Historic north route by land and air
A spectacular journey through Ethiopia's heritage and nature
Come anytime throughout the year. Pick your dates, and we adapt your trip to your convenience.
Historic monuments, captivating landscapes, wild nature, hospitable people, colorful markets… The north of Ethiopia preserves the oldest cultural legacy in the country and presents a tangible testimony to the once-great civilization of the Abyssinian Empire.
We begin our trip by visiting its busy and vibrant capital Addis Ababa and the largest open market in Africa, Merkato.
We then fly to Gondar, the historical city that served as the capital of Ethiopia between the XVII and XIX centuries. We'll visit, on foot, the Royal Enclosure and its majestic castles and palaces, the bathing palace of king Fasiladas - famous for hosting the Timket Festival -, and the impressive Debre Birhan Selassie Church, which is of great interest for its decorated ceiling with paintings of 80 cherubic faces, the most famous single example of ecclesiastical art in Ethiopia. The next day, we take a cultural break for a breath of fresh air on the roof of Ethiopia, the Simien Mountains, where an easy excursion will unfold the most dramatic and astonishing northern Ethiopia landscapes and easily allow us to meet some of its endemic wildlife such as the gelada baboon, the lammergeyer, and the klipspringer or the bushbuck.
Next, we drive on a scenic route to Bahir Dar to discover the great Blue Nile River and its impressive Blue Nile Falls which demonstrate Ethiopia is not a dry country whatsoever. We'll visit local markets to interact with the locals and a boat ride on Lake Tana to monastic churches on its islands and peninsulas will reveal ancient traditional ways of life and fishing.
The following day, we'll head southwards to meet the small community of Awra Amba that is founded decades ago with one purpose only; to combat poverty, exploitation, and gender inequality - in marked contrast to the norms of the Amhara society.
Finally, the most emblematic place in Ethiopia will be revealed at the end of this northern route. Lalibela, a humble and spiritual city, is famous for its rock-hewn churches and no matter how many carved churches you've seen in your life, once you stand in front of these churches you will immediately realize why they are considered one of The Eighth Wonders of the World, esp. the monolithic Church of Saint George.
We Finish this great adventure in the Land of Origins with a short flight back to the capital.
DAY 1 – Addis Ababa
Arrival Addis Ababa and welcome – Visit the diplomatic capital of Africa: Grand Merkato, National Museum, Entoto park – Hotel.
DAY 2 – Addis Ababa - Gondar
Fly to Gondar (1h) - Gondar city tour: the Medieval Castles, local market, Debre Birhan Selassie church, and the bath of King Fasíladas – Hotel.
DAY 3 – Gondar - Simien Mountains National Park - Gondar
Excursion to the Simien Mountains National Park – Simple day of hiking or more aggressive trekking in search of Gelada Baboons, Bearded Vultures, rockhoppers, and other species of animals - Trek to the Jinbar Waterfall - Return to Gondar - Hotel.
DAY 4 – Gondar - Bahir Dar
Drive to Bahir Dar – Views of the Nile River and Lake Tana from Bezait Palace viewpoint – Mingling with locals at a local market – Excursion to the Blue Nile Falls, by car and on foot, crossing the Blue Nile River by local barge - Hotel.
DAY 5 – Bahir Dar - Awra Amba Community Project
Boat ride on Lake Tana to visit monastic churches and traditional coffee experience - Drive southwards to Awra Amba Community, where we learn the principles of this village: equitable redistribution of goods, social justice, and care for the elderly - Lodging in the community.
DAY 6 – Awra Amba Community Project - Lalibela
Descend further southwards to Lalibela stopping at places with beautiful views - Visit the First group of rock-hewn churches - Hotel
DAY 7 – Lalibela
Excursion to Bilbila Giorgis Village and Nakutolab Monastery to admire the rural lives of the Agew tribe – Continue with the second group of churches - Hotel.
DAY 8 – Lalibela - Addis Ababa – End of Trip
Fly back to Addis Ababa (1h) - Free time for visits and shopping - Dinner in a traditional/trendy restaurant in the capital - International flight.
The transportation on this trip is designed to get the most out of your stay in the north of Ethiopia.
The vehicles used on this tour are 4x4 cars for groups of 4 or fewer, minibus for smaller groups, and a Coaster bus for larger groups. All vehicles are comfortable, safe and powerful. However, the farthest destinations will be done by air with Ethiopian Airlines. The entire fleet of aircraft was renewed in 2015 by the new Bombardier Q400 manufactured in Canada. They are short, safe, and comfortable flights.
In addition, following our SLOW TRAVEL philosophy, you can enjoy hiking and trekking routes, walks in the city, getting around in local Tuk Tuk, boat rides or renting a bicycle.
Choose the type of accommodation that best suits you. Local hotels (pensions), 4* hotels, combine local with 4*, or even pitching a tent in the wild.
Local hotels are affordable and clean though they might suffer from power or water cuts.
4* hotels are equipped with all services: double rooms with bathroom, hot water, restaurant, bar, internet access, etc. They usually are located at beautiful sites with nice views and a charming atmosphere.
Travelers should keep in mind that there might be power cuts in some cities and the inconveniences that this entails. Fortunately, these cuts are becoming less and less frequent due to the construction of hydroelectric dams and power plants.
Campsites in Ethiopia are very basic and without infrastructure but are located in amazing sites surrounded by wild landscapes. Travelers can experience a real adventure by choosing one or two nights of camping in the wild.
Our trips DO NOT INCLUDE full board. We believe in offering freedom of choice to our travelers because some days you might not feel like having dinner or prefer to have just juice. On top of that, Ethiopian restaurants are always open and found everywhere. Many serve local and international foods, and prices are affordable.