Heart of African Civilization Safari
Starting in Addis Ababa at the Hilton Hotel, the second day of this Ethiopian Safari begins with an early flight to Bahir Dar to explore the Blue Nile Falls and Ancient Monasteries surrounding Lake Tana. A road trip to Gondar will deliver you to Medieval Castles, Churches, drama, history, tradition and an Ethiopian feast. A full day trek into the Simien Mountain will reward you with incredible wildlife and scenery. The Safari continues on to the mysterious obelisks of Aksum, the Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion and the incredible Queen of Sheba bath. Hawzen in the northern Tigray is your first introduction to rock-hewn churches before you complete your safari with the most famous Church of St George at Lalibela.
A Safari to Ethiopia remains one of the more exclusive African journeys a traveler can take.
- Private city tour of Addis Ababa
- Lake Tana churches
- Boat trip on Lake Tana
- Blue Nile Falls
- Lalibela rock-hewn churches
- Gondar Castles
- Ancient Monasteries
- Endangered wildlife species
- Aksum Obelisks
- Ark of the Covenant
Itinerary at a Glance
Day 1 – Ethiopia Safari Tours
Welcome to Ethiopia. Arrive into the lively and colorful city of Addis Ababa and transfer to the hotel for dinner and overnight.
Bahir Dar, the Blue Nile Falls & Ancient Monasteries
After breakfast, our Ethiopia safari tours begin with you boarding a quick flight to Bahir Dar, home of the Blue Nile Falls and ancient monasteries on Lake Tana. Travel around Lake Tana by boat, visiting some of the monasteries and their beautiful tapestries and other Ethiopian art, said to have housed the Ark of the Covenant over the years. Swing by the Blue Nile Falls, arriving at the Avanti Blue Nile Hotel in time for dinner and overnight.
Gondar Castles, Medieval Castles, rich architecture
After breakfast, travel by road to Gondar. Enjoy the landscape and passing villages along the way. Gondar was the 17th Century capital of Ethiopia and is home to some spectacular Medieval Castles. Tour the city’s unique Imperial compound, built by various Emperors between 1632 and 1855. These dramatic Castles, unlike any other in Africa, display an architectural richness that reveals the Axumite traditions as well as the influence of Arabia. Next, visit the Fasilede bath, filled only once per year during the Timkat celebration, arriving at Mayleko Lodge in time for dinner and overnight.
Gondar and Church Tour
Today, begin to learn more about Ethiopian religious history. Visit the Debre Birhan Selassie Church. This one of the most beautiful churches in Ethiopia. Its walls depict biblical scenes while the ceiling is covered with painted images of angel’s faces, including the life of Christ, Mary, the saints and the martyrs. Tonight, enjoy a traditional Ethiopian feast including music and dancing.
Simien Mountains National Park
After breakfast, set out for the Simien Mountains, often called the Grand Canyon of Africa. Simien is home to Ras Dejen, the highest mountain in Ethiopia (4,533m) as well as some unique and endangered species of wildlife including baboons, monkeys, Walia Ibex, and the Ethiopian Wolf. Enjoy a scenic drive and bush lunch before arriving at Simien Lodge for dinner and overnight.
Simien Mountain Trek, Full Day Trek
After breakfast, set out on a full day trek in the Simien Mountains. Steep ascents lead to lush misty plateaus populated with giant lobelias – fleshy-leaved plants growing to 3m in height. Escarpment vistas are filled with sheer cliffs, plunging waterfalls, and rocky turrets spiking out from the forested valleys below. Enjoy the scenery and wildlife. Return to the lodge for dinner and overnight.
Ethiopia Safari Tours – Aksum Obelisks
On this next phase of our Ethiopia safari tours, set out by road for Aksum in the morning. Enjoy the scenery, stopping to take photos along the way. This afternoon, visit the mysterious obelisks of Aksum, also called stelae. These are known to be the tallest single pieces of stone ever quarried and erected in the ancient world. Their age and use is a complete mystery. Arrive at the Sabean Hotel for dinner and overnight.
Aksum and the Ark of the Covenant
After breakfast, visit the Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion, where Ethiopians believe the Ark of the Covenant to be held. Ethiopian Christians believe it arrived nearly 3,000 years ago and has been guarded by a succession of virgin monks who, once anointed, are forbidden to set foot outside the chapel grounds until they die. Later, visit the Queen of Sheba’s bath. Nobody is totally sure of its age, but it’s certainly been used as a water source for millennia. Its large size is even more impressive considering it’s hewn from solid rock. Tonight, enjoy another traditional Ethiopian feast before dinner and overnight.
Hawzen and Rock-Hewn Churches
After breakfast, drive to Hawzen in the northern Tigray region, arriving at Gheralta Lodge in time for lunch. This afternoon, begin learning about the famed rock-hewn churches of northern Ethiopia. Walk with your guide to the Tekla Haymanot church, constructed in the 13th Century, and take part in the colorful religious ceremony.
After breakfast, continue towards Mekelle, stopping at several important churches along the way. These Tigrayan churches are carved from cliff faces, built into pre-existing caves or constructed high atop hills. Your guide will escort you to some of these more remote churches, accessible only via rope ladders. Arrive into Mekelle for dinner and overnight.
Continue driving towards the town of Lalibela, home to the most famous rock-hewn church.
Lalibela and Rock-Hewn Churches
This morning begin touring the 11 main churches in Lalibela, together which are a UNESCO World Heritage site. Arrive at the Tukul Hotel for a late afternoon rest, dinner and overnight. After dinner head out for a leisurely evening walk.
Lalibela and Church of St George
Today, visit the most famous and impressive rock hewn church, the Church of St. George. The church lies in a hole some 15m deep, putting its cruciform roof roughly at ground level. Giyorgis has no bricks, no blocks, no evidence of joins. Instead, the church is carved out of a single solid piece of pink rock. The 13th Century laborers who built it dug down into an outcrop, carving a trench around a single massive block, and then hewed the church from that monolith.
This morning, board your domestic flight back to Addis Ababa. Enjoy one final evening in this colorful country before traveling home.
Transfer to the airport for your departure flight home.