Ethiopia historical route tour is an ultimate road safari in Ethiopia. This African safari in Ethiopia will start and end in the capital, Addis Ababa. This Ethiopia historical route tour takes you on a historical and cultural tour.
About the 12 Day Ethiopia Historical Route Tour
Ethiopia has a proud and long history extending all the way to the known beginnings of human kind. The Ethiopia historical route tour goes to the Gonderite and Axumite empires. On this Ethiopia historical trip you will tour Lalibela. This includes the rock churches of Tigray.
The journey takes travelers some 2000 kilometers through the Ethiopian countryside, mountains and desert. The Ethiopia historical route tour goes from site to site. This gives the traveler a chance to see the places between sites. You’ll enjoy local culture and see Ethiopia that exists outside the popular historic sites.
12 Day Ethiopia Historical Route Tour Highlights
Among the highlights of this Ethiopia historical route tour is a visit to Lalibela. This Ethiopia historical route tour will also take you to Axum and Gondar. Other highlights include:
- Blue Nile Falls, Bahir Dar
- Boat trip on lake Tana with unique island monasteries and nature
- Former imperial town of Gondar (UNESCO world heritage site)
- Breath-taking landscapes of the Simien Mountains with many endemic animals (UNESCO world natural site)
- Former imperial town of Axum with many relics of a several thousand-year-old civilizations
- Lalibela, the unofficial 8th wonder of the world (UNESCO world heritage site)
Detailed 12 Day Ethiopia Historical Route Tour Itinerary
Day 1: Addis Ababa – Bahir Dar
You’ll be met by our Ethiopia safari rep at your hotel. This can also be at the Bole Airport on arrival in the morning. You’ll be briefed on this Ethiopia historical route tour. This will be followed by an early departure.
You’ll drive north to Bahir Dar via Debre Markos. This drive will visit the Portuguese bridge. This is said to have been the first bridge in Ethiopia. You’ll proceed and pass through the spectacular Blue Nile Gorge. This gorge extends nearly 400km and reaches depths up to 1500m. Your overnight in Bahir Dar will be at EthioStar Hotel.
Day 2: Bahir Dar
Start your day on Ethiopia historical route tour with breakfast. You will then take a boat trip on Lake Tana. You’ll be visiting a selection of the monasteries. They are hidden on the islands and shores of this sacred lake.
The visit takes you to the Zege Peninsula. The monasteries here include Azuwa Maryam and Ura Kidane Mehret. In the island there is the monastery of Debre Maryam. This is near the outlet of the Blue Nile River. In the afternoon you’ll drive out to the Blue Nile Falls for a short hike in the area. You’ll end your day with the sunset over the lake. Your overnight in Bahir Dar will be at EthioStar Hotel.
Day 3: Bahir Dar – Gondar
Start your Ethiopia historical route tour with breakfast. This will be followed by departure driving north to Gondar. This will be a four-hour drive going through rural villages. This offers you wonderful insight into the Amhara culture. You’ll get to interact with their traditional agricultural methods still in use today. You are expected at your Gondar hotel before lunch time.
The afternoon will be spent exploring the sites of Gondar. They include the Royal Enclosure, with six castles and several other buildings. Additionally, you will visit Fasilidas’s Pool, still used for Timket celebrations today. There is also the Debre Birhan Selassie church. It has the most famous ceiling in Ethiopia. You’ll sleep in Gondar at Queen Taitu Pension.
Day 4: Gondar – Simien Mountains
You will wake up to an early breakfast in Ethiopia historical route tour. This is before an early morning departure to Sankober. This is in the Simien Mountains. From here you will go for an easy hike to the Geech Abyss. Here you’ll see a large waterfall as the Jinbar River plunges into the abyss.
This area is also a great place for viewing the endemic gelada baboon. They are also known as the ‘bleeding heart baboon. This is because of the red patch of skin on its chest. Your night in the Simien Mountains will be at Simien Lodge.
Day 5: Simien Mountains – Axum
You will wake up to tour breakfast in Simien Lodge. Your Ethiopia historical route tour then departs north for Axum. You’ll enjoy spectacular views of the Simien Mountains as you drive away. You’ll have a stop for lunch in Adi Arkay.
The drive then proceeds through the dramatic Tekeze Valley. This place offers some of the best landscapes in the country. Proceed to Axum, home of the ancient Axumite Empire. It is also the Queen of Sheba, and the Ark of the Covenant. Your overnight in Axum will be at Africa Hotel.
Day 6: Axum
Today your Ethiopia historical route tour has a full day visiting the sites of Axum. This includes the famous obelisks. One was recently erected after being returned from Italy. There is the archaeological museum and the Queen of Sheba’s Bath. The latter supplies water to Axum year-round. You’ll also visit Ezana’s inscription, King Kaleb’s tomb and King Bazen’s tomb.
You cannot finish the royalty visit without the Queen of Sheba’s Palace. In Axum you can also visit the St. Mary of Zion church. This is where the Ark of the Covenant is kept. It is only men who are allowed to enter the old church. Unfortunately, you are not allowed to enter the chapel where the Ark is kept. This is a preserve one specially chosen guardian monk. Your overnight will be at in Axum at Africa Hotel.
Day 7: Axum – Hawsein
Your Ethiopia historical route tour will begin with breakfast. You’ll then drive to visit the ruins of Yeha. These ruins date back to the 8th to 5th centuries BC. It is thought to be the capital of Ethiopian civilization before Axum. You’ll later visit the Debre Damo monastery. Here the men must climb up a 15-m rope to enter. Unfortunately, women are not allowed to enter. You’ll proceed through the state of Tigray. You’ll stop en-route for a visit to the rock-hewn church of Medhane Alem Adi Kesho. You’ll have your overnight in Hawsein at Gheralta Lodge.
Day 8: Hawsein – Mekele
After breakfast you’ll visit either Abuna Yemata Guh or Maryam Korkor. Both churches involve an approximate one-hour hike. But they offer commanding views of the surrounding area. After lunch, continue your visit with the more accessible churches. You’ll tour the church of Abreha we Atsbeha and Chirkos. The Ethiopia historical route tour then proceeds to Mekele for overnight at Hilltop Hotel.
Day 9: Mekele – Lalibela
You’ll spend the full day of Ethiopia historical route tour in Lalibela. The morning will be spent on a trip to the church of Yimrehanne Kristos. It is the most popular of the churches outside of Lalibela. This church is built with layers of wood and granite. It is set in the entrance to a large cavern. Your Ethiopia historical route tour will return to Lalibela for lunch break.
You will have the afternoon visiting the South-eastern Cluster of churches. They include Bet Gabriel-Rufael, Bet Merkorios, Bet Amanual, and Bet Abba Libanos. You cannot complete Ethiopia historical route tour without visiting Bet Giyorgis. It is the most famous Ethiopian church. It was constructed in honor of the patron saint of Ethiopia – Saint George. Overnight will be in Lalibela Lal Hotel.
Day 11: Lalibela – Kombolcha
Your Ethiopia historical route tour will begin with breakfast. This is before you visit the nearby monastery of Na’akuto La’ab. The monastery is set on the side of a cliff. After the visit you’ll proceed to Kombolcha via Woldia.
On the way you will stop for a rest in Hayk. Here you can enjoy the views of this stunning lake. You can visit the local monastery that is open for men only and enjoy the birdlife. Your overnight in Kombolcha will be at Sunnyside Hotel.
Day 12: Kombolcha – Addis Ababa
This is the last day of your Ethiopia historical route tour. The day will begin with an early breakfast. This will be followed by departure. The drive takes you through the Mezezo Escarpment. You have a good chance to see the endemic Gelada baboons. If this falls on a Sunday, a stop at Senbete will be important. Here you’ll visit the lively market including the interesting camel market.
———- End of Ethiopia Historical Route Tour ———-
12 Day Ethiopia Historical Route Tour Safari Costs:
What is included in the 12 Day Ethiopia Historical Route Tour Safari cost?
- Accommodation on Twin/Double Bed Room sharing basis
- All entrance(admission) fees at places of visits in the itinerary
- All transfer in and outs
- Comfortable safari vehicle
- Gasoline (fuel) and driver’s allowance
- Professional experienced English-speaking guide for the entire route
- All on-site guides
- Boat hire at Lake Tana and to cross the Blue Nile River
- Scouts at the Simien Mountains NP
- Guide Air Fare
- Bottled Water in the vehicle
- And, all related government taxes
12 Day Ethiopia Historical Route Tour Safari Price excludes:
- Any meals and drinks
- Visa Fee
- Domestic flight fare
- Fees to take pictures and videos
- Any expense of personal nature such as souvenirs, laundry, tips for service people, etc
- And, any expense which is not mentioned in the “Included” List above
What to Carry on the 12 Day Ethiopia Historical Route Tour?
- Light and a few heavy clothing for evenings
- Closed, comfortable shoes
- Hiking boots
- Sun protection like sun cream, hat
Ethiopia Historical Route Tour Destinations
Ethiopia historical route tour to Bahir Dar goes to the third largest city in Ethiopia. This is after Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa, and has a population of 201,450.
It is the capital of the Amhara region, inhabited by the Amhara people, the country’s ethnically and geographically second largest group. The Ethiopian official language is Amharic.
Bahir Dar is a clean and well-maintained city by African city standards. It is popular with national tourists for its lake and comfortable climate. You will witness the same on this Ethiopia historical route tour.
It has become part of the northern tourist loop for its access to historic monasteries and as a jumping off point for Blue Nile Falls and Gondar. Due to the bustling tourism industry, the city has numerous pool halls, bars, fresh juice shops, and restaurants.
Giorgis Road is the main road in the north-south direction, featuring plenty of shopping and restaurants. The bus station and markets lie on side roads. The city is easy to get around by foot, bicycle, or cheap bajaj (tuk tuk).
Getting to Bahir Dar
If not on our Ethiopia historical route tour, you can opt for the public busses. The city is connected by daily buses to/from Addis Ababa and Gondar. Many private minibuses also run to/from Gondar and Addis Ababa.
Many busses leave from the “new bus station” on the south side of the city near the national stadium. Some private busses do not leave from the bus station, but are instead arranged through your hotel or by local touts.
The minibuses are more expensive but faster, especially to Addis Ababa. Try Selam bus or Sky bus for a more comfortable (and potentially safer) ride.
To get to Bahir Dar from Lalibela by bus, take a dawn bus to Gashina (about two hours south of Lalibela) and change there to the Woldia – Bahir Dar bus.
This passes through Gashina around 10am. To get from Bahir Dar to Lalibela, take the 6am Bahir Dar – Woldia bus and catch the last Lalibela bus at Gashena. This passes through around 3pm.
Gondar (also spelled Gonder) is a royal and ancient historical city of Ethiopia. The walled city of Fasil Ghebbi in Gondar is on the UNESCO World Heritage List. It is part of the famous Ethiopia Historical route tour.
It was the home of many emperors and princesses who led the country from the 12th century to the last decade of the 20th century, including Emperor Suseneos, Emperor Fasiledes, Empress Mentwab, Iyasu I, Tewodros II and Empress Taitu.
The region is the home of the highest mountain in Ethiopia, Ras Dashen, and the Simien Mountains National Park. The park can be accessed from the village of Debark (100 km NE of Gondar).
What to See in Gondar
Gondar Castle, dubbed the Ethiopian Camelot. It is not a single castle, but instead is the name given to the entire complex of castles and palaces in the area. Once on your famous Ethiopia Historical route tour here, you can explore all of the buildings inside the so-called royal enclosure. The ticket is also valid at the Fasilides bath.
- Fasilides Castle. Built in 1640 as the home of King Fasilides.
- Iyasu Palace. This was the home of Iyasu I, the son of Yohannes I. An earthquake and bombings by the British destroyed its once ornate and lavish interior. The structure itself remains mostly intact and is the largest in the area.
- Mentewab’s Palace (Kusquam). 3 km west from the center. 100 Birr entrance fee. To get there take a blue/white minibus to Gondar Hospital and walk up the hill or take a bajaj. There are lots of them (2 Birr per person if shared)
- Fasilides Bath. Included in your entrance fee to the Fasilides Castle. Separate from the castle, it once served as the bath for King Fasilides. Today it is used as a baptismal during Timket
- Debre Birhan Selassie Church. A short way out of town, it seems more like a fortress than a church at first glance. This is because the local churches were once vulnerable to attacks by the Sudanese. There are twelve towers guarding this church, each representing one of the twelve apostles.
- Gorgora is a beautiful small town on the northern shore of Lake Tana about 70 km from Gondar. It has some interesting relics from its brief time as Ethiopia’s capital, and the lack of tourists adds to its charm. It is also good for birdwatching and canoe with the local fishermen. There is an early morning bus from Gondar to Gorgora (20 Birr) and occasional minibuses.
- Church of Debre Sina. The inside of this 17th century, thatched-roof church is breathtaking, with every wall adorned with biblical paintings.
- There are a number of monasteries on the northern part of Lake Tana. Boat hire is best arranged by visiting the Gorgora Port Hotel.
The Simien Mountains, in northern Ethiopia, north east of Gondar in Amhara region, are part of the Ethiopian Highlands.
They are a World Heritage Site and include the Simien Mountains National Park. The mountains consist of plateaus separated by valleys and rising to pinnacles.
Simien Mountains, Simien also spelled Semien or Simēn, mountains in northern Ethiopia, northeast of Gonder.
The Ethiopia Historical Route tour here goes to the range is Ras Dejen (or Dashen). It is the highest peak in Ethiopia at 14,872 feet (4,533 metres). The region is the site of Simien Mountains National Park.
This is home to a number of very rare species that include the walia ibex, found nowhere else in the world. The park was one of the first locations to be recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage site.
Simien Mountains National Park was established in 1969. It is located in the far north of the country. Simien Mountains National Park is part of the breathtaking Ethiopian Highlands.
This is a wonderland of dramatic plateaus, valleys, sheer cliffs and towering peaks. It is sometimes referred to as Africa’s answer to the Grand Canyon and includes Ethiopia’s highest peak, Ras.
The eastern section of the park is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is described by the organization as “one of the most spectacular landscapes in the world.”
Today, visitors including those on Ethiopia Historical Route tour flock to the national park to admire its fabulous scenery, look for rare wildlife and embark upon multi-day treks. Your Ethiopia Historical Route tour will be here for the Simien Mountain trekking.
Aksum is a city in northern Ethiopia. It’s known for its tall, carved obelisks, relics of the ancient Kingdom of Aksum. Most are in the northern Stelae Park, including a huge fallen pillar, now in pieces.
Centuries-old St. Mary of Zion is a Christian church and pilgrimage site believed to have housed the biblical Ark of the Covenant. The neighboring Chapel of the Tablet is said to contain the Ark today.
Ethiopia historical route tour to The African kingdom of Axum (also Aksum) goes to the northern edge of the highland zone of the Red Sea coast. This is just above the horn of Africa.
Axum was founded in the 1st century CE, flourished from the 3rd to 6th century CE. It then survived as a much smaller political entity into the 8th century CE.
The territory Axum once controlled is today occupied by the states of Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Somalia, and Somaliland. Prospering thanks to agriculture, cattle herding, and control over trade routes which saw gold and ivory exchanged for foreign luxury goods.
The kingdom and its capital of Axum built lasting stone monuments and achieved a number of firsts. It was the first sub-Saharan African state to mint its own coinage and, around 350 CE.
It was the first to officially adopt Christianity. Axum even created its own script, Ge’ez, which is still in use in Ethiopia today.
The kingdom went into decline from the 7th century CE due to increased competition. This was from Muslim Arab traders and the rise of rival local peoples such as the Bedja.
Surviving as a much smaller territory to the south, the remnants of the once great kingdom of Axum would eventually rise again and form the great kingdom of Abyssinia in the 13th century CE.
Your Ethiopia Historical Route tour will visit Lalibela. This is a town in the Amhara region of northern Ethiopia. It’s known for its distinctive rock-cut churches dating from the 12th and 13th centuries.
The churches are which are pilgrimage sites for Coptic Christians. They are carved out of rock, the subterranean monoliths. They include huge Bete Medhane Alem, and cross-shaped Bete Giyorgis.
Many are joined by tunnels and trenches, and some have carved bas-reliefs and colored frescoes inside.
Lalibela is one of Ethiopia’s holiest places, dating back to the 12th century. Lalibela town, formerly known as Roha. It is named after one of Ethiopian ruler, King Lalibela (1181-1221), a member of the Zagwe dynasty.
The Ethiopia Historical Route tour to Lalibela allows you to visit amazing eleven churches hewn from solid rock. Built in the twelfth century, they are still standing in excellent condition. Most consider them as the eighth wonder of the world, and is one of the world heritage sites listed by UNESCO.
The famous Lalibela churches carved out from the rock on which they stand. Some lie almost completely hidden in deep trenches, while others stand in open quarried caves. A complex and amazing labyrinth of tunnels and narrow passage ways connects them all.
Seeing all of the Lalibela churches on Ethiopia Historical Route tour are well worth it. It is even amazing particularly during the colourful Ethiopian christian holidays.
The holidays include Genna, Ethiopian Christmas (on January 7th) and Timkat, Epiphany (on January 19th).