Historical Route – Bahir Dar, Gondar, Axum, Lalibela Toggle

From March 2nd to March 11th 2017

Overland Trip visiting the main sites in the Historical Route – Bahir Dar, Gondar, Axum and Lalibela



Early in the morning, depart north to Bahir Dar via Debre Markos. On the way visit the Portuguese Bridge, said to have been the first bridge in Ethiopia. Afterwards, you will pass through the spectacular Blue Nile Gorge. The gorge extends nearly 400km and reaches depths of 1500m. Overnight in Bahir Dar (hotel)


In the morning, take a boat trip on Lake Tana to visit the island monasteries, such as those on the Zege Penninsula and Kibran Gabriel (sorry, men only) and the source of the Blue Nile River. In the afternoon, drive out to the Blue Nile Falls for a short hike in the area. Finish the day with the sunset over the lake. Overnight in Bahir Dar (hotel)


After breakfast, continue north to Gondar. The four hour drive will take you through rural villages, offering wonderful insight into the Amhara culture. After briefly settling in your hotel, explore the sites of Gondar, including a visit to the Royal Enclosure, with six castles and several other buildings. Additionally, visit Fasilidas’s Pool, still used for Timket celebrations today, and the Debre Birhan Selassie church, with the most famous ceiling in Ethiopia. Overnight in Gondar (hotel)


Early morning, depart north for Axum, enjoying spectacular views of the Simien Mountains. After stopping for lunch in Adi Arkay, proceed driving through the dramatic Tekeze Valley, offering some of the best landscapes in the country. Proceed to Axum, home of the ancient Axumite Empire, the Queen of Sheba, and the Ark of the Covenant. Overnight in Axum (hotel)


Today will be a full day visiting the sites of Axum, including the famous obelisks (one that was recently erected after being returned from Italy,) the Queen of Sheba’s Bath (which supplies water to Axum year-round), King Bazen’s tomb, and the Queen of Sheba’s Palace. You can also visit the St. Mary of Zion Church, where the Ark of the Covenant is kept. Men only are allowed to enter the old church. Unfortunately, no one (except one specially chosen guardian monk) is allowed to enter the chapel where the Ark is kept. Overnight in Axum (hotel)


After breakfast, drive to visit the ruins of Yeha, dating from the 8th to 5th centuries BC, and thought to be the capital of Ethiopian civilization before Axum. Afterwards, visit the Debre Damo monastery, where the men (sorry, no women allowed) must climb up a 15 m rope to enter. Proceed through the state of Tigray, stopping enroute at Wukro to visit the rock-hewn church of Chirkos. Overnight in Merkele. (hotel)


Early in the morning, embark on a full day of driving to Lalibela. Here you will pass through several small villages, with typical sandstone homes of the Tigray people. Proceed through this rural area for the stunning approach to the home of Ethiopia’s most prized possession – Lalibela. Overnight in Lalibela (hotel)


Early in the morning, start your tour of the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela, visiting the Northwestern Cluster of churches – Bet Medhane Alem, Bet Mayam, Bet Meskel, Bet Danaghel, Bet Mikael & Bet Golgotha (entry not permitted for women.) After lunch, continue with the Southeastern Cluster of churches – Bet Gabriel-Rufael, Bet Merkorios, Bet Amanual and Bet Abba Libanos. Finally, you will visit the most famous of all the churches – Bet Giyorgis, constructed in honor of the patron saint of Ethiopia – Saint George. Overnight in Lalibela (hotel)


Early in the morning drive to Kombolcha via Woldia, on the way visiting the lake in the town of Hayk, where you can visit the local monastery and enjoy birdlife. Overnight in Kombolcha (hotel)

DAY 10

Return driving to Addis via Debre Birhan. On the way you pass the Mezezo Escarpment, with a good chance to see the endemic gelada baboons. If today is a Sunday, you can stop in the town of Senbete to visit the lively market including the interesting camel market.

End of Tour

Please Note: Some changes may occur to this itinerary, based on weather conditions or new opportunities that may arise. We are always looking to visit the locations that are off the most traveled routes of tourists. As photographers, we understand the kind of authentic experience that you are looking for.


About the Instructor

John Rizzo

John Rizzo is an award-winning photojournalist and educator.  He has produced large projects for commercial clients such as the New York Mercantile Exchange, Corning Inc. and Pfizer.  His photographs have been published in The New York Times, Newsweek (US, China, Japan, China, Korea and Espanol,  The Overseas Press Club, Bloomberg, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, Fortune and Money Magazines.  He has covered the events of 9/11,  Hurricane Katrina, The Russians of Brighton Beach, The Maasai of Northern Tanzania, The Joplin Tornado and many others.  He has been the principle at John Rizzo Photography since 1984.



The Tour Fee for this tour is $6695.00 in shared accommodations. If you prefer a single room, the single room supplement is $600.00


It is recommended that participants bring a digital SLR camera and laptop computer. A complete list of optional equipment will be sent at registration.


Photography Instructor Fee

Accommodation x 10 nights based on Double Occupany rooms.

Single Room Supplement is $600.00

Airport Transfers and ground transportation by Private AC minivan.

Expert English speaking local guide

All meals on itinerary days

Cold bottled mineral water

All admission fees to sites on the itinerary


International flights to and from Ethiopia

Insurance: we strongly recommend you purchase Travel, Medical and Cancellation Insurance.

Alcoholic beverages

Personal expenses and tipping

Visa and Passport fees


A nonrefundable deposit of $1200 per person is required at time of booking. We recommend you reserve your spot as soon as possible. You can pay your deposit by Bank Wire Transfer. Bank details will be provided upon registration.

The tour will be confirmed 8 weeks prior, on January 5, 2017. Please do not make any travel arrangements to Ethiopia before we have confirmed the tour. Full payment is due when the tour is confirmed.


Please send us an email at info@internationalphotocenter.com with your first and last name, your phone, which tour you are registering for, along with any additional information that you would like us to know.


This tour is geared to the photographer who enjoys exploring unique cultures and adventure photography. Group cohesion, adaptability, a sense of humor and a curious mind are all important traits to possess.