Meskel Festival 8 Days
Situated about 450 miles north of Addis Ababa, amid the undulating mountain highlands of northern Ethiopia, the remote city of Gondar has the spotlight each year as the center for the Timket Festival religious celebration…From January 17, 2020 to January 24, 2020
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- Vacation Style Holiday Type
- Activity Level Leisurely
- Group Size Small Group
7 Nights 8 Days : Arrive at Bole international airport and be welcomed by an EETT representative. Depending on your arrival time, you will be taken on an Addis City Tour. WE CAN CREATE A PERSONALIZED ITINERARY
On this 12-day trip through the North of Ethiopia we will discover historical cities such as Axum, Lalibela, Gondar and Bahir Dar, moving to ancient times of spirituality where the most incredible mysteries of Christianity were protected.
Situated about 450 miles north of Addis Ababa, amid the undulating mountain highlands of northern Ethiopia, the remote city of Gondar has the spotlight each year as the center for the Timket Festival religious celebration. You will spend several days amid pilgrims to celebrate and re-enact the Epiphany, the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan. It starts with a procession of “tabots”, holy replicas of the Ark of the Covenant, through the streets, escorted by drums and the clapping and singing of worshipers. After the blessing of the waters of the historic Fasilidas bath the following day, take a dip into the pool yourself. Now sacred, the waters are said to cure the sick.
This trip includes visits to Lalibela and its rock-hewn churches, carved from mountain rock where they stand; Axum and its amazing stelae park, and Bahir Dar and the island monasteries of Lake Tana.
The company has a diverse group of professionals dedicated to organizing every detail of your trip. Our guides are serious professionals with great knowledge of the country and speak several languages: English, Spanish, French, German and Italian.
Our purpose is to offer an excellent service so that you can fully enjoy your trip. If you want to travel to Ethiopia or neighboring countries, do not hesitate to contact us. We will be at your entire disposal, we organize individual or group trips and we design customized trips.
- Special qualified guide as well as mandatory local guide and scout fees in parks and villages
- 3*-4*star hotels in Addis Ababa and the best available hotels outside of Addis Ababa
- All accommodation based on twin room occupancy
- Meals in Addis, on bed and breakfast basis
- Meals out of Addis, on full board basis
- Farewell dinner in Addis to enjoy traditional Ethiopian food and music
- All entrance fees at sites, churches, parks and villages
- All transfers and visits in Addis Ababa using mini-bus according to the itinerary
- All ground transportation including insurance, fuel and all costs of the driver
- Traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony at a convenient time in the program
- Government taxes
- Travel insurance and other emergencies
- Visa fees and entry clearing fees
- Single room accommodations*
- Liquors, beeers and bootled beverages
- Laundry services and other personal expenses
- Photography ccessories like cameras etc.
- International & Domestic flight*(if not in your “by Air tour) if you do not opt for our formula: All in One (which would include all flights)
- Any other expense that is not mentioned in the prices section included
- Day1 Addis Ababa
On arrival in Addis Ababa our representative will meet you at Bole International Airport. After transfer to your hotel an overview of the program will be given. The rest of the day visit historical sites in Addis Ababa including : The National Museum, Ethnological Museum, St George Cathedral and Musuem. Explore the massive Merkato, Holy Trinity Cathdral and head out of Addis for fresh-air walking in the Entoto Mountains and visit the Entoto Mariam Church. Finish the day dining and drinking tej( honey wine) at a traditional Ethiopian restaurants, while enjoying a show of song and dance. Overnight Addis Ababa.
- Day2 Bahir Dar and Lake Tana
From Addis, you’ll take a one hour flight north to Bahir Dar. Here your guide will accompany you on a boat trip on Lake Tana, Ethiopia’s largest lake. Visit some of the peaceful monasteries nestled on the islands and peninsulas around the lake and, if you are lucky, wander through coffee plantations, enjoy some of the local brew and meet local farmers. As the monasteries were used for religious retreats, the lake and its islands serve as an unofficial nature reserve. Look out for white pelicans and ‘airbreathing’ catfish. Your boat tour will end at Zege peninsula. There is a short path walk towards Ura Kidrane Mehret, arguably the most beautiful of all the churches at Lake Tana, with hundred-year-old characterful frescos.
Later venture towards the only outflow of the lake: Blue Nile Falls. These 42 metre falls create such large amounts of spray that they are known in Amharic (Ethiopia’s official language) as ‘Tis Abay’ meaning ‘Smoking Water’, which can soak you from a kilometre away. A short distance down the Blue Nile lies a stone bridge built in 1626: potentially one of the famed seven stone bridges built by the emperor Fasilides. This river and another, the White Nile, are the two main tributaries to the Nile, the world’s longest river. Overnight in Bahir Dar.
- Day3 Gondar
Drive to Gondar, once the old imperial capital founded in 1635 by Emperor Fasillides who built a palace and seven churches. During the next two days enlighten yourself with the historical significance of the “Camelot of Africa” in conjunction with the Timket festivities. Join the eve of the Epiphany festivities this afternoon at the bathhouse built by Emperor Fasiledes . The priest presents to the public the “Tabot”, a replica of the Tablets of Law, onto which the Biblical Ten Commandments were inscribed, utilized by the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.
Florida Hotel (B, L, D)
- Day4 Gondar
This morning, faithful followers gather around medieval ruins at dawn for the conclusion of the Timket Festival when the water is blessed by the higher priest, who proceeds and splashes the water on those in attendance. Witness as some people immerse themselves in the bath. This afternoon, visit the royal enclosure containing six castles, a complex network of connecting tunnels and raised walkways. Proceed to the fascinating Debre Birhan Selassie Church with its walls and ceiling decorated with scenes of Biblical lore and medieval history. In the evening dine at one of the popular Ethiopian cultural restaurant for a traditional meal and dance performance.
Florida Hotel (B, L, D)
- Day5 Axum
Fly to the heart of ancient Ethiopia, the capital of the Kingdom of Axum which was the most powerful state between the Eastern Roman Empire and Persia. The archaeological and historical attractions in Axum include monolithic steles or obelisks, the tombs of King Kaleb and King Gebre Meskal, the legendary Bath of the Queen of Sheba, and the ruins of her ancient palace. Also visit the new and the old Cathedral of St Mary of Tsion (Zion) and the sanctuary that houses the original Arc of the Covenant. The older of the two cathedrals, built in the 16th century, is believed to be built on the ruins of an earlier 4th century church, and is the holiest site in Ethiopia.
Sabean Hotel (B,L,D)
- Day6 Lalibela
This morning fly to the most unique Christian sites of Ethiopia, Lalibela.
Lalibela’s churches are collectively referred to as ‘The Eighth Wonder of the World’. Legend has it that Emperor Lalibela had been instructed, in a vision from God, to build the new Jerusalem after returning from Jerusalem which was sacked by the Muslims. Visit the 11 majestic rock churches that are still used as places of worship by Lalibelans. Since its relatively remote location, Lalibela has yet gained the worldwide exposure and has been referred to as the “Petra of Africa”.
Lalibela Lodge (B, L, D)
- Day7 Lalibela
Visit the exquisite church of Yimrhane Kristos. This is a masterpiece of Axumit wood and stone construction which is renowned for its interior decoration and beautiful wooden coffer ceiling. Notice the inlaid of the hexagons and medallions with both figurative geometric motifs. Return back to Lalibela and revisit the rock churches that were not visited on the day of arrival.
Lalibela Lodge (B, L, D)
- Day 8 Return Addis Ababa
Fly this morning to Addis Ababa and proceed to visit the Holy Trinity Cathedral, the largest and most magnificent church in Ethiopia. It is the resting place of the last Emperor (Halie Selassie) After lunch continue to the Merkato Outdoor Market; on the largest on the African continent. Early this evening enjoy a “farewell dinner” and coffee ceremony at a famous traditional Ethiopian restaurant. After sampling the various national dishes, enjoy an Ethiopian Folkloric show, before transferring to the airport for your flight home.
(B, L, D)
In recent years, the level of comfort and services of the Ethiopian accommodation has improved significantly. You will stay in the accommodations selected by our local advisors based on the criteria of location and comfort.
We are working with different hotels and lodges to continue improving the quality services demanded by our visitors.
According to your itinerary you will stay in one of these hotels or lodges / or similar :
– Abay Minch Lodge
– Abay Minch Lodge
– Haile Resort
– Taye Belay
– Lal hotel
– Panaromic (Amde)
– Haile Resort
– Lewi Resort
– Haile Resort
– Sabean hotel
– Yared Zema hotel
– Atse Yohanes Hotel
– Harar Ras Hotel
Afar : Camping
Hamer (Turmi) Jinka :
– Jinka Resort
– Kanta Lodge
– Korebta Lodge
Your opinion and comments help us to continue improving our accomodation services.
Between September and February the main dry season of the year takes place. In March and April the rains are present, they are interrupted in May and they return in June, July and August. Ethiopia has a wide variety of climates, from the occasional snow in the mountain peaks of Bale to the very high daytime temperatures of the Danakil desert, that can reach 50 ° C. Normally, the central highlands have an average temperature of 16 ° C. The east and the south have a drier and warmer climate, being able to reach 28 ° C. The western plains have a more humid and hot climate. In August, there may be heavy showers in the afternoon, so it is advisable to bring a water layer or similar.
To travel to Ethiopia you need a valid passport with a minimum validity of 6 months. All visitors require an entry visa. For citizens of the European Union the visa is processed upon arrival at the Addis Ababa airport and costs $ 50 USD or 43 euros per person. Since June 2018 it is possible to make the electronic visa on this website: www.evisa.gov.et
Ethiopia is a high risk destination in terms of sanitary conditions. According to the source, the vaccine against yellow fever is mandatory (Ministry of Foreign Affairs) or recommended (Ministry of Health). In addition, the recommended vaccines for a trip to Ethiopia are: Tetanus, Meningitis, Cholera, Typhus and Hepatitis A and B. There is also a risk of malaria in areas less than 2,000 meters above sea level.
The capital, however, is free of this risk. For more information on health and vaccines, we advise you to visit the website of the Ministry of Health (from your country of origin). It is recommended to bring a kit with analgesics, antibiotics, antihistamines, anti-diarrheals , antiseptics, sun protection, insect repellents, soothing lotions against stings and cures material. Do not drink tap water or take food without cooking. Keep in mind that in the wet season there are mosquitoes, although they do not produce excessive discomfort, at least compared to other places in Africa. That’s because of the cool temperature of Ethiopia. In any case, most hotels provide mosquito nets. In the churches, the floor is covered with carpets and they usually have fleas, especially in those of Lalibela. It is advisable to always carry some socks in the backpack because it is mandatory to take off when entering and insect repellent.
It is recommended not to bathe in swamps or lakes because there is a risk of getting Bilarziasis. Lake Langano is the only one where this precaution is not necessary. It is advisable to travel with medical insurance.
Lightweight cotton clothing, short sleeve shirts and long sleeves, fleece lining or some similar warm clothing, comfortable and resistant shoes, sunglasses, hat and some rain coat.
It is convenient to take all the necessary photographic material from the country of origin since it is not safe to find it in the country and if it is found more expensive, as well as provide spare batteries. There are continuous blackouts of light and in the most remote areas of the country and sometimes in large cities.
The predominant climate type is tropical monsoon, with wide topographic-induced variation. As a highland country, Ethiopia has a climate which is generally considerably cooler than other regions at similar proximity to the Equator. Most of the country’s major cities are located at elevations of around 2,000 – 2,500 metres (6,600 – 8,200 ft) above sea level, including historic capitals such as Gondar and Axum, and Addis Ababa – the highest capital city in Africa at 2,400 meters (8,000 feet).
Ethiopia has three different climate zones according to elevation:
* Kolla (Tropical zone) – is below 1830 meters in elevation and has an average annual temperature of about 27 degree Celsius with annual rainfall about 510 millimeters. The Danakil Depression (Danakil Desert) is about 125 meters below sea level and the hottest region in Ethiopia where the temperature climbs up to 50 degree Celsius.
* Woina dega (Subtropical zone) – includes the highlands areas of 1830 – 2440 meters in elevation has an average annual temperature of about 22 degree Celsius with annual rainfall between 510 and 1530 millimeters.
* Dega (Cool zone) – is above 2440 meters in elevation with an average annual temperature of about 16 degree Celsius with annual rainfall between 1270 and 1280 millimeters.
The average annual temperature in Addis Ababa is 16°C (61°F), with daily maximum temperatures averaging 20 – 25°C (68 – 77°F) throughout the year, and overnight lows averaging 5 – 10°C (41 – 50°F). A light jacket is recommended for the evenings, though many Ethiopians prefer to dress conservatively and will wear a light jacket even during the day.
The local currency is the Ethiopian birr, made up of 100 cents. Notes are issued in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 50, and 100 birr. There are five different coins: 1, 5, 10, 25, and 50 cents.
Currency regulations: There is no limit to the amount of foreign currency imported into Ethiopia, but it must be declared on arrival, using a currency declaration form. Foreign currency may be changed only at authorized banks and hotels. The currency declaration form will be required by Customs on departure. Visitors may change back any excess birr into foreign currency at the airport before departure, but you must, in addition to the currency declaration form, bring with you all receipts for exchange transactions.
You can find mobile and internet coverage in most of the country but it works quite badly. To call Ethiopia from abroad, dial 00-251 plus subscriber number. To communicate from Ethiopia with the rest of the world it is necessary to dial 00 + the area code + the telephone number.
The Ethiopian time is GMT +3 (one hour + in summer time and 2 + in winter time). They have a different way of measuring time. They have 12-hour periods that start at 6:00 and 6:00 p.m. At dawn it is hour 0 in the morning and at sunset it is 0 in the afternoon. Therefore the Ethiopian time has a lag of 6 hours compared to ours. Thus, given an hour in the Ethiopian system it is enough to only subtract 6 to obtain our time. In many places, especially at the official level or for plane flights, they work with the international system, but at the level of the local population, they usually work with the Ethiopian system. This is especially important with bus schedules, because if they tell us, for example, that a bus leaves at 11:30 h. Normally they will mean that it leaves at 5:30 h. (international time) If there is any doubt, it is always necessary to clarify if the time they give us is ethiopian time (Ethiopian time) or faranji time (foreign time). The custom in Ethiopia is to wake up very early, have breakfast around 6 in the morning, eat at 12 and about 6 in the evening, dinner and go to sleep. (Dinner between 6:00 pm and 8:00 pm).
Ethiopia follows the Julian calendar, which has 12 months of 30 days and 1mes more than 5 days (6 days in leap year). The New Year begins on September 11. There are 7 years and 8 months less than in the Gregorian calendar. Therefore the Ethiopian calendar consists of 13 months (the country’s tourism motto was, until recently: Ethiopia, 13 months of sunshine, was updated by: Ethiopia Land of Origins).
* The official language is Amharic, English, Italian, Harari, Oromiña, Sidama, Tigrinya, Somali and about a hundred other ethnic languages are also spoken.
* Electric current operates at 220 volts at 50 Hz. It is not necessary to use an adapter.
Compared to other surrounding countries, Ethiopia is an oasis of tranquility for the traveler. It is safe to travel almost the entire country by public transport and, except for the inconvenience of being the object of persecution of groups of children asking for a birr, you do not have to take special precautions.
Basic safety rules for travelers
* Dont walk on your own at night in Addis Ababa and other major tourist towns.
* Watch out for pickpockets at the Mercato in Addis Ababa
* Don’t wear jewelry. Don’t carry too much cash with you.
* Don’t carry a lot of camera equipment especially in the major cities.
* Avoid travel at night because roads are perilously filled with potholes, livestock, and broken down vehicles.
It is not advisable to travel to border areas with Eritrea and Somalia. The land border crossings are Sudan, Kenya and Djibouti may present difficulties. It is advisable to inform yourself in advance.