Ancient Ethiopia    (12 Days)


Daily Departures

Operates from August 1, 2019 through December 31, 2021

 

$3,660 - $4,035

 

Africa is not only where man was born, but where many of the first human empires arose. Likely the earliest, certainly the most colorful and absolutely the most enduring was the Ethiopian civilization. Ethiopia is the only country in Africa that successfully fought off colonization, a testament to the strength of its culture and history.

EWT owner Kathleen Morgan has taken this journey several times before, and has planned a tour for enthusiastic travelers to the oldest ancient human civilization on the continent. With artifacts dated to as old as 5000 BC, and written records of grand and colorful and complex civilizations from the 5th century BC, Ethiopia has no rival on the continent.

Yet even today Ethiopia remains one of the most inwards of Africa’s countries. Its development — still impressive — lags its neighbors. Its willingness to partner with other countries politically, even in Africa, is unusual. With one foot in the modern world Ethiopian Airlines flies dreamliners into Washington’s Dulles airport, while its internal domestic air service reminds many of the 1950s.

Join your personal guide on this remarkable tour to explore the very old and pretty intransigent traditions of ancient Ethiopia, to learn why the ancient veil is so hard to lift here.

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Dates & Pricing

Details

*Contact EWT for the best international air fares and for recommendations on how to use your frequent flyer miles.

Day 1: ADDIS ABABA

Whenever you arrive Addis Ababa, you'll be personally met and privately transferred to the Addis Ababa Sheraton. The capital of Ethiopia is an eclectic mix of the very old and the not so very new. As the brain center of contemporary Ethiopia, everything of importance travels through here. But its growth has been poorly planned, the services are poor and it stands mostly as an abject lesson of Ethiopia's difficulty emerging into the modern age.

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Day 2: ADDIS ABABA

Touring of the city today includes the mud made palace of Emperor Minilik II and the museum filled with royal family gifts and costumes, and the trinity cathedral where Emperor Haile Selasse and his family's bodies rest.  Take a lunch break and then you proceed to the Africa’s biggest open-air market, the “Merkato.”  Also included is a visit to the Ethiopian National Museum. The museum is home to "Lucy," the 3.2 million year old hominid skeleton found in 1974 by American scientists. Equally interesting are the extensive exhibits of historical and cultural artifacts from all eras and corners of Ethiopia, and the impressive collection of modern and traditional Ethiopian art. Stops will also be made at the Trinity Cathedral Complex.  You'll end at the Ethnographic museum where you will learn the life styles of Ethiopia’s 85 tribes. In the evening you attend a famous traditional restaurant where you can see live dancing of different tribes within Ethiopia - and enjoy local spicy foods, too!  Overnight at the Addis Ababa Sheraton.

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Day 3: BAHIR DAR

Early in the morning take a flight to Bahir Dar, a newly bustling city acting as capital for the Amhara people. Bahir Dar is often considered Ethiopia's prettiest city. The deep blue waters of the lake and the town's broad boulevards lined with palms and flowering trees create a feeling of a tropical resort. Proceed for a boat trip on Lake Tana, the source of Blue-Nile river to visit the 16th century monastery of “Ura Kidane Mihret,” known for its colorful paintings from the bible stories and dating back to over 300 years old. Take a lunch break and then head to the Blue Nile falls, known locally as Tis Isat, "Smoke of Fire." The river drops 150 feet, throwing up a constant spray of water before continuing its legendary journey to Khartoum where it converges with the White Nile from Uganda before winding its way through Egypt.  You return to Bahir Dar and overnight at Abay Minch Lodge

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Day 4: GONDAR

Drive to the city of Gondar.  Although centuries old, a section of the town has a modern European air with its central piazza and the 1930's-style Italian buildings constructed during Mussolini's occupation. In the 1630's, Emperor Fasilades banished most foreigners, raised the Orthodox Church to a position of primacy, and ushered in two centuries of prosperity. In 1636, Gondar became his capital and was transformed into a major cultural and trade center. This was when the lengthy myth and widely embraced legend of Prester John was ended, when Portugese monks exploring Gondar reported back to Pope Alexander that Fasilades was not "white." Prester John had been assumed to be a white Christian who went to Ethiopia before the modern age and Christianized the natives. Touring here includes a number of ancient castles.

Upon arrival you will explore the medieval period castle compound. Have lunch break and then start the afternoon by visiting the colorful church of Debre-Birhan Selassie, the Ethiopian Jews village and also the open-air market.  Overnight at Mayleko Lodge.

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Day 5: SIMIEN MOUNTAINS

Drive to the Simien mountains national park known for its breathtaking scenery and home to the fourth largest African mountain, “Ras Dashen.”  Simien Mountain National Park is one of Ethiopia's most precious wildernesses, a massive area in which are found several very rare animals including the Simien Fox and Walia Ibex, along with a number of endemic birds. Today you take a day trip into the area, a very simple "first glance" since the wilderness itself has few tracks and true exploration would take a week. Nevertheless you can expect to experience some grand scenery and a few interesting animals and birds, such as the gelada ("bleeding heart") baboon. The mountain range is mostly semi-arid at a tremendous height, most of it above 10,000'. It is one of the few places in Africa where snow regularly falls.  We then head back to Gondar and overnight at Mayleko Lodge.

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Day 6: LALIBELA

Your morning flight today brings you to one of the most wondrous sites of ancient times, the great stone city of Lalibela. Hidden within a small rural village lies this medieval king's marvelous creation: eleven monolithic churches, each hewn from a single mammoth block of stone, some almost completely hidden below ground level and some standing in open caves, all connected by a web of tunnels, narrow passages, galleries and grottos. The scope and majesty of the project overwhelms the visitor, who often finds it unbelievable it could have been completed in a single lifetime. But in the 12th century King Lalibela had a vision that God ordered him to build ten churches, all more spectacular than any yet seen on earth. According to beliefs still widely held locally, God directed the King where and how to build the complex, then sent a battalion of angels to help in the construction. When the last church was finished, Saint George appeared in full armor on horseback to demand a church of his own!  Overnight at the Panoramic View Hotel.

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Day 7: ADDIS ABABA / LANGANO

Fly back to Addis Ababa. Upon arrival you will be met by a representative and driven to Lake Zeway, the shallowest of the Rift Valley Lakes.  Lake Zeway contains five islands, one of which is home to a monastery that is said to have housed the Ark of the Covenant around the ninth century.

You'll continue to Lake Langano.  The lake is free of Bilharzia (schistosomiasis), which makes it popular with tourists and home to a number of resorts including the Sabana Beach Resort, where you will overnight.  You can enjoy the beach, go canoeing, slip down the water slide, or be pampered in the spa.  Lake Langano's lovely brown color is due to the richness of the minerals in the water, which have led many to believe that the lake water has healing powers. 

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Day 8: AWASSA

Enjoy a leisurely morning on Lake Langano, then visit the twin Rift Valley Lakes of Abijatta-Shalla, known for their large number of birds and especially flamingos.  Next you'll head for the city of Awassa, a newly bustling hub that is a capital for the southern nations.

Along the road also visit the “Ras Teferians” people who believe in the last king of Ethiopia, where you will visit a village and learn about their way of life.  Overnight at Haile Hawassa Resort.

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Day 9: ARBA MINCH

Early in the morning visit the biggest open-air fish market of Awassa, then drive to the city of Arba Minch where you will have lunch at a renowned fish restaurant for a taste of Nile-perch.  Next you'll head for a boat trip on Lake Chamo to see the "crocodile market," a lake cruise where you will see crocodiles, hippos and birds.  Overnight at Haile Arba Minch Resort.

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Day 10: ARBA MINCH / KONSO

After breakfast head to the town of Konso. The Konso people are made up of nine different clans and have a tradition of nominating their own King, who then receives his own palace and servants.  He is a symbol of peace and integrity among the Konso.  The Konso have clean, well built and protected villages with each village having a communal house of living called “Mora” where young boys spend the night protecting the village. They also have a tradition of age initiation for boys to advance from childhood to adulthood. The Konso are well known for their "Waka," wooden grave markers in the shape of a person.  You'll return to Arba Minch for lunch, then head to Chencha, a village for the Dorze people in the mountains who are known for their bamboo made beehive shaped houses and colorful woven cotton clothing.  Overnight at Haile Arba Minch Resort.

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Day 11: ARBA MINCH / AWASSA

Today you drive from Arba Minch back to the city of Awassa.  Once arrived in Awassa you may visit the grand architecture of St. Gabriel's Church, stroll through Amora Gedel Park among Grivet Monkeys, or relax in the luxury of your resort.  Overnight at Haile Hawassa Resort.

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Day 12: ADDIS ABABA

Today you drive from Awassa back to Addis Ababa. En route visit the hot spring in Wendo Genet and also the crater lake of Debre-Zeit. In the evening attend a famous traditional restaurant where you can see live cultural dancing of the different tribes within Ethiopia and sample traditional spicy foods. 

The tour ends this evening, and transfers to the airport are provided for the various overnight flights to Europe as you begin your departure home.

 

Don't go home yet! Consider an exciting extension to Kenya's Maasai Mara! The Mara is generally considered one of East Africa's finest game locations, and Ethiopia is less than a few hours from Nairobi. Click here for our 3-day suggested extension, and here for our 4-day extension. EWT will handle everything seamlessly for you, including any overnights and transfers that might be required in Nairobi, depending upon your international flight arrangements.

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