• Journey to the roof of Africa to discover a country of ancient history and diverse landscapes
• Explore prehistoric archaeology, dramatic mountain vistas, lakeside monasteries and a wealth of birdlife
• Visit the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela – the ‘eighth wonder of the world’ – and experience Meskel celebrations in Gondar
is Visiting Professor at the Institute of Orthodox Christian Studies in Cambridge
conservationist, ornithologist and environmental consultant
Depart London Heathrow 2015 on Ethiopian Airlines for overnight flight.
Arrive Addis Ababa 0700 and check in to hotel for overnight. Free morning followed by afternoon visits to the cathedral and National Museum of Ethiopia (archaeological collections, Sabean artefacts, skeleton of 3.2 million year old ‘Lucy’).
Morning flight from Addis Ababa to Mekelle. Afternoon visits to rock churches of Adi Qosho Medhane Alem and Petros Paulos (time permitting). Continue to hotel in Hawzen for two nights. Evening lecture: Introduction to the Church and its Architecture.
Rock churches of the spectacular Gheralta region, including Wukro, Abreha we Atsbeha, and either Debre Tsion Abraham or Dugem Selassie.
Journey to Yeha for Temple of the Moon and archaeological excavations. Continue to Axum, passing by Adwa (scene of 1896 victory over Italian invasion) en route. Two nights at hotel in Axum.
Morning visits in Axum: Stelae Park, Church of Mary of Zion and Chapel of the Ark of the Covenant. Afternoon: archaeological sites including tombs of Caleb and Gebre Meskel followed by Queen of Sheba’s Palace (ruins). Evening lecture: Axum & the Ethiopian Kingdom.
Depart for the Simien Mountains and check in to local accommodation for two nights.
Our journey today will take between seven and eight hours, including some stops, and offers views across Ethiopia’s stunning natural landscape.
Whole day exploration of the Simien Mountains National Park (spectacular region known as ‘the chess pieces of the gods’; Gelada baboons, found only in Ethiopia).
Transfer to Gondar for overnight. Morning opportunity to witness Meskel celebrations. Afternoon visits to the castle complex (includes 17th century castle of Emperor Fasilides), Church of Debre Birhan Selassie (remarkable Ethiopian artwork) and Fasilides’s Bath (royal retreat used for ceremonial purposes – time permitting).
Morning flight from Gondar to Lalibela. Afternoon visits to north-west cluster of churches (Mariam, Medhane Alem, Danagel, Mesqal, Golgota, Mikael) followed by evening lecture: The History & Architecture of Lalibela. Two nights at hotel in Lalibela.
Morning visits to south-east cluster of churches (Gabriel, Emmanuel, Abba Libanos, Giyorgis). Afternoon: Asheten Maryam and Ben Ababa.
Whole day journey by coach to Bahir Dar (scenic views) for overnight.
Our journey will take between seven and eight hours, including stops, and there may be time to visit a local community project near Lake Tana.
Optional early morning bird-watching, followed by excursion by boat crossing Lake Tana to visit the monasteries of Azewa Mariam and Zege Ura Kidane Mehret (spectacular wall paintings). Evening flight from Bahir Dar to Addis Ababa. Transfer to hotel for overnight.
Morning: summary lecture followed by visit to Entoto Mariam Complex and Menelik’s Palace. Free time followed by farewell dinner and transfer to Addis Ababa airport.
Depart Addis Ababa 0120, arriving Heathrow 0635.
19 Sep — 3 Oct 2021
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FITNESS / PRACTICALITIES
Please note this tour includes several long journeys (two of up to eight hours), taking full advantage of this country’s stunning natural environment. Our route passes through highland areas at altitudes of up to 11000 ft – Addis Ababa itself is 7200 ft above sea level – and while the elevation makes for a generally very agreeable climate a very good level of fitness is required throughout. Travellers should be prepared for a lower overall standard of accommodation than we would expect in western Europe; our hotels will be chosen to be as comfortable as possible while remaining consistent with the objectives of a cultural tour.
Cost of £5195 includes: return airfare, accommodation based on sharing a twin or double bedded room, full board with water & non-alcoholic drinks, excursions & admissions, gratuities.
Not included: visa, travel insurance, single room supplement £685.