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.

    Meskel Festival and Historic Route Tour — 9 Days

    This festival  tour is designed around the classic Historic Route of Ethiopia with the Meskel Festival celebration at Lalibela. Meskel has been celebrated in Ethiopia for more than 1600 years. This is one of the most colourful festivals on the Ethiopian Calendar. Meskel has always been celebrated in beautiful weather at the end of the rainy season, with a lot of dancing and feasting, and lighting a massive bonfire to commemorate the discovery of the true cross on which Jesus Christ was crucified.  

    The Meskel Festival tour on the Historic Route of Ethiopia provides the traveller with a practical image of the ancient historical mysteries and living historical facts and monuments of Ethiopia including the amazing rock-hewn churches of Lalibela, the Simien Mountains, the fairytale castles of Gondar, the source of Blue Nile, the Blue Nile Falls, the island monasteries of Lake Tana, the National Museum with Lucy, and last but not least, the charming and friendly people of Ethiopia.

    Join us on this unique journey of discovery as we witness an ancient African culture and civilization in the land where all began.

    Trip Highlights

    • Witness the ancient Meskel Festival celebration at Lalibela.
    • Visit three UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
    • Be amazed by a visit to the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela, one of "the living wonders of the world".
    • Enjoy the magnificent nature and endemic wildlife of Simien Mountains
    • Discover the fairytale castles of Gondar.
    • Take a boat ride 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.

    Tour Guide

    This tour will be led by our experienced, A-rated, friendly, cultural tour guides who have led many tours to the Historic Route of Ethiopia and who 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 to well and will 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 cultural tour to the Historic Route of Ethiopia, you will be traveling primarily by coaster bus. We have well-maintained buses in excellent condition suitable for the road conditions you will be traveling on. All our vehicles have AC and seat belts.

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


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


    Day 1: Arrive Addis Ababa

    Arrive in Addis Ababa, 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 a stopover 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 a boat cruise 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 to arrive at Gondar around lunchtime. After lunch, we will tour the ancient city of Gondar.

    Overnight: Goha Hotel

    Day 5: Excursion 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, trek to explore the surroundings of Sankaber, part of the Simien Mountains National Park.

    Overnight: Goha Hotel, Gondar

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

    After breakfast, we drive through the spectacular landscape to Lalibela. Enroute we will stop at Awramba. This community was founded by Zumra Nuru in 1972 with the aim to live together peacefully and work 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 afternoon, we will attend Demera, the Eve of Meskel, where the priest and deacons dressed in their colourful clothing sing and dance while marching to a place near the churches to assemble the fireworks to be lit the next morning. The faithful, dressed in their dazzling white, flock here, most with a piece of firewood. Then we witness the blessing, chanting, and dancing until the evening. It is a very colourful eve to be sure.

    Overnight: Tukul Village or Harbe Hotel, Lalibela

    Day 7: Meskel Eve at Lalibela (B, D)

    In the morning, we will witness one of the most colourful festivals held in Ethiopia — the Meskel Festival at Lalibela.

    In the afternoon, we visit the first group of rock-hewn churches. The churches that we will visit today include Bete Medhani Alem, Bete Mariam, Bete Meskel, and Bete Denagil.

    Overnight: Tukul Village or Harbe Hotel, Lalibela

    Day 8: Lalibela (B, D)

    In the morning, we take a mule ride, and/or walk to the top of Asheten Mariam Monastery, famous for its 12th-century monastery church and beautiful view at 10,298 ft. above sea level.

    After lunch and a rest at the hotel, you will continue your journey into Ethiopia’s long and marvelous history with a visit to other of Lalibela’s remarkable churches — Bete Gebriel, Bete Mercorios, Bete Amanuel, Bethlehem, and Bete Aba Libanos. Their architecture and artistry must be seen to be believed!

    Overnight: Tkul 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. Here, you will have a city tour if you didn't have one on your first day.

    Flight schedule permitting, there will be a special Ethiopian farewell dinner party with traditional buffet and local drinks. There will also be a live cultural dance show of the different ethnic groups living in the country — the perfect ending to your trip! At the end of the farewell dinner party, transfer to Addis Ababa airport for the flight back. End of tour.

    Rate per person sharing double: $1.990.00 USD
    Single Supplement; $338.00 USD


    • 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.)


    September 21–29, 2023

    September 21–29, 2024

    Additional Info

    • Trip Type: Cultural
    • TourCode: GHET-FF1
    • JourneyType: Small Group Fixed Departure
    • TourDuration: 9 Days, Sept. 21–29, 2020
    • Activities/Description: Enjoy the green landscape after the rainy season. Witness an ancient Ethiopian bonfire festival commemorating the finding of the True Cross combined with an exploration into the ancient history and culture of the country while visiting three UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
    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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