Ethiopia: Old and New

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 For  more information: Call us at 617-566-1907.

Depending on availability, this tour can be reserved for any dates. 

Cultural and natural wonders abound on your eleven day tour: Ethiopia: Old and New.  Here, you find world-famous national parks and fossil sites.  Ethiopia presents the visitor with nine UNESCO World Heritage locations, more even than South Africa, Kenya, or Tanzania.  Discover first-hand this remarkable and historic country on the Horn of Africa.  Ethiopia is the oldest independent country in Africa and the second-oldest official Christian nation in the world after Armenia.

Tracing its roots back to the 2nd millennium BC, Ethiopia was a monarchy for most of its history.  Alongside Rome, Persia, China and India, the Kingdom of Aksum was one of the great world powers of the 4th century. 

Axsum was an important trading power in the area that is now Eritrea and northern Ethiopia.  The nation existed from 100–940 AD.  Axsum’s power came because of its location on the trade routes between the Roman Empire and Ancient India.

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Church of St. George, Lalibela

Ethiopia is the only country in Africa that has never been a colony. Ethiopia was a founding member of the UN and is where the African Union has its headquarters now.  Anthropologists believe that Ethiopia may be where mankind began. The fossils of the oldest living mankind or “Lucy” were discovered in the the northern section of Ethiopia. The remains of the fossil are said to be 3.5 million years old.

Today the capital of Ethiopia and the headquarters of the African Union, Addis Ababa, is 8,000 feet high in the foothills of Mount Entoto.  Addis Ababa is the third highest capital in the world. The city has a mild and pleasant climate.  September to February is generally the most comfortable time to be in Ethiopia.  Temperatures are determined by the altitude.

Addis Ababa is a pleasant city with wide boulevards of jacaranda trees, interesting museums and one of the largest markets in Africa.  One finds here the richness of Ethiopian life including the delicious cuisine, particularly the wot (or wat), stews made with spices and meat or legumes. 

In Addis Ababa, you visit the Ethnographic Museum, an ideal place to start learning about Ethiopia’s rich ethnic mix and see Lucy’s remains at the National Museum of Ethiopia.  You tour Holy Trinity Cathedral, built to commemorate freedom from the Italian occupation during World War II.

Then take a short flight from Addis Ababa to Bahir Dar and to the Blue Nile Falls, called Tissiat or “Smoking Water.”  Here the Blue Nile starts its long journey to Khartoum and on to the Mediterranean.

A wide variety of birds inhabit the rocky outcroppings, riverside forests and wetlands.  Board a boat to cruise over Lake Tana to see the Monasteries of the Lake, with remarkable paintings showing scenes from the Old Testament and New Testament.

 

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Monasteries of the Lake, Lake Tana

 

You drive to Gondar, the first capital city of the Ethiopian Empire, and find numerous castles built by the Emperors over 200 years. Some parts of the city seem more European than African. Visit the Castle Complex the Baths of Fasilidas and the Church of Debre Berhan Selassie with its beautiful frescoes.

Next drive to the Simien Mountains National Park, and stop at Kossoye for its views. The Simien mountains are steep and dramatic and are similar to the Grand Canyon.  Simien National Park is famous for gelada baboons.

You return to Gondar and fly to Lalibela, site of the renowned medieval cave churches.  King Lalibela built this city in the 12th century in a remote mountain location.

You next drive to see the Monastery of Nakutoleab carved out of a rock cave and the famous Bete Georgis or Church of St. George. This Greek cross-shaped church is accessible only by a tunnel a small distance away.

Leaving Lalibela, you fly to Axsum, a key place between Africa and Asia for almost a thousand years. The Book of Kings tells how the son of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba brought the Ark of the Covenant to Axsum where it is reported to be today.  In the middle of the fourth century AD, Axsum converted to Christianity.  You see the stone monoliths with engravings, and stop at the church of Saint Mary of Zion, where Emperors came to be crowned. 

You drive to Hawzen, passing through the Mountains of Adwa, the location of the battle with the Italians in 1896.  Visit the remarkable pre-Axumite (before 100 AD) temple of Yeha, and enjoy from a distance the magnificent clifftop Monastery of Debre Damo.  This monastery is famous for its manuscripts and for having the earliest church building in Ethiopia today in its original style.


Then see the renowned churches of the  Gheralta Region originating with the foundation of Christianity including Abreha Atsbeha Monastery, Cherkos Wukro and the Church of Petros and Paulos

After going from Hawzen to Mekelle, you fly back to Addis Ababa.  Here you may want to spend your final afternoon in the Merkato, one of the biggest open-air markets in Africa, with its vibrant colors, aromas, costumes, produce and jewelry.

The price per person for the eleven day tour, with double occupancy, includes  five star hotels and comfortable ones in the countryside; airport transfers; entrance fees; private guides; driver and private transportation; ten breakfasts; and gratuities.  We also have a number of single accommodations available for an additional fee.

 

Related Articles:

A Fossil Hunt in Ethiopia’s Mush Valley, from nyt.com

THE TALK; Hut Couture, from nyt.com

Ethiopia’s Enduring Cultural Heritage, from Heillbrunn Timeline of Art History

Ethiopia, by JEG Brown

Becoming Human Part 1, Lucy’s Kind

 

Ethiopian Lion

Ethiopian Lioness

 

 

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