The Simien Mountains
Blue Nile Falls
Church of St George
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’
“The Tour Director enthused us with his love of the country”
- ACE customer on a previous tour to Ethiopia led by John Binns
On the roof of Africa, source of the Blue Nile, lies an ancient country whose Orthodox church plays a guiding role in the second oldest Christian nation in the world. The church exhibits colourful ceremonies and traditions influenced by Judaism as well as historical links with Islam. Exploring this distinctive history, our tour will reveal the country’s wonderful architectural tradition of rock-hewn churches, not least some lesser-known sites in the north east as well the extraordinary ‘New Jerusalem’ carved out of the hillside at Lalibela.
While the wonders of Lalibela perhaps form the pinnacle of a visit to Ethiopia, the rest of the country’s rich history, culture and landscape captivate travellers, and we hope to include several other centres in our itinerary. Within the dramatic highland landscapes of northern Ethiopia lies a fascinating array of monuments, many of them UNESCO World Heritage sites. The giant stelae – spectacular monolithic obelisks – royal tombs and palace remains at Axum speak of a once powerful kingdom, which stretched from Southern Arabia to Meroe in northern Sudan; in the 3rd century it was considered one of the four great empires of the world, alongside Rome, Persia and China.
Equally absorbing is the diverse landscape surrounding these cultural sites. On previous ACE tours, we have taken in the dramatic mountainous region of the Simiens, where it is possible to see unusual Afro-alpine vegetation and glimpse rare mammals together with many unusual birds. In contrast, where the headwaters of the Blue Nile gather near Bahir Dar, shimmering Lake Tana provides island homes for churches dating back to the 14th century, many adorned with magnificent wall paintings.
Addis Ababa, the cosmopolitan capital and administrative centre of the African Union, is home to the National Museum of Ethiopia, home to the skeleton of 3.2 million year old ‘Lucy’, one of our earliest bipedal ancestors.
Tour Director Rev John Binns, PhD, has researched and lectured in a variety of Eastern Orthodox countries, including Russia, Israel/Palestine and Serbia. His posts have included Visiting Professor at the Institute of Orthodox Christian Studies in Cambridge and Research Associate at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. John has visited Ethiopia many times, and his publications include The Orthodox Church of Ethiopia: A History (I B Tauris, London 2016) and An Introduction to the Orthodox Christian Churches (Cambridge University Press, 2002). He is also chair of trustees of Partners for Change Ethiopia, a community development agency based in Addis Ababa, with a UK office in Cambridge.
Full details, including the dates, itinerary and cost, will be released in 2024. Please click here to register your interest.
Included: Full details, including the tour dates, itinerary and cost, will be released in 2024. Please contact the ACE office now to register your interest.