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Code: PET2001: UNESCO world heritage sites of Ethiopia
Duration: 10days/9nights
Transport: Surface and Air

Itinerary

Day 1: Addis Ababa

Arrive at the Addis Ababa Bole International airport. Be met and welcomed by Passion Ethiopia Tours representative and transferred to Hotel.

Founded in 1886 by Emp. Menelik II, Addis Ababa is located at 2500 m above sea level at the foot step of the highest peak of Entoto Mountain chain (3200m above sea level) Addis Ababa is also the seat of African Union, (AU) which used to be said Organization of African Unity (OAU) since 1960s and many other international offices and over 100 Embassies. It enjoys an excellent climate all year round; with an average temperature of 160C. Addis Ababa is a pleasant city with wide avenues of Jacarandas, interesting museums and one of the largest open-air markets in Africa, known as Merkato.

 

Day 2: Addis- Gondar

Transfer to the airport and fly to Gondar, the 17th and 18th century capital of Ethiopia. After check into the hotel you will have a sightseeing tour of the town of Gondar that includes: -The ‘’ROYAL COMPOUND” with many majestic castles constructed in the European middle age architectural style, these are: the two storied palace of Emperor Fasiledes (1632-1667), Library of Fasilidas’s son Emperor Yohannes (1667-1682); a near by Chancellery; the saddle- shaped castle of yohannes’s son, Emperor Iyasu I(1682-1706)) ; the large hall or ‘house of song’ of Emperor Dawit III (1716-1721), in which many ceremonies took place in former days; long V-shaped reception and the two – storied palace of the latter’s redoubtable consort, Empress Mentewab.

Bath of Fasiledes- (bathing palace): it stands in a rectangular, neatly walled depression, which is filled with water once a year for the Timket (EPIPHANY) celebrations, and, though popularly referred to as a ‘bathing palace’.

The finest of the Gonderian churches is that of Debre Birhan Silassie or ‘Trinity at the mount of light’. It was built during the reign of Emperor Iyasu (1682-1706), the church was never destroyed. It is said that when the dervishes tries to burn it in 1881 they were attacked and dispersed by bees.  The church is rectangular, similar to those of ancient Axumite architecture. The inside walls of the front room are covered with paintings on cloth, glued to the surface. The ceiling is built with thick beams and it decorated with winged angel heads looking down. The wall paintings depict scenes from the life of Christ, Mary, and Saint, the Trinity,

Debre Sahay Maryam, the round church of Maryam of Debre Sahay Qwesqwam, in its walled compound with square gatehouse and pepper-pot towers with upper rooms for monks’ residences, how now been rebuilt.  Overnight  Hotel.

 

Day 3: Gondar-Semien Mountains National Park-Gondar

Drive to Semien Mountain National Park - Early departure for Debark, the gateway to the Semien Mountains national park. On this drive you will gain your first impression of the scale and beauty of this highland region. After a steep ascent onto the escarpment, a straight forward drive takes you to  Sankaber, where you will see one of the most spectacular views in all of Ethiopia and most visitors agree in many respects, better even than the Grand canyon in the U.S.A. This drive will also give you an opportunity to spot enemeic birds and mammals such as the Thick billed Raven and the Gelada Baboon. Drive back to Gondar. O/n  hotel.  

Highlight:

Semien Mountains National Park- commonly known as the “Roof of Africa”, the mountains high lands constitute on of the major mountain massif in Africa. The region includes many summits above 4000 meters and culminates in the highest point in Ethiopia, Ras Dashen, at 4543 meters, the fourth highest mountain in Africa. Its dramatic topography is the result of the erosion of basalt lavas, which have been calculated to be nearly 3000 meters thick. 

This park is registered as a World Heritage site by UNESCO. Located in the Simien Mountains, it occupies a surface area of 180 square kilometers. Simien means “north” in Amharic, an allusion to the position it occupies in the Gondar massif, one of the craggiest in Africa

 

Day 4: Gondar- Lalibela

Transfer to the airport and fly to Lalibela and check in to hotel. Lalibela stands on soft red volcanic rock and was originally known as Roha. It was later renamed Lalibela when King Lalibela was credited with building the rock-hewn churches there in the late twelfth century and early thirteenth century . It is now regarded as one of the greatest Ethiopian architectural wonders and is ranked the eighth most incredible historical site in the world by UNESCO. There are no less than 200 churches in the Lasta Region of Lalibela, some hidden in enormous caves, but it's 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". This day you will explore the atmospheric subterranean complex of passages and the extra-ordinary 11 remarkable rock-hewn churches of first and third group of churches (Bet Golgota, Bet Mika’al, Bet Mariam, Bet Meskel, Bet Danaghel and Bet Medhane Alem (the Saviour of the world, this is the greatest and in some ways the most impressive of the Lalibela churches. It stands on a plinth in the middle of a huge 40 by 38 m. excavation in the rock, with entry passages in the northwest and southwest corners. There are some tombs and storage caves cut into the walls of this pit. The church is rectangular, 33.5 m. long, 23.5 m. wide, and 11 m. high. In the northeast part of the church near the entrance to the sanctuary three tombs cut into the floor are shown; they are attributed to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob). Bete Giorgis (St. George) it is the most beautiful and completely monolithic cruciform church and symbolization of Noah's Arc belong to the third group of rock church consists of a great block of red-coloured rock cut into the shape of a cross. It stands in the midst of a trench 12 m. deep. Overnight Hotel.

 

Day 5:  Lalibela

After breakfast drive 9 km to Neakuto Le’ab built-up cave church. King Neakuto Le’ab abdicated his throne in 1270 AD in preference for a hermit life in a cave. This cave, dramatically set, has become a monastery. In houses an interesting collection of ancient crosses, illuminated manuscripts and icons some attributed to its founder Neakuto Le’ab. Drive back to Lalibela for lunch and afternoon visit the remaining second group of rock churches of Lalibela. They are four in number and they represent heavenly Jerusalem. Bet Gabre’el Rufa’el, Bet Abba Libanos, Bet Mercurius and Bet Emmanuel, this is the monolithic church symbolizes the seven Heavens. It has a basilica-like floor and is a definitive example of Axumite architecture and decoration. On the third level there are seven windows representing the seven heavens- one to the west, and three on both of its north and south faces. Overnight  hotel.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

Day 6: Lalibela- Axum 

Transfer to the airport and fly to Axum. After check into the hotel sightseeing tour of Axum. It is the ancient capital of Ethiopia and the cradle of Ethiopian civilization. Axum is famous for its more than 2000 year old Axumite steles measuring some of them up to 33m high, the bath and palace of Queen of Sheba, King Kaleb's and other kings tombs, archaeological museum which is widely rated as Ethiopia's best, the church of St. Mary of Tsion, where the original Ark of covenant is housed in. Legend has it that the son of the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon of Israel, King Menelik I brought the original Ark from Israel to Axum. The compound is a well-guarded sanctuary chapel of the church of Saint Mary of Zion, where the true mosses Ark of the Covenant is housed in. It includes: the ruin of Ethiopia’s oldest church- doubtless the special position of the church of St. Mary of Tsion in Ethiopia descends directly from the earliest days of Christianity in the country, when a church was built in the city of Axum, then an imperial capital, which was destructed by the pagans in the 7th century A.D, the 17th century church erected by Emperor Fasiledes in the Gonderian architectural style, the small chapel where the Ark of the Covenant preserved in, and the newly erected modern church built by Emperor Haile Silassie I in 20th century. The crowns of a succession of Ethiopian monarchs have been preserved in the church treasury, which also housed many rich embroideries as well, as important Ethiopian Orthodox church manuscripts. Together, the three churches of St. Mary constitute a remarkable testament to the continuity of faith in Ethiopia since the very beginning of the Christian era.  Overnight  Hotel.

 

Day 7: Axum-Addis

Transfer to the airport and fly back to Addis. After check into the hotel visit 

National Museum:-It comprises of many archaeological and historical findings including the famous complete hominid fossil remain of ‘Lucy’ locally known as ‘Dinknesh’ meaning wonderful. Visiting this museum is having a good summary for your visit to the historic Ethiopia. Overnight   Hotel.

 

Day 8: Addis-Harar

Transfer to the airport and fly to Dire Dawa and an hour drive to Harar- the 16th century marvelous walled city, which is considering the 4th Islamic holiest city in the world with more than 100 mosques and shrines. After check into the hotel visit the wall with its gates, cultural Museums, Colorful open-air market, Panoramic view of the city. In the evening visit the Hyena Man who, as evening falls, set themselves up at points along the outskirts of the city. These men make their living by laying on a remarkable show, throwing meat, offal, and bones to packs of wild hyena that come down from the surrounding hills, apparently answering to names which the Hyena Men chant hypnotically. Overnight hotel.

 

Day 9: Harar- Dire Dawa-Addis 

Drive to Dire Dawa and transfer to the airport for fly back to Addis. After check into the hotel visit Trinity Cathedral:-a beautiful church with a baroque style of European architecture which is unique to both Ethiopia and Africa and is dedicated to the Holly Trinity. Here you will find scripts of the imperial families, statues done by a Greek sculpture, Stained glass window paintings from the Old and New Testament in the Bible and coffins of Emperor Haile Silassie-I; the founder of the church, and his wife. Overnight  hotel.

 

Day 10: Addis- Melka Kunture Archaeological site- Tiya Stelaes-Addis

Drive southwest of Addis to visit Melka Kunture Archaelogical site, Oromo tribal village, Rock church of Adadi Mariam and finally the Tiya Stelaes, the site contains 36 monuments, including 32 carved stelae covered with symbols, most of which are difficult to decipher. They are the remains of an ancient Ethiopian culture whose age has not yet been precisely determined.

Drive back to Addis and visit Merkato:-It is the largest open-air market in Africa. Here you will be presented with a confusing, but fascinating; glimpse of the vast range of goods and artefacts available from all parts of the country and enjoy the Ethiopian trade exchange tradition in the open air. Evening farewell dinner and departure.

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