Spend 8 days on a privately guided tour of Ethiopia and explore the best places to visit in this fascinating and culturally rich nation. Tour rock-hewn churches in Lalibela and cruise the islands of the popular Lake Tana region. Hike through the Simien Mountains, which are some of the highest in all of Africa and labeled the 'rooftop of Africa'. Tour Addis Ababa, getting a taste of local daily life in this bustling metropolis. Visit with locals, learn some of the terrible history the people endured at the Red Terror Museum, and leave feeling a new heart connection with these amazing and resilient people.
Wander through ancient rock-hewn churches still used for worship today
Cruise the islands of Lake Tana, home of some of the oldest monasteries
Hike the famous Simien Mountains, one of the highest ranges in all Africa
Visit the National Museum of Ethiopia with the world famous 'Lucy' specimen
Transfer back to the airport this morning in preparation for your flight to Bahir Dar. Bahir Dar is near Lake Tana's southern side and the Blue Nile River. You can then check in to your hotel at Avanti Blue Nile. Settle in your room and freshen up before the afternoon boat cruise to some islands on Lake Tana, home to some of the oldest churches and monasteries in the world. Visit the 14th-century monastery Ura Kidane Mihret, renowned for its painted maqdas and collection of crosses and crowns. In the afternoon, drive to the village of Tis Isat and see the Blue Nile Falls, a scenic waterfall created by a dam along the river, a short drive outside town.
Drive to Gondar after breakfast. On the way is the village of Awra Amba, located off the Woreta-WWodia 'China Road'. Visit the unique settlement, a prime model for self-help and gender equality. Equal rights apply to men and women, and there is no discrimination in the distribution of labor. Religion has no place here; men cook, and women plow. They believe in hard work and being good to people. Following your visit to Awra Amaba, a town founded by the great Emperor Fassiladas in 1636, it is the Royal Capital of Ethiopia, located amid a breathtakingly beautiful landscape. See the magnificent churches and palaces that Emperor Fassiladas and his ancestors constructed. Then, visit the intriguing Debre Birhan Selassie Church, which features Bible and medieval history scenes painted on its walls and ceiling. You can listen to Azmari music in the evening.
Drive to Sanqaber in the Simien Mountains today for a full day of hiking and exploring the breathtaking scenery, some of the most wild in all of Ethiopia. Known as the 'rooftop of Africa', the Simien Mountains are one of the largest mountain ranges in all of Africa. Enjoy your afternoon to soak up the scenery and have a picnic lunch before you head back to Gondar.
Transfer to the airport to take a flight to Lalibela this morning. Lalibela, also known as "Africa's Petra," is Ethiopia's crown jewel. Famous churches and scenes from many major religious ceremonies can be found here. Check in to your hotel and then visit Asheton Mariam. Hike with mules to Mount Asheton for spectacular views of the town and its rock-hewn monastery from the thirteenth century.
Go on an excursion today to Genete Mariam (34 km and 4 hours), one of the fascinating churches in Lalibela’s outlying area. Genete Mariam is a large monolith carved into a pink-tinged outcrop near the source of the Tekaze River. Supported by pillars, the church differs from the rock-hewn churches in Lalibela in that it is not hidden within a trench but carved openly on a rocky hilltop. According to tradition, Genete Mariam was excavated during the reign of Yakuno Amlak, the king who 'restored' the Solomonic line in the early 13th century. You can also complete any churches you did not complete on the previous date.
Return to Lalibela Airport in the morning for your flight to Addis Ababa. Check in to your hotel and leave with your guide to see the Red Terror Martyrs Memorial Museum. Designed as a memorial to the victims of a recent dark period in Ethiopia's history under the Derg Regime. The museum features a lot of disturbing exhibits that are not advisable for small children, including skeletal remains, photographs, and models of how victims were tortured. From here, proceed to the Muya Abyssinia craft to discover how the weavings and other handicrafts are utilized to make furniture, accessories, and other items for the home.
Day 8: Addis Ababa Tour and Departure
1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch
Spend today exploring Addis Ababa with a tour. Drive to Mount Entoto in the north to begin your tour. Next, go to the Ethnographic museum, which has a large collection of handmade items and historical relics from Ethiopia. Visit the National Museum of Ethiopia as well, which holds the renowned Lucy fossil. Before seeing the Trinity Cathedral this evening, have lunch at a nearby cafe. The biggest and most prestigious of all contemporary churches is this one. Drive through the biggest open-air market in all of Africa to round out your visit. Before being transferred back to the airport for your journey home this evening, have one last nap in your hotel room.
This was my first experience with Adventure Life - and I couldn't have been more pleased with the trip. The guides and local staff in both Buenos Aires and Uruguay were terrific - extremely helpful and accommodating. I really enjoyed meeting the friendly staff in Buenos Aires in person (I left my bags with them for the afternoon).