Ethiopia: Historical and Contemporary - Jon Baines Tours

Ethiopia: Historical and Contemporary

17 Feb - 2 Mar 2021
  • Cultural Tours
+ Optional extension: The Rift Valley

About the tour

Ethiopia has a unique and ancient heritage. It contains the oldest human bones ever discovered, the 3,000 year old city of Axum, the palace of the Queen of Sheba and the 12th century rock-hewn churches of Lalibela, as well as the castles of Gondar. The mountainous landscapes of northern Ethiopia are breathtaking and the culture vibrant and eclectic. The tour is led by Dr Richard Marsh, an experienced tour leader who provides expert insight into Ethiopian history, music and contemporary culture. There is an extension to Lake Awassa after the tour.

Explore the capital Addis Ababa and visit Mount Entoto for a panoramic view of the city. Fly onto Lalibela, where eleven complete churches were hewn out of solid rock almost 800 years ago. Fly to Axum, Ethiopia's most ancient city, where you wil lsee the holiest church in the country, a chapel where the Ark of the Covenant is said to rest and where the Emperors of Ethiopia were traditionally crowned, as well as the Queen of Sheba's Palace. Visit Gondar, the capital of 17th century Ethiopia, with its dramatic castles and palaces. Visit the famous church of Debre Birhan with spectacular views of the Simien Mountains. Visit the vast expanse of Lake Tana and the Blue Nile Falls, with its "smoking water" as it plunges into a gorge below.

Your tour leader

Picture of JBT tour leader, ​Dr Richard Marsh

​Dr Richard Marsh

Dr Richard Marsh has a long association with the Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox churches.  He is the author of Black Angels: The Art and Spirituality of Ethiopia, Prayers from the East and co-authored Millenium Challenges for Development and Faith Institutions. He works in the voluntary sector, building capacity and improving governance and impact. Richard has travelled extensively and is an experienced tour leader, having led many successful tours to many destinations. He lives in Co. Mayo, Ireland.

Need more information?

  • Tel: (Toll Free) 1-8777-398-764
  • Mon-Fri: 9am-5pm
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Itinerary at a glance

  • 17 Feb (Wed) Addis Ababa: Arrive Addis Ababa and at leisure. Short city orientation tour followed by a trip up Mount Entoto for a panoramic view of the city
  • 18 Feb (Thurs) Addis Ababa: Talk: ‘Ethiopia – the context’ by Richard Marsh.Visit Trinity Cathedral, and the Ethnographic Museum.Visit the National Museum and option to visit the Hamlyn Fistula Hospital and learn of their work. Talk by Mulugeta Gebru
  • 19 Feb (Fri) Addis Ababa / Axum: Fly to Axum and transfer to the Yeha Hotel. Visit Axum's sites including the Queen of Sheba's Palace, King Caleb’s Tomb, the Stelae Park and museum. Talk: 'Ethiopian Culture: Carved from the Landscape'
  • 20 Feb (Sat) Axum: Drive via the site of the battle of Adwa to the pre-Axumite Temple at Yeha. Visit a typical Tigrean house and onto the Church Treasury. Visit the church compound and see the church of St Mary of Zion, supposed repository of the Ark of the Covenant and the church treasury. Talk: 'Where stories meet history'
  • 21 Feb (Sun) Axum / Lalibela: Fly to Lalibela and transfer to the hotel. Visit the eastern group of rock churches
  • 22 Feb (Mon) Lalibela: Visit the western group of rock churches. Visit the cave church of Nakuto La’ab
  • 23 Feb (Tues) Lalibela: Drive out of Lalibela to see the spectacular church of Yemrehanna Krestos. Return via coffee at Yemrehanna Krestos village. Lunch at Ben Abeba restaurant. Visit the local tej house and Tegegne Art Studio
  • 24 Feb (Wed) Lalibela / Gondar: Fly to Gondar. Visit the church of Debre Birhan Selassie
  • 25 Feb (Thurs) Gondar: Visit Kossoye for spectacular views of the Simien Mountains. Visit the Women’s Ploughshare Project and brief stop at the Felasha village. Tour of the castles of Gondar, the centre of the Ethiopian empire in the 17th and 18th centuries, and (if time allows) the ruins of Kusquam Abbey. Talk: ‘Ethiopia and the World: The Quest for Prester John’
  • 26 Feb (Fri) Gondar / Bahir Dar: Travel by road from Gondar to Bahir Dar and check into the hotel. Visit Tissisat Falls (the Blue Nile Falls)
  • 27 Feb (Sat) Bahir Dar: Full day boat trip. Visit Narga Sellassie Island. On-site talk: “Sacred Geometry and Ethiopian Church Painting”, picnic lunch. Continue to the Zeghie Peninsula to visit the church of Azwa Maryam Church and treasury of Azwa Maryam. Option to visit a local club with music and dancing
  • 28 Feb (Sun) Bahir Dar / Addis Ababa: Visit the viewpoint by the former palace of Haile Sellassie by tuk tuk. Fly to Addis Ababa. Talk: 'Politics, people and food' - Richard Marsh
  • 1 March (Mon) Addis Ababa: Visit the Addis Ababa Museum. Visit Muya and Churchill Road. Farewell dinner in restaurant
  • 2 March (Tues) Addis Ababa: Depart for airport for flight to London (if taking UK flight package)

Sub-saharan Africa extension: 3 - 6 March 2021

  • 3 March (Tues) Addis Ababa / Awassa: Drive from Addis to Lake Awassa through the Rift Valley with stops at crater lakes via Debrezeit, Ziway and Langano Check into the hotel
  • 4 March (Wed) Lake Awassa: Visit the town of Yirgalem, walk through the plantation and visit Sidama village to see kocho making (bread from the enset or false banana tree) or at leisure by the lake. Options include walks, bird watching and swimming. In the afternoon take a boat trip on Lake Awassa
  • 5 March (Thurs) Lake Awassa: Excursion to Wondo Guenet hot springs and bird watching. At leisure
  • 6 March (Fri) Lake Awassa / Addis Ababa: Fly back to Addis and connect with departure flight

Tour cost


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