Exploring the city of Gondar and the ancient castles
Explore the wonders of the Semien Mountains National park Claming Ras Dashen – the highest pick in Ethiopia.
Visit and be a guest in one of the villagers’ house in the park.
Admire the extra ordinary landscapes in the park.
Visiting the ancient city of Axum.
Experience the unique Rock – Hewn churches of lalibela
This package tour is designed for the best of the Semien Mountains trekking tour as well as for experiencing the most fascinating history of Northern Ethiopia. The Semien Mountains of Ethiopia offer superb wilderness trekking with stunning scenery, dramatic cliffs and escarpments and the chance to spot unique wildlife such as the Walia Ibex and Semien Fox.
The Semien Mountain range is one of Africa’s largest and many of its peaks rise above 4000m. The highest point here (and in the whole of Ethiopia) is Mount Ras Dashen (4,620m), the fourth highest on the continent. These mountains are best enjoyed on foot with mules. On our historical attraction sites, we will see and experience the ancient monasteries of Lake Tana and proceed to exploring the castle of Gondar and Debre Birhan Sellassie church paintings and architectural styles. Axum and lalibela are also incorporated in this package tour for the complete sightseeing tour of historical treasures of northern Ethiopia.
ADDIS ABABA ARRIVAL AND CITY TOUR On arrival in Addis Ababa, you will be met at the airport and transferred to the hotel. Addis was founded in 1886 by Menelik II, and situated at an elevation of around 2438m which makes the third highest capital city in the world. Addis Ababa enjoys an excellent climate all year round, with an average temperature of 25°C. we will start our site-seeing by National museum which houses some of the country’s historic treasures. The collection of fossils and bones of early hominids discovered in Ethiopia include the 3.5 million-year-old remains of ‘Lucy’, the oldest hominid ever found. Proceed to visit the two major highlights of the city, the Ethnographic Museum and the church of the Holy Trinity, Ethiopia’s main cathedral and home to the remains of the last emperor, Haile Selassie.
FLY TO BAHIR DAR Today we fly north to Bahar Dar, capital of the Amhara region situated on the shores of Lake Tana, the largest lake in the country. Bahir Dar is one of the best well-planned cities in Ethiopia. This morning we take a boat trip on the lake to learn the secrets held by the monasteries and churches on the islands. We will visit Ura Kidane Mihret church on Zeghie peninsula. Under the thatched roof are some distinctive colorful paintings of religious scenes, and an impressive display of illuminated bibles written in Ge’ez, the religious language from which Amharic is derived. In the afternoon we will visit Tississat Falls, Amharic for ‘water that smokes’ located about 32km south of Bahar Dar. Due to a nearby hydro electrical power scheme, the waterfalls can no longer be guaranteed to be in full force.
DRIVE TO GONDAR (UNSCO – WORLD HERITAGE SITE) This morning we drive for the 3-31/2 hour (185km) north to Gondar, the former capital of Ethiopia. Gondar has now become one of Ethiopia’s largest and most impressive cities, with its walled Royal Enclosure. Gondar’s most famous monuments are its exceptionally well preserved 17th-century castles. The largest and best is that of King Fasilidas. It is a stone-built construction with round turrets and wooden balconies. The king also built a remarkable bath a mile or so outside of town known as the ‘Pavilion of Delight’. The Bathhouse of Fasil at which thousands of Ethiopians celebrate Timkat festival every January. This whole complex of buildings is unique in Ethiopia and unlike anything found elsewhere in Africa. This afternoon we’ll also make a visit to the Debre Birhan Selassie church (Light of Trinity) with its sensational angelic ceiling and mural.
DRIVE TO SIMIEN MOUNTAINS (UNSCO – WORLD HERITAGE SITE) This morning we drive from Gondar to Debark, to start our 10-day trek in the Simien Mountains National Park. En route we’ll stop for picnic lunch on the escarpment, admiring the wonderful views of the highest chain in Africa – hopefully, we will get to see Lammergeyer vultures, Gelada Baboons, and bushbuck. After lunch, we’ll take a short introductory trek to Sankaber Campsite through the breathtaking beauty of these mountains and via Buyit Ras. Our days in the Simiens will be spent walking between the altitudes of 3500m & 4000m.Overnight in Camp at Sankaber.
TREK TO GEECH At Sankabar we pack up our gear and meet our muleteers before commencing the trek to Geech. After about 1 and a half hours walk we see and cross the Jinnbar River and falls( particularly the falls impressive after the rainy season). After crossing the river, we travel along the escarpment before dropping down to get views of the spectacular Geech Abyss. The scenery is wonderful, and heard of the endemic Gelada Baboon can be seen on our way. Overnight Camp at Geech Campsite (3600m).
TREK TO IMETGOGO A spectacular day – in the morning we walk to Imetgogo (3,926m). Situated at the end of a long ridge, which disappears on either side to the lowlands below, there are outstanding views of the gorge and mountain range. It is possible to see a vast expanse of lowlands and gain some perspective of this incredible mountain range. After a short stay here continues to walk to Seha, the other terrific viewpoint in the National park. We will have our picnic lunch and we continue to the last viewpoint, Quedadit. After some stay, we walk back to Geech campsite. The most common animal in this area is the gelada baboon, unique to Ethiopia. Klipspringers and grey duikers may also be seen in this area but it is usually only a glimpse as they nimbly spring across the rock face. If we are lucky we might have the chance to see mammals like the Simien wolf and Walia Ibex – an Ethiopia’s endemic species. We return to the same camp and enjoy an afternoon at rest. Overnight Camp at Geech.
TO CHENNEK We continue trekking the length of the escarpment to Chennek, which is bounded by a semi-circular ring of cliffs. After picnic lunch, we walk on the edge of Enatye escarpments (4000m. above sea level), which is another breathtaking view in the national park. These dramatic views continue all the way down to our camp at Chennek, which is the best place to see the endemic Waliya Ibex and more Gelada Baboon. Also noted for cliff-nesting birds of prey, in particular, the large and powerful Lammergeyer. These birds have a wingspan of almost 3 meters and are frequently seen performing aerial acrobatics above us. Overnight Camp at Chenek (3600m).
TREK TO AMBIQUO We walk to Ambiquo climbing Buhit (14530ft/4430m) Mountain the 2nd highest peak next to Ras Dashen in Semien Mountain ranges, giving excellent views over the whole area. A memorable and enjoyable walking but hard day’s trekking of ascents and descents. After refreshment at the summit of Buhit, we descend towards Chero Laba crossing the Mesheha River, we will reach Ambiquo and resting for the night here, before the big day on Ras Dashen.Overnight Camping at Ambiquo – (10496ft/3200m).
TO THE SUMMIT OF RAS DASHEN In the early morning start walking toward mount Ras Dashen and this trek will be probably the most challenging day of our trekking in the Semien. To reach the summit can take up to 6 hrs. You will head up the valley from campsite to the small village of Mizma, from where you will climb steeply upwards, eventually reaching an impressive amphitheater made up of three major buttresses of expanded rock, one of which is your goal, Ras Dashen, which is the fourth highest peak in Africa (14901ft/4543m). After taking in the impressive views descend to our campsite at Ambiko.Overnight Camping at Ambiko – (10496ft/3200m).
TREK BACK TO CHENEK We walk back to chenek and its campsite offers great views and let’s have again an opportunity to spot some Walia Ibex and Geladas in a near distance. Overnight Camping at Chenek.
DRIVE BACK TO GONDAR This morning after our morning breakfast, while we walk back, our car will be approaching us until the possible driven road to pick up us. We are likely to have a late lunch in Debark and in the late afternoon we will arrive in Gondar.
FLY TO AXUM (UNSCO – WORLD HERITAGE SITE) A short morning flight will take us to Axum. The city was the seat of the ancient capital of the Kingdom of Axum, which was once one of the most powerful in the ancient world. Located at the centre of the trading routes between the Mediterranean and India, and the great port of Adulis on the Red Sea, it was economically, politically and technically advanced and at times had control over both sides of the Red Sea. Axum is also the origin of Christianity in Ethiopia and believed to be the resting place of the Ark of the Covenant. The old church of St Mary of Zion was the first church to be built in Sub-Saharan Africa around 330AD. Its ruins can be seen in the precinct of the church compound. We visit the famous monolithic stelae of Axum, the tallest one still standing reaches over 21 metres and the greatest one of them all, once 34 metres high now lies toppled on the ground. However, it is still the largest monolith ever erected by man. The subterranean tombs, stone inscriptions of ancient Axumite kings and the small archaeological museum are also living witness of the ancient Axumite history. We will also visit the ruined palace of the Queen of Sheba who is said to have given birth to Menelik the First, fathered by King Solomon, the founder of Ethiopia’s ruling family until the late Emperor Haile Selassie.
FLY TO LALIBELA (UNSCO – WORLD HERITAGE SITE) We take a short flight to Lalibela and visit the first cluster of rock- hewn churches in the afternoon. Lalibela, the ‘New Jerusalem’, is thought to have been constructed some 800 years ago by King Lalibela. Lalibela was his capital city, but today it is a small village. Although churches carved in rock are found in other parts of the world, those found in Ethiopia are particularly interesting. Generally, they were excavated on all sides of a rectangle, leaving a large block of granite isolated in the centre. This rock was then shaped and formed both inside and out and the carvings show extremely skillful workmanship and they have been classified as one of the wonders of the world . Each church has a unique architectural style and superbly carved. There are 11 rock-cut churches of which the most impressive is Bet Giorgis. It is carved in the form of a Greek cross and it is exceptionally well preserved.
EXPLORE LALIBELA Today we will visit the church of Yimrhane Kristos. This exquisite church,a masterpiece of Axumit wood and stone construction is renowned for its interior decoration, it’s beautiful wooden coffer ceiling inlaid with hexagons and medallions with both figurative and geometric motifs. Drive back to Lalibela. In the afternoon, we will visit the remaining rock-hewn churches of Lalibela that include the churches of Bete Gabriel and Rafael, Merkorous, Emanuel and Abba Libanos. Bete Emanuel is the best in this group and exceptionally carved with unique Axumite building features, such as the indentations on the walls, symbols of the multi-storey building taken from the stelae of Axum, monkey heads and false windows.The rest of the day is spent absorbing the atmosphere of this extraordinary town with its Tukul or round houses.
FLY BACK TO ADDIS ABABA This day we will fly back to Addis. This afternoon is free for last minutes shopping and exploring the city. In the evening we will have a fare well dinner in one of the Ethiopian restaurants for traditional dinner and live stage dances from the different ethnic groups. Then transfer to the airport for your departure to Home or to your next destination.Tour End!
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