Discover the cultural and historical gems of this beautiful East African country
- Explore the museums and cathedrals of Addis Ababa
- Watch hippos congregate on the banks of the Blue Nile
- End with a tour of Axum - the land of the Queen of Sheba
- Enjoy the services of expert guides throughout
- Stay in hotels chosen for their first-class service, food and location
- 1 Night Addis Ababa
- 1 Night Bishoftu
- 1 Night Gonder
- 2 Nights Simien Mountains
- 2 Nights Aksum
- 2 Nights Lalibela
City | History & culture | Natural world
Ethiopia has more UNESCO World Heritage Sites than any other country in Africa, and is brimming with cultural and historical treasures. You'll take in the best of them on this highlights itinerary, starting in Addis Ababa, where you'll visit the Ethnographic Museum, and the Holy Trinity Cathedral, which is renowned for its stain-glass windows. Then, fly to Bahir Dar and transfer on to the beautiful Blue Nile, where hippopotamus colonies can be seen from afar, before rounding things off at Axum, the land of Queen Sheba and home of the Ark of the Covenant. Finally, there's also an optional three-day add on to your trip, to the beautiful Bale Mountains National Park - take this extra drive to experience more of Ethiopia's spectacular scenery.
Day by day itinerary
Enjoy a relaxing start to your holiday with included airport lounge access before your overnight flight to Ethiopia, arriving in Addis Ababa the following day.
Upon your arrival, a Kibran Tours representative will meet you and transfer you to your hotel. Based on your arrival time, it is possible to organise a full or half-day city tour of Addis Ababa. You'll visit the National Museum where you will find exhibits ranging from the 3.5 million-year-old bones of Lucy to contemporary Ethiopian art. Then, visit the Ethnographic Museum to learn about Ethiopia's rich ethnic diversity. You'll then stop off at the Holy Trinity Cathedral, built in 1945, renowned for its stunning stain-glassed windows, which depict scenes from the Old and New Testament. The Trinity Cathedral also houses the tombs of the late emperor and his family, as well as the tomb of English feminist Sylvia Pankhurst. Next go to Mount Entoto - as you drive up the hill there is an appreciable drop in temperature and the air is filled with the scent of the Eucalyptus trees. From the top, there's a panoramic view of the capital and surrounding countryside. You'll also get to visit the Mercato, the largest market area in Africa, where virtually everything is on sale, from livestock to computers.
Stay: Radisson Blu (Superior)
Meals: L D
Fly to Bahir Dar
After your morning flight, you will go on an excursion to the magnificent Blue Nile Falls. It is locally known as Tissisat (smoking water). Depending on the fluctuations of the nearby dam, the falls may give rise to steam clouds and rainbows. After lunch, you will embark on a cruise of Lake Tana, the largest highland lake in Ethiopia. Lake Tana is also the source of the Blue Nile, a fact that may explain many of Ethiopia's links with the ancient world. Even today, the papyrus tankwa that sail the lake bear a striking resemblance to the boats of ancient Egypt. Visit the lake monastery of Ura Kidane Mihret and the Zege Peninsula. The forested Zege Peninsula is studded with medieval churches, of which the 16th century Ura Kidane Mihret is the most impressive and beautiful in the Tana region. If there's time, you'll enjoy a city tour of Bahir dar including a visit to the Bazawit Hill Top, which offers a spectacular view of the surrounding city, the islands of Lake Tana and the Blue Nile leaving the lake. Hippopotamus colonies can be seen from afar. There is also the palace of Emperor Haile Selassie built in the 1960s, which you could see from the outside.
Stay: Kuriftu Resort
Meals: B L D
Drive to Gondar
After breakfast, you will drive to Gondar, known as the ‘Camelot of Africa', famous for its medieval castles and churches. On the way, you will enjoy a magnificent scenic view. Gondar was founded by Emperor Fasilidas in 1636 as the royal capital of Ethiopia. It retained its position as the capital of Ethiopia for 250 years, though this status was largely nominal from the late 18th century onwards. In the afternoon, you'll visit the Royal Enclosure or Fasil Ghebbi. Within the compound visit the castles of various Gondarene emperors. Finally, head on to Debre Berhan Selassie church, the only church that was saved from Mahdist invasion in the 1880s. The walls and ceiling are completely covered with murals - the angels' faces on the ceiling have become a common motif in Ethiopian design.
Stay: Mayleko Lodge
Meals: B L D
After breakfast, you will drive to the Simien Mountains National Park. Ras Dashen, the highest peak in Ethiopia and the fourth largest mountain in Africa, is part of the national park. The area was designed to be a national park in 1969 so as to preserve its spectacular scenery and scarce bio-diversity. In 1978, UNESCO ascribed the park as a world natural heritage site. The dramatic topography of the Simien Mountains National Park has resulted from the volcanic activity that occurred during the Oligocene period (40-25 million years ago). In its scenic beauty, the Simien Mountains are very akin to the Grand Canyon of America. Next, drive to Chennek about 3 hours away from Gondar. When there, you will get to see a group of Gelada Baboon at a very close range. Here you may also spot the elusive Walia Ibex. On the way to the lodge, you will get to stop over for a brief trek to view the Jinnbar River and falls.
Stay: Limalimo Lodge
Meals: B L D
Axum is the land of the Queen of Sheba and the capital of the kingdom of Ethiopia in the 10th century. Start your tour by visiting the Stelae Park, home to a number of pre-Christian obelisks, made of solid granite from the surrounding hills. With its row of windows and doors, complete with an imaginary knocker and lock, this symbolic house is thought to have been a dwelling of the spirits of the dead. The Queen of Sheba's Palace - the site contains the remains of what was once a massive palace with finely mortared stonewalls, deep foundations and its own impressive drainage system. Next, visit the Church of Saint Mary of Zion, which was built by Emperor Fasiladas in 1665. Legend has it that the current church is the sanctuary of the Ark of the Covenant. AEnd the day with a stop at the Axum Museum which houses exhibits on ancient pottery and glass, Roman amphorae, bronze jewellery and clay figurines.
Stay: Sabean International Hotel
Meals: B L D
Fly to Lalibela
In the morning you will fly to Lalibela, where you'll check-in to your hotel. After lunch, you will visit the first group of six churches that lie in rock cradles one behind the other, namely Bet Golgotha, Bet Mikael, Bet Mariam, Bet Meskel, Bet Danaghel and Bet Medhane Alem. Bet Medhane Alem, the largest one is built like a Greek temple. In a corner are three empty graves symbolically dug for biblical patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
Stay: Maribela Hotel
Meals: B L D
Today's excursion brings you to the cave church of Yemrehane Christos. A 40 km trip from Lalibela, followed by a 20-minute hike will bring you to this beautiful church, the finest example of its kind in Ethiopia. In the afternoon, you'll visit the second group of churches, including the famous Bete Giorgis. This Greek cross-shaped church is located in a deep pit with perpendicular walls; accessible only by a tunnel located a small distance away. The church was built by Lalibela for Saint-George, who is said to have supervised the construction himself - just ask the monks who will show you the hoof marks left by his horse! Also visit the group of the remaining four churches south of the Jordan River, comprising Bet Emanuel, Bet Mercuiros, Bet Abba Libanos and Bet Gabriel- Rufa'el. Bet Emanuel's elaborate exterior is much praised by art historians.
Stay: Maribela Hotel
Meals: B L D
Addis Ababa/depart Ethiopia
Return back to Addis Ababa for your final day. You will be checked into the Radisson Blu for use throughout the day. In the evening before your transfer back the airport, you will enjoy a farewell dinner in a cultural restaurant accompanied by a traditional Ethiopian music and dance.
Optional three-day extension to Langano & Bale Mountain National Park:
This fantastic extension (not included) will see you explore the Rift Valley lakes region and the wildlife of Bale Mountain National Park where more than 60 mammal species and 260 bird species thrive – look out for the endemic mountain nyala, Abyssinian catbird and rare black-headed siskin. You'll also visit the high-altitude Sanetti Plateau teeming with birds and the unofficial capital of the Ethiopian Rastafarian community where you'll enjoy a cultural evening and traditional meal. It's all done alongside stays in luxury lodges and all-inclusive meals.
Meals: B L D
Arrive back in the UK after your overnight flight and continue your onwards journey home.
Any element of this itinerary can be adjusted to suit your needs. Just contact us to find out more.
from £4,500 pp. incl. flights
from £4,700 pp. incl. flights
- Complimentary UK airport lounge access
- Return flights between the UK and Addis Ababa
- Domestic flights from Addis Ababa to Bahir Dar and from Axum to Addis Ababa
- Private transfers
- 8 nights accommodation in typically 4* (Superior) hotels on a full-board basis
- Private touring including 2 bottles of waters per person per day
- All entrance fees and local taxes
Terms & Conditions
Prices are per person based on two people sharing a twin/double room; prices are subject to availability and possible change; normal booking conditions apply.
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