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Gondar to Addis Ababa

Overlanding is the only way to see East Africa! Dragoman have been leading the way in African overland expeditions since 1981, so take advantage of our years of experience and come with us as we include all the must-see attractions as well as heading into the wilds, well away from the usual tourist trail. The extraordinary country of Ethiopia has a uniquely fascinating culture and history, and on this overland trip we'll explore the incredible areas of the north of the country. This is overlanding at its finest - a pioneering expedition through rugged country, taking in magnificent sites such as the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela, the beautiful monasteries on Lake Tana, and the phenomenal ruins of the ancient Axumite Kingdom in Axum. We'll visit the Blue Nile Falls and go trekking in the rugged Simien Mountains, home to some unique wildlife such as the Ethiopian wolf and the gelada. The scenery on our drive days through northern Ethiopia is truly some of the most spectacular you'll find in the world! We start our trip in the historic town of Gondar and end in the thriving capital of Addis Ababa - join us for an unforgettable and comprehensive exploration of northern Ethiopia!

  • Duration: 21 Days
  • Guaranteed Departure: Yes
  • For lovers of: Trekking, Hiking, Local Culture & Cuisine, Historical Sites, Parks & Nature Reserves
  • Physical rating: Demanding
  • Accommodation standard:   Budget%
  • Traveller Tour Rating: 80.0%  
  • Your Guide: English speaking
  • Tour code: 157977
  • Starts: Gondar, Ethiopia
  • Finishes: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
You will Visit
  • Gondar
  • Debark
  • Simien Mountains National Park
  • Adi Arkay
  • Axum
  • Mekele
  • Woldiya
  • Lalibela
  • Bahir Dar
  • Dejen
  • Addis Ababa

Itinerary

01

Day 1-2: Gondar

Border Information: if joining in Gondar, you will most likely enter Ethiopia at Gondar Atse Tewodros Airport (IATA code: GDQ).

There will be a group meeting at the joining hotel at 6:00pm. Please look out for a note from your tour leader at the reception when you arrive giving more details about this important meeting. If you are continuing to Kenya or beyond, your leader will need to check the validity dates of your Ethiopian visa.

On the next day, we will have an included half day guided tour of the historical sites of Gondar, including Gondar Castle, the King Fasilades' Baths and the Debre Birhan Selassie church. 

Please note that many of the options listed below will only be possible for those with extra time in Gondar before the start of your trip with us - please contact the Sales team if you would like to book pre-tour accommodation with us to have extra time exploring Gondar.

In Gondar we will stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities.

02

Day 3-5: Simien Mountains National Park

Today marks the start of our 3-day excursion into the Simien Mountains National Park. We will first drive to Debark, where we will have a briefing from our local mountain guide explaining the various trekking options we will have during our excursion, before heading into the National Park.

Estimated Drive Time - 3-5 hours (please note that all drive times given here are the approximate number of hours that the truck will be in motion only, and does not include any time taken for coffee or lunch stops, border crossings, photo stops, activities en route, comfort breaks, shopping stops, toilet stops, etc. The times given are approximate estimates only and whilst given with the best of intentions, the drive times are heavily dependent on traffic, road conditions, weather, police roadblocks, and many other factors - flexibility is essential on any overland trip!).

The area is home to some of Africa's most jaw-dropping mountain scenery and is a great opportunity to enjoy some incredibly beautiful treks and breathtaking views!

The area is also home many indigenous animals, and during our time here we hope to spot Lammargeyer vultures, geladas, Walia ibex, and (if we are very lucky) klipspringers and Ethiopian wolves.

We will spend 3 nights in the incredible Simien Mountains National Park. On each day we aim to provide an option for a long trek (of 5-8 hours), a short trek (2-5 hours) or no trekking.

On our first day, we aim to wild camp at the area of Sankaber. On our second and third days, we aim to wild camp at the area of Chenek (underneath Ras Bwahit, the second-highest mountain in the Simiens, which we hope to get the opportunity to summit).

Please note that we must keep a flexible itinerary in the Simien Mountains, as our options will largely be determined by the weather. 

Please also note that the camping areas in the national park are very basic, and are essentially wild camps with long drop toilets. Please also note that the food and provisions available in Debark and the National Park are very limited, and it is also likely to be very cold at night (often dropping below freezing), so please be prepared!

03

Day 6: Debark

Today is our final day in the Simien Mountains National Park, and we make our way back to Debark for the night.

In Debark we will stay in a basic local hotel.

04

Day 7: Axum

Leaving Debark behind us, we continue our journey with a full day of driving through the foothills of the Simien Mountains to reach the ancient town of Axum in the far north of Ethiopia. The roads here are very tough, but we are rewarded with more truly breathtaking scenery!

In Axum we will stay in a basic hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 8 hours (please note that all drive times given here are approximate estimates only and are given with the best intentions - however please be aware that the drive times are heavily dependent on traffic, road conditions, weather, police roadblocks, and many other factors - flexibility is essential on any overland trip!).

05

Day 8: Axum

Today we will have an included half day guided tour of the incredible historical sites of Axum, the capital of the once-mighty Axumite Empire - included in this tour will be seeing the Stelae Field, the Tomb of King Kaleb, and the Palace of the Queen of Sheba.

We will have a free afternoon to have the time to optionally visit other places such as the Church of St. Mary of Zion, the supposed resting place of the Ark of the Covenant.

06

Day 9: Mekele

Today we will continue through the breathtaking mountain scenery of the Adwa mountains and visit one of the famous rock-hewn churches of Tigray (either the Abraha Atsbeha or Wukro Chirkos church) near to Mekele.

In Mekele we will stay in a decent local hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 7-9 hours.

07

Day 10-11: Danakil Depression

After breakfast meet your 4 x 4 vehicles and drive to Hamed Ella. On the way you will pass through the beautiful Tigre Villages and the escarpment of the Afar depression, this is commonly known as the cradle of mankind is part of the Great East African Rift Valley. Along the way you will see camel caravans going to the traditional salt minin or to the North Eastern highlands of the country, loaded with salt bars in the old traditional way. We will also stop at Brehalle where we will get our permits and scouts for the trip into the Danakil Depression. 

On the second day you we drive to Dallol. Here in Dallol you will visit the beautiful land covered by salt, sulfur and different minerals that gives the area a spectactular colour. We will then continue on to Lake Asale to watch the Afar and Tigre men cut the salt into bars and load up their camels before they head to the highlands of Ethiopia. 

We will wildcamp at Hammed Ella both nights for this excursion. The final day we will then make our way back to Mekele visiting villages along the way. 

 

08

Day 12: Mekele

Today we will finish our time in the beautiful Danakil Depression. We will make our way back to Mekele to stay in a basic hotel overnight. 

09

Day 13-15: Lalibela

Today we will have a full day drive to the town of Lalibela. 

Estimated Drive Time - 9 - 10 hours.

On our first day in Lalibela, we will have an included full-day guided tour of its world-famous 13th-century rock churches. Our guide will be able to explain the fascinating history of Lalibela and its churches, and there will be plenty of time to explore, absorb the haunting atmosphere inside the churches, and take plenty of photographs of the incredible architecture and the religious rituals within.

On our second day, we will have a free day for further exploration or optional activities. We will have opportunity to hike up the nearby mountains to the Asheten Monastery, visit the Yemrehana Kristos cave church outside the town, or freely explore the Lalibela churches again at your own pace.

10

Day 16-18: Bahir Dar

Today we will drive to Bahir Dar, a small town on Lake Tana, the source of the mighty Blue Nile.

Estimated Drive Time - 8-9 hours.

On our first day in Bahir Dar, we will have an included boat trip on Lake Tana to visit the famous old monastery of Gabriel Ure Kideth and to visit the spot where the lake outflows into the start of the Blue Nile. 

On our second full day, we will head off in the truck to visit the Blue Nile Falls and take a short walk around the area to the historic Portuguese Bridge. We will have some free time in the afternoon to visit some other spots around Bahir Dar such as the 'Hippo bridge' and the Tigray war memorial.

In Bahir Dar we will stay in decent local hotel.

11

Day 19: Debre Markos

Today we will continue our journey south towards Addis Ababa. We will break the journey with a nightstop in a basic local hotel in the small town of Debre Markos en route.

Estimated Drive Time - 4-6 hours.

12

Day 20: Addis Ababa

Today we will complete our journey to the bustling Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa. En route we will drive to the bottom of the dramatic Blue Nile Gorge and up the other side!

In Addis Ababa we will stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities.

Estimated Drive Time - 7-9 hours.

 

13

Day 21: Addis Ababa

Border Information: If finishing in Addis Ababa, you will most likely exit Ethiopia at Addis Ababa Bole International Airport (IATA code: ADD).

Today is the end day for passengers finishing their trip in Addis Ababa. Please note there is no accommodation included on the trip tonight - please contact the Dragoman Sales team if you are interested in booking extra nights of accommodation in order to fully explore and take part in some of the optional activities listed below.

Inclusions:
    Activities
    • Learn all about medieval Ethiopia on a half-day guided tour of the castles, churches and baths of Gondar
    • Head out on 3 days of guided treks in the phenomenal scenery of the Simien Mountains National Park
    • Take a guided tour of the ancient 4th-century tombs and palaces of the Axumite Kingdom in Axum
    • Journey out on an incredible 3 day/2 night excursion to the Danakil Depression. 
    • Take a full guided tour of the 12th-century rock-hewn churches and monasteries at Lalibela
    • Head out on a boat trip on Lake Tana to visit the ancient Coptic churches and monasteries nearby
    • Explore the stunning Blue Nile Falls just downstream of Bahir Dar
    Tour Staff
    • 2 crew, local guides as necessary
    Accomodation
    • 20% Camping - 80% Hotels
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Tour Highlights:
  • Adventure Activities
  • Hiking & Trekking
  • History & Culture
  • Nature & Wildlife


Reviews (10)
Jens j Posted on: 

Both of the crew did way more work than you could expect from a tour leader.

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Robert W Posted on: 

Our local guides were all very good throughout the trip. They were knowledgeable and able to tell us about the sites and history of the area. Their English was always acceptable.

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Danuta O Posted on: 

Both Anja and Domingo were very good leaders. The roads in Ethiopia are not the easiest but they were very good drivers. Organization of camps was very good and they both were very helpful with all aspects of the trip.

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Thomas B Posted on: 

Both drivers did an outstanding job - Juergen is a very good driver.

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Alastair K Posted on: 

Great for backpackers but a bit of challenge for retirees.

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Marieta M Posted on: 

The team did a very good job… thank you!

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Margaret W Posted on: 

Tom and Michaela were among the best tour leaders I have ever had. Michaela was patient with some of the more difficult members of the group, and Tom was an excellent and careful driver in some very scary driving conditions. Both took great care to maintain the truck properly. They were enthusiastic and interested in the areas we visited. I would travel with both or either of them again.

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Jeffrey T Posted on: 

The team did an excellent job.

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Lloyd M Posted on: 

The vehicle was regularly inspected and, although there were issues, Domingo dealt with them efficiently.

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Kathy S Posted on: 

Both Mic and Tom were amazing and made the trip extra special/enjoyable.

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