Ethiopia - Treasures of Abyssinia: A Tapestry of Man and God

Ethiopia is the home of legends and monuments, both formed by the great hand of nature and erected by the genius and devotion of man. From the moment you land in Addis Ababa, you will be immersed in the wonder of the city’s mighty cathedral and brought face to face with a plaster of Lucy – our oldest ancestor and a cornerstone of modern evolutionary science. This trip will take you through the many vibrant landscapes of Ethiopia, from the Simien Mountains to the Blue Nile Falls and will present to you the man-made wonders of the sparkling pink churches in Lalibela and the European-style castle fortress of Emperor Fasilides. Exotic plant and animal life blends into remarkable works of art and religious iconography, coming together to create an adventure unlike any other.

Degree of Difficulty - Three Paws

Moderately Active. May involve some moderate hikes in forests and nature reserves, getting in and out of vehicles and rocking boats, and walking in uneven pavement in archaeological sites, in some cases in extreme weather conditions, heat, high elevation and humidity.

Weather Reports - When to Go

The climate in Ehtiopia is temperate, especially in the large central plateau region, and because many of the places visited in our itinerary are on the higher elevation, it tneds to be cooler and more comfortable, around 70 degrees F. High season in Ethiopia is January through March, when the skies are sunny and hte days warm. Wildlife viewing is excellent during this time and some colorful festivals occur, like TImkat and Leddet. During hte shoulder season - October through December, the country is green, the skies are sunny, the crowds are missing, and the Blue Nile Falls are the most spectacular to view. This is an excellent time

Days 1/2 USA/ADDIS ABABA

Your journey begins as your board your Ethiopian Airlines flight to Addis Ababa in the USA. Upon arrival, you will be welcomed and escorted to your hotel. Your exploration of Addis Ababa this afternoon includes the magnificent Trinity Cathedral and the National Museum, one of the best in Africa, where a plaster cast of “Lucy,” the 3.2 million-year-old Hominid, is displayed. At the Zoological National History Museum at AAU, see the wildlife attractions of Ethiopia in well-preserved specimens. Enjoy a welcome dinner tonight and get your first taste of Ethiopian cuisine. SHERATON HOTEL. (Meals Aloft, D)

Days 3/4 ADDIS ABABA/BAHIR DAR

Fly to Bahir Dar, a pleasant city on the shores of Lake Tana, the largest lake in Ethiopia, at an altitude of 5,900 feet. There are 37 islands on Lake Tana and 30 of them have churches and monasteries of considerable historical and cultural interest. Drive directly to the Blue Nile Falls: 328 feet wide, the water plunges 148 feet, giving rise to steam clouds and rainbows. Next morning, cross Lake Tana in by boat, taking advantage of the tidal pattern that sees serene mornings on the lake, but tumultuous, wavy afternoons and evenings. Visit the monastery of Ura Kidane Miheret and Azwa Mariam, located on the Zegue peninsula. The churches here are a cultural delight with unique décor and striking artwork and iconography. In the afternoon, explore some parts of the city, known for its wide avenues lined with palm trees and a variety of colorful flowers. This city was awarded UNESCO Cities for Peace Prize for managing to address the challenges of rapid urbanization. KURIFTU RESORT. (B, L, D Daily)

Day 5 BAHIR DAR/GONDAR

Continue your exploration with a drive to Gondar, the capital of the Ethiopian empire under the reign of Emperor Fasilides (1632-1667.) It is set in a landscape of incomparable beauty. Here, visit the Castle, one of the most intricate and ornate buildings erected by Emperor Fasilides and his heirs. Later, proceed to the incredible Debre Birhan Selassie Church, a massive work of art covered wall-to-ceiling with intricate and jewel-colored paintings, featuring scenes of Biblical and medieval historical significance from the Gonderian period. GOHA HOTEL. (B, L, D)

Day 6 SIMIEN MOUNTAINS PARK

Journey to the Simien Mountains, a stunning mountain range, alive with exotic plant and animal life. The highest mountain here is Ras Dashen at 14,905 feet above sea level, and proudly carries the local moniker ‘The Roof of Africa.’ These spectacular segments of the Semien Mountain are considered the wildest and most beautiful sites of all Ethiopian landscapes and serve as home to many endemic animals like the highly endangered Ethiopian wolf, Waliya ibex, and plants like Giant Lobelia. The massive 13,000 foot-high table of rock offers easy but immensely rewarding trekking along the edge of a plateau that falls sheer to the plains far below. The scenery and the variety of wildlife will leave you speechless. The day is dedicated to exploring in the mountains. SIMIEN LODGE. (B, L, D)

Day 7 TREKKING TO CHENEK/GONDAR

After an early camp breakfast, drive to Geech and continue on foot towards Chenek. On the way, catch sight of the strange and beautiful Giant Lobelia plant and spot some Gelada baboons. GOHA HOTEL. (B, L, D)

Days 8/9 GONDAR/LALIBELA

Your flight takes you to Lalibela, located at 8,530 feet above sea level and home to 11 monolithic churches that were built in the twelfth century, distinct because they are carved out of the sparkling pink granite rock known to the region. Classified as one of the wonders of the world, each church has a unique architectural style; all are superbly carved and most of them are decorated with well-preserved paintings. The entire city may be described as a sculpture dedicated to the glory of God. After lunch, visit the first group of the rock hewn churches and explore the city itself. Next day, drive to a small village to visit Yemrehanna Kristos Church, built inside a cave on the commission of King Zagwe. The walls of the building were constructed with wooden beams and white plaster and Axumite windows. Over the centuries, many Christians came here to die, and their remains rest in the cave behind the building. MOUNTAIN VIEW HOTEL. (B, L, D)

Day 10 LALIBELA/AXUM

Take a short morning flight to Axum, the ‘city of legends,’ a city of immense history and lore, littered with the ruins of palaces, underground tombs, mysterious monolithic stelae, and many historical relics. The founding of the Empire of Axum in the 5th century BC is often taken as the starting point of the Ethiopian civilization. YARED ZEMA HOTEL. (B, L, D)

Days 11/12 AXUM/YEHA/GHERALTA

Drive to Gheralta. En route, you will take a road trip through dramatic volcanic formations to Yeha, the capital of the earliest kingdom in Ethiopia. Here, the pre-Axumite Temple of the Moon is the oldest known standing structure in Ethiopia dating to about 700 B.C. It is reputed to be the best preserved example in the world of South Arabian style temple architecture. Next day, explore Gheralta Cluster churches, visiting the marvelous houses of worship that dot this remote and inspiring landscape. A visit will be organized to the churches of Dugem Selassie, Mariam Korkor, and Daniel Korkor, some requiring stamina and physical ability to reach them. GHERALTA LODGE. (B, L, D)

Days 13/14 GHERALTA/MEKELE/ADDIS ABABA/USA

Today you drive to Mekele where you’ll catch a short flight back to Addis. You have the rest of the day to explore the capital and do some last-minute shopping. In the evening, enjoy a farewell dinner with traditional Ethiopian food, music, and dance. Your tour of Ethiopia concludes with a drop-off at the airport for your flight home, arriving the next day. DAYROOM AT THE SHERATON HOTEL. (B, L, D, Meals Aloft)

PRE-EXTENSION TO DANAKIL DEPRESSION

Venture to one of the most visually arresting places on Earth. The Danakil Depression is an eye-popping neon kaleidoscope of reds, teals, blues, yellows, and greens, home to active lava lakes, hot springs, and natural salt deposits. On this extension you will gaze into the heart of a dead volcano, watch active explosions, witness locals from their camel caravans in the salt mines, and enjoy a dinner with live music and dance.

POST EXTENSION TO BALE MOUNTAINS

Delve into the glorious nature of the Bale Mountains as you start in Awassa, a utopia for birdwatchers where species abound including Botta’s Wheatear, Abyssinian Long-claw, Earlanger’s Lark, and the Abyssinian Catbird. Further into Dinsho, even more bird species are present as well as endemic mammals. Wander into the mystical Harenna forest looking for more creatures of Africa among the lush greenery, towering mountains, and sparkling waterfalls and over the Sanetti Palteau covered in vibrant endemic flora.

Prices starting at $5,195For further booking, date, and pricing info please contact info@classicescapes.

Does not include international or domestic flights. Prices are based on 10 or more travelers, and are subject to change.