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Addis Ababa to Khartoum

This incredible overland route between Khartoum and Addis Ababa will take you from the splendours of ancient Nubia through the vast desert of Sudan and to the historical and cultural highlights of Ethiopia. Travelling through the desert wilderness of Sudan is tough and frequently challenging, but as a reward we get unparalleled access to places such as the Pyramids of Meroe and the ruined temples of the Kushite kingdom, as well as enjoying some of the most remote and atmospheric wild camps in the world. From there we head into the wonderful country of Ethiopia, an extraordinary land with a unique cultural heritage of opulent monasteries, stunning churches carved out of the mountains, and incredible scenery. In Ethiopia you'll visit all the historical sites, trek in the spectacular Simien Mountains, and explore the bustling capital.

  • Duration: 30 Days
  • Guaranteed Departure: Yes
  • For lovers of: Active/Adrenaline, Local Culture & Cuisine, Historical Sites
  • Physical rating: Demanding
  • Accommodation standard:   Budget%
  • Traveller Tour Rating: 0%  
  • Your Guide: English speaking
  • Tour code: 162953
  • Starts: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
  • Finishes: Khartoum, Sudan
You will Visit
  • Addis Ababa
  • Debre Markos
  • Bahir Dar
  • Lalibela
  • Mekele
  • Woldiya
  • Axum
  • Debark
  • Adi Arkay
  • Simien Mountains National Park
  • Gondar
  • Gedaref
  • Khartoum
  • Dongola
  • Wawa
  • Karima
  • Meroe
  • Nuri
  • Naqa
  • Musawwarat

Itinerary

01

Day 1: Addis Ababa

Border Information: If joining in Addis Ababa, you will most likely enter Ethiopia at Addis Ababa Bole International Airport (IATA code: ADD).

There will be a group meeting at the joining hotel at 6:00pm. Please look out for a note from your tour leader at the reception when you arrive giving more details about this important meeting.

On the next day, we will have a free day to explore Addis Ababa and visit the city's many museums and sights. If you are travelling to the Sudan and have arranged to pick the visa up in Addis Ababa, this day will be spend arranging this visa.

Please note that many of the options listed below will only be possible for those with extra time in Addis Ababa before the start of your trip with us - please contact the Sales team if you would like to book pre-tour accommodation with us to have extra time exploring Addis Ababa.

In Addis Ababa we will stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities.

02

Day 2: Debre Markos

We will start our journey today with a drive to the small town of Debre Markos. En route we will drive to the bottom of the dramatic Blue Nile Gorge and up the other side!

In Debre Markos we will stay in a basic local hotel. 

Estimated Drive Time - 8-9 hours (please note that all drive times given here are the approximate number of hours that the truck will be in motion only, and does not include any time taken for coffee or lunch stops, border crossings, photo stops, activities en route, comfort breaks, shopping stops, toilet stops, etc. The times given are approximate estimates only and whilst given with the best of intentions, the drive times are heavily dependent on traffic, road conditions, weather, police roadblocks, and many other factors - flexibility is essential on any overland trip!).

03

Day 3-5: Bahir Dar

Today we will complete our drive to Bahir Dar, a small town on Lake Tana, the source of the mighty Blue Nile.

Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours.

On our first full day in Bahir Dar, we will have an included boat trip on Lake Tana to visit the famous old monastery of Gabriel Ure Kideth and to visit the spot where the lake outflows into the start of the Blue Nile. 

On our second day, we will head off in the truck to visit the Blue Nile Falls and take a short walk around the area to the historic Portuguese Bridge. We will have some free time in the afternoon to take optional visits to some other spots around Bahir Dar such as the 'Hippo bridge' and the Tigray war memorial.

In Bahir Dar we will stay in decent local hotel.

04

Day 6-8: Lalibela

Today we have a full day's drive through the beautiful scenery of central Ethiopia to reach the small medieval town of Lalibela.

Estimated Drive Time - 7-9 hours.

On our first day in Lalibela, we will have an included full-day guided tour of the world-famous 13th-century rock churches of Lalibela. Our guide will be able to explain the fascinating history of Lalibela and its churches, and there will be plenty of time to explore, absorb the haunting atmosphere inside the churches, and take plenty of photographs of the incredible architecture and the religious rituals within.

On the second day, we will have a free day for further exploration or optional activities. We will have opportunity to hike up the nearby mountains to the Asheten Monastery, visit the Yemrehana Kristos cave church outside the town, or freely explore the Lalibela churches again at your own pace.

In Lalibela we will stay in a local hotel.

05

Day 9: Mekele

Leaving Lalibela behind us, we have a full days drive through increasingly mountainous scenery to reach the town of Mekele.

We will stay in a decent local hotel in Mekele.

Estimated Drive Times - 9-10 hours

06

Day 10-11: Danakil Depression

After breakfast meet your 4 x 4 vehicles and drive to Hamed Ella. On the way you will pass through the beautiful Tigre Villages and the escarpment of the Afar depression, this is commonly known as the cradle of mankind is part of the Great East African Rift Valley. Along the way you will see camel caravans going to the traditional salt minin or to the North Eastern highlands of the country, loaded with salt bars in the old traditional way. We will also stop at Brehalle where we will get our permits and scouts for the trip into the Danakil Depression. 

On the second day we drive to Dallol. Here in Dallol you will visit the beautiful land covered by salt, sulfur and different minerals that gives the area a spectactular colour. We will then continue on to Lake Asale to watch the Afar and Tigre men cut the salt into bars and load up their camels before they head to the highlands of Ethiopia. 

We will wildcamp at Hammed Ella both nights for this excursion. The final day we will then make our way back to Mekele visiting villages along the way. 

07

Day 12: Mekele

Today we will make our way back to Mekele where we will stay in a basic hotel overnight. 

08

Day 13-14: Axum

Today we will visit one of the famous rock-hewn churches of Tigray (either the Abraha Atsbeha or Wukro Chirkos church), then continue through the increasingly breathtaking mountain scenery of the Adwa mountains to reach the ancient town of Axum in the far north of Ethiopia.

Estimated Drive Time - 8-10 hours.

The next day we will have an included half-day guided tour of the incredible historical sites of Axum, the capital of the once-mighty Axumite Empire - included in this tour will be seeing the Stelae Field, the Tomb of King Kaleb, and the Palace of the Queen of Sheba. We will have a free afternoon to make optional visits to other places such as the Church of St. Mary of Zion, the supposed resting place of the Ark of the Covenant.

In Axum we will stay in a basic local hotel.

09

Day 15: Debark

Leaving Axum behind us, we continue our journey with a full day of driving through the foothills of the Simien Mountains to reach the small village of Debark. The roads here are very tough, but we are rewarded with more truly breathtaking scenery!

Debark is the gateway to the Simien Mountains National Park, and on arrival we will have a briefing from our local mountain guide explaining the various trekking options that we will have during our excursion starting the following day.

Here we will stay in a basic hotel.

Estimated Drive Times 9 - 10 hours.

10

Day 16-18: Simien Mountains National Park

Today marks the start of our 3-day excursion into the Simien Mountains National Park. The area is home to some of Africa's most jaw-dropping mountain scenery and is a great opportunity to enjoy some incredibly beautiful treks and breathtaking views!

The area is also home many indigenous animals, and during our time here we hope to spot Lammargeyer vultures, geladas, Walia ibex, and (if we are very lucky) klipspringers and Ethiopian wolves.

We will spend 3 nights in the incredible Simien Mountains National Park. On each day we aim to provide an option for a long trek (of 5-8 hours), a short trek (2-5 hours) or no trekking.

On our first day we aim to wild camp at the area of Sankaber. On our second and third days we aim to wild camp at the area of Chenek (underneath Ras Bwahit, the second-highest mountain in the Simiens, which we hope to get the opportunity to summit).

Please note that we must keep a flexible itinerary in the Simien Mountains, as our options will largely be determined by the weather. 

Please also note that the camping areas in the national park are very basic, and are essentially wild camps with long drop toilets. Please also note that the food and provisions available in Debark and the National Park are very limited, and it is also likely to be very cold at night (often dropping below freezing), so please be prepared!

11

Day 19-20: Gondar

Today we head back out to the mountains to Debark, and then finally join the tarmac road again to reach the ancient royal city of Gondar! 

Estimated Drive Time - 4-6 hours.

On the next day, we will have an included half-day guided tour of the historical sites of Gondar, including Gondar Castle, the King Fasilades' Baths and the Debre Birhan Selassie church. 

In Gondar we will stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities.

12

Day 21: Gedaref

Border Information: Exit Ethiopia at Metema, enter Sudan at Metema.

Today we will leave Ethiopia behind us and drive to the small town of Gedaref, en route to the Sudanese captial of Khartoum.

In Gedaref we will either stay in a basic local hotel in the town or bush camp in the deserts outside.

Estimated Drive Time - 8-10 hours.

13

Day 22: Khartoum

Today we have a full day's drive to Sudan's capital of Khartoum.

In Khartoum we will stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities.

Estimated Drive Time - 7-8 hours.

14

Day 23: Khartoum

Border Information: if joining in Khartoum, you will most likely enter Sudan at Khartoum International Airport (IATA code: KRT).

There will be an important group meeting at 10:00am - please look for a note from your leader at the hotel reception when you arrive with more details about this important meeting. Your leader will need to collect your passport in order to get everyone's visas registered today.

The rest of the day will be free to independently explore Khartoum, including possible optional visits to the impressive Grand Mosque and the bustling Omdurman market.

Please note that many of the options listed below will only be possible for those with extra time in Khartoum before the start of your trip with us - please contact the Sales team if you would like to book pre-tour accommodation with us to have extra time exploring Khartoum.

In Khartoum we stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities.

15

Day 24: Dongola

Today our journey begins with a drive out into the Sahara deserts northwest of Khartoum. We will arrive at the historic site of Old Dongola, once an important city in medieval Nubia. After an included visit to the site, we will wild camp in the stunning deserts nearby.

Estimated Drive Time - 6-8 hours (please note that all drive times given here are approximate estimates only and are given with the best intentions - however please be aware that the drive times are heavily dependent on traffic, road conditions, weather, police roadblocks, and many other factors - flexibility is essential on any overland trip!).

16

Day 25: Wawa

Today we will journey through the remote areas of northern Sudan and the vast Sahara Desert. En route we will visit the Deffufa of Kerma near Dongola, once of the site of the capital of the Kingdom of Kerma, an incredibly ancient civilisation that flourished in the area as long as 5,500 years ago. In the afternoon we will arrive in the small village of Wawa, and will have an included visit to the deserted ruins of the Temple of Soleb on the opposite bank of the Nile.

We will wild camp near the village of Wawa.

Estimated Drive Times - 5-7 hours.

17

Day 26: Karima

Today we will journey to the town of Karima, where we have an included visit to the mysterious site of Jebel Barkal. A very distinctive flat-topped mountain in the desert, the site has some well preserved ancient paintings in a small temple underneath it and a few Nubian pyramids nearby.

We will wild camp in the deserts east of Karima.

Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours.

18

Day 27: Meroe

Today we will visit the incredible and haunting Nuri pyramids of the Kushite era, east of the town of Karima. We will then continue our drive towards the famous site of Meroe, wild camping in the deserts nearby.

Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours.

19

Day 28: Naqa

This morning we will visit the incredible deserted Kushite pyramids of Meroe, one of the most iconic and haunting sites in Sudan. In the afternoon we will move on to the other magnificient Kushite sites of Musawwarat and Naqa - we will visit both highlights and then wild camp in the deserts nearby.

Estimated Drive Time - 1-2 hours.

20

Day 29: Khartoum

Today we will complete our journey back to the Sudanese capital of Khartoum, where we have a much-deserved refresh and relax in the hotel after our time in the desert!

In the evening we will meet up for an included visit to Omdurman to see the weekly gathering of Whirling Dervishes, a magical cultural experience to see in the sunset.

In Khartoum we will return to our comfortable hotel with good facilities.

Estimated Drive Time - 4-5 hours.

21

Day 30: Khartoum

Border Information: if finishing in Khartoum, you will most likely exit Sudan at Khartoum International Airport (IATA code: KRT).

Today is the end day for passengers finishing their trip in Khartoum. Please note there is no accommodation included on the trip tonight - please contact the Dragoman Sales team if you are interested in booking extra nights of accommodation in order to fully explore and take part in some of the optional activities listed below.

Inclusions:
    Activities
    • Overland journey north of Addis Ababa, passing through the immense Blue Nile Gorge
    • Boat trip on Lake Tana from Bahir Dar to visit the monasteries
    • Explore the stunning Blue Nile Falls just downstream of Bahir Dar
    • Guided tour of the ancient rock churches and monasteries at Lalibela
    • Journey out on an incredible 3 day/2 night excursion to the Danakil Depression. 
    • Guided tour of palaces and temples in historic Axum
    • Guided treks in the Simien Mountains National Park
    • Learn all about medieval Ethiopia on a half-day guided tour of the castles, churches and baths of Gondar
    • Explore the curious medieval ruins of Old Dongola in the western deserts of Sudan
    • Visit the pre-Kushite Temple of Deffufa, a 5,500 year old Nubian archaeological site built by the Kerma civilisation
    • Explore the ruins of the Temple of Soleb
    • Visit to the Kushite temples and climb to the summit of the distinctive Jebel Barkal mountain
    • Explore the ancient Kushite Royal Pyramids at Nuri, near Karima
    • Explore the ancient Kushite temples of Naqa and Musawwarat
    • Guided visit of Meroe Pyramids
    • Witness the spectacular Whirling Dervishes of Omdurman
    Accomodation
    • 30% Camping - 70% Hotels
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