Northern Ethiopia

Homeland of the Christian Amhara and Tigran peoples, the north’s soaring mountains plateaus offer a treasure.

Northern Ethiopia

It introduces the country’s rich historical heritages, landscapes ranging from deserts to soaring mountains, and endemic floras + faunas. This well-trodden route takes through Bahir Dar situated on the outskirts of Lake Tana, source of the Blue Nile as well home to many islands with old churches + monasteries; Gondar so-called Camelot of Africa was former Ethiopian capital and now UNESCO World Heritage Site; Simien Mountains that contain most exotic rugged mountain ridges reaching above 4000m-high; Lalibela World Heritage-listed medieval settlement with remarkable 12th century churches hewn from the living rock of monolithic blocks; Axum one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities dating back to 400 BC; Gheralta Tigray rock-hewn cave churches some tucked away on precipitous cliffs; Danakil Depression once in-a-lifetime adventure to earth’s lowest + hottest place and volcano with longest-existing lava lake

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Historic Route

  • Air + land transport
  • 5 days | 4 nights

Day 1

Early AM 1hr flight to Bahir Dar and on arrival drive straight to Tis-Issat village (35km). You’ll cross river Nile by local boat and then hike across farmlands to visit the Blue Nile Falls
PM take a boat trip out onto Lake Tana to Zeghie Peninsula and walk through coffee trees to visit Ura Kidane Mehret Church adorned with hundred-year-old distinctive frescos. Be on the lookout also for aquatic birds, Nile Out-let, and possibly hippos
Overnight: Hotel in Bahir Dar

Day 2

AM drive via rolling countryside dotted with picturesque villages to Gondar (175km). PM visit the 17th century Debre Berhane Selassie Church with its wealth of vivid religious paintings, Fasil Ghebbi (Royal Enclosure) that abode some of Africa’s finest castles, Bathing Palace of Emperor Fasilidas, and Abbey of Empress Mentewab at Kusquam
Overnight: Hotel in Gondar

Day 3

AM 30min flight to Lalibela. Rest of the day spend in Lalibela town exploring the 11 rock churches that are actually dug into the ground
Overnight: Hotel in Lalibela

Day 4

AM 40min flight to Axum. PM visit Archaeological Museum, Stelae Park that consists numerous millennia old obelisks, Saint Mary of Zion Church believed to have housed the biblical Ark of the Covenant, Epitaph of King Ezana where series inscription on stone tablets placed in the 4th century still standing, 6th century King Kaleb Necropolis and ruins of Dongar, popularly known as Queen Sheba’s Palace
Overnight: Hotel in Axum

Day 5

AM 1.5hr return flight to Addis Ababa

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Historic Route

  • Air + land transport
  • 9 days | 8 nights

Day 1

Early AM 1hr and 25min flight to Mekele. On arrival drive to Hawzen (105km) and along the way visit Tigray churches namely Wukro Cherkos plus Abraha We Atsbeha and then Abuna Yemata Guh Church on Gheralta Mountains
Overnight: Hotel in Hawzen / Wukro

Day 2

Drive through the stunning views of Adwa Mountains to Axum (180km). En route stop in Yeha, a large Bronze Age site and visit the country’s oldest standing structure, Great Temple of the Moon. PM Axum sightseeing
Overnight: Hotel in Axum

Day 3

Early AM drive through awe-inspiring landscapes to Simien Mountains National Park (270km). PM head on a scenic drive / walk to the lookouts for panoramic views of the mountains as well as native wildlife such as Gelada baboon, Walia ibex, Simien fox and Lammergeyer
Overnight: Lodge inside the park / Hotel in Debark town

Day 4

AM more nature drive / walk in Simien Mountains NP. PM drive to Gondar (125km)
Overnight: Hotel in Gondar

Day 5

AM Gondar sightseeing.PM drive to Bahir Dar
Overnight: Hotel in Bahir Dar, for 2 nights

Day 6

Bahir Dar sightseeing – Blue Nile Falls and Lake Tana

Day 7

AM drive via the exciting terrain to Lalibela (310km). PM visit some of the 11 rock churches
Overnight: Hotel in Lalibela, for 2 nights

Day 8

AM hike uphill (optional on horseback) to Asheton Maryam and visit 13th century cave church plus enjoy the wonderful views from its mountaintop location. PM visit more of Lalibela’s 11 rock churches

Day 9

AM 1hr return flight to Addis Ababa

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Historic Route

  • Land transport
  • 11 days | 10 nights

Day 1

Early AM drive to Bahir Dar (560km). En route visit Debre Libanos link GETTS 003 and Blue Nile Gorge
Overnight: Hotel in Bahir Dar, for 2 nights

Day 2

Bahir Dar sightseeing – Blue Nile Falls and Lake Tana

Day 3

AM drive to Gondar. PM Gondar sightseeing
Overnight: Hotel in Gondar

Day 4

AM drive to Simien Mountains National Park. Rest of the day sightseeing
Overnight: Lodge inside the park / Hotel in Debark town

Day 5

AM more nature drive / walk in Simien Mountains NP. PM drive to Axum
Overnight: Hotel in Axum, for 2 nights

Day 6

Full day Axum sightseeing.

Day 7

Drive to Mekele (250km) and en route visit Yeha Temple plus Tigray churches, Wukro Cherkos and Abraha We Atsbeha
Overnight: Hotel in Mekele

Day 8

Drive through beautiful backroads to Lalibela (300km). PM Lalibela sightseeing
Overnight: Hotel in Lalibela, for 2 nights

Day 9

AM excursion to Asheton Maryam. PM Lalibela more sightseeing

Day 10

Drive via epic rocky mountain scenery to Dessie (300km). Along the way some stops in the backcountry to learn the traditional lifestyles such as cooking, farming, blacksmithing, etc
Overnight: Hotel in Dessie

Day 11

Drive via the scenic roads of Tarma Ber + Debre Sina to Addis Ababa (400km)

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Simien National Park Trekking

  • Air + Land transport
  • 8 days | 7 nights

Day 1

Early AM 1hr and 10min flight to Gondar and drive to Simien Mountains National Park (140km). Start trekking via the spectacular scenery and encountering troops of Gelada baboon to Sankaber
Today’s walk approx 10km/4-5hr
Overnight: Camping in Sankaber (3,250m)

Day 2

Trek traversing along the escarpment with the amazing views of the Geech Abyss then crossing the Jinnbar River and ascending on undulating trail to the village of Geech
Today’s walk approx 12km/6-7hr
Overnight: Camping in Geech (3,600m), for 2 nights

Day 3

Today’s hiking route takes to the circuit of the three peaks – Imet Gogo (3,926m), Saha (3,785m), and Kedadit (3,760) that reward with the most scenic and spectacular views
Today’s walk approx 10km/5-6hr

Day 4

Trek via the open grasslands with giant lobelias and Inatye peak (4,070m) to Chennek. This exciting walk traverses the Jinbar River and provides with fantastic views. Here possible also to catch a glimpse of the endemic Simien Wolf, Walia Ibex and Lammergeyer
Today’s walk approx 13km/7-8hr
Overnight: Camping in Chennek (3,650m)

Day 5

The day trekking begins with the ascent to the top of the Bwhait pass (4,200m) then hike downhill through mountain slopes as well rocky hillsides to the Meshehe River and finally ascent to the village of Ambiko, at the foot of Ras Dashen
Today’s walk approx 17km/10-11hr
Overnight: Camping in Ambiko (3,200m), for 2 nights

Day 6

Rise early to embark on the steady climb through giant lobelia forests, then a very steep scramble to the highest point in Ethiopia, the summit of Ras Dashen at 4,533m. After enjoying the spectacular panorama from the top continue descending to the Ambiko camp
Today’s walk approx 21km/10-11hr

Day 7

Today’s trail begins walking across the hillside as ascending to the pass at 3580m and then descends on a trail to the village of Arekwazeye. Today you’ll have the chance to mingle with local people and discover their ways of life
Today’s walk approx 15km/6-7hr
Overnight: Camping in Arkwazeye (3,600m)

Day 8

AM walk 4km/2hr from Arkwazeye to the road head where our vehicle will be waiting and then drive to Gondar (165km/4hr). Late PM return flight to Addis Ababa

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Simien National Park Trekking

  • Air + Land transport
  • 4 days | 3 nights

Day 1

AM flight to Gondar, drive to Simien NP and start trekking
Overnight: Camping in Sankaber (3,250m)

Day 2

Trek to Geech
Overnight: Camping in Geech (3600m)

Day 3

Early hike first to the peak of Imet Gogo then double back and proceed to Chennek
Today’s walk approx 17km/9-10hr
Overnight: Camping in Chennek (3,650m)

Day 4

AM trek 3-4hr to Bwhait pass at 4,200m and then drive to Gondar (165km/4hr). Late PM return flight to Addis Ababa

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Simien National Park Trekking Without Camping

  • Air + Land transport
  • 3 days | 2 nights

Day 1

AM flight to Gondar then drive to Simien NP and trek to Geech Abyss (4-5hr)
Overnight: Lodge inside the park / Hotel in Debark town, for 2 nights

Day 2

AM drive to Ayna Meda (22km) and then trek 8-9hr to the Imet Gogo summit

Day 3

AM drive to Chennek (35km) and trek 3-4hr to Bwhait pass. Finally drive to Gondar and late PM return flight to Addis Ababa

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Danakil Depression

  • Air + Land transport
  • 3 days | 2 nights

Day 1

AM flight to Mekele and drive into the Danakil dessert, to the base camp at Erta Ale volcano (290km/7hr). Along the way have stops at Afar villages to arrange security escorts and camels for the stay on Erta Ale. Late PM hike up about 1hr to the summit of Erta Ale, 613m high and at night go to the caldera rim to watch the dramatic action of boiling lava
Overnight: Under the stars at the summit

Day 2

Early before going down to base camp watch the rising sun light up on the caldera. Then drive via Abala-Berhale to Hamed Ela (347km/8hr), base camp near Dallol. En route stop to swim in a hyper-saline Lake Afrera (100mbsl) for floating experience and then wash off in a nearby freshwater hot springs
Overnight: Camping in Hamed Ela

Day 3

Before sunrise drive following up camel caravans to Dallol (25km/1hr) and explore the colorful mineral-laden lakes, sulfur springs, volcanoes, geysers, acidic pools, and salt canyon. Then visit Lake Assale salt flats and Ragad Asebo where locals mine salt using traditional methods. Finally drive to Mekele (160km/3hr) and late PM return flight to Addis Ababa