Tropic Air is a small, privately owned business, set up in the early 1990′s with the vision to open up northern Kenya to visitors. Today, Tropic Air is one of Kenya’s best recognized and leading air charter company, operating single engine Cessna aircraft and helicopters, offering trips in Kenya, Uganda, Congo, Rwanda and Ethiopia. Extraordinary Journeys is excited to be able to partner with Tropic Air to provide unforgettable trips to Ethiopia and Kenya by helicopter. This trips not only provide stunning scenery and incredible access to remote locations with expert pilot/guides but also offer travelers the chance for spontaneous and authentic interactions with local communities you meet along the way.
Day 1 ~ Addis Ababa
Your expedition begins in the Ethiopian capital – Addis Ababa. Addis Ababa is the fourth largest city in Africa - a melting pot of cultures and a bizarre combination of past and present - Italian Fascist buildings sit alongside luxurious high rise hotels; priests in medieval robes mix with African bureaucrats and wandering minstrels singing songs that are centuries-old. Around the corner, neon signs light up modern bars and discotheques beat with the latest global hits.
Here you will meet your pilot (one of three who run all of the Ethiopia trips) and your helicopter. Depending on your arrival time, there is plenty to do during the day with options to enjoy a city tour and go to the National Museum, which houses the 3.5 million year-old skeleton of ‘Lucy’ - the oldest hominid ever found. Traditional song houses and local markets can also be visited. The Ristorante Castelli restaurant is a great option for dinner -serving excellent Italian cuisine.
Overnight at the Sheraton Hotel.
Day 2 & 3 ~ Lalibela via Blue Nile Gorge
You will arrive in Lalibela mid morning. In the company of a local guide, you will visit some of the famous 12th century rockhewn churches. The city of Lalibela is, together with Axum, one of the two most important holy cities in Ethiopia, due to its famous rock-hewn churches, the largest monolithic rock-hewn buildings in the world. The city and its churches are considered have been declared World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
The city was constructed by King Lalibela of the short ruling Zagwe dynasty after the fall of the Axumite Empire around the 11th century. The churches were carved out of the red granite rock of the Lasta Mountains in only 40 years. Many of the churches are connected with each other by means of narrow underground passages. In the caves and passages and in the churches, priests and monks can be found reading the Holy Bible and praying. Each church has its own unique architectural style and most are decorated with well-preserved paintings. The most elaborate and most famous church is the Bete Giorgis church, in the shape of a perfect Greek cross.
Today, it is not only the physical structures that remain frozen in time, but a place of pilgrimage for many of Ethiopia’s Orthodox Christians.
Overnight at Mountain View Hotel.
This morning you head north enjoying a spectacular flight following the course of the Tekeze River. The Tekezé River has created one of the world’s deepest canyons – over 2000 feet in places.
In mid-morning you will land in the Simien Mountains. At 4,543 meters (almost 15,000 feet), the Simiens are Ethiopia’s highest range, home to the fascinating Gelada baboon, elusive Ethiopian Wolf and the endemic Walia Ibex. A vehicle will meet you, and you will spend time enjoying the unique life in these remote mountains.
Accommodation for the next 4 nights will be at Gheralta Lodge, your base to explore the Siemen Mountains, the Dankil Depression and Tigray.
With a picnic breakfast on board, you embark on a dawn flight to the Simiens. With the sun behind you, the jagged spires and pinnacles are an impressive sight. Lammergerie vultures are found exclusively in mountainous terrain, and we often have great sightings of them soaring overhead. After a picnic breakfast, you will continue onto the fascinating town of Aksum - famous for Stellae (granite monuments). The ruins of the a ncient city of Aksum mark the heart of a ncient Ethiopia, when the Kingdom of Aksu m was the most powerful state between the Eastern Roma n Empire & Persia. Pilgrims still journey to Aksum and the majority of Ethiopians passionately believe that the Ark of the Covenant resides here. In the afternoon you will explore the Tigray region and some of its incredible rock-hewn churches, believed to date back to the 6th or 7th Century.
Overnight at Gheralta Lodge.
This morning you head for the Danakil Depression - a place of acid lakes, volcanoes and giant salt pans. More than 100 meters (330 feet) below sea level, the Danakil Depression is peppered with colourful sulphurous springs, acid lakes, active volcanoes and giant salt pans. Some of the hottest temperatures known to man are found here in the Danakil Depression. Unlike anything else on this planet, this extraordinary place is located on a geographical fault within the Great Rift Valley, at the Horn of Africa. On route you may catch sight of camel trains belonging to the Afar nomadic people. You will also visit Irta Ale a volcano in a state of continuous eruption since 1967 and the most famous of the Danakil Depression’s volcanoes.
Overnight at Gheralta Lodge.
Today you will continue your exploration of the churches of the Tigray region. The amazing rock-hewn churches are perched on top of steep hills, or carved into cliff faces only accessible by narrow foot paths which scale up the edge of the hills. Very little is known about the origin of the 120 year old rock churches or their architectural history. Local tradition attributes most of the churches to the 4th century Aksumite Kings, Abreha and Atsbeha. Inside many of the churches are colourful frescoes - hundreds of years old. The priests who live on these mountains follow a simple life that revolves around the Orthodox Christian calendar.Your exploration will be led by an exception local guide who provides unique access to the churches and their ancient artifacts. Only by helicopter is it possible to see all eight of the regions most famous churches in a day (they are several hours on foot apart from one another).
Overnight at Gheralta Lodge.
Days 8 & 9
Today you will return to Addis Ababa - the final journey of our adventure follows the western wall of the Great Rift Valley. Spend a night at the Sheraton Hotel before departing the next day.
The price for this incredible adventure starts at:
$69,000 per person for 2 passengers (excluding international flights)
$36,500 per person for 4 passengers (excluding international flights)
In addition to this program we also have an 8 day Kenya by helicopter program and 3 day helicopter program in Northern Kenya which can be built into a longer trip. We also welcome the opportunity to work with you to build your perfect trip!