Northern Ethiopia: The Historic Route8 days & 7 nights, Private Journey
Handcrafted itineraries for one or more travelers with on-the-ground support, a private guide, and a private vehicle. Private Journeys represent the best of the custom programs we've designed over the years. Our insider knowledge and destination expertise make these innovative journeys truly unique experiences.Private Journey
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Day 1Arrive Addis Ababa
Upon arrival, you will be escorted to your hotel. This afternoon, embark on a tour of the city.Sheraton Addis - 1 Night
Day 2To Bahir Dar
This morning, fly to Bahir Dar, and enjoy a cruise on Lake Tana, the largest lake in Ethiopia. Of the vast lake's 33 islands, 23 of them have churches and monasteries of historical and cultural interest. Then see the stunning frescoes, ancient biblical manuscripts and old crosses of the monastery church of Ura Kidane Mihret. Return to Bahir Dar for lunch before taking an excursion to Blue Nile Falls (seasonal). The falls are known locally as "Tis Issat," which means "smoke of fire," after the smoky bubbles of the falling waters.Kuriftu Lodge - 1 Night (B, L, D)
Day 3To Gondar
Embark upon a scenic drive to Gondar, the first capital of the Ethiopian empire, founded in 1635 by the Emperor Fasilidas. This afternoon, visit 17th-century palaces, the library of Fasilidas' son and the church of Debre Berhan Selassie, which is located at the summit of a hill and surrounded by fortified walls. Finally, explore the ruins of Kuskuam Church and a nearby palace.Mayleko Lodge - 2 Nights (B, L, D)
Discover the wild beauty of Simien Mountains National Park. The road to the park passes through mountainous areas boasting amethyst-colored peaks and deep gullies. These river valleys are home to the Walia ibex and troops of mischievous Gelada baboon, which are endemic to Ethiopia. After a picnic lunch in the park, visit the former village of the Felasha (African Jews) who have now migrated to Israel.Mayleko Lodge (B, L, D)
Day 5 - 6To Lalibela
Fly to Lalibela, home to stone churches painstakingly hewn from the rock more than 800 years ago. Some of the highlights include Bet Medhane Alem (House of the Savior of the World), which resembles a Greek or Roman temple and is said to be the largest stone church in the world; Bet Maryam (House of Mary), which boasts beautiful frescoes and interior decoration; and Bet Gyorgyis (House of St. George), the last-built and most famous of these spectacular churches. Spend the following day further exploring this monumental site.Maribela Hotel - 2 Nights (B, L, D)
Day 7To Axum
Fly to Axum, the site of the Cathedral of Tsion Maryam, which was founded in the fourth century and is still considered the home of Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity. Visit this cathedral, where the Ark of the Covenant is reputed to be stored; the palace of the Queen of Sheba; and a field of carved monoliths from pre-Christian times. The most controversial of the stelae, the Obelisk of Axum, was stolen by Italian forces in 1937 during Italy's conquest of Ethiopia, and has only recently been returned and restored.Sabean Hotel - 1 Night (B, L, D)
Day 8Depart Addis Ababa
Return to Addis today. This afternoon, you can visit the biggest open-air market in Africa. Or perhaps take an excursion to Holy Trinity Cathedral, which is the last resting place of Emperor Haile Selassie. Later today, head to the airport for your onward flight.(B)
Generally, road conditions in southern Africa are reasonably good; however, they vary greatly between the modern cities and the remote areas, where the dusty, gravel roads necessitate 4-wheel-drive travel. When traveling off the beaten track, roads are frequently narrow, bumpy and pot-holed, and have stretches which are not sealed, or which are under reconstruction. In Ethiopia, Madagascar, Namibia and Rwanda particularly, conditions are very dusty and the off-road journeys tend to be quite strenuous. Road conditions change throughout the year, and heavy tropical rains and extreme weather patterns can affect journey times enormously.
If we are custom designing an itinerary for you, it is always a good idea to discuss your particular requirements with your travel consultant, who will endeavor to include as much or as little road travel as you desire. The type of vehicle varies according to the country visited and the number of people within your group. In destinations where conditions require it, off-road driving will be in 4-wheel-drive Land Cruisers or Land Rovers.
Internal Flights: Scheduled flights within Sub-Saharan Africa are typically limited to 33-44 lbs. of luggage per person, depending on the airline or charter company operating the flight. Although you may have a luggage weight limit of 44-88 lbs. on your international flight as well as hand luggage, you will need to limit your baggage as required according to the country and airlines or store baggage at your arrival airport. Some flights also require that luggage be packed in soft-sided bags, which Cox & Kings will provide prior to your travel. Between the camps and lodges, we can book either shared air transfers or private charters. We will automatically book shared air transfers wherever available unless otherwise requested. Please note that shared air transfers may make stops to pick up and drop off passengers at other camps, lodges and airstrips en route. Private charter flights only stop for refueling or for customs and immigration formalities as needed. The flight times for air transfers between camps and lodges are arranged 24-48 hours prior to the flight. Departure times are therefore advised locally. Passengers weighing more than 220 lbs. should advise us in advance, as some air charter companies require that an extra seat be purchased at an additional cost for all shared air transfer flight segments. This is for safety and comfort of all guests on board.
Flight Delays & Insurance: Unfortunately, due to the increase in air traffic, government restrictions and changing weather conditions, flight delays have become more common. Apart from delaying your arrival at your destination, these delays can cause problems with onward connections and/or hotel and vacation arrangements, which may need to be rescheduled. Although the airline will sometimes make alternative arrangements to get you to your next destination at no extra cost, additional costs may be involved after your arrival in the form of additional accommodation costs, transfers and onward tickets. Unfortunately, since most services are paid for in advance, any services missed due to delays are non-refundable. Please also bear in mind that many international flight tickets are non-changeable and non-refundable. Therefore, it is essential that you are insured against such eventualities.
Airport Departure Taxes: Many cities in Africa levy a tax for passengers departing on international flights, and where this is not included in the ticket price it will need to be paid in local currency or the equivalent in U.S. dollars. Other cities within a country may also levy a small charge for departures on domestic flights. Occasionally, taxes may be included in your ticket; we will advise you accordingly. Since there is no standard charge between countries, and taxes are subject to change, it is not possible to list the taxes in this brochure. We list applicable departure taxes in our pre-tour general information, which you should receive when you confirm your booking. We attempt to keep these as current as possible. Please ensure you keep enough local currency or U.S. dollars to cover these taxes.
Traveling by train in southern Africa can be a very rewarding and enjoyable experience. New luxury train routes are constantly being developed and there are now a variety of excellent routes available. Cox & Kings does not advise travelers to use the local trains, which cannot be confirmed as safe; however, the internationally acclaimed Rovos Rail and Blue Train offer a relaxed and luxurious alternative to road travel.
Accommodation standards vary dramatically throughout Africa; however, hotels used on Cox & Kings journeys can normally be expected to be very comfortable. In more remote destinations, such as parts of Ethiopia, Madagascar and Rwanda, accommodation will be more basic. Cox & Kings uses the best available properties in remote destinations and, although these will be clean and offer en suite rooms, in general they cannot be compared to modern, Western hotels. In some locations, many of the hotels we use are small, privately owned properties retaining much of their original ambience. In most destinations, service and food will be of a high quality, but in some less-developed regions hotel service can be slow and we ask you to show patience in this regard. Please note, typically all rooms reserved on your tour are standard; however, if you wish to upgrade your room, please speak to your tour consultant, who will be able to advise you about the options and the applicable supplements.
Early Starts: When on safari, you will find it is necessary to leave your lodge very early in the morning (around dawn) in order to maximize the opportunities for game viewing, as the wildlife is more active during the cooler morning hours and in the evening.
Check-in & Check-out Times: In some situations, when a flight arrives very early in the morning, it may be that you will be taken for breakfast or sightseeing before being allocated your rooms since check-in time is normally between 12 noon and 2 p.m. and check-out time is normally 11 a.m. to 12 noon. Cox & Kings’ local representatives will ensure that you are able to access your room as early as possible, but early check-ins are not guaranteed.
Game Parks & Remote Areas: Within Africa, we generally use the best accommodation available. However, even luxurious properties are a long way from other civilization and can often only be reached down narrow and makeshift roads. Although accommodation will often be in tents, these can be more luxurious than some lodges and include private facilities. Even when you travel off the beaten track with Cox & Kings, you can be sure that your accommodation in game lodges, smaller hotels and tented camps is on par with the best available in that category. Sometimes the best hotel may be the only hotel, which may be very modest. In these cases we feel that such accommodation is outweighed by the experience of these more remote areas.
Location: East Africa, bordering Djibouti, Eritrea, Kenya, Somalia, and Sudan
Capital: Addis Ababa
Area: 426,372 sq. miles
Currency: Ethiopian Birr
Official Language(s): Amharic, Oromigna, Tigrigna, English, and Italian are most widely spoken
Visas: Visas may be obtained in advance, although visas are available upon arrival in Addis Ababa. Inoculations: Ethiopia requires travelers arriving from countries where yellow fever is present to have proof of yellow fever vaccination.
What To See
Northern Ethiopia carries strong elements of history and religion, from the rock hewn churches of Lalibela to the home of Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity, Axum. Gondar’s 17th century castles give insight into the first Ethiopian empire, while wildlife can be spotted in the Simien Mountains, known for Gelada baboons and Walia ibex. The capital city of Addis Ababa is modern, with everything from great Italian food to jazz clubs and more traditional Ethiopian fare. The south of the country is a complete contrast, known for the tribes of the Omo Valley. Their stunning body paint, unique hair styles, weaving techniques and rituals take travelers to a different time and place.
Northern Ethiopia: The Historic Route
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