11 Days Ethiopian Epiphany Festival Tour

Day 1: Arrive to Addis Ababa

Transfer to the hotel. Start your tour  from the National Archaeological Museum, where the 3.2 million-year old bones of Lucy (a female Australopithecus aphaeresis skeleton) reside, followed by the Ethnographic Museum, Holy Trinity Cathedral renowned for its stunning stain-glassed windows. After lunch  continue to visit the biggest open market in Africa “Merkato” and the African Union Building.

O/n Sidra International Hotel

Day 2: Addis – Bahir Dar          

Fly to Bahir Dar, located on the southern shore of Lake Tana, the source of the Blue Nile. Visit the falls at fafate, meaning ‘smoking water’ in Amharic. After lunch, take a city tour and a drive up to Bazawit Hill for spectacular views in the evening. Then, drive past the 1960s palace of Emperor Haile Selassie and on to the open air market, one of the largest in Northern Ethiopia.
O/n  Kuriftu Resort (Garden View Room)

Day 3: Bahir Dar – Gonder

In the morning, take a boat trip on Lake Tana to visit to the nearby monastery of the Zeghie Peninsula, known for its 14th century, round, grass roofed churches and their magnificent wall murals.

Then after, drive to Gondar, the capital and commercial center of Ethiopia from the 17th to mid-19th century. Driving time is approximately 4 hours. After lunch, explore the sites of Gondar, including a visit to castles of the Royal Enclosure. Continue to Emperor Fasiledes Bath, now best known for the annual Christian festival of Timket where local worshipers descend into the pool to commemorate the baptism of Jesus. Lastly, Ras Gimb Palace Museum and the Debre Birhane Selassie church, with the most iconic ceiling murals in Ethiopia.

Overnight Gonder  Goha  Hotel

Day 4: Gonder – Lalibela

Fly from Gondar to Lalibela, home to one of the world’s most outstanding sacred sites comprising 11 medieval rock-hewn churches.

Overnight in (Sora lodge) Tukul Rooms

Day 5: Lailbela

This morning visit the Monastery of NakutoLa’ab hewn out of a rock cave. Alternatively, take a mule trek to the Asheton Mariam Monastery. After lunch, visit the second group of cave churches built by King Lalibela including the famous Bete Georgis which is located in a deep pit and is accessible only by a tunnel located nearby. You also visit the four churches south of the Jordan River.

Overnight Sora Lodge) Tukul Rooms

Day 6: Lalibela – Aksum city tour and timket festival

Fly from Lalibela to Aksum and take city tour. You will visit some of the main sites of Aksum; the main stelea park. These famed granite obelisks are relics of this time and have gained UNESCO World Heritage site status. The tallest , the Great stelea, has fallen and broken in to six massive pieces , but  when standing was 33 meters (108 feet) tall and weighed about five hundred twenty tones and other remarkable pre-christian monuments .

After lunch we continue the city tour, visiting the swimming pool of Queen of Sheba, Ezana Inscription, tomb of King Kaleb and his son King Gebremeskel.

In the late afternoon around 4:00 p.m attend the colourful religious festival of Epiphany/timket. The ceremony will start from St.Marry Zion church to the swimming pool of queen of Sheba, carried by one head priest and accompany by religious and traditional music. The Ark of the Covenant stays overnight.

Overnight Sabean Hotel

Day7. Aksum Timket Festival

After breakfast, walk 15 minutes to Mai Shum to celebrate the divine festivity of Timket beside the pool. Then the nearby body of water is blessed towards dawn and sprinkled on the participants, some of whom enter the water and immerse themselves, symbolically renewing their baptismal vows. But the festival does not end there;

By noon on Timket day a large crowd has assembled at the ritual site, and the Holy Ark is escorted back to its church in colorful procession. After the procession, continue our visit to St. Marry church where the Ark of covenant is kept. Next, heading to see Queen of Sheba’s palace; the legendary ruler of the south Arabia.

Overnight Yared Zema  Hotel

Day 8.    Aksum –Ghereata
After breakfast, drive to visit the temple of Yeha, dating from the 8th to 7th centuries BC, and thought to be the capital of pre-Aksumite civilization and the museum.  Afterwards, drive minimum for 2 hours to reach Adigrat and stop for a lunch there. After lunch proceed through the state of Tigray, stopping en-route for a visit to the rock-hewn church of Medhani Alem AdiKesho.

Overnight in Hawzien (Gheralta lodge)

Day 9. Gheralta Churches

Today we drive 12 km west of Hawzien to visit the marvelous churches of Mariam Korkor and Daniel Korkor, back to lodge for lunch. In the afternoon, walk dawn to the town and visit Teklehaymanot church, dated back to 4thc A.D.

Overnight in Hawuzien (Gherealta lodge)

Day 10. Gheralta -Mekelle
In the morning, drive from the lodge south of hawzien to visit Abune Abraham church, offer spectacular views of gheralta , and continue visiting churches of Abreha we Atsbeha / Ezana and Saizana/two twin kings of Aksum built and rested here . This is one of the ancient and most beautiful churches in Tigray dated back to the 4thc A.D.

Overnight Planet Hotel based

Day 11.  Mekelle to Addis

After breakfast, visit Mekelle city in the morning and fly back in the afternoon to Addis and then depart home.

End of the tour!

Ethiopian Timket festival