Authentic Ethiopia Tours
Historic Route of Ethiopia

Leaving Addis Ababa, a  well trodden path through Ethiopia’s famous and fascinating historic places-which shelters priceless relics from a powerful and religious ancient civilization-also leads through  some of the most breathtaking scenery. The country changes from farm and moorland platue north of Addis Ababa to culminate; much farther north, the highest point in Ethiopia, Ras Dashen which as 4,545 meters is the highest mountain in Africa, located in the spectacular Semien Mountain, a region that includes many lofty summits, which rise out of the craggy countryside.

Along this ‘Historic Route of Ethiopia’ you will also find the lowest point of the country, the Denakil Depression, dipping to more than 116 meters below sea level.  The whole area was-and still is-shaken by massive seismic movements and volcanic activity.  

Whether by land or by air, a good first stop on this route is the town of Bahir Dar, situated on the edge of the fabled Lake Tana.  For centuries the city has been a place of commercial importance.   Bahir Dar, situated as it is on the southern extremity of Lake Tana, provides access to both the Lake and it many islands, and to the Blue Nile Falls. 

With wide, palm-lined avenues and gardens overflowing with tropical vegetations, being a place of considerable economic and commercial importance.

Located at an altitude of 1,83o meters above sea level, the popular attraction of the city includes Lake Tana, the largest lake in Ethiopia, with a surface area of 3,600 square km and also the source of the Blue Nile and home for more 37 islands and 20 churches and monasteries.  While you are in Bahir Dar pay a visit of   the 14th century Island monasteries on the Lake those houses a myriad of treasures and beautiful paintings, the outlet of the majestic Blue Nile River from the Lake, excursion trip and local boat crossing of the Majestic Blue Nile River for its journey to Egypt-Alexandria.  Don’t miss visiting of the colorful market of the city, panoramic view from Bezawit hill including the city, the Lake, the River and some of the Islands.

The 3 hours driving on a good asphalt road passes through the fertile land of Dembia and Fogera destined to the city of Palaces –Gondar.  Founded by Emperor Fasilades in 1632, Gondar was home to a number of Emperors and Warlords, Courtiers and Kings, and it was served as the capital city of Ethiopia for 250 consecutive years.

The city's main imperial precinct, known as the Royal Enclosure, covers an area of 7.7 hectares and contains five castles, raised walkways and connecting tunnels surrounded by high stone walls.
The oldest of these is the Castle of Fasilades. Built of stone in the mid-17th century it reflects a number of influences, Axumite, Portuguese and Indian. The upper storey offers panoramic views and Lake Tana is visible on a clear day. The castle has been renovated recently.

Fasilades grandson, Iyasu the great, built his own castle and decorated it with ivory, gold and precious stones but an earthquake in the early 19th caused severe damage. Bath of Fasilades is a sunken pool still used for the Timkat Festival in January. 

While you are visiting the city, don’t forget visiting the Church of Debre Birhan Silassie (the church of Trinity on the Mount of Light), which has both historical and religious for Ethiopia.  The inside part of the church is painted by pictures taken from biblical histories and other related books.


The scenic and winding landscape of Limalimo Mountain is located few miles after you leave Debark, the head quarter for Semen Mountian National Park and it’s about in the middle of the journey to Axum the ancient city which dates back to 100BC.  This capital city was the first place in Ethiopia to adopt a new religion -- Christianity. According to the Old Testament, The Queen of Sheba was born in Axum, but travelled to Israel to meet King Solomon. They had a son named Menelik, who later became the first Emperor of Ethiopia. Menelik brought the original Ark of the Covenant back to Ethiopia from Israel. Today, the Ark, which once housed the Ten Commandments, remains well hidden in Axum. It is guarded by a select monk, whose sole commitment is to protect the sacred vessel. Axum is also known for its massive, towering sculptures/stellas  that are more than two thousand years old. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church was founded here in the fourth century and Axum remains the holiest city of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.  The 1,700-year old mysterious Monoliths of Axum, The 16th century Church of St Mary of Zion, the holiest Christian sanctuary in Ethiopia, and Ethiopians believe that the church houses the Ark of the Covenant, The Grave and Palace of King Kaleb and King Gabre Maskal, the reputed Bath of the Queen of Sheba, and Axum Archaeological Museum are the main attractions to be explored by tourists.

Once the thriving and populous capital city of the medieval dynasty, - one of Ethiopia's holiest cities, second only to Aksum, and is a center of pilgrimage for much of the country- Lalibela & its Rock Churches-  the site not to be missed for visiting and is regarded as one of the greatest Ethiopian architectural Wonders and is ranked as the Eighth most incredible historical(World Heritage) site in the world by UNESCO.

Lying in the rugged Lasta Mountains at an altitude of 2600 meter above sea level, Lalibela is also known as “Africa’s Petra”. The city is home for the 11 medieval monolithic cave churches cut out of solid red volcanic rock, which are constructed to represent Jerusalem. The churches are divided into Northern and Eastern groups of churches by a rock-cut channel (river) called Yordannos (Jordan River) and connected by narrow and deep passages. Bieta Medhane Alem is the largest and most impressive monolithic church.

The most famous and photographed of all Lalibela’s churches, The Cross-shaped St. George Church represents the apogee of the rock hewn tradition: it is the most visually perfect of all.  It is also exceptionally well preserved.  The church is constructed on a three-tiered plinth and is shaped like a Greek cross.

Leaving Lalibela and its wonders behind, we trace our steps to the main road for our destination to  Addis Ababa passing through Weldya, Kombolcha  and Tarma Ber tunnel.

The best combination of the northern historic route with the eastern part runs using the town Kombolcha as the junction town by taking the left fork of the main Dessie-Addis Ababa road through the low laying Rift valley, where it forms an important cultural crossroads for Amhara, Oromo and semi-nomadic desert dwelling-Afar people.  Explore the colorful Bati Market, Ethiopia’s largest cattle and camel market.  The main Addis Ababa-Djibouti highway will welcome you for our journey to the fortified historical city of Harar. Believed to be the fourth holiest city of Islam, Harar is home for 82 mosques and 102 shrines; three of which date from the 10th century, but the town houses with their exceptional interior design constitute the most spectacular part of Harar's cultural heritage.  This old sacred Muslim city is surrounded by walls built between the 13th and 16th centuries.

Harar boosts its walled old city within its enclosure contains the old and vibrant market place regarded as one of the most colourful in all Ethiopia, Ras Mekonne’s House, The 16th century Grand Mosque, with is beautiful twin towers and slender minaret lies on the road to the Erer Gate.  Women are not permitted inside the mosque.

The chilling but the most amazing experience performance takes place 1900 – 2000 hours which is  Mouth Feeding the wild hyenas an offal and bones  by “Hyena men”, regarded to be an experience not to be missed while your are in Harar.

The best time to visit the historical site is throughout the year; and more interesting on religious festival season.

Last Updated on Sunday, 23 May 2010 15:12