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Full Day by Day Itinerary
Upon arrival at the Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa, clear immigration and customs, collect your baggage, and proceed through the Arrivals Hall out to the parking lot. Your guide meets you here and transfers you to Jupiter International Hotel where you will stay for one night.
Rested and refreshed by your night in Addis, you will depart the hotel to drive to Arba Minch, the largest town in southern Ethiopia, set amongst lush green hills near Lakes Abaya and Chamo. Arba Minch is named for the numerous local springs that produce a groundwater forest. In Amharic, Arbaminch means “forty springs.” The town itself is divided into two distinct settlements. Buses and taxis connect Shecha (on higher ground) and downtown Sikela. Shecha is the uptown administrative center. Just two and a half miles away is Sikela, home to the commercial, industrial, and downtown residential areas. On the eastern side of Sikela lies the gate to Nechisar National Park, which covers the isthmus between Lake Abaya to the north and Lake Chamo to the south. Up on arrival you will drive to Chencha Village, home of the Dorze people. Renowned for their cotton weaving, called Shammas and their distinctive housetowering beehive shaped structures made from woven thatch.
You will then be taken to Paradise Lodge where you will stay for one night.
In the morning, you will enjoy a one-hour boat ride on the lake to Azo Gebeya, the so-called “crocodile market” – which is not a market at all, but a gathering place for crocodiles and pelican and one of the best features of the park. The attraction of the boat trip includes viewing of hippos and crocodiles from a very close range. Leaving Arba Minch, drive southwards to Jinka. You visit the Konso village who live in a land of low terraced hills. They are reputed to be the hardest workers in the country. Their elaborately terraced hillside grows some of the county’s best coffee. They have an article tradition and erect peculiar totems on the grave of their deceased. We experience interesting cultural encounters meeting with different tribes along the way. These tribes include the Ari, Benna and Tsemay.
You will then be transferred to Eco-Omo Lodge where you will stay for one night.
Take a day excursion to Mago National Park to visit the Mursi village. The Mursi are one of the most original ethnic groups. They live in very low huts made of straw leaves. The women like to wear terra cotta on their enormously stretched lower lips and ear lobes. The men are famous for their hairstyles.
The tribe is famed for their fierce warrior disposition and wildly decorative appearance, with large circular clay labrets that the women wear in the lower lip. The larger the lip plate, the greater the woman’s value when she is married. She removes her plate for eating and sleeping. You may see some women, especially elder women, without their lip plates. They are easily distinguished by how their long, distended lips hang down from their mouths.
Visit and drive to Turmi where you will proceed to Buska Lodge where you will stay for two nights.
Take an excursion to Omoratte where you will have cultural experience with the Geleb/ Dassenech people inhabitants of lower Omo River Valley. Later, you will venture to Murulle to visit the Karo people, who reside along the banks of the Lower Omo River. The Karo incorporate rich cultural symbolism into their rituals and use ornate body art, intricate headdress, and body scarification to emphasize beauty and status within their community. This small but lively tribe numbers under 1,000, but they are the main non-nomadic agriculturalist group in the Lower Omo Valley. The Karo are differentiated from neighboring tribes by placing higher emphasis on body and face painting. They paint themselves daily with colored ochre, white chalk, yellow mineral rock, charcoal, and pulverized iron ore – all resources found in this area. Karo body painting is a deep aspect of their culture; they are communicating as well as decorating. The experience of visiting the people of this incredibly rich, proud, yet adapting culture gives amazing insight into Ethiopia’s indigenous peoples.
Visit the Hammer peoples, one of the most beautiful and dignified people in the Omo basin. The women wear elegant leather skirts festooned with tiny pearls. Personal appearance is important to the Hammer, and they are striking indeed: their features and adornments include high cheekbones, elaborate beads and leather, elaborate hairstyles and thick copper necklaces.
Later you will drive to Arbaminch where you will stay at Paradise Lodge for one night.
Drive to Awassa, visiting the mountain village of Chencha, home of the Dorze people who are renowned for their colorful hand-woven cotton garments and their distinctive houses – towering beehive shaped structures made from woven thatch. En route you will also be able to encounter a number of villages of various tribes like the Wolaita & Oromo.
Go for early morning bird watching excursion along Lake Awassa, and visit the Awassa Fish Market. Head for Addis visiting Lakes: Abijata- Shala & Ziway, where you will be able to observe quite big numbers of aquatic birds.
This morning you will be transferred to the airport for your flight to Lalibela. Lalibela, also known as ‘Africa’s Petra,’ is Ethiopia’s crown jewel. It is home to the most famous churches and the scene of many major religious ceremonies. We 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 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 having 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.
You will stay overnight at Maribela Hotel for one night.
You will be transferred to the airport for your flight to Axum where early history of Ethiopia (Abyssinia) begins. Dating from the second century B.C., it 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. Take a city tour that includes the Stelae Park. These famed granite obelisks 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 33 meters (108 feet) tall and weighed about five hundred tons. The tallest obelisk still standing at Axum today is about 23 meters (75 feet) tall, still an impressive sight! We continue the city tour, visiting 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.
You will proceed to Sabean International Hotel where you will stay for one night.
After having breakfast you will drive to Semein Mountain National Park. En route you will visit the Felasha Village. Observe the magnificent scenery with unique flora, the first segment of the Simien Mountains National Park – “Roof of Africa”. Up on arrival you will check-in your hotel and you will proceed to drive to Sanqaber, you will be able to encounter birds like Lammergeyer and endemic Gelada Baboon.
You will then be transferred to Limalimo Lodge where you will stay for two nights.
After breakfast, you will drive to Chenek. You will have beautiful views on both sides of the escarpment ridge and this is a great place to spot 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.
Enjoy the morning view of the Semein Mountains before departing on a light trek to observe the Gelada Baboon and the breathtaking landscape. This afternoon drive to Gondar, a town founded in 1636 by the great Emperor Fassiladas. Set in a landscape of incomparable beauty, it was the Royal Capital of Ethiopia. Visit the impressive castles and churches built by Emperor Fassiladas and his descendants. Later proceed to the fascinating Debre Birhan Selassie Church, with its walls and ceilings decorated with scenes of Biblical lore and medieval history.
Proceed to Taye Belay Hotel where you will stay for one night.
Today you will be driven to Bahirdar. En route you will stop at the village of Awra Amba, which is located off the Woreta – Woldia ‘China-Road’. Visit this unique settlement that is considered to be a prime model for self-help and above all gender equality. Women have equal rights as men and there is no distinction in divisions of labor. Men cook, women plow, and religion has no place. They believe in hard work and being good to people. Then continue to drive to Bahirdar and visit the village of Tis Isat to see the Blue Nile falls (please be informed that due to the newly constructed electric dam in the vicinity the water level of the falls could be very minimal.
You will then be taken to Kuriftu Resort and Spa where you will stay for one night.
After having breakfast, you will take a boat cruise on Lake Tana to visit the 14th century Monastery of Ura Kidane Mihret, which is the most famous of the Zege peninsula monasteries with a very beautiful painted maqdas and priceless collection of crosses as well as crowns. After you visit, you will be transferred to the airport for your flight back to Addis.
Upon arrival you will be transferred to Jupiter International Hotel where you will stay for one night.
After an early breakfast, you will be collected from your hotel by an Alluring Africa representative, for your private road transfer to the airport for your departure flight. Return home, taking with you the sights, sounds, and memories of an incredible vacation!