Rejser til Etiopien

Etiopien er det eneste land i Afrika, der aldrig har været koloniseret, men det skiller sig ud på mange andre måder – for eksempel når det kommer til tidsregning. Den etiopiske kalender har 13 måneder. så da vi stod op til d. 11. september 2007, ja så fejrede etiopierne årtusindskiftet.

Hvis du kaster dig ud i at tale med lokale, så skal du have den store parlør med. I Etiopien tales der ca. 80 forskellige sprog med 200 forskellige dialekter.

Landet har også Afrikas næststørste befolkning – kun overgået af Nigeria. Man kan godt kalde landet for en glemt gigant med en kulturarv, der er så uovertruffen, at der næppe findes noget tilsvarende i noget andet land på kontinentet.

Vores rundrejser fører dig til nogle af de mest imponerende højdepunkter – fra Aksumrigets historiske templer i nord til de gådefulde stammer og deres kultur i syd. Du kan trekke dig igennem Etiopiens Simienbjerge, blive vidne til noget af det mest usædvanlige dyreliv, udforske gamle klippekirker, slotte og klostre, og du kan møde nogle af Afrikas mest afsidesliggende stammer med deres helt specielle og imponerende skikke og traditioner.

At rejse gennem Etiopien er et eventyr, så det er bedst at være forberedt på, at uanset hvad der møder dig, så vil det være fuldstændig forskelligt fra noget, du tidligere har set.

Grupperejse 1 ► Etiopien - Det historiske Etiopien
Grupperejse 2 ► Etiopien - På opdagelse i Omodalen
Grupperejse 3 ► Etiopien - Timkat Festivalen

Grupperejse 1 ► Etiopien - Det historiske Etiopien

Generel information om grupperejser i Etiopien

Happy Lama Travels eksklusive grupperejser i Etiopien foregår i små internationale grupper med lokal engelsktalende rejseleder. Derfor er rejsebeskrivelserne på engelsk.

En lokal rejseleder kender sit land bedre end en dansk rejseleder. Det er desuden vores erfaring at en lokal rejseleder giver dig et bedre indblik i, hvordan livet leves i Etiopien.

Passer rejsedatoerne dig ikke eller vil du selv have maksimal indflydelse på dit rejseprogram – Kontakt os hvis du ønsker et tilbud på en individuel rejse i Etiopien.

afrika@happylamatravel.com

Trip Summary

Ethiopia has to be one of the most exciting countries in Africa, a nation that is overflowing with history and culture yet quietly keeps its charms to itself, devoid of the visitors one might expect. This tour explores Ethiopia’s historic northern region, a land of ancient monasteries and castles where tradition rules. Starting off in Addis Ababa, we explore its many sites before flying to one of the jewels of the country – enchanting Lalibela with its amazing 11th century rock cut churches. We spend time exploring both the main churches and lesser known ones before driving to the region of Tigray – similar to Petra with churches hewn out of the surrounding landscape, but many feel far more spectacular, with many churches built halfway up almost inaccessible cliff faces. We spend time learning about the history of the ancient Axumite Empire at Axum then travel to ‘Africa’s Camelot’ – the wonderful castles and palaces of Gondar. Ethiopia’s natural beauty reveals itself in the Simien Mountains, where we walk amidst some of Africa’s most captivating scenery, looking for endemic gelada baboons. And to round off our exploration we visit the isolated island monasteries on Lake Tana, home to treasured religious artefacts and strong monastic traditions. This two week tour gives a fantastic insight into the cultural heritage of this spectacular nation. 

Fitness**** | Adventure*** | Culture**** | History***** | Wildlife***

Day 1 – Addis Ababa

Arrive in Addis Ababa and transfer to hotel. The rest of the day is free to relax. Overnight Jupiter International Hotel or similar.

Addis Ababa
Addis Ababa was founded in 1887 by Emperor Menelik II, and its name means ‘new flower’ in Amharic. A large city, it is the third highest capital in the world sitting at an altitude of 2400m. It hosts East Africa’s largest market, the Mercato, a sprawling mass of stalls where one can find just about anything for sale, including the much favoured national drug qat, and is well endowed with other sights. Churches such as St George’s Cathedral and the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity give a great insight into Ethiopia’s particular brand of Christianity. The Cathedral of St George, named after Ethiopia’s patron saint (the famed dragon slayer that also serves as patron saint for England) was built by Emperor Menelik to commemorate his victory over Italian forces at Adwa, and houses a small museum with a collection of important religious paintings, books and artefacts. A good National Museum holds an interesting selection of artefacts from Ethiopia’s wide and varied history. Ethiopia was the only African nation never to be fully colonised, although the Italians occupied parts of it for a while in the first half of the twentieth century, and it is still possible to see remnants of their legacy in Addis, particularly in the Piazza area which is a great place to walk around and soak up the atmosphere.

Day 2 – Lalibela

Fly to Lalibela with its wonderful rock cut churches, known in some circles as the 8th wonder of the world. In the afternoon we visit some of these intriguing monuments to discover more about Ethiopia’s enigmatic past. Overnight in Roha Hotel or similar. (BD)

Lalibela
The small dusty town of Lalibela in the north of Ethiopia is home to some of Ethiopia’s most amazing sights, a collection of rock cut churches dating back hundreds of years. Often known as ‘Africa’s Petra’, Lalibela is a great centre of pilgrimage among Ethiopians, flocking here to worship, and during religious festivals is packed with priests and monks. Lalibela and the surrounding area are dotted with excellently preserved churches, still used today. Many of them are connected by underground tunnels and passages, with tiny caves hollowed out in nearby walls used as homes for ascetic monks and hermits who stay here for years on end. Many legends surround the origins of Lalibela, but the most popular is that they were constructed by angels in one night. The churches date back to the 11th and 12th centuries, and the most spectacular is Beta Giorgis, built in the shape of a cross in a large pit in the ground. Some contain ancient religious artefacts, which resident monks are often happy to show to visitors, including intricately decorated crosses and a wooden box said to be carved by King Lalibela.

Day 3 – Lalibela

Morning excursion by mules to the Asheten Mariam Church, known for its wonderful views. Alternatively a visit will be arranged by car to the cave church of Naktuleab. Afternoon visit to the remaining churches in Lalibela. Overnight in Roha Hotel or similar. (BD)

Day 4 – Mekelle

After an early breakfast start the journey to the town of Mekelle. Along the way there will be plenty of opportunities for photo stops as we pass through small Amhara villages. Overnight Axum Hotel or similar. (BD)

Please note that today involves between 9 and 10 hours driving.

Day 5 – Tigray churches

Today we explore the marvellous rock-hewn churches dating from the 8th to the 15th centuries that dot this remote and inspiring landscape. Many of the churches are carved directly into the cliff walls of the ‘Ambas’ – typical Ethiopian mountains with flat tops and almost vertical sides. Overnight Agoro Lodge or similar. (BD)

Tigray’s rock-cut churches
The rock-hewn churches of the Tigray region are one of Ethiopia’s most enchanting and fascinating sites. Many of them are carved into sheer cliff faces which take effort to reach, perhaps to protect the treasures that many of them hold in terms of paintings and artefacts, or to provide the solitude necessary for religious meditation. Isolated and mysterious, the churches are still used today and if lucky enough to visit when a religious festival is taking place, an unparalleled place to witness Ethiopia’s spiritual traditions. Even without this though, they retain an aura which is spellbinding, enhanced by the fact that very few western travellers actually get here. However the time and effort it takes to reach them makes them all the more special.

Day 6 – Axum

Today we drive to Axum through some spectacular views. En route we visit the 5th century temple of Yeha, displaying incredible skills in stonework and in fact the oldest building still standing in Ethiopia. Overnight Yeha Hotel or similar. (BD)

Day 7 – Axum

Visit the amazing sites of Axum, including its collection of ancient stelae, the bath and the palace of the Queen of Sheba and St Mary of Tsion Church, which legend says is where the Ark of the Covenant is located. Overnight Yeha Hotel or similar. (BD)

Axum
The northern town of Axum is reputed to have been the capital of the legendary Queen of Sheba, in the 10th century BC. Once a great city and the capital of a powerful empire around the time of the birth of Christ, it is thought by some to be one of the great civilisations of antiquity, controlling the all important trade routes between Asia and Africa for many centuries. Today it is a site of pilgrimage, containing many important religious buildings as well as palaces and tombs belonging to past Emperor’s of Ethiopia. The most notable of these is the church of St Mary of Tsion, which is said to contain the Ark of the Covenant and is watched over by a guardian who prevents anyone from seeing it. According to legend, the ark was brought here by Emperor Menelik, son of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. Axum is also famous for its collection of stelae, sculpted from single pieces of granite and intricately carved. Although some are in ruins, those that remain are the legacy of one of Africa’s most powerful civilisations.

Day 8 – Simien Mountains

A long drive today to the Simien Mountains, a spectacularly scenic area with interesting endemic mammals, including the gelada baboons and as well as various species of birds. Depending on our arrival time we may have time to do a short walk in the park before our main walk tomorrow to experience the breathtaking beauty of these mountains. Overnight Simien Lodge or similar. (BD)

Please note that due to intermittent road construction activity the driving time on this day can be up to 10 hours.

Simien Mountains
Ethiopia is sometimes called the ‘Roof of Africa’, and the spectacular Simien Mountains hold its highest point Ras Dashen, at 4620m the fourth highest mountain on the continent. The Simiens are a dramatic landscape of green carpeted gorges and chasms which are home to some of the country’s rare and endemic species. It is relatively easy to see large troops of gelada baboons, shaggy maned primates with bright red patches of flesh on their chests, grazing on the vegetation, which are found only in Ethiopia’s mountains. You are less likely to see two of its other rare creatures, the Walia Ibex and the Simien wolf, the rarest of the world’s canine species. Walking in these mountains, watching lammergeier vultures swoop into deep ravines, offers one of the scenic highlights of travel in Africa.

Day 9 – Simien Mountains

We spend today walking through the mountains to visit awe-inspiring viewpoints and spot some of the wildlife. For those that do not want to do a long full day trek a shorter alternative can be taken. Overnight Simien Lodge or similar. (BL)

Day 10 – Gondar

Drive to Gondar, a city famous for its amazing collection of old castles and palaces. We visit the main sites of the town, including the palaces and castles of King Fasiladas and the beautifully decorated Debre Birhan Selassie Church (Light of Trinity) with its wonderful murals. Overnight Goha Hotel or similar. (BD)

Gondar
The Royal Enclosure at Gondar is one of Ethiopia’s key sites, and rightly so. Enshrouded in mystery as to its origins, Gondar became the capital of King Fasiladas in the 17th century and an important city in the region. What is astonishing about Gondar is its collection of castles, very European in character and seeming very out of place in this corner of Africa. There are different theories as to who constructed them – some say Portuguese architects and builders were responsible while others claim that Ethiopian craftsmen constructed them. The best preserved is Fasiladas’ Palace, a two storey building with towers and parapets. There are several buildings within the enclosure, including a lion cage, a chancellery and the Royal Archive. Wandering through these medieval relics it is not difficult to see why Gondar has been christened the ‘Camelot of Africa’.

Day 11 – Bahir Dar

We head to Bahir Dar, stopping en route for any sites of interest. On arrival we drive to the Blue Nile Falls where we take a short walk to view the falls themselves. Later we return to Bahir Dar, where our hotel tonight overlooks Lake Tana, source of the Blue Nile. Overnight Tana Hotel or similar. (BD)

Blue Nile Falls
Some 30km from Lake Tana, near the village of Tis Isat, lie the Blue Nile Falls, discovered by the Scot James Bruce in the 18th century. Some 400m wide, they are the second largest set of falls in Africa, after the mighty Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. However, in 2003 a large hydro-electric dam was constructed upstream, which has reduced the flow over the falls considerably – the falls are only ‘switched on’ on certain days of the week. The walk to the falls, invariably accompanied by small children, starts in Tis Isat and takes you over a small bridge constructed by the Portuguese in the 17th century, before ending up at a fantastic viewpoint.

Day 12 – Lake Tana

This morning we take boats out onto Lake Tana to explore its fantastic collection of ancient monasteries, dramatically situated on the lake’s islands and peninsulas. This afternoon is free to explore Bahir Dar, with the option of visiting Bezawit Palace, built for Emperor Haile Selassie. Overnight Tana Hotel or similar. (BD)

Lake Tana
Lake Tana is Ethiopia’s largest lake, and its shoreline and islands are home to several monasteries dating back to the 15th century, most of which are still in service today. Many contain excellent murals and frescoes, painted in the unique Ethiopian style, while others contain ancient books which are sometimes possible to see, guarded by monks in their religious finery. Many monasteries were used as repositories for royal and religious treasures, to keep them safe from any invaders, and their remains of previous emperors are said to be housed at Daga Istafanos. The shoreline is dotted with small villages, whose inhabitants traverse the lake on tankwas, small boats made from papyrus, often carrying impossibly large loads. Lake Tana is the source of the Blue Nile and contains excellent birdlife, as well as hippos.

Day 13 – Addis Ababa

Fly back to Addis. Subject to time you will have an afternoon tour of the capital. Visit the Entoto Mountains, with a fantastic view over the city the National Museum, St George’s Cathedral and the Merkato, reputedly the biggest open air market in Africa. Overnight Jupiter International Hotel or similar. (BD)

Day 14 – Addis Ababa

Tour ends. (B)

Harar Extension – Day 1 - Awash

A morning drive takes you from Addis Ababa to Awash National Park. This park is one of the most beautiful in Ethiopia. The river Awash runs through a spectacular gorge; the park itself is home to 392 species of birds and many mammals live there including oryx, gazelles and antelopes. Upon arrival take a game drive in the park. Overnight Genet Hotel or similar. (LD)

Harar Extension – Day 2 - Harar

Early in the morning we will visit the park, with wonderful birdlife, hot springs, and the Awash waterfalls. Afterwards continue to Harar. Harar is unique within Ethiopia. With its 368 alleyways squeezed in to just 1sq km, it’s more reminiscent of Fez in Morocco than it is of any other Ethiopian city. Its countless mosques and shrines, coffee –scented streets, busy market place – probably the most colourful in Ethiopia, crumbling walls and charming people remind one of a bygone era. Overnight Heritage Plaza Hotel or similar. (BLD)

Harar Extension – Day 3 - Harar

Explore and walk through the old city seeing its many sites including the house where Rimbaud lived. Harar was the poet’s favourite city and he established quarters there in order to trade in arms, eventually destined for the emperor Menelik. In the evening, see the renowned ‘hyena men’. Overnight Heritage Plaza Hotel or similar. (BLD)

Harar Extension – Day 4 - Dire Dawa

The road and surrounding fertile lands rise up the Cercer Mountains (3,000 metres above sea level), offering magnificent panoramas. On the road we begin to see crops of ‘chat’, a bush whose leaves are chewed because they provide light stimulation. The women of this region wear very brightly coloured clothes. We arrive in Dire Dawa and explore the city in the afternoon. Overnight Samrate Hotel or similar. (BLD)

Harar Extension – Day 5 - Addis Ababa

Drive back to Addis Ababa to connect with your departure flight. (B)

Grupperejse 1 ► Etiopien - Det historiske Etiopien
Grupperejse 2 ► Etiopien - På opdagelse i Omodalen
Grupperejse 3 ► Etiopien - Timkat Festivalen

Grupperejse 2 ► Etiopien - På opdagelse i Omodalen

Generel information om grupperejser i Etiopien

Happy Lama Travels eksklusive grupperejser i Etiopien foregår i små internationale grupper med lokal engelsktalende rejseleder. Derfor er rejsebeskrivelserne på engelsk.

En lokal rejseleder kender sit land bedre end en dansk rejseleder. Det er desuden vores erfaring at en lokal rejseleder giver dig et bedre indblik i, hvordan livet leves i Etiopien.

Passer rejsedatoerne dig ikke eller vil du selv have maksimal indflydelse på dit rejseprogram – Kontakt os hvis du ønsker et tilbud på en individuel rejse i Etiopien.

afrika@happylamatravel.com

Trip Summary

Ethiopia’s Omo Valley is one of the most culturally diverse regions in all of Africa, a land where tribal traditions still take precedent over anything else and where modernity is still kept largely at bay. On this trip use comfortable mini-vans and occasional 4WD vehicles to head into the villages of the various tribes that make up this kaleidoscope of ethnicity, including the Mursi, Karo, Hamer and Konso, learning about their complex customs and experiencing a way of life very far removed from the rest of Ethiopia. Where possible we try to visit local markets, one of the best ways to experience life in the Omo Valley. This is a cultural discovery that can rarely be equalled, visiting some of the most remote people in the world, and to spend time among them is an amazing privilege.

Fitness*** | Adventure**** | Culture***** | History*** | Wildlife****

Day 1 – Arrive Addis Ababa

Arrive in Addis Ababa and transfer to hotel. This afternoon visit some of the capital’s key sights including the Entoto Mountains, with great views over the city, the National Museum, St George’s Cathedral and the Merkato, reputedly the biggest open air market in Africa. Overnight Jupiter Hotel or similar.

Addis Ababa
Addis Ababa was founded in 1887 by Emperor Menelik II, and its name means ‘new flower’ in Amharic. A large city, it is the third highest capital in the world sitting at an altitude of 2400m. It hosts East Africa’s largest market, the Mercato, a sprawling mass of stalls where one can find just about anything for sale, including the much favoured national drug qat, and is well endowed with other sights. Churches such as St George’s Cathedral and the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity give a great insight into Ethiopia’s particular brand of Christianity. The Cathedral of St George, named after Ethiopia’s patron saint (the famed dragon slayer that also serves as patron saint for England) was built by Emperor Menelik to commemorate his victory over Italian forces at Adwa, and houses a small museum with a collection of important religious paintings, books and artefacts. A good National Museum holds an interesting selection of artefacts from Ethiopia’s wide and varied history. Ethiopia was the only African nation never to be fully colonised, although the Italians occupied parts of it for a while in the first half of the twentieth century, and it is still possible to see remnants of their legacy in Addis, particularly in the Piazza area which is a great place to walk around and soak up the atmosphere.

Day 2 – Addis - Bale Mountains National Park

In the morning we will drive to the Bale Mt. National Park, travelling thorough the southeast part of the capital, where fertile land is cultivated by the Oromo people. We arrive at Dinsho (Park HQ) in the afternoon. We will take a trek to see three of the endemic mammals and bird species. Later on we continue our drive to Goba. Overnight at Goba Wabe Shebele Hotel (BLD)

Bale Mountains National Park
Located 400km southeast of Addis Ababa, Bale Mountains National Park contains a spectacularly diverse landscape. The high altitude, afro-montane Sanetti Plateau rises to over 4,000m and includes the highest peak in the southern Ethiopia highlands. This undulating plateau is marked by numerous glacial lakes and swamps and surrounded by higher volcanic ridges and peaks. The southern slopes are covered by the lush and largely unexplored Harenna Forest. The forest is also a home for different pig species, lions, leopards, spotted hyenas, African hunting dogs and many others. More over the Bale Mountains are home for 16 endemic bird species. It is also one of the best sites to spot the rare and endangered Ethiopian Wolf, especially on the spectacular Sanetti Plateau as the sun rises.

Day 3 – Bale Mountains National Park

After an early breakfast we drive to Senate Plateau through Harenna forest and Tulu Dimtu, the second highest mountain in the country (4377m). We will explore the area, and if we are very lucky, will get to spot the Ethiopian Wolf. Overnight at Goba Wabe Shebele Hotel (BLD)

Day 4 – Bale to Yirgalem

After breakfast we continue on with a drive to Yirgalem. We will pass through a number of coffee plantations and various fruit cultivating towns with splendid greenery everywhere. Our destination is the Aregash Lodge. A natural retreat of astounding beauty and tranquillity, the Bamboo thatched Tukuls contemplate the traditional Sidama villages nearby. The surrounding forest is home for a diverse range of mammals and birds. A coffee plantation and the nightly visit of hyenas are further attractions to be found in the surrounding area.Overnight Aregash lodge. (BLD)

Day 5 – Konso

Today we will drive to Konso. On the way you will get to enjoy the beautiful scenery of coffee plantations and we stop to visit the Tutu Fella Stelae, prehistoric carved stone monuments that have mystified people for many centuries. Overnight stay Kanta Lodge or similar. (BLD)

Konso people
The Konso are known for their custom of erecting wooden grave markers, which mark the resting place of important leaders and warriors. These markers are carved with the exaggerated features of the dead person. In a similar fashion, the Konso also erect poles to signify the coming of an age of a generation, and these poles can be found in their village squares.

Day 6 – Konso - Jinka

This morning we travel through the lands of the Derase, Tsemay and Benna people. We stop along the way to meet Ari people and learn about their customs. Overnight Jinka Resort or similar. (BLD)

Tsemay people
The Tsemay are one of the lesser known of Ethiopia’s ethnic groups, with numbers not exceeding 10,000 people. Their neighbours include the Konso to the east, the Banna – Bashada group to the west, the Male to the north, and the Arbore to the south. Tsemay society is polygamous and is unusual in that there is no taboo on women having sexual relations before marriage, however having children before marriage is an entirely different thing and is very much socially unacceptable.

Jinka
A small mountain town set apart from the country, Jinka feels both remote and rustic, accentuated by the grass airstrip in the middle of town. People come from across South Omo to visit the Saturday market, particularly Ari, Bana, Besheda and Besketo people.

Days 7 – Mago National Park

This morning we will travel to Mago National Park and visit the Mursi people, renowned for their practice of extending their lips with plates. In the afternoon we visit the Jinka Museum. Overnight Jinka Resort or similar. (BLD)

Mursi people
The Mursi are perhaps the best known of the Omo Valley tribes, due to the distinctive custom among women of wearing plates through their lips. When a woman reaches the age of about 20, a small cut is made in the lower lip and a clay plate inserted, which is then extended each year. The Mursi people live in one of the least accessible areas of Ethiopia – when a British anthropologist visited them for the first time in the early 1970s, they had never heard of the country of Ethiopia where they lived. They are a relatively small ethnic group, comprising of about 7-10,000 people.

Day 8 – Turmi

Our journey today takes us to Turmi. We travel through the lands of the very colourful Hamer people, renowned for their unusual hairstyles. We also spend time with the Karo people, known for their body decoration and scarification. Overnight Buska Lodge or Turmi lodge. (BLD)

Karo people
The Karo people are renowned for their painted body and face decorations. This is an elaborate process, which ranges from fine and elaborate details to rough, but striking paintings traced with the palms or fingers. The most beautiful expression is in the facial and chest paintings that combine white (chalk), black (charcoal), yellow, ochre, and red earth, often imitating the spotted plumage of a guinea fowl. Karo woman scarify their chests to as a sign of beauty, while the scarification of a man’s chest indicates that he has killed an enemy or a dangerous animal. The scars are cut with a knife or razor blade and ash is rubbed in to produce a raised effect. The wearing of a grey and ochre clay hair bun also indicates has the same significance.

Hamer people
The 15,000 to 20,000 members of the Hamar make their living as successful cattle herders and farmers. Once they hunted, but the wild pigs and small antelope have almost disappeared from the lands in which they live; and until 20 years ago, all ploughing was done by hand with digging sticks. Hamar men come of age by leaping over a line of cattle in a ceremony which qualifies him to marry, own cattle and have children. They must leap over the cattle four times – only then are they considered to be men. At this time, the relatives of the men leaping will line up to be whipped by the maza, a group of men who have performed the leap themselves and live separately to the rest of the tribe. This whipping is said to create a strong bond between the jumper and his female relations, as he now owes them a debt and they can call upon him during times of hardship.

Day 9 – Turmi

This morning we will drive to Koricho, a settlement for the Karo ethnic groups, perhaps the most beautiful, with its lofty views over the Omo River and traditional Karo dwelling. Overnight Buska Lodge or Turmi lodge. (BLD)

Day 10 – Turmi to Arbaminch

En route to Arbaminch we will stop off and visit one of the Konso villages and the Konso museum. Overnight Paradise Lodge or similar. (BLD)

Day 11 – Lake Chamo and Dorze

This morning we take a boat trip to view the crocodiles at thelLake. In the afternoon we drive to Chencha, to visit the Dorze people, with their unique culture, houses and traditions. Overnight Paradise Lodge or similar. (BLD)

Dorze people
This region is known for the Dorze people, who in turn are known for their unusual beehive shaped houses, constructed from wood and bamboo. These towering, re-locatable, structures can reach as high as 12 metres and last from 60-80 years and so will generally be used by one family for their lifetimes. Traditionally the bamboos that are used as frames for the huts are cut during moonlight. The Dorze are farmers and are also known for weaving fine quality shamas, the shawl type cloths that are worn throughout Ethiopia.

Day 12 – Rift Valley Lakes

Drive to the Rift Valley lakes of Shala, Abyata and Langano, admiring wonderful views and many birds, including pelicans, flamingoes and more. Then relax at the Sabanna Beach Resort, secluded in a natural paradise on the shore of Lake Langano and near to Munessa Forest. There is the options of trekking, bird-watching, horse-riding, boat excursions, cycling and more. Overnight Sabanna Beach Resort or similar.

Rift Valley Lakes
The cluster of lakes – Shala, Abyata and Langano – that are found in this area are a great spot for birdwatching, with many of Ethiopia’s numerous species of birds found here. Langano in particular is also popular with local tourists, as it is the only lake in Ethiopia without bilharzia, making it safe to swim in. The nearby Abyata-Shala National Park incorporates the two Rift Valley lakes it is named after, and borders Lake Langano. The two lakes could not be more different – Shala lies in a crater 265m deep, studded with volcanic islands. Lake Abyata, in contrast, is large and shallow, nowhere deeper than 14m. These lakes are part of the Rift Valley, an enormous fissure that stretches from Syria all the way down to Mozambique, culminating in Lake Malawi and nearly 4000 miles in length. The Rift Valley has been an excellent source of well preserved fossils, exemplified in Ethiopia by the skeletons of human ancestors that have been unearthed within the last fifty years.

Day 13 – Addis Ababa

Morning will be at your leisure to relax and swim on the beach. This afternoon, we continue our drive back to Addis for the night. En route we will have a stop at Lake Ziway for some bird watching. In the evening, there is a traditional dinner where you will experience live cultural music and dance. Overnight in a 4* Hotel (BLD)

Day 14 – City Tour and Departure

After breakfast, depending on your departure flight, there may be time for some last minute exploration . A visit is arranged to St George church, the National Museum and to Merkato, reputedly the biggest open air market in Africa. The tour concludes with a transfer to Bole International Airport (BL)

Grupperejse 1 ► Etiopien - Det historiske Etiopien
Grupperejse 2 ► Etiopien - På opdagelse i Omodalen
Grupperejse 3 ► Etiopien - Timkat Festivalen

Grupperejse 3 ► Etiopien - Timkat Festivalen

Generel information om grupperejser i Etiopien

Happy Lama Travels eksklusive grupperejser i Etiopien foregår i små internationale grupper med lokal engelsktalende rejseleder. Derfor er rejsebeskrivelserne på engelsk.

En lokal rejseleder kender sit land bedre end en dansk rejseleder. Det er desuden vores erfaring at en lokal rejseleder giver dig et bedre indblik i, hvordan livet leves i Etiopien.

Passer rejsedatoerne dig ikke eller vil du selv have maksimal indflydelse på dit rejseprogram – Kontakt os hvis du ønsker et tilbud på en individuel rejse i Etiopien.

afrika@happylamatravel.com

Trip Summary

Join us on this small group tour to Ethiopia for the Timkat Festival which is the Ethiopian Orthodox Churches celebration of Epiphany. Pilgrims travel for days to the churches at which the celebrations are held. In addition, discover Ethiopia’s natural beauty as it reveals itself in the Simien Mountains, where we walk amidst some of Africa’s most captivating scenery, looking for endemic gelada baboons. In Lalibela, we spend time exploring both the main churches and lesser known ones before driving to the region of Tigray – similar to Petra with churches hewn out of the surrounding landscape, but many feel far more spectacular, with many churches built halfway up almost inaccessible cliff faces. We spend time learning about the history of the ancient Axumite Empire at Axum then travel to ‘Africa’s Camelot’ – the wonderful castles and palaces of Gondar. A truly unforgettable tour.

Fitness**** | Adventure*** | Culture**** | History***** | Wildlife***

Day 1 – Addis Ababa

Arrive in Addis Ababa and transfer to hotel. The rest of the day is free to relax. Overnight Jupiter Hotel or similar.

Day 2 – Gondar

Take the early morning flight to Gondar. Once there, we visit the main sites of the town, including the palaces and castles of King Fasiladas and the beautifully decorated Debre Birhan Selassie Church (Light of Trinity) with its wonderful murals. Overnight Goha Hotel (BD)

Gondar
The Royal Enclosure at Gondar is one of Ethiopia’s key sites, and rightly so. Enshrouded in mystery as to its origins, Gondar became the capital of King Fasiladas in the 17th century and an important city in the region. What is astonishing about Gondar is its collection of castles, very European in character and seeming very out of place in this corner of Africa. There are different theories as to who constructed them – some say Portuguese architects and builders were responsible while others claim that Ethiopian craftsmen constructed them. The best preserved is Fasiladas’ Palace, a two storey building with towers and parapets. There are several buildings within the enclosure, including a lion cage, a chancellery and the Royal Archive. Wandering through these medieval relics it is not difficult to see why Gondar has been christened the ‘Camelot of Africa’.

Day 3 – Simien Mountains

Today we drive to the Simien Mountains (135km), a spectacularly scenic area with interesting endemic mammals, including the gelada baboons and as well as various species of birds. Overnight Simien Lodge (BD)

Simien Mountains
Ethiopia is sometimes called the ‘Roof of Africa’, and the spectacular Simien Mountains hold its highest point Ras Dashen, at 4620m the fourth highest mountain on the continent. The Simiens are a dramatic landscape of green carpeted gorges and chasms which are home to some of the country’s rare and endemic species. It is relatively easy to see large troops of gelada baboons, shaggy maned primates with bright red patches of flesh on their chests, grazing on the vegetation, which are found only in Ethiopia’s mountains. You are less likely to see two of its other rare creatures, the Walia Ibex and the Simien wolf, the rarest of the world’s canine species. Walking in these mountains, watching Lammergeier vultures swoop into deep ravines, offers one of the scenic highlights of travel in Africa.

Day 4 – Simien Mountains

We spend today walking through the mountains to visit awe-inspiring viewpoints and spot some of the wildlife like Chilada baboons and Walia Ibex. Overnight Simien Lodge (BL)

Day 5 – Axum

We will continue our drive to Axum through great scenery via Tekeze River. This is a long day of driving but through stunning scenery (285km – up to 10 hours). Overnight Yeha Hotel (BD)

Axum
The northern town of Axum is reputed to have been the capital of the legendary Queen of Sheba, in the 10th century BC. Once a great city and the capital of a powerful empire around the time of the birth of Christ, it is thought by some to be one of the great civilisations of antiquity, controlling the all important trade routes between Asia and Africa for many centuries. Today it is a site of pilgrimage, containing many important religious buildings as well as palaces and tombs belonging to past Emperor’s of Ethiopia. The most notable of these is the church of St Mary of Tsion, which is said to contain the Ark of the Covenant and is watched over by a guardian who prevents anyone from seeing it. According to legend, the ark was brought here by Emperor Menelik, son of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. Axum is also famous for its collection of stelae, sculpted from single pieces of granite and intricately carved. Although some are in ruins, those that remain are the legacy of one of Africa’s most powerful civilisations.

Day 6 – Axum

Visit the amazing sites of Axum, including its collection of ancient stelae, the bath and the palace of the Queen of Sheba and St Mary of Tsion Church, which legend says is where the Ark of the Covenant is located. Overnight Yeha Hotel (BD)

Day 7 – Adigrat and Tigray churches

Today we drive to Adigrat through some spectacular views. En route we visit the 5th century temple of Yeha, displaying incredible skills in stonework and the oldest building still standing in Ethiopia. Overnight stay Agoro lodge. (BD)

Tigray’s rock-cut churches
The rock-hewn churches of the Tigray region are one of Ethiopia’s most enchanting and fascinating sites. Many of them are carved into sheer cliff faces which take effort to reach, perhaps to protect the treasures that many of them hold in terms of paintings and artefacts, or to provide the solitude necessary for religious meditation. Isolated and mysterious, the churches are still used today and if lucky enough to visit when a religious festival is taking place, an unparalleled place to witness Ethiopia’s spiritual traditions. Even without this though, they retain an aura which is spellbinding, enhanced by the fact that very few western travellers actually get here. However the time and effort it takes to reach them makes them all the more special.

Day 8 – Drive to Mekelle

Continue our exploration of the marvellous churches that dot this remote and inspiring landscape. Today we visit the churches of Medhane Alem Adikusho, Wukro Cherkos and Abraha Atsbeha. Overnight Axum Hotel. (BD)

Day 9 – Drive to Lalibela

After an early breakfast start the journey to the town of Lalibela through Amhara villages with a chance of meeting Tigray and Amhar people. The journey will take about 9 hours (440km).Overnight in Roha Hotel or similar. (BD)

Lalibela
The small dusty town of Lalibela in the north of Ethiopia is home to some of Ethiopia’s most amazing sights, a collection of rock cut churches dating back hundreds of years. Often known as ‘Africa’s Petra’, Lalibela is a great centre of pilgrimage among Ethiopians, flocking here to worship, and during religious festivals is packed with priests and monks. Lalibela and the surrounding area are dotted with excellently preserved churches, still used today. Many of them are connected by underground tunnels and passages, with tiny caves hollowed out in nearby walls used as homes for ascetic monks and hermits who stay here for years on end. Many legends surround the origins of Lalibela, but the most popular is that they were constructed by angels in one night. The churches date back to the 11th and 12th centuries, and the most spectacular is Beta Giorgis, built in the shape of a cross in a large pit in the ground. Some contain ancient religious artefacts, which resident monks are often happy to show to visitors, including intricately decorated crosses and a wooden box said to be carved by King Lalibela.

Day 10 – Lalibela

The whole day will be dedicated to visiting the wonderful rock cut churches, known in some circles as the 8th wonder of the world. This will give you a chance to discover more about Ethiopia’s enigmatic past. Overnight in Roha Hotel or similar. (BD)

Day 11 – Lalibela - Eve of Timkat celebration

A morning excursion by mules to the Asheten Mariam Church, known for its wonderful views. Alternatively a visit will be arranged by car to the cave church of Naktuleab. This afternoon, you can witness the Eve of the Timkat Festival celebration in one of the Rock Hewn churches. Overnight in Roha Hotel or similar. (BD)

Day 12 – Lalibela to Bahir Dar

Early in the morning we will go to the church to see the Timkat celebration and the crowd waiting to be baptized by the holy water. The water which symbolizes the Jordan River is blessed by the priest and the patriarch then dips a golden cross into it and extinguishes a burning consecrated candle on the altar. He then sprinkles water on the assembled congregation in commemoration of Christ’s baptism in the Jordan River. The ceremony will be over around 9-10am and afterwards, we will continue our drive to Bahir Dar (310 kms- approx. 7 hours) for the night. Overnight Avanti Blue Nile Hotel or similar. (BD)

Day 13 – Bahir Dar

This morning we take boats out onto Lake Tana to explore its fantastic collection of ancient monasteries, dramatically situated on the lake’s islands and peninsulas. This afternoon, we drive to the Blue Nile Falls where we take a short walk to view the falls themselves. Later we return to Bahir Dar. Overnight Avanti Blue Nile Hotel or similar. (BD)

Day 14 – Return to Addis Ababa

A morning flight will brings you back to Addis. On your last day in Addis you will visit the Entoto Mountains, with a fantastic view over the city, the National Museum or Ethnological museum, Trinity Cathedral and the Merkato, reputedly the biggest open air market in Africa. Overnight Jupiter Hotel or similar. (BD)

Addis Ababa
Addis Ababa was founded in 1887 by Emperor Menelik II, and its name means ‘new flower’ in Amharic. A large city, it is the third highest capital in the world sitting at an altitude of 2400m. It hosts East Africa’s largest market, the Mercato, a sprawling mass of stalls where one can find just about anything for sale, including the much favoured national drug qat, and is well endowed with other sights. Churches such as St George’s Cathedral and the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity give a great insight into Ethiopia’s particular brand of Christianity. The Cathedral of St George, named after Ethiopia’s patron saint (the famed dragon slayer who also serves as patron saint of England) was built by Emperor Menelik to commemorate his victory over Italian forces at Adwa, and houses a small museum with a collection of important religious paintings, books and artefacts. A good National Museum holds an interesting selection of artefacts from Ethiopia’s wide and varied history. Ethiopia was the only African nation never to be fully colonised, although the Italians occupied parts of it for a while in the first half of the twentieth century, and it is still possible to see remnants of their legacy in Addis, particularly in the Piazza area which is a great place to walk around and soak up the atmosphere.

Day 15 – Departure Addis Ababa

At a suitable time, you will be transferred to the airport for your departure fligh (B)

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