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Title: Ethiopian Meskel festival in Addis AbabaMeskel_Celebration

Tour code: VET720

Tour Duration: 9Days/8Nights

Travel dates: From 18 – 26 September 2010. 

Transportation: Surface/Air

Type of Vehicle 2009/10 Nissan Patrol or 2009/10 Toyota Land cruiser & 2010 Double AC Toyota HIACE minibuses for city tours

 Tour Customizable: Yes

Tour Highlights: Ancient colorful festivals, ancient history, age-old culture, breathtaking highland scenery, waterfalls, castles, rock churches, archeology and so much more. >>Inquire/Book This Tour  


MESKEL is celebrated by dancing, feasting and lighting a massive bonfire known in Ethiopian tradition as "Damera". Meskel commemorates the finding of the True Cross in the 4th century when Empress Helena, mother of Constantine the Great, discovered the True Cross on which Christ was crucified. The feast is celebrated in Ethiopia on the 17th September Ethiopian calendar (27th September Gregorian calendar), 6 months after the discovery of the True Cross. The celebration of Meskel signifies the presence of the True Cross at mountain of Gishen Mariam monastery and also symbolises the events carried out by Empress Helena. Meskel_Celebration_1

According to tradition Empress Helena lit incense and prayed for assistance to guide her. The smoke drifted towards the direction of the buried cross. She dug and found three crosses; one of them was the True Cross used to crucify Jesus Christ. Empress Helena then gave a piece of the True Cross to all churches, including the Ethiopian Church. This piece was then brought to Ethiopia. According to the Ethiopian legend, when people get close to the piece of the True Cross it made them naked by its powerful light. Because of this, a decision was made to bury it at the mountain of Gishen Mariam monastery in Wollo region.Meskel_Celebration_3

The monastery of Gishen


Day 1-Sept 18: Arrive in Addis Ababa, city tour of Addis Ababa
On arrival late in Addis Ababa our representatives will meet you at Bole International Airport and transfers to your Hotel. An overview of the program and itineraries will be given.

Day 2: Sept 19: Fly Bahir Dar, Morning, Blue Nile Falls afternoon Boat trip: 
After breakfast fly to Bahar Dar. After check into the Hotel and refreshment, we take a boat trip on Lake Tana to visit ancient monasteries. We will visit two of the most accessible and representative ofthe monasteries, still serving their original function, Ura Kidane Mehret, and Azwa Maryam. In the afternoon we pay a visit to the impressive Blue Nile Falls, locally known as Tis Isat or 'Smoke of Fire’.

Overnight Hotel in Bahir Dar

Day 3:  Sept 20: Drive Gondar & Tour of Gondar:
We experience typically in an Ethiopian African landscape as we drive from Bahir Dar to Gondar- 180 kms over wide grazing land, hilly mountains with numerous farmlands. The rest of the day visit attractions in Gondar. The attractions that we visit in Gondar includes: Castles of Gondar- are included in the World Heritage List. The royal Fasiledes Bath and the Church of Debre Berhan Selassie with its unique murals.

Overnight Hotel in Gondar

Day 4: Sep 21: Excursion to Simien Mountains
Not far from Gondar are the Simien Mountains offering some of Ethiopia most striking scenery in a vast stretch of beautiful and unspoiled mountain wilderness. We have time for a short visit through astonishingly steep valleys and isolated jutting volcanic plugs that were formed by ancient seismic activity. The mountain wildlife is equally astonishing with 50 different birds species, troops of Gelada baboons, etc. We will also have time during our visit to explore the unique and often bizarre flora of this Afro-alpine ecosystem. We will drive back arriving late in Gondar for overnight stay.

Overnight Hotel in Gondar

Day 5: Sept22: Fly Axum.
After breakfast transfer to the airport for a short flight to Axum. On arrival in Axum you will be transferred to Remehay hotel. After refreshment visit the historical and archaeological sites in Axum including: The archaeological museum, The magnificent monolithic steles or obelisks, the tombs of King Kaleb and King Gebre Meskal, and the legendary Bath of the Queen of Sheba, and the ruins of ancient palace of Queen Sheba. The 16th Century Cathedral of St Mary of Zion was probably built on an earlier 4th century church, and is the holiest church in Ethiopia. In its sanctuary is said to rest the original Ark of the Covenant. The churches and monasteries of Axum house are richly endowed with icons, and some of the historical crowns of ancient emperors.

Overnight Hotel in AXUM

Day 6: Sept23: Fly to Lalibela
After breakfast transfer to Axum Airport to leave for Lalibela, the site of the world wonder. The flight departs Gondar at 9.30 and arrives Lalibela at 10.00. Today we visit the footstep of mount Asheten (over 3000 meters high), the 13thc built-up-cave church of Na'akutola'ab. After lunch, you visit the first group of the remarkably excavated churches of Lalibela that represent the earthly Jerusalem.

Overnight Hotel in Lalibela.

Day 7: Sept24: In Lalibela
After breakfast a mule ride to the 13thc rock hewn monastery of Asheten Mariam. The church is situated on atop a mountain at an altitude of 3150 meters. This will take about 4 hours. We return back to the town for lunch. In the afternoon, visit of the other groups of Rock churches of Lalibela Bet Giyorgis, possibly the most elegant of all the Lalibela churches, lies somewhat isolated in the southwest part of the village on a sloping rock terrace. It can only be reached through a tunnel. The group of four, south of the Jordan River, comprise of Bet Emanuel, Bet Mercurios, Bet Abba Libanos and Bet Gabriel-Rufa'el. Bet Emanuel's elaborate exterior is much praised by art historians.

Overnight Hotel in Lalibela

Day 8: Sept 25: Fly to Addis Ababa:
After breakfast transfer to Lalibela Airport and fly to Addis Ababa.  The rest of the day visit historical sites in Addis Ababa including the National Archaeological Museum, where we will view the 3.6 million year old remains of “Lucy”, whose skeletal remains were discovered in 1974. You will also visit the Ethnological Museum at Addis Ababa University, Holy Trinity Cathedrals and Mount Entoto which rises up to an altitude of 3200 meters and offers the panoramic view of the metropolis. Shopping in Merkato, largest open market, and leisure on your own will finalize the day.

Overnight Hotel in Addis Ababa

Day 9: September 26: Attend the Meskel Festival.

Have a relaxing breakfast, and have walks in the main streets, exploring the city life. In the afternoon attend the Meskel Festival at Measkel square –the colorful festival of the Orthodox Christens, celebrated to commemorate the finding of the true cross. Evening we will invite you a fare well dinner at Agelgel hotel for Ethiopian dish and cultural dances from different ethnic groups. Then after transfer to Bole International Airport for your flight back to home.

End of tour!


  1. Activities for the first and last days will depend on visitors’ times of arrivals and departures and airline used.
  2. Note that this program can be arranged in way to celebrate MESKEL in Gondar, Lalibela, Axum or a place of your choice.
  3. This program can also be arranged for all surface transportation, all air and combination
  4. Upon request the above tour program can be, modified, differently rearranged, combined with other programs, or extended to suit the clients’ interest, time, and budget.

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