ARCHAEOLOGICAL-HISTORICAL TOURS IN ETHIOPIA
Read also: Archaeological and historical tours in Ethiopia.
Up on arrival in Addis Ababa, you will be met by Yared tour representative and transfer to your hotel.
O/n in Adotina or similar 3* hotel
DAY 1 (MONDAY): ADDIS ABABA EXCURSION
Addis Ababa Meaning new flower founded on 1886 by King Menelik and Queen Taitu. It is the third highest capital in the world on altitude of 2300- 2500 m. the city is a home to different attractions including the National archeological Museum where Lucy is found. Addis Ababa also serves as the head quarter of African Union.
Today you will make a city tour and the following excursions:
Mount Entoto: It is the highest peak in Addis with an altitude of 3200meteres, which was the site for the first palace of Emperor Menelik II, the founder of Addis Ababa. Here there is St. Mary church where Emperor Menelik crowned in it and you will admire the panoramic view of the city with its surrounding forests with its breath taking air.
Guided tour in the National Museum: Which comprises of many archeological and historical findings including the famous complete hominid fossil remain of Lucy locally known as Dinknesh meaning wonderful. Visiting this museum means having a good summary for your visit to the historic Ethiopia.
Holy Trinity Cathedral: A beautiful church with baroque style of European architecture which is unique to both Ethiopia and Africa and is dedicated to the Holy Trinity here you will find scripts of the imperial families, statues done by a Greek sculpture, stained glass window paintings from the old and new Testament in the bible and coffins of the emperor Haile Sillasie I, the found of the church and his wife
Merkato: It is the largest open air market in Africa. Here you will be presented with confusing, but fascinating glimpse of the vast range of good and artifacts available from all parts of the country and you will enjoy the Ethiopian trade exchange traditions in the open air, you can purchase anything you desire here. If time is too short today, you can visit Merkato also on the last day of the tour
O/n in Adotina or similar hotel
DAY 2 & 3: FLY TO AXUM AND AXUM EXCURSIONS
Early in the morning you will be transferred to the airport for your flight to Axum, the ancient capital of Ethiopia. Axum is a town full of impressive monuments which testify of the rich and glorious past of the mighty Kingdom of Axum (300 B.C-700 A.D.) and which was on the top of its power 1st-3rd century, At that time it stretched out up to Yemen, Berbera and Sudan. A Persian writer Mani listed it under the 4 great kingdoms of the world, together with Persia, China and Rome. the rule of king Ezana, who was converted to Christianity by 2 Syrian Christians in the beginning of the 4th century, Axum became the first Christian empire in Africa and one of the first in the world. The Axumites were a literate people who developed a unique language called Ge’ez with a unique script that was based on the Sabean alphabet. They were also skilled masons and their most impressive technological achievement was the erection of the stellae which are taller than the similar granite obelisks of Egypt. The town is recorded in UNESCO lists as a World Heritage Site.
Day 2 visit Axum’s famous app. 2500 years old stele. They are striking for their huge size, their incredible pristine and sculpted from single pieces of granite to look like multi storied buildings of which the biggest is the Great stella measuring a massive 33m. It is believed to be the largest single blocks of stone that humans have ever attempted to erect. This stellae has fallen down and lies broken in different pieces on the ground. The biggest still standing stella measures 23 m. On the stellae compound you can also see the tomb of the false door.
Have a guided tour in the new archeological museum has a very interesting exhibition of Axum’s excavations, old coins, household items etc. On the same compound you can visit the 19th century home of a landlord and some nice souvenir shops where regularly coffee ceremonies are held.
The Compound of St.Mary of Zion church, opposite the stellae field, is certainly worth a visit because it is a place full of history and legends. In the church museum on the compound you can see many antique religious artifacts. In the new circular church which is built by Haile Selassie’s, a beautiful 1000 years old handwritten Bible is still used during the masses. As the story tells, in a small building behind the church, the original “Ark of the Covenant”, made by Moses, in which the stone tables with the Ten Commandments were kept in the temple of Jerusalem, is hidden. The Ark was taken from Jerusalem in 900 B.C. by Menelik, the son of king Solomon of Israel and queen of Sheba from Ethiopia. The old St. Mary of Zion church, built in the 17th century by king Fasiladas, is only accessible for men. Nobody has ever been allowed to see the Ark, except a priest who is its guardian. When this priest gets old God reveals to him who will be his successor. Many stories of its magnificent power are told in Axum
Finally visit the tombs of Kings Kaleb & Gebre Meskel (or on day 3 if time is too short today) dating to 6th century are a great example of the sheer sophistication of Axumite architecture and building techniques. On the way to the tombs, you pass the pool of Mai Shum (or “queen of Sheba’s bath) and a small hut that covers a tablet which has been inscribed during the reign of king Ezana If you like, you can walk back to town on a track via Abba Pentalewon and Abba Liqanos monasteries.
On the way to the tombs and in a small park in town you can see fourth century stones which is inscribed in Sabean, Greek and Ge’ez (the antique language of Ethiopia). Near to the park the 2000 year old tomb of king Bazen can be visited.
Day 3: Today you visit the Dungur (Queen of Sheba palace) and Gudit Stellae Field. The palace was probably the most impressive palace ever built in Axum, consisting of more than 50 rooms, and boasting an elaborate drainage system. The Gudit Steale field is thought to be older, dating perhaps to the first half of the millennium AD. Roughly and irregularly hewn, they slightly resemble the menhirs that Asterix and Obelix used to toss around; they may mark the graves of lesser noble.
Other interesting sites to visit today are the quarry where the stele were hewn out of the rocks (Ad Hankara)and where you can see a partly cut out stele & the nearby "Gobedra Lioness" , a 3,27 m. Long picture of a lion, carved in a rock.
On the way between Dungur and Ad Hankara, you can visit a small lake where pelicans, storks and other waders seasonally abundant.
O/n in Yeha hotel
DAY 4: EXCURSION TO YEHA, DRIVE TO MEKELE (240 kms, asphalt road, appr. 5hrs)
After breakfast in your hotel you will drive to the town of Mekelle. On the way you visit Ethiopia’s earliest known capital city of Yeha which is considered as the birthplace of the country’s earliest civilization. Its single most remarkable antiquity is the well-preserved 12m-high stone temple of the moon that is thought to be over 2500 years old. Her after visit the Wukro Cherkos rock hewn Church, a beautiful example of the early rock hewn churches of Tigray. And south of Wukro, visit the archeological site of Wada or the temple of Almaqah (if open).
The Almaqah temple sheds new light on Ethio-Sabaean culture contacts in the Northern Horn of Africa. The temple of the Sabaean God Almaqah is one of the main archaeological discoveries of the area,
Since the Neolithic period, the Abyssinian highlands were part of a far-flung network of exchange relationships between North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, and both African and South Arabian cultural components can be seen in its development. South Arabian inscriptions, temples and sculptures from the early 1st millennium BC, have been found at Yeha and Hawlti. The Almaqah temple offers the ideal opportunity for the study of specific religious cultural components. The reconstruction of spatial concepts, ritual procedures and votive practices sheds light on the sacral-political space of the regional elite. The temple was built in the 8th to 6th centuries BC on the ruins of an earlier building and continued in use with several modifications to probably the 3rd century BC. It resembles the early South Arabian religious buildings in form and is built from local stone. Some of its most important features are a betyl made from naturally rounded boulders and perfectly preserved and libation altar donated by a hitherto unknown king named W'RN. His dedicatory inscription proves the ancient name of Yeha for the first time and demonstrates its importance as a national religious and political centre. It also shows that elements of royal elite cultural and ideological traditions of South Arabia and the African region are used together
O/n in Planet hotel
DAY 5: DRIVE TO LALIBELA (437 kms,asphalt road, appr. 10hrs)
Today you drive to Lalibela varied landscapes of mountains and plains with sometimes breathtaking ascends and descends via steep hairpin roads with wonderful panorama. It is a long way but there us much to see en route, not only the different landscapes but also the villages and cities with their vivid streetlife.
O/n in Cliff Edge or similar hotel
DAY 6: LALIBELA EXCURSION
Also known as “Africa’s Petra”, Lalibela and its rock-hewn church are thought, to date the 12th and 13thcentury during King Lalibela reign. The churches are remarkable since they are entirely freed from the rock, so refined and so numerous within a small area. A Portuguese writer Alvares described them as “edifices, the like of which cannot be found anywhere else in the world
This day you will have a full day guided tour of the 11 rock hewn churches of Lalibela. The churches are divided in three one to the north consisting six churches including Bet Medhanialem, the largest of all the Lalibela churches. Take a form of a Greek temple it is unusual in being entirely surrounded by the square shaped columns with a further forest if twenty eight massive rectangular columns supporting the roof inside. A few minutes’ walk from Bet Medhanialem is Bet Mariam dedicated to Mary the mother of Christ. It has a deep square pool in the courtyard is said to have miraculous properties and infertile women dip themselves in the algae covered waters at certain times of the year, particularly at Christmas. Other churches in this group are Bet Meskel, Bet Danaghel and the inter connected churches of Bet Golgotha and Bet Michael with the Sillasie Chapel and the tomb of Adam.
In the afternoon after having your lunch you will visit the second group of the churches (southern group of the churches) which are the representatives of the heavenly Jerusalem. There are four churches in this group including Bet Amanuel the fines of the group, its elaborate exterior much praised by art Historians. Bet Merkoriois is thought to have originally served a secular purpose –perhaps that of a house of ankles of prisoners. Bet Aba Libanos which is separated from the surrounding land only three sides is a structure of great charm and a good example of a cave church and the last but not the least is Bet Gabriel – Rufael. Last but not the least you will visit the only church in the 3rd group Bet Giyorigs (St. George) the most beautiful of all the churches and is said to be the symbolization of Noah ark.
O/n in Cliff Edge or similar hotel
DAY 7: DRIVE TO KOMBOLCHA (325 kms asphalt road, appr. 6 hrs)
Also today you enjoy the mountainous landscape and splendid views on your way to Kombolcha. En route between Dessie and Kombolcha you can visit lovely lake Hayk and its 13th Istifanos monastery, which is only accessible for men. (Optional) The monks might show you some very old treasures such as a handwritten, illustrated biography of Abba Iyasus Moa, the founder of the monastery.
O/n stay in Kombolcha Sunny Side hotel
DAY 8 (MON.): DRIVE TO BATI MARKET (40 KMS, Asphalt road, appr 1hr) AND TO HADAR (105 kms gravel and sandy road, appr 4 hrs)
After breakfast in your hotel you will drive 40 kms to Bati. The small town of Bati is situated east of Kombolcha between the central highlands and the low lying rift valley, where it forms an important cultural crossroads for the Amhara, Oromo and Semi nomadic desert dwelling Afar people. For more than 2 centuries, Bati has hosted Ethiopia’s largest cattle and camel market, attracting up to 20,000 people every Monday. Spend some time in the market. And continue driving Hadar for overnight.
O/n in camping
DAY 9: EXCURSION TO HADAR & ARAMIS
Hadar is a village in Afar Region, Ethiopia, on the southern edge of the Afar triangle. The village is known for the nearby archeological site. Hadar is the site of Lucy-the fossilized specimen of Australopithecus afarensis.
The Hadar formation dated to between 3.5 and 2.3 million years ago, or to the late Pliocene epoch. Aramis is a village and archaeological site in northeastern Ethiopia where remains of Australopthecus andArdipithecus ramidus have been found. Archeologists include the find site near the village as part of the M Middle Awash region. Paphonological and palynological studies have uncovered evidence of a rich fossil flora and fauna including many canthium seeds, a genus found mainly in African woodlands and forests. Additionally, fossil medium-sized colobine monkeys and kudas suggest that pre-historic Aramis may have been wet, closed, and wooded, whereas today the Middle Awash is one of the dryest, hottest, and uninhabitable regions of the world.
In 1992 and 1993 a team led by Tim White found in total 17 specimens of hominid fossils at Aramis. These fossils were dated at 4.4 million years, 500,000 years earlier than the oldest afarensis fossils found in the eastern Middle Awash. This discovery was published on the front page of New York Times, and later a new genus and species of hominids was proposed, Ardipithecus ramidus.
DAY 10: DRIVE TO AWASH NATIONAL PARK (340 kms gravel/ asphalt road, appr 7hrs)
Today you drive through the Semi desert, volcanic landscape of the Afar tribe to the Awash National Park with its still slightly active Fentale Volcano.
Late afternoon you can observe different animals near the lodge that come to drink by the Awash River such as Kudu and waterbuck.
O/n in Awash falls lodge
DAY 11: AWASH NATIONAL PARK + DRIVE TO DIRE DAWA ( 300 kms, asphalt road, appr, 6hrs)
In the morning make a game drive in the park to see the beisa Oryx, warthog, dikdik, baboons and different bird species. Here after you will drive through beautiful mountain landscape to Dire Dawa.
O/n in Ras hotel
DAY 12: LAGAODA CAVE PAINTINGS ( 50 kms gravel road from Dire Dawa) AND DIRE DAWA EXCURSION
In the morning you will drive some 50 kms to Lagaoda cave of pre historic paintings. The number of rock paintings in the shelter is about 600. Apart from paintings there are also written records on the wall painting represents pictures of animals such as cow, camel goat, bull sheep, giraffe and H – shaped man. In the afternoon you can visit the city of Dire Dawa to see some historical buildings of the French period and visit the local market.
O/n in Ras hotel
DAY 13: DRIVE TO HARAR AND EXPLORE THE OLD WALLED CITY (55 kms, asphalt road, appr 1hr)
The Muslims consider Harar as the fourth holy city after Mekka, Medina and Jerusalem. Different stories are told about the founding of Harar, which must have been between the 10th and 15th century. But it is sure that the walls around the old city are built by sheik Nur around 1560. This old walled city with its narrow streets and white plastered houses has a special, oriental atmosphere. Through the ages, Harar was reined by different sheiks and thus has always been influenced by Islam. In the city 108 mosks are built, the oldest dates from 12th century.
Today you will explore the narrow streets of the old city and visit many interesting monuments in Harar such as the 17th century Jami mosk, the 16th century grave of Emir Nur, the Rimbaud house where probably this famous French poet has been living when he came to Harar as a trader, the house of Ras Mekonnen where the last great emperor Haile Sillasie spent his childhood, the 19th century Medhane Alem church and the Harar museum. You can also visit one of the authentic Harar houses where the walls are covered with the colorful Harar baskets. On the local market you can buy these baskets for a cheap price.
The most famous attraction of Harar is the hyena man who feeds “his” hyena’s every evening with big pieces of meat. He gave them all a name and calls them one by one to come out of the darkness and eat the meat from his hand. This practice was started by a man named Doze in the 1950th and might probably be rooted in an older tradition.
O/n Winta or similar hotel
DAY 14: DRIVE TO NAZRETH (428 kms, asphalt road, appr 8hrs)
Early in the morning you will drive back via the same road via mountains and Awash National Park to the town of Nazreth
O/n in Safari lodge
DAY 15: DRIVE TO DILLA (315 kms, asphalt road, appr 6.5 hrs)
In the morning you drive through part of the Rift Valley to the town of Dilla. On the way you visit one of the rift valley lakes of Ziway where you can spot different aquatic birds. And have a coffee or lunch stop at the shores of beautiful lake Langano or lake Awassa.
O/n in Delight hotel
DAY16: EXCURSION TO DILLA STELLE FIELDS, DRIVE TO AWASSA (90 kms)
Today you visit 2 of the most significant stella fields in Ethiopia:
Tutu Fella stelae field
Most of the stelae here are of the anthropomorphic type but several are phallic. Like most other sites, little excavation has taken place at Tutu Fella, but formative investigation revealed numerous artifacts ranging from iron and copper bracelets and beads to chisel and shards of pottery, buried alongside the bodies in the grave below stelae.
Tututi stelae field
Lying south of Tutu Fella, this equally impressive but more dispersed field comprises around 1,200 stelae scattered in and around a small village called Tututi. Almost all of the stelae here are phallic.
Here after you will drive to Awassa for overnight.
O/n in Haile resort
DAY17 (WED.): DRIVE TO ADDIS VIA MELKA KUNTURE AND TIYA (335 kms, asphalt road, appr 7hrs)
Early in the morning start driving to Addis Ababa via Butajira. On this road 2 most important archeological sites are Melka Kunture and Tiya stelae field.
Tiya Stelae (a UNESCO world heritage site). Recent excavations at Tiya revealed that the stone mark the mass graves of males and females who died when they were between 18 and 30 years of age and were laid to rest in a fetal position. The field has some 45 stones of up to 2m in height which are nearly all engraved with swords, plain circles and enset like leaves.
Melka Kunture is a pre historic site. It is regarded to be one of the most important Stone Age sites in Ethiopia. It is best known for the numerous Stone Age artifacts that have been unearthed along the river including a variety of cleavers, hand axes and other tools made from basalt and other hard rocks. The site has also proved to be an important source of fossils extinct mammal species.
In the evening after dinner you will be transferred to the airport for your international flight.
WE WISH YOU A VERY INTERESTING AND SAFE JOURNEY!
SPECIAL!! Guaranteed departure from 4 persons!
Yared Tour & Travel organizes special archaeological-historical group tours in Ethiopia with a varied 17 days Tour program to discover “Archaeological and Historical Ethiopia” (click here to read the day to day program).
You can book this tour also as an individual tour with your own departure date and the program can eventually be adapted to your needs A very interesting trip that you should not miss if you are particularly interested in archeology and history!
Ethiopia is one of the few African countries that is rich in archaeological and historical sites from pre-history to present days.
The Afar and Awash area, where the Australopithecus afarensis and Ardipithecus ramidus have been found, Melka Konture-the site of tens of thousands stone age tools, numerous cave paintings, Axum with its many treasures from which more than 90% is still hidden underground, the temples of Yeha and Almaqah, medieval rock-hewn churches in Lalibela and Tigray, many stelle fields in southern Ethiopia ......... This is just a small list of the many interesting archaeological and historical sites in Ethiopia, which is truly a paradise for travelers who are specifically interested in archeology and history!
TRAVEL DATES 2016-2017
SUN. 4 DEC.2016 (day 1 of the tour program) - TUE.20 DEC.2016 (day 17 of the tour program). TOUR CODE AR1612
SUN.22 JAN.2017 (day 1 of the tour program)-TUE.7 FEB.2017 (day 17 of the tour program). TOURCODE AR1701
You can book up to 2 months before date of commencement via our application form (only fill in the following fields: applicant, information about the group , Tour Code, and if necessary: important remarks ).
Booking of intercontinental flights:
You book your own intercontinental flight and arrange your transfer to the hotel where you become acquainted with the group on day 1 of the program at breakfast time. On your request we can book your intercontinental flight and/or extra hotelnight(s) and/or arrange airport transfer(s). Your arrival date must be 1 day before the above mentioned start date of the tourprogram or early morning on the start date. The tour is finished on day 17 after the farewell dinner.
Extentsion of the tour to South Ethiopia (Tribes of the Omo Valley) on individual basis or together with other members of your group is possible on request.
Any extension as you wish can be arranged.
The definite tourprice depends on the groupsize (see price schedule hereunder) and will only be fixed 2 months before commencement of the tour. You will receive information about the definite price and herafter we send you the tour agreement and invoice.
INCLUDED IN THE TOURPRICE:
- Rent of Well maintained and insured Vehicles (minibus or coaster bus which depends on the group size)
- Use of landcruisers for the desert excursions to Hadar and Aramis
- English speaking experienced drivers.
- Privat English speaking guide who is specialized on history and archaeology
- Hotel bookings conform the tour program
- All excursion costs conform the tour program incl. entrances, local guides, scouts (except optional excursions)
- Full board meals
- 1-3 litre bottled spring water p.p. per day
- Cooking and camping equipment during 2 camping days at Hadar (bring only your own blanket)
- Professional cook to prepare meals during camping
- Service costs, tax.
- Intercontinental Airtickets.
- Domestic flights Addis Abeba-Lalibela and Lalibela-Axum (you pay this separate; if you fly Intercontintental with Ethiopian Airlines: appr. $150,00 / ,135,00 Euro /110 pound p.p.; If you fly intercontinental with another airlines: (appr. $ 330 / 300,- Euro /245 pound p.p., prices are subject to change)
- Alcoholic beverages.
- Tips and payment for use video camera on the historical sites.
- Excursions or entrances which are not mentioned in the program or which are mentioned as Optional (facultatief)