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 With the Historic Route and Simien Mountains — 13 Days

    On this trip of discovery, you will visit the major sites of Ethiopia’s Historic Route — four of them UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Explore Axum, Lalibela, Gondar, the island monasteries of Lake Tana, the Palace of Queen of Sheba, and the last resting place of the Ark of the Covenant. Cruise on Lake Tana, the source of the Great Blue Nile River, trek in the spectacular Simien Mountains "the chess pieces of gods", see the Gelada "Bleeding Heart" Baboon, and more.

    Trip Highlights

    • Celebrate Timket ("Ethiopian Epiphany").
    • Experience Ethiopian Orthodox Christian doctrines and traditions.
    • Visit four 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 in the Simien Mountains.
    • Travel back in time to explore the ancient city of Axum, the last resting place of the Ark of the Covenant.
    • 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 Blue Nile Falls.
    • Discover the old walled city and the fourth holiest city of Islam.
    • Visit the vibrant city of Addis Ababa.
    • Meet your ancestor Lucy at the National Museum in Addis Ababa.
    • Try the varied Ethiopian food.
    • Attend an Ethiopian coffee ceremony.


    Day 1: 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 in Addis.

    Overnight: Hotel, Addis Ababa

    Day 2: Addis Ababa, Bahirdar

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

    Overnight: Hotel, Bahirdar

    Day 3: Lake Tana, Blue Nile Falls, Bahir Dar

    After breakfast, 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: Hotel, Bahirdar

    Day 4: Bahir Dar, Gondar

    After breakfast, we will drive to Gondar through the beautiful countryside scenery to arrive at Gondar around lunchtime.

    After checking into the hotel and having lunch there, we will start tour of Gondar which includes the Royal Enclosure, the pool of King Fasilidas, and the famous Debre Berhan Sellassie adorned with brilliant frescos inside.

    Overnight: Goha Hotel, Gondar

    Day 5: Gondar, Simien Mountains National Park

    After an early breakfast, we will drive to Simien Mountains National Park. Enroute we will visit the "Felasha", or Black Jewish village.

    Driving from Gondar up to the Simien Mountains National Park, we will experience the spectacular scenery culminating at the top of the massif. For the rest of the day, we will trek around the park and Sankaber to explore the stunnining views and wildlife.

    Overnight: Simien Lodge, Sankaber

    Day 6: Simien Mountains National Park, Axum

    After breakfast, we will drive to Axum through the beautiful scenery of the Simien Mountains and the Tekeze River Gorge.

    Overnight: Hotel, Axum

    Day 7: Axum

    After breakfast, we will visit the ancient city of Axum. Your visit in Axum includes the Stele Square, Kaleba Tombs, 4th-century Christian inscription of King Ezana, Queen of Sheba’s Palace, Archeological Museum, and Tsion Mariam Church, where the original Ark of the Covenant is housed.

    Overnight: Hotel, Axum

    Day 8: Axum, Hauzien

    In the morning, we drive to Hauzien, the center of some of the most ancient rock-hewn churches, through the stunning and historical mountains of Adwa.

    Overnight: Lodge, Hauzien

    Day 9: Hauzien, Mekele

    In the morning, we drive to Mekele enroute visiting some of the most ancient Tigray rock-hewn churches including Wikro Cherkos, Abrha We-Atsbeha, and Dugum Selassie.

    Overnight: Axum Hotel, Mekele

    Day 10: Mekele, Lalibela, Timket Eve at Lalibela

    After breakfast, we will drive north to Lalibela through Sekota. Enroute you will visit Yimrhane Kirstos and different villages of the Agwe tribal people.

    In the 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 will return to the Taboat Maderia to attend the night celebrations.

    Overnight: Hotel, Lalibela

    Day 11: Rock-Hewn Churches of Lalibela, Timket Festival at Lalibela

    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 the water and a burning consecrated candle is extinguished in the alter. Then water is sprinkled on the assembled congregation in commemoration of Christ's baptism.

    Following the baptism, the procession of the Tabots to their respective rock churches begins as the people feast, sing and dance.

    Overnight: Hotel, Lalibela

    Day 12: Lalibela, Asheten Mariam, Second Day of Timket

    In the morning, we 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 more of Lalibela’s remarkable churches

    The rock-hewn churches that we will visit this afternoon include Bete Gebriel, Bete Merkorios Bete Amanuel, 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: Hotel, Lalibela

    Day 13: Lalibela, Addis Ababa, Departure

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

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


    Jan. 9–21, 2019


    Additional Info

    • Trip Type: Cultural and Festival Tour
    • TourCode: GHET-F03
    • JourneyType: Private Journey
    • TourDuration: 13 Days, Jan. 9–21, 2019
    • Activities/Description: On this tour, you will experience one of the most colorful and ancient festivals celebrated in Ethiopia—Timket. Commemorating the baptism of Jesus Christ, this is an extremely colorful 3-day festival 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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