Historic Hightlights North

ZenAye Ethiopia Tours - culture and history - 9 days

picture description: monastery, church on Lake Tana, Bahir Dar, ancient paintings and murals, 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 036.09
Duration: 9 days / 8 nights
Transportation: car
Accomodation: hotel
Focus of tour: classic historic and UNESCO World Heritage Sites:
- Lalibela with its mystic Rock-Hewn Churches
- monasteries and churches of Gondar and Lake Tana
- striking landscape of the northern Ethiopian highland
Price & details: please send your request to mail@zenaye-ethiopia-tours.com

Day 1

Addis Abeba and city tour

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

Arrival at Addis Abeba early in the morning. Our representative of ZenAye Ethiopia Tours will welcome you and transfer you to your hotel for check-in. Then have a city tour of the capital. Addis is located at 2,800 m altitude above sea level. It was founded by King Menelik in 1886 / 87. Addis Abeba means New Flower. It boasts several museums, such as the National Museum which has a copy of the famous Lucy, our ancestor, a fossil of a female Australopithecus afarensis which is dated 3.18 million years and was found in the Afar area in 1974, Africa’s largest open-air market called Merkato and much more.

Day 2

Addis Abeba - Debre Markos - Bahir Dar (575 km)

Drive from Addis Abeba to Bahir Dar. On the way visit of the monastery of Debre Libanos and Jemma River valley with the so-called Portuguese bridge. We cross the Blue Nile on the Millennium Bridge. Lunch stop at Debre Markos. Continuation to Bahir Dar, then check-in and dinner in the evening.

Day 3

Bahir Dar - monasteries on Lake Tana (boat trip)

Today brings you an interesting boat trip on Lake Tana, which is the largest lake of Ethiopia and the third largest of Africa. Make an excursion to the Ura Kidane Mehret, Azua Mariam, Kibran Gabriel ancient monasteries (13th century) with their colourful paintings. In the evening visit of a local restaurant with traditional live music and dance.

Day 4

Bahir Dar - Gondar (180 km)

Take time for breakfast and a city tour of Bahir Dar in the morning. After lunch drive on to Gondar with lovely scenic landscape on your right and your left. Get time for stop-over here and there to take pictures of colourful fields and their surrounding mountains, hills and villages. Finally reach Gondar which was the former capital of Ethiopia and founded by King Fasilidas.

Day 5


Enjoy the fortress-city of Fasil Ghebbi that is listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Gondar, the capital of Ethiopia from the 17th to the 19th century, is sometimes called the Camelot of Africa. It is famous for its Royal Enclosure - the complex of six royal palaces of the kings. The largest palace was built by King Fasilidas in 1636. Tourists may also get the chance to visit the swimming pool of King Fasilidas, where the annual great feast of Timkat (Ethiopian Epiphany) is held on January 19th. Another big attraction of Gondar is the church of Debre Berhan Selassie (18th century) with its wonderful murals, famous wall paintings and its most greatly decorated ceiling.

Today you will get time to visit these treasures of Gondar but also time to have a refreshing coffee break in a street café or on a terrace in town with view over streets and busy daily life.

Day 6

Gondar - Lalibela (345 km)

Drive from Gondar to Lalibela. The road passes through Debre Tabor in the highlands of South Wollo with beautiful landscapes and mountains, hills and rural villages. We reach Lalibela in the afternoon. 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.

Day 7

Lalibela Rock-Hewn Churches (World Heritage Site)

This day is fully dedicated to visit the Rock Hewn Churches of Lalibela, which were carved at the end of the 12th and the beginning of the 13th century while the Ethiopian capital city was located in Roha, later renamed Lalibela. These churches 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. Many legends are told about Lalibela and one of the local legends says that during daytime men were building the churches, while at night the angels continued their work. All in all, it took 23 years to build those extraordinary churches which are now listed UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Day 8

Lalibela - Kombolcha (255 km)

Drive from Lalibela to Kombolcha. We make a brief stop at Lake Hayk where the historic 13th century Monastery of Daga Estifanos is located.

Day 9

Kombolcha - Addis Abeba (375 km)

Drive back to our initial point. The road passes through some scenic spots, such as Tarmaber (3,150 meters above sea level) with a panoramic view of the Upper Awash Valley and the Great Rift Valley regions. Upon arrival at the metropolis get free time for some shopping at a local souvenir market or time to rest and have a coffee break.

In the evening ZenAye Ethiopia Tours will offer you an exquisite farewell dinner at a traditional restaurant with Ethiopian dishes accompanied by a folkloristic programme of live music and dances from different ethnic groups of the country.
Finally you will be transferred to Bole International Airport for your departure or 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!