Rondreis North Ethiopia - Tour North & South Ethiopia

Highlights Ethiopia North and South

During this individual tour you will explore both the historical north and cultural south

Day 1 – Arrival in Addis Abeba

Up on arrival in Addis Ababa, you will be met by YTT representative and transferred to your hotel.

Addis Ababa meaning new flower founded on 1886 by King Menelik and Queen Taitu. It is the third highest capital in the world on altitude of 2300- 2500 m. the city is a home to different attractions including the National archeological Museum where Lucy is found. Addis Ababa also serves as the head quarter of African Union.

Day 2 – Lake Tana churches & Bahir Dar

Today you will will make a boat trip on Lake Tana Covering over 3500sq km which is Ethiopia’s largest lake and is famous as the home of the medival-19th century monasteries and churches, established on some 20 of its 37 islands. Most churches in the monasteries have interesting paintings and contain a collection of beautiful old manuscripts. You visit the 16th century circular Ura Kidane Mihret Church on Zege Peninsula which is one of the most beautiful Churches of Tana region, the walls covered with 100 – 250 years old colourful mural paintings. Hereafter the boat brings you to one of the other nearby churches. In the right season you can spot birds and hippo's at the Blue Nile side of the lake.

Day 3 – Blue Nile Falls & drive to Gondar

About 35Kms outside Bahir Dar you find Tis Isat (smoking of fire) waterfall of the Blue Nile. This used to be one of the most spectacular falls in Africa, Since a dam has been built upstream, the waterfall is reduced, but it is still impressive, certainly around rainy season. Also the walk to the waterfall is nice and you can enjoy nature and watch birds. Keep an eye out for parrots, bee-eaters, lovebirds and turacos. You can see vervet monkeys as well.

Day 4 – Visit the royal Gondar

In Gondar visit the Royal Enclosure that is surrounded by high stone walls containing the ruins of 17th century palaces of king Fasiladas and his successors. The buildings are a mixture of Ethiopian, European and probably also Indian styles. According to descriptions of 17th century travellers, the interior of the castle was extremely luxurious, decorated with gold, ivory and precious stones. Hereafter visit Fasiladas’ Bath, which is built in the same style. It’s peaceful, shady and beautiful spot, and well worth a visit. The ancient bath is filled with water for the important Timket (epiphany) ceremony once a year. And also visit Debre Birhan Sillasie Church meaning Trinity at the Mount of Light. It has rectangular structure and ceilings are decorated with beautiful winged angels and walls with impressive biblical scenes.

Day 5 – Drive to Semien Mountains National Park

Drive to Debark through scenic landscape, passing the wonderful viewpoint of Kosoye. On arrival in Debark you first visit the Office of the Semien Mountains NP headquarter to buy tickets and to arrange a scout and local guide (which is obliged) and after check-in and a nice lunch you drive into the mountains. You will make a hike throughout the park in the afternoon. You can start a walk along a track which brings you to the edge of the Michibi escarpment where the panorama makes you feel on top of the world. When you have walked long enough) you can follow the track back to the road where the land cruiser waits for you to bring you to a place where a big troop of Gelada baboons can be observed. You can choose to walk 1.5 up to 3 hours in Semien Mountains National Park.

Day 6 – Drive to Axum and visit the archeological sites

Axum is a town full of impressive monument that testifies of the rich and glorious past of the mighty Kingdom of Axum (1-700 A.D.). And the town also recorded in UNESCO lists as a World Heritage Site. Within this 2 days visit Axum’s famous app. 2000 years old stellae. They are striking for their huge size, their incredible pristine and sculpted from single pieces of granite to look like multi storied buildings of which the biggest is the Great stellae measuring a massive 33m. It is believed to be the largest single blocks of stone that humans have ever attempted to erect. This stellae has fallen down and lies broken in different pieces on the ground. The biggest still standing stellae measures 23 m.

Day 7 – Tigray region: landscapes and rockhewn churches

Along the way between Mekele and Axum you find dramatic landscapes in the Tigray region. This preserves more than 100 rock-hewn churches. This will depend on your own interests and your walking condition. Our drivers can help you with a selection.

Day 8 & 9 – Lalibela - northern rockhewn churches

On day 8 you have a long driving day to Lalibela. Along the road you can stop in some villages. In the evening you can enjoy the local night life!
On day 9 you will visit the magnificent history in Lalibela, UNESCO world heritage. You start with the first group of the churches: the northern part. It consists of six churches including Bet Medhane Alem, the largest of all the Lalibela churches, taking the form of a Greek temple. A few minutes’ walk is Bet Maryam, dedicated to Mary. It has a deep bath in the courtyard, that is said to have miraculous properties. Other churches in this group are Bet Meskal, Bet Danaghel, and the inter-connected churches of Bet Golgotha and Bet Mika’el with the Sillasie Chapel and the Tomb of Adam, form the most mysterious complex in Lalibela.

Day 9 – Lalibela - southern rockhewn churches

In the southern group of churches there are four churches including Bet Amanuel the finest of the group, its elaborate exterior is much praised by art historians. Bet Merkoriois, is thought to have originally served a secular purpose. Perhaps it was used as a house of justice. Bet Abba Libanos, which is separated from the surrounding land on only three sides, is a structure of great charm, and a good example of a cave church. And the last but not the least is Bet Gabriel-Rufael. And last but not least visit the isolated but the remarkable church of Bet Giyorigs, possibly the most elegant of all the Lalibela structures. If you have time left, you can make a walk to a farmer house to visit the local people.

Day 10 – Fly to Addis Ababa

Today you fly from Lalibela to Addis Abeba around noon. If you like, you could make a city tour to one of these musea: National Museum, which comprises of many archaeological and historical findings including the famous complete hominid fossil remain of Lucy. Visiting this museum means having a good summary for your visit to the historic Ethiopia. Ethnological museum: It is found in the main campus of the Addis Ababa University by the institute of the Ethiopian studies with the aim to preserve the country’s historical and cultural heritages. It has complete collections that describe almost all the tribal groups in Ethiopia. Here you will have an overview about history, culture and traditions of the Ethiopian people. The collections include the nomadic tribal groups that are now living just as man’s forefather lived thousands years ago.

Addis Abeba

Further we visit the following places on our general city tour. Holy Trinity Cathedral: A beautiful church with baroque style of European architecture which is unique to both Ethiopia and Africa and is dedicated to the Holy Trinity. Here you will find the tombs of the emperor Haile Silassie I and his wife.
Mount Entoto is the highest peak in Addis with an altitude of 3200meteres, which was the site for the first palace of Emperor Menelik II, the founder of Addis Ababa. Here there is historical St. Mary church & Museum and you will admire the panoramic view of the city with its surrounding forests with its breath taking air.
Merkato is the largest open air market in Africa. Here you will see the vast range of good and artefacts available from all parts of the country and you will enjoy the Ethiopian trade exchange traditions in the open air, you can purchase anything you desire here.

Day 11 – Drive to Arba Minch

Early morning drive to Arba Minch. Along the way you will visit the Tiya stellae field with its 600 years old stellae (a UNESCO world heritage site) and if open the Melka Konture archaeological site (Optional) near the Awash river. Here you can see hundreds of Stone Age tools, fossils and remains of animals and people. There is a small, interesting museum and you can visit also one of the sites where is shown how the field work is done. Late afternoon you will arrive in Arba Minch, where you can enjoy a lovely evening.

Day 12 – Dorse & Lake Chamo

Around Arba Minch you can visit Lake Chamo, part of Nech Sar National Park, and the mountain villages Dorse and Chencha.
Start with a half day trip on Lake Chamo. You will cross the lake and see different water birds, crocodiles and hippo’s. Enjoy the views! Visiting the Dorse people is also a half day trip. You drive into the mountains outside Arba Minch in an hour. The Dorse are renowned for their remarkable bee hive shaped huts entirely constructed from organic material. The Dorse are a small omotic speaking ethnic group, whose territory has a cold misty weather and year round moist climate. Visit a family compound of the Dorse people. The family can tell you about their life style and culture and the housewife shows you how their basic food is prepared from the stem of the enset tree. If possible, visit a local markets or make a walk in the mountains.

Day 13 – Konso & surroundings

The Konso is one of the tribes that are famous for their Agro-pastoral way of living. Their terracing systems in agriculture are protected under UNESCO heritage. The Konso people are very friendly with a clear understanding that the youth has the future, as they have a children’s parliament within the tradition of decision making.
You can make a cultural trekking through the beautiful terraced hills of the Konso people. In different traditional villages you can see the potters, weavers and blacksmith at work and try these different handicrafts yourself. If you want to see many “Waka’s” (wooden grave monuments” you can visit the cultural museum as well.
And you can visit the natural phenomena “New York", which are huge sand pillars carved out by erosion. Nearby you can visit the traditional village of the Konso King who lives there only with his own family, if he's at home.

Day 14 – Drive to Turmi

A couple of hours drive on an asphalt and gravel road will get us to the main settlement of the Hamer people. In common with the other people of south Omo the Hamer are semi nomadic pastoralists by tradition and take a great pride in the size of their cattle herd. They have an eclectic selection of body decorations. Especially the women are attractive with their hair styles, leather skirts decorated with cowries and copper bracelets fixed tightly around their arms.
Today you will head to Turmi the main town of the Hammer people. In the afternoon you make a walking trip with a local guide to more remote Hamer villages. Visit the people in their houses to chat with them and learn about their daily life.

Day 15 – Daytrip to Omorate

Today you make an excursion trip to Omorate which is found east of the Omo River. In Omorate there is a daily market and it is interesting to make a walk in the small town or to sit for a while at the shores of Omo River where the local Dassanech people cross the river by traditional wooden canoe or bring their cattle down to the river to drink. You can cross Omo River by the same canoe and walk 2 to the nearby Dassenech tribal village.

Day 16 – Visit museum and Ari tribe or the Mursi tribe

Today you drive from Turmi to Jinka in about 2-3 hours. It is great when you can visit one of the markets in this area. On Saterday and Tuesday in Dimeka; on Thursday in Key Afar and on Saturday in Jinka. A lot of tribes of South Omo will come together at these markets. It is a very nice atmosphere, where it is easy to mingle with the different communities. You can also visit the Jinka museum, where you find all about the backgrounds of the Omo Valley tribes. And around jinka you find the Ari tribe, a more modern tribe, living from farming.

Day 16 – Visit museum and Ari tribe or the Mursi tribe

Drive early morning in about 2-3 hours through Mago National Park to the hot and dry area of Mursi people and spend some time together with the Mursi people in their village to experience a little bit of their daily life. The Mursi people are known for their extravagant way of dressing up for pictures. Spending some time without camera is a better experience here. Mursi tribe are hunters and gatherers and their life has been the same for centuries. The culture of this tribe is very different from the other ethnic groups in Omo Valley and being a guest at the Mursi village is a special experience. Mursi have a special sense of humor and being relaxed is the best way to go about things that are happening, all in all they are friendly people with a different view on life and existence.

Day 17 & 18 - Via the Rift Valley to Yirgalem

In the morning you will visit the Saturday market in Jinka, where almost all the tribes of South Omo will come together. It is a very nice atmosphere at this market, where it is easy to mingle with the different communities.

If there is enough time you can also visit the Jinka museum if you were not able to do that on Friday.
After this you will be transferred from the Lodge to the airport by the shuttle and fly back to Addis Ababa. In the evening you will fly back to Nice.

Day 19 - Via Lake Langano to Addis Abeba

We will wake up to have a nice breakfast and continue our road back to Addis Ababa.
We will reach to Lake Langano where you can have a relaxing swim in the rift valley lake after two weeks of a dusty trips. Lake Langano is the only lake in Ethiopia where it is possible to swim in a safe way. There are no big animals or small ones like bilharzia.
After this short break we will continue our road to Addis Ababa.