Day 1: Arrival.
On arrival in Addis Ababa you will be transferred to the hotel. We welcome you to the 'Cradle of Civilization'. Ethiopia is one of the world's most extraordinary, yet least visited, countries. Lying in the mountains at an elevation of 2,500m, Addis Ababa is the third highest capital city in the world. It enjoys a superb climate with an average year-round temperature of 25 degrees.
Day 2: Addis Ababa Timkat Festival.
Today is the start of the magnificent Timkat Festival - the Baptism of Christ, or the Epiphany. Thousands of white-veiled worshippers dance and sing in the streets to the beating of drums. The Arc of the Covenant is paraded in a thronging procession. The procession then moves to a water source where priests in satin robes celebrate a communal service, culminating in the ardent worshippers throwing themselves into the water for a mass baptism. Today the festival reaches its climax as millions throng for a drop of holy water which priests spray into the crowd. The atmosphere all of Ethiopia is joyous and impromptu festivals and parties take place all over Addis Ababa.
Day 3: Addis Ababa - Bahir Dar
Bahir Dar was the capital of Ethiopia in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. This attractive town was, and still is, an important commercial centre. On arrival in Bahir Dar we transfer to our hotel, situated on the shores of Lake Tana, the largest lake in Ethiopia. Here we board a boat to explore the famous island monasteries.
Day 4: Bahir Dar
Today we visit local villages as well as the colourful marketplace, where traditional wares such as baskets, pottery and hand-woven clothes are traded. Tana is also famous for its monasteries, founded in the Middle Ages. This afternoon we visit the Zege Peninsula and the 14th-century monasteries of Ura Kidanemihret, Azewa Mariam and Kibran Gebriel.
Day 5: Bahir Dar - Gondar
After breakfast we begin a leisurely drive north towards the Sudanese border and the fabled highland city of Gondar, popularly known as 'Ethiopia's Camelot'. On arrival the rest of the day is at leisure. Our hotel is spectacularly perched on top of a hill, offering magnificent views of the city and its surrounds. Gondar was the 17th- and 18th-century capital of Ethiopia. Founded by Emperor Fasilidas around 1635, the city is famous for its stunning medieval castles and beautiful churches. Today we explore this amazing complex.
Day 6: Simien Mountains
Today we visit the beautiful Simien Mountains. Canyons, gorges and soaring 4,000m peaks create a startling wilderness. In places the dramatic topography, dominated by basalt lava flows, is reminiscent of the Grand Canyon. We also visit remote villages where the way of life has changed little over the centuries.
Day 7: Gondar - Axum
The oldest and holiest city in Ethiopia, Axum was the country's capital during the reign of the legendary Queen of Sheba in the 10th century BC. The city rose to prominence around the time of Christ and was the capital of the Axumite Kingdom, which dominated the vital crossroads of Africa and Asia for 1,000 years. Today we visit the palace and bath of the Queen of Sheba, the Zion Cathedral - where the original Arc of the Covenant is said to be housed - and Stele Park, where magnificent and mysterious obelisks have stood since the 3rd century.
Day 8: Axum
Today we visit the historic and spectacular Adwa Mountains.
Day 9: Lalibela
A complex and bewildering labyrinth of tunnels connect the churches with narrow passageways, offset crypts, grottoes and galleries. Throughout this mysterious and wonderful settlement priests and deacons go about their timeless work, seemingly unaware they are doing so in what is often referred to as the eighth Wonder of the World. This afternoon we visit the first group of churches, as well as the city itself. We explore the second group of churches including the amazing rock-hewn Bet Gyorgis, the 'House of St George'.
Day 10: Lalilbela - Addis Adaba
Today, you will be transferred to the airport for your flight back home.