When you take a private tour of Gondar, you will be royally impressed with the wonderful experiences.
Gondar is often referred to as the ‘Camelot’ of Africa because it is a Royal and ancient historical city of Ethiopia. From the mid-12th century all the way to early 20th century, it has been home to many Emperors and Princess that were leaders of the country.
Naturally, with a city that has had so much royalty living in it, many castles and palaces were built. On a sightseeing tour of Gondar, you will be brought to see what remains of them. Some are in complete ruins and others have been preserved exceptionally well.
When you visit the castles here, you do feel as if you have stepped back in time or onto a made up movie set.
When they describe Gondar as ‘Camelot’ of Africa, it is an injustice to the city because at the end of the day ‘Camelot’ is legend while Gondar is real! Read More...
Take a Fascinating Sightseeing Tour to the Medieval Fasil Ghebbi
Interesting places to see around Gondar, other than a sightseeing tour to Fasil Ghebbi, include The Simien Mountain National Park. Here you can hike to the peaks and from the lookouts see the spectacular views.
The largest lake in Ethiopia, Lake Tana is found near Gondar. When you visit here, there are numerous excursions to take that include boat tours to some of the 37 small islands scattered about the lake which have ancient monasteries and churches.
There is a market held in Gondar that was originally only held on Saturdays, but due to its popularity, it is now held every day. Enjoy a very enjoyable time going around this market buying traditional gifts and sampling local cuisine.
Top 10 Things to Do in Gondar
Debre Birhan Selassie
On a guided tour of Debre Birhan Selassie in Gondar, you see for yourself why it is famed for its beautiful examples of church art of Ethiopia. This most important church of Ethiopia was built by an emperor and preserved by an archangel. From the outside, you think the church is plain but when you enter inside, there is nothing plain. Along the walls, there are biblical scenes and saints depicted and hundreds of angels look down from the ceiling.
Located in Gondar, on the high plateau of northern Ethiopia is Fasil Ghebbi. This fortified royal enclosure which looks like a medieval fortress is a great place to take a guided tour. It was built around 1636 by Emperor Fasilidas when he moved his capital to Gondar. Within the walls, there are palaces, monasteries, churches, public and private buildings originally of Hindu and Arab influence but later transformed to Baroque.
Empress Mentewab’s Kuskuam Complex
On a sightseeing tour of Empress Mentewab’s Kuskuam Complex, you will realise that even though it is not as well preserved as other palaces in Gondar, it makes up for ion history. It is said that the after the death of her husband, Empress Mentewab built this complex in 1730. She wanted it in a remote area to keep her away from other men and gossip; it achieved neither! There are lots of building to explore on tour.
Take a guided tour to Ras Gimb, a museum found in Gondar. The building is believed to have been built sometime between the 17th and 18th century as details are a bit sketchy. It was once a palace that served as a retreat for Haile Selassie, a torture chamber for the Derg and a residence for generals of Italy before becoming a museum of Gondor's history. There are many items to see such as objects found at the palace and furniture.
Just outside the north of Gondar is what remains of Falasha Village. On a sightseeing tour, stop off at the several stalls that have signs with 'Star of David' and 'Falasha Village' because this is where the former Falasha village was. It was home to Ethiopian Jews but in the 1980’s the majority were airlifted to Israel. There are a few original houses that have interesting fronts and artwork. There is also a small synagogue.
When you are on a sightseeing tour, visit the historical site Fasiladas Bath. There is a large pool in a rectangular shape that is overlooked by a very charming vacation home for Fasiladas. This is a very attractive and peaceful spot and the tree roots that are growing through the cracks in the walls, all add to the charm. While it was used for swimming, it was also used for religious celebrations. Once a year the water was blessed by the bishop.
Take a sightseeing tour to the largest lake in Ethiopia, Lake Tana. It is the source and from here that the famed Blue Nile river starts its journey to Khartoum. There are some 37 islands scattered about the lake that are home to amazing monasteries and churches that can be dated back to the 13th century. Taking a private cruise tour is one of the most enjoyable excursions in Ethiopia and a relaxing way to see the sights.
Ura Kidane Mehret
On one of the islands on Lake Tana, take a guided tour to the Ura Kidane Mehret. This monastery is regarded as the most beautiful of all the monasteries and churches in this area. The church was built back in the 16th century in the typical style of other Ethiopian churches, circular in shape from the outside and the interior has beautiful paintings of varies biblical stories and of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.
Simien Mountains National Park
The natural beauties and unique wildlife found in the Simien Mountains National Park make for a great sightseeing tour when in northern Ethiopia. The exotic setting offers breathtaking views of the landscape. The high mountains have steep cliffs and deep gorges that are almost like canyons. The fabulous wildlife that can be seen include Simien Fox, Ethiopian wolf, the Klipspringer, Gelada Baboon and several birds of prey.
When all the sightseeing tours are done, a great way to spend a few hours is in the Kidame Gebya. This market was originally just held on a Saturday but later became a daily thing. Saturday is the busiest day and Sunday is quiet. The busier it is, the better fun you have with the stall holders. It is possible to get traditional clothes one end of the market and fresh fruit and vegetables the other. You may pick up the odd souvenir here!
Travel Tips for Gondar
Best Time To Visit
The best time to visit Gondar for comfortable weather when doing sightseeing tours is during the months of November and December, temperatures are around 19 degrees Celsius. If you are happy to be in Gondar when it is hot, then April and May are the months for you with temperature over 22 degrees Celsius. On average the coldest month is July but even then the temperatures are only as low as 17 degrees Celsius
Gondar is on average 5% cheaper than other cities in Ethiopia such as Addis Ababa. The choice of accommodation in Gondar is limited but excellent for the price you are paying. A meal in a traditional restaurant costs very little and yet very tasty. Private tour operators will try to overcharge you so always haggle the price and leave if you are not happy. The majority of vendors in Ethiopia have a different price for tourists!
Know Before Visiting
When going on private tours or sightseeing tours on Gondar when the weather is hot and humid, be sure to have lots of water with you. When it comes to water, only drink bottled water and ensure the cap is sealed when buying it. When going on tours, always stay in the group and try not to have too much cash on you as there are pickpockets all over the world. At night it is not advisable to walk alone in the dark.
The weather in Gondar is on average mild, temperate and warm. The average temperature for the hottest month of the year is 22 degrees Celsius and that is in April. The coldest month, August. is only 4 degrees lower with an average temperature of 18 degrees Celsius. It tends to rain, at some stage, every month of the year. July is the wettest month with August a close second and January is the driest.