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21 Days – North and South – The Historical route and Omo Valley

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Tour code: IETT-042
Program: historical and cultural tour
Transport: surface and air


Day 01: Arrival at Bole International Airport. Reception by IET guide and driver and transfer to hotel for check-in. City tour of Addis Ababa including the panoramic view point Entoto Mountain, Merkato, said to be Africa’s largest market of its kind, and the National Museum (home of Lucy, hominid skeleton dating back 3.2 million years) and the ethnographic museums. In the evening, traditional Ethiopian dinner with cultural music and dance show. Overnight in Addis Ababa.

Day 02: after breakfast, departure north to Bahir Dar via Debre Markos. On the way visit the Debre Libanos Monastery and the Portuguese Bridge, which was the first bridge in Ethiopia. After lunch in Debre Markos, you will pass through the scenic Blue Nile Gorge. Overnight in Bahir Dar.

Day 03: In the morning, embark on a boat trip on Lake Tana to explore some of the monasteries hidden on the shores and islands of Lake Tana. In the afternoon, depart out of town to the Blue Nile Falls for an easy hike in the area. End the day with a sunset over Lake Tana from the top of Bezawit Hill, next to the former palace of Haile Selassie. Overnight in Bahir Dar.

Day 04: After breakfast, proceed driving north to Gondar. The drive will take you through rural villages, offering wonderful insight into the Amhara culture and the traditional agricultural methods still in use today. After arrival in Gondar and brief check-in to hotel, the afternoon will be spent exploring the sites of Gondar, including a visit to the Royal Enclosure, with six castles and several other buildings. Additionally, visit Fasilidas’s Pool, still used for Timket celebrations today and the Debre Birhan Selassie church, with the most famous ceiling in Ethiopia. Overnight hotel in Gondar

Day 05: Early in the morning, depart for the stunning Simien Mountains National Park. The jagged mountains and deep valleys lend spectacular views to these mountains, home to many of the endemic animal species of Ethiopia including the gelada baboon (guaranteed to be seen) as well as the rare Walia ibex and Ethiopian wolf. The afternoon will be available for hikes in the area surrounding the lodge. Overnight at the Simien
Day 06: After breakfast, continue to Axum, enjoying the final views of the Simien Mountains. After stopping for lunch in Adarky, proceed driving through the Tekeze Valley to Axum, home of the ancient Axumite Empire, the Queen of Sheba, and the Ark of the Covenant. Overnight in Axum

Day 07: Today is a full day visiting the sites in Axum. Sites to visit include the famous obelisks, the Queen of Sheba’s Bath (which supplies water to Axum year-round), King Bazen’s tomb, and the Queen of Sheba’s Palace. You will also visit the St. Mary of Zion church, where the Ark of the Covenant is kept, according to local Ethiopian tradition. Men only are allowed to enter the old church. Unfortunately, no one (except one specially chosen guardian monk) is allowed to enter the chapel where the Ark is kept. Overnight in Axum

Day 08: After breakfast, drive to visit the ruins of Yeha, dating from the 8th to 5th centuries BC, and thought to be the capital of Ethiopian civilization before Axum. Afterwards, visit the Debre Damo monastery, where the men climb up a 15-m rope to enter the uphill situated monastery. Return to Axum for overnight.

Day 09: Fly Axum to Lalibela, the most famous of all of the Ethiopian historical sites. After lunch, begin to explore the 11 rock-hewn churches of the remarkable king Lalibela, visiting the Northwestern Cluster of churches - Bet Medhane Alem, Bet Maryam, Bet Meskel, Bet Danaghel, Bet Mikael & Bet Golgotha. Overnight hotel in Lalibela

Day 10: the morning, visit the Southeastern Cluster of churches – Bet Gabriel-Rufael, Bet Merkorios, Bet Amanual, and Bet Abba Libanos. Finally, visit the most famous of all the churches – Bet Giyorgis, a huge monolith in the shape of a cross, and constructed in honor of St. George, the patron saint of Ethiopia. After lunch, take an afternoon trip to visit the church of Yimrehanne Kristos. The most popular of the churches outside of Lalibela, this church is built in the late-Axumite style, with layers of wood and granite, set in the entrance to a large cavern. Overnight

Day 11: after breakfast, fly to Addis. Up on arrival; depart south from Addis via the Great Rift Valley, stopping on the way at Lake Ziway to visit the bountiful birdlife on the shores of the lake. Make a final stop at Wondo Genet, the favorite weekend getaway of former Emperor Haile Selassie for a swim in the pool and a shower in the therapeutic hot spring waters. Overnight in Awassa .

Day 12: In the morning, visit the fish market on Lake Awassa, and then continue to Arba Minch. On the way, ascend into the Gughe Mountains to visit the Dorze people, who are known for their tall beehive-like houses and their fine cotton weaving. Market days in Dorze village are Mondays and Thursdays and in Chencha on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Overnight in Arba Minch

Day 13: In the morning, take a boat trip on Lake Chamo to visit the crocodile market and hippo pods. After the visit, continue driving to Jinka via Weyto (market day Sunday) and Key Afar (market day Thursday). Overnight in Jinka.

Day 14: Drive to Mago National Park to visit the Mursi tribe, who are known for their lower lip and earlobe plates. Afterwards, return to Jinka to visit the South Omo Museum & Research Center for more information about the tribes. Additionally, Tuesdays and Saturdays are market days in Jinka, which will be visited. Overnight in Jinka.

Day 15: Depart from Jinka to Turmi, home of the Hamer people. On the way, stop in Dimeka for the local market, which is on Tuesdays and Saturday. This is one of the most colorful markets in the South Omo and is visited by neighborhood Hamer, Benna, Karo, Tsemai and Ari tribes. Overnight in Turmi. At night, see the traditional night dancing of the Hamer people, known as Evangadi.

Day 16: In the morning, drive to Omorate and cross the Omo River by local boat ato visit the Dasennech tribe (also known as Galeb tribe). Afterwards, return to Turmi and, if there is Jumping of the Bulls traditional Hamer wedding ceremony, it will be visited. Monday is market day in Turmi. Overnight in Turmi

Day 17: Today will be a day trip to visit the people of the Karo tribe. Depart from Turmi to the villages of Murulle, Kolcho and Dus on the shores of the Omo River. The Karo people are the smallest in number of all of the tribes of the Omo Valley, and they are known for their elaborate decorations, particularly during local ceremonies. Return to Turmi.

Day 18: Depart from Turmi to Konso, via Erbore in the Weyto valley. Friday is market day in Erbore, so if passing on this day, the market will be visited. Market days in Konso are Mondays and Thursdays. The Konso people are known for their totems erected in honor of the dead and their intricate agricultural terracing techniques. Overnight in Konso .

Day 19: In the morning, visit a local Konso village and the “natural New York village”, which gets its name from the tall sand formations that resemble skyscrapers. After the visit, proceed driving to Yabello for overnight.

Day 20: After breakfast, continue south from Yabello to the local Borena village of Dublock to visit the singing wells where the locals form chanting chains of people to remove buckets of water from the long channeled openings of the wells. Afterwards, continue to El Sod, a crater lake where salt is mined from the lake for sale and use throughout Ethiopia. After the visit, proceed driving to Langano, for overnight at Sabanah lodge.

Day 21: In the morning, after a refreshing swim in the lake, depart from Langano to visit the nearby Abiatta-Shala National Park. Lake Shala is a very deep crater lake (over 260 meters deep!) and Lake Abiatta is a soda lake, which attracts thousands of flamingos. After the visit, continue back to Addis.

In the evening, farewell party with cultural dinner and traditional special buffet and local drinks to experience Ethiopia’s cultural meals and drinks. After farewell party transfer to airport for international departure. End of Tour.

Upon request the above tour program can be modified, differently rearranged, combined with other itineraries and can be shorten or extended to suit your interest, time, and budget. Please contact us for further details.

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