Classical Route Air & Semien Mountains NP
Tour codeCRSMTour categories
Duration8 Nights / 9 DaysHighlights
- Addis Ababa – where the flowers always bloom
- Bahir Dar – the source of the the Blue Nile
- Gondar – the Camelot of Africa with its fascinating 17th century Castles
- Axum – the first capital of Ethiopia and the oldest of Africa where the famous stelae are found.
- Lalibela – home of rock hewn churches, the second holy city for the Christians after Jerusalem.
Day 1Locations Arrival AddisOvernight Nexus Hotel or similar
Arrive Addis Ababa; meet our representative at the airport terminal and transfer to Nexus Hotel or similar. After lunch you will have a half day city tour of Addis Ababa, including Mount Entoto. In 1881 Emperor Menelik II made his permanent camp there, after remains of an old town (believed to have been the capital of 16th century monarch Lebna Dengel) were discovered, which Menelik took as a divine and auspicious sign. Addis Ababa at between 2300 - 2500 meters is the third highest capital in the world and Entoto is a few hundred meters higher - as we drive up the hill there is an appreciable drop in temperature and the air is filled with the scent of the Eucalyptus trees which line the road.
From the top, there is a panoramic view of the capital and surrounding countryside. Entoto is an important watershed; to the north, water flows to the Blue Nile and on to the Mediterranean, to the south to the Awash River and east to Djibouti. Your guide will point out the important landmarks of the city.
Entoto was soon abandoned as a site for the capital - it was cold, difficult to provision and there was a shortage of wood. Empress Taytu was said to have led the move down to the plain of Finfine, and to have named the new capital Addis Ababa, or New Flower. However, two important structures remain within the old imperial compound on Entoto, the churches of Mariam and the Archangel Raguel. It was in the church of Mariam that Menelik was crowned Emperor of Ethiopia in 1889, and in the small museum in the compound there are various clothes, court and household implements and weapons dating from the period. The church of Raguel is unusual in that it is octagonal, rather than round. There is a first story balustrade around which Menelik liked to stroll.
Leaving the churches we descend to Addis Ababa, stopping off at the National Archaeological Museum. Here visitors can see exhibits ranging from the 3.5 million-year-old bones of Lucy, through the Axumite (200 BC – 700 AD) and Gondarian (1700 to 1850) periods to the monarchs Tewodros and Menelik II. Following we will visit “Merkato” which is mostly known as the largest market in eastern Africa.
Day 2Locations Addis - Bahir DarOvernight Jacaranda Hotel
Fly to Bahir Dar after check in your hotel we will have an excursion trip on the island monasteries of Lake Tana. Lake Tana, being the largest lake of the nation is dotted with 37 islands and 20 of which host ancient monasteries. We will start our boat trip by heading to the monastery of Kibran Gabriel, founded by a monk by the name Yohannis in the 13th c, this is the nearest of all the monasteries to Bahir dar. The 12 column circular church was built by king Dawit II some 400 years later after its foundation. Unfortunately women are not allowed to enter the church but can visit the small museum at the starting point of the small climb to the church. We will then continue to the Zeghe peninsula to visit the monasteries of Ura Kidane Mihret and Azua Mariam. Ura Kidane Mihret is probably the most decorated church of all the monasteries on the island. The 16th century monastery is known for its colorful 17thC Religious paintings covering the entire wall of the kindest. Walk to the nearby church of Azua Mariam which is also decorated by 19th and 20th century paintings.
After lunch drive to the Blue Nile Falls, some 30-km from the town. A 20-minute walk brings us to the falls themselves, which are at their most spectacular during and after the rainy season (from about June to January). Here the Blue Nile, which contributes 85% of the main Nile flow, starts its long journey to the Mediterranean.
Day 3Locations Bahir Dar – GonderOvernight Taye Hotel
In the morning drive from Bahir Dar to Gondar through the Fogera and Denbia plateau (187 KM). Arrival and check in to your hotel. Gonder, the 17th c capital of Ethiopia, was founded by emperor Fasiledes in 1636. It was the third permanent capital in Ethiopia after Axum and Lalibela. Many call Gonder the Camelot of Africa, due to the fact that there are more than five castles in one enclosure built by different kings which is unlikely t be found in Africa. The town is also dotted with more than 44 churches like no other town in Ethiopia.
After lunch visit the 17th century castles of Gondar. Of all the castles, the one attributed to king Fasiledes is the biggest and the most attractive. Just next to it is the castle of emperor Iyasu, the greatest of all the Gonderian kings. His castle was even more ornamented than that of his grandfather’s. After finish visiting the imperial enclosure, we will continue to the open air bath of Fasiledes, the colorful church of Debre Birhan Silassie and to the Quskuam complex.
Day 4Locations Gondar – Debark – Simien Mountains NP (130 km, 2 – 3 hours)Overnight Simien Lodge or similar
After breakfast, start your day’s adventure with an amazing excursion to the Simien Mountains National Park (UNESCO World Heritage Site) to enjoy the best scenery in the world. On your way, you will have a stop at the Woleka village to visit the pottery traditions of Ethiopian Jews (Felasha). Continue to Debark, where the head quarter of the park is located, finalize entry formalities and proceed to the park. You will also enjoy the company of the endemic Gelada baboons and other wild and bird life in the area. Make short but interesting walks in the park for an unforgettable experience of the unbelievable scenery.
Day 5Locations Simien Mountains National Park – Gonder (100 km, 2 hours)Overnight Taye Hotel or similar
After breakfast, we leave the Simien Mountains National park as we drive to Gonder. This is a marvelous drive, as you will be passing through an interesting landscape changing every half an hour.
Day 6Locations Gonder - LalibelaOvernight Cliff Edge Hotel or similar
Fly to Lalibela, At the end of the 12th and beginning of the 13th centuries King Lalibela of the Zagewe Dynasty built a series of rock hewn churches – the New Jerusalem as he called it – now rightly acknowledged to be one of the wonders of the world. There are 11 churches in the town named after him, with others in the surrounding countryside. All are still in use today. After breakfast, we will start our tour of the first group of churches in town and continuing the tour in the afternoon. The first group of six churches lie in rock cradles one behind the other: Bete Golgotha, Bete Michael, Bete Mariam, Bete Meskel, Bete Danaghel and Bete Medhane Alem. Bete Medhane Alem, the largest one is built like a Greek Temple. In a corner are three empty graves symbolically dug for biblical patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Bete Mariam is believed to be the first work of the king, which is the only church to have different kinds of biblical paintings inside it. It was where the king used to pray and still beloved by many people. Continue visiting the rest of churches in the first group. After lunch you will have free time to rest or walk in the small historic town and meet the local people.
Day 7Locations LalibelaOvernight Cliff Edge Hotel or similar
After breakfast we will start our visit with a trekking to Asheten Mariam, a rock hewn church built by king Ne’akuto Le’Ab on the top of nearly 4000 meters mountain overlooking the town of Lalibela that has a is rewarding scenery or the other nearby cave monastery of Ne’akuto Le’Ab. After lunch, continue your visit of the second and third group of churches. The group of four, south of the Jordan River, comprise of Bete Emanuel, Bete Mercuiros, Bete Abba Libanos and Bete Gabriel-Rufa'el. Bete Emanuel's elaborate exterior is much praised by art historians. After visiting the second group of churches it will be a visit to the third and the last group of church, Bete Giyorgis. Bete 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.
Day 8Locations Lalibela - AxumOvernight Yared Zema Hotel or similar
Fly to Axum, after check in your hotel visit Once the center of a far-reaching empire From around 200 BC to 950 AD, Axum was the seat of an Empire which extended across the Red Sea to Arabia, traded with India and China, had its own alphabet and notational system, constructed great engineering works and dams and which was reckoned in the 4th century to be one of the four great powers of the ancient world. Axum is known for its extraordinary stelae and for the Mariam Tsion church, said to be the house of the original Ark of the Covenant. You will have a city tour of Axum, including St. Mariam church, Inscriptions, the stelae of Axum, tombs Of Kaleb and his son Gebre -Maskal and the Maishum (the bath of the Queen of Sheba). The tours begin with a visit to the museum and stellae, and then ascend a hill to see the tomb of King Kalab. Coming back into town we will see the tomb of King Bazen, and probably break here for lunch. After lunch we will visit the small museum inside the grounds of Mariam Tsion church, and end the day with a visit to the site known locally as Queen Sheba’s Palace, although in fact it is of a later date, the villa of an Axumite notable from around the 1st century AD.
Day 9Locations Axum – AddisOvernight
After breakfast we will transfer to the airport for the flight back to Addis Ababa and you will have shopping time. In the evening, you will be taken to one of the best traditional restaurants in Addis to be invited for dinner and traditional folkloric dances with coffee ceremony. In the evening after dinner, you will be taken to the airport for your departure flight back home.
Optional extension of our standard tours where you get to....
Photos featuring various places and events along this specific tour.
The following are our fixed departure dates.
Tour dateFestivalPrice | SeatsSingle supplement
Services included in the prices
- Hotel accommodation sharing twin room as mentioned on the itineraries, Single room supplements are also mentioned separately
- All hotel reservations
- Meals – breakfast only while using hotel but full board during camping, with non-alcoholic drinks
- Camping in the Omo valley with all tents, mattresses and cooking utensils for camping
- All ground transportation (4 x 4 Toyota Land Cruisers or Nissan Patrols or minibuses) with all fuel, insurance and driver costs
- All transfers and visits everywhere according to the itinerary
- Boat trip on Lake Tana or Lake Chamo as per the itinerary
- Mule trip in Lalibela
- All entrance fees at museums, churches, castles, archeological sites, parks and villages.
- Professional Guide accompanying everywhere for more than six and above travelers in a group. For less than six travelers, an English speaking driver guide or local guides at the spots will be provided.
- A professional cook with his delicious food for more than six and above travelers in a group. For less than six travelers, the driver will be cooking while camping
- Scouts in National Parks and villages
- A city tour of Addis as mentioned in the itineraries
- All types of government taxes
Services not included in the prices
- Lunch and dinner meals except camping days
- International and Domestic flights
- Travel insurance
- Alcoholic drinks and drinks off-meal time
- Other expenses of personal nature like laundry, souvenirs, etc
- All what is not included in the list above
Period of Validity
From 1 January 2015 to April 2016
Please see the dates of departures for each tours next to the trips.
The members of the groups will be organized from different parts of the world, mainly from Europe. The minimum number of travelers in a group will be two, the maximum will be 12.
Different itineraries are briefly illustrated for numerous regular departure trips. However, we would be very happy to modify them or create more personalized tours. Fully customized trips can also be designed to suit specific requests. Extension trips can be also be arranged upon written request. But extensions to be included at the middle of the trip are subject to availability. It is also possible to combine the Classical Route and the Omo Valley tours as per your request.
Types of Vehicles – We provide 4 x 4 Toyota Land Cruisers or Nissan Patrols (in order to assure our clients’ comfort the group size per one Toyota Land Cruiser or Nissan Patrol is 4 passengers only) for the Omo Valley, and different types of minibuses to other parts of the country according to the number of people in the group and the specific places to be visited.
Ethiopian Airlines, British Airways, Lufthansa, KLM, Turkish Airways, Kenyan Airways, Yemenia Airways, Djibouti Airways, Emirates, Egypt Air and Sudan Airways fly from different cities to Addis and back. Clients are advised to book their international flights in their place of origin and need to advise Paradise Ethiopia Travel of the details to ensure ease of transfer to their hotel. We strongly recommend the use of Ethiopian Airlines which has an excellent network connecting Addis Ababa with many international destinations in Europe, North America, Africa and Asia. Ethiopian Airlines also has the most frequent flights in and out of Addis.
All domestic flights will be handled by Ethiopian Airlines. Domestic flight costs attract a discount when booked in conjunction with their international flights.
We use hotels that are among the very best in the country for each itinerary, subject to availability at the time of booking. However, generally speaking, the hotel industry in Ethiopia is in its stage of infancy. One needs to expect late cancellations, problems in the bathrooms (such as water taps, toilet flush etc. might not work), lack of electric power or water, etc. The hotels mentioned in the programs may vary due to availability.
Meals will be served in hotels and selected restaurants according to the itinerary.
Our guide services are provided by our professional and experienced tour guides in English. However, Spanish, Italian, French, German, Russian and Arabic speaking guides can be assigned upon request for an additional payment, provided the majority of the group speaks that language. Usually a professional guide for the whole trip will be assigned for a group of more than six and above travelers in a group. For less than six travelers, an English speaking driver guide or local guides on the spot will be provided as per the itinerary.
Contracts and agreements are valid from the time that Paradise Ethiopia Travel confirms the booking by fax, e-mail, letter or telephone. At the time of confirmation, a deposit of 25% of the total cost is required. The outstanding amount must be paid 30 days before the commencement of the tour. Unless prior arrangements have been made, Paradise Ethiopia Travel is not indebted to conduct the tour if complete payment has not been received.
Cancellations of confirmed bookings received more than 30 days prior to departure are subject to a cancellation fee of 50 Euros per person. Cancellation received between 30 and 15 days prior to departure will be subject to a penalty of 50% of the total rate of the tour. Cancellations received less than 15 days prior to departure will be subject to relinquishment of the entire tour rate. Paradise Ethiopia Travel strongly recommends trip cancellation insurance.
All payments must be made by a bank transfer to Paradise Ethiopia Travel’s account in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The bank details will be provided by email or fax upon confirmation of the tour.
Responsibility and Liability
Only the laws of Ethiopia govern Paradise Ethiopia Travel’s liability to passengers transported in its own vehicles, and all claims are subject to the jurisdiction of the Ethiopian court in which the cause of action arises. Although every possible care is taken to safeguard you and your property, Paradise Ethiopia Travel accepts no liability for loss or damage of any personal effects. Paradise Ethiopia Travel will use its best efforts to assist as an agent to its clients in dealing with third parties such as hotels, airlines and other transport companies and travel agents. However, Paradise Ethiopia Travel cannot be held responsible for any loss or harm, such as sickness, injury, death, acts of God, or additional costs incurred due to denied boarding, overbooking, cancellation or delay caused by the third party.