The True Cross

Visit the Historical sites, adding also the very interesting Gishen Mariam church

16 days and 15 nights

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. Start your tour with driving to the DebreLibanos monastery. Visit the monastery and very nice views over Jemma river. Visit also the Old Portuguese Bridge and spot the endemic Gelada baboons. Continue then the drive to Bahirdar, crossing the Blue Nile gorge, to reach late afternoon. Lunch on the way. Dinner & ON hotel (Abayminch or Tana hotels; Kuriftu or Avanti as supplement)
03. Morning drive approximately 1 hour to reach the Blue Nile falls. Walk to the falls.
Late morning drive back to Bahirdar. Afternoon make a boat excursion on lake Tana to visit the monasteries over its islands, as Ura Kidane Mehret and Asua Mariam. Lunch in Bahirdar. Have dinner in a restaurant in town or at the hotel. ON hotel
04. Morning drive to Gondar (which it takes about 2 hrs driving), visiting on the way very nice landscapes, lake Tana and Amhara people villages.
Afternoon visit the castles, the Debre Birhan Sellasie church (light of Trinity) with wonderful murals, King Fasiladas bath and Empress Mentewab palace.
Have lunch at your hotel. Dinner in a restaurant in town. ON hotel (Taye Belay or Goha or other)
05. Drive to the Semien mountains passing through the Felasha village; the road passes over mountain regions of wild beauty majestic scenery where you stop at different sites before enter into the Semien Mountains National Park as far as Sankaber (World heritage site) to visit its superb scenery, the endemic fauna like the Gelada Baboon, birds like Lammergeyer and flora such as the Abyssinian wild rose. Possibly visit also the Ginbar falls.
Lunch box; dinner & ON Semien Lodge (or hotel in Debark).
06. Drive to Axum (8-9 hrs). Visit on the way Amhara and Tigray people villages.
Lunch box; dinner & ON hotel in Axum (Yeha or Consolar or Sabean).
07. Full day visit of Axum: 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.
Meals & ON at the hotel.
08. Proceed your drive to go to visit the unique Tigray region churches, with also spectacular views over the Semien mountains from one side and the Danakil depression from the other. Visit churches as Wikro Cherkos, Micael Imba and Debre Selam Atsbi (or Micael Barka) or other.
Lunch on the way; dinner & ON Agoro lodge at Wikro or Gheralta lodge at Hawsen.
09. Another day for the Tigray churches and admiring spectacular views. Visit churches as Degum Selassie, Mariam Korkor, TecleHaimanot Hawsen or other.
Lunch on the way. Dinner & ON hotel in Mekele (Planet or Axum or similar).
10. Drive to Lalibela, visiting on the way the church of Yemerehenna Kristos, one of the first churches build in Lalibela. Reach Lalibela late afternoon.
Lunch on the way; dinner & ON hotel (Panoramic or Lalibela or Top12 or Roha or Mountain View or other)
11. 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.
Meals & ON at your hotel
12. Morning excursion by mules or walking to Asheten Mariam church; is a very interesting church and you’ll have also a spectacular view.
Afternoon drive to visit the Naktuleab cave church. Then take part of the coffee ceremony in a traditional house or the hotel.
Meals & ON at your hotel
13. Undertake a fascinating walk visiting local communities and staying in traditional villages. Most walking is at around 3000m and as everyone should be fully acclimatized by now, anyone of reasonable fitness should be fine with it. The walks vary in length from 4-6 hours with the emphasis being very much on seeing the people and countryside rather than rushing through it; overnight in a Village Hut (Tukuls) in shared rooms.
14. Walk to the vehicles; the drive, through very nice views, to lake Hayk, where you can admire the Debre Estifanos church on its island. Continue then to Dessie.
Lunch on the way. Dinner & ON hotel
15. Make a day excursion to the fascinating Gishen Mariam church. The views are unique, with the church situated in a valley with the shape of a cross. Legend say a piece of the True Cross is deposited here. The True Cross is the name for physical remnants which, by a Christian tradition, are believed to be from the cross upon which Jesus was crucified. According to post-Nicene historians such as Socrates Scholasticus, the Empress Helena, mother of Constantine, the first Christian Emperor of Rome, travelled to the Holy Land in 32628, founding churches and establishing relief agencies for the poor. Historians Gelasius of Caesarea and Rufinus claimed that she discovered the hiding place of three crosses that were believed to be used at the crucifixion of Jesus and of two thieves, St. Dismas and Gestas, executed with him, and that a miracle revealed which of the three was the True Cross.
ps: You need 6-7 hrs walking. During raining season this visit won’t be possible if you travel by bus; so in this case we’ll substitute this day visit with other.
Lunch on the way. Dinner & ON hotel in Kombolcha (Sunny side or Tecle or similar)
16. SUN. Drive back to Addis Ababa, crossing other spectacular views and the Amhara and Oromo people villages. Being Sunday visit on the way the colorful Senbete village market, of Oromo, Amhara and Afar people. Reach Addis then in the afternoon. Free at leisure or some visits which were not done on the first day. Have day use room available.
Lunch on the way. Dinner traditional restaurant with folkloristic dances in Addis.
After dinner transfer airport for departure