Classic Ethiopia Historical Tour
Priest, Gondar  
Manuscript, Bahir Dar  
Beta Giorgis, Lalibela  
Blue Nile Falls near Bahir Dar  
Wall mural in Azwa Mariam monastery, Lake Tana  
The 17th Century castles in the Imperial Compound at Gondar  
Gelada or bleeding-heart monkey in Simien Mountains National Park  
Wahlia ibex in the Simien Mountains  
The famed Stelae (obelisk) park at Axum  
Axum's stelae, the world's biggest free-standing rock monoliths  
Simien Mountains scenery - utterly magnificent! (ETO)  
View over Gondar including the Imperial Compound (ETO)  
The iconic angel faces frieze in Debre Berhan Selazzie, Gondar (ETO)  
Fishermen in 'tankwa' on Lake Tana near Kuriftu Resort  
11 day tour
Including flights
Prices from
£3420

Tour Highlights

  • Lalibela's incredible rock-hewn churches
  • Stelae at Axum
  • Enchanting 17th century castles at Gondar
  • Spectacular scenery in Simien Mountains
  • Island monasteries of Lake Tana
  • Cliff monasteries and amazing scenery in Tigray
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I'm enquiring about: Classic Ethiopia Historical Tour

Classic Ethiopia Historical Tour

Ethiopia

This private tour, tailor-made tour can be done throughout the year and can be modified/adapted to suit your individual interests and requirements. 

Visit Ethiopia's best- known historical sites: Lalibela's rock-hewn churches, Axum's obelisks; Gondar's 17th century castles and ancient island monasteries on Lake Tana. These sites have attracted travellers to the region for centuries. In addition, Ethiopia has spectacular scenery, including the vast Rift Valley and some of Africa's highest mountains - you'll visit the Simien Mountains during this trip and also, see unusual landscapes in the Gerhalta area, Tigray. Endemic mammals and birds, and a variety of contrasting habitats, add a fascinating natural dimension to our historical itineraries.

The country's diverse ethnic groups create a culture rich in ceremony and ritual. If you are travelling in mid January, you can experience Timket, Ethiopia's most widely celebrated festival. (If you trave in September you can witness Meskel or the Festival of the True Cross which too, is spectacular). As with all our Ethiopia tours, this itinerary ends with an evening feast complete with traditional dancing from the many regions. Visitors will receive a warm welcome and our English-speaking escort-guides, will ensure a hassle-free holiday.

Ethiopia can be visited at most times, but try if you can, to avoid the rainy season in July and August. January to March is especially popular as the weather is pleasant, and provides an excellent antidote for the northern hemisphere winter.

Read more about this tour


Day 1
Take the overnight flight from London Heathrow to Addis Ababa.
Day 2
Day 2
Addis Ababa
On arrival in Addis Ababa off your international flight, you will be met and assisted by your guide and transferred to the Golden Tulip Hotel to stay 1 night with breakfast and afternoon city tour included.
Accommodation: Golden Tulip
     
Day 3
Day 3
Bahir Dar
Transfer to Bole Addis Ababa airport to check in for the early morning domestic flight (duration 1 hour) to Bahir Dar, adjacent to the deep blue Lake Tana, with its famous island monasteries and round, grass-roofed churches replete with magnificent wall murals. Best known of the monasteries include Debre Maryam, Daga Estefanos, Tana Cherkos and Narga Selassie. While out on the lake, you'll see fishermen on their seemingly frail reed and wooden boats called 'tankwa' and if lucky, some hippos along with plenty of waterbirds.
 
Overnight in a Superior lake-view room at the Avanti Blue Nile with all meals included.
Accommodation: Avanti Blue Nile
       
Day 4
Day 4
Simien Mountains National Park
Depart after breakfast on the scenic two and a half hour journey along the scenic shores of Lake Tana to Gondar, and from there continue another two hours along a variable road to the Simien Mountains to stay overnight in a chalet at Simien Lodge, with all meals included. Owned by our friend, British philanthropist Nick Crane, this is Africa's highest-lying lodge. Today you might well be able to take in the 'Gelada Experience' - one of Africa's lesser-known but most unusual, primate experiences.
Accommodation: Simien Lodge
               
Day 5
Day 5
Simien Mountains to Gondar
In the morning, visit beautiful Sankaber in the Simien Mountains. The Simyen Mountains National Park is a World Heritage Site and contains some of the most dramatic scenery in Africa with many peaks over 4000 metres. Easy walks from Sankaber take you to some awe inspiring viewpoints.
 
Return to Gondar to see the town's attractions, most impressive of which are the enchanting 17th century castles in the Imperial Compound. Overnight in a suite room at Goha Hotel, all meals included.
Accommodation: Goha Hotel
     
Day 6
Day 6
Lalibela
Transfer to Gondar airport for the mid morning flight to Lalibela to see the first cluster of its rock-hewn churches, regarded as one of the wonders of the world. Even from the air, the churches, carved into the rugged mountainsides, create a breathtaking spectacle.
 
Stay here for 2 nights at Maribela Hotel, all meals included. Lunches will be enjoyed at some of the town's choice restaurants, from where views over the surrounding countryside are mind-blowing.
Accommodation: Maribela Hotel
         
Day 7
Day 7
Lalibela
Your guide will discuss the options with you today in terms of churches that you can still visit today. We highly recommend that you make the 40 km journey to see the awe inspiring cave church of Yemrehane Kristos, perhaps the finest of the lot. It is an amazing place.
Accommodation: Maribela Hotel
         
Day 8
Day 8
Axum
Transfer to Lalibela airport to check in for the quick flight to Axum from around 200 BC to 700 AD the seat of the Axumite Empire. This Empire extended to Arabia, and traded with India and China. It had its own alphabet, and was one of the four great powers of the ancient world. See the remarkable obelisks, the Axum Museum and Mariamtsion Church, within which a chapel is believed by Ethiopian Orthodox Christians to house the Ark of the Covenant, the original tablets of Moses.
 
Transfer to Sabean International Hotel where you stay overnight with all meals included.
Accommodation: Sabean International Hotel
     
Day 9
Day 9
Axum to Gerhalta (Tigray)
After breakfast, travel for approximately 55km through scenic countryside to Yeha, Ethiopia's first city, which dates back more than 2,800 years. Visit the remains of the temple dedicated to Ilmuqeh, the Moon God. Next to the temple is the church of Abune Aftse, one of the 'Nine Saints' who did much to spread Christianity in Ethiopia.
 
Continue into the Tigray towards Mekelle. You will be taken to see some of the more accessible rock-cut churches in this area, where constructions are impressive albeit far lesser known than those of Lalibela. The scenery in this area is dramatic, with finger-shaped rocky outcrops rising abruptly out of the flat Gerhalta Plains. Overnight in the sought-after Gerhalta Lodge with all meals included.
Accommodation: Gheralta Lodge
     
Day 10
Day 10
Mekelle - Addis Ababa (flight)
Morning for guided sightseeing in the Gerhalta area. In the afternoon you will be transferred to Mekelle airport (about 90 minutes' drive). to check in for the early evening Ethiopian Airlines flight to Addis Ababa. Transfer on arrival to Golden Tulip airport where you either have the use of a day room/ evening room, or if your flight out is the next morning, stay overnight in a standard room with breakfast.
 
If your flight departs just after midnight, you will be transferred to Bole airport late in the evening for the Ethiopian Airlines check-in.
Accommodation: Golden Tulip
     
Day 11
Departure
Take the morning flight back to London Heathrow or selected other UK airports.

Pricing Information & Dates

11 day tour, from £3420 per person
Price Includes:
  • Flights
  • Accommodation
Price Includes
- International Ethiopian Airlines flights (economy class, from London Heathrow),
- Domestic Ethiopian Airlines flights, departure taxes,
- Airport facilitation
- All transfers and internal travel with all private transportation
- Services of your full-time, professional, English-speaking escort-guide and of drivers
- National park permits and park guide fees
- Entrance fees and local guide fees
- All excursions and activities as outlined
- All accommodation as per itinerary with all meals (full board everywhere except in Addis Ababa where it is B&B)
Price Excludes
- Ethiopian visa (issued on arrival for US$50, cash)
- Gratuities
- Lunch and dinner in Addis Ababa
- items of a personal nature (tips, phone calls, drinks, laundry, travel insurance).
Price Notes
Prices are based on two adults travelling together and sharing in twin or double room accommodation.

Tour Route Map

  1.   Addis Ababa
  2.   Bahir Dar & Lake Tana
  3.   Gondar
  4.   Simien Mountains
  5.   Lalibela
  6.   Axum
  7.   Tigray Region

Accommodation on this Tour

Avanti Blue Nile
Avanti Blue Nile
Bahir Dar & Lake Tana, Ethiopia
Avanti Blue Nile About 8 km from Bahir Dar, this very modern, neatly designed lakeside hotel has 135 rooms.The hotel has 100 Classic Rooms, 16 Superior Rooms, 14 Duplex Suites and 5 Junior Suites.......
       
Gheralta Lodge
Gheralta Lodge
Tigray Region, Ethiopia
Located at Hawzen, 2 hours by four-wheel drive vehicle from Mekelle airport in northern Ethiopia, this Italian owner-run lodge is one of Ethiopia’s most sought-after properties.
     
Goha Hotel
Goha Hotel
Gondar, Ethiopia
Goha Hotel Goha Hotel in Gondar was privatised some years ago and its big selling point is its superb location on a hilltop from where there are lovely views over the town.From the terrace and the......
     
Golden Tulip
Golden Tulip
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Golden Tulip Very conveniently located just 1 kilometer from Bole International Airport, this comfortable, internatonal, tourist-class hotel (part of the Louvre group) is a perfect base for those who......
     
Maribela Hotel
Maribela Hotel
Lalibela, Ethiopia
Maribela Hotel One of Lalibela's best hotels, Maribela provides accommodation of a high standard and is enjoyed by our clientele. Its design was inspired by that of some of the town's......
         
Sabean International Hotel
Sabean International Hotel
Axum, Ethiopia
Sabean International Hotel Sabean International Hotel is currently the best accommodation option in Axum and is located in the town centre. (It must be noted that accommodation in Axum does not......
     
Simien Lodge
Simien Lodge
Simien Mountains, Ethiopia
Simien Lodge is currently the only accommodation in the Simien Mountain National Park which is listed as a World Heritage site because of the incredible views and the endemic animals.
               

Image Gallery

Reviews

Golden Tulip, Addis Ababa: excellent in all respects

Avanti Blue Nile, Bahir Dar: Good service and location. Average comfort, meals and facilities. 

Mayleko Lodge, Gondar: excellent service, location and meals. Good in terms of comfort and facilities. 

Simien Lodge: excellent in all respects. 

Maribela Hotel, Lalibela: excellent service and location. Average comfort and meals. Facilities good 

Cameron family
January 26, 2018

'Hi Derek,

Quite honestly, we have done most of the world but let me tell you that we are never going to forget Ethiopia !!

A very poor country it may be, but it is rich in its history & culture & it is also particularly unique. Quite simply it was an amazing experience for both of us.

We were extremely well taken care of especially our assigned Guide - Teddy Teudrow who was simply brilliant! All the attractions bar none, exceeded our expectations but Lalibela was something else!

You had warned & also from reading, we gathered not to expect too much from the accommodations. Here too we were pleasantly surprised & very satisfied. All in all, an unforgettable experience in an unforgettable country!

Let us take this opportunity to thank you in particular & the Rainbow team for your advice, expertise & care for putting up this great holiday for us.

Thanking you & best wishes

Farouk & Hutoxi'

Mr and Mrs Manecksha
March 22, 2017

'Hi Derek

 We had a great time - a really beautiful country, and very warm and friendly people.  The highlights for me were the Church of Saint George in Lalibela, the Simien Mountain baboons, and chilling out at the 'Highest Bar In Africa'.  Challenges for me were the internet facilities (it was barely usable outside Addis Ababa),  the lack of Diet Coke (I'm an addict, and it was only available in Addis Ababa)..  At one point early on I remember feeling that it was all a bit too exhausting and maybe we should've gone somewhere easier, but then I got adjusted to it, and wished at the end that we'd had more time to see a few other places too, such as Axum and the Danakil.        

 The guides were great, and the hotels were pretty good too, especially the Maribela which was a really chilled-out place with a fantastic view.  Thanks for organising it all for us - I've been telling everyone here what a fascinating place Ethiopia is, and it will always hold a special place in my heart for having been my 100th country!

 Phil'

Mr Saunders and Mr Stein
March 21, 2017

'Ethiopia (the Historical Route) was very very good indeed.  The itinerary was very good indeed, we could not fault it; very good time-management. It was busy, it was intensive but very different. Lovely people., very warm, very kind, very friendly.

The guide is fundamental to a holiday’s success: Henok was outstanding!. We have done a lot of tailor-made tours and have never had such a good guide anywhere in the world. He made all the difference – he was very kind, very helpful, very personable and really, really good.

The attractions were all better than what we were expecting after having read books such as the Bradt Guide. Lalibela in particular, was remarkable. The highlight. The local guide there was very good too. I would recommend - especially if visitors go in the rainy season - to take walking poles and footwear with a strong grip for the stairs at Lalibela's churches.

Simien Lodge is lovely. It is an experience. But we did feel the altitude there. The viewpoint we went to was lovely. It is a remarkable place. 

Accommodation was all good except the Avanti Blue Nile at Bahir Dar which doesn’t have character or charm – it is a business-peoples’ hotel.  

Food was lovely at Habasha-2000 on our way out of the country and it works very well to have the farewell dinner there before the flight back to the UK.

We are very impressed with Rainbow Tours, thank you for going to so much trouble to arrange everything; we plan to contact you soon again to arrange travel to Africa and Latin America’.

 

 

 

Mr and Mrs Rennison
March 7, 2017

'Overall holiday satisfaction: excellent.

Jupiter Interntional Hotel: god in all respects; service excellet.

Panoramic View, Lalibela: excellent service and location; meals, facilitie and comfort: good.

Sabean Hotel, Axum: excellent location. Good in terms of comfort, service and meals. Facilities average.

Avanti Blue Nile, Bahir Dar: excellent in all respects. Facilities good.

Mayleko Lodge, Gondar: Good in all respects. Service excellent. Issues with lack of water due to power cut.

Simien Lodge: Excellent service, location and meals. Good facilities. Comfort: good.

Like many other Africa countries it is their attention t detal that lets them down. Electrical outlets not fixed to walls properly. The service and the local people were great; very courteous and extremely helpful. That is a massive plus f the country's tourism '

McAleer family
December 15, 2015
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