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Ethiopia historic attractions

Historical trail comprising Lalibela is the most popular one among people visiting Ethiopia. The programme comprises visiting of all the most important and interesting places in the northern part of Ethiopia. They include such places as charming palaces in Gonder, granite stelae in Aksum and rocks hewn churches in Lalibela (sometimes called the eighth wonder of the world). The programme comprises also seeing waterfalls on the Blue Nile and cruise trip on Tana lake to cloisters covered with beautiful frescos. This programme is a delicious mixture of history and nature, flavoured with meeting of Ethiopians who are members of Amhara, Tigray, Afar, Wollo and Falasha nations.

Northern Ethiopia (Historical Tour)

A, Bahir Dar

The town which is home of Ethiopia’s largest water body and the source of the Blue Nile Fall is located 565 km from the capital. The city is unique for the thirty seven scattered islands on Lake Tana which are accessed by motor boats and papyrus canoes “Tankuas”. The city is located at the southern shores of Lake Tana, with the spectacular Blue Nile Falls found, 32 km away from the city. The lake is home to several churches and monasteries dating from the 17th century with beautiful murals, paintings, illustrative manuscripts, historic crowns and other treasures. On the islands of Dega Estifanos, we find the Dek Stefanos church which has priceless collection of icons, manuscripts and mummified remains of several Ethiopian Emperors.

Gondar

A town which was once the royal capital of Ethiopia was founded by Emperor Fasilidas in 1635. The city, famous for its many medieval castles, was Ethiopia’s capital until the reign of the would-be reforming Emperor Tewodros II. During its long years as a capital, the settlement emerged as one of the largest and most populous cities in the realm. The city was a great commercial centre trading with rich lands south of the Blue Nile as well as Sudan to the west and the Red Sea port of Massawa to the North–east. Gondar is famous for its many medieval castles with unique design and decoration of its churches where the first of the castles was created by King Fasil. The clusters of medieval castles in the city, which are all world heritages sites, were once vigorous and vital centers of religious learning and art. Further, Gondar is also known for the "Bathing Palace of Emperor Fasiladas", which he had built outside of the then Gondar, in the valley of Qaha. It is still used for the annual Timket celebration (Epiphany celebrations). The Church of Debre Birhan Selassie (Abbey of the Light of Trinity) was built by the grandson of Emperor Fasil and has an overwhelming mural paintings of the famous angel faces.

LALIBELA AND SERROWNDING

The African Jerusalem Walking through the village you will see the mountainous landscape of the region of Lasta, where the peasants labour to cultivate their patches of stony fields with the traditional hook-plough. Strolling across a gently undulating meadow, you will suddenly discover in a pit below you a mighty rock - carefully chiselled and shaped -the first rock church. None of these monuments of Christian faith presents itself to the visitor on top of a mountain as a glorious symbol of Christ’s victory, to be seen from far away by the masses of pilgrims on their road to the 'Holy City', they rather hide themselves in the rock, surrounded by their deep trenches, only to be discovered by the visitor when standing very close on top of the rock and lookingdownwards. In Lalibela itself you will find two main groups of churches, one on each side of the river Jordan and one other church set apart from the rest. The town of Roha-Lalibela lies between the first and the second group of churches. It is situated on the higher part of a mountain-terrace on a vast plateau of rock. At Timkat (Ethiopian Epiphany. ca. January 19) a vivid ritual unfolds before the spectator: here the dances of the priests take place after the annual repetition of mass baptism in the river Jordan. There are twelve churches and chapels, including various shrines. Four churches are monolithic in the strict sense; the remainder are excavated churches in different degrees of separation from the rock. The walls of the trenches and courtyards contain cavities and chambers sometimes filled with the mummies of pious monks and pilgrims.

AXUM

The legacy of the Queen of Sheba lies just below the shifting sands, and churches hewn out of sheer rock attract wide-eyed tourists. The African nation's historic route begins in the ancient city of Axum, which dates to about 100 B.C. This capital city was the first place in Ethiopia to adopt a new religion -- Christianity. According to the Old Testament, The Queen of Sheba was born in Axum, but travelled to Israel to meet King Solomon. They had a son named Menelik, who later became the first emperor of Ethiopia. Menelik brought the original Arc of the Covenant back to Ethiopia from Israel. Today, the Arc, which once housed the Ten Commandments, remains well hidden in Axum. It is guarded by a select group of monks, whose sole commitment is to protect the sacred vessel. Axum is also known for its massive, towering sculptures that are more than two thousand years old. Their significance is still under investigation by archaeologists. 365 kilometres northeast of Gondar lies the town of Axum, Ethiopia's oldest city. Axum dates back some 2,000 years to when it was the hub of the Axumite Empire. The Queen of Sheba made it her capital 1000 years before Christ. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church was founded here in the fourth century and Axum remains the holiest city of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.

Tour packages (itinerary)

Northern Historical tour for 7 days

Day 1 Arrive to Addis Ababa, welcoming from the airport and city tour in Addis Ababa with a visit to the Ethnographic and National Museums,
the Trinity Church and the largest open market in Africa, Merkato. Overnight in Addis Ababa (hotel)

Day 2 Fly to Bahir Dar. Visit the local market and take a boat trip on the Lake Tana to visit the monasteries of the Zege Peninsula.
In the afternoon, drive to the Blue Nile Falls for a hike in the surroundings. Overnight in Bahir Dar (hotel)

Day 3 Drive to Gondar and visit the UNESCO Royal Enclosure, a group of castles from the 17th century.
In the afternoon, visit the Debre Birhan Selassie church and the Fasilide’s pool area. Overnight in Gondar (hotel)

Day 4 Fly to Axum and visit the Archeological Museum, the tombs, the stelae field and the Maryam Zion church. Overnight in Axum (hotel)

Day 5 Hike with mules to Asheton Mountain and visit a 13th century rock-hewn monastery.
In the afternoon, drive to Yemherhanna Kristos, a rock-caved church located 42 km away from Lalibela. Overnight in Lalibela (hotel)

Day 6 Fly to Lalibela and visit the 11 rock-hewn churches of Lalibela, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Overnight in Lalibela (hotel)
Day 7 Fly to Addis Ababa with time to do some souvenir shopping or sightseeing.
In the evening, farewell dinner at a traditional restaurant with local dancers and musicians representing some of the country’s ethnic groups.
Transfer to airport for departure. End of the tour

Northern Historical tour for 10 days

Day 1 Arrival to Addis Ababa, welcoming from the airport and transfer to the hotel
Day 2 City tour in Addis Ababa including the visit of the Ethnographic and National Museums,
the Trinity Church and the largest open market in Africa, Merkato. Overnight in Addis Ababa (hotel)
Day 3 Fly to Bahir Dar. Visit the local market and take a boat trip on the Lake Tana to visit the monasteries of the Zege Peninsula.
In the afternoon, drive to the Blue Nile Falls for a hike in the surroundings. Overnight in Bahir Dar (hotel)
Day 4 Drive to Gondar and visit the UNESCO Royal Enclosure, a group of castles from the 17th century. In the afternoon, visit the Debre Birhan Selassie church and the Fasilide’s pool area. Overnight in Gondar (hotel)
Day 5 Drive to the Simien Mountains National Park for trekking with overnight at the Simien Lodge or camping

Day 6 Drive to Axum through the Tekeze Valley, home of the ancient Axumite Empire, the Queen of Sheba and the Ark of the Covenant.
Overnight in Axum (hotel)
Day 7 City tour in Axum with visits to the Archeological Museum, the tombs, the stelae field and the Maryam Zion church.
Overnight in Axum (hotel)
Day 8 Fly to Lalibela and visit the stunning rock-hewn churches of Lalibela, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Overnight in Lalibela (hotel)

Day 9 Hike with mules to Asheton Mountain and visit a 13th century rock-hewn monastery and drive to Yemherhanna Kristos,
a rock-caved church located 42 km away Lalibela. Overnight in Lalibela (hotel)
Day 10 Fly to Addis Ababa with time to do some souvenir shopping or sightseeing. In the evening, farewell dinner
at a traditional restaurant with local dancers and musicians representing some of the country’s ethnic groups. Transfer to airport for departure. End of the tour

Northern Historical tour for 14 days

Day 1 Arrival to Addis Ababa, welcoming from the airport and transfer to the hotel
Day 2 City tour in Addis Ababa including the visit of the Ethnographic and National Museums,
the Trinity Church and the largest open market in Africa, Merkato. Overnight in Addis Ababa (hotel) Day 3 Drive to Bahir Dar and visit to the Debre Libanos monastery and the Portuguese Bridge on the way. Overnight in Bahir Dar (hotel)
Day 4 Visit the local market in Bahir Dar and take a boat trip on the Lake Tana to visit the monasteries of the Zege Peninsula.
In the afternoon, drive to the Blue Nile Falls for a hike in the surroundings. Overnight in Bahir Dar (hotel)
Day 5 Drive to Gondar and visit the UNESCO Royal Enclosure, a group of castles from the 17th century.
In the afternoon, visit the Debre Birhan Selassie church and the Fasilide’s pool area. Overnight in Gondar (hotel)
Day 6 Drive to the Simien Mountains National Park for trekking with overnight at the Simien Lodge or camping
Day 7 Drive to Axum through the Tekeze Valley, home of the ancient Axumite Empire, the Queen of Sheba and the Ark of the Covenant. Overnight in Axum (hotel)
Day 8 City tour in Axum with visits to the Archeological Museum, the tombs, the stelae field and the Maryam Zion church.
Overnight in Axum (hotel)

Day 9 Drive through the historic Adwa battlefield where the victory over the Italians took place in 1895 and visit the rock-hewn
churches of Tigray on the way. Overnight in Hawzien (hotel or lodge)
Day 10 Visit more of Tigray’s rock-hewn churches and drive to Mekele. Overnight in Mekele (hotel)

Day 11 Embark on a full day of driving to Lalibela starting early in the morning, passing through the small villages to witness the
countryside lifestyles of the Tigray region. Overnight in Lalibela (hotel)
Day 12 Visit the stunning rock-hewn churches of Lalibela, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Overnight in Lalibela (hotel)

Day 13 Hike with mules to Asheton Mountain and visit a 13th century rock-hewn monastery and drive to Yemherhanna Kristos,
a rock-caved church located 42 km away Lalibela. Overnight in Lalibela (hotel)
Day 14 Fly to Addis Ababa with time to do some souvenir shopping or sightseeing.
In the evening, farewell dinner at a
traditional restaurant with local dancers and musicians representing some of the country’s ethnic groups. Transfer to airport for departure. End of the tour.