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Join Holiday Exit on a small group tour exploring northern Ethiopia and taking in the colorful, spectacular Timkat festival; one of the greatest celebrations on the Earth and definitely a great time to visit the country. This festival symbolizes the baptism of Jesus Christ in the River Jordan. Deeply traditional, mysterious and breathtakingly beautiful, Ethiopia is unlike any other country of continent Africa having rich heritage, culture and history.

On this tour you will also get to visit the timeless sites of Ethiopia which are also UNESCO’s World Heritage sites; Lalibela, Gondar and the Simien Mountains also known as ‘The chess pieces of God’.

Itineraries

Day 1

Addis Ababa

Welcome to Ethiopia! Upon arrival in Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, which is third highest capital in the world, you will be escorted by our tour guide to your hotel for check-in. After spending some time relaxing, you then will have lunch and move forward with panoramic sightseeing tour of Addis Ababa. On your way back there will be a visit to Raquel Church which is famous for its interior because of striking and impressive murals. Before going back to hotel for dinner, you will also get to visit the largest open-air market the Mercato which is worth visiting.

Day 2

To The Tigray

At day 2 you will be heading towards the airport for you Mekele flight. It’s one and half hour flight from Addis Ababa. Upon reaching at Mekele you will be transferred to Tigray Region through one and half hour road trip of picturesque scenery. Once you arrive, settle down and relax before going out on an afternoon walk. Tigray is one of the most pleasingly beautiful places on earth. You will have a fantastic experience of stepping and taking into the surrounding area of these gothic landscapes and high plateaus.

Day 3-4

Trekking in Tigray

For next 2 days you will be exploring the beautiful Tigray region by visiting markets, local hilltop monasteries, markets and more. This 2 day trekking with a series of unique community trek sets in the region will add to the excitement and cultural enlightenment of experiencing Ethiopia. Expedition will include exploration of beautiful ancient churches in the areas churches such as Abune Yemata, Gheralta Ridge and Abune Gebre Mikael. What’s fun is that you will have to track down the local priest to get key if you find a specific church to be locked, so if you want to see you will get involved helping your guide. On both days you have an option to either go back to the lodge to eat lunch or you can make the most of your trekking by taking a picnic lunch with your group from the lodge.

Day 5

To Axum

On day 5 you will leave Tigray’s high plateaus and head towards the ancient capital of Ethiopia, Axum. Drive to Axum will be three hours long and you might arrive in the afternoon. For rest of the day you will have ample time to explore the city on your own. According to the ancient indication, it is said to that Queen of Sheba was born in Axum and later she travelled to Israel to meet king Solomon there and they both had a son together, Menelik, who later became the first ruling emperor of Ethiopia.

Day 6

Exploring Axum

You will explore and admire Axum with your local guide today. You will visit steles, different archaeological sites, the bath and palace of Queen of Sheba which is an immense site to practice good imagination. Moreover, you will be visiting Tomb of king and churches, among which is the church of St Mary of Zion, where legend says Ark of Covenant is supposedly kept which was brought here from Israel by king Menelik I. But unfortunately no women are allowed inside the Cathedral of Tison Mary. After sightseeing, in evening you can have your time and explore more on your own leisure. Axum is an interesting town to roam around and you can have the pleasure of visiting markets to buy souvenir home and admire beautifully carved woodwork

Day 7

To Gondar

On day 7 you will head out from Axum towards Gondar on a long road trip with a picnic lunch on journey. This around nine hours of a long drive is an incredibly scenic journey with stunning mountainy landscapes through the Simien Mountains. You head will always at window side to view the beautiful scenery you would not want to miss. Our driver will make sure there will be enough leg stretches on route so you won’t get tired and enjoy all along. Once you enter Gondar you then will move forward to check in to your hotel to stay for the next upcoming three nights.

Day 8

Gondar

After breakfast you will go on exploring Gondar with a guided visit to Royal Enclosure and Debre Birhan Selassie church with its sensational angelic ceiling. You will roam around the city and walk to find how the city earned the moniker ‘Africa’s Camelot’ with its classic stone castles and palaces. Then you will stop for lunch at a local restaurant run by some sisters, famous for cooking delicious Ethiopian fare. As the environment for Timkat is already in pipeline and building up, you feel delightful to join crowds. Following the procession to the Fasilides bathhouse where thousands of Ethiopians celebrate Timkat festival. It is an astonishing experience to be a part of the parade with drums, dancing, singing and chanting slogans going all around you. Their traditional process is that there are morning prayers and then evening, covenants are taken down to the pool of Fasilides from each church on the head of priests where baptism takes place the other following day. Timkat festival symbolizes so much wonderful about Ethiopia and its people and it is surely the most joyous occasion in the Ethiopian calendar with wonderful views and harmony. That’s why it’s the best time to visit the country to cherish and make memories

Day 9

Timkat

It’s the Timkat festival day and you will rise early to not miss and watch the festivities which includes the major activity attending the baptism ceremony at Fasilides bathing pool. It’s a magical setting to watch people in bright white uniform dresses. Priests dresses beautifully as they dress in colorful robes. Sway and chant while immersing a nighty golden cross into the waters to denote the baptism, and then everyone jumps into the pool. This ceremonial activity takes quite a few hours after the priests lead parade back to the churches with the covenants. After the ceremony you can stop for a lunch and relaxed hours, then again you will be at your leisure to enjoy the festivities.

Day 10

To Bahir Dar

It’s time to move on to Bahir Dar after enjoyments and getting high at Timkat celebrations. It will be a three hour drive from Gondar to Bahir Dar and offers really beautiful nature scenery on journey. You will stop at Amhara village for lunch and then again continue your journey to Bahir Dar while enjoying more little villages passing by. Once you arrive and check in to your hotel, you will take a boat to Lake Tana to visit one of the many 14th century’s island monasteries which hosts valuable fascinating treasures and beautifully painted murals. You will stop for a picnic after Lake Tana and then do a half an hour walk into the forest of coffee plantations and locals selling ornaments. At your arrival to that island monastery there will be priest to open the treasure and show you more older valuable and precious icons. After this you will again take boat ride to your hotel and it will be a memorable day to float on gleam waters.

Day 11

To Lalibela

This day before heading towards the Lalibela, you will have some time to do sightseeing in Bahir Dar. After that it’s a five hour drive from Bahir Dar to Lalibela and a very scenic one as you start heading further into the Tigray region. Lalibela is Ethiopia’s one of the holiest cities and is center of pilgrimage for the country. It is center to Ethiopia’s most rock-hewn churches and is soaked up in magic and mysticism. Upon arrival you will settle into the new city and your hotel before properly admiring it tomorrow

Day 12

Lovely Lalibela

You will spend today exploring the beauty and sanity of Lalibela with your guide and group and visit the main group of rock-hewn churches that were carved in 13th century by King Lalibela. After that for lunch you will stop by at a restaurant own by a Scottish lady where delicious home cooked dishes are made to satisfy your taste buds and you will crave for more. This restaurant will be a strange shaped building yet with beautifully groomed gardens and it offers stunning views of the bright sights. Lalibela is a great city with unique, ancient, fascinating and untainted culture. It offers some incredibly elevated views and is a living breathing African town that leaves you feeling like stepping back in time. Spend the afternoon at your own or join the locals and travelers to admire the extraordinary churches because Lalibela is refreshingly real and breathtaking

Day 13-14

Walking

Since it’s the last days of the tour so today your will have two options either stay in Lalibela and explore at leisure or join to those going Amelia by walking to the North Wolo Area. The other walking group will be spending the next two days following TEFSA (Tourism in Ethiopia for Sustainable Future) set walks, which aims to offer tourists a real insight into the country and its unique culture of highlands. You will be camping in and staying in a simple shared facility and trek across the long steep slopes of the Meket Plateaus. Interesting highlights of this route are Mequat Maryam, Wajela and Aterow. Landscapes you will trek are beautiful and there is not any difficult terrain. Moreover you will have local guides and you will stop for lunch breaks before arriving at your camp in ample time to relax and enjoy the peace of night.

Day 15

Home Time

It’s the last day of whole tour and you will check out from your points. The walking group will trek out of the region and take a bus to the Lalibela Airport whereas those from the group who were at Lalibela will be transferred to the Airport too. From Lalibela Airport you will fly back to Addis Ababa with an hour long flight. It depends on what time is your flight back to home and you will be transferred back to the hotel to relax before your arrival to the airport to catch your flight home.

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    price: $ 23110.98 /Person

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