Small Group Ethiopian Festival Tours

Discover the world of the ancient Ethiopians as you take these festival tours on the Historic Route of Ethiopia. With more than 80 different ethnic groups living together with traditions as old as humanity itself, Ethiopia is a melting pot of cultures. In this fascinating country, you will be amazed to witness how ancient historical traditions have been preserved in a remarkable manner for thousands of years. And, indeed, the ceremonies and rituals of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church open a window on the authentic world of the Old Testament. Like nowhere else, in this country you will find yourself so dramatically transported back in time to participate freely in the sacred rituals of an ancient faith.

Below you will find small group departure festival tours carefully crafted around some of the most important and colorful festivals in the Ethiopian calendar. On these tours, you will also visit the unmatched sites of Ethiopia’s Historic Route among which four of the sites are listed under UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites. Step back in time and explore thousands of years of history, legend, and lore as you take these trips to the Historic Route of Ethiopia to witness some of the most colorful and ancient Christian festivals.

    Ethiopian Timket Festival Tour — 9 Days

    On this tour, you will witness one of the most colorful and ancient festivals celebrated in Ethiopia — the Timket Festival. Commemorating the baptism of Jesus Christ, this is an extremely colorful 3-day festival around the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela. You will also visit the timeless sites of Ethiopia’s Historic Route, three of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Lalibela, Gondar, and the Simien Mountains ("the chess pieces of gods"). You will also see the island monasteries of Lake Tana, and the Great Blue Nile River, the Geleda "Bleeding Heart" Baboon, and much more!

    Trip Highlights

    • Witness the amazing Timket Festival.
    • Experience Ethiopian Orthodox Christian doctrines and traditions.
    • Visit three UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
    • Be amazed by the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela, one of "the living wonders of the world".
    • Enjoy the magnificent nature and endemic wildlife of the Simien Mountains.
    • Discover the fairytale castles of Gondar.
    • Take a cruise on Lake Tana to visit the ancient island monasteries.
    • See the source of the mighty Blue Nile River and the Blue Nile Falls.
    • Visit the vibrant city of Addis Ababa.
    • Meet your ancestor Lucy at the National Museum in Addis Ababa.
    • Try the varied Ethiopian cuisine.
    • Attend an Ethiopian coffee ceremony.


    On this trip you will be staying in a 4-star hotel in Addis Ababa and on the rest of the trip to the Historic Route, in the best-available tourist standard hotels, lodges, and resorts that are selected and regularly inspected by our team.

    Tour Guide

    This tour will be led by our experienced, A-rated, friendly cultural tour guides who have led many tours in Ethiopia  and know the history, culture, nature, and wildlife well.

    Our Drivers

    Our drivers are well trained and well travelled in the area. They know the terrain and valleys you will be traveling in well and always make sure you are comfortable and safe. They have been rated excellent by many travelers who have been on the road with them for long periods of time.


    On this tour you will be traveling in a modern minibus or coaster bus. All our vehicles have AC and seat belts.

    Note: On this trip there will be a domestic flight from Lalibela to Addis Ababa that must be arranged separately.



    Day 1: Arrive Addis Ababa

    Arrive in Addis Ababa (ADD), Ethiopia. Welcome to Ethiopia! Upon arrival at Addis Ababa Bole International Airport, you will be welcomed and assisted by your tour guide and driven to your hotel. If you arrive in the morning, we can arrange an optional city tour.

    Overnight: Jupiter Hotel, Addis Ababa

    Day 2: Addis Ababa, Bahirdar (B, D)

    In the morning, we drive to Bahirdar through the Great Blue Nile Gorge with stopovers at different small towns like Dejen, Chancho, and Goha Tsion.

    Overnight: Avanti Blue Nile Hotel, Bahirdar

    Day 3: Lake Tana, Blue Nile Falls, Bahir Dar (B, D)

    In the morning, we will take boat ride on Lake Tana to visit the ancient 14th-century island monasteries of Lake Tana. After lunch at the hotel, we will drive 35 km to visit the majestic Blue Nile Falls.

    Overnight: Avanti Blue Nile Hotel, Bahirdar

    Day 4: Bahir Dar, Gondar (B, D)

    After breakfast, we drive to Gondar through the beautiful countryside scenery and arrive around lunchtime.
    After lunch, we tour the ancient city of Gondar.

    Overnight: Goha Hotel

    Day 5: Simien Mountains National Park (B, D)

    After an early breakfast, we will drive to the Simien Mountains National Park. For the rest of the day, we will trek to explore the surroundings of Sankaber, part of the Simien Mountains National Park.

    Overnight: Goha Hotel, Gondar

    Day 6: Gondar, Lalibela, Timket Eve (B, D)

    After breakfast, we will drive through the spectacular landscape to Lalibela. Enroute, we stop at Awramba. This community was founded by Zumra Nuru in 1972 with the aim to living together peacefully and working collaboratively, sympathetically, and cheerfully. Community members treat each other as brothers and sisters. Gender equality and care for the elderly are very important.

    In the late afternoon, we will attend the Timket Eve Ceremony, called Ketera. During Ketera, the priests take out the tabots — replicas of the original Ark of the Covenant — from each church and bless the water of the pool where the next day's celebration will take place.

    In the evening, we return to the Tabot Maderia to attend the night celebrations.

    Overnight: Tukul Village or Harbe Hotel, Lalibela

    Day 7: Rock-Hewn Churches of Lalibela, Timket Festival at Lalibela (B, D)

    Early in the morning, we will again walk to the Tabot Maderia to witness the early morning baptism ceremony. The water, which symbolizes the Jordan River, is blessed by the priest and the patriarch. Then a golden cross is dipped in water and a burning, consecrated candle is extinguished in the alter. Then the bishop or head priest sprinkles water on the assembled congregation in commemoration of Christ's baptism.

    Following the baptism, the Tabots start their way back to their respective rock-churches, while the feasting, singing, and dancing continues back to the churches.

    Overnight: Tukul Village or Harbe Hotel, Lalibela

    Day 8: Lalibela, 2nd day of Timket (B, D)

    In the morning, attend the second day of Timket around the first group of rock-hewn churches. After lunch and a rest at the hotel, we will continue our journey into Ethiopia’s long and marvelous history with a visit to other Lalibela churches

    The rock-hewn churches that we will visit this afternoon include Bete Gebriel, Bete Merkorios Bete Emanuel, Bethlehem, and Bete Aba Libanos. At the end of the tour, there will be a special Ethiopian traditional coffee ceremony for the group prepared at a local house.

    Overnight: Tukul Village or Harbe Hotel, Lalibela

    Day 9: Lalibela, Addis Ababa, Departure (B, D)

    After breakfast, transfer to Lalibela airport for the flight to Addis Ababa. Depending on your departure time, an optional city tour can be arranged.

    In the evening, there will be Grand Holidays Ethiopia Tours complimentary farewell dinner party with a traditional special buffet (flight schedule permitting). At the end of the farwell dinner, transfer to Addis Ababa airport for the flight back. End of tour.

    Rate per Person Sharing Double: $2,212.00 USD
    Single Supplement: $602.00 USD


    January 13–21, 2023and 2024


    • Roundtrip as per program
    • All necessary transfers
    • 8 nights accommodation in good hotels (4-star in Addis Ababa) in double rooms
    • All meals as stated in the program
    • All entrance fees
    • English-speaking, qualified national tour guide
    • Farewell dinner (flight schedule permitting)

    Not Included

    • Visa fees
    • Tips
    • Meals not stated in the program
    • All expenses of a personal nature (drinks, laundry, phone calls, etc.)


    Additional Info

    • Trip Type: Cultural
    • TourCode: GHET-FF4
    • JourneyType: Small Group Fixed Departure
    • TourDuration: 9 Days, Jan 13–21, 2019 & 2020
    • Activities/Description: On this tour, you will see one of the most ancient festivals celebrated in Ethiopia — Timket — along with the highlights of Ethiopia. Commemorating the baptism of Jesus Christ, this extremely colorful 3-day festival is celebrated around the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela.
    Grand Holidays Ethiopia Tours has been operating responsible travel activity and adventure holidays in Ethiopia for more than a decade.Travel to Ethiopia with Grand Holidays Ethiopia Tours and discover amazing Ethiopia. We have a wide selection of holiday tour packages including the following: cultural tours for groups and individuals, family holiday options, varied adventure tours and travel packages, photo expeditions, trekking adventure holidays, cultural explorations in the Omo Valley, and photo tours in Ethiopia. We are the local travel specialists and the leading Ethiopian tour operator based in Addis Ababa. Contact us for your holiday in Ethiopia.
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