This unique 15 day tour departs from Cape Town on 9 February flying to Addis Ababa for one night. The journey continues by road to Debre Zeit at the start of the Naturalists’ Route. This is an area boasting impressive scenery. The trip proceeds to Awassa via the Rift Valley Lakes, all of which support massive concentrations of water birds. Wildlife is abundant and the lake scenery is splendid.

Two nights will be spent in Bale National Park, an Afro-Alpine wonderland regarded as Ethiopia’s premier draw card for keen naturalists, followed by a visit to the Awash National Park, set in savannahs with beautiful gorges, waterfalls and interesting wildlife. While in this area the group will drive through the Amhar Mountains to spend a night in the beautiful medieval walled city of Harar.

From Harar it’s a short flight to Addis Ababa for a night before proceeding on the Historic Route to Bahir Dar situated on Lake Tana, an area known for its island monasteries dating back to the 11th & 14th centuries. Visits to the Kidhane Mihret monastery and Blue Nile Falls, regarded as Africa’s second most impressive falls, are included.

From Bahir Dar the group will fly to Lalibela, arguably the most important stop on the historic circuit. Here, eleven awesome rock-hewn churches are carved into the rugged mountainsides. Nobody knows just how these churches were built. Legend has it that construction commenced after Divine instruction to the King Lalibela, and that at night, angels completed the work.

The itinerary then proceeds north to the dusty town of Axum, once the capital of the empire which gave rise to present day Ethiopia and cornerstone of Ethiopian Christianity. The remnants of Axum’s ancient grandeur are to be found in the magnificent granite monoliths and the Queen of Sheba’s palace. The Ark of the Covenant is allegedly housed here in the St Mary of Zion Church.

The tour continues to Gondar, famous for its Royal Compound, also known as the “Camelot of Africa”. Here, the 17th century Fasilidas’ castles never fail to impress. After exploring the castles, there will be time to visit the remarkable Debre Birhan Selassie church, possibly the most famous church in Ethiopia because of the paintings on the ceiling, which feature faces of angels.

The group will return to Addis Ababa for a night before flying back to South Africa on 23 February.