Whittier in Ethiopia
Explore the beauty of culture and history with Millete and brother jeff
11 Days/10 Nights
May 9-19, 2019
We've all heard the beautiful stories about Ethiopia from our lovely community leaders at the Whittier Cafe. Now is the time to experience the country first hand. We'll travel with Millete, brother jeff and family throughout northern Ethiopia. We'll explore the Source of the Nile, the purported site of the Ark of the Covenant, and the Rock-Hewn churches of Lalibela. We'll even have the chance to take a cooking class and participate in a traditional coffee ceremony with Millete and brother jeff's family. We will cap off our incredible adventure at the wedding of Millete’s friend in Addis! This will be an exploration like no other.
DAY 1: THU, MAY 09 ::: ARRIVAL IN ADDIS ABABA
DAY 2: FRI, MAY 10 ::: ADDIS - BAHIR DAR
DAY 3: SAT, MAY 11 ::: BAHIR DAR - AWRA AMBA - GONDAR
DAY 4: SUN, MAY 12 ::: GONDAR - AXUM
DAY 5: MON, MAY 13 ::: AXUM
DAY 6: TUE, MAY 14 ::: AXUM
DAY 7: WED, MAY 15 ::: FLY AXUM – LALIBELA
DAY 8: THU, MAY 16 ::: LALIBELA
DAY 9: FRI, MAY 17 ::: LALIBELA – ADDIS
DAY 10: SAT, MAY 18 ::: ADDIS CIty tour and WEDDING!
DAY 11: SUN, MAY 19 ::: DEPART ADDIS
Arrival in Addis Ababa
Upon arrival at Bole International Airport, you will clear immigration and proceed to baggage claim. After collecting your checked bags, clear customs and pass through the arrivals hall where you will be met by our representative, who will assist you with your transfer to the hotel.
Overnight in Addis Ababa.
Leslie: UA7214 FRA ADD 10:05pm 5:55am
Tanya, Xavier & Sebastian: ET511 ORD ADD 9:30am 7:15am
Addis Ababa - Bahir Dar
In the morning you will fly to Bahir Dar (1hr flight). Your first destination will be Lake Tana. It is the largest lake in Ethiopia with a size of 3,600 sq. km. / 2,282 sq. mi and is also the source of the Blue Nile. There are 37 islands dotted around the lake, of which 20 shelter monasteries believed to have existed since the 14th century. These islands hold vast Ancient Ethiopian history, including artifacts of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and burial sites of former Emperors of the Ethiopian Empire. The island you will visit holds the coveted monastery “Ura Kidane Mehert”, and if time allows you will also visit the monastery “Azwa Mariam.” Both are known for their ancient manuscripts, paintings, crosses, and artifacts.
Overnight in Behir Dar.
Latrice: UA7214 FRA ADD 10:05pm 5:55am
Millete, Jeff, Sesina, Abraha & Alena: ET501 IAD ADD 11:00am 7:15am
Bahir Dar - Awra Amba - Gondar
Drive from Bahir Dar to Gondar (182km ~4hrs), en route we will visit the village of Awra Amba, which is located off the Woreta - Woldia 'China-Road'. Visit this unique settlement that is considered to be a prime model for self-help and gender equality. Women have equal rights to men and there is no distinction in divisions of labor. Men cook, women plow, and religion has no place. They believe in hard work and being good to people.
Continue to Gondar; along the way, we'll visit the royal capital of the Ethiopian Empire. Founded in 1636 by the Emperor Fassiledes. From castles to churches, the medieval city is adorned by medieval-styled infrastructure that was constructed by the Emperor and his descendants. Visits will also include the Fassiledes Castle and the Fassiledes Bath. Thought to be the grand swimming pool of the Emperor, it is now known as Fassiledes Bath and used as a baptism site. It symbolizes the holy waters of the River Jordan where Jesus Christ was baptized, and every year on the 19th of January during Timket (Epiphany), hundreds bathe in these waters to be christened. Regrettably, you will not be able to attend this spectacle as the day you will visit will not fall on this particular holiday. (Of course, there is always next time!)
After lunch, you will visit the “Debre Birhan Selassie Church” a UNESCO World Heritage Site that was built in the late 18th century by Iyasu I, the grandson of the Emperor Fassiledes, with walls and ceilings adorned with rows among rows of winged cherubs representing the omnipresence of God.
Overnight in Gondar.
Gondar - Axum
Morning you will fly to Axum (~45m flight) and have a city tour of Axum that includes the stelae park, and St. Mary’s Church (including: the sanctuary chapel which is the the purported site of the Ark of the Covenant, the coronation yard and Axum museum), Queen of Sheba’s palace ruins and King Kaleb’s tomb. Ethiopian Orthodox Christians and some scholars believe that the original Ark the Covenant, containing the stone tablets of the Ten Commandments, is resting here at the chapel between St. Mary of Zion and Emperor Fassiladas’ Castle of Axum. Visit also the monastery of Abba Pantelion at the hillside of Axum.
Overnight in Axum.
Axum - Rama
After breakfast, we drive an hour to Rama meet the family of our beloved Whittier Cafe owners, Millete and brother jeff. We will spend the day with the family learning to cook the local delicacies and learn recipes designed by Millete and her family. Don't worry, she'll make sure we have a copy of the recipes so we can prepare the dishes at home.
In the afternoon, we return to Axum for a relaxing evening in town. Overnight in Axum.
We get to spend another day with Millete and brother jeff as they shoe us around Axum - we'll get an insider's view of the town and have a chance to do some shopping. In the afternoon, we drive to visit Millete and brother jeff's nearby family and experience the beauty of the Ethiopian coffee ceremony in Ethiopia!
Overnight in Axum.
Axum – Lalibela
This morning you will be transferred to the airport for your flight to Lalibela (~45m flight). Lalibela, also known as ‘Africa’s Petra,’ is Ethiopia’s crown jewel. It is home to the most famous churches and the scene of many major religious ceremonies. We will visit the magnificent rock-hewn churches of Lalibela, which are called the “Eighth Wonder of the World.” These churches were hewn out of solid rock between 800 - 1200 AD and are still active houses of worship. In the afternoon, you will take an excursion to visit Yimrehane Kirstos, located in a mountain ridge, at the peak of Abuna Yosep. This exquisite church, a masterpiece of Axumit wood and stone construction is renowned for its interior decoration. The walls are subdivided vertically with recessions and projections.
Overnight in Lalibela.
We will spend one more day exploring Lalibela and the churches that are carved below ground level and ringed by trenches and courtyards, which are arguably Ethiopia's top attraction. They are connected to each other by a tangled maze of tunnels and passages. You will visit the first group of six churches positioned in rock cradles one behind the other: Bet Golgotha, Bet Mikael, Bet Mariam, Bet Meskel, Bet Danaghel and Bet Medhane Alem. Bet Medhane Alem, the largest church, is built like a Greek Temple.
Overnight in Lalibela.
Lalibela – Addis
You will be transferred to the airport for your flight to Addis (~1hrs flight). Upon arrival, you will be transferred to your hotel. Option to join the group for dinner at Africana (owned by a former Denverite and friend of the Whittier Cafe).
Overnight in Addis.
Addis Exploration and Wedding!
Mount Entoto will be the start of your city tour. It is a historical site where Emperor Menelik II resided and built his palace when he came from Ankober and founded Addis Ababa. It is considered a sacred mountain and has many monasteries. It is situated at an altitude of between 2,600 and 3,100 meters. You will have a magnificent view of the city. We then drive to the National Museum. The museum houses the nation's artistic treasures as well as many of the most precious archaeological finds such as the fossilized remains of early hominids, the most famous of which is "Lucy," the partial skeleton of a specimen of Australopithecus afarensis. The well-known Lucy is said to be 3.2 million years old. After visiting the museum, you will drive to Trinity Cathedral Church. This church is the highest ranking Orthodox cathedral in Addis Ababa. It was built to commemorate Ethiopia's liberation from Italian occupation and is the second most important place of worship in Ethiopia, after the Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion in Axum.
Afternoon, you will visit The Ethnological museum set within Haile Selassie’s former palace and surrounded by the beautiful gardens and fountains of Addis Ababa University’s main campus. Even if you’re not normally a museum fan, this one is worth a bit of your time – it’s easily one of the finest museums in Africa. Later, we drive to Mercato and visit the largest open market in Africa. (Please be advised walking as a group is difficult due to its crowded and chaotic scene. With the intention of avoiding inconveniences, we will drive through the market.) Mercato covers several square miles and employs an estimated 13,000 people in 7,100 business entities. The primary merchandise passing through the Merkato is locally-grown agricultural products — most notably coffee. Finally, you will be transferred to your hotel to have get ready for the main event!
There is no better way to learn about a new culture than participating in a wedding. Millete is welcoming us to her dear friend’s wedding in Addis. The food, dancing and love shared will surely be the highlight of this adventure.
Today is free to recover from the evening’s festivities or explore Addis on your own. Our transfer will meet us in the evening for our international flight out.
Leslie: MS852 ADD CAI 4:10am 6:40am
Tanya, Sebastian & Xavier: ET510 ADD DUB 10:15pm 4:25am
Located in the center of Addis Ababa, the Nexus Hotel is the perfect place to start your adventure. The property is located 14 minutes from Holy Trinity Cathedral and Addis Ababa Airport is only an 8 minute drive. Within the hotel you will find a full service restaurant and bar as well as all the comforts of home. Wifi available throughout the hotel.
Located at the source of the Nile, Kurfutu Resport and Spa is the perfect location to base your exploration. Immerse yourself in the rich history of Ethiopia with landscapes of Bahir Dar's native architecture and monolithic churches. The lodge is well located on the shore of Tana Lake. The rooms are furnished with typical Ethiopian furniture and a warmth found only in Ethiopia.
Ideally situated couple of minutes drive from Theodros Airport in Gondar, Mayleko is surrounded with breathtaking beauty and nature.
Mayleko, is derived from a part of Ethiopia that is well known as the home of ancient kings and queens and is truly Ethiopian. The ancient castle of Fasiledes, the oldest and most imposing of the 17th century structures found in the city, is only 15 Km from the lodge.
The Sabean International Hotel is located on the main road in the tiny town of Axum, a good location from which to see archaeological sites such as the ancient stele and witness parishioners dressed in white. Axum is the oldest and holiest town in Ethiopia and once home to the ancient Axemite people, thought to be akin to the Romans, Greeks and Egyptians. It is a fascinating town which boasts ruins, Axumite villas, churches, the Ark of the Covenant and a meeting point between trade from east Africa and the Mediterranean sea.
A cliff-hugging, architectural complex at an altitude of 2,680 mts. offers spectacular panoramic mountain views and is an ultimate source of admiration to nature. Mountain View Hotel is a perfect choice for our Lalibela stay.
The spacious rooms offer balconies and are perfect for viewing the magnificent mountain tops touching the horizons.
Hotel accommodation on a double/twin room occupancy
Meals as indicated
Ground transportation as detailed
Drinking water throughout the tour
English speaking professional guide
Expertise of tour leaders, Brother Jeff and Millete
All entrances fees and taxes
All tours as detailed
Airfare (International and domestic)
Meals not detailed in itinerary
Any other personnel expenses