Ethiopia

On the tracks of the historical route

Day 1: Early morning arrival in Addis Abeba. Transfer to the hotel.
Days 2/3: Visit of the city.
Day 4: Flight to Bahr Dar. Collected by 4 wheels drives at the airport. Transfer to the hotel to drop off some luggage then boat trip to the Zague peninsula. There, hidden in the dense vegetation, is the Ura Kidane Mehret church, which was founded in the 14th century and is probably the most beautiful church around the Tana Lake. Inside it there are several beautiful paintings in the classical “Ethiopian” style, some of which are over 250 years old. During the boat trip fishermen can be seen on old traditional pirogues built with papyrus stems. Return to hotel.
Day 5: Bahr Dar. Drive to the Blue Nile Falls “Tis Isat” (the smoking water) that was discovered by the Scottish explorer James Bruce in the 18th century. The road crosses an old Portuguese bridge and along it one also passes farmers carrying grain or water. The cars then proceed torwards Gondar and the luggage is left at the hotel. Visit to Debra Berhan Sellasie church (the mountain of the Shining Trinity), which is the only one of the 44 churches of Gondar that were destroyed by the Dervish in 1888, to remain intact. Founded in 1690, then destroyed by a fire, it was rebuilt around 1707. Inside it there are several 17th and 18th century paintings including the famous painted roof with the faces of 80 cherubs. Overnight stay.
Day 6: Gondar. Visit to the Castles of the Fasilides kingdom that were built around 1640. Overnight stay.
Day 7: Early breakfast and drive to the Simien National Park (4000 m. high on average with the Ras Dascian, the highest mountain in Ethiopia, reaching 4620 m. It is at least a 6 hours drive (140 km.) to the park but the journey itself is interesting and several stops are included to be able to admire the various landscapes. The park was declared World Heritage in 1979. In the afternoon, short drive and /or walk to see the Gelada monkeys and the Simien sceneries. Overnight stay. Talk with the scouts to decide which type of excursion to do next day according to the difficulties.
Day 8: Simien. Excursion in the park. Overnight stay.
Day 9: Early start and drive to Axum (300 km. and at least 10 hours). The road is beautiful and one can see the mountains of Adua where the battle took place between the Italians and the Ethiopians on the 1st of March 1896. Overnight stay.
Day 10: Guided visit to the archaeological site of Axum. Overnight stay.
Day 11: Drive to Gheralta (230 km., 5 hours). Along the road can be visited a rock church. Overnight stay.
Day 12: Gheralta. Visit of one or more of the numerous rock churches, true gems of the Christian Ethiopia, according to the difficulties. Overnigh stay.
Day 13: Early departure and drive to Lalibela (500 km., and 10 hours). Overnight stay.
Day 14: Visit to the underground churches of Lalibela: first group of churches in the morning, second one and in the afternoon. Eleven churches were hewn in the rocks in around 1200 with a unique and extraordinary technique built by the King Lalibela to have a “holy city”. For Ethiopian Christians, a pilgrimage to Lalibela had the same religious and spiritual weight as a pilgrimage to the Holy Land where it was impossible for them to go due to the war with Muslims. The excavations lasted 20 years and the volume of rocks “ worked and moved” was superior to those used to build the temple of Abu Simbel in Egypt. World Heritage site. Overnight stay.
Day 15: Visit to the underground church of Yemarana Christos, built in 1087 by the homonymous king, situated 40 km. from Lalibela and at an altitude of 2700 m. The church is inside a huge cave and was built with a different technique to those of Lalibela. It is in Axumite style. Overnight stay.
Day 16: Flight from Lalibela to Addis Abeba. Transfer to the hotel and free time. Dinner in a typical restaurant. After dinner transfer to the airport and flight back to Italy.