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2by2 for holidays that will change your life
2by2 for holidays that will change your life
Call 01582 766122
Ethiopia Holidays Tours Omo Valley Lalibela Simien Mountains Bale Mountains Park

Holiday: Gorillas & Ethiopia - Lake Tana + Simien Mountains + Lalibela Churches

Ethiopia + Uganda: Gondar, Simien, Lalibela, Gorillas
YPK12A
12 NIGHTS
FROM £4,995
Per person sharing
International flights quoted separately
Holiday Gorillas Ethiopia Lake Tana Simien Mountains Lalibela Churches

This holiday combines gorillas with Ethiopia, to provide a fascinating contrast. Enjoy the cultural highlights of Ethiopia on this private tour, including the ancient monasteries on Lake Tana, endemic wildlife in the Simien Mountains, the palaces of Gondar & the rock-hewn Lalibela churches. Afterwards fly to Uganda to trek to see magnificent mountain gorillas. All transfers, gorilla permits & specified sightseeing included.

Holiday Gorillas Ethiopia Lake Tana Simien Mountains Lalibela Churches
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Holiday: Gorillas & Ethiopia
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Addis Ababa
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Lake Tana Monasteries
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Simien Mountains
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Gondar Palaces
• 
Lalibela Churches
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St Georges Church
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Gorillas of Uganda
• 
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
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Kigali
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Holiday: Gorillas & Ethiopia
• 
Addis Ababa
• 
Lake Tana Monasteries
• 
Simien Mountains
• 
Gondar Palaces
• 
Lalibela Churches
• 
St Georges Church
• 
Gorillas of Uganda
• 
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
• 
Kigali
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
A full day on the road today as we leave Bahir Dar and travel 6-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 4
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 lammergeyer (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 5
This morning we leave Simien Mountains National Park and drive 3-hours to Gondar.
 
This historic city was the 17th century capital of the Ethiopian Empire under Emperor Fasilides and also of the ancient Abyssinian Empire. Its rulers 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 the oldest and most magnificent Fasilides Castle, with its Royal Enclosure and Emperor Fasilides’ Pool. This is where the colourful Timket festival (Epiphany) is celebrated every January, when pilgrims still take a plunge.
 
We also visit the church of Quskuam Mariam, the residence of the Empress Mentewab 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 6
Transfer to Gondar 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 7
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 8
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 buildings 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 Archaeological Museum. This includes the fossil 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 birthplace of coffee, do try to experience a typical Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony at some stage during your stay.
Day 9
Transfer to Addis Ababa Airport for your onward flight.

You will be met at Kigali Airport and transferred to your hotel in this capital city that was originally founded as a German settlement in 1907 and later colonised by Belgium (hence French-speaking), before gaining independence.
 
Check in and relax in your warm African surroundings.
Day 10
This morning your guide will take you to the Genocide Memorial in Kigali to see the inspiring way in which Rwandans have recovered from this horrific chapter in their recent history.
 
We then travel 4.5-hours across the border into Uganda, to your lodge situated near the entrance to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest - home to over 50% of the world's population of critically endangered mountain gorillas, and also a sanctuary for colobus monkeys and chimpanzees.
 
Travel through the beautiful terraced hills and rapidly changing landscapes of Rwanda to the border with Uganda. After completing customs formalities, continue to the slopes of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest with its towering trees. This dense equatorial jungle is accessible only on foot and features one of the richest ecosystems in Africa, including 120 species of mammals, 350 bird species including hornbills and turacos, 220 butterfly species, 27 frog species as well as chameleons, geckos and many other endangered species. It also boasts over 1,000 different flowering plants, ferns & trees.
 
Check into your lodge and enjoy the beautiful scenery of your remote forest surroundings.
Day 11
This morning we enter Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park - home to half the world's population of critically endangered mountain gorillas, and also a sanctuary for colobus monkeys and chimpanzees.
 
This dense equatorial rainforest is accessible only on foot and features one of the richest ecosystems in Africa, including 120 species of mammals, 350 bird species including hornbills and turacos, 220 butterfly species, 27 frog species as well as chameleons, geckos and many other endangered species. It also boasts over 1,000 different floral species.
 
After walking (or driving up to 1.5-hours) to your specified gate, rangers will allocate you to a small group of up to 8 people - with each gorilla family graded as a short, medium or long hike, based on their location the previous day. We recommend you ask your guide to request the appropriate category for you, although this cannot be guaranteed as the gorillas may have moved significantly overnight.
 
After a briefing, you will then track a family of endangered Mountain Gorillas, accompanied by two rangers - one at the front and one at the back. The group will walk at the speed of the slowest member, so it is important to proceed at your own pace and enjoy the experience. We strongly recommend hiring a local porter at a cost of around $15 per person, as not only is this an important source of local employment, but they will carry your backpacks and give you a hand up (or a push) where necessary. Expect to walk 1 to 4-hours each way in steep, sometimes muddy and dense tropical jungle conditions to view a family of these enormous primates and observe their behaviour up close - a rare privilege indeed.
 
You must take a copy of your passport with you today, as this will be required to trek. You must be over the age of 15 years to track gorillas and be sufficiently fit to walk for the period indicated. Ensure you arrange a packed lunch with your lodge and carry sufficient water in your backpack (at least 2 litres). You should wear long trousers, long sleeved top, long socks (tucked into your trousers to keep out biting ants), proper walking boots and gardening gloves to protect your hands from nettles and undergrowth. Start off wearing a light fleece, as it is cold in the forest in the morning and pack proper rain gear, including a rain jacket and waterproof trousers, as it can rain at any time. A walking stick to help with the steep ascents will be provided if you don’t have your own.
 
You cannot be sick or have any infectious disease and no eating or drinking is permitted in the vicinity of the gorillas. Only one hour is allowed with the gorillas and you have to keep a distance of at least 7 metres. No flash photography is allowed and no touching the gorillas (although they may decide to touch you)!
Day 12
At leisure to relax and enjoy the natural beauty of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest with your guide.
 
It is possible to participate in another optional gorilla trek today, but this must be booked in advance as gorilla permits are strictly limited.
 
Other optional activities include a Community Village Walk where you can learn more about the local inhabitants, as well as meet the forest-dwelling Batwa pygmies. You can also enjoy a guided walk to a waterfall in the rainforest, where you can see endemic birds, butterflies and plants.
Day 13
Transfer 4.5-hours across the border into Rwanda and on to Kigali Airport for your flight home.