
• 
Gelada Baboons
• 
Gondar - Palaces & Castles
• 
Axum - Ark of Covenant
• 
Lalibela Churches
• 
Addis Ababa
• 
Ethiopia Tour (private)
• 
Bahir Dar
• 
Lake Tana Monasteries
• 
Blue Nile Falls
• 
Simien Mountains
• 
Gelada Baboons
• 
Gondar - Palaces & Castles
• 
Axum - Ark of Covenant
• 
Lalibela Churches
• 
Addis Ababa
• 
Ethiopia Tour (private)
Day 1
You will be met at Bahir Dar Airport and transferred to your hotel in this palm-tree lined resort town, decorated with colourful flowers, situated on the shores of Lake Tana - the largest lake in Ethiopia.
 
In the afternoon we visit the former palace of Emperor Haile Selassie at Bizeit, with great views of the town and the point at which the Blue Nile flows out of the Lake Tana.
Day 2
Today we drive to the small town of Tiss Isat to visit the Blue Nile Falls, known locally as Tiss Abay (meaning 'Smoky Waters').
 
Until the construction of a hydroelectric power plant upstream, these were the second largest falls in Africa. They vary from a single stream in the dry season to four streams of turbulent brown water that are more than 1,300 ft (400 m) wide during the August & September rainy season, dropping down over 150 ft (45 m) into a sheer chasm below, giving rise to steam clouds and a spray of water that drenches onlookers. Walk 20-minutes to a great viewing point or, if you are more energetic, walk down to the base of the falls. At the local market you can buy hand-woven capes and scarves made of good local cotton and at Weyto village you can see the production of traditional Tankwa papyrus boats.
 
In the afternoon we return to Bahir Dar and take a boat trip on Lake Tana to visit the 14th century monasteries of Ura Kidane Mihret and Azwa Mariam, situated on a large peninsula. These monasteries are known for their colourful religious frescoes and an impressive display of illustrated bibles written in Ge’ez, Ethiopia’s oldest language.
Day 3
Today we drive 4-hours to the historic city of Gondar, the 17th century capital of the Ethiopian Empire under king Fasilidas and also of the ancient Abyssinian Empire. Its emperors built many castles here, giving the region a very European feel - hence the name 'African Camelot'. The whole city is today a World Heritage Site.
 
On arrival we visit the Imperial Castle Compound with its six castles, including including the oldest and most magnificent Fasiledes Castle, with its Royal Enclosure and Emperor Fasilidas’ Pool. This is where the colorful Timket festival (Epiphany) is celebrated every January, when pilrims still take a plunge.
 
We also visit the church of Quskuam Mariam, the residence of the Empress Mintewab and the church of Debre Berhan Selassie (meaning 'Light of the Trinity'), located on the summit of a hill and surrounded by fortified walls. This church was not destroyed, even during the dervishes, and on its painted 18th century ceiling over 100 winged cherubs look down on you, with slightly different but equally quizzical expressions. Full of all the colour, life, wit and humanity of Ethiopian art at its best, the walls provide a compendium of the country's saints, martyrs and folklore.
Day 4
This morning we leave Gondar and drive 3-hours to Debark, continuing to our Simien Mountains National Park lodge in the northern Ethiopian Highlands - a dramatically beautiful World Heritage Site.
 
We drive through the spectacular landscapes of one of Africa's largest mountain ranges, with many deep valleys and jagged peaks. Here you will find Ras Dashen, the highest mountain in the country and the fourth highest in Africa soaring over 15,000 ft (4,630 m).
 
Simien Mountains National Park covers an area of over 70 square miles (190 km²). This high altitude park is situated between 4,500 and 6,200 ft (1,900 to 4,430 m) and has a variety of Afro-alpine flora, including 57 different tree species and many herbaceous plants, spread across three distinct botanical zones. Over 180 bird species have been recorded here and this park is home to 35 different mammals.
 
Note: Be aware that your lodge in the Simien Mountains is at high altitude at 10,500 ft (3,200 m).
Day 5
This morning enjoy walking in Simien Mountains National Park. The alpine meadows in the highest reaches of this park have very little vegetation and snow falls regularly, but they provide essential sanctuary to the animals that live here.
 
Simien Mountains National Park was created primarily to protect the critically endangered Walia Ibex, which you can see clinging to the sheer rock faces. It is also home to other endemic species such as the colourful Gelada ('bleeding heart') baboon; the Ethiopian wolf (also known as the Simien fox); Menelik's bushbuck; caracal and the rare Lamergeyer (a huge vulture).
 
Enjoy outstanding views of the gorge and mountain range, whose striking formations have been described as ‘the chess pieces of the Gods’.  We also drive to Chenek which at 11, 877 ft (3,620 m) has an impressive escarpment with scenic views of Mount Buhit. Here you will have the best opportunity of observing the endemic Walia ibex, as well as many different bird species and the varied alpine flora.
Day 6
Today we drive 5-hours from the Simien Mountains, travelling through spectacular countryside to Axum - the earliest and most ancient capital of Ethiopia.
 
We drive across the breathtaking Tekeze Gorge, carved by the Tekeze River which is a tributary of the Blue Nile. This canyon is the deepest in Africa and one of the deepest in the world.
Day 7
Today enjoy a sightseeing tour of Axum.
 
In the morning we visit the Cathedral of St. Mary of Zion. The original church was built in 1665 by Emperor Fasiladas, founder of Gonder, on the foundations of a temple build by King Ezana or King Kaleb in the 4th or 6th century, making this the oldest Christian site in Africa. Keep your eye out for the guarded chapel, which is said to be the last resting place of the Ark of the Covenant.
 
The modern cathedral was built by Emperor Haile Selassie in the 1960s and has an architectural style that is painfully out of place in this ancient city, but the contrast between the buildings on the site is fascinating. We also spend time exploring the Archeological Museum under the church, which houses many of Ethiopia’s priceless relics (photography is not allowed).
 
In the afternoon we visit the ancient UNESCO World Heritage Site at Stele Field (4th century), the ruined palace and tomb of King Kaleb and King Gebre Meskel (5th & 6th century) and the residence of the legendary Queen of Sheba (9th century BC). The North Stelae Park contains over 120 stelae - some are upright, some are buried and others have been removed. The Rome Stelae, the tallest at 25m, was shipped to Italy in 1937 under orders from Mussolini, but has since been returned and re-erected.
Day 8
Transfer to Axum Airport for your onward flight.

You will be met at Lalibela Airport and transferred into this spiritual town - the 'African Jerusalem'.
 
Perched high on an isolated mountain over 8,500 ft (2,600 m) above sea level, Lalibela is home to 11 spectacular rock-hewn churches built by King Lalibela (1181 - 1221) after whom the town is named. Each church is carved entirely out of a single block of granite, with its roof at ground level, and each is built in a different architectural style. The entire town seems frozen in biblical times and is today a pilgrimage site for Christians.
 
After lunch we visit the First Group of extraordinary rock-hewn churches and their subterranean complex of passages, found by a stream called the River Jordan. Bete Medhanialem (Saviour Church), Bete Miriam, Bete Denagel, Bete Meskal, Debra Sina and Bete Golgotha are all part of the amazing UNESCO World Heritage site found at Lalibela.
 
Note: When entering churches, men should wear long trousers. Women should wear jeans or long skirts (avoid short skirts and shorts) & must wear a head scarf. Please be aware there is a lot of walking and climbing up and down rough steps when visiting these churches.
Day 9
This morning we take a mule ride to the top of a hill to view the semi-monolithic church of Asheton Mariam (13th century AD). Here you will be rewarded with unforgettable views of the surrounding area.
 
In the afternoon we visit the Second and Third Group of Lalibela's famous churches. These include Bete Gabriel & Raphael, Bete Merquorios, Bete Emmanuel and Bete Abba Libanos.
 
Finally we visit the famous Bete Giorgis - Church of St George - carved in the shape of a cross from solid red volcanic rock. It is the most beautiful rock-hewn church in the world and symbolises Noah's Ark.
Day 10
At leisure to relax or explore more of Lalibela with your guide (pay any entrance fees locally).
Day 11
Transfer to Lalibela Airport for your onward flight.

You will be met at Addis Ababa Airport and transferred into Ethiopia's capital city. This beautiful high-altitude country was once ruled by the Queen of Sheba and has a fascinating and ancient history. With over 80 different languages, and many different religions, its strong tribal traditions and festivals are world famous.
 
On arrival enjoy a private tour of the city, viewing landmark building such as Headquarters of the African Union and United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, as well as Meskel Square - the main meeting place of the city. We visit Trinity Cathedral, one of the oldest churches in the city, and the former palace of King Menelik II (also called the Imperial Palace or the Old Gebi), which has been the residence of various Ethiopian emperors including Haile Selassie. Today it contains the offices of the Prime Minister.
 
Ethiopia is one of the world's oldest civilizations and you can see many ancient artefacts on display at the National Archaelogical Museum. This includes the fossils remains of Lucy, one of the oldest known hominids ever discovered who lived in Ethiopia over 3.2 million years ago. Over 40% of her skeleton was found intact.
 
Time permitting there is also the opportunity to visit the Mercato, the largest open air market in Africa, and drive up Mount Entoto for panoramic views over the city. As Ethiopia is the birth place of coffee, do try to experience a typical Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony at some stage during your stay.
Day 12
At leisure to relax at your hotel in Addis Ababa with the use of a day room.
 
In the evening enjoy an included Cultural Dinner at a traditional Ethiopian restaurant with local music, folk dancing and a variety of local food.
 
Afterwards transfer to Addis Ababa Airport for your flight home.
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