party of 2-3: $2,099
party of 4-6: $1,631
* Exciting walking through dramatic landscapes * Lalibela rock churches and ancient obelisks in Axum * Spectacular views, fascinating cultures
This is an inspiring part of highland Ethiopia. The rock-hewn churches of Tigray remain one of the worlds 'best-kept secrets', described by some as the greatest of the historical cultural heritages of the Ethiopian people. Set these incredible, almost inaccessible rock buildings in their context of the sweeping Tigraian Highlands and you are confronted with a beautiful, unique landscape to explore. Stay among five communities situated in the red sandstone Agame mountains south of Adigrat and enjoy some exceptional walking in the company of local guides. A visit to two world heritage sites; Lalibela - with its labyrinth of rock hewn churches and Axum - said to be the final resting place of the Arc of Covenant, completes this trip of a lifetime.
After a day visiting the sights in Addis, you take an internal flight to the historic town of Axum, the capital of Tigray. Explore the magnificent World Heritage site with ancient obelisks; visit the Maryam Tsion church; discover the small chapel, which legend has it houses the Ark of the Covenant and visit fascinating underground burial chambers.
You are transferred by road to the start of your walk and stay with the communities. With five nights with the Tigray villages you are immersed in the culture and customs of this ancient civilisation and charmed by your hosts' smiling hospitality, and you enjoy some superb walking amid breathtaking scenery.The five community sites are situated in the red sandstone mountains south of Adigrat. Erar, Shimbrety, Seheta, Gohgot and Enaf all have their own charm - escarpment-top commanding views, landscapes of cliffs and valleys, troops of Gelada baboons and incredible churches excavated into the rock face, some of which are deserving of their own World Heritage classification.
You stay in hedamo guesthouses, the local compound style farm house with the rooms facing into a central courtyard, purpose built and owned by the communities. The guesthouse at Seheta was funded by Village Ways and is situated just above several farmhouses on the edge of the village, with lovely views along valley, and its red sanstone cliffs. Each village is a day's walk (4/5 hrs) from the next, depending on detours to churches and the route taken, with at least one climb per day. The altitude varies from around 2,400-2,500 meters in the valley bottoms to 2,600-3,000 meters on the escarpment tops. As you are at altitude and there are some steeper sections, the walking can be demanding; however you are guided at your own pace with plenty of opportunity to rest and admire your surroundings, and have the choice when booking of longer, more energetic walks or less demanding days with a rest day at Seheta. During your stay with the communities all meals are provided, you have your own guide and your bags are either carried by mule or porter.
A full day's drive through stunning landscapes takes you to the small town of Lalibela, home to one of the world's most astounding sacred sites. This is a network of 11 subterranean rock-hewn churches, each carved into the red bed rock, with its roof at ground level and linked by passageways through the rock. Two nights here give you time to thoroughly explore these extraordinary clusters of monolithic churches.
Welcome at Bole International Airport, Addis Adaba. Transfer to hotel for a freshen-up before a tour of this compelling city. Discover Lucy- the oldest human fossil found in Africa- at the National Museum, visit the Ethnographic museum, enjoy views from Entoto mountain or visit one of Addis Ababa's fine churches. Return to hotel for overnight stay.
Transfer from hotel for a short morning flight to Tigray's historic capital - Axum. Here you will visit the World Heritage site, housing impressive ancient obelisks. Overnight in Axum hotel.
Day 3 - day 7
A road transfer through amazing landscapes takes you to the start of your walk and a five night stay with the communities of Erar, Shimbrety, Seheta and Gohgot.
Walking in the red sandstone mountains between escarpment and valley with majestic views, discover this astounding landscape. Viisit local churches hewn into the the rocky cliffs; a distinctive feature of the Tigray landscape.
At the time of booking, choose whether you want more challenging walks with longer days (this will include a night at a fifth village - Anaf - set at 3,000 metres) or choose less strenuous walks, with two nights spent at Seheta, allowing you more time to experience the traditional ways of life.
From the last village, you are transferred to a local lodge for a day of relaxation, or chose to spend the afternoon visiting some of the famous rock churches in the area (to be paid for locally).
Day 9 - day 10
With an early start, you have a stunning drive from Tigray to Lalibela, through wild remote mountains and unvisited canyons full of baobab trees. With two nights in Lalibela, enjoy a guided tour of the astounding rock-hewn churches and discover the secrets of this fascinating town.
Transfer to Lalibela Airport for midday flight to Addis. You are met at the domestic terminal and have an afternoon to enjoy the city before returning to the airport for the journey home.
Guests are asked to book all flights: international flights from your home city to Addis Ababa plus an internal flight from Addis to Axum for the outward journey, and from Lalibela to to Addis on the return. Flights can be booked with Ethiopian Airlines using a multi-city booking. If you would prefer that we book your internal flights, this can be arranged for a small admin fee.
All of our suggested itineraries can be extended if you wish to make more of your time in Ethiopia, or shortened if your time is limited. Tigray also makes an amazing combined Ethiopian discovery with our new trips to the Simien Mountains. You can also extend the holiday with additional nights along the way in Addis, Axum and Lalibela - or add extra nights in the community guesthouses. Add a visit to Bahir Dar to see the Blue Nile Falls or discover the romantic castles and a very special church at Gondar. Chose to replace a flight with a stunning drive from Lalibela to Tigray, through wild remote mountains and unvisited canyons - one full of baobab trees. Fashion the holiday to suit you.