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Highlights of Northern Ethiopia

Addis, Lake Tana, Gondar, Simiens, Axum & Lalibela

Uncover Ethiopia's classic northern circuit, exploring medieval castles and churches, awe-inspiring landscapes and a culture largely untouched by time. Explore Lake Tana, Gondar, Simien Mountains, Axum and Lalibela on this remarkable private adventure.

At a Glance

  • See all the major highlights of Northern Ethiopia from Lake Tana, Gondar, Simiens, Axum and Lalibela

  • Have a permanent English-speaking escort with you throughout

  • Have a blend of experiences from exploring medieval castles and churches to getting out and about on day walks in the Simien Mountains or the Blue Nile Falls

  • Although hotels in Ethiopia aren't much to write home about, stay in the best available

Couples, Culture, Adventure, Eco/ethical tourism

We design each itinerary around you, so this suggested itinerary is a starting point that we can tweak or transform into something completely bespoke to you. Call us on 858 523 9000 to start planning your vacation.

Description

Ethiopia is extremely diverse and you will experience a balanced blend of history, culture and stunning landscapes. Ethiopia always has the knack of exceeding your expectations in terms of the overall experience, even though the quality of the accommodation and general infrastructure is still in its infancy. This however is its beguiling charm; you simply have to visit Ethiopia before the modern world catches up.

This private tour includes a personal English speaking guide who accompanies you throughout, and all experiences, tours and activities are included. We have included the best hotels and lodges in each location, but as we said before, don't expect too much, as Ethiopia is far more about what you see and experience in the day than where you stay at night. Just sit back and let the magic of Ethiopia unfold in front of you because this will be an adventure you will not forget. We can of course tailor any element of this itinerary, you might want to spend more time exploring the history and culture of Ethiopia, or possibly want more time in the countryside exploring the wildlife and scenery. This itinerary is only a starting point, so read on and we'll take you through the highlights.

Begin in Addis Ababa, a melting pot of different cultures and traditions. It is worth seeing the major churches (St George's and Holy Trinity), but what we love is exploring Mercato which is the main market district of Addis. Wander past spice stalls and through the metal quarter, seeing a range of wares being traded and haggled over. Maybe stop for a traditional Ethiopian coffee before hitting the Archaeological Museum and Ethnological Museum. It might be worth finishing off your day by heading up to Mt Entoto which has superb panoramic views over Addis.

Next, fly to Bahir Dar and stay on Lake Tana. Interestingly enough, the area is well known for producing flowers with its roses exported all over the world. Drive out to Tissisat, or the Blue Nile Falls which is accessed by a short hour-long walk through the countryside, seeing the colorful local Ethiopian life along the way. Another superb experience is exploring the island monasteries of Lake Tana as well at wandering through the local market.

Drive to Gondar (which takes around 3-hours), is said to be Africa's Camelot, and home to a patchwork of castles, high stone walls and medieval buildings. At the center of the town you will discover the Royal Enclosure (Fasil Ghebbi) built by the 17th century Emperor Fasiladas who made Gondar his capital in 1636. Soak up the stories of old, and hear about how Gondar was the meeting point of different caravan routes trading to all parts of Africa. You can just imagine the wealth that poured into Gondar and resulted in these fabulous buildings, and it’s hard not to conjure up images of decadent banquets and regal pageantry in the heyday of Gondar.

After your history fix, it is worth heading into the fresh air of the Simien Mountains, famed for its superb views and wildlife. Stay at the new Limalimo Lodge with its spell-binding views over dramatic landscapes. Take a day walk into the park and possibly spot the walia ibex, gelada baboon, Ethiopian wolf and a diverse array of bird life.

Continue by car to Axum which was the base of the Aksumite Empire who controlled a vast swath of Africa from around 200BC to 700AD. Once home to the Queen of Sheba, Axum is another fascinating stop on a tour of Ethiopia. Explore its 1,700 year old rock stelae and dip into the Mariam Tsion Cathedral, said to house the Ark of the Covenant.

Fly to Lalibela to explore its amazing 13th century rock-hewn churches. To many, it is a highlight of their tour to Ethiopia, and you can see as many of the churches as you wish, or just see a selection. We would absolutely suggest seeing the Church of St George, and then splitting your time between seeing the Northern and Eastern group of churches. These churches are not simply a legacy of times of old, as today many Ethiopians come from far and wide to worship in them, and this in itself is a remarkable and moving experience. See white-clad priests, monks and nuns shuffle into the churches, simply reinforcing the sense that Ethiopia still retains its unique spirituality and traditions to this day.

Jump onto your Ethiopian Airways flight back to Addis for a night and then return home, no doubt full of stories about your adventure through Ethiopia. We can of course add on further elements to your itinerary, maybe finishing in the Bale Mountains for instance.

Itinerary

Stay

Location/route

Overnight

HIDE IMAGES
Fly to Addis Ababa
2 nights

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Radisson Blu Hotel Addis Ababa
2 nights

Fly to Bahir Dar

Kuriftu Resort and Spa
1 night

Drive to Gondar

Mayleko Lodge
2 nights

Drive to Simien Mountains

Limalimo Lodge
2 nights

Drive to Axum

Sabean International Hotel
2 nights

Fly to Lalibela

Tukul Village Hotel
1 night

Fly to Addis Ababa

Radisson Blu Hotel Addis Ababa
Fly Home

Location & Directions

Addis, Lake Tana, Gondar, Simiens, Axum & Lalibela

When to go

The best time to visit Ethiopia is from mid to late October until May. During this time the highlands are ideal for hiking especially after the rainy season has just finished as the landscape bursts into life.

Due to the high altitude of the country in comparison to its location conditions get quite cool at night. Temperatures generally can reach above 30°C in lowland areas, whereas the highland temperature can dip below 20°C. Addis Ababa has a relatively even temperature year-round.

Best time to Visit

Good time to visit

Average time to visit

We design each itinerary around you, so this suggested itinerary is a starting point that we can tweak or transform into something completely bespoke to you. Call us on 858 523 9000 to start planning your vacation.

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