Northern Region

The northern historical routes offers amazing insight into the rich history of Ethiopia, with ruins dating back as far as the 8th century BC.  Bahir Dar, Gondar, Axum and Lalibela are the most important places of note in immersing yourself in the tradition that is uniquely Ethiopian. 


To see more details of tours please click to see the packages.


Danakil Depression – 10 Days

The Danakil Depression, with its other-worldly landscapes offers a rewarding experience for those who venture out. This is the land of the Afar nomads, who trek over barren lands with their camel caravans transporting salt blocks for sale in the larger towns. Dallol is the lowest point on the African continent at 116 meters below sea level. It’s a beautiful site to see with its sulphurous springs providing colorful crystalline formations.


The area is also home to 40% of Africa’s volcanos, the most famous being Erta Ale. To avoid the daytime heat, hikes are done at early morning, reaching the peak in time to see the permanent lava lake inside the volcano while the sun peeks over the horizon.


Because of the remoteness of this area, visits are done full-expedition style, with no detail overlooked to provide a memorable visit to this fascinating corner of the world.

 


Day 1
Depart Addis Ababa north to Dessie via Kombolcha. After passing Debre Birhan, we will come to the Mezezotl_files/yossi/TOUR_PICS/IMG_4454.jpg escarpment, with very beautiful scenes over the Amhara land. With luck, you will catch a glimpse of the endemic gelada baboons. Overnight in Dessie.


Day 2
Continue driving to Mekele, via Woldia. In the morning, we will stop by the village of Hayk to visit the lake and watch the fishermen in their boats. Overnight in Mekele.


Day 3
Depart from Mekele to Hamed Ila via Berehale, where you will pick up police scouts, road guides and permits for the Afar region. From Berehale, proceed driving to Hamed Ila. We will see the camel caravans along the way, carrying salt from the salt lake to Mekele for sale. Overnight camping in Hamed Ila.


Day 4
After breakfast, take a day trip to Dallol, which, at 116m below sea level, is the lowest point on the African continent. Here the landscape is beautiful, the ground many shades of red and yellow from the hot water, acids and minerals spurting up from the ground. You will also visit Lake Asale, which is the salt lake from which the Afar nomads extract salt. You will witness (and even try) their laborious task of removing salt from the ground as hundreds of camels relax before the long trek back to Mekele. At the end of the day we return to Hamed Ila for overnight camping.


Day 5
From Hamed Ila, continue to Erta Ale via Kusawad. The Erta Ale volcano has been in a constant state of eruption for over 40 years. You will camp in the village of El Dom, where it will be an early-to-bed night.


tl_files/yossi/TOUR_PICS/IMG_1207.jpgDay 6
Today is an early-to-rise start at 2am to start your hike to the crater rim of the Erta Ale volcano. At the top, you will peer down at the permanent lava lake (the only one in the world!) while the sun rises over the horizon. Definitely the highlight of the trip! After the hike back to camp and a bit of breakfast, you’ll continue driving to Lake Afrera for overnight camping or in local hotel.


Day 7
Lake Afrera is a wonderfully bright green lake situated with black basalt mountains behind. It’s a stunning location. Here you can see more salt extraction from the lake, where the Afar nomads continue the same activities the have for centuries. The salt extraction here is the main supply of salt to Addis Ababa. From Afdera, proceed driving to Semera via Logia. Overnight in Semera in hotel.


Day 8
Today we drive through Yangudi-Rassa National Park (home to the endangered African wild ass), and then to Awash for overnight.


Day 9
In the morning, go for a game drive in Awash National Park, which is one of Ethiopia’s most popular national parks. Here you will enjoy wonderful birdlife and many mammals, such as gazelles, kudus, waterbuck, warthogs, baboons, and colobus monkeys. It might also be possible to see lions, leopards and other cats, if you’re lucky! After the drive, continue driving to Sodere for overnight, where you can go for a refreshing swim in the pool or a shower in the hot spring water. Overnight in Sodere.


Day 10
After a morning swim, we continue on our way back to Addis, stopping in Debre Zeit for a lunch by one of the beautiful lakes in the area.
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Trekking in the Simien Mountains - 7 days

Take a break with nature...tl_files/yossi/TOUR_PICS/IMG_3287.jpg
The Simien Mountains offer wonderful trekking options, whether you prefer a short hike or go the distance to the top of the highest peak – Ras Dashen (4543m). The Afro-alpine habitat plays host to many endemic species, including the walia ibex, gelada baboon, the extremely rare Ethiopian wolf, as well as several endemic species of birds.

 

Day 1
Depart early in the morning from Gondar, driving to Sankober, stopping in Debark to handle National Park fees, etc. You will start your trek around Buyit Ras for a 3-4 hour hike to Sankober, which passes close to the escarpment edge. Nearing Sankober, you will have beautiful views on both sides of the escarpment ridge and where you will likely see the endemic Gelada baboons. In Sankober, you will be met with your supplies. Overnight camping in Sankober.

Day 2
From Sankober, depart into a valley, through which the Wazla (or Koba) River runs. (This river is often dry). Coming out of the valley you will have views of the Jinbar River waterfalls falling into the Geech Abyss. Continuing along, you will cross the Jinbar River and ascend into the village of Geech. Total trekking time: 4-5 hours

Day 3
After an early breakfast, depart from Geech to the peak of Imet Gogo at 3926m. Here you’ll have spectacular views over the lowlands – one of the highlights of the trip. As you continue to Chenek, you will pass Korbete Metia, a solid rock wall which opens up exposing beautiful views over the lowlands and the escarpment. This is also a good place for spotting lammergeiers. Overnight camping in Chenek. Total trekking time: 7 – 9 hours

Day 4
From Chenek, continue east up a valley to Mt. Bwahit, overlooking the camp from where you just came. After crossing the Bwahit Pass, you come to a viewpoint offering wonderful views of the Mesheha River Valley as well your first glimpse of Ras Dashen. From here, the path descends, passes through the village of Chiro Leba, and finally leads to the Mesheha River. Across the river, you climb back up the valley to the village of Ambikwa. Overnight camping in Ambikwa. Total trekking time: 6-8 hours

Day 5
Starting early, you will continue up the valley to the village of Mizma, after which you will have a steep ascent to a ridge crest overlooking a large valley. The path then follows along the side of the valley, straight at Ras Dashen. You will eventually reach a point where you will see three distinct buttresses. The buttress on the left is the summit of Ras Dashen. A pile of rocks at the top of the buttress marks the summit. After your successful arrival at the highest point in Ethiopia, you return to Ambikwa for overnight. Total trekking time: 8-10 hours

Day 6
Today you return back to Chenek for overnight camping. Total trekking time: 6-8 hours

Day 7
Today you will be transported out of the park, returning to Gondar.
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The Historical Route and Simien Mountains – 15 days

tl_files/yossi/TOUR_PICS/IMG_3246.jpgDay 1
Early in the morning, depart 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. Continuing to Bahir Dar you will pass through the spectacular Blue Nile Gorge. Overnight in Bahir Dar.

Day 2
In the morning, take a boat trip on Lake Tana to visit the island monasteries. In the afternoon, drive out to the Blue Nile Falls for a short hike. Finish the sunset over the beautiful spot at the source of the Nile. Overnight in Bahir Dar.

Day 3
Today we continue to Gondar. After settling in the hotel, we will explore the castles of King Fasilidas and the famous Debre Birhan Selassie church. Overnight in Gondar.

Day 4
In the morning we will drive to Sankober in the Simien Mountains. Overnight camping or in lodge.

Day 5
Trekking in the Simien Mountains. Overnight camping or in lodge.

Day 6
In the morning we will do some final trekking, taking in the spectacular views of the Simien Mountains and returning to Sankober for overnight camping or in lodge.

Day 7
Continuing north to Axum, we pass through dramatic landscapes with views of the Simien Mountains along the way. Overnight in Axum.

Day 8
We explore the historical landmarks of the ancient Axumite Empire, including the Queen of Sheba's Bath, King Bazen's tomb and the ancient stellae erected as burial tombs for the most respected Kings. Overnight in Axum.

Day 9
In the morning, we go even further back in history as we explore the ruins at Yeha. We will also stop at the Debre Damo monastery for the men to climb to the plateau above for a visit (no women allowed.) Overnight in Adigrat.

tl_files/yossi/TOUR_PICS/IMG_4227.jpg

Day 10
Getting a taste for what's to come in Lalibela, we visit the rock-hewn churches of the Tigray Region in the Gheralta Cluster before proceeding to Mekele for overnight.

Day 11
Today we proceed driving to Lalibela, visiting the Yemrehanna Kristos church on the way. Overnight in Lalibela.

Day 12
The whole day will be dedicated to visiting the rock-hewn churches of the remarkable King Lalibela. Overnight in Lalibela.

Day 13
We will admire the surrounding areas of Lalibela with a hike (on foot or with donkey) to the Asheton Maryam church, sitting on the mountain overlooking the town of Lalibela. Overnight in Lalibela.

Day 14
We will start our journey back to Addis Ababa, via Woldia. On the way we will stop in Hayk for beautiful views over Lake Hayk. Overnight in Dessie or Kombolcha.

Day 15
Our final day of the journey, we continue back to Addis Ababa. If this day is a Monday, we will definitely not miss a stop in Bati for a visit to the camel market before continuing back to Addis.

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The Historical Route and Harar – 14 days


tl_files/yossi/TOUR_PICS/IMG_3547.jpgDay 1
Early in the morning, depart 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. Continuing to Bahir Dar you will pass through the spectacular Blue Nile Gorge. Overnight in Bahir Dar.


Day 2
In the morning, take a boat trip on Lake Tana to visit the island monasteries. In the afternoon, drive out to the Blue Nile Falls for a short hike. Finish the sunset over the beautiful spot at the source of the Nile. Overnight in Bahir Dar.


Day 3
Today we continue to Gondar. After settling in the hotel, we will explore the castles of King Fasilidas and the famous Debre Birhan Selassie church. Overnight in Bahir Dar.


Day 4
Continuing north to Axum, we pass through dramatic landscapes with views of the Simien Mountains along the way. Overnight in Axum.


Day 5
We explore the historical landmarks of the ancient Axumite Empire, including the Queen of Sheba's Bath, King Bazen's tomb and the ancient stellae erected as burial tombs for the most respected Kings. Overnight in Axum.


Day 6
In the morning, we go even further back in history as we explore the ruins at Yeha. We will also stop at the Debre Damo monastery for the men to climb to the plateau above for a visit (no women allowed.) Overnight in Adigrat.


tl_files/yossi/TOUR_PICS/IMG_2087.jpgDay 7
Getting a taste for what's to come in Lalibela, we visit the rock-hewn churches of the Tigray Region in the Gheralta Cluster before proceeding to Mekele for overnight.


Day 8
Today we proceed driving to Lalibela, visiting the Yemrehanna Kristos church on the way. Overnight in Lalibela.


Day 9
The whole day will be dedicated to visiting the rock-hewn churches of the remarkable King Lalibela. Overnight in Lalibela.


Day 10
We proceed driving to Dessie, via Woldia. On the way we will stop in Hayk for beautiful views over Lake Hayk. Overnight in Dessie (or Kombolcha).


Day 11
If this day is a Monday, we will stop in Bati for a visit to the camel market. Continuing to Awash, we drive through the Yangudi-Rassa National Park, home to the very rare African wild ass. Overnight in Awash.


Day 12Early in the morning we will visit the Awash National Park, with wonderful birdlife, hot springs, and the Awash waterfalls. After our break with nature, we continue to Harar for overnight.


Day 13
During the day, wander the alleyways of Harar, visit the colorful markets and stop in a traditional chat house. At night, we'll visit the famous Hyena Men.


Day 14
Our final day of the trip, we continue driving back to Addis Ababa.

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The Historical Route – 11 days

tl_files/yossi/TOUR_PICS/IMG_3331.jpgDay 1
Early in the morning, depart 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. Continuing to Bahir Dar you will pass through the spectacular Blue Nile Gorge. Overnight in Bahir Dar.


Day 2
In the morning, take a boat trip on Lake Tana to visit the island monasteries. In the afternoon, drive out to the Blue Nile Falls for a short hike. Finish the sunset over the beautiful spot at the source of the Nile. Overnight in Bahir Dar.


Day 3
Today we continue to Gondar. After settling in the hotel, explore the castles of King Fasilidas and the famous Debre Birhan Selassie church. Overnight in Bahir Dar.


Day 4
Continuing north to Axum, pass through dramatic landscapes with views of the Simien Mountains along the way. Overnight in Axum.


tl_files/yossi/Bild 6.pngDay 5
We explore the historical landmarks of the ancient Axumite Empire, including the Queen of Sheba's Bath, King Bazen's tomb and the ancient stellae erected as burial tombs for the most respected Kings. Overnight in Axum.


Day 6
In the morning, we go even further back in history as we explore the ruins at Yeha, believed to be the capital of Ethiopia before Axum. We will also stop at the Debre Damo monastery to climb to the plateau above for a visit (no women allowed.) Overnight in Adigrat.


Day 7
Getting a taste for what's to come in Lalibela, we visit the rock-hewn churches of the Tigray Region such as those in the Gheralta Cluster before proceeding to Mekele for overnight.


Day 8
Today we proceed driving to Lalibela, visiting the Yemrehanna Kristos church on the way. Overnight in Lalibela.


Day 9
The whole day will be dedicated to visiting the rock-hewn churches of the remarkable King Lalibela. Overnight in Lalibela.


Day 10
We will start our journey back to Addis Ababa, via Woldia. On the way we will stop in Hayk for beautiful views over Lake Hayk. Overnight in Dessie or Kombolcha.


Day 11
Our final day of the journey, we continue back to Addis Ababa. If this day is a Monday, we will definitely not miss a stop in Bati for a visit to the camel market before continuing back to Addis.
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Bahir Dar, Gondar, Simien Mountains and Lalibela – 10 days

tl_files/yossi/TOUR_PICS/IMG_3436.jpgDay 1
Early in the morning, depart 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. Continuing to Bahir Dar you will pass through the spectacular Blue Nile Gorge. Overnight in Bahir Dar.


Day 2
In the morning, take a boat trip on Lake Tana to visit the island monasteries. In the afternoon, drive out to the Blue Nile Falls for a short hike. Finish the sunset over the beautiful spot at the source of the Nile. Overnight in Bahir Dar.


Day 3
Today we continue to Gondar. After settling in the hotel, we will explore the castles of King Fasilidas and the famous Debre Birhan Selassie church. Overnight in Bahir Dar.


Day 4
In the morning we will drive to Sankober in the Simien Mountains. Overnight camping or in lodge.


Day 5
Trekking in the Simien Mountains. Overnight camping or in lodge.


Day 6
In the morning we will do some final trekking, taking in the spectacular views of the Simien Mountains and return driving to Gondar for overnight.


tl_files/yossi/TOUR_PICS/IMG_4233.jpgDay 7
After breakfast we proceed driving to Lalibela, through the region of Woreta - home of the Amhara people, with beautiful landscapes. Overnight in Lalibela.


Day 8
The whole day will be dedicated to visiting the rock-hewn churches of the remarkable King Lalibela. Overnight in Lalibela.


Day 9
We will start our journey back to Addis Ababa, via Woldia. On the way we will stop in Hayk for beautiful views over Lake Hayk. Overnight in Dessie or Kombolcha.


Day 10
Our final day of the journey, we continue back to Addis Ababa. If this day is a Monday, we will definitely not miss a stop in Bati for a visit to the camel market before continuing back to Addis.
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Bahir Dar, Gondar and Lalibela – 7 days

tl_files/yossi/TOUR_PICS/IMG_3814.jpgDay 1
Early in the morning, depart 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. Continuing to Bahir Dar you will pass through the spectacular Blue Nile Gorge. Overnight in Bahir Dar.


Day 2
In the morning, take a boat trip on Lake Tana to visit the island monasteries. In the afternoon, drive out to the Blue Nile Falls for a short hike. Finish the sunset over the beautiful spot at the source of the Nile. Overnight in Bahir Dar.


Day 3
Today we continue to Gondar. After settling in the hotel, we will explore the castles of King Fasilidas and the famous Debre Birhan Selassie church. Overnight in Bahir Dar.


Day 4
After breakfast we proceed driving to Lalibela, through the region of Woreta - home of the Amhara people, with beautiful landscapes. Overnight in Lalibela.


Day 5
The whole day will be dedicated to visiting the rock-hewn churches of the remarkable King Lalibela. Overnight in Lalibela.


tl_files/yossi/TOUR_PICS/IMG_1734.jpgDay 6
We will start our journey back to Addis Ababa, via Woldia. On the way we will stop in Hayk for beautiful views over Lake Hayk. Overnight in Dessie or Kombolcha.


Day 7
Our final day of the journey, we continue back to Addis Ababa. If this day is a Monday, we will definitely not miss a stop in Bati for a visit to the camel market before continuing back to Addis.
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Some more information

The Simien Mountains, with its jagged mountain peaks, provide a refreshing opportunity for trekking and wildlife viewing.  In stark contrast to the highland of Ethiopia, the Danakil Depression, with several points more than 100m below sea level, is the lowest point on the African continent - a spot for only the truly adventurous!

tl_files/yossi/TOUR_PICS/IMG_3993.jpg"Bahir Dar" means seashore in the Amharic language, which appropriately describes the city's position on the edge of Ethiopia's largest lake - Lake Tana. Hidden on the shores and islands of this great lake are the famous monasteries, home to Orthodox monks, colorful paintings depicting famous biblical scenes and other religious relics. 

Lake Tana also serves as the source of the Blue Nile River, which departs here on its long journey to the Mediterranean Sea. The Blue Nile Falls, known locally as Tis Issat - "Smoking fire" - are a magnificent sight. Hikes around the area are easy and pleasant, with beautiful surroundings and wildlife to accompany you.

With its empowering 17th-century castles, Gondar has rightfully earned the name "Africa's Camelot." Gondar was established as the capital of Ethiopia in 1636 by Emperor Fasilidas, and it thrived as capital until the late 19th century. Its collection of castles, erected by various emperors throughout the ages is a testament to Gondar's prosperity. Gondar is a popular place to visit during the Ethiopian celebration of Timket, when the Bath of Fasilidas is filled with water as the faithful renew their baptismal vows.

tl_files/yossi/TOUR_PICS/IMG_3509.jpgThe well-known Debre Birhan Selassie church sits on a hill above the city, with beautifully painted walls recounting many stories in religious history.  Don't forget to look up to see the angels smiling down at you from the most famous ceiling in Ethiopia.

In Axum are plenty of ancient castles, tombs, stellae and other evidence that Axum was once home to a great civilization. In fact, the Axum Empire was one of the most technologically advanced civilization of its time, from the 1st century BC to the 7th century AD. Wander amongst their history as you marvel at the remains of their greatness. The most famous historical figure that called Axum home was the illustrious Queen of Sheba. Visit her castle and her bath, which now provides water to Axum during the entire year. According to yet another local tradition, the most famous relic of all that calls Axum home is the Ark of the Covenant. Said to be housed in a specially-dedicated chapel on the compound of the St. Mary of Zion church, it is carefully guarded by Orthodox monks. 

A visit to Ethiopia is not complete without a trip to Lalibela, named after the remarkable king who built the 11 famous rock-hewn churches. When Lalibela was a baby, he was surrounded by a swarm of bees, said to prophesy his sovereignty. Later in his life, his brother, King Harbay, poisoned Lalibela, putting him into a deep sleep. It was in this sleep that Lalibela was taken to heaven, where God instructed him to build the churches seen in Lalibela today. After awaking from the sleep, his brother abdicated the crown to Lalibela, who immediately set upon building the churches, carved from the bedrock. The churches were built so quickly, it is said, because the angels continued the work at night.