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Explore Northern Ethiopia with the Mountain Bike

Ethiopia is a true cycling destination. Especially in Northern Ethiopia where mountains and deep valleys combined with a nice mix of asphalt and gravel roads are the best for our mountain biking adventures.

UNDERSTAND OUR ICONS

Accompanied by one of our experienced German speaking bike guides this tour is a great multi-active adventure where you discover the natural beauty of Northern Ethiopia. Discover the Lasta Mountains around Lalibela and Simien National Park in the saddle through trails and gravel roads with stunning views and breathtaking downhill rides. Move on to the picturesque Gheralta province, the Arizona of Ethiopia, where sandstone pillars rise towards the skies and do some cycling along green valleys. And don’t miss the UNESCO World Heritages in the ancient city of Axum, the holy city of Lalibela and the 17th century castles of Gondar. Last but not least, the beautiful Wenchi Crater Lake brings a nice relaxing end to your journey.

Dates:

  • GR03-01: February 13 to 27, 2021
  • GR03-02: October 2 to 16, 2021

Tour code: GR03

Operator: SimienEcoTours

Gallery

Itinerary & In/Exclusions

Day 1

Arrival in Addis Ababa & city excursion

Flight time: 1h

Travel: 1-2 h, 50 km

Hiking: 1-2 h, 3 km (difficulty: easy, altitude difference: ↑50m, ↓50m)

Welcome to Ethiopia! At the airport we load the customer bikes onto the truck, so that they can already start their long journey to the north of Ethiopia. After a refreshment in the hotel and the possibility to get the rooms we use the rest of the day to get to know the capital of Ethiopia a little bit better. In the newly opened Entoto Park we walk through the eucalyptus forests and enjoy the fresh mountain air. After lunch, a visit to the Addis Ababa City Museum gives you a great insight into the history of the capital, before we return to the hotel.

Meals: B/L/D

Accommodation: Early check-in at Vamos Hotel or similar, Addis Ababa

Day 2

First biking in Lalibela & visit of rock churches

Flight time: 1 h

Travel: 1-2 h, 50 km

Biking: 1-2 h, 5-10 km (difficulty: easy, altitude difference: ↑100m, ↓100m)

This morning a domestic flight takes you to the holy city of Lalibela, which is beautifully situated in  the Lasta Mountains. In the hotel your bikes await you and can be mounted together after the transport. After lunch you explore the town a little bit from the saddle as a first gentle acclimatization with the bikes. You also visit the world famous rock churches in the heart of Lalibela. These wonders of church architecture are a must for every visitor to Ethiopia.

Meals: B/L/D

Accommodation: Cliff Edge Hotel or similar, Lalibela

Day 3

Cycle the surrounds of Lalibela

Biking: 2-5 h, 22-50 km (difficulty: moderate/difficult, altitude difference: ↑200-500m, ↓500-800m)

Hiking: 4 h, 10 km (difficulty: moderate/difficult, altitude difference: ↑400m, ↓400m)

The surrounding area of Lalibela is no less impressive than the city itself. It is time to start the first real bike adventure. The tarmac road leading out of Lalibela gets lost quickly and soon you are on your own surrounded by the majestic Lasta Mountains until the village of Genete Mariam. Here you have the opportunity to park the bikes and hike to one of the most beautiful and undiscovered rock churches in Ethiopia. The cave church Makina Medane Alem can be reached by a steep 3 hour climb. If you are not into hiking, you can continue by bike and explore the valleys. In the late afternoon, the group meets again in Genete Mariam, from where you will return by vehicle to Lalibela.

Meals: B/L/D

Accommodation: Cliff Edge Hotel or similar, Lalibela

Day 4

Onwards to the medieval town of Gondar

Flight time: 1 h

Travel: 0.5 h, 10 km

Biking: 1 h, 20 km (difficulty: easy, altitude difference: ↑100m, ↓600m)

A day of travel does not necessarily have to be a day without cycling. Your plane to Gondar does not leave until a little later in the morning, so that there is still enough time to make a tour with the bikes. You drive over a nice stretch to the airport, load the bikes on the truck there and start your onwards journey with a domestic flight to Gondar. The city, with its castles and palaces is considered the "Camelot of Africa" and the afternoon is dedicated to its history. The Fasil Ghebbi is a park with a total of five castles from the 17th century, which is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Ethiopia.

Meals: B/L/D

Accommodation: Herfazy Resort or similar, Gondar

Day 5

The first climb on the bikes to Kossoye

Biking: 3-4 h, 30 km (difficulty: moderate, altitude difference: ↑600m, ↓300m)

Hiking: 1-2 h, 2-4 km (difficulty: moderate, altitude difference: ↑100m, ↓100m)

Today your cycling through the foothills of the Simien National Park is scheduled after lunch, so that this morning there is still time to enjoy another of Gondar's sights. The Debre Birhan Selassie Church, with its magnificent paintings is dotted with 18th century church art and is one of the most beautiful churches in Ethiopia.

After a small refreshment we leave Gondar for the first small mountain stage to the nearby village of Kossoye. The road winds slowly into the mountains and a few times it goes along a ridge with great views into the mountains. Finally you reach your destination, the Kossoye Eco-Lodge. From your bungalows you can relax and enjoy the great views or take one of the walking and hiking opportunities around the lodge.

Meals: B/L/D

Accommodation: Befikir Kossoye Eco-Lodge or similar, Kossoye

Day 6

Simien Mountains National Park

Travel: 1-2 h, 90 km

Biking: 3-4 h, 20-50 km (difficulty: moderate, altitude difference: ↑300-600m, ↓300-600m)

Hiking: 0.5 h, 1 km (difficulty: moderate, altitude difference: ↑50m, ↓50m)

Today you cycle in the middle of the nature of the Simien National Park. Your vehicle brings you and the bikes into the park, where the tour can begin. A good dirt road leads you deeper into the park. On the way lies the Jinbar Waterfall, an impressive rest stop, where you can see the water plunge almost 400 meters into the depth from a viewpoint. You ride as far as the bike take you, track lengths are variable and every group member can ride to their own enjoyment. In the early evening you arrive in the comfortable Simien Lodge.

Meals: B/L/D

Accommodation: Simien Lodge or similar, Simien Mountains National Park

Day 7

A ride down the Limalimo Escarpment

Travel: 4-5 h, 270 km

Biking: 4-5 h, 40-50 km (difficulty: easy/moderate, altitude difference: ↑300m, ↓1,800-2,200m)

After two days high up in the mountains, one of the most spectacular descents in the country lies ahead of you today. An old Italian gravel road leads you over 40 kilometres of serpentines into the valleys, which are almost 2,000 metres lower. You cycle through centuries-old forests and villages. A morning to remember.

After a rapid bike ride for about 4-5 hours you meet your vehicle and continue your journey to Axum, where you will arrive in the late afternoon.

Meals: B/L/D

Accommodation: Atranos Hotel or similar, Axum

Day 8

Sightseeing in Axum and Adwa Mountains

Travel: 2-3 h, 120 km

Biking: 2-3 h, 20 km (difficulty: easy/moderate, altitude difference: ↑100m, ↓400m)

The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Axum tells the story of the Axumite empire, which ruled large parts of East Africa and the Arabian Peninsula in the 2nd century AD. Today the steale graves of former rulers are the remains of this lost culture. The Archaeological Museum also offers a good overview of the history and archeology. On a city tour in the morning you learn a lot of exciting things about the Axumites with your guide.

After lunch you start the next bike trip. In the landscapes of the Adua mountains it is great to cycle and the Ethiopian National Cycling Team trains here as well. A pleasant ride to your lodge.

Meals: B/L/D

Accommodation: Gheralta Lodge or similar, Hawzien

Day 9

Day trip in the picturesque mountains

Biking: 5-6 h, 60 km (difficulty: moderate, altitude difference: ↑400-800m, ↓400-800m)

Your bicycle day trip takes you to the remote corners of the Gheralta region. Picturesque villages surrounded by the red sandstone mountains of the Tigray form a dreamlike scenery for your day and are so different from what you have seen so far. In the evening you return to our accommodation where you are already expected. After the stages of the last days, where the hotel changed frequently, it is nice to enjoy the comfort of a lodge extensively. And you will be here tomorrow as well!

Meals: B/L/D

Accommodation: Gheralta Lodge or similar, Hawzien

Day 10

Relaxing at the lodge or optional biking

Travel: 1-2 h, 50 km

Biking: 3-4 h, 30-40 km (difficulty: moderate, altitude difference: ↑100-200m, ↓200-300m)

The Gheralta region is certainly one of the most fascinating landscapes in Ethiopia. One reason why you spend your time here so intensively. For all those who need a break from cycling in the mountains, today is a quiet day. Sleep in, have an extensive breakfast and relax in the lodge. In the afternoon you have the possibility to explore one of the rock churches of the region by car and on foot.

But it can also be more active today. If a too relaxed day is too much for you, the bikes are ready for another adventure over remote slopes through valleys to a rock church of the region. Afterwards back to the lodge

Meals: B/L/D

Accommodation: Gheralta Lodge or similar, Hawzien

Day 11

Ending the trip in Gurage Region

Flight time: 1.5 h

Travel: 6-7 h, 200 km

High up in the north of Ethiopia the way back to Addis Ababa is long, so you have to already load your bike for the return transport to Addis and then Europe. So for the group it is time to get to know Ethiopia from another perspective. The next days you will spend hiking! You transfer to the airport in Mekelle and fly to Addis Ababa, from where you travel to the Gurage region. At the end of the trip you stay in the pleasant Negash Resort in the town of Wolisso for the next two nights. Its large park is invitingly designed and offers a great ambience for the end of your journey. Ethiopia's diversity enchants. Here at Gurage you experience a different Ethiopia than in the last weeks in the north.

Meals: B/L/D

Accommodation: Negash Resort or similar, Wolisso

Day 12

Hiking at Wenchi Crater Lake

Travel: 2-3 h, 60 km

Hiking: 4-5 h, 12 km (difficulty: moderate/difficult, altitude difference: ↑500m, ↓500m)

Not far from the lodge lies the Wenchi Crater Lake, whose surrounding area is inviting for great and eventful hikes. On today's hike around the lake you will experience the rural Gurage culture up close and visit farming families, bathe in hot springs and take a boat to cross the lake. In the evening you enjoy the last evening of your journey with a farewell dinner.

Meals: B/L/D

Accommodation: Negash Resort or similar, Wolisso

Day 13

Farewell Ethiopia

Travel: 3-4 h, 120 km

Even though today is the day of departure, you are not in a hurry. You spend the morning at the lodge and after lunch you leave for Addis Ababa, which is only 100 km away. If you want to, you still have the possibility to do errands or buy souvenirs in Addis Ababa in the afternoon. There is also the possibility to book a day room extra in order to refresh oneself before the night flight. Dinner rounds off the trip and you will be transferred to the airport. The planes to Europe usually leave Addis Ababa after 10pm.

Meals: B/L/D

Accommodation: ---

Included

Our services include:
  • all (3) domestic flights in Ethiopia (Addis Ababa-Lalibela, Lalibela-Gondar, Mekelle-Addis) with Ethiopian Airlines in tourist class, Note: If the international flight is with a carrier other than Ethiopian Airlines, there will be a supplement of € 290 for the domestic flights;
  • all accommodation in double/double rooms with WC/shower in hotels or lodges (4x high-range, 8x mid-range) (Double rooms with same-sex partner; in case of single occupancy because no same-sex partner is found, half of the single room surcharge applies);
  • all transfers and travels in Ethiopia by private vehicle (minibus or coaster bus);
  • permanent escort vehicle for bicycle transport;
  • full board (1 drink per meal included, alcoholic drinks excluded);
  • all entrance fees and permissions at tourist attractions, churches, museums and national parks;
  • all entrance fees for sights, churches, museums and national parks;
  • for Simien National Park: entrance fees, local guides, scouts and rangers;
  • all persons for safety and security (when prescribed);
  • all taxes and administrative fees;
  • all tips for meals;
  • all (mandatory) local guides in the single destinations;
  • 24/7 emergency assistance;
  • experienced SimienEcoTours BikeGuide (fluent in German and Amharic).

Optional

Our optional services:
  • Rental mountain bikes from SimienEcoTours (Scott Scale 980, model 2018/19, sizes S-XL) (extra charge: € 250)
  • Extra night in Addis Ababa for guests arriving early (€ 60 in double room or € 50 in single room incl. airport shuttle)
  • Day room at the end of the trip in Addis Ababa (€ 60 in a double room or € 50 in a single room).

Excluded

Our services do not include:
  • international flights;
  • travel insurance;
  • visa for Ethiopia (currently € 46);
  • alcoholic beverages;
  • tips;
  • photo and video fees (if applicable);
  • all extras and personal expenses.