Historic North and Luxury Lodges

Experience the flagship northern trail in style as you traverse the northern highlands, visiting the historic and cultural monuments, the stunning views, and breaking up your journey at luxury lodges set amongst incredible backdrops.

12 Days

$3,625

Historic North and Luxury Lodges - 12 - $3,625

Trip Summary and Itinerary Map

Introduction:

Our Historic North Circuit and Luxury Lodges trip builds off of the classic Historic North Circuit, but makes a few key changes: 

  1. The camping in the Simien Mountains is replaced by 2 nights at Limalimo Lodge
  2. You spend 2 nights in Lalibela, instead of a single night. 
  3. You spend 2 nights in Tigray, instead of a single night (and you stay at Korkor Lodge instead of Gheralta Lodge). 
  4. Accommodation is best available in each region. In Addis, you stay at the Capital Hotel & Spa, not the best available in Addis, but one of the best value for money top end hotels in the capital. 

Trip Highlights

  • You start your adventure in the bustling capital city of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa. Most international flights arrive in the morning at Addis, so we'll collect you from the airport and take you to your hotel where you can relax and freshen up after your flight. In the afternoon you can take your first steps into the city and explore some of the sites of Addis, before heading to one of the capitals wonderful cultural restaurants
  • From Addis you head to Bahir Dar, a charming lakeside town that's great for some light adventuring. You can take a boat trip out onto Lake Tana and the visit the Blue Nile Falls
  • Next, head to Lalibela, one of Ethiopia's most famous destinations home to the incredible rock-hewn churches and the fantastic Ben Abeba restaurant.
  • You then head to Gonder, an ancient capital city of Ethiopia and home to the crumbling castle ruins of ancient kings and queens - Gonder is known as the Camelot of Africa
  • From Gondar, the road leads up into the spectacular beauty of the Simien Mountains National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a place of almost unimaginable beauty. You base yourself at the stunning Limalimo Lodge overlooking the beautiful Simien range. Limalimo is one of the best properties in Ethiopia, combining incredible views with beautiful design and unmatched service. The perfect spot for sundowners by the roaring fire after a days exploring!
  • After the Simiens, take a drive down the switchbacks to Axum, the original capital city of Ethiopia. Axum was once a hugely influential city back in the days of the Axumite empire. It's glory days are long gone, but the relics that remain from that time are fascinating and its one of the most culturally significant regions of Ethiopia. The drive passes through incredible scenery. 
  • Your trip ends with a bang as explore the rock churches and landscapes of Tigray.  You will base yourself at Korkor Lodge, a beautiful boutique lodge, wonderfully designed with the backdrop of the Gheralta Mountains providing a great view from your veranda. The rock churches in Tigray are built into the cliffs, with some even requiring some short rock climbing (all safe and supported by your guides) to access - the views from the top are amazing.

Start from Addis Ababa and end at Addis Ababa

Landmarks visited on Historic North and Luxury Lodges

Itinerary

Day 1: Evening arrival in Addis

Upon arrival at Bole International Airport, your driver will meet you outside the airport terminal and transfer you to your hotel. Activities depend on international flight arrival time.


Accommodation: Capital Hotel & Spa

Accommodation Upgrade Options: Sheraton Hotel

Meals: None


Day 2: Addis Ababa

Spend the day exploring the bustling capital city of Addis Ababa. Visit the key sites of your choice, and enjoy dinner at one of the capital's fantastic cultural restaurants. 


Accommodation: Capital Hotel & Spa

Accommodation Upgrade Options: Sheraton Hotel

Meals: Breakfast


Day 3: Bahir Dar

After breakfast, transfer to the airport to catch a domestic flight to Bahir Dar. 

Take a boat trip out on Lake Tana. The lake is famous for its monasteries that are scattered around the lakes' many islands. Head to the forested Zege peninsular. Walk for around 15 minutes to the the famous Ura Kidane Mihret church. The paintings in the church are centuries old, and there is a nearby museum housing ancient treasures. You can enjoy a local coffee here, and you may be lucky enough to see the velvey monkeys and papyrus canoes being made. 

Head back out on the Lake Tana and return to Bahir Dar via the Nile river outflow. You will see lots of pelicans, and maybe even a hippo or two!

In the afternoon, explore the Blue Nile Falls. The falls are known locally as 'Tis Abay', meaning 'Smoking Water'. 


Accommodation: Kuriftu Resort & Spa

Accommodation Upgrade Options: N/A

Meals: Breakfast


Day 4: Lalibela

Hit the road for a scenic drive across the lowlands besides Lake Tana, up into the mountains passing volcanic plugs, forests, and the highlands around Mount Guna. Sections of the road have great views to the north and south, particularly while crossing the road bridge between Wollo and Gondar provinces. There will be plenty of opportunities to stretch your legs and take photos of the stunning backdrops. 

Head north at Gashena, drop down from the highlands before climbing back up to Lalibela, one of Ethiopia's most culturally significant towns. Spend the afternoon exploring this magical town and the rock-hewn churches for which it's famous. 

In the evening, we recommend dinner at the incredible Ben Abeba restaurant - dinner with a view!


Accommodation: Mezena Lodge or Maribela Hotel

Accommodation Upgrade Options: N/A

Meals: Breakfast


Day 5: Lalibela

After breakfast, explore the remaining clusters of rock-hewn churches. You can spend the afternoon at leisure, or take a short trip out into the highlands around Lalibela to visit some of the ancient monasteries found in the mountains, including Yimrehane Kristos, Bilbala, Asheton Maryam, and the Nakuta La’ab monastery. 


Accommodation: Mezena Lodge or Maribela Hotel

Accommodation Upgrade Options: N/A

Meals: Breakfast


Day 6: Gondar

A midday flight takes you to Gondar, an ancient capital of Ethiopia and home to crumbling castle ruins of ancient kings and queens gone by. Explore the city, starting with a visit to the Debre Berhan Selassie Church; the churches heavy and unassuming stone facade hides the colourful frescoes inside. Look above to find a ceiling of angels looking down on you - this centuries old church it was of the only churches in Gondar to survive destruction during Gondar's turbulent history. 

Next, head to the Royal Enclosure, orignally built in 1636, these castles were the original home of Emperor Fasilides. His successors expanded the compound, and now you find the remnants of palaces, libraries, lion cages, dining halls, and a women's vocational school built by Mentewab, the Empress of Ethiopia. 

As you explore the these ancient structures, you will notice multiple architectural styles jostling for position, including Indian, Portugese, Moorish and Axumite. It's a testatment to the age and history of this place. 

Spend the night at Goha Hotel, one of the best accommodation options in Gondar with beautiful views overlooking the city. 


Accommodation: Goha Hotel or Gondar Hills resort

Accommodation Upgrade Options: N/A

Meals: Breakfast


Day 7: Simien Mountains National Park

Today we head up into the staggering Simien Mountains, known as the 'Roof of Africa', and for good reason. Drive along good asphalt roads for ~2 hours, stopping off at the best viewpoints along the way, before arriving in the Simiens. 

Check in at Limalimo Lodge, one of Ethiopia’s finest retreats. The lodge boasts floor-to-ceiling windows and a terrace complete with sunbeds offering remarkable views over the Simien range. The views, aesthetic and service make this lodge the perfect place to relax after a day's adventuring in the mountains. 

This afternoon, enjoy some self-treks around the lodge for an introduction into the beauty of the Simien Mountains. Explore around the lodge via some of the parks self-treks that give you an introduction to the beauty of the Simien range. Head back to the lodge for dinner by the roaring fire. 


Accommodation: Limalimo Lodge

Accommodation Upgrade Options: N/A

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner


Day 8: Simien Mountains National Park

A full day exploring the Simiens. There are plenty of different trekking options to choose from depending on your interests and fitness. You can drive into the park to Buit Ras and enjoy a 3-4 hour hike in the area. You are all but guaranteed to see Gelada monkeys. Head to Sankaber and walk around the escarpment before heading to the Jinbar Falls, an amazing 500m waterfall that plummets into the Geech Abyss.

Brilliant says: Specific trekking routes can be discussed with your guide on the day. Examples include Buit Ras to Jinbar Falls hike, Chennek Walk, Bwahit Climb, Imet Gogo, or even Ras Dashen!


Accommodation: Limalimo Lodge

Accommodation Upgrade Options: N/A

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner


Day 9: Axum

Leave the mountains behind and drive down the switchbacks to Axum. It’s a relatively long drive (6 hours or so), but passes through stunning scenery. There will be plenty of stops along the way to stretch your legs and soak in the views!

Explore the city of Axum. Visit the archaeological sites, the massive obelisks, the tombs that employed massive stone architecture and the obelisk field to the west of the town. Also see the compound of Tsion Mariam, the remains of the ancient church and old Sabean stones that are scattered in the compound. The chapel of the Ark of the Covenant is here along with the modern and Gonderine churches


Accommodation: Sabean Hotel

Accommodation Upgrade Options: N/A. Accommodation in Axum of lower quality than elsewhere in the north.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner


Day 10: Hawzien

You trip ends with a bang. Two nights at the stunning Korkor Lodge in Tigray.

After lunch at the lodge, explore some of the rock-churches in the region. The rock churches of Tigray are astounding not just for their history, rock carvings and paintings, but also for their representation of the religious commitment of the local people. Built high into the cliff face, some of these churches are only accessible through climbing the vertical cliff, and yet they’re still used by local Ethiopians of all ages. The views from inside the churches is extraordinary. The view as the sunsets behind the mountains and the sky illuminates in dark reds, yellows and oranges is the perfect end to your adventure.


Accommodation: Korkor Lodge

Accommodation Upgrade Options: N/A. 

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner


Day 11: Hawzien

Another full day exploring the beautiful landscapes and churches around Korkor Lodge, or simply relaxing and enjoying the view from your veranda. 


Accommodation: Korkor Lodge

Accommodation Upgrade Options: N/A. 

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner


Day 12: Return to Addis

As your adventure in Ethiopia comes to a close, transfer to the airport and to catch a domestic flight back to Addis. Relax in the city or do some last minute shopping and sightseeing. Transfer to the airport to catch your international flight home.

Brilliant says: it is easy to adjust the start/end of your adventure to line up with your international flights. 

Prices, Departures and Inclusions

Prices are per person based on 2 people travelling together. Prices guideline only, actual price swill depend on final itinerary, accommodation choices, and time of year. 

Includes

  • Domestic flights based on discounted Ethiopian Airlines rates enjoyed when travellers fly internationally with Ethiopian Airlines.
  • All ground transport via private minibus or 4WD.
  • All accommodation as indicated in the itinerary.
  • Meal plan bed and breakfast. Full board at Limalimo Lodge and Korkor Lodge.
  • Fees for entrances, local guides and compulsory scouts for activities mentioned in the itinerary, unless listed as excluded.
  • All government taxes for the services included in the tour price.

Excludes

  • Any meals not mentioned as included.
  • International flights and visa fees.
  • Other personal expenses, souvenirs, tips and gratuities, etc.
  • Any activities not mentioned as included.
  • Church entrance fee in Tigray. 

Questions about this Trip?