Cycle tour through the highlands of Ethiopia

Ethiopia: this is not just the mountainous highlands in northeastern Africa. Coptic churches, vibrant colourful villages, hospitable locals, delicious food, plus a very pleasant dry, mostly warm climate make this country a very exciting destination for cycling. As always, we travel in small groups of 8-16 participants with a guide on the bike plus the accompanying vehicle.

Tour program:

km=kilometre, am= altitude meter

The tour runs mainly between 2000 and 2700 meters, three times above 3000 meters with 3600 meters being the highest point.

Day 1: Arrival in Ethiopia

Arrival in Bahir Dar, transfer to Hotel. In the afternoon we test the bikes in the hotel garden and make adjustments where necessary. Short bike tour (+/- 12 km). Stay for three nights at the Abay Minch Lodge. (L,D)

Day 2: Cycling tour to the Blue Nile Waterfall

Today the real bike adventure begins. We depart by bike from the hotel and ride the first 6 km through the village on a busier road and then turn down onto a wide, but quite dirt road. The dusty road runs mainly downhill (cycling a total of 1,800 meters to 1,600 meters above sea level) through a beautiful agricultural area. We regularly cycle through small villages welcomed by the many enthusiastic schoolchildren. After 34 km we come via a small dirt road at the entrance of the Blue Nile Valley Waterfalls. We have a picnic lunch sitting on small benches in a local coffee booth while the guides put the bikes back on the bike trailer. In the afternoon we walk over the oldest stone bridge in Ethiopia and cross a long suspension bridge to a beautiful viewpoint of the waterfalls. Afterwards, it is still a kilometre on a dried grass path back to the support vehicle. Transfer back to the hotel. (34 km, 50 am or 68 km, 300 am, tar/gravel road) (B,L,D)

Day 3: Cycling tour around Lake Tana

After an early breakfast we ride 7 km by bicycle through the village towards the shores of Lake Tana. We turn right onto a wide dirt road, which runs through a vast agricultural area. Along the way, we meet regularly shepherds with their small herds of skinny cows. After a drink/rest stop under a big tree, overlooking a small village, we cycle along a narrow road with beautiful views of a large lake. After 30 km, we cycle through Victory, a lively village and the road gets steep for a short 500 meters. After a nice descent, we come to the entrance of Ura Kidane Mihret church. This round church interior decorated with beautiful, brightly colored murals is between 100 to 250 years old. After an extensive visit we take the bike to the shores of the lake and enjoy a picnic lunch on a nice terrace overlooking the lake. In the afternoon we take a boat to Dek Island to visit the Narga Selassie monastery and en route visiting the utlet of the Blue Nile. The Boat trip will take a total of 3 and half to 4 hours. The sightseeing in Narga Selassie may take a maximum of 2 hours. There will be a possibility of visiting Hippos on the way back to Bahir Dar. (33 km, 200 am, Tar/Gravel Road) (B,L,D)

Day 4: Cycling tour to Gondar

After a tranfer to Emfraz we start biking ride through a desolate landscape, punctuated by lively villages, we arrive at Azezo where we put the bikes on the trailer for a short transfer to the former capital of Gondar. In the afternoon, we visit the many ruins of palaces and castles in this ancient royal city, led by a local guide. (55 km, 600 am, gravel road) Goha Hotel (B,L,D)

Day 5: Cycling tour into the Simien Mountains

After an early breakfast we take the support vehicle +/- 50 km away from the city, where we unload the bikes. We cycle up and down over a nice asphalt road, through villages and small towns. The closer we get to the Simien mountains, the more eucalyptus trees we see on the side of the road. Upon arrival in Debark, we pay the entrance fee of the park and have a basic lunch at a local restaurant. The bike ride in the afternoon on gravel is difficult, partly because of the altitude. We pass some poor villages where the locals welcome us warmly. During the first km, there are some descents, then it is mostly uphill, some long and steep climbs. However, there is always the assistance of the support vehicle to assist weary cyclists. (70 km, 550 am, tar/gravel road) Stay for two nights at the Simien Lodge. (B,L,D)

Day 6: Hiking excursion into the Simien Mountains

No biking today: In the morning coolness we start our day walk led by a local guide. We walk all day (6 to 7 hours) along the mountain ridge with beautiful views of the surrounding mountains. Because of the altitude we take it easy. Around noon, we plan a picnic lunch at one of the breathtaking viewpoints. We end the day with an extensive visit at the baboons (monkey species typical of this region), who are getting ready to sleep overnight in one of the many caves in the neighborhood. (B,L,D)

Day 7: Cycling tour into the Tekeze Mountains

Today we start with a long transfer (170 km) by support vehicle through the Tekeze mountains. The road, further to the north through spectacular scenery, is still partially under construction. The road winds through the beautiful mountains, again the views are unique and spectacular. At lunch time we stop at a small local restaurant to eat a picnic lunch. Arriving at the height of a beautiful open space, we get on the bikes and ride on a good asphalt road through a vast agricultural area. The road goes slightly up and down, but despite of the sometimes strong wind, the route is not very sporty. In Shire we load the bikes on the trailer and drive the last 60 km to Axum. (40 km, 600 am, tar/gravel road, cycling distance can be extended if desired). For two nights we stay at the Yared Zema International Hotel (B,L,D)

Day 8: Visit and cycling tour in and around Axum

In the morning we have a city tour led by a local guide to visit the many cultural highlights of the city. We start this historical section with an extensive visit to the obelisks and the accompanying tombs. Afterwards, the church (not museum), the stone of Ezana and the Tomb of Kaleb and Gebre Meskel. We have lunch in a nice restaurant in the old town. In the afternoon, we undertake a short bike ride through the small villages in the area of Axum. (20 km, 100 am, gravel road, distance can be extended if desired) (B,L,D)

Day 9: Cycling tour along the foothills of the Adwa Mountains

In the morning, we leave the hotel for a transfer trough the peaks of Adwa. On these mountains 40,000 Ethiopians lost their lives in 1896, after a courageous battle (which they won!) against the Italians. After an hour, we turn on a gravel road towards the pre-Axumite Temple. We visit the ruins of the temple and adjoining church in the company of a local guide. In Adigrat, we stop for a delicious lunch in a local restaurant. After lunch, we drive another 20 km on a ridge, before unloading the bikes. At an altitude of 2750 meters above sea level, we start with a wonderful descent of +/- 5km. Afterwards we ride on a beautiful piece of tarmac road up and down along a winding river. There is one long ascent, which is not really steep, but as always you have the assistance of the support vehicle. Then we cycle on a flat and very quiet tarmac path between the different farms. The typical Tigra style, buildings made from stone with pitched roofs, bordered by large stones and with sand and grass in between. After 42 km we arrive in the dusty Hawzen. For two nights we stay in Geraltha Lodge or Korkor Lodge, subject to availability. (50 km, 300 am, tar/gravel road) (B,L,D)

Day 10: Cycling tour through the Gheralta Mountains

Today we have a day trip on bicycles through the beautiful scenery of the Gheralta mountains. We cycle through the countryside and enjoy the many spectacular views of the red-brown mountains. Most of the ride on this day is on a dirt road. Along the way we visit the little church of Dugum Silassie. The route is rather sportive, a combination of climbing and descending. Eventhough the state of the road is poor, the landscape is very unique. As always you have the assistance of the support vehicle. After 33 km we arrive at the church of Abreha We Atsibeha. Depending on the time of arrival, we have a picnic lunch here. Given the next day will be a longer bike ride, we suggest loading the bikes on the trailer and drive back to the lodge. (50 km, 300 am, sandy gravel road, return cycle possible but rather strenuous) (B,L,D)

Day 11: Cycling tour to Abi Adi

After a delicious breakfast, we depart on bicycle from the hotel, back to Megab. The road winds for kilometres through the varied landscape of russet mountains and plains full of cacti. As there are no visits planned today, we have the whole day to cover the 70 km. Along the way we stop for a picnic lunch in the shade of a large tree. The bike ride to Abi Adi is really beautiful. Here we load the bikes and drive an hour to Mekkele. (73 km, 900 am, Tar/Gravel Road) Stay for 2 nights in either Debre Amo Guest House or Axum Hotel (B,L,D)

Day 12: Visit the animal market of Woldiya

Today there is no cycling: on the rest day we will transfer to Woldiya. This day should fall on a Thursday, then you can visit the very busy and lively market where they trade camels, goats and cattle. Stay at the simple “Lal Hotel“ (B,L,D)

Day 13: Cycling tour to Gashena

After an early breakfast we take the support vehicle to Dilibe, a small village. While we drink a coffee, bikes are removed from the trailer and the cycle tor starts. We cycle all day on a dirt road through a very desolated landscape interrupted by charming settlements. The condition of the road and the many climbs make it a bit of a challenge but the support vehicle is always nearby to assist the riders. We stop for a picnic lunch while the bikes are loaded to transfer us to Lalibela. (57 km, 260 am, Gravel Road) Mountain View Hotel (B,L,D)

Day 14: Visit of Lalibela

While enjoying the nice breakfast in our hotel you can marvel at the spectacular views of the low lying fields. With a local guide we go on an extended visit to the highlights of this ancient city, known as the Black Jerusalem. We will explore the various rock churches in the company of many pilgrims and colourful priests. We end this beautiful day with a sunset over Bet Giorgis (House of St. George), a church in the shape of a cross carved into the rock. (B,L,D)

Day 15: Cycling tour around Lalibela

Today will be an active and beautiful day. We cycle on a gravel road where some patches are in poor condition. The undulating road with many ups and downs leave little chance to recover. However, it is not required to cycle the whole distance, the support vehicle is always around to pick up the weary travelers. The route is beautiful and we stop every 10 km to replenish our energy reserves. A very nice 4-5 km long winding descent leads to a scenic drive through small, rather poor villages stretched between the mountains. After a picnic lunch it is just a 10 minutes’ walk to the Yemrehanna Kristos Church. After an extensive visit, we take the support vehicle back to Lalibela where we enjoy a last meal. (43 km, 1100 am, Gravel Road) Mountain View Lodge (B,L,D)

Day 16: Return journey

Transfer to the airport where this incredible tour ends.

Accommodation subject to availability


Services included:

• All accommodation based on twin room occupancy
• All meals on full board basis
• All entrance fees on sites, churches, parks and villages
• All internal travel including all transfers, tours and excursions using a new model Toyota coaster bus and or Minivans when necessary and according to the itineray
• All ground transportation as mentioned above (The ground transportation includes fuel, driver allowance and insurance).
• English speaking cycling guide
• Bike rental fee (Ridley Blast 29er)
• Local guide and scout fees in parks and villages
• Boat trip Lake Tana monasteries, crossing the Blue Nile river to the falls and boat to Gorgora
• A traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony at a convenient time in the program
• Portage fees
• Government taxes

Not included:

• International and domestic Flights
• Travel insurance
• Alcoholic drinks
• Video filming and photography fees
• Incidental meals, snacks and drinks
• Tips and items of personal nature like laundry, souvenirs, etc
• All that is not included in the list above

Trip at google maps

Level of fitness  
Grading of accommodation  

Group size

8 - 16 Participants
Terms & Conditions
Extra services
Single room surcharge USD 650