This 12-day programme combines an exploration of the main historical sites of Ethiopia’s rich past with a visit to the stunning Simien Mountains .

Early in the morning, we’ll depart north to Bahir Dar via Debre Markos . On the
way, we’ll visit the Portuguese Bridge , said to have been the first bridge in
Ethiopia. Afterwards, you will pass through the spectacular Blue Nile Gorge ,
which extends nearly 400km and reaches depths of up to 1500m.

Overnight in Bahir Dar (hotel).

We’ll take a boat trip on Lake Tana to visit a selection of the monasteries hidden on the islands and shores of this sacred lake. We’ll see the Zege Peninsula and the monasteries of Azuwa Maryam and Ura Kidane Mehret , as well as the island monastery of Debre Maryam near the outlet of the Blue Nile River .

In the afternoon, we’ll drive out to the Blue Nile Falls for a short hike in the area and finish our day with the breathtaking sunset over the lake.

Overnight in Bahir Dar (resort or hotel).

After breakfast, we continue north to Gondar . The four-hour drive will take you through rural villages , offering wonderful insight into the Amhara culture.

After briefly settling in our hotel, we’ll explore the sites of Gondar, including a visit to the Royal Enclosure. We’ll visit Fasilidas’ Pool, still used for Timket celebrations today, the Ras Gimb Palace Museum and the Debre Birhan Selassie church , with the most famous ceiling in Ethiopia.

Overnight in Gondar (hotel).

Today is an early morning departure to Sankober in The Simien Mountains , and
from here you will go for an easy hike to the Geech Abyss , where you will see a large waterfall as the Jinbar River plunges into the abyss. This area is also a great place for viewing the endemic gelada baboon , also known as the ‘Bleeding Heart Baboon’, after the red patch of skin on its chest.

Overnight in The Simien Mountains (lodge) or in Debark (hotel).

After breakfast, we’ll depart north for Axum , enjoying spectacular views of The Simien Mountains on the way . After stopping for lunch in Adi Arkay , we’ll proceed through the dramatic Tekeze Valley , which offers some of the best landscapes in the country. After this, we proceed to Axum , home of the ancient Axumite Empire , The Queen of Sheba , and The Ark of the Covenant .

Overnight in Axum (hotel).

Today will be a full day visiting the sites of Axum, including the famous obelisks (including one that was recently erected after being returned from Italy), the archeological museum, The Queen of Sheba’s Bath (which supplies water to Axum year-round), Ezana’s inscription , King Kaleb’s tomb , King Bazen’s tomb , and The Queen of Sheba’s Palace.

You can also visit the St. Mary of Zion church , where The Ark of the Covenant is kept. Although unfortunately, only men are permitted to enter the old church, and no one (except one specially chosen guardian monk ) is allowed to enter the chapel where The Ark is kept.

Overnight in Axum (hotel).

After breakfast, we’ll visit the ruins of Yeha , dating from the 8th to 5th centuries BC, and are thought to be the capital of Ethiopian civilization before Axum.

Afterwards, we’ll visit the Debre Damo monastery, where the men (unfortunately, no women are allowed) must climb up a 15m rope to enter.

Next we proceed through the state of Tigray , stopping on the way for a visit to
the rock-hewn church of Medhane Alem Adi Kesho .

Overnight in Hausein (hotel or lodge).

In the morning, we’ll hike to either Abuna Yemata Guh or Maryam Korkor. Both churches offer commanding views of the surrounding area. After lunch, we’ll continue our visit with the more easily-accessible churches of Abreha we Atsbeha and Chirkos , then back to Mek’ele.

Overnight in Mek’ele (hotel).

We depart early for a full day of driving to Lalibela . We’ll pass through several
small villages , with the typical sandstone homes of the Tigray people. We’ll
proceed through this rural area for the stunning approach to the home of
Ethiopia’s most prized destination, Lalibela.

Overnight in Lalibela (hotel).

In the morning, we’ll start our tour of the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela , the
most famous of all the Ethiopian historical sites. the rock-hewn churches of
Lalibela. In the morning, we’ll visit the Northwestern Cluster of churches: Bet
Medhane Alem , Bet Maryam , Bet Meskel , Bet Danaghel , Bet Mikael and Bet
Golgotha.

We’ll take lunch and then visit the Southeastern Cluster of churches : Bet
Gabriel-Rufael , Bet Merkorios , Bet Amanual, and Bet Abba Libanos . Finally, you will visit the most famous of all the churches, Bet Giyorgis , constructed in honor of the patron saint of Ethiopia, Saint George.

Overnight in Lalibela (hotel).

After breakfast, you’ll visit the nearby monastery of Na’akuto La’ab, set on the side of a cliff, before proceeding by car to Kombolcha via Woldia . On the way we will stop for a rest in Hayk where you can enjoy the views of this stunning lake, visit the local monastery (open for men only) and enjoy the varied birdlife.

Overnight in Kombolcha (hotel).

Return drive to Addis Ababa via Debre Birhan. On route, we’ll pass the Mezezo Escarpment , where we have a good chance to see gelada baboons again. If today is a Sunday, we can stop in the town of Senbete to visit the lively market, including an interesting ‘camel market’