Ethiopian religious festival celebrations are colorful and vibrant. Book this special tour and visit the people when they celebrate Timket- Epiphany festival in Lalibela. The tour also includes a visit of the major historical sites.
Trip Dates 15 - 27 January 2014, The trip begins and ends in Addis Ababa.
This trip begins with a rendezvous at the airport in Addis Ababa on Day 1. Please arrange your flight schedule so you will arrive on the correct day. But on your special request we can arrange other transfer for those arriving earlier.
Ethiopia developed a culture all of its own: its language, customs and arts are all distinctive. Surprisingly, not much has changed and the culture of the people is as it was long time ago. Religion is a constant and central feature of Ethiopians society. The traditions and festivals that take place thought out the country are deeply rooted and all are the more poignant.
Ethiopia also has rich tradition of secular and religions music, singing and dancing, and these together constitute an important part of Ethiopian natural life.
The main Highlights of this Ethiopia tour is to visit the celebration of Ethiopian Epiphany- Timket, on 19 January in Lalibela. Lalibela is one of the Holy towns in the country; Timket festival is celebrated so colorfully and differently. It is the best place to attend Timket festival in Ethiopia. The tour also includes a visit of Ethiopia Historic Route. The tour called the Ethiopia Historic Route is one of the great treasures of Ethiopia. It encompasses the history of Ethiopia from its early beginnings to modern day. A history that stretches back to the time of prehistoric man; to the 3,000 year old history of Axum; the 12th century churches of Lalibela, and the medieval castles of Gondar and the churches and monasteries on the islands of Lake Tana. With some distance drive from Bahir Dar, Blue Nile Falls will be visited.
Day 1: Arrive in Addis Ababa On arrival in Addis Ababa our representatives will meet you at Bole International Airport and transfers to Ambassador Hotel. An overview of the program and itineraries will be given. The rest of the day visit historical sites in Addis Ababa including the National Archaeological Museum, where we will view the 3.6 million year old remains of “Lucy”, whose skeletal remains when discovered in 1974. You will also visit the Ethnological Museum at Addis Ababa University, Holy Trinity Cathedrals and Mount Entoto which rises up to an altitude of 3200 meters and offers the panoramic view of the metropolis.
Day 2: Drive to Dessie: Drive from Addis Ababa to Dissie through the Great Rift Valley. Continue driving through Tarma Ber, viewpoint as well as the escarpment of the rift valley. We will be arriving in Dessie in early afternoon.
Day3: Drive Lalibela. : After breakfast we drive to Lalibela on the way we will visit Hike Estrifanos monastery on the island of Lake Hike. After lunch stop at Woldia, continue to Lalibela driving through the highland area of Delb. According to Ethiopian tradition the Zagwe Dynasty emerged by the twelfth and thirteenth centuries following the decline of the Aksumite Empire (1137-1270). Power was shifted to Roha in Lasta District. This was renamed for King Lalibela of the Zagwe Dynasty which ruled in Lalibela for more than a century (1181-1221). The construction of eleven rock-hewn churches is attributed to King Lalibela. Some of the churches are monolithic, carved from a sloping mass of red volcanic scoria under laid by dark grey basalt and interconnected by a maze of tunnels and passages with openings to hermit caves and catacombs. Some are of the basilica type, having archaic features and imitating architectural elements from earlier periods, yet they differ in design and style. Two are decorated with interesting wall paintings and carved figures. The Lalibela churches are included in the World Heritage List since 1978.
Day 4: In Lalibela.: After breakfast visit of the other groups of Rock churches of Lalibela Bet Giyorgis, possibly the most elegant of all the Lalibela churches, lies somewhat isolated in the southwest part of the village on a sloping rock terrace. It can only be reached through a tunnel. The group of four, south of the Jordan River, comprise of Bet Emanuel, Bet Mercurios, Bet Abba Libanos and Bet Gabriel-Rufa'el. Bet Emanuel's elaborate exterior is much praised by art historians. Afternoon attend Eve of Timket, Epiphany at Lalibela.
Day 5: Whole day attend the Timket Festival in LalibelaTimket- Epiphany: Timket, or Timkat, is Ethiopian language for Epiphany. Although the holiday commemorating Christ's baptism in the River Jordan is observed by Christians all over the world, Timket is of special significance in Ethiopia. It is the most important and colourful event of the year. The festival starts at Timket Eve, January 18, eleven days after the orthodox Christmas. Although the festival is largely religious, it has no lack of secular elements such as partying and match-making. According to the Ethiopian epic Kebra Negast, the Ark of the Covenant was abducted from Jerusalem to Ethiopia during the first millennium BC. Since then, it has become the most sacred element of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. Early afternoon in the Timket Eve, the replicas of the Ark, covered by silks, are carried solemnly by priests from each church to the nearby body of water. Accompanying the procession are tens of thousands of church members and believers, chanting, dancing, drum-beating, horn-blowing, prayer-stick-waving and sistra(a simple musical instrument)-rattling. All in all, it resembles the scene described in the Old Testament. As evening falls, the priests and the pious believers participate in overnight vigil around the Arks until dawn. Then huge crowds gather around the water. After the chief priest blesses the water, the celebration reaches its climax. Many jump into the water, the rest are eager to get a splash. After the religious vows are renewed, some of the Arks are paraded back with the same celebrating fashion.
Day 6: Drive to Mekele: On this day, you drive long to Mekele through the rough nature of road but nice to experience along with the magnificent scenery (gigantic, ups and downs and magnificent landscape).
Day 7: Drive to Axum: Drive to Axum through the Adwa Mountains en route you visit the monastery of Debre Damo. Continue to Axum and a short visit of temple for it is over 2500 years old Temple of the Moon and the church of Aba Aftse.
Day 8: Visit of historical and archaeological sites in Axum. The ancient city of Axum is found close to Ethiopia's northern border. It marks the location of the heart of ancient Ethiopia, when the Kingdom of Axum was the most powerful state between the Eastern Roman Empire and Persia. The archaeological and historical attractions in Axum include: the archaeological museum, monolithic steles or obelisks, the tombs of King Kaleb and King Gebre Meskal, and the legendary Bath of the Queen of Sheba, and the ruins of ancient palace of Queen Sheba. You also visit the new and the old Cathedral of St Mary of Zion and the sanctuary that houses the original Arc of the covenant. The 16th Century Cathedral of St Mary of Zion was probably built on an earlier 4th century church, and is the holiest church in Ethiopia. In its sanctuary is said to rest the original Ark of the Covenant.
Day 9: Drive to Gondar: On this day, you drive long (380kms) but enjoying very beautiful and spectacular landscape along Tekeze Gorge and Semien Mountains. The drive goes through the Tekeze valley, crossing the Tekeze River. Then After the road rises from1400 metres through hairpin bends down the mountain side to 3100 metres in just 40kms! The drive up to Debark town showcases not only the immensely beautiful Simien Mountain massifs but also the people who eke out an existence in this unforgiving countryside. You will arrive in Gondar early in the evening.
Day 10: Tour In Gondar After breakfast visit attractions in Gondar including: Castles of Gondar- are included in the World Heritage List, the royal Fasiledes Bath and the Church of Debre Berhan Selassie with its unique murals.Then after drive to Gondar for an overnight stay. After breakfast drive to Addis Ababa en route you will visit the famous Blue Nile George and the Debre Libanos Monastery. Evening we will invite you a fare well dinner at in one of the cultural Ethiopian restaurants for Ethiopian dish and cultural dances from different ethnic groups. Then after transfer to the airport for departure on homeward-bound flight
Day 11: Drive to Bahir Dar After breakfast drive to Bahir Dar we experience typically in an Ethiopian African landscape as we drive from Gondar to Bahir Dar - 180 kms over wide grazing land, hilly mountains with numerous farmlands. On arrival in Bahar Dar you will be transferred to Tana hotel, Bahar Dar is a small town set on the southeastern shore of Lake Tana, It is the capital city of its region and an important commercial centre. Bahar Dar is the base to explore some of the ancient monasteries that have been built around Lake Tana, and the Blue Nile water falls. After the lunch in Bahir Dar hotel, for the rest of the afternoon we take a boat trip on Lake Tana to visit ancient monasteries. We will visit two of the most accessible and representative of the monasteries, still serving their original function, Ura Kidane Mehret, and Azwa Maryam.
Day 12: Morning visit Blue Nile and then Drive to Debre Markos After breakfast we pay a visit to the impressive Blue Nile Falls, locally known as Tis Isat or 'Smoke of Fire'. Four hundred metres wide when in flood and 45 metres deep, the falls throws up a continuous spray of water droplets, which drench onlookers up to a kilometre away. The area around the river is extremely fertile and the Amhara people who live here farm wheat, sorghum and Teff from which injera, the national bread, is made. Drive back to Bahir Dar lunch in the hotel, in the afternoon drive to Debre Markos. We experience typically in an Ethiopian African landscape as we drive from Bahir Dar to Debre Markos over wide grazing land, hilly mountains with numerous farmlands. The drive is through Amhara people which is the famous Teff (a grain in which injera, the national bread, is made) growing area in the country.
Day 13: Drive Addis Ababa; evening fare well dinner then departure After breakfast drive to Addis Ababa en route you will visit the famous Blue Nile George and the Debre Libanos Monastery. Evening we will invite you a fare well dinner at in one of the cultural Ethiopian restaurants for Ethiopian dish and cultural dances from different ethnic groups. Then after transfer to the airport for departure on homeward-bound flight.
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This trip: Ethiopia Timket Festival: Celebrating in Lalibela
)ur Timkat tour was wonderful. Our dedicated driver, Abdi, and guide, Measho, took very good care of us throughout our 14-day excursion and their combined knowledge of their country and customs (Abdi is a Moslem and Measho is an Orthodox Christian) gave us a fascinating insight to ancient and modern Ethiopia. Mr. Abebe was reachable by cell phone throughout our trip and dealt swiftly and efficiently with the few glitches we encountered en route. We felt throughout that we were in safe hands.
Our overall impression of Ethiopia is that it is a very old country and very rich in culture and history. This was why we chose to travel there in the first place and we were not disappointed! We were also amazed by the beauty of the landscape – always dramatic! – and we often wondered why the “outside world” knows so little about this country and still only associates it with famine, deserts and war. The Ethiopian government and the nascent tourism industry need to do more together to promote the more positive aspects of Ethiopia via the international media. The road network in Ethiopia is being almost entirely rebuilt by the Chinese. This is a good thing as many of the roads are in a poor state of repair and for an itinerary like ours – which took us some 2000 kms around the country – can be a bit bone-shaking... Some of the hotels we stayed in need to improve their housekeeping and service standards – that is if they sincerely wish to attract upmarket, international tourists. One gets the impression that many of the hotels in Ethiopia are/were para-statal operations – poorly managed and maintained. Some have now apparently been bought over by private investors who, one hopes will inject new ideas, new standards of service and a better attitude towards customers along with new capital investment and facilities. By far the nicest hotel we stayed in en route was The Tukul in Lalibela which combines local architecture with overseas know-how – a winning combination!