Your introduction to a wonderful country!

Amazing rock-hewn churches, mysterious castles, ancient monasteries, warm and welcoming people. Travel back in time and experience Ethiopia as part of a small group in the personal company of Link Ethiopia’s friendly team.

All of our tours are not-for-profit! So not only will you have the experience of a lifetime but you will also be supporting and helping the education of Ethiopian children. What could be better!

2018 Dates:

21st April – 2nd March

Other tour dates are being planned so let us know your interest by contacting us – [email protected])

Cost: £1850 per person

(includes all accommodation, meals, transport, guides and passes etc.  Excludes international and in-country flights, visa costs and some alcohol. We don’t charge single supplements)

Other tours

If you are already familiar with Ethiopia’s historic north, we also organise tours to other parts of Ethiopia which you can view here: our Rift Valley tour and our Tribes, Mountains and Caves tour.

The itinerary

To Ethiopia

Day 1

You will be met at Heathrow by our UK Tour Manager before checking in for a night flight to Addis Ababa – arriving in the morning sunshine at one of the highest capital cities in the world.

Addis Ababa

Day 2

On arrival, our local Tour Manager – Haile Ayano – will join us as we travel to our hotel and check in. After a little relaxation we visit the National Museum, saying hello to 3.2 million year old Lucy while we are there, and enjoy lunch nearby.

In the afternoon we set off to drive through the city and up the long winding road North to visit the Entoto Maryam Church. Perched high on the hill overlooking the city, this is the original site of Addis when it was established by King Menelik. We visit the church and nearby museum before descending back to the city, looking out for the numerous ladies carrying huge bundles of wood on their backs down to the markets.  We return to our hotel for some downtime, dinner, and a fairly early bedtime.

Addis Ababa to Bahir Dar

Day 3

After an early breakfast we catch our one-hour flight to Bahir Dar and settle in to our hotel. Saturday is market day and we learn a great deal about the Ethiopian way of life as we visit this hive of activity and wander amongst its very varied stalls, squeezing between people carrying their commodities.

Bahir Dar is on the edge of the huge Lake Tana and after our market stop we take an hour’s motorboat journey across to one of the island monasteries of Zege. There, we enjoy a packed lunch and a knowledgeable local guide leads us up through coffee plantations and stalls run by the local villagers selling a variety of craft items and religious icons, to see extraordinary wall paintings telling the religious stories of the Ethiopian Orthodox faith. We return to our hotel for dinner and relaxation.

Tis Abay and the Blue Nile Falls

Day 4

After breakfast we depart by bus for our day trip to Tis Abay. Here we enjoy walking in the Ethiopian countryside (not too strenuous!) to arrive at the best viewpoint to see the Tississat Falls – known locally as the ‘water that smokes’. This is where the Blue Nile descends from its source at Lake Tana on its long journey towards Egypt, joining the White Nile at Khartoum. We cross the wooden suspension bridge and enjoy our packed lunch in this beautiful location, which is popular with locals as well as tourists and then take a brief river crossing back to Tis Abay village. After our return drive to our hotel we enjoy some relaxation time before dinner.

Bahir Dar to Gondar

Day 5

After breakfast we travel north by bus across beautiful Ethiopian countryside on our way to the city of Gondar. En-route we visit the hillside community of Awra Amba – an isolated village with an egalitarian and non-religious ethos where men and women have equal status and share activities. You may be tempted to buy some of their excellent woven scarves and other items.

Onwards, up over the hills, to Gondar where we check in to our hotel and enjoy lunch. Gondar is a major tourist centre in northern Ethiopia – it’s a thriving and fast-growing town with a large market, many shops and a rapidly increasing number of excellent coffee/cake shops. Gondar is also the home of Link Ethiopia’s local office (which we will visit) and where many of the schools that the charity has supported and developed over the past 20+ years can be found.

In the afternoon we enjoy a guided foot tour of the Castle Compound, a World Heritage site, dating from the early 17th century and which encapsulates the dynamic history of the time when Gondar was the capital city. We dine at a fun and lively restaurant with some live music if we’re lucky.

Gondar

Day 6

Today we enjoy more of Gondar, including a tour of the church of Debre Birhan Selassie with its world-famous wall-paintings and unique architecture. Your guide will explain more about the rituals of the church services and ancient artifacts used by the priests and you may see a service in progress.

We also visit the Link Ethiopia compound where we enjoy a buffet lunch of traditional food prepared by our staff, meet more of our local staff and learn a little about the organisation’s work and educational aims. In the afternoon we visit two local schools that are supported by the charity. Here you will meet some of the children and their teachers, and see some of the work that Link Ethiopia has been doing. After some well deserved down time we eat dinner in the town.

Day Tour to The Simien Mountains

Day 7

Departing after breakfast, today’s visit takes us northwards from Gondar to climb into the Simien Mountains, another World Heritage site. A substantial and interesting drive through the changing countryside we eventually arrive in Debark –  a fast growing, busy town soon to be host to a new University. Then on through the large local market area into the Simien Mountains National Park, having collected our local guide and armed scout on the way (unnecessary, but useful job creation!).

The park has stunning scenery which we enjoy while strolling and eating our lunch. We should see interesting bird life, perhaps including the magnificent Lammergeier falcon high overhead, and we will keep our eyes out for the large troops of Gelada baboons as they forage in the grass.

When we return to Gondar at the end of the day we dine at a hotel with spectacular views over the city.

Gondar to Lalibela

Day 8

Departing after breakfast, we transfer to Gondar Airport for a short flight to Lalibela, arriving late morning. Lalibela is Ethiopia’s holiest city and was its capital in the 12th and 13th centuries. It is home to a network of incredible and famous rock-hewn churches dating from this period. A World Heritage site and a pilgrimage destination for all Ethiopian Christians, it is a bustling town set on a hilltop in the Lasta Mountains.

After lunch at a local restaurant (itself a marvel of situation and design) we will visit the first group of churches with a local guide, to see the miraculous construction of such large buildings which have been carved out of the hillside underground, and learn about their significance in Ethiopian history.

After sundown drinks with spectacular views over the valley, dinner will be at a hotel perched on the edge of this magnificent hilltop.

Lalibela

Day 9

Today we enjoy being in Lalibela with time to view another cluster of rock-hewn churches, have lunch in the town centre surrounded by plentiful birdlife, and spend the afternoon visiting the local market, relaxing and mixing with the locals.

The day ends with drinks at a ‘must visit’ restaurant, hopefully enjoying an amazing sunset followed by dinner in the most spectacular restaurant and setting. With a western menu on offer,  the most popular dish is Shepherd’s Pie!

Lalibela to Axum

Day 10

After breakfast we fly from Lalibela to our next stop at Axum just over an hour to the north.

Axum is considered by some to be the oldest continually inhabited city in sub-Saharan Africa. It was the centre of the Axumite empire from the 2nd to 10th centuries, is the site of Ethiopia’s oldest church, and is the spiritual home of its Christian faith and our final World Heritage site.

After lunch we will explore the Stelae Park – a royal cemetery dating back to the 4th century – the surprisingly modern cathedral, get close to the nearby church which claims to house the Ark of the Covenant and visit two small museums. A busy but interesting afternoon!

Axum

Day 11

We have a busy day as we tour around the Axum area. We will visit the ruins of the Queen of Sheba’s Palace, May Shum (Queen of Sheba’s Pool) and the Ezana Inscription – Ethiopia’s version of the Rosetta Stone which was discovered by accident by a farmer in the 1980’s but dates back many centuries. Then on to visit Kaleb and Gebre Meskel’s Tombs.

After lunch we move on to Yeha, which is a small village now, but was once the site of the region’s most important city and is still the home to temple ruins dating from 700 BC. On the way we will stop to view the distant hills of Adwa, which is the site of the historic battle in 1896 when Ethiopian troops routed the Italian Army and prevented the country from being colonised. The Battle of Adwa is still celebrated every year as a national holiday.

We return to our hotel in Axum for a welcome dinner and evening of relaxation..

Axum to Addis Ababa

Day 12

We have a morning to relax, go shopping or re-visit the historic sites we saw the day before. There are other local sites to be visited which our guide can organise if you so wish. The choice is yours.

After lunch we will start our journey back to the UK with an afternoon flight from Axum to Addis Ababa.

Having checked-in to our hotel, we go off to a memorable final evening at a local heritage centre where we enjoy ethnic food, dance and music as part of a noisy, fun-filled evening. You may even end up dancing on stage!

Home to the UK

Day 13

We fly out of Addis late morning for arrival at Heathrow in the late afternoon.

The facts

Who are the Historic Ethiopia tours for?

Anyone looking for an introduction to this fascinatingly different and little-known country, full of amazing history and colourful culture. This is a non-strenuous experience as a member of a small, personal group of guests travelling in reasonable comfort and with expert guidance.

Why come with us?

Unrivalled experience – we have worked and travelled in Ethiopia for more than twenty years.

Expert guides – accompanied throughout by a UK Tour Manager and locally by a native Ethiopian Tours Coordinator for Link Ethiopia.

Intimate small groups – generally limited to a maximum of eight guests.

All profits going to a good cause – this is a totally non-profit trip. And part of the overall cost is a generous donation to our work and will be spent exclusively helping the education of the children of that country.

Unique opportunities – our knowledge of Ethiopia and fluency in the local language enables us to leave the tourist trail and introduce you to warm and welcoming people in colourful and unique situations.

Transport

Ethiopia is served by several reliable international airlines and a tried and tested domestic airline. We normally use locally sourced people-carriers for much of this tour, with occasional short trips by public transport in the capital, Addis Ababa, and in our final destination, Lalibela. The main roads in Ethiopia are often newly tarmaced and facilitate comfort and efficiency.

Accommodation

As Ethiopia develops, more and more hotel options are becoming available. The hotels we use are always clean, comfortable and secure, with one or two very special places. We have recently upgraded most of the hotels for this tour to ensure this. Double, twin or single rooms available.

Food and drink

All meals are included in the cost of this tour without any restrictions, and a drink will always be offered to you at every meal. The only expense not covered here is for any alcoholic intake you may wish to indulge in.

The general quality of food has improved hugely in Ethiopia in the past few years and the main restaurants and hotels now serve some very enjoyable and tasty dishes indeed. Local food will be sampled at least once in colourful surroundings during the tour, but the main menu of our journey will consist of very enjoyable dishes influenced by all sorts of international cultures – pastas, pizzas, wonderful fresh fish dishes, a range of meat stews and roasts, etc. The choice will be yours.

Climate and clothing

On this Historic Ethiopia tour, guests can expect warm/very warm pleasant days and refreshingly cooler nights. There may be occasional refreshing showers of rain, but they are unlikely to last for more than a few minutes at a time and should never inhibit our itinerary.

Rainwear is therefore unlikely to be needed, although a lightweight umbrella can also serve as a useful sunshade. A light sweater or shawl can come in handy when dining on the terrace in the evening.

Who travels with us?

Your tour will be supported by a UK Tour Manager who travels with you- with experience in country – and a local Tour Manager on arrival and throughout. In several places on the tour, you are also in the company of local expert guides who share their detailed knowledge of the specific area.

Finances and visas

Deposit

A deposit of £500 is needed to confirm your tour place.

Visa

Visas are obtained on arrival at the airport in Ethiopia and this cost is included in the overall price of the tour.

**Please note that you must have a minimum of 6 months left on your passport at the date of leaving Ethiopia.

Financial protection

For your financial protection, Link Ethiopia is a member of Trust My Travel and our membership number is TMT10806. All money paid by guests towards the main tour cost is paid directly into an independently managed Trust Account administered by Trust My Travel. This means that, in the unlikely event of our financial failure, you will receive a refund for all the services you have paid for. This money is not received by Link Ethiopia until you have completed your trip and all suppliers have been paid. Trust My Travel is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority under the PSR 2009: No. 569641. For more information about how your payments are protected please visit www.trustmytravel.com/logos/ for more information.

Health matters

Please consult your doctor regarding vaccinations. Ethiopian towns have numerous clinics with knowledgeable doctors in attendance and all the places where we stay on this tour have creditable hospital facilities.

Safety

All the places visited on this Historic Ethiopia tour are frequented by tourists on a regular basis. Ethiopia is usually a very low-key country as regards the approach of the local people to visitors. Their welcome and their good nature is a very special feature of this varied and colourful tour.

Who are Link Ethiopia?

Link Ethiopia is a UK registered Charity that has been supporting education in that country for almost twenty years. It has offices in Finsbury Park  in London, as well as in northern Ethiopia (in Gondar) . The London office steers projects and activities, while in Ethiopia over a dozen committed and energetic local employees making sure that Link Ethiopia’s work is carried out efficiently and productively.

Link Ethiopia manages and supports nearly one hundred links between UK and Ethiopian schools. Its Child Sponsorship scheme ensures that the poorest children are able to be educated in a regular and meaningful way. Volunteers from the UK and many other countries work for varied periods of time in Link Ethiopia’s programme to help improve English skills. And Link Ethiopia also works alongside communities in facilitating training, providing resources and building very necessary school resources – toilets, clean water, classrooms, libraries, etc.

Terms and conditions

Our standard booking conditions can be found here: Standard Booking Conditions.

Interested?

We hope you will join us! To register interest and receive more details with no commitment, please fill out the form below, or you can email us at [email protected]

If you would like to see our brochure for this trip, click here.