Trip Code: ZET 06
Mode of Transportation: Air
Tour Type : Cultural tour —Historic route

Length: 7 days / 6 night
Group Size: 1- 20 Participants

Dates: Any date departure
Grade: Adventure touring

Cultural Tour -7 days

Axum, Gondar, Lalibela , Bahir Dar and Addis Ababa

Historic Route – Axum, Gondar, Lalibela and Bahir Dar

Travel to Ethiopia, land of legends, one the world’s most fascinating destinations. Our adventure begins in Addis Ababa and traverses the northern historic route visiting Lake Tana, Gondar, Lalibela and Axum, featuring several UNESCO world heritage sites. In this fabled land where legend and history are deeply entwined, hike among the villages to sacred island monasteries of Lake Tana, and explore the Castles of Gondar where you enjoy a private coffee ceremony. At dawn, wander through the ethereal subterranean churches of Lalibela glowing in the early morning light, and wonder at the towering stelae of Axum, coming as close to the legendary arc of the covenant as possible. Equipped with the best vehicles and escorted by expert guides immerse yourself in the ancient history, cultures, natural habitats and spiritually of this captivating country and its people. This itinerary can easily be modified as a custom trip and if your travel dates are flexible we recommend visiting Ethiopia in conjunction with the colorful Timkat festival January 19 .

Day 1: Arriva to Addis Ababa- City tour

Arrive Addis Ababa in the morning. After a leisurely morning to relax we will spend the afternoon on a site-seeing tour of Addis Ababa. you will visit the National Museum which houses some of the country’s historic treasures. The collection of fossils and bones of early hominids discovered in Ethiopia include the 3.5 million year old remains of “Lucy”, the oldest hominid every found. We will also visit the Holy Trinity Church, Ethiopia’s main cathedral and home to the remains of the last emperor, Haile Selassie. Finally we will visit Menelik”s Mausoleum.

Meal: breakfast /lunch /Dinner

Overnight Hotel

Day 2: Fly to Axum

After breakfast you will be transferred back to Bole airport for your flight to Axum.

According to local legend, Axum was home to Queen Sheba and the current resting place of the Ark of the Covenant.

As we explore Axum, and its ancient relics, a sense of adventure and imagination guides us through this mysterious and historic place.

On arrival, you will get your first glimpse of the history of this area with a city tour that includes the Archeological museum of Axum and the Cathedral of St. Mary of Zion. The original church was built by Emperor Fasilides, founder of Gonder, in 1665. It’s thought that this church is build on the original foundations of a temple built by King Ezana or King Kaleb in the 4th or 6th centuries, making this the oldest Christian site in Africa. Keep your eye out for the guarded chapel, which is said to be the home of the Ark of the Covenant. The modern St. Mary’s of Zion cathedral dates from the 1960s when Emperor Haile Selassie had it build. The architectural style is painfully out of place within the ancient city, but the contrast between the buildings on the site is fascinating. We also spend time exploring the on-site museum under the church, which houses many of Ethiopia’s priceless relics.

In the afternoon, we will visit the famous ‘Stele field’ (4th Century AD and UNESCO World Heritage Site, the ruin palace and tomb of King Kaleb and King Gebre Meskel (5th and 6th Century AD) and the residence of the legendary Queen of Sheba (9th century BC). The North Stellae Park contains over 120 Stellae, some are upright, some are buried and others have been removed. The Rome Stellae, the tallest at 25m high, was shipped to Italy in 1937 under orders from Mussolini, but has since been returned and re-erected.

Meal: breakfast /lunch /Dinner

Overnight Hotel

Day 3: Fly to Lalibela

Today you need to rise early for the short flight over the amazing rust colored canyons and high peaks to Lalibela.

Lalibela is arguably one of the most important religious and historical sites in all of Africa and the entire Christian world. Ethiopia was the first country to adopt Christianity as a state religion, and the Ethiopian Orthodox religious practices is rooted deep in Judaism and practiced throughout the country.

There are no less than 200 churches in the Lasta Region of Lalibela, some hidden in enormous caves, but it is exceptional to find 11 churches of such magnitude and master craftsmanship in one enclave. These brilliant feats of engineering and architecture are often referred to as the “Eighth

wonder of the world”. The churches are said to have been constructed during King Lalibela reign during the 12th and 13th centuries when Lalibela (then known as Roha) was the capital of the Zagwe dynasty. Many different theories exist on how they were built and by whom, including angels and King Lalibela . Legend has it that King Lalibela was exiled in Jerusalem and returned to Ethiopia to build a New Jerusalem.

After you check in to your hotel, we will visit the first group of churches that represent the earthly Jerusalem. This group includes Bete Medhanialem (Saviour church), Bete Miriam, Bete Denagel, Bete Meskal, Debra Sina, and Bete Golgotha. Standing 38 feet tall with seventy-two pillars, Medhane Alem is not only the largest in Lalibela, but it is the largest monolithic rock-hewn church in the world. The oldest of the churches, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, Bet Maryam is the only Lalibela monolith with a porch. The remains of exquisite early frescoes can be seen on the ceiling and upper walls, and there are many elaborately carved details on the piers, capitals, and arches. Bet Golgotha houses remarkable reliefs of figures, and early

Meal: breakfast /lunch /Dinner

Overnight Hotel

Day 4: Excursion -Mule Riding

Mule riding: excursion out of town to Asheten Mariam. We visit Asheton Mariam, atop a mountain overlooking Lalibela, by mule back. The mountain views are impressive and panoramic.

In the afternoon, visit the Second group of the churches representing the heavenly Jerusalem. In this group are the Bete Gabriel & Raphael, Bete Merquorios, Bete Emmanuel, and Bete Abba Libanos Finally, visit the most interesting cross-shaped church of Bete Giorgis (St. George), which is said to be the symbolization of Noah’s ark. The cruciform-shaped Bete Giorgis is the most perfect and beautiful church here; its interior is dominated by depictions of Saint George killing the dragon.

Meal: breakfast /lunch /Dinner

Overnight Hotel

Day 5: fly to Gondar

After breakfast you will be transferred to the airport and fly to Gondar.

With the castles of the Royal Enclosure, ornate churches and resplendent bathing pools, it’s easy to imagine Gondar in all of its glory as the capital of Ethiopia in the mid 1600s. King Fasilides named Gondar as the capital in 1636 and by his death in 1667, Gondar’s population had reached 65,000, its wealth and beauty was well known throughout the land.

A morning is spent exploring the Royal Enclosure and its buildings, the nearby bath of King Fasilides (where modern-day Timkat ceremonies are performed). The enclosure is surrounded by a 300-foot wall, the fortress is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The oldest and most impressive structure is the two-story palace of Emperor Fasilides, built of solid basalt stones. Other royal buildings that will be visited include the library of Emperor Yohannes I, the House of Song where royal ceremonies took place, the elegant reception and banquet hall of Emperor Bakaffa, and the palace of this king’s wife.

Finally, we climb the hill to visit the Church of Debre Birhan Selassie, an imposing structure with its harmony of brightly colored ceilings completely covered with intricately painted and endearing angel faces.

Meal: breakfast /lunch /Dinner

Overnight Hotel

Day 6: Bahir Dar

After breakfast you will depart for a three hour drive to Bahir Dar- the beautiful lake side city.

You will pass rural villages, cross mountain passes with stunning vistas and get your first glimpse of the impressive city of Bahir Dar.

In the afternoon, you head out on Lake Tana to the Zege Peninsula and its famous monasteries. While on board, keep an eye out for a variety of bird species and the traditional tankwa crossing the lake.

After a short hike through local villages and coffee farms, you will reach the monastery of Ura Kidane Meret, which is home to an important collection of crosses and crowns dating back to the 16th century. The painted maqdas, colorful and well-preserved, tell the stories of Ethiopian saints.

The second monastery that you will visit is Azwa Maryam, a small and pleasant site with gardens and a humorous young priest. Then sail back to Bahir Dar for overnight.

Meal: breakfast /lunch /Dinner

Overnight Hotel

Day 7: Return to Addis

After breakfast you will be transferred to the airport and fly back to Addis Ababa. On arrival you will be taken for lunch at the hotel and thereafter on a short tour of Addis Ababa.

Addis Ababa is the third highest capital in the world and one of the largest cities in Africa with a population well over 5 million. It is located at 2500 m above sea level at the foot hills of the highest peak of the Entoto Mountain chain (3200m above sea level), it enjoys an excellent climate all year round; with an average temperature of 16 C. Addis Ababa is a pleasant city with wide avenues of Jacarandas, interesting museums and one of the largest open-air markets in Africa, known as Merkato.

In the evening, you will be invited to a farewell dinner party at one of the best traditional restaurants in Addis where you will have a chance to a taste variety of Ethiopian meals, and watch the folkloric dancers and music diversity of the Ethiopia, as your trip to Abyssinia comes to and end.

After dinner you will be transferred to Bole international airport for departure flights .

Meal: breakfast /lunch /Dinner

End of Service

  • Please note: This tour may precede or follow any other Ethiopian tours offered by Zagwe Ethiopia Tour.
  • This trip can be tailor made throughout the year to suit your requirement.

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  • 2 Participants USD 1,402
  • 4 Participants USD 1,369
  • 6 Participants USD 1,335
  • Single Supplement: USD 223.00

The above flight rate will only apply if arrival into Ethiopia was done with the Ethiopian Airlines.

Price Includes: 

  • All accommodation on twin room sharing basis.
  • Meal on fallboard (breakfast, lunch and dinner) including either soft drinks    or bottled water.
  • All ground transportations with fuel/ Ground transportation by a newest model air conditioned 24 seats bus , minibus or 4WD /
  • 4 domestic flights ( flight rate will only apply if arrival into Ethiopia was done with theEthiopian Airlines)
  • Boat trip on Lake Tana
  • Entrance fee to all churches, museums, and castle complexes.
  • Services of local guides during site visits.
  • Mule and Mule men
  • local guide fees.
  • Portage fees.
  • Bottled mineral water.
  • Airport and city transfer
  • Government taxes and levies.

Price Excludes: 

  • International flights.
  • Alcoholic drinks.
  • Visas expense.
  • Items of personal nature, telephone calls, laundry, travel and medical Insurance, tips, excess baggage charges, any activities not specified in the itinerary.
  • Video or photographing fees or tips at different sites.





the Bird

Essential information

Getting around Ethiopia: -Because of the state of the roads, the distances involved and the quality of the alternative (flying) most short term visitors use internal flights in Ethiopia. There are reliable daily flights between most of the stops on the Northern Circuit (Addis, Gondar, Lalibella, Axum, Bahir Dar).

If you have more time, or delight in the joys of overland travel, we can provide you vehicles (4WD, minibus and coaster bus )

Climate: – This tour visits several distinct topographical regions. The central plateau and highlands of (Addis, Gondar and Lalibela) which have moderate climate with minimal seasonal temperature variations (8° C – 26° C). Temperature variations in Axum can be greater (15 C – 27 C). Heavy rainfall occurs in most of the country during June, July, and August. The High Plateau experiences a second, milder, rainy season between December and February. However, average annual precipitation on the central plateau remains a paltry 122 cm (48 in).

When to go –All year round.

Accommodation: – All accommodation throughout this tour is 3-4 star accommodations, providing en suite facilities and hot water throughout.

Our prices are typically based on twin- share accommodation but single supplements are not compulsory. If you prefer not to pay a single supplement we’ll pair you with someone else of the same sex for you to share with throughout the trip. Single rooms are available  (at an extra cost)   But these must be booked  and paid in Advance

 Activity level:★★

 This tour is not strenuous. Activities such as the mule ride to AshetonMaryan can be tough on the body, but visiting the church complexes, temples and sites is always done at a very easy and relaxed pace.

Visa and Vaccination: –All nationalities require a visa for Ethiopia which can be obtained before departure or on arrival (at a cost of USD50)

There are no mandatory vaccination requirements.

 a typical day :-Being relatively close to the equator, Ethiopia has almost twelve hours of constant daylight no matter what time of year you visit. With the sun rising at 6:30am and setting at 6:45pm, most of our days start early so as to be at our hotel by sunset. The program for each day will vary, according to whether we are travelling, visiting local villages or both.

Private groups:-The adventures featured in our itinerary, and on our website, are just a starting point for many of our private group travellers. Working closely with our Groups Department we can organize custom designed itineraries for groups of friends, clubs, charity’s, schools or even work colleagues. Our team will assist you with all aspects of your private group adventure from itinerary design to group flights. For group traveller pledge considerable discount. 

 Eating & drinking:- Hotel meals are generally good although they can lack variety. Local dishes tend to be very good if you like hot, spicy food although milder versions can be requested. Local food is traditionally eaten with the hands. The sour bread known as injera is used as a scoop for the casserole dishes known as wat.

All food on trek is cooked for you and, although local produce can be a bit limited in the mountains, it is usually of a high standard. Vegetarians can be catered for, though you may find the diet somewhat limited. Clients who have specialist dietary requirements must contact us to discuss if they can be accommodated. you will have a private cook for your trek who will provide breakfast, packed lunch, tea and dinner each day. The food is great, and given most Westerners aversion to the Ethiopian stapleInjurra, mostly of the Western variety. Expect bread and pancakes / eggs for breakfast, filling sandwiches for lunch, herbal teas, fantastic coffee and popcorn at the end of a long days trekking and then a massive meal to end the day with soup starter and a hearty main with plenty of veg to finish.

Private groups:The adventures featured in our itinerary are just a starting point for many of our private group travellers. Working closely with our Groups Department we can organize custom designed itineraries for groups of friends, clubs, charity’s, schools or even work colleagues. Our team will assist you with all aspects of your private group adventure from itinerary design to group flights. For group traveller pledge considerable discount.

Customized tours: On request, this tour can be customized for small groups.

Proceeding / additional days: It’s no problem to add days before or after the expedition and we’ll book these for you. If you bring more time, you could do day trips from Addis or take an extension tour

Group booking discount: If at least 5 people together book this trip, 6% discount is given.

Please remember that all Zagwe Ethiopia tour prices mean NO hidden extras, NO local payments and NO compulsory single supplements

Contact us

  •   1km away from Bole airport, Addis Ababa

  •    Office:251-118-100025

  •    Fax:251-118-100025

  •    Mobile:251-911-983256

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