North Ethiopia Tour

Round trip minerals, volcanoes, culture & people

A farmer is selling amethyst geodes at Axum
A farmer is selling amethyst geodes at Axum

 

Ethiopia is a very colourful country even in the smallest details. From Ethiopia there are the most beautiful opals in the world. Because of volcanism and other magmatic or tectonic processes there are many rare minerals and gems to be discovered in this country. Every minerals you may discover there are valuable. There is even gold or platinum and many areas are still not researched.
Also in Ethiopian art the minerals (like azurite, malachite or galena) are used for painting churches or faces. On this tour we travel first to the northern parts of Ethiopia. On our trip we will get into highlands of 3000 m altitudes with impressing landscapes and beautiful villages. In the flood-basalts of huge volcanic eruptions there are zeolithes, amethyst or other minerals to be found. One of our highlights is the hike to an opal mining area or the visit of the famous Lalibela rock hewn churches. At the waterfalls of the „blue Nile“ we have great opportunities to take landscape photographs. In the high mountains of Simien we will watch the „Gelada“ monkeys and at Axum you will visit the ancient columns and discover the quarries with the „Lion of Axum“. If we are lucky, we will find the lava flows containing geodes with quartz and amethyst. Even the main theme of the tour is „minerals“, it does not mean that you have to be a specialist or mineral collector. There are so many aspects that everybody benefits.

Day 1: Arrival at Addis Ababa airport

Flight over Ethiopia
Flight over Ethiopia
Before the landing at Addis Ababa Bole airport
Before the landing at Addis Ababa Bole airport
At Dubai airport with Emirates airlines
At Dubai airport with Emirates airlines

After your arrival you will have to go through the toll and visa office (the visa costs about 50 $ cash per person on location). Your tour guide will wait outside the airport terminal and there will be a transfer to your hotel in Addis Ababa. At the evening there will be a meeting with your tour guide and Tobias Schorr. They will introduce you to the tour program.

Day 2: Discovery of Addis Ababa

The church of Mariam at the palace of Menelik in Addis Ababa
The church of Mariam at the palace of Menelik in Addis Ababa
With friends in a typical restaurant in Addis Ababa
With friends in a typical restaurant in Addis Ababa
A local market square at Addis Ababa
A local market square at Addis Ababa

Today we will do a round tour through the modern city of Addis Ababa with a visit of the national history museum with the skeletton of "Lucy". If we have still enough time, we will have a drive to the palace of Menelik II and will enjoy the traditional market squares. In the evening we will enjoy Ethiopian specialities at a local restaurant.

Day 3: Flight to Lalibela & round trip

St. Gregorius church at Lalibela
St. Gregorius church at Lalibela
The landscape around Lalibela
The landscape around Lalibela
The dining room of our hotel in Lalibela
The dining room of our hotel in Lalibela

It takes about 30-40 minutes to fly to Lalibela and after the transfer to the hotel we will have a first round walk through the "Jerusalem of Ethiopia". We will have a dinner at the hotel.

Day 4: Scenic drive to the highlands and descent to a mountain village

One of the Ethiopian canyons
One of the Ethiopian canyons
The village & our camping site
The village & our camping site
Meeting the hospital Ethiopians on our hike
Meeting the hospital Ethiopians on our hike

After our visit to Lalibela we will do a scenic drive to the highlands of Ethiopia. An Istayish we will descent on a hiking path down to a original village, where we will built up our camping site. We will enjoy local food and relax with the tranquility. There is no road, no electricity no telephone calls, but only birds and cattle.

Day 5: Discovering opal

One of the miners at a position where you can find opal
One of the miners at a position where you can find opal
Tobias Schorr discovered this opal already after 5 minutes!
Tobias Schorr discovered this opal already after 5 minutes!
One of the most beautiful opals found there!
One of the most beautiful opals found there!

Most parts of Ethiopia are covered by huge layers of basaltic flood lavas and pyroclastic ashes. The water that seeped through this layers created valuable gems. Near the village the locals dig for colourful opal that is famous for the region of Weldya. Even you are not an mineral collector, you will be fascinated by these wonders of nature. One of our targets is not only to get some opal, but to support the locals in many ways.

Day 6: Ascending to the highlands & drive to the lake of Bahir Da

Sailing on the Tana-Lake
Sailing on the Tana-Lake
The waterfalls of the "blue Nile"
The waterfalls of the "blue Nile"
The monastery on one of the islands on Tana lake
The monastery on one of the islands on Tana lake

Early in the morning we will start our slow ascent to the highlands where an 4x4 Jeep will drive us to the lake of Bahir Da. We will have time to relax and will be meeting for a dinner with fresh fish from the lake.

Day 7: Waterfalls of the blue Nile & Gonder

The waterfalls of the blue Nile
The waterfalls of the blue Nile
The dyke of an old volcano at the road to Gonder
The dyke of an old volcano at the road to Gonder
The old castle at Gonder
The old castle at Gonder

The waterfalls of the "blue Nile" get their power from the lake Tana and they are cut through the basaltic lavas of huge volcanic eruptions. Parts of these old volcanoes we will see all over the drive towards the town of Gonder. There the old castle will be part of our sightseeing tour and a local guide will explain the history to us. Dinner in our hotel in the evening.

Day 8: Scenic drive from Gonder to Debark

Old volcanic landscape in the Simien area
Old volcanic landscape in the Simien area
Old volcanoes in spring time (October)
Old volcanoes in spring time (October)
Mountains of northern Ethiopia
Mountains of northern Ethiopia

This day we will drive through the highlands of Ethiopia towards the Simien mountains. On this trip we will enjoy the impressing landscape of old volcanic dykes, valleys and plains. We will overnight at a simple hotel at Simien mountains.

Day 9: The Simien mountains, home of the Gelada monkeys

The mountain tops are the homeland of the Gelada monkeys
The mountain tops are the homeland of the Gelada monkeys
The "philosopher" (Gelada monkey - Theropithecus gelada)
The "philosopher" (Gelada monkey - Theropithecus gelada)
Invited to a simple coffee ceremony in the Simien mountains
Invited to a simple coffee ceremony in the Simien mountains

Our trip will start at Debark and we will drive a 4x4 track to the mountain tops. There are wild gorges and waterfalls. There will be the opportunity to stay at an beautiful alm to watch the monkeys Geladas from very close distance.

Day 10: Drive to the historic city of Axum

One of the mountain tops of the Simien area in spring time
One of the mountain tops of the Simien area in spring time
An orthodox church in front of an lava dome
An orthodox church in front of an lava dome
Sunset after a strong rain near Axum
Sunset after a strong rain near Axum

The drive from the Simien mountains towards Axum will have an duration of approximately one day if there is good weather. If not we plan an overnight on the route. We will see the villages of different religions like Islam and orthodox Christianity at the Tigray area. There will be great photographic highlights at nearly every corner...

Day 11: The ancient city of Axum

Ancient, broken column "stele" of an shrine
Ancient, broken column "stele" of an shrine
The famous rock hewn lion of Axum
The famous rock hewn lion of Axum
The Tsion church of Axum is one of the most important churches in Ethiopia
The Tsion church of Axum is one of the most important churches in Ethiopia

The city of Axum is still today an holy place for the Ethiopian Christians because there is stored the famous ark of the Covenant. Also there was the ancient Queen of Saba. Today you will discover the ancient shrines with columns "stele". Also geologically this are is interesting for us due to its old volcanoes.

Day 12: Mineralogical & geological exploration of Axum

The ancient quarry near the lion rock
The ancient quarry near the lion rock
The former gas rich lava is the home of rare minerals and gems
The former gas rich lava is the home of rare minerals and gems
An old farmer who sells geodes with amethyst at Axum
An old farmer who sells geodes with amethyst at Axum

Today we will be looking for places that promise the discovery of minerals like amethyst, quartz or zeolithe. The exploration of the volcanic mountains may show us places that have never seen foreign tourists. Due to our Ethiopian guide we will get into contact with the local people.

Day 13: More time for the exploration of Axum

Girl selling amethyst
Girl selling amethyst
Students improve their income by selling geodes of amethyst
Students improve their income by selling geodes of amethyst
One of the most beautiful geodes with amethyst from Axum
One of the most beautiful geodes with amethyst from Axum

Also today we will have time for the exploration of the area around Axum. This day is also needed as an buffer for possible changes due weather or other issues. There is also time for spontaneous activities.

Day 14: Return flight from Axum to Addis Ababa

If you arrive with Ethiopian airlines to the country, you get special conditions for domestic flights.
If you arrive with Ethiopian airlines to the country, you get special conditions for domestic flights.
Flight over an fertile country
Flight over an fertile country
Arrival at Addis Ababa Bole airport
Arrival at Addis Ababa Bole airport

The flight from Axum to Addis Ababa will start in the morning and so there is a good opportunity to catch your connecting flight to your country. If you like, you may stay also longer in the capitol city of Ethiopia or you can connect this journey with another one in Ethiopia.