Group tour holiday in Ethiopia - Timkat Festival

Ethiopia - Timkat Festival

Style: TravellerCultural discovery away from the crowds
Duration: 15 days
Type: GroupTravel with a small group of other travellers


Day 1 – Addis Ababa

Arrive in Addis Ababa and transfer to your hotel. The rest of the day is free to relax. Overnight at Jupiter Hotel or similar.

Day 2 - Bahir Dar

This morning we take an early flight (6am) to Bahir Dar. It is situated at 1800 m above sea level, on the shores of Lake Tana, the largest lake in Ethiopia. On arrival we drop our luggage at the hotel and drive directly to the Blue Nile Falls, (It takes a walk of around 1hr to reach the falls and 1hr to return to the point of departure). Later we return to the city, and the rest of the afternoon is free to explore Bahir Dar, with the option of visiting Bezawit Palace, built for Emperor Haile Selassie.  Overnight at Avanti Blue Nile Hotel or similar. (BD)

Day 3 - Gondar

This morning we take boats out onto Lake Tana to take in its fantastic collection of ancient monasteries, dramatically situated on the lake’s islands and peninsulas. From there we will continue to Gondar (175kms- approx.3 hours) and acquaint ourselves with the town on arrival. Overnight at Goha Hotel or similar.(BD)

Day 4 - Gondar

We spend today visiting the main sites of the town, including the palaces and castles of King Fasiladas and the beautifully decorated Debre Birhan Selassie Church (Light of Trinity) with its wonderful murals. Overnight at Goha Hotel or similar. (BD)

Day 5 – Simien Mountains

Leaving Gondar after breakfast we drive to the Simien Mountains (135km- approx. 3 hours), a spectacularly scenic area with interesting endemic mammals, including gelada baboons, as well as many species of birds. Overnight Simien Lodge or similar-sleeping at 3300m. (BD) 

Day 6 – Simien Mountains

We spend today walking through the mountains to visit striking viewpoints and spot some of the wildlife including Gelada baboons and Walia Ibex. Overnight Simien Lodge or similar. (BD)

Day 7- Axum

We will continue our drive to Axum through beautiful countryside via the Tekeze River. This is a long day of driving but through stunning scenery (285km - up to 10 hours). Overnight at Yared Zema Hotel or similar. (BD) 

Day 8 – Axum

Visit the amazing sites of Axum, including its collection of ancient stelae, the bath and the palace of the Queen of Sheba and St Mary of Tsion Church, which legend says is where the Ark of the Covenant is located. Overnight at Yared Zema Hotel or similar. (BD).

Day 9 – Adigrat and Tigray Churches

Today we drive to Adigrat (140km - approx. 6 hours) through some spectacular countryside. En route we visit the 5th century temple of Yeha, displaying incredible skills in stonework and the oldest building still standing in Ethiopia. Overnight at Agoro Lodge or similar. (BD) 

Day 10 – Mekelle

We will continue our exploration of the marvellous churches that dot this remote and inspiring landscape while driving to Mekelle. Today we visit those of Medhane Alem Adikusho, Wukro Cherkos and Abraha Atsbeha. Overnight at Planet Hotel or similar. (BD)

Day 11 - Lalibela

After an early breakfast start the journey to the town of Lalibela, through Amhara villages with a chance of meeting Tigray and Amhar people(440km-approx 9 hours).Overnight at Mount View Hotel or similar. (BD) 

Day 12 - Lalibela- Eve of Timkat Celebrations

This morning we will visit the first group of rock hewn churches known in some circles as the 8th wonder of the world. This afternoon, you can witness the Eve of the Timkat Festival celebration in one of the Rock Hewn churches. Overnight in Mount View Hotel or similar. (BD)

Day 13 - Lalibela- Timkat Celebrations

Early in the morning we will go to the church to see the Timkat celebration and the crowd waiting to be baptized by the holy water. The water which symbolizes the Jordan River is blessed by the priest, and the patriarch then dips a golden cross into it, and extinguishes a burning consecrated candle on the altar. He then sprinkles water on the assembled congregation in commemoration of Christ's baptism in the Jordan River. The ceremony will be over around 9-10am and afterwards we will visit the second group of churches. Overnight at Mount View Hotel or similar. (BD)

Day 14 - Return to Addis Ababa

A morning flight will brings you back to Addis. On your last day in Addis you will visit the Entoto Mountains, with a fantastic view over the city, the National Museum or Ethnological museum, Trinity Cathedral and the Merkato, reputedly the biggest open air market in Africa. Overnight at Jupiter Hotel or similar. (BD) 

Day 15 – Departure

At a suitable time, you will be transferred to the airport for your departure flight. Tour ends. (B)

Harar Extension- 5 days/4 nights

Day 1 – Awash (218 kms, approx 5.5 hours)
A morning drive takes you from Addis Ababa to Awash National Park. This park is one of the most beautiful in Ethiopia. The River Awash runs through a spectacular gorge; the park itself is home to 392 species of birds and many mammals live there including onyx, gazelles and antelopes. Upon arrival take a game drive in the park. Overnight at Genet Hotel or similar. (LD)

Day 2 – Harar (330 kms,approx 7.5 hours)
Early in the morning we will return to the park, to enjoy wonderful birdlife, hot springs, and the Awash Waterfalls. Afterwards continue to Harar, which is unique within Ethiopia. With its 368 alleyways squeezed in to just 1sq km, it is more reminiscent of Fez in Morocco than it is of any other Ethiopian city. Its countless mosques and shrines, coffee –scented streets, busy market place - probably the most colourful in Ethiopia- crumbling walls and charming people are reminiscent of a bygone era. Overnight stay at Heritage Plaza Hotel or similar. (BLD)

Day 3 - Harar
Explore the old city on foot with its many sites including the house where Rimbaud lived; Harar was the poet's favourite city and he based himself there in order to trade in arms, eventually destined for the emperor Menelik. In the evening, see the renowned ‘hyena men’. Overnight stay at Heritage Plaza Hotel or similar. (BLD)

Day 4 - Dire Dawa (55 kms, approx 1.5 hours)
The road climbs into the Cercer Mountains (3,000 metres above sea level), offering magnificent panoramas of the surrounding countryside. Alongside the road we begin to see crops of 'chat', a bush whose leaves are chewed by the local people to provide light stimulation. The women of this region dress in very brightly coloured clothes. We will have lunch on arrival in Dire Dawa and in the afternoon we will explore the city. Overnight stay at Samrate Hotel or similar. (BLD)

Day 5 – Addis Ababa (452 kms, approx 7.5 hours)
Drive back to Addis Ababa to connect with your departure flight. (B)

Why not combine this tour with the Omo Valley tour, which runs directly after the Historic Ethiopia tour?

The itinerary is slightly different for 2020- please go to Downloads for the itinerary.

Other tours in Ethiopia

Ethiopia - Historic Ethiopia »

Ethiopia - Omo Valley Explorer »