Enchanting Ethiopia

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Day 1

Upon arrival into Addis Ababa, after completing immigration formalities, collect your baggage and proceed to the Arrivals Hall. Here you will be met by an Alluring Africa representative for your private road transfer to Sheraton Addis, where you will stay for one night.

(Time permitting) You will be taken on a City Tour of Addis. Drive to Mount Entoto, a historical place where Emperor Menelik II resided and built his palace, when he came from Ankober and founded Addis Ababa. It is considered a sacred mountain and has many monasteries. You will have a magnificent view of the city. Then drive to the National Museum, which houses the nation’s artistic treasures, as well as many of the most precious archaeological finds such as the fossilized remains of early hominids, the most famous of which is “Lucy,” the partial skeleton of a specimen of Australopithecus afarensis, said to be 3.2 million years old. Drive to Trinity Cathedral Church, the highest-ranking Orthodox cathedral. It was built to commemorate Ethiopia’s liberation from Italian occupation and is the second most important place of worship in Ethiopia, after the Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion in Axum.  

Visit the Ethnological Museum, set within Haile Selassie’s former palace and surrounded by the beautiful gardens and fountains of Addis Ababa University’s main campus. Even if you are not normally a museum fan, this one is worth a bit of your time as it’s easily one of the finest museums in Africa. Later, you drive to Mercato and drive through the largest open market in Africa, covering several square miles and employing an estimated 13,000 people in 7,100 business entities.  

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Day 2

After breakfast you will be collected from your hotel and transferred to the airport for the scheduled flight to Gondar. Upon arrival, you will be met by an Alluring Africa driver/guide to depart immediately for Semein Mountain National Park. En route observe the magnificent scenery with unique flora of “The Roof of Africa”. Here you will stay at Limalimo Lodge for one night.

After check in, head out on a scenic driveEnjoy spectacular views on both sides of the escarpment ridge, and look out for the Walia ibex, and if you are lucky, the Ethiopian Wolf. Tucked away behind a hillock on a mini plateau is a romantic spot with a bench, looking back to Imet Gogo and Inatye. Proceed to Sanqaber where you may encounter birds like the Lammergeyer and endemic Gelada Baboon.

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Day 3

Return to Gondar with your private driver/guide.  Gondar was founded in 1636 by the great Emperor Fassiladas. Set in a landscape of incomparable beauty, it was once the Royal Capital of Ethiopia. Visit the impressive castles and churches built by Emperor Fassiladas and his descendants. Later, visit the fascinating Debre Birhan Selassie Church, with its walls and ceilings decorated with scenes of Biblical lore and medieval history.

Here you will stay at Mayleko Lodge for one night.

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Day 4

At a time to be advised: You will be collected from your hotel by an Alluring Africa representative for your private road transfer to the airport for your scheduled flight to Lalibela.  Also known as ‘Africa’s Petra,’ Lalibela is Ethiopia’s crown jewel. It is home to the most famous churches and the scene of many major religious ceremonies. Upon arrival you will be met and transferred to Mezena Lodge, where you will stay for two nights. 

After lunch, depart on an excursion to “Yemerehane Kristos” church.  Upon arrival you will take a short walk (20-30 minutes) to the cave built church, known for its Axumite Architectural design, manuscripts, crosses, artifacts, paintings and carvings.

If you are in Lalibela during the Christmas celebrations as celebrated by the Ethiopian Orthadox Christians (later then global Christmas celebration), you can attend the Christmas Eve ceremony with the pilgrims which is held at Bete Mariam church. The chanting by the “deacons” and the priests continue throughout the night and around while the pilgrims clap and ululate to the drum beat. At midnight, there is a candlelight ceremony to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ. 
 

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Day 5

Today, you will visit the magnificent rock-hewn churches of Lalibela, which are called the “Eighth Wonder of the World.” These churches were hewn out of solid rock between 800 – 1200 AD and are still active houses of worship. The churches are carved below ground level and ringed by trenches and courtyards and are arguably Ethiopia’s top attraction. They are connected to each other by a tangled maze of tunnels and passages.

Visit the first group of six churches which lie in rock cradles one behind the other: Bet Golgotha, Bet Mikael, Bet Mariam, Bet Meskel, Bet Danaghel and Bet Medhane Alem. Bet Medhane Alem, the largest one is built like a Greek Temple.

After lunch, you will visit the second group of churches. Bet Giyorgis, possibly the most elegant of all the Lalibela churches, lies somewhat isolated in the southwest part of the village on a sloping rock terrace. It can only be reached through a tunnel.

The group of four, south of the Jordan River, comprise of Bet Emanuel, Bet Mercuiros, Bet Abba Libanos and Bet Gabriel – Rufa’el. Bet Emanuel’s elaborate exterior is much praised by art historian.

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Day 6

At a time to be advised:  After breakfast you will be collected from your hotel by an Alluring Africa representative, and transferred to the airport for the scheduled flight to Axum. Upon arrival, you will be collected by an Alluring Africa representative and taken on a tour of Axum.

Dating from the second century B.C., Axum reached its height of power between the fourth and seventh centuries A.D., when it controlled most of present – day Ethiopia and, at times, both sides of the Red Sea. Axum was once the center of a great empire, and the seat of learning for the ancient Ge’ez language and literature. Visit Stelae Park to see the famed granite obelisks which are relics of this time and have gained UNESCO World Heritage Site status. The tallest, the Great Stele, has fallen and broken into six massive pieces, but when standing was 108 feet tall and weighed about five hundred tons. The tallest obelisk still standing at Axum today is about 75 feet tall, still an impressive sight! Continue to St. Mary’s Church and the Sanctuary Chapel, which is the repository of the Ark of the Covenant; the Coronation Yard; King Ezana’s Park; and the “Queen of Sheba” ruins, once a massive palace with finely mortared stonewalls, deep foundations, and its own impressive drainage system, believed to be the oldest building in Axum.

After the tour, check into Sabean International Hotel, where you will stay for one night.

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Day 7

At a time to be advised: After breakfast you will be collected from your hotel by an Alluring Africa driver/guide, and for the drive to Hawzien via Adwa and Adigrat. En route, visit Yeha, a 5th century B.C. Temple. This temple displays incredible skills in stonework and is, in fact, the oldest building still standing in Ethiopia.  Arrive in Gheralta where you will stay at Gheralta Lodge for two nights.

The precipitous Gheralta Mountains are a formidable frontier, and tucked away into these mountain cliffs are some of the country’s least visited rock-hewn Ethiopian Orthodox cave churches, some of which are more than 1,000 years old.  Although local legend claims that these churches date to between the 4th and 6th Centuries, historians believe that they were more likely built from the 9th to 12th Centuries. 

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Day 8

At a time to be advised: After breakfast, you will be collected by your Alluring Africa driver/guide and taken on a short drive to Dugum at the base of Gheralta Lodge. Visit Dugum Selassie carved into granite within the compound of the eponymous modern church. The church is unusual due to its location on the plain rather than in the mountains. It is the only site with three sanctuaries in a single area. Return to your lodge in time to enjoy the beautiful sunset. 

 

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Day 9

At a time to be advised: After breakfast, you will be collected from your hotel by your Alluring Africa driver/guide to begin the drive to Mekele.  On the way you will stop to visit Abraha Atsebeha, a rock-hewn church whose interior is painstakingly decorated.  Afterwards, you will visit the town of Wukro and the rock church of Wukro Cherkos near the town, the most accessible of the rock-hewn churches in Tigray. Then continue on to Mekele for your scheduled flight to Addis Ababa. Upon arrival, you will be met by an Alluring Africa representative for your road transfer to Sheraton Addis, where you will stay for one night.

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Day 10

At a time to be advised: You will be collected by an Alluring Africa representative for your road transfer to the airport for your departure flight.

Return home, taking with you the sights, sounds, and memories of an incredible African adventure!

Included

  • Scheduled activities/tours (i.e. with other guests) as specified. Most safari camps and lodges include two game activities per day (morning and afternoon);
  • Alluring Africa’s local reps available 24/7 while traveling;
  • Services of lodge guides and staff;
  • Air/ground transfers as specified;
  • Accommodation taxes, applicable tourism levies and all relevant Value Added Government Sales Tax (GST);
  • Relevant park fees;
  • All accommodation as specified;
  • Excursions/activities as specified;
  • Drinks – differs between camps/lodges;
  • Laundry can be done at most camps/lodges and hotels. In some cases this is included in the tariff quoted;
  • Alluring Africa final documentation.

Excluded

  • Meals, drinks, laundry, entrance fees, porterage, tours/excursions and transfers not specified;
  • Any scheduled flights and related taxes not specified;
  • Cancellation, baggage and medical insurance – which is essential;
  • Staff gratuities;
  • Any new gov. taxes, levies, fuel or industry increases which are beyond our control;
  • Any items of a personal nature or anything not specifically stated as included;
  • International airfare.