THE MAGIC AND MYSTERIES TOUR OF ETHIOPIA

Duration: September 14-27/30, 2020

Location: Ethiopia

following the ‘Historic Route’, incorporating the Meskel celebrations,
and with an optional extension to Lake Langano and Bishangari
September 14-27/30, 2020
View from the top of Entoto Natural Park

A tour organised and operated by Ethiopian Quadrants in support of the Ethiopian Heritage Trust, offered to Trust members, relatives, friends and others interested in touring a unique landscape and country.
Please see https://www.ethiopianquadrants.com.

Ethiopian Quadrants will donate £150 per participant towards the work of the Trust in Ethiopia for this comparatively inexpensive tour.
Please see www.ethiopianheritagetrustuk.org for details of the Trust.

Tour Summary
Day 1 (Sept 14): Depart London Heathrow in the evening on Ethiopian Airlines.
Day 2 (Sept 15): Arrive Addis Ababa city about 0700, transfer to your hotel, afternoon city tour, Mount Entoto. o/n Jupiter Hotel (Bole).
Day 3 (Sept 16): Morning visit to the Ethiopian Heritage Trust Office and Ethnographic Museum. Afternoon National Museum. Evening talk, details TBA. o/n Jupiter Hotel (Bole).
Day 4 (Sept 17): Fly to Axum. Tour the sites in town. o/n Sabean Hotel.
Day 5 (Sept 18): Excursion to 7th c. BC temple at Yeha, more of Axum. o/n Sabean Hotel.
Day 6 (Sept 19): Fly to Lalibela. Tour the rock hewn churches in town. o/n Mezena Lodge.
Day 7 (Sept 20): Excursions to outlying churches. o/n Mezena Lodge.
Day 8 (Sept 21): Fly to Gondar. From the airport leave for Simien Mountains National Park. o/n Simien Lodge or Limalimo Lodge.
Day 9 (Sept 22): Full day in the Simien Mountains National Park. o/n Simien Lodge or Limalimo Lodge.
Day 10 (Sept 23): Drive to Gondar. Tour the castles and churches. o/n Goha Hotel.
Day 11 (Sept 24): Visit Debre Berhan Selassie church then drive to Bahir Dar, visiting the Blue Nile Falls en route. o/n Kuriftu Resort
Day 12 (Sept 25): Morning boat trip on Lake Tana to mediaeval churches, picnic lunch on boat. Early evening flight back to Addis Ababa. o/n Jupiter Hotel (Bole).
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Day 13 (Sept 26): (Eve of Ethiopian Meskel [Finding of the True Cross] Celebration) Personal time and, in the afternoon and early evening, experience Meskel, farewell dinner. o/n Jupiter Hotel (Bole).
Day 14 (Sept 27): Breakfast, then drive to airport for morning departure on Ethiopian Airlines. Arrive in London Heathrow late afternoon.

The actual price is quoted in US dollars, with sterling price at the current
USD-GBP exchange rate for comparison.

The individual price is reduced with 15 participants.
All monies to be paid directly to Ethiopian Quadrants.

1) US$ 3,880 (ca. £ 3,104) per person for 15 participants

(Single room supplement of US$ 720 (ca. £593) per person)

2) US$ 4,355 (ca. £ 3,484) per person for 10 participants
(Single room supplement of US$ 720 (ca. £593) per person)

The cost includes:

-International London-Addis Ababa flight on Ethiopian Airlines and all domestic flights (embedded into this cost is the substantial discount on domestic flights enjoyed by visitors arriving and departing on Ethiopian Airlines)
-Accommodation at the hotels specified, based on double/twin bedrooms (single supplement is additional)
-All meals (alcoholic drinks excluded)
-Entrance, national guide and scout fees
-Transport by a 22-seat coaster bus
-Boat trip fee on Lake Tana
-Local taxes and VAT
-Free guiding and lectures by Dr. Jacke Phillips (EHT Trustee), who has waived her fee

Optional extension (price dependant on the number of participants):

Day 14 (Sept 27): (Meskel Festival – Ethiopian National Holiday) Drive to Lake Langano and Bishangari Eco-Lodge. o/n Bishangari.
Day 15 (Sept 28): Full day at Bishangari, swimming and/or forest walks. o/n Bishangari.
Day 16 (Sept 29): Drive back to Addis Ababa, day rooms, personal shopping and packing, farewell dinner, depart for airport about 2230 for departure to the UK.
Day 17 (Sep. 30): Arrive in London Heathrow about 0700 in the morning.

Contact and book:
TONY HICKEY (tour operator)
ethiopianquadrants@gmail.com +251 11 51 57 990
Jacke Phillips (EHT UK)
jsphillips1428@gmail.com
+44 (0)1223 571 976
Michael Sargent (EHT UK)
khubdoost@hotmail.com
+44 (0)208 852 5522

Please see Ethiopian Quadrants’ website (https://www.ethiopianquadrants.com) for their terms and conditions. Ethiopian Heritage Trust accepts no liability for this tour.

3. Detailed itinerary

Day 1 (Sept 14): Depart London Heathrow in the evening on Ethiopian Airlines
Day 2 (Sept 15): Arrive Addis Ababa about 0700 and transfer to the Jupiter Hotel (Bole). Rest up until lunch time, after which we begin the city tour.
We first drive north up to Mount Entoto, where the Emperor Menelik II made his permanent camp in 1881. He saw the discovery of the remains of an old town (believed to have been the capital of 16th c. monarch Lebna Dengel) as a divine and auspicious sign. Entoto is several hundred meters higher than Addis, so we will feel an appreciable drop in temperature as we drive up the hill, and the air is filled with the scent of the eucalyptus trees lining the road. A Ethiopian Heritage Trust guide will give a brief introduction to Entoto Park, which is a major focus of Trust activity.
From the top there is a panoramic view of the capital and surrounding countryside. Entoto is an important watershed; to the north, water flows to the Blue Nile and on to the Mediterranean, to the south to the Awash River and east to Djibouti. Your guide will point out the important landmarks of the city.
Cold, difficult to provision and with a shortage of wood, Entoto was soon abandoned as a site for the capital. Empress Taytu is said to have led the move down to the plain of Finfine in 1889, and named the new capital Addis Ababa (‘New Flower’). Two important structures remain within the old imperial compound on Entoto, the church of Maryam and the Elfign palace. It was in the church of Maryam that Menelik was crowned Emperor of Ethiopia in 1889, and in the small museum in the compound there are various clothes, court and household implements and weapons dating from the period. Elfign is Menelik’s first palace, before he and Taitu moved to the plain, and Menelik liked to stroll around its first storey balustrade.
Return to our hotel for dinner. o/n Jupiter Hotel

Day 3 (Sept 16): This morning we will visit the Trust office in the restored early 1920s house of Ras Kebede Mengesha. We will also visit the Ethnographic Museum at the Institute of Ethiopian Studies, where we can see the ethnographic variety of the different regions of Ethiopia.
Lunch in the ‘Lucy Restaurant’ in the National Archaeological Museum grounds, where we can meet the Trust staff, and then the Museum itself. Its exhibits range from the 3.5 million-year-old bones of Lucy, through the Aksumite and Gondarene periods to the 19th c. monarchs Tewodros and Menelik II.
Before dinner, we will have a talk at our hotel by a prominent Ethiopian environmentalist or historian, details to be confirmed. This will be followed by dinner in the iconic Castelli restaurant in the Piassa area. o/n Jupiter Hotel.

Day 4 (Sept 17): Early transfer to the airport (we should leave the hotel at about 0530) for the flight to Axum.
From around 200 BC to 700 AD, Aksum was the seat of an empire that extended across the Red Sea to Arabia, traded with Rome, India and China, minted its own coinage, had its own alphabet and notational system, constructed great engineering works, and was reckoned by the 3rd c. Persian religious leader Mani to be one of the four great powers of the ancient world, alongside Persia, China and Rome. Today the visitor can see numerous stelae (including the largest single piece of stone humans have attempted to erect), major tombs and ‘palaces’, the Axum Museum and Mariam Tsion church, built on the site of Ethiopia’s first church. A chapel within the church compound is believed by Ethiopian Orthodox Christians to house the ‘Ark of the Covenant’, the original tablets of Moses on which are inscribed the Ten Commandments.
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On arrival we check into the Sabean Hotel, located on the main road through town. After check in and a break for refreshments, we begin our tour with a visit to the tombs and stelae in ‘Stelae Park” and then the recently constructed museum behind it.
We break here for lunch before continuing our tour, passing the Mai Shum (or the bath of the Queen of Sheba) to the double-tomb of Kings Kaleb and Gebre Meskal and, coming back, visiting ruins along the roadside and the “King Ezana Stela” that recounts his exploits in three languages, unvocalised (Saba’an) and vocalised Ge’ez, and Greek.
We then proceed to the grounds of Maryam Tsion Cathedral. Unfortunately, women are not allowed to enter the 17th c. cathedral, which was built by Emperor Fasilides. Within the grounds we will visit the small museum and the 15 stone ‘thrones’.
We will take our afternoon coffee break on the terrace of the Yeha Hotel, which provides an incomparable view of the stelae and Maryam Tsion Cathedral. Our last visit is to the Dungur ‘palace’, sometimes called the “Queen of Sheba’s Palace”, although it is in fact of much later 6th c. AD date. o/n Sabean Hotel.

Day 5 (Sept 18): After breakfast, we set off on the 55 km trip to Yeha, Ethiopia’s oldest continuously inhabited settlement that dates back over 2800 years. The well-preserved 7th c. BC ‘Great Temple’ dedicated to the moon god Ilmuqeh, is the earliest ashlar stone building in sub-Saharan Africa. The imposing early 8th-late 6th c. BC Grat Ba’al Gebre, probably an administrative centre, is an estimated 46 x 46m in size. The church, founded by one of the “9 Saints” who did much to spread Christianity in Ethiopia, Abune Aftse, is a post-war incarnation, but incorporates ancient relief sculpture. We could have a picnic lunch at the small community-run café at Yeha.
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Some 5 km from Axum on the road east we come to the top of a hill and are confronted with the dramatic mountain backdrop of the “teeth of Adua” – the striking scenery of the King Menelik II’s ‘Great African Victory’, defeating the invading Italian forces in 1896. We can probably take better photos later in the day on our return, with the sun behind us.
We return to Axum then visit any sites we may have missed the day before. o/n Sabean Hotel.

Day 6 (Sept 19): Transfer to the airport for the 40-minute flight to Lalibela, where we will check into the Mezena Lodge and can start our tour of the many churches carved – excavated – into living rock.
According to tradition, the 12th c. King Lalibela of the Zagwe dynasty created these churches with the help of angels – the ‘New Jerusalem’ as he called it. Archaeology suggests they were created over some five centuries. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is rightly acknowledged to be one of the wonders of the world. There are now 12 churches, divided into two groups, the division being the River Yordanos or River Jordan, with one church (St. Giorgis) separated from the others. All remain living churches today, and are closed to visitors 1200-1400. We will visit as many churches as possible.
Alternative activities can be arranged in Lalibela, as part of initiatives undertaken by Ethiopian Quadrants, local hoteliers and the Guides’ Association; these would need to be arranged in advance of your visit. We can arrange visits to a typical farm. The guide can explain issues relating to farm work and the daily life of people engaged in agriculture. The fee for visiting goes to the farmer and his family. We can also arrange cookery classes in Ethiopian cuisine.
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In the evening, musicians and singers play (without amplifiers or microphones) the vibrant traditional music houses in Lalibela. You can sample the potent honey wine (tej) and are encouraged to join in with the dancing! o/n Mezena Lodge
Day 7 (Sept 20): After breakfast we set off on mule or on foot to the church of Ashetun Maryam, about 4 hours’ round trip. We pass small villages on the way up and there are wonderful views of the surrounding countryside from the top of the mountain where the church is located. Those of our visitors who do not feel up to a hike or mule ride can go a shorter distance by car to the cave church of Na’akweto La’ab.
We will have lunch in the architecturally-unique Ben Ababa restaurant, then set off by car to the 11th-12th c. cave church of Yemrehane Krestos, built by the king of the same name before the reign of Lalibela. The church is constructed inside a cave, in Aksumite style, similar to the 6th c. monastery at Debre Damo in Tigray, with alternating courses of wood and stone. A 40 km trip from Lalibela followed by a 10 minute hike brings you to this beautiful church, the finest example of its kind in Ethiopia. o/n Mezena Lodge.

Day 8 (Sept 21): Transfer to the airport for the flight to Gondar. On arrival we leave from the airport to the Simien Mountains National Park, a 100 km drive on a good asphalt road. In Debark we pay the park entrance fees and pick up the game scout.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1969, the Simien Mountains National Park presents perhaps the most dramatic scenery in Africa – great volcanic plugs, formed some 40 million years ago and eroded over the aeons into fantastic crags, pinnacles and flat-topped mountains. ‘The chess pieces of the Gods’, as one writer described them, all tower over precipitous gorges, river valleys and plains stretching all the way to Eritrea. Many peaks are over 4000 metres, and Ras Dashen at 4620 metres is the highest in the country and the fourth highest in Africa.
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In the Simiens visitors can see the endemic gelada or bleeding-heart baboon, the Walia ibex, the Simien wolf (the rarest canid in the world) and rock hyrax, and endemic birds such as the thick-billed raven, black-headed siskin, white-collared pigeon, wattled Ibis, white-billed starling, spot -reasted plover and white-backed black tit. Cruising lammergeyers are often seen.
The park is also famous for its Afro-Alpine flora, meadows and grasslands punctuated by giant lobelia and flowering red-hot pokers.
Our destination today is the comfortable Simien Lodge, where we will arrive in time for lunch. The floors are heated by solar power, and there is a good bar and restaurant. At 3600 metres, it is the highest hotel – and, as their sign says, bar – in Africa.
This afternoon we will head a little deeper into the park, up to and a little past Sankaber camp, for marvelous views and plenty of geladas. Those who feel up to it can walk, otherwise we can simply enjoy the views. o/n Simien Lodge or Limalimo Lodge.
Day 9 (Sept 22): A full day in the Simiens. We will head towards Buhait with a picnic lunch – it has become increasingly easy to spot the elusive, endemic Walia Ibex, and we are more or less guaranteed a sighting. o/n Simien Lodge or Limalimo Lodge.

Day 10 (Sept 23): After breakfast we head back to Gondar. Stop at Wolleka (the ‘Falasha village’) to visit the Womens’ Co-operative where they make and sell Falasha-type ceramics, basketry and textiles. On arrival, we check into the Goha Hotel, and start our city tour after lunch. The Goha Hotel is situated on a hill with a panoramic view of the town and its monuments, and with great sunsets from the terrace. Occasionally visitors will see the giant lammergeyer, with its 3 metre wing span, soaring on the air currents by the hotel.
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Gondar was the imperial capital from the 17th to mid 19th centuries, and the Royal Enclosure (Fasil Gibbi) provides visitors with an idea of what it must have been like in its heyday. Ferrer and Galinier (1847) called Gondar “the Paris of Abyssinia.” Within the compound are the castles of various Gondarene emperors – extensive renovation has been and is still being carried out – along with a banqueting hall, stables and churches. About 2 km from the town centre is the ‘Bath’ of King Fasilides where, at Timkat (Ethiopian Epiphany), the nearby Yordanos (Jordan) river is diverted to fill an area the size of a small swimming pool. Worshippers plunge into the cold water in a re-enactment of the baptism of Christ in the River Jordan.
A good place to end your tour of Gondar is the ruined palace of Queen Mentowab, and the church of Qusquam Maryam, situated on a hill just outside town.
Gondar is a great place for experiencing the Ethiopian tradition of azmari music, where a couple of wandering minstrels, a girl with a strident voice clapping in time to the music accompanied by a man playing a single stringed violin or masinqo, entertain their listeners with songs about life, the world and their audience. Azmari music is a moveable scene, so we will establish the best place nearer the date. o/n Goha Hotel.

Day 11 (Sept 24): Although most of Gondar’s churches were destroyed during the Mahdist invasion from Sudan in the 1880s, one very fine example, Debre Berhan Selassie, was saved, according to legend, by a swarm of bees. The walls and ceiling are completely covered with murals – the angels’ faces on the ceiling have become a common motif in Ethiopian design. We will visit the church before departing Gondar. We set off to Bahir Dar by road, a distance of 160 km on a good asphalt road. There is attractive scenery en route, as the road skirts around Lake Tana, passing through rural villages.
Before reaching Bahir Dar, we will make a detour to visit the Blue Nile (or Tis Issat) Falls. Here the Blue Nile, which contributes 85% of the main Nile flow, begins its long journey
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to the Mediterranean. However, other than during the rainy season, the Falls will be less striking than pictured.
Bahir Dar is an attractive town, well laid out with tree lined avenues and with the blue of the lake in the background.
On arrival we check into the Kuriftu Lodge and Spa, situated on the shores of Lake Tana. Some 68 km wide and 73 km long, Tana is Ethiopia’s largest lake and is dotted with islands, on many of which are found churches and monasteries. The rest of the day is at leisure, we can go for a walk along the lake shore, or simply watch the tankwa, the reed boats as they cross the lake. Dinner in hotel. o/n Kuriftu Resort.

Day 12 (Sept 25): After breakfast we leave by boat for the Zegwe Peninsula, which is known for its 14th c. grass-roofed circular churches and their magnificent interior wall murals. We visit one of two churches, Beta Maryam and Ura Kidane Mehret, walking through dense forest with lots of bird life, before returning by boat to our hotel for lunch. We will then have a picnic lunch on the boat, as we tour around elsewhere on the lake and visit Narga Sellassie on Daq Island.
We will fly back to Addis Ababa in the early evening. o/n Jupiter Hotel-Bole.
Day 13 (Sept 26): Eve of Ethiopian Meskel (Finding of the True Cross) Celebration. A morning and early afternoon of recovering, relaxing, packing and any personal souvenir shopping and touring, before leaving for the Meskel celebrations.
Meskel celebrates the finding of the “True Cross” by the 4th c. Byzantine Empress Eleni; she lit a fire, and the smoke led her to where the cross had been buried. A bonfire, called Demera, is integral to the ceremonies, and the direction in which it falls is supposed to indicate what lies in the year ahead. Meskel has its roots in pre-
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Christian traditions, to mark the end of the rainy season. One attraction is the processions of young men and women, who enter the square chanting and drumming. We should be in place in Meskel Square by 1500, as it gets crowded very soon after that.
Afterwards, we have a farewell dinner at Yod Abyssinia (or another cultural restaurant), then drive back to our hotel. o/n Jupiter Hotel (Bole)
Day 14 (Sept 27): Breakfast in the hotel, then drive to airport for morning departure on Ethiopian Airlines. Arrive in London Heathrow late afternoon.

Optional Extension: Langano and Bishangari Lakes

Day 14 (Sept 27): Those who have opted for the extension will instead head south down the Rift Valley to Lake Langano and Bishangari. The first part of our journey will be on the expressway and, some 70 km south of Addis Ababa, we exit at Mojo and continue south, passing by the lakes of Koka and Zwai. If there are birders in the party, we will stop at Lake Zwai and head down to the lake shore where huge numbers of water birds are congregated. African pygmy geese, yellow-billed storks, collared pratincoles, lesser and greater jacanas, African jacanas, white pelicans, fish eagles, crowned and common cranes are amongst the species to be seen here in impressive numbers. We could also take lunch here.
At the southern end of Lake Langano we turn east, and round the end of the lake before heading north along the eastern shores. The ecosystem along the eastern shores is more interesting and varied than the western, with a well-preserved patch of tropical forest, and more birds and wild life including colobus and vervet monkeys, anubis baboon, and warthogs.
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Lake Langano is bilharzia- and crocodile-free. Visitors can swim, walk or go bird watching in the forests along the lakeshore. o/n Bishangari Eco-Lodge.
Day 15 (Sept 28): Full day at Bishangari.
Today we can go for a forest walk. Among the birds we can see are: dark chanting goshawks, African fish eagles, Hemprich’s and Von der Decken’s hornbills, cardinal woodpeckers, white-bellied go-away birds, red-billed and white-headed buffalo weavers, white-crowned shrikes, blue-naped mousebirds, little bee-eaters and mariqua sunbirds.
As for mammals, we hope to see colobus monkey, Anubis baboon, common warthogs, bush duiker, common red-back and spotted hyenas, white-tailed mongoose and bush babies. o/n Bishangari
Day 16 (Sept 29): After breakfast we return to Addis Ababa, where we will have day rooms for showering, changing clothes, packing, etc. at the Jupiter Hotel (Bole). We can do some souvenir shopping, and will have a farewell dinner at Yod Abyssinia (or another cultural restaurant), and see dancing from different regions of the country. At about 2200 we leave for the airport, for departure around 0200 for the UK.
Day 17 (Sep. 30): Arrive in London Heathrow about 0700 in the morning.

The actual price of this extension is quoted in US dollars, with sterling
price at the current USD-GBP exchange rate for comparison. The
individual price is reduced with 15 participants.

All monies to be paid directly to Ethiopian Quadrants.

1) US$ 637 (ca. £ 526) per person for 10 participants
2) US$ 689 (ca. £ 570) per person for 8 participants
3) US$ 710 (ca. £ 589) per person for 5 participants
(Single room supplement of US$ 115 (ca. £ 95) per person)

The cost includes:
-Accommodation at the hotels specified, based on double/twin bedrooms (single supplement is additional), with full board
-Entrance, national guide and scout fees
-Transport by 4WD vehicles (3 people per vehicle)
-Local taxes and VAT