Capital Classics North

ZenAye Ethiopia Tours - culture and history - 13 days

picture description: ancient paintings, monastery, church on Lake Tana, Bahir Dar, culture and history with ZenAye Ethiopia Tours, Swiss-African expert in tour operation / photo: Linetta Schneller
Lake Tana / photo: Linetta Schneller

The northern part of Ethiopia is home to ancient civilization, natural attractions and classic historical sites - the Rock-Hewn Churches of Lalibela, witness of ancient Christianity and a vital Orthodox Church, the ancient kingdom and civilization of Axum, the castle of Gondar and the famous ceiling paintings of Debre Berhan Selassie Church, the monasteries of Lake Tana with their treasures and last but not least the colourful farmland, rural villages and spectacular Simien Mountains.

Whatever you are looking for, history, archaeology, culture, religion, nature or adventure, you will find it here.

Come, see and explore the wonders!

Overview and main features

Code: CH 035.13
Duration: 13 days / 12 nights
Transportation: car
Accomodation: hotel
Focus of tour: classic historic and UNESCO World Heritage Sites:
- Lalibela with its mystic Rock-Hewn Churches
- ancient Axum and its archaeological sites
- monasteries and churches of Gondar, Lake Tana and Tigray
- striking landscape of Simien Mountains, Tigray and the northern Ethiopian highland
Price & details: please send your request to

Day 1

Addis Abeba and city tour

Welcome to Ethiopia, the land of natural and cultural diversity and home of ancient civilization!

Meet our representative of ZenAye Ethiopia Tours at Bole International Airport, be transferred to your hotel and then have a half-day city tour. Visit Entoto Mountains, which give you a very nice view over the capital, the church of St. Mary with its adjacent museum of imperial objects, the Ethnological Museum with its collections of various ethnic groups of the country and then the National Museum, which is the home of Lucy, our 3.18 million year old ancestor, a fossil of a female Australopithecus afarensis. Then view also the largest open-air market in Africa at Merkato.

Day 2

Addis Abeba - Debre Markos (300 km)

In the early morning drive northwards with visit to the ancient monastery of Debre Libanos, the Portuguese Bridge, the remarkable Blue Nile Gorge and the farmland of Gojam en route.

Day 3

Debre Markos - Bahir Dar (260 km)

Drive to Bahir Dar and check in at your hotel. On the way stop-overs to take pictures of the farmlands, villages and scenic views. In the afternoon city tour of Bahir Dar, which is the capital of the Amhara Region and situated at the shore of Lake Tana and famous for its historical and beautiful orthodox churches.

Day 4

Bahir Dar - boat trip and monasteries on Lake Tana

Have a long breakfast and then take an interesting boat trip on Lake Tana which is the largest lake of Ethiopia and the third largest of Africa. Visit the islands with its picturesque monasteries and treasures. The excursion will bring you to marvellous places such as Ura Kidane Mehret, Azua Mariam and Kibran Gabriel Monastery with their colourful ancient paintings.

Day 5

Bahir Dar - Gondar (180 km)

Drive along lovely scenic landscape to Gondar, which was the 17th century capital of Ethiopia founded by King Fasilidas. After lunch visit of the palace compound and the beautiful old church of Debre Berhan Selassie with its wonderful murals, famous wall paintings and its most greatly decorated ceiling.
Enjoy the fortress-city of Fasil Ghebbi that is listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Day 6

Gondar - Axum (360 km)

Early in the morning drive northwards through the Simien Mountains chain and the Tekeze river valley, which are most wild and extraordinary, to finally reach the ancient town of Axum for overnight.

Day 7

Axum - classic archaeological site (WHS)

Full-day sightseeing of Axum, which includes the park of the standing stelae carved out from one single granite stone of the pre-Christian era, the palace and tombs of one of the Axumite Empire Kings and the old and new church of St. Mary of Zion. Visit the ruins of the Queen of Sheba palace, admire the inscriptions of Ezana, the archaeological Museums etc. Dinner and overnight at your hotel after a day with many great archaeological sites and ancient highlights of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Day 8

Axum - Adigrat (240 km)

Leaving the town of Axum and its historical and archaeological sites behind we drive to Adigrat. En route visit of the pre-Axumite moon-temple of Yeha and of the special Debre Damo Monastery besides driving along the mystic blue mountains of Adua. Dinner and overnight at hotel in the Tigrian city of Adigrat.

Day 9

Adigrat - Mekele (110 km)

Mekele is the capital city of Tigray. On the way visit of the church of Abune Aftse and the ancient Rock-Hewn Church of Abraha Atsebaha.

Day 10

Mekele - Lalibela (420 km)

Drive to Lalibela through the Ambalage Mountains chain along farmland and through beautiful scenery of the Grakasu zigzag road and enjoy the Amhara and Tigrian tribes on your way. Lalibela, at 2,800 m altitude, the living heart of Ethiopia, witness of ancient Christianity and a vital Orthodox Church, a particularly mystic place surrounded by lovely mountains and a rural environment. It is famous for its monolithic Rock-Hewn Churches which were built to make a New Jerusalem in the heart of the Ethiopian highlands. Now Lalibela is a place of pilgrimage for Christians from all over the world, especially colourful at the time of Genna, the Christmas celebration held on January 7th. All in all, it took 23 years to build those extraordinary churches.

Day 11

Lalibela Rock-Hewn Churches (UNESCO World Heritage Site)

In the morning we start visiting the first part of the Rock-Hewn Churches of Lalibela, dated back to the 12th century which all are carved out (inside and outside) of a solid rock and are architecturally unique and ranked among the wonders of the world. In the afternoon, you visit the second part of the amazing and genuine Rock-Hewn Churches of Lalibela. Overnight at your hotel after a day full of amazing wonders.

Day 12

Lalibela - Kombolcha (300 km)

Drive to Kombolcha, en route visit the semi-monolithic churches of Genete Mariam and the Hayk Estifanos Monastery.

Day 13

Kombolcha - Addis Abeba (375 km)

Drive back to our initial point via Debre Berhan. Lunch en route. Back at the busy metropolis you will have free time to refresh yourself, have a coffee break or do some shopping.

In the evening you will be offered a farewell dinner in a cultural restaurant by your tour company ZenAye Ethiopia Tours. You will enjoy Ethiopian dishes and traditional live music and dance from different corners of the country and then be transferred to Bole International Airport for departure or your extended programme.

Further details and service

We are happy to answer any request you may have and give you further details on our treks and tour programmes.

We can of course also provide you with customized tours and tailor-made packages for groups and single travellers. We are glad to organize and schedule your personalized tour according to your individual needs and itinerary.

Our aim is to offer you top quality service in order to make your stay in Ethiopia unforgettable.
We are here for you, ready to take you to all the attractions!

Travel is our passion - quality is our mission!

ZenAye Ethiopia Tours - Here meet your expectations and ready to take you to all the attractions!