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17 Days Northern & Eastern Combined(ovet#61)

17 Days Northern & Eastern Combined(ovet#61)

Addis Ababa
Day 1: Arrival in Addis Ababa and City Tour

Upon arrival at Bole International Airport, you will be met by a Welcome Ethiopia Tours representative and be taken to your reserved hotel. Depending on your arrival time, we have various sightseeing options:

  • Entoto Park – Has the best views over the capital.
  • Institute of Ethiopian Studies, where you can see a variety of artifacts from all the different regions reflecting the history and culture of the country
  • National Museum which among other exhibits the 3.5-million-year-old bones of Lucy.
  • George Cathedral, where paintings by the famous Ethiopian artist Afework Tekele and other ecclesiastical wealth and cultural heritage of the past are displayed.
  • Trinity Cathedral: this is the burial place of members of the imperial family and noted patriots; the cathedral is the most magnificent of its kind in the country, ornamented with carvings, mosaics and other artistic works.
  • The Mercato, the largest open-air market in Africa
  • Unity Park – The Castle of Ethiopia

Day 2: Addis Ababa – Entoto Mountain – Debre Libanos (120 km)

After breakfast, we cross the Entoto mountain, with the best views over the capital Addis Ababa. We continue towards North crossing the plains of Sululta until reaching Debre Libanos (approx. 3 hrs.). Debre Libanos hosts one of Ethiopia’s most important monasteries with an interesting adjacent museum exhibiting numerous antique treasures of the Ethiopian-orthodox church.
After lunch, we will take a pleasant walk to the so-called “Portuguese Bridge”, with great views over the canyon. Some historians are of the opinion that the bridge is from the 16th century when the Portuguese invaded Ethiopia for a short time, others think it was built by Emperor Menelik’s uncle in the 19th century. After crossing the bridge, we will have a view of a 60m high waterfall. Moreover, we should encounter here the endemic Gelada Baboons and a variety of bird species (particularly raptors).

Lake Tana, Bahir Dar
Day 3: Debre Libanos – Bahir Dar (450 km)

Morning / Afternoon:
Today we drive from Debre Libanos to Bahir Dar (approx. 9 hrs.). We drive through the peaceful farmlands of Fogera and Gojam with many beautiful sceneries. We will also cross the Blue Nile Gorge, an impressive canyon. We will reach Bahir Dar in the late afternoon, just in time to enjoy the sunset over Lake Tana from the viewpoint on Bezawit Hill, where a former palace of Haile Selassie may still be seen.

Blue Nile Falls, Ethiopia
Day 4: Full Day in Bahir Dar

Morning: Boat trip on Lake Tana
We undertake a boat trip on Lake Tana to explore the nearby monastery of Ura Kidane Mihret on the Zege peninsula, known for its 14th century, round, grass-roofed churches and their magnificent wall murals, the Azoa Mariam and Ura Kidane Mihret churches. Its architectural styles with mud plastered round walls and a conical thatched roof are typical examples of ancient Ethiopian orthodox churches. The monastery is found hidden in the mangroves forest of the Zege peninsula. Ura is especially well known for its fine frescoes, manuscripts, ecclesial objects, such as the crown of various emperors dating from the 14th century, gold and silver processional crosses, silver drums, and royal vestments. On our walk, through the densely-forested area, we hope to encounter monkeys and abundant birdlife. On the lake, you will also have a chance to see hippos and more wildlife.
Afternoon: Visit the Blue Nile Falls
After lunch, we will visit the magnificent Blue Nile Falls. The water plunges here for 45m (148ft). It is about 35km/1hour drive from town. In the later afternoon, we drive back to Bahir Dar and discover the market, where you may purchase handicrafts like jewelry, woven and embroidered garments, ox-horn cups, or grass baskets (Agelgil), for which Bahir Dar is well known, or simply watch the indigenous culture of the local community.

Gondar, Ethiopia
Day 5: Bahir Dar – Gondar (170 km)

After breakfast we drive to Gondar, a 17th century royal city of Ethiopia, affluent in the imperial structure of a Castle Compound and the spectacularly painted Debre Birhan Selassie Church.
After lunch, we visit the royal enclosures of Fassil Ghibe and all the castles of the Gonderian emperors as well as the famous Debre Berhan Selassie Church, which is completely covered in murals, with the angels’ faces on the wooden ceiling that have become a trademark of Ethiopian art and design.

Simien Mountains, Ethiopia
Day 6: Gondar – Simien Mountains National Park – Debark (120 km)

Morning /Afternoon:
Early in the morning, we continue our journey to the Simien Mountains National Park auf. We will reach the Simien Lodge, the highest lodge of Africa in the park around noon. After lunch, we start exploring the Simien Mountains, National Park. Due to its unique landscape and its endemic fauna the park has been declared a UNESCO world nature heritage site in 1996. In the park, you may experience very close interaction with the friendly Gelada Baboons. We drive up to Sankaber (3’220m) and admire the impressive scenery with its deep gorges and valleys and the highest waterfall in Ethiopia. Here a gentle walk would take us about 2 hours. We hope to encounter further endemic animals, such as the Walia Ibex and the Simien fox. In the late afternoon, we will return to Debark, where we will spend the night.

Simien Mountain National Park, Ethiopia
Day 7:  Debark – Axum (244 km)

After breakfast, we continue to Axum (approx. 7hrs.) with once again stunning views. Axum at an altitude of 1637m is considered a holy city in Ethiopia where Christianity had begun, dating back over 2000 years. The Axumite kingdom is considered the cradle of Ethiopian civilization.

Axum, Ethiopia
Day 8: Full day in Axum

The city tour of Axum includes Axum stelae or obelisks, the largest single piece of stone erected by human beings anywhere in the world, castles of former monarchs, Mariam Tsion Church which is built on the site of Ethiopia’s first church, the Palace of Queen Sheba, the inscriptions King Ezana’s and the tombs of the kings Kaleb and Gabre Meskel.

Gheralta Mountains, Tigray
Day 9: Axum – Yeha – Mekelle (250 km)

Morning: After breakfast, we will visit the temple of Yeha (approx. 50km / 1 hour.). The way passes through Adwa, where in 1896 the famous battle between the Ethiopians and Italians took place. Yeha was a pre-axumite settlement and is famous for its well-preserved stone temple with 12 m high walls estimated to be 2‘500 years old. 

Afternoon: After lunch, we continue to Mekelle (approx. 3 hrs..). On the way, we will visit the famous rock-hewn churches of Wukro Cherkos and Abreha We Atsbeha.

Lalibela, Ethiopia
Day 10: Mekelle – Lalibela (400 km)

Morning / Afternoon:
Today we continue our drive through ever changing landscapes to Lalibela (approx. 8 hours). We will reach Lalibela in the late afternoon

Church Ceremony, Lalibela
Day 11: Full Day in Lalibela

We will visit the 11-renowned rock-hewn churches of Lalibela, also known as the “8th wonder of the world”. The Lalibela rock-hewn churches are physically carved from the rock on which they stand. These towering edifices seem to be a superhuman creation in scale, workmanship, and concept. Some are sculptured out of the solid volcanic rock, others are connected by a long underground tunnel and mazes. Some are quarried enlargements of caves. The first group of six churches lies in rock cradles, one behind the other: Bet Golgotha, Bet Mikeal, Bet Mariam, Bet Maskel, Bet Dangal, and Bet Medhanealem. Bet Medhanealem, the largest rock-hewn church in the world is built like a Greek temple.
Afternoon: After lunch, we will visit the second group of churches located to the south of the river Jordan. The second group comprises Bet Giyorgis, possibly the most elegant of all the Lalibela churches. Bet Giyorgis lies somewhat isolated to the southwestern part of the village on a slopping rock terrace and can only be reached through a tunnel. The group of four churches, south of the river Jordan river, comprises Bet Emanuel, Bet Mercurios, Bet Aba Libanos, and Bet Gabriel and Rufeal. Bet Emanuel’s elaborated exterior has been much praised by international art historians.

Bati Market, Ethiopia
Day 12: Lalibela – Dessie (289 km)

Morning /Afternoon:
Early in the morning, we will visit the interesting cave monastery of Ne’akuto Le’ab outside of Lalibela, before we continue our journey to Dessie. Shortly before Dessie we may stop at lake Hayk. Located in lush, green nature, Lake Hayk is not only known for its diverse bird life but also its monastery on the Western shore (accessible for men only).

Doho Lodge, Ethiopia
Day 13: Dessie – Bati Market– Aledeghi National Park (400 km)

After breakfast, we drive to Bati and visit the second largest market in Ethiopia (after the Mercato in Addis Ababa). Like Senbete market Bati is frequented by several ethnic groups, turning it into an extremely colourful place. The market is huge and chaotic and covers an entire hillside. Bati is with no doubt among the most interesting markets in whole Africa.
After Bati we soon leave the highlands as the road winds down towards East into the hot and seemingly endless savanna. The thermometer climbs here quickly above 30 degrees. In the late afternoon, we will reach Doho Lodge close to the Aledeghi National Park. Here we have the opportunity to spot a great variety of birds and mammals (including lions) in the savanna as well as hippos living at the nearby lake. The fantastic hot springs are another highlight of the lodge.

Aledeghi National Park, Ethiopia

Day 14:  Aledeghi National Park – Awash National Park (67 km)

Early in the morning, we drive through the open grassland of the Aledeghi National Park, where we can observe a great variety of mammals and birds, amongst them gazelles, gerenuk, oryx, zebras, kudus, warthogs, ostriches. There are also lions, leopards and cheetahs. However, you need to be very lucky to see predators
We drive to the Awash National Park and will reach the Awash Falls Lodge located next to the Awash Falls for lunch. We have the opportunity to spot a great variety of birds and mammals in the savanna as well as crocodiles living at the Awash river. We will enjoy an impressive sunset over the Awash river gorge.

Hyena Feeding, Harar
Day 15: Awash National Park – Harar (328 km)

Morning / Afternoon:
After our morning game drive, we depart for Harar (8 hrs), stopping at Avadai, Ethiopia’s biggest Khat market, and Dire Dawa. In the evening, you will see the “Hyena Man” feeding the hyenas that gather nightly outside the town. With a little courage, you may of course also feed the hyenas yourself!

Harar, Ethiopia
Day 16: Full Day in Harar

Today we discover the 16th century walled city of Harar, the fourth most important city in the Islamic World and a UNESCO world heritage site. It feels as if time has stood still here. We will visit the home of Arthur Rimbaud, the renowned French poet who lived in Harar, the National and Harari museums; the house of Ras Mekonnen (the father of Haile Selassie); traditional Harari homes, the market and many more interesting places.

Day 17: Harar – Dire Dawa – Addis Ababa (flight)

Morning / Afternoon:
We take the flight at noon back to Addis. A day room will be provided. You will have time for sightseeing and/or shopping.
You will be invited to a memorable farewell dinner in one of Addis Ababa’s traditional restaurant with cultural songs, dances and traditional food. You will then be transferred to Bole International Airport for departure or be transferred to your reserved hotel if you continue your stay in Ethiopia

This itinerary is flexible, and will likely change depending on your choice and schedule


Accommodation as per the program based on twin or double room

All transfer in and transfer out services

Ground transportation

Local guides and Scout If needed

All entrance fees as per the program

Internal flight tickets

Breakfast, lunch & Dinner


Any alcoholic drinks

Any videography or camera fees if needed

Any personal expenses like internet, telephone, fax

Services that are not mentioned in the included section