Travels

From the QUEEN OF SHEBA to the BLACK PHARAONS, 15 days

15 days and 14 nights

From the QUEEN OF SHEBA to the BLACK PHARAONS, 15 days
01. SAT. Arrival in Addis Ababa. Transfer to the chosen hotel. Have a free morning. Afternoon (1400 hrs from the hotel) tour of the capital: visit Entoto mountain with views over the capital, the National & the Ethnographic museums, St George church and the Mercato, biggest open air market in Africa.
Meals free. ON (overnight) hotel.
02. Fly to Axum (meet your guide & driver at your hotel 2 hrs before the flight time- as will be done for each flight day-). Ones in Axum transfer to the hotel for check-in.
Visit the steles, St Mary of Tsion church (where legend says the Ark of Covenant is deposited), the bath and the palace of Queen of Sheba, and archeological sites.
Breakfast can be at the airport or in Axum. Lunch and dinner at the hotel in Axum
03. During this day make very interesting visits of Tigray region churches, with also spectacular views, as Wikro Cherkos, Micael Imba and Debre Selam Atsbi or Micael Barka churches (otherwise can also be Abreha we Atsbeha, Degum Selassie and TecleHaimanot Hawsen).
Lunch on the way. Dinner at a traditional restaurant in town. ON hotel in Mekele
04. Drive to Lalibela, visiting on the way the very interesting church of Yemerehenna Kristos. Reach Lalibela late afternoon.
Lunch on the way; dinner & ON hotel
05. Full day visit of the rock-hewn churches in Lalibela, defined as the 8th wonder in the world. Churches built in the 12th century; the African Jerusalem.
And late afternoon take part of the coffee ceremony in a traditional house or the hotel.
Meals & ON at your hotel
06. Drive to Gondar, the city of castes and churches, defined the African Camelot, admiring very nice views over the Semien mountains. Afternoon visit of Gondar: the castles, Debre Birhan Sellasie church (light of Trinity) with wonderful murals, King Fasiladas bath and Qusquam monastery.
Lunch on the way; dinner & ON hotel in Gondar.
07. Morning remaining visit of Gondar.
Afternoon drive to Bahirdar, with views at lake Tana and Amhara people villages. Have lunch at the hotel in Gondar. Dinner and ON hotel in Bahirdar
08. Morning drive to the Blue Nile falls, for spectacular views.
Afternoon have a boat excursion on lake Tana for monasteries over the lake’s islands, as Asua Mariam and Ura Kidane Mehret.
Meals & ON hotel in Bahirdar
09. SUN. For those that will make just Ethiopia: fFy to Addis Ababa & have your free afternoon. Lunch free. Dinner invited in a traditional restaurant with folkloristic dances. Then transfer to the airport for departure
For those which want to proceed by flight to Sudan, also fly back to Addis Ababa & then connect to Sudan. Depends on flight schedule overnight in Addis or Khartoum. Day in Khartoum then till the group will join.
While for those that will proceed the program, will be as follows:
Drive to Metema, visiting Amhara people villages. reach the border. Meet your Sudanese vehicles (or if you proceed with the same vehicles, conclude all permits).
Drive then to Wad Medani, visiting the first Sudanese villages.
Lunch box; dinner & ON local hotel.
10. Cross the desert and villages, to proceed to Khartoum. Visit views over the deseert and the Nile; as well different villages.
Lunch on the way; dinner & ON hotel in Khartoum.
11. Departure northward towards Abu Dom. After 6 hours drive, we reach the site of Old Dongola, where there are the ruins of a Christian Coptic temple with marble columns as well as several rest of churches situated on the banks of the Nile. We will also visit the nearby village of Gaddar where we can see nicely painted Nubian houses. We drive across the Nubian Desert to reach the small town of Karima where, just at the foot of Jebel Barkal. Dinner and ON Nubian rest house
12. Landmark in the Nubian Desert, Jebel Barkal ("Jebel" means mountain in Arabic) can be seen from a few dozen kilometres whilst still in the open desert. At the foot of this wonderful and isolated red sandstone mountain, considered holy since the ancient times, there is a big temple, dedicated to the Pharaohs of the New Reign and to their patron, Amon. Amon’s ancient "Pure Mountain", the Olympus of the Nubians, was the religious Nubian heart for more than 1000 years. Besides the ruins of the big temple there are still several sculptured granite rams that were supposed to border a long avenue that probably led to the pier on the Nile. In the mountain wall there is a big room decorated with bas-relief. The Royal necropolis of the ancient city of Napata, the Nubian capital (from 800 to 400 b.C.) before the Meroitic period, had a large number of pyramids, located in three different places: few hundred metres north of Jebel Barkal; a dozen kilometres southwards from the holy mountain, in El Kurru; in Nuri, which is located on the other bank of the Nile. After lunch at the Nubian Rest House we then move southwards to the village of El Kurru where there is one of the necropolises of the ancient capital, Napata. Here we can visit one tomb, which is excavated in the rock under pyramids - partially collapsed - and it is decorated with images of the Pharaoh, of the gods and multicolour hieroglyphic inscriptions. The trip goes on with the visit to a site, rich in fossil trunks in the desert. In the evening return to Karima, ON Nubian rest-house, dinner and overnight stay. (B.L.D.)
13. After breakfast, we cross the Nile to reach the Pyramids of Nuri. Little walk among these ancient ruins where the pyramid of Pharaoh Taharqa dominates among the others. After the visit we enter the Bayuda Desert, an area bounded by the loop that the Nile forms between the 4th and the 6th Cataract and characterised by sharp black basalt mountains, most of them volcanic and typically cone-shaped. They alternate with level pebble stretches and large valleys crossed by dry wadis, where little vegetation can be seen. It is very likely to meet isolated groups of Bisharin nomads, who live in familiar groups in small huts made of intertwined branches close to the rare water wells, with their caravans and herds of camels and donkeys. After a picnic in the desert, we then reach the town of Atbara, located on the confluence between the Nile and the Atbara River. Here we cross the Nile for the last time. We start driving south on a level ground area where there are many small camel thorn acacia trees as far as we can see. And then, all of a sudden, we can glance at more than 40 pyramids, located on top of a hill, some of them perfectly preserved, which belong to the Royal Necropolis of Meroe. Arrival at the Permanent Tented Camp of Meroe with a beautiful view onto the pyramids. Accommodation in comfortable and fully furnished tents, dinner and overnight stay.
14. The Royal necropolis of Meroe is located at about 3 km from the Nile on some hills covered by yellow sand dunes. Several pyramids stand out with their sharp shapes against the clear sky. Each one has its own funerary chapel with the walls fully decorated with bas-reliefs that show the King’s life and offers to the gods. Lunch at Meroe Camp. In the afternoon move along the Nile to visit the ruins of the royal city. The excavations confirm that the town of Meroe used to cover a large area and the royal city was located in a central position, surrounded by suburbs and a boundary wall. Most of the area where the city is located, formed by many small hills covered by red clay fragments, has still to be excavated by the archaeologists. ON camp.
15. SAT. After breakfast at the camp, we spend the morning visiting the two archaeological sites. The site of Naga is located about 30 km to the east of the Nile and it is one of the two centres that developed during the Meroitic period. In Naga, in a typical Saharan environment with rocks and sand, we find a temple dedicated to Apedemak (1st century a.D.): a wonderful building with bas-relief decorations depicting the god with a lion’s head, the Pharaoh, noblemen and several ritual images. A few metres away there is a small and odd construction with arches and columns, named "kiosk", in which we can notice Egyptian, Roman and Greek styles, all at the same time. Not far away we reach another temple dedicated to Amon with many statues of rams and beautiful gates decorated with bas-reliefs. We then go to Mussawarat, not far away from Naga. This settlement is located in a beautiful valley crowned by hills. Here the ruins of a very big temple are visible; it once played an exceptional important role. Its main characteristic, the “Great Enclosure”, is made by many constructions and boundary walls which surround a temple built in the 1st century a.D. The large number of elephants represented on these walls makes you think that this animal used to have an important role in this area. Beyond the big wadi there is another temple - restored by a German archaeological mission - dedicated to the god Apedemak. Picnic in the area and in the afternoon return to Khartoum.