Rating in Ethiopia
$ 3154

Ethiopia's Historic North

min $ 3154
Per person
Tour details
Destinations: Addis Ababa
Guide language: English
Price: min $ 3154
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  • Overview & dates
  • Itinerary
  • What's included

Overview & dates


Packed with historical secrets, Northern Ethiopia is unlike anywhere in Africa. In Addis Ababa, come face-to-face with Lucy, the oldest humanoid in the world. Visit remote rock-hewn churches in Tigray and Lalibela. The towering obelisks of Axum tell the story of a once-great Empire where the Ark of the Covenant is still believed to reside. The island forest in Lake Tana hides ancient monasteries, vervet monkeys and birdlife. Nearby, trek to the source of the Blue Nile and spot gelada baboons and wild ibex in the Simien Mountains.


  • 14 Sep 2018 to 27 Sep 2018 - £ 2,495 - AV
  • 30 Mar 2019 to 12 Apr 2019 - £ 2,495 - AV
  • 13 Sep 2019 to 26 Sep 2019 - £ 2,495 - AV

If these dates do not suit you but you are interested in this tour, please contact us for alternative dates.

AV - Available
GD - Guaranteed
LM - Limited places left
OR - On request (contact us for status)
CL - Closed for bookings

All tours in Ethiopia


Wander through Africa's largest open air market

Meet Lucy, the world’s oldest humanoid

Gentle rural walk to source of the Blue Nile

Visit island monastery on Lake Tana

Medieval castles of Gondar

Gelada baboons and birdlife in the Simien Mountains

Ancient stelae of Axum

Ethiopia’s Orthodox Christianity

Impressive 5th century Great Temple of Yeha

Rock-hewn churches of Lalibela


Addis Ababa - Bahir Dar - Gondar - Simien Mountains - Axum - The Great Temple of Yeha - Hawzen - Lalibela Addis Ababa
Bahir Dar
Simien Mountains
The Great Temple of Yeha



Short | Detailed | PDF

Choose departure date14 Sep 2018 -- 27 Sep 201830 Mar 2019 -- 12 Apr 201913 Sep 2019 -- 26 Sep 2019

If you have a few extra days you can easily tag on a 5-day extension tour to Awash National Park and Harar before or after this tour. The walled city of Harar, in eastern Ethiopia, is a UNESCO heritage site and the Islamic part of Ethiopia close to the Djibouti border. Contact us for more information.

Day 1 : Addis Ababa

Pick up from Addis Ababa airport. Transfer to hotel. Afternoon sightseeing of Merkato and the piazza. Overnight in Addis Ababa.

Upon arrival, you will be met by a Travel The Unknown representative and taken by transfer to your hotel. Check into hotel where you will be able to rest after your flight. Later, there will be an afternoon sightseeing tour of Addis Ababa which will include a visit to Merkato, the largest open-air market in Africa, and a walking tour of the piazza. Evening free. Return to hotel. Overnight in Addis Ababa. 

Meal plan : n/a

Addis Ababa is Africa’s fourth largest city, with an area of 250sq/km, and is located at an altitude of 2,300m above sea level. It is a vast place with a thriving population of over 2,750,000 people. There is a wide range of visitor attractions, including many museums and educational institutions. It has most recently become known as the ‘spa city of Africa’.

Merkato is the largest open air market in Africa, covering several square miles and employing an estimated 13,000 people. The Merkato is home to an enormous array of products including Ethiopia’s endemic wild coffee, exotic spices and jewellery. There is even a recycling market where anything from sandals made out of tyres to coffee pots moulded from old Italian olive tins can be found.

Day 2 : Addis Ababa - Bahir Dar

Morning tour of Addis Ababa. Late afternoon transfer to airport for flight to Bahir Dar. Transfer to lodge. Overnight in Bahir Dar.

You will enjoy a morning city tour of Addis Ababa including sights like St George's Church, the Ethnological Museum and the Entoto Mountains which offer panoramic views of Addis Ababa. Late afternoon you will be transferred to the airport for your flight to Bahir Dar. Transfer to your lodge for overnight stay. Evening free. Overnight in Bahir Dar. 

Meal plan : Breakfast, lunch & dinner

The National Museum in Addis Ababa holds an interesting collection of artefacts from Ethiopia's illustrious past but the undoubted star of the show is the remains of Lucy, a skeleton of a female Australopithecus afarensis, named from the Afar region of Ethiopia where she was found. Discovered in 1974, Lucy is 3.2 million years old and shares traits with apes (her skull) and with humans (walking upright), leading to claims of the 'missing link' having been discovered. Sometimes the museum exhibits a replica when Lucy is on tour at museums overseas.

The St. George Church was established in 1982 to preserve and promote Ethiopian Orthodox clergy. It is a small octagonal building that was the site of Emperor Hailie Selassie's coronation.

The two-storey Ethnological Museum is a great place to learn about the diversity of Ethiopia. It is structured like a story book, depicting the journey of life to death from different perspectives. 

Entoto Mountain, located to the north of Addis Ababa, offers a panoramic view of the capital. It is the highest part of the city and is historically covered in Eucalyptus trees, which are often referred to as the 'lungs of Addis Ababa'.

Day 3 : Bahir Dar

Visit island monastery on Lake Tana. Trek to the source of the Blue-Nile Falls. Overnight.

In the morning, walk to the Blue Nile Falls. After lunch, take a boat from Lake Tana to the island monasteries. Evening free. Overnight stay in the local area.

Meal plan : Breakfast, lunch & dinner

Lake Tana is the largest lake in Ethiopia,  measuring approximately 84km long and 66km wide,  and is also the source of the Blue Nile. The lake contains 37 islands, however their visibility varies according to seasonal water fluctuations, which are regulated to measure inflow to the Blue Nile Falls. The islands accommodate 20 monasteries, which are used to store religious artifacts due to their remote location. 

The Blue Nile Falls, also known as Tis Abay, mean 'smoking water' in  Amharic. They start as a gentle river flowing 5,223km north of the Mediterranean Sea before joining the impressive falls. The waterfall itself is around 150ft high and half a mile wide, which is just spectacular to witness. Surrounded by immense natural beauty, the falls attract parrots, bee-eaters, white throated seedeaters and vervet monkeys, just to name a few. 

Day 4 : Gondar - Kossoye

Early morning depart for Gondar. Sightseeing at the castle complex. Drive to Kossoye in the Simien Mountains.

Early morning departure to Gondar for sightseeing at the castle complex. This will be followed by a drive to Kossoye, one of the most scenic spots in the Simien Mountains National Park. It is believed that in 1964, Queen Elizabeth stayed here with Emperor Haileselasse during their journey to Axum for the inauguration of the Axum Zion church. Overnight stay in Kossoye. 

Meal plan : Breakfast, lunch & dinner

King Fasil (Fasiledes) is believed to have moved his royal camp to Gondar where he settled. Surrounded by fertile land with rich sources of gold, civet and ivory, and at the crossroads of 3 major trading routes, the King established Gondar as a capital city. It is often referred to as the "Camelot of Africa", with several medieval castles rising above a landscape of tin-roofed stone houses. The Royal Court developed into a compound called Fasil Ghebbi which consists of six major building complexes and is surrounded by a 900m long wall. In this area alone, there are around twenty different palaces and royal buildings as well as thirty churches.

Day 5 : Kossoye - Simien Mountains

Walk in Kossoye. Drive to Simien Mountains National Park. Sankaber and surrounding areas. Overnight stay in Simien Mountains.

Enjoy a short walk in the surrounding area of Kossoye, followed by a drive to Simien Mountains National Park. You will be taken to Sankaber, and its surrounding areas, to admire the stunning scenery and see the native Gelada baboon during an afternoon walk. Overnight stay in Simien Mountains. 

Meal plan : Breakfast, lunch & dinner

The Simien Mountains are a World Heritage site. The peaks, such as Ras Dashen, stand at an impressive height of over 4,000m high. The fact that it is one of the least developed national parks is part of the reason why it is considered to be one of Africa’s most beautiful mountain ranges. The park is home to many endemic species, like the gelada baboon, Ethiopian wolf and wild ibex, as well as over 50 species of birds, including the bearded vulture. 

Day 6 : Simien Mountains

Drive to Chenek. Sightseeing. Visit to village located in park. Drive Back to Sankeber. Overnight.

After an early breakfast, head to Chenek. Here, you will view the most scenic surroundings in the Simien Mountains and also be given a chance to spot the native Walia Ibex. Later, there will be a visit to a village located in the park to meet the local people and try your hand at making Ethiopian coffee, beer and injera, then return to the lodge.

Meal plan : Breakfast, lunch & dinner

Day 7 : Simien Mountains - Axum

Drive to Axum. View Limalimo Twist and Tekeze gorge. Overnight in Axum.

Drive to Axum which will take you across the stunning Limalimo Twist and Tekeze Gorge. Stop off to see the incense trees which are dotted along the valley. Arrive early evening into Axum. Check into hotel and evening to rest. 

Meal plan : Breakfast, lunch & dinner

Axum is the cradle of Ethiopia’s 3,000-year-old civilisation. In its heyday in the 6th century, the Axumite Kingdom was one of the four great powers of the world and ruled the two southern sides of the Red Sea. The glory of the Kingdom can still be pictured as you gaze out on the colossal rock stelae, the stonework of royal tombs and the legendary bath of the Queen of Sheba.

Day 8 : Axum - Yeha - Axum

Early morning trip to the ancient city of Axum for sightseeing. In the afternoon drive to the Great Temple of Yeha. Drive back to Axum for overnight stay.

Early morning trip to the ancient city of Axum for sightseeing. Visit Axum's 2000 year old stelae, the Palace of the legendary Queen of Sheba, and the St Mary of Zion Church which is believed to house the actual Ark of the Covenant. In the afternoon drive to the 5th century Great Temple of Yeha visiting the Adwa mountains en route. Drive back to Axum. Evening at leisure. 

Meal plan : Breakfast, lunch & dinner

The Ark of the Covenant, referred to at several points of the Old Testament, is stored in the Chapel of the Tablet. This is opposite the St. Mary of Zion Church. The Ark is believed to contain the ten commandments given by God to Moses.

The Palace of Queen Sheba, known locally as Dungar, now bears only the remains of the mansion that previously stood in its place. Covering around 3,250 sq/m, a visit to the site will allow you to see the full excavation that has taken place so far. 

The Great Temple of Yeha is an example of the stunning construction that dates from the 5th to 8th century BC. The whole temple remains as an example of near perfect geometry due to the stature of its build.

Day 9 : Axum - Ghera'alta

After breakfast drive to Hawzen (in Tigray), home to some of Ethiopia's most spectacular churches. Witness some of Ethiopia's stunning mountain scenery on the way. Overnight in Hawzen.

After breakfast drive to Hawzen (in Tigray), home to some of Ethiopia's most spectacular rock-hewn churches. Witness some of Ethiopia's stunning mountain scenery on the way. Overnight in Hawzen.

Meal plan : Breakfast, lunch & dinner

Abuna Abraham Debre Tsion Church  is elaborately decorated with 16th century murals. The church's ceremonial fan dates back to the 15th century and consists of 34 parchment panels, each painted with a figure of a saint.

Yohannes Maequddi has six free standing pillars that hold up the ceiling. The rectangular church is popular for its ancient and well preserved paintings and decor. The ceiling, like many features in the church, is beautifully carved with geometrical designs, while some of the paintings are as old as 300 years and are unique in style to any other in Ghera'alta. 

Day 10 : Hawzen

A full day visit to the rock-hewn churches: Abune Yemata Guh and Abune Gebre Michael. Return to Hawzen for overnight stay.

A full day visit to some of Tigray's most spectacular and remote rock-hewn churches - Abune Yemata Guh and Abune Gebre Michael. Return to Hawzen early evening.

Meal plan : Breakfast, lunch & dinner

Abuna Yemata Guh Rock Church was carved by monks out of solid sandstone in the 15th century. A striking feature of the monastery is the cupolas. They represent the nine apostles or the Nine Saints who came from Syria. There are eight churches in the area representing the other saints. This church was built by Abuna Yemata who cleverly designed and built his church out of reach of enemies. 

Day 11 : Mekelle - Lalibela

Drive to Lalibela. Sightseeing en route. Overnight in Lalibela.

Drive to Lalibela via Weldiya. You will visit the small market places of Weldiya and admire the stunning mountains at Gashena, en route. Overnight in Lalibela.

Meal plan : Breakfast, lunch & dinner

Originally known as Roha, the city of Lalibela is believed to pre-date the 12th century. King Gebre Mesqel Lalibela sought to recreate the holy city of Jerusalem there and structured the city accordingly. To this day, many of Lalibela’s features remain similar to those of Jerusalem, such as The Tomb of Adam, the Jordan river and Calvary.

Day 12 : Lalibela

Full day of sightseeing at the churches of Lalibela. Overnight.

Today, you will enjoy a full day visit to the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela. Overnight stay in local area. 

Meal plan : Breakfast, lunch & dinner

There are no less than 1000 of Ethiopia's famous rock-hewn churches in the Lasta region of Lalibela - some hidden in enormous caves - but it is exceptional to find 11 churches of such master craftsmanship in one locale. These brilliant feats of engineering and architecture are often referred to as the "Eighth Wonder of the World".

Day 13 : Lalibela

Early morning visit to Asheton Maryam monastery. Climb up by mules and return by foot. Drive back to Lalibela. Overnight in Lalibela.

Morning visit to the Asheton Maryam monastery located in the cliff on the outskirts of Lalibela. Take mules up to the monastery and admire the craftsmanship of this remote monastery. Also enjoy the spectacular views of Lalibela. Afterwards trek back to the vehicle and drive back to Lalibela. Optional stop at the Lalibela Art Gallery. Evening at leisure. 

Meal plan : Breakfast, lunch & dinner

Asheton Maryam Monastery is situated at an altitude of almost 4000 metres overlooking Lalibela. This monastery is associated with King Natuka La´ab and is carved into the cliff face. It can be climbed by foot, taking between 2-3 hours or by mule trek which is an exciting (if sometimes scary!) way of reaching the monastery. As with all monasteries and churches in Ethiopia, no footwear is allowed inside.

Day 14 : Addis Ababa - Departure

Fly back to Addis Ababa. Free time to explore local markets. Enjoy a farewell dinner at a traditional restaurant, before being transferred to the airport for your onward flight.

Transfer to airport for flight to Addis Ababa, where you will be met by our representative/driver. Free time to do some shopping in the local markets. In the evening you will enjoy a farewell dinner at a traditional restaurant, before being transferred to the airport to connect with your onward flight.

Meal plan : Breakfast & dinner

What's included

INCLUDED Airport transfers Domestic flights Ground transport with driver Local guides Accommodation Breakfasts and most meals (refer to itinerary) Daily bottle of still mineral water Activities as per itinerary Entrance fees to sites & parks
All tour descriptions and conditions are given in accordance with the information of Travel The Unknown
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Interesting facts
Artem Kozdrovich, director of Travel Land LLC about his culture-rich trips
From low-key to loud and subtle to extreme The director of Travel Land LLC, Artem Kozdrovich is a guide that makes it his job to possess a vast amount of knowledge about the landscapes he takes travelers to. Being a local and having a first-hand exper…