Our privately-guided and tailor-made History and Spa tour is based on our tailor-made Classic Historical itinerary, but with two nights at the Kuriftu Resort & Spa, beautifully located hotel of high standard on the shores of the deep blue Lake Tana. Enjoy taking in the country's famed historical sites, with the exception of Axum: Bahir Dar with its island monasteries and the Blue Nile Falls; Gondar with its enchanting castles, Lalibela for its rock-hewn churches and Addis Ababa, as well as the spectacular Simien Mountains Nationa Park for rare and endemic wildlife.
You arrive in Addis Ababa in the morning where you are be met by your guide and transferred to the Jupiter International Hotel for a 1 night stay with breakfast included.
Relax for the balance of the morning to recover from the long-haul flight. After lunch, your guide and driver will collect you from the hotel and take you on a sightseeing tour of some of the capital's highlights.
In the morning you fly to Bahir Dar
, a bustling town on the shore of Lake Tana, and your base for exploring the renowned island monasteries and grass-roofed churches, decorated with resplendent wall murals.
Stay at the lovely and relaxed Kuriftu Resort & Spa for 2 nights, with all meals included.
Accommodation: Kuriftu Resort & Spa
Bahir Dar and surrounds
Visit the Blue Nile Falls, Africa's second biggest waterfalls and then the bustling market of Bahir Dar. Or, relax at the Kuriftu Spa if you prefer.
Please note that the walk to the falls from where vehicles are parked can be a little challenging but if need be, your guide will be happy to assist. Keen birders might also wish to explore the lush woodlands along the lakeshore for endemic species such as Yellow-fronted parrot.
Simien Mountains National Park
After a leisurely breakfast at the resort, drive two and a half hours along the shores of Lake Tana to Gondar, and from there another two hours to the Simyen Mountains
, where you overnight in a chalet or 'gojo' at the Simien Lodge, all meals included. With some of Africa's highest peaks, this vast mountain range is one of Africa's most impressive, and one of Ethiopia's many UNESCO World Heritage Sites. You can take an afternoon drive up to high-lying Chennek in the Afro-alpine zone, where on sheer rock faces or among the Giant lobelias, you may see the critically endangered Walia ibex (pictured), the population of which is now some 500 individuals with none in captivity anywhere. The lodge has done commendable work in terms of community development in this extremely remote area.
Accommodation: Simien Lodge
Simien Mountains to Gondar
Spend the morning exploring the beautiful Simien Mountains around Sankaber where you can appreciate some of the most dramatic scenery in Africa. The park features great volcanic plugs, formed 40 million years ago, and now shaped into fantastic crags and flat topped mountains. Seek out the endemic Gelada or 'bleeding heart' monkeys (formerly classified as baboons), Walia ibex and many endemic birds, notable among which are raptors such as Lammergeier. Take a two hour drive back to Gondar, founded in 1636 by Emperor Fasilidas who chose the town as his Imperial seat. Here you can explore the Imperial Compound, with its enchanting 'Fasilidas' castles, still in very good condition.
Overnight in Mayleko Lodge, all meals included.
You will be transferred to Gondar airport for the quick flight to Lalibela
, home of the world famous subterranean churches, built 800 years ago, and still in use today. These rock-hewn churches are regarded as one of the wonders of the world. Your guide and driver will take you to see the first cluster of these remarkable structures.
Please note that steps leading down to some of the churches can be a little challenging but your guide will be happy to assist you if need be.
Stay 2 nights at the Maribela Hotel, all meals included.
Visit the outlying churches today. Ashetun Mariam can be visited by mule or on foot - nowadays the walk up to the church from where the vehicles are parked is not too long. Its mountaintop location provides magnificent views over the surrounding countryside. Alternatively, you can visit the cave church of Neakuto Leab, or make the 40 km journey by car to see the beautiful cave church of Yemrehane Kristos - the choice is yours. (You can discuss options with your personal guide).
Transfer to Lalibela airport for the flight back to Addis Ababa where you will be met and taken for some shopping at the Merkato, Africa's biggest market district. The market is known for its marvelous Ethiopian jewellery, exquisite clothing and fabrics - made locally - traditional music and much more. A farewell dinner will be arranged and you will be entertained with an authentic performance of music and dance from the different regions of Ethiopia as well as a coffee ceremony.
If your flight departs after midnight, you will have the use of a day room at Jupiter International Hotel and after dinner, you will be transferred to Bole International airport to check in for your flight home. If the flight departs mid morning, overnight in Jupiter International Hotel with breakfast included.
Morning Ethiopian Airlines flight back to London Heathrow.