Travel to Kenya and Ethiopia on a trip from Nairobi to Gonder

Discover fascinating places and beautiful scenery on this journey across the heart of Ethiopia's countryside. Experience a land like no other, from the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela and the untouched wilderness of the Simien Mountains, to the sophistication of Gonder and the history of ruin-peppered Aksum. Feel the mist rise from the Blue Nile Falls and spot Africa's iconic Big Five in Kenya's Samburu National Reserve. Along the way, encounter friendly Rastafarians, proud Samburu warriors and the rarely visited tribespeople of the Omo Valley. Travelling through a remote and very special part of the continent, this is an adventure like no other.

Start
Nairobi, Kenya
Finish
Gonder, Ethiopia
Countries
Ethiopia,
Kenya
Themes
Overland, Wildlife
Code
YDOHC
Physical rating
Cultural rating
Ages
Min 18
Group size
Min 6 Max 22
Carbon offset
2 220kg pp per trip


Highlights

  • Admire the flamingo-filled expanse of Lake Nakuru
  • Spot the Big Five in Samburu National Reserve
  • Visit Ethiopia's friendly tribespeople in the Omo Valley
  • Encounter the amazing birdlife of Lake Ziway
  • See the monolithic churches of Lalibela
  • Hike through Ethiopia's Simien Mountains National Park
  • Discover Gonder's ornate castles and palaces

Itinerary

Border Information: If joining in Nairobi, you will most likely enter Kenya at Nairobi Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. There will be a group meeting at the joining hotel at 6:00pm. Please look out for a note from your tour leader at the reception when you arrive giving more details about this important meeting - your leader will need to check your Ethiopia visa (please see below for details). If you would like to explore Nairobi fully, we advise you arrive a day earlier, or arrive early in the morning to give yourself a full day before the meeting in the evening. Possible activities include visiting the Karen Blixen Museum, the National Museum and the Langata Giraffe Centre. In Nairobi we will stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities. Hotel for the night: Kivi Milimani Hotel
Kivi Milimani Hotel.
Milimani Road
PO Box 20681
Nairobi
+254-20-2722358

Activity Approximate Cost

Discover some of Kenya's ancient hominids at the National Museum in Nairobi KES 1200
Visit the Langata Giraffe Centre in Nairobi KES 1000
Explore the museum at the site of the former home of Karen Blixen, the author of 'Out of Africa' KES 1200
Learn all about the different tribal groups of Kenya at the Bomas of Kenya cultural centre in Nairobi USD 40
Visit to the David Sheldrick Animal Orphanage in Nairobi KES 500
Head out on a guided safari walk in Nairobi National Park USD 25

About Nairobi:
Nairobi is a lively city with a cosmopolitan atmosphere. The Kenyan capital takes it's name from the Maasai meaning 'Place of Cool Waters'. Today it is a busy, bustling place that comes alive through it's many markets, shops, bars and restaurants, not to mention it's vibrant nightlife. If you have time to
explore the city, the National Museum of Kenya and Karen Blixen Museum are both worth a visit, or you can get up close to the Giraffe's and help to feed them at the Langata Giraffe Centre.
This morning our journey begins with a short drive to Lake Naivasha, a beautiful calm lake in the Great Rift Valley. Here we will have the chance to take an optional boat trip on the lake to spot hippos and African fish eagles, and also to visit the Elsamere Born Free Foundation at the old home of Joy Adamson. In Naivasha we stay at a well equipped campsite on the lake shore. Estimated Drive Time - 3 hours (please note that all drive times given here are approximate estimates only and are given with the best intentions - however please be aware that the drive times are heavily dependent on traffic, road conditions, weather, police roadblocks, and many other factors - flexibility is essential on any overland trip!).

Activity Approximate Cost
Visit the Elsamere Born Free Foundation at the former house of the conservationists Joy and George Adamson Included in Kitty
Boat trip on the beautiful and serene Lake Naivasha (price for the whole boat) KES 7000

About Naivasha:
On the shores of Lake Naivasha lies the market town of Naivasha. Here, there are a wide variety of birds to view in and around the lake, and hippos are usually seen wallowing along the shores.There is an option here to take an afternoon boat trip along the scenic shallow waters for a closer look at these creatures as well as many other ways to spend your time in this park.
This morning we will have some free time in Naivasha to relax at the lake, go on an optional early walk in the Crescent Lake Wildlife Sanctuary or hire bicycles to explore the nearby Hell's Gate National Park! After lunch we will make our way to Nakuru, our base for tomorrow's excursion into Nakuru National Park. If we make good time on the drive we may have the opportunity to take a walk around the working dairy farm where our campsite is, and to visit a local women's knitting collective. Tonight we will stay at a beautiful and well equipped campsite located on a dairy farm on the outskirts of Nakuru town. Estimated Drive Time - 3-4 hours.

Activity Approximate Cost
Walk to explore a colonial dairy farm and visit a local women's knitting collective USD 5
Explore the beautiful landscape and wildlife of Hell's Gate National Park by foot or by bicycle USD 50
Walking safari in the wildlife-rich Crater Lake Game Sanctuary USD 40

About Nakuru National Park:
Lake Nakuru National Park was established in 1968 to protect the huge flocks of lesser and greater flamingos that live here. At times there are over one million of these spectacular birds roaming around the acrid waters of the soda lake that is the centrepiece of the park. Even if you are not a keen birdwatcher the sight is inspiring and it is not hard to understand why the lake has become such a favourite for African wildlife documentaries. Nakuru is also where much of the film "Out of Africa" was shot. The park is located on the floor of the Rift Valley and is a mixture of bushland, forest and rocky escarpment. Each area is an important habitat for many different species of wildlife. Besides the prolific birdlife, the park is also well established as one of East Africa's premier parks for big game. Beside the lake, hippo, waterbuck, warthogs, Bohor's reedbuck and zebra can regularly be found. Further up in the forests there's a large population of black and white colobus monkeys; and the ultimate forest predator, the leopard. The bushland on the valley floor is home to a large variety of antelope and gazelle including eland, impala, Chandler's reedbuck and the tiny dikdik; and the inevitable pride of lions.You can also see Rothschild giraffe here, but Nakuru's biggest draw is probably it's rhinos. In the late 1980s the Kenyan Wildlife Services used the park as a rhino sanctuary, and it now has a stable black and white rhino population.
Today we head into Nakuru National Park for an included full-day game drive in local safari trucks. Nakuru is a beautiful park with a large lake and many forested areas - it is teeming with wildlife and there is an excellent chance to see both black and white rhinos! We stay in the same campsite in Nakuru tonight.

Activity Approximate Cost
Take a safari in 4x4 vans in the beautiful Lake Nakuru National Park Free
Today we will head through the hills of central Kenya, through the area's beautiful scenery and tea plantations, to arrive at the small village of Naro Moru at the base of Mount Kenya. Estimated Drive Time - 6 hours. On the next day, we will have a free day in Naro Moru to take optional walks around the lower slopes of Mount Kenya, explore the nearby Mau Mau caves, or take an optional game drive in the nearby Sweetwaters National Reserve. In Naro Moru we will stay at a well equipped campsite.

Activity Approximate Cost
Head out horse riding in the forests around Naro Moru KES 1000
Game driving in the wildlife-packed private reserve of Ol Pejeta Conservancy and Sweetwaters Game Reserve USD 190
Nature walks around the base of Mt. Kenya, searching for birdlife and Colobus monkeys USD 15
Guided walk to the Nayaroi Caves in the foothills of Mt. Kenya, used by the Mau Mau during the rebellion against British colonial rule KES 1000
Today we will travel to the Samburu region near to the small town of Archer's Post, where we will visit a Samburu village. Here we will be shown around the village and their homes, play with the children and learn all about the way of life here for the Samburu people! We will camp in the village in the heart of the community tonight, where there are no toilet or washing facilities. Estimated Drive Time - 4 hours.

Activity Approximate Cost
Visit and stay at the Samburu tribal community and cultural project, learning all about the culture of the Samburu people Included in Kitty

About Samburu community village visit:
We stay at a Samburu village just outside the Samburu National Reserve. Similar in appearance to the Maasai but less known, the Samburu are a proud warrior tribe. Here we watch traditional Samburu dancing, and learn about Samburu tribal life and customs. The project is run by Samburu tribesmen for
the benefit of the community.
Today we will get up early and enter the Samburu National Reserve, where we will head out for the entire day for game drives in the truck (breaking for a long lunch during the heat of the day). Samburu is a stunning National Reserve and is a great opportunity to spot big game such as cheetah, leopards, lions, and buffalo. The Reserve is also home to other animals rarely seen in the National Parks further south, such as Grevy's zebras, Somali ostriches and gerenuk ('giraffe-necked antelopes'). Tonight we will wild camp in a camping area in the National Reserve - facilities are very basic, but the area is a 5-10 minute walk from Samburu Lodge. Please note that during very wet conditions we may need to use locally chartered 4x4 jeeps rather than our truck to get a good game drive in - in this instance we may make this option available at extra cost.

Activity Approximate Cost
Head out for a wildlife safari in our overland truck through the Samburu National Reserve, in search of local wildlife including gerenuk and Grevy's zebra Included in Kitty

About Samburu National Reserve:
The Samburu region has hardly been touched by tourism and its pristine wilderness is home to a fascinating mix of Kenya's nomadic tribes who still retain traditional ways of life. These tribes include the Samburu, Rendille, Turkana, and Kalenjin. The Samburu National Reserve is famous for its reticulated giraffes, Grevy's zebras, graceful gerenuks, and Beisa oryx, whilst crocodiles are often seen in the river. If we are lucky, we may also see lions or leopards here. The Ewaso Nyiro River meanders through the reserve forming a ribbon of oases in the parched landscape. We will visit the Samburu Cultural Centre outside Samburu National Reserve. Similar in appearance to the Maasai but lesser known, the Samburu are a proud warrior tribe. Here we watch traditional Samburu dancing, and learn about Samburu tribal life and customs. The project is run by Samburu tribesmen for the benefit of the community.
Over the next two days we will be travelling through the very rarely-visited region of northern Kenya, crossing the infamous Marsabit-Moyale road to the very northern border town of Moyale. Both days will be fairly long hard driving, and the road can be incredibly bumpy and challenging, but scenery makes up for this as we travel through the black lunar landscapes near Marsabit and pass mountain greenery, spectacular craters, watercourses, bush country and termite mounds. On the first day of our journey, we will reach the town of Marsabit and will stay in a basic local hotel with shared bathrooms. Estimated Drive Time - 8-10 hours (highly dependant on weather conditions). On the second day of our journey, we will reach the town of Moyale where we will camp at the town's police station or in a local campsite.
Estimated Drive Time - 9-12 hours (highly dependant on weather conditions). Please note that due to security issues in this particular area, we will be accompanied by two armed police escorts.

About Marsabit:
Marsabit lies on the extinct volcano of Mount Marsabit. Surrounded by forests on the hills, it is a contrasting image to the deserts in the background. At the heart of the forest is Lake Paradise. This gorgeous site attracts animals such as elephants and buffaloes to the spot and this and the Bongole Crater create a fascinating location for people all over to come and gaze at the beauty of the town.

About Moyale:
The market town of Moyale splits the countries of Kenya and Ethiopia. There is a nice atmosphere that runs throughout the town and more of this can be discovered through exploring.
Border information: Exit Kenya at Moyale, enter Ethiopia at Moyale. For those on a longer combination trip starting in Cape Town or Victoria Falls, please play special attention to the visa notes in the information below. Today we will cross the border into Ethiopia and have a full day of travel to
Konso, home to the local Konso people and our gateway to the very remote Omo Valley region of southern Ethiopia. In Konso we will camp in the grounds of a basic lodge. Estimated Drive Time - 9-10 hours.

About Konso:
In the far south of Ethiopia on the banks of the Sagan river is Konso, gateway to the Omo Valley. The whole way of life in the villages here has changed little over the centuries and old traditions are strongly upheld.
Over the next 4 days/3 nights we will be exploring the remote and rarelyvisited tribal areas of the Omo Valley in southern Ethiopia. We will keep these days on a flexible itinerary so that we can react to news of special events being hosted by particular villages or tribes; as such, we cannot provide an exact itinerary for these days. However, we will aim to visit various tribal villages in the area, such as villages of the Hamer, the Mursi and the Konso tribes. We will camp in basic campsites on all these nights without possibility of upgrades, and we try to spend at least one of the nights camping in one of the
tribal villages (this is not guaranteed to be possible on every trip). Drive times - 4-9 hours each day.
Please note that we will be travelling through very remote areas with rough roads and basic conditions on these days. Please also note that it is absolutely vital that you follow your tour leader's directions regarding responsible tourism in these regions, especially with regards to giving things away for free
and taking photographs of the locals.

Activity Approximate Cost
Journey through the remote Omo Valley, visiting several tribal communities along the way (possibly including the Hamer, Banna, Mursi, Ari, Konso or Danesesch tribes) Included in Kitty

About Omo Valley Region:
The Omo Valley region is unusual in that it is home to so many different tribes all living very close to one another in such a small area. Anthropologists believe that this is because thousands of years ago this area of Africa acted as a kind of ethnic crossroads, as different groups of people migrated between north, south, east and west. Exploring the many small communities and settlements here will give you a fascinating insight into the different tribes, their cultures, traditions and way of life. On Dragoman trips we travel with a local guide, who will be able to introduce us to the Hamer, Arbore and the Dascensch tribes, among others. There are also other tribal groupings throughout the area and our guide will point out the different tribes and their customs. Life is distinctly tribal throughout the region, with few modern amenities.
Today we will exit the Omo Valley region and arrive in the town of Arba Minch, a small town overlooking Lake Chamo. Estimated Drive Time - 6-7 hours. On the next day, we will have a free day for some well-earned rest after the Omo Valley, or to take an optional boat trip on Lake Chamo to the view the crocodiles that reside there, or hire bicycles to explore the scenic area. In Arba Minch we will stay in a basic local hotel.

Activity Approximate Cost
Take a boat trip on Lake Chamo, a stunning lake with a dense population of crocodiles ETB 450
Visit the fascinating village of Chincha to learn all about the culture of the Dorze people ETB 100
Hire bicycles to explore the stunning surrounds of Arba Minch ETB 200

About Arba Minch:
Meaning 'forty springs', Arba Minch takes its name from the streams found between the two Rift Valley lakes of Abaya and Chamo. The town has stunning views over the lakes and surrounding forested areas, and also has an excellent and vibrant market. Lake Chamo National Park is home to what the locals refer to as the 'crocodile market'. This is a place on the shores of the lake where vast numbers of crocs congregate, some of which reach over seven metres in length. The lake is home to the Guji and Ganjule people who traditionally hunt hippos and are famed for their 'ambatch boats, which resemble the boats carved in the tombs of the ancient Egyptians
Today we will head north to the small town of Awassa, where we will visit the Awassa Children's Project in the afternoon. This is a home for local children orphaned by the HIV epidemic, and we will be shown around and see how public donations and the support of Dragoman goes towards feeding, sheltering and educating the children. After our visit we will head to Wendo Genet, a small town in the hills above Awassa, where we will stay for the 2 nights. Estimated Drive Time - 9-10 hours. On the next day, we will have a a free day to explore the region, go on an optional walk to some nearby waterfalls, and take a dip in the nearby hot springs. In Wendo Genet we will camp in the grounds of a small local hotel.

Activity Approximate Cost
Visit the Dragoman-supported Awassa Children's Project, a home for orphaned children from the area Included in Kitty
Relax in the hot springs at Wendo Genet Included in Kitty
Head out on a short walk to the waterfalls near Wendo Genet ETB 100

About Awassa:
Awassa (also spelled Awasa or Hawassa) is a city in Ethiopia, on the shores of Lake Awassa in the Great Rift Valley where fishing is it major local industry. Awassa was capital of the former Sidamo Province from about 1978 until the province was abolished with the adoption of the 1995 Constitution. This city is home to Hawassa University, Awasa Adventist College, and a major market. Important local attractions include the St. Gabriel Church and the Awassa Kenema Stadium. During our time in Awassa we will visit the Awassa Childrens Project. The Awassa Children's Project promotes sensible, culturally responsible relief work aimed at assisting children primarily orphaned by AIDS, educating people in Africa's Sub-Saharan region about AIDS prevention, and offering a proactive and immediate approach towards the resolution of serious health and social issues facing the region. The Awassa Children’s Project (ACP) is a grassroots non-profit organization formed in 2001. ACP supports several organizations in Awassa, Ethiopia: a children’s centre that provides housing, food and education for over 60 children orphaned by AIDS; One Love Theatre (OLT), an AIDS education theatre
company; and the Awassa Youth Campus, a community center in downtown Awassa which features–free to all Awassa children–aikido, sports, tutoring, art, music and a library, among other activities. These organizations continue to grow and dramatically improve the lives of Awassa children and the community in which they live. Especially in these times of dramatically increasing food costs in Ethiopia, your support is critical to our continued success. For further information on the project please go to http://www.awassachildrensproject.org/

About Wendo Genet :
Wendo Genet (also known as Wondo Genet) is a resort town in Ethiopia. Located southeast of Shashemene in the Sidama Zone of the Southern Nations. Wendo Genet is known for its hot springs and is surrounded by primary Ethiopian forests. The Wendo Genet hotel was established in 1964, on land used as recreation site for the royal family until 1975. Emperor Haile Selassie bequeathed its name, meaning "Wondo Paradise", in reference to the beautiful panorama with a rich endowment of forests, wildlife and abundant water
Today we will leave Wendo Genet and drive to the stunning Bale Mountains National Park. Estimated Drive Time - 7 hours. We will enjoy 2 full days to explore the National Park. We will keep one day
completely free to head out for guided walks - there are several possibilities for routes, including highland routes up the hills and moorlands searching for mountain nyalas, or lowland walks through the forest areas to look for Bale monkeys! On the other day we will drive in the truck up to the Sanetti Plateau, all the way to the second-highest point in Ethiopia (the summit of Tulu Dimtu) to explore the primodial landscape and search for Ethiopian wolves. In the Bale Mountains we will stay in dorms in a basic lodge near the entrance to the National Park.

Activity Approximate Cost
Various walks through the forests, moors, and mountains of the beautiful Bale Mountains National Park Included in Kitty

About Bale Mountains National Park:
Bale Mountains National Park is situated on a high plateau surrounded by mountain peaks which soar to over 4000 metres in height. As you climb into the hills the terrain changes from forest on the lower slopes through junipers and heather to the exotic moorlands of the plateau, criss-crossed by fast-flowing streams. This beautiful park is home to three species unique to Ethiopia; the Simien red fox, Menelik's Bushbuck and the Mountain Nyala. There are some 200 species of bird within the park
including 13 of Ethiopia's 23 endemic species.
Today we will leave the Bale Mountains and head to the small town of Ziway. After lunch we will take a boat tour across Lake Ziway to Tulu Gudo Island, where we will have a short guided tour of the ancient monastery there and view some of the old religious manuscripts. In Ziway we will stay in a small local hotel. Estimated Drive Time - 5 hours.


Activity Approximate Cost
Take a boat trip across Lake Ziway to Tulu Gudo Island, and explore the old Coptic monastery on the island Included in Kitty

About Lake Ziway:
Lake Ziway, about 60 miles south of Addis Ababa, and its surrounding area, nurtures an array of wildlife. Birds, hippopotamuses and fish roam the lake, which is dotted with five islands. One of the islands, Tulo Gudo, is said to have housed the Ark of the Covenant in the ninth century. Long inhabited by the Gurage, an ethnic group rich in history and culture, the areas surrounding the lake are now under unprecedented pressure from deforestation.
Today we will travel to the bustling Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa, where we will have a free afternoon to explore the city. In Addis Ababa we will stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities.
Estimated Drive Time - 4 hours.

About Addis Ababa:
Referred to more commonly as "Addis", Addis Ababa (220 km, approx 7-8 hours) lies amongst wooded hills at an altitude of about 2300 metres, giving it a pleasant climate. Addis has many sights to offer visitors and we have free time to explore the sites. Get a fascinating glimpse into Ethiopia's many tribal groups at the Ethnological Museum, see the stunning fossil collection at the National
Museum, and don't miss the chaotic bustle of the Merkato (local market). All manner of arts and crafts can be found in the souvenir shops on Churchill Avenue.
Border Information: If joining in Addis Ababa, you will most likely enter Ethiopia at Addis Ababa Bole International Airport. There will be a group meeting at the joining hotel at 6:00pm. Please look out
for a note from your tour leader at the reception when you arrive giving more details about this important meeting. On the next day, we will have a free day to explore Addis Ababa and visit the
city's many museums and sights. If you are travelling to the Sudan and have arranged to pick the visa up in Addis Ababa, this day will be spend arranging this visa. In Addis Ababa we will stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities. Hotel for the night: sarem-international-hotel
Sarem International Hotel
Belay Zeleke Street (around Semien Mazegaja)
Addis Ababa
Ethiopia
Tel: +251 11 126 2088/99

Activity Approximate Cost
Visit "Lucy", one of the oldest complete hominid skeletons ever found, at the National Museum ETB 10
Stroll through the Addis Ababa Mercato, one of the largest markets in Africa Free
Visit Africa Hall, a symbol of African independence and optimism Free
Visit the St. George's Cathedral (Giorgis Cathedral), built to commemorate Ethiopia's victory over the Italians in 1896 Free
Visit the Menelik Mausoleum, built to serve as the tombs of emperors and princes Free
Explore the fascinating Ethnological Museum, one of the best museums in Africa set in a former palace of Haile Selassie ETB 100
We will start our journey today with a drive to the small town of Debre Markos. En route we will drive to the bottom of the dramatic Blue Nile Gorge and up the other side! In Debre Markos we will stay in a basic local hotel. Estimated Drive Time - 8-9 hours (please note that all drive times given here are approximate estimates only and are given with the best intentions - however please be aware that the drive times are heavily dependent on traffic, road conditions, weather, police roadblocks, and many other factors - flexibility is essential on any overland trip!).

Activity Approximate Cost
Overland journey north of Addis Ababa, passing through the immense Blue Nile Gorge Included in Kitty
Today we will complete our drive to Bahir Dar, a small town on Lake Tana, the source of the mighty Blue Nile. Estimated Drive Time - 5 hours. On our first day in Bahir Dar, we will have an included boat trip on Lake Tana to visit the famous old monastery of Gabriel Ure Kideth and to visit the spot where
the lake outflows into the start of the Blue Nile. On our second day, we will head off in the truck to visit the Blue Nile Falls and take a short walk around the area to the historic Portuguese Bridge. We will
have some free time in the afternoon to visit some other spots around Bahir Dar such as the 'Hippo bridge' and the Tigray war memorial. In Bahir Dar we will stay in decent local hotel.

Activity Approximate Cost
Head out on a boat trip on Lake Tana to visit the ancient Coptic churches and monasteries nearby Included in Kitty
Explore the stunning Blue Nile Falls just downstream of Bahir Dar Included in Kitty

About Bahir Dar:
A few kilometres down the river from Bahir Dar are the spectacular Blue Nile Falls - locally known as Tissisat Falls (literally translating as 'water that smokes'). After walking around the falls, we use local reed boats to cross the river upstream. On the lake itself are a number of monasteries on islands and
peninsulas and we take the opportunity to visit two on our boat trip. These churches feature the traditional murals and decoration of the Orthodox Church. We cross the dramatic Blue Nile Gorge which is 1 km deep, taking a couple of hours to drive down to the bottom, cross the river and drive back up the other side.
Today we have a full day's drive through the beautiful scenery of central Ethiopia to reach the small medieval town of Lalibela. Estimated Drive Time - 8-9 hours. On our first day in Lalibela, we will have full day guided tour of the worldfamous 13th-century rock churches of Lalibela. Our guide will be able to explain the fascinating history of Lalibela and its churches, and there will be plenty of time to explore, absorb the haunting atmosphere inside the churches, and take plenty of photographs of the incredible architecture and the religious rituals within. On the second day, we will have a free day for further exploration or optional activities. We will have opportunity to hike up the nearby mountains to the Asheten Monastery, visit the Yimrehane Kristos cave church outside the town, or freely explore the Lalibela churches again at your own pace. In Lalibela we will stay in a local hotel.

Activity Approximate Cost
Take a full guided tour of the 12th-century rock-hewn churches and monasteries at Lalibela Included in Kitty
Explore the highlands of Lalibela on foot, possibly walking to the nearby Asheten Monastery ETB 500
Visit Yemrehana Kristos, the very unique 'church in a cave' near Lalibela ETB 600

About Lalibela:
Hidden in the hills of northern Ethiopia is the small town of Lalibela. This medieval village has grown up around 13 monolithic churches hewn from rock in the 12th Century. It’s an awe-inspiring feat of engineering which must have taken many years and thousands of men to complete. Fortunately the village is underdeveloped as a tourist site and still has its original Ethiopian charm. Each of the churches is unique in design and beautifully carved. Legend has it that King Lalibela completed all the work in 12 days with the help of a band of angels who carved the rocks for him day and night.
The church of Asheten Mariam is hidden in the rugged hills behind the village. You may like to trek there on foot or take a mule to this fascinating monastery and enjoy the incredible views on the way.
Leaving Lalibela behind us, we have 2 days of driving through increasingly mountainous scenery to reach the town of Mekele. On the first day of this journey we aim to wild camp near the town of Woldiya
or Korem. On the second day we will stay in a decent local hotel in Mekele. Estimated Drive Time - 7-8 hours each day.

Activity Approximate Cost
Explore the ancient rock-hewn churches of Tigray at Mekele Included in Kitty

About Mekele:
Mekele is a cultral town famous for its churches and desert landscape. Historians date Mekele to be founded in the 13th century and it is a place with a colourful history. Derg The Tigrayan People's Liberation Front Monument is one of the most famous points and can be seen from nearly any
place in the town. The palace of King Yohannes IV is a chance to see so much of Mekeles history during the reign of this king. The churches are worth a visit, as they are just beautiful.
Today we will visit one of the famous rock-hewn churches of Tigray (either the Abraha Atsbeha or Wukro Chirkos church), then continue through the increasingly breathtaking mountain scenery of the Adwa mountains to reach the ancient town of Axum in the far north of Ethiopia. Estimated Drive Time - 10 hours. The next day we will have a half day guided tour of the incredible historical sites of Axum, the capital of the once-mighty Axumite Empire - included in this tour will be seeing the Stelae Field, the Tomb of King Kaleb, and the Palace of the Queen of Sheba. We will have a free afternoon to visit other places such as the Church of St. Mary of Zion, the supposed resting place of the Ark of the
Covenant. In Axum we will stay in a basic local hotel.

Activity Approximate Cost
Take a guided tour of the ancient 4th-century tombs and palaces of the Axumite Kingdom in Axum Included in Kitty
Visit the Church of St. Mary of Zion at Axum ETB 200

About Axum:
Axum is the site of Ethiopia's oldest city. It has some impressive obelisks carved from single blocks of granite - the tallest still standing is 23 metres high and was probably transported by elephants from a nearby quarry. The scale of the monuments in this Stelae field are testament to the enormous importance that the ancient kingdom of Axum once enjoyed. Close to the town are the ruins of a palace that is said to have belonged to the Queen of Sheba. There is also a complex of several churches, which have been built over the ages around the same site. The most interesting, is a small
unimposing building with a green picket fence that holds the crowns of various former Ethiopian emperors and is said to house the original Ark of the Covenant.
Leaving Axum behind us, we continue our journey with 2 days of driving through the foothills of the Simien Mountains to reach the small village of Debark, via a wild camp en route. The roads here are very tough, but we are rewarded with more truly breathtaking scenery! Debark is the gateway to the Simien Mountains National Park, and on arrival we will have a briefing from our local mountain guide explaining the various trekking options we will have during our excursion starting the following day.
On the first day of our journey we aim to wild camp somewhere nearby to the village of Adi Arkay. On the second day we will stay in a basic hotel in Debark. Estimated Drive Time - 6 hours each day.

About Debark:
Standing at the gateway to the Simien Mountains is the town of Debark. Many people pass through here to experience the wonders that these mountains have to offer. With this beauty in its landscape, Debark has some of the most amazing scenery in Ethiopia.
Today marks the start of our 3 day excursion into the Simien Mountains National Park. The area is home to some of Africa's most jaw-dropping mountain scenery and is a great opportunity to enjoy some incredibly beautiful treks and breathtaking views! The area is also home many indigenous animals, and during our time here we hope to spot lammargeyer vultures, geladas, Walia ibex, and (if we are very lucky) klipspringers and Ethiopian wolves. On each day we aim to provide an option for a long trek (of 5-8 hours), a short trek (2-5 hours) or no trekking. On our first day we aim to wild camp at the area of Sankaber. On our second and third days we aim to wild camp at the area of Chenek (underneath Ras Bwahit, the second-highest mountain in the Simiens, which we hope to get the
opportunity to summit). Please note that we must keep a flexible itinerary in the Simien Mountains, as
our options will largely be determined by the weather. Please also note that the camping areas in the national park are very basic, and are essentially wild camps with long drop toilets. Please also note that the food and provisions available in Debark and the national park are very limited, and it is also likely to be very cold at night, so please be prepared!

Activity Approximate Cost
Head out on 3 days of guided treks in the phenomenal scenery of the Simien Mountains National Park Included in Kitty

About Simien Mountains National Park:
The Simien Mountains are known for their dramatic and spectacular scenery; jagged mountain peaks flank deep valleys and high altitude plains where only grasses, junipers and giant lobelias grow. This is one of the major mountain regions of Africa, home to mountain Ras Dejen (4543m), the fourth highest
peak in the continent. The National Park was created primarily to protect a type of wild goat, the Walia Ibex; and the Gelada Baboon and rare Ethiopian Wolf are also found here. Standing on top of a sharp precipice and gazing out over the magnificent landscape here will take your breath away, so it's
definitely worth taking a bit of time to explore. The area is a great place to do some trekking, or you can hire mules to go in search of some of the more easily spotted wildlife, like the klipspringer, ibex and baboon.
Today we head back out to the mountains to Debark, and then finally join the tarmac road again to reach the ancient royal city of Gondar! Estimated Drive Time - 7 hours. On the next day, we will have a half day guided tour of the historical sites of Gondar, including Gondar Castle, the King Fasilades' Baths and the Debre Birhan Selassie church. In Gondar we will stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities.

Activity Approximate Cost
Learn all about medieval Ethiopia on a half-day guided tour of the castles, churches and baths of Gondar Included in Kitty
Enjoy a tour of the local Dashen brewery in Gondar USD 8

About Gondar:
The historic city of Gondar is known as the city of castles and palaces. This was once the capital of Ethiopia in the reign of King Fasilidas who built the first castle. Successive kings added their own castles to the complex. On the outskirts of the town there is also Fasilidas' Bath, which is an interesting
building standing in an artificial pool which is still filled for occasional religious ceremonies. At the Debre Berhan Sellassie Church we can see the famous ceiling which is painted with hundreds of faces of angels and hear about the church's fascinating yet violent history.
Border Information: if finishing in Gondar, you will most likely exit Ethiopia at Gondar Atse Tewodros Airport. Today is the end day for passengers finishing their trip in Gondar. Please note there is no accommodation included on the trip tonight. For passengers continuing their journey north on to Khartoum, the trip will continue on to Gedaref in the Sudan today. For passengers continuing south
back to Addis Ababa on the Ethiopia Loop, we will leave today to reach Bahir Dar.
View trip notes to read full itinerary

Inclusions

Meals
n/a
Transport
Overland vehicle
Accommodation
Bush camp (no facilities) (3 nights), Camping (with basic facilities) (8 nights), Camping (with facilities) (10 nights), Guesthouse (1 night), Hotel (17 nights), Lodge (3 nights)

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Important notes

Please note that this trip requires minimum numbers to depart, and may be cancelled up until 56 days prior to departure. The places showing on the dates and availability page are an indication only so please contact Intrepid to check if your preferred date will depart before making any final arrangements, such as booking non-changeable flights.

Trip notes

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Your trip notes provide a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what’s included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.

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