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The Aksumites developed a sophisticated civilization that contributed a range of innovations in the fields of architecture and ceramics. It developed the Ge`ez or Ethiopic script, which allowed them to leave a legacy of written material and was sufficiently Hellenized for its rulers to also speak Greek. It produced a coinage bearing legends in both Greek and Ge`ez, which name the successive kings of Aksum. From coinage and other inscriptions, a chronology of the period can be reconstructed, while oral histories also tell us something of the political structure of the Aksum state. You may want to be here sometime..
Day 1 ARRIVAL DAY. ARRIVE ANY TIME AND CHECK INTO HOTEL / FREE DAY
Day 2 ADDIS ABABA CITY TOUR AND AFTERNOON FLIGHT TO BAHIR DAR
Day 3 BAHIR DAR, LAKE TANA AND BLUE NILE FALLS
Early morning breakfast before commencing your boat excursion on Lake Tana to visit the island monasteries. Return via the mouth of the Blue Nile, good for bird sighting and chance of seeing hippos if they are in the area. After lunch on the lake shore take an afternoon driving excursion to famous Blue Nile Falls. This includes a walking excursion across an ancient Portuguese bridge continuing to cross the Blue Nile by boat, where you rejoin your vehicle.
Day 4 DRIVE BAHIRDAR – GONDAR (2-3 hrs) / visit CASTLES AND CHURCH
After an early breakfast, take a scenic drive to Gondar, passing by marshes and on the north end of Lake Tana, ascending into the hills surrounding the historical town of Gondar. After checking into your hotel, you will have a guided tour of Fasiladas’ castles and bath. In the afternoon, visit the famous Debre Birhan Selassie Church surrounded by ancient juniper and olive trees.
Day 5 GONDAR SIMIENS / SIMIEN LODGE
Drive to Debark where you will sign in at the park headquarters, pick up your guide and scout and head up into the mountains. You will be taken to the Simien Lodge where you will check in. From here you can take a leisurely acclimatization hikes.
Day 6 SIMIENS / SIMIEN LODGE
After breakfast, you’ll go for a driving safari with stops for walks along the ridges with stunning views over the foothills 800m below. Visit the Jinbar Falls, an incredible 500m sheer drop. From this viewpoint you can watch the birds of prey including the largest, the lammergeyer, soaring on the thermals below. Wildlife you may see include Klipspringer and bush buck may be seen in the steep rocky and wooded slopes, and troops of Gelada Baboons roam the fields for roots.
Day 7 DRIVE SIMIENS TO AXUM (300 km / 10 hrs)
This morning after breakfast all day drive to Axum via the winding Lima Limu road with panoramic views across the Simiens.
Day 8 AXUM / ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITES AND TSION CHURCH.
After leisurely breakfast, take an all day guided tour of the historic and archaeological sites of Axum including the ancient stelae and tombs, some dating to before the birth of Christ, Tsion Maryam Church, Queen of Sheba’s bath and palace and the museum.
Day 9 DRIVE FROM AXUM TO HAWZIEN (180 km / 5 hrs), AREA OF THE GHERALTA CLUSTER OF CHURCHES.
After breakfast, drive to Gheralta visiting Yeha Temple on route.
Day 10 GHERALTA/ GHERALTA LODGE
The Gheralta churches of Tigray has some of the most remote, rural churches, often situated in precipitous locations. Some churches are forbidden to women. Your tour leader will discuss the options for visitations with you.
Day 11 GHERALTA – MEKELE (120KM / 3 hrs) / PLANET HOTEL
Leisurely morning at Gheralta. Drive to Mekele visiting a couple rural churches - Wukro Chirkos is one easy option, also Medhane ALem Adi Kesho near Sinkata. Overnight in Mekele.
Day 12 DRIVE MEKELE – LALIBELA (409 KM/10HRS) / LALIBELA LODGE
This is an all day drive via Ala Mata and Woldia to Lalibela. The drive has very scenic views.
Day 13 LALIBELA AND YEMREHANA KRISTOS / LALIBELA LODGE
After an early breakfast, you’ll visit the first group of world famous monolithic rock hewn churches at this UNESCO World Heritage site. In the afternoon drive (40km one way/ 3-4 hrs in all) to Yemrehana Kristos, a fascinating rural church near Lalibela.
Day 14 LALIBELA / LALIBELA LODGE
After an early breakfast, hike (or you may wish to rent a mule) up to Asheton Maryam Church (3 hr trek return), situated at about 3100 meters. Here you have spectacular views of Lalibela town and surrounding valleys. You’ll visit the second group Lalibela churches in the afternoon.
Day 15 FLY LALIBELA – ADDIS
Fly to Addis this morning arriving late morning or around noon. Transfer to hotel. Option to fly out this evening or spend the night to fly out next day. This afternoon you have option for half day city tour and an evening of traditional meal and cultural dance. Please arrange with your hotel for your airport shuttles the next morning.
Day 16 INTERNATIONAL DEPARTURE
After breakfast, your hotel will transfer you for your international flight.
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