VIVA ETHIOPIA TOUR
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Title: TIMKET (EPIPHANY) and MESKEL (DISCOVERY OF THE TRUE CROSS) FESTIVALS ALONG THE HISTORIC ROUTETimket Festival

Tour code: VETF700

Tour Duration: 11 Days/ 10 Nights

Transportation: Surface-4x4

Group size: Max. 15, Min. 2, Avg. 9; please contact for individual or other group size rate

Tour Highlights: Religious festival, Historical and cultural immersions, Gorgeous gorges, National Parks, bird life, Crater lakes, Villages, traditions and customs, Boat safari, Museum and Village visit, local market visit, archaeological site visit.

Ethiopia is a land where religion plays such an important part in many people's lifestyles. The OrthodoxTIMKET_IN_GONDAR Tewahedo Church ceremonies are unique and impressive; especially Timket and Meskel

festivals which provide colorful ceremonies and celebrations. People dress in traditional costume and celebrate the festivals across the country.

>>Inquire/Book This Tour

 

TIMKET (Epiphany) 

Timket is the greatest festival of the Ethiopian year, falling just 2 weeks after Ethiopian Christmas. It is actually a 3-day affair preceded by the eve of Timket when the dramatic processions take place through a night of fasting, to the great day itself and the commemoration of Christ's baptism in the Jordan River.

Ketera, the Eve of Timket is when the Priests bring out the Tabots - replicas of the 2 tablets of laws received by Moses, which are normally housed inside the altar symbolizing the Ark of the Covenant. Priests bless the water of the pool or river where the next day's celebration will take place. It is the Tabot, rather than the church building which is consecrated and given extreme reverence. Visitors have the unique chance to experience a festival lost to the rest of the world.

This festival is arranged with the historic (north) route so as to grasp how deep Christianity religion is in Ethiopia. The trip includes Addis Ababa, Bahar Dar and the Blue Nile Falls, Gondar, Semien mountains, Mekele, Lalibela and Axum.

 

Tour start date :

Jan 16th 

Timket festival participation location:

Gondar 

price per Adult:

2450 USD Please have a look on the price detail section below for what is included 

 

 

MESKEL- DISCOVERY OF THE TRUE CROSS in Addis Ababa Meskel_Celebration_3

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. 

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 itspowerful light. Because of this, a decision was made to bury it at the mountain of Gishen Mariam monastery in Wollo region.The monastery of Gishen 

Tour start date

Sep16th. 

MESKEL festival participation location:

Addis Ababa – Meskel Square 

price per Adult:

2450$Please have a look on the price detail section below for what is included.

This program is arranged in a way that our guests witness the astonishing history of Ethiopia before the Meskel festival and know how deep rooted religion is in Ethiopia. The big fiery celebration would be the perfect conclusion for the whole trip.
Meskel_Celebration_1XX

 

 

Day to day program

 

The Historic program to blend with the festivals respectively

Please note that a detailed program for your selected festival is available upon inquiry

 

DAY 01: ADDIS ABABA - BAHIR DAR

Early in the morning, depart north to Bahir Dar via Debre Markos. On the way visit the Debre Libanos monastery that lies 104 km north of Addis Ababa which is considered as one of most holy sites. The monastery was found in the 13th century by a priest credited not only with the spread of Christianity throughout the high land, but also with restoration of solomonic line of kings.  En route we will also visit to the Portuguese Bridge, which was the first bridge in Ethiopia. We continue to drive through rolling hillsides and impressively rugged scenery till we reach the Blue Nile gorge at the distance of 210km, which is about one mile wide and one mile deep, taking about a 45 minutes drive to reach the riverbed. The view from the lip of the gorge is awe-inspiring.Meskel_CelebrationXX
Overnight stay Hotel

 

Day 02: BAHIRDAR

Bahir dar, a door step to the mystical Lake Tana, is described by it people as their Riviera and, with its wide streets shaded by palm trees and sweeping views across shimmering blue waters, it is hard to argue.

After an early breakfast at the hotel, we will take a boat excursion trip on Lake Tana, the largest lake in Ethiopia, which is dotted with 37 islands hosting some enthralling 13th century churches, monasteries, monuments and archaeological treasures.

In the afternoon we will take a scenic drive of 35 km to the little town of Tiss Abay and walk for about twenty minutes to visit the famous Blue Nile Falls. The falls lunges 40 meters below and 400 meters wide, giving rise to steam clouds, smoke like fire, which is why it is locally known as Tiss Isat meaning “Water that smokes”.
Overnight stay Hotel

 

DAY 03: Drive to Gondar to visit the castle and the church
Today we continue our journey to Gondar. It’s not what Gondar is, but what Gondar was that is so enthralling. After settling in the hotel, we will explore the castles of King Fasilidas, which is said to be the wall of the castles bathed in blood and painted in the pomp of royalty. Often called the Camelot of Africa, this description does the royal city a disservice: Camelot is legend where as Gondar is reality. Drifting through the old palaces, banqueting halls and former gardens it’s not difficult to imagine the courtly pageantry, ceremony and intrigue that went on here. The entire compound contains numerous castles and the place has been completely preserved with the aid of UNESCO and was made one of world heritage sites in 1979. By far Fasilada’s palace is the most impressive and also the oldest building. Continue our visit to the one of the most famous and stunning church of the nation “Debre Birhan Selassie church”. The church would have probably been destroyed like most of the Gondar churches by the marauding armies of the dervishes in 1880s if it weren’t for a swarm of bees. When the dervish show up at the gate   of the church, a giant swarm of bees surged out of the compound and chased the invaders away.

Overnight stay Hotel

DAY 04: Gondar – Simien Mountains
Starting early in the morning from Gondar you will be driven through the mountainous country, The Simien Mountains. The Semien Mountains National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and contains some of the most dramatic scenery in Africa - great volcanic plugs, formed some 40 million years ago and eroded over the eons into fantastic crags, pinnacles and flat topped mountains. The 'chess pieces of the gods', as one writer described them, tower over precipitous gorges, river valleys and plains stretching all the way to Eritrea 

You stop for an early lunch in the market town of Debark. Then head off to Sankaber to see the spectacular views of the Simien Mountains. There are particular good views between Michibi and Sankaber and do Look out for the gelada baboons. 
Overnight Camping /Hotel

 

DAY 05: Drive to Axum
Drive through the remarkable Tekezze Gorge to the earliest capital of Ethiopia – Axum through the Semien mountain national park escarpments.
Overnight stay Hotel

 

DAY 06: AXUM

we explore the historical landmarks of the ancient Axumite Empire, including the Queen of Sheba's Bath, King Bazen's tomb, the ancient stelae erected as burial tombs for the most respected Kings and St Marry of Zion church.  Axum is more than just a collection of lifeless ruins thought, The town, albeit rural at heart, has vibrancy life and continuing national importance very rarely found at ancient sites. Pilgrimage still journey here in their thousands to pay homage at its believed that the Ark of the Covenant resides here. It is also considered to be one of world heritage sites and undoubtedly one of the most important and spectacular ancient site in sub –Saharan Africa.   
Overnight stay Hotel

 

DAY 07: AXUM – MEKELE

Getting a taste for what's to come in Lalibela, afterbreakfast morning drive to Mekele via Adigrat .We visit the rock-hewn churches of the Tigray Region in the Wokro  Cluster namely Chirkose, Petrose & Paulos before proceeding to Mekele for overnight. You will also visit the town of Negashi 56 km south of Adigrat, which, like Axum and Adwa, belies its prestigious past. Negashi was the first sit of Muslim settlement in Ethiopia. Between Adigrat and Mekele there’s plethora of churches, 120 at last count. Some of the 120 –odd churches (plus a few invisible one) may even predate those at lalibela, and may possibly represent a crucial link between Axum and Lalibela chronologically, artistically and technically. The architectural features, thought less perfect than at lalibela, are just as remarkable and intriguing.

Overnight stay Hotel

 

DAY 08: MEKELE – LALIBELA

Today we precede driving to Lalibela, En-route visit to Yemrehana kristos will make our tour more interesting. The church is unusual because it’s built rather than excavated. The carving and the decoration is exceptional, especially the cruciform windows and the elaborated nave ceiling. Seeing the steeped exterior façade, created from alternating wood and stone layers, you will truly come to appreciate why so many Lalibela rock hewn churches look like they do.
Overnight stay Hotel

 

DAY 09: LALIBELLA

Morning visit the 1st group Northwestern group of the rock-hewn churches. Namely: Bet Medihaniyalem (savior of the wold) impressive for its size and majesty, Bet Maryam connected to Bete Medhaniyalem by a tunnel is a large courtyard containing three churches. In to the courtyard’s northern wall at Bete mariyam is the tiny semi-chapel of the Bet Meskel. Keep an eye out for the cross carved in relief beneath stylized foliage on one of the spandrels of the arches. Bet Denaghel found to south of Bet Mariyam courtyard, said to have been constructed in memory of the nuns martyred on the orders of the 4th century Roman emperor Julian in Edessa (modern day Turkey). The third tunnel at the southern end of the Bet Maryam courtyard connects it to the twin churches of Bet Golgota&Bet Mikael (also known as Bet Debre Sina).

Afternoon we will visit the remaining five southeastern group churches in Lalibela. Although smaller in number in size than the northwestern groups, the south eastern cluster offers not only one of lalaibela’s most finely carved churches but also some intrigue, with various historians debating whether some churches had past as prisons and palaces. The names of the church are Bet Gabriel-Rufaiel, Bet Merkorios, Bet Amanuel, Bet Abba Libanos and Bet Giyorgis.
Overnight stay Hotel

 

DAY 10: Lalibela –Kombolcha

Drive from Lalibela passing through the historical town of Wuchale via Woldia to Kombolcha. The drive to this old town situated below craggy hills is going to be a gentle but scenic. En-route we pass through Dessie which is major transportation hub to Lalibela. Our stop at the little town of Hayk for beautiful views over Lake Hayk will be worthwhile. We continue driving for our overnight saty in kombolcha.
Overnight stay Hotel

 

DAY11: Kombolcha – Addis Ababa

Our final day drive from Kombolcha to Addis Ababa is through a fascinating topography and small villages along the road. Kombolcha is about 376 km from Addis Ababa. This is a full day's drive across the Shoan Plateau, the largest area of continuous altitude on the whole continent of Africa. It is where the Shoan Amhara Princes of old left their legacies. Roadside views include fields of teff (an indigenous grain) and barley, shepherds, sometimes in their reed raincoats, with sheep, goats and cattle, and Amhara women in their pleated highland skirts.

Complimentary farewell dinner party from VIVA ETHIOPIA will follow in one of the most renowned Cultural restaurant in Addis to test the cultural food and drinks, enjoying dances from the different ethnic groups.

The tour ends at the end of the farewell dinner party on day 11. You may choose to fly out that same evening/night or you have the choice of spending one more night in Addis. The preceding morning can be used for city tour, souvenir shopping, taking walks on the main streets of Addis, and discovering Addis bustling outdoor markets, exotic dishes, espresso bars and patisseries which are reminiscent of Rome and the Mediterranean

...End of tour...

Remarks:

For overview of religions festivals and the corresponding tours, please visit http://www.vivaethiopiatour.com/festivals

Start/End: Tour starts and ends in Addis Ababa.

Upon arriving in Addis ABABA You will be introduced with your guide and driver. A detailed itinerary and map would be provided for every member.

Flexibility: This itinerary is subjected to certain degree of flexibility and change as per the group interest and ground conditions that may prevail without affecting celebration dates.

Accompanies: Experienced group leader, Expert 4x4 drivers, local guides, Boat men, mule tenders, Village leaders and cooks.

Communication: mobile telephone will be provided to communicate with our base in Addis Ababa.

Group Size: Max. 15, Min. 5 please contact for individual or other group size rate

Transport: Fully insured 2010/11 Nissan patrol and/or Toyota land cruiser or Toyota Coaster Bus and 2010 Double AC Toyota HIACE minibuses for city tour. Three group members in one 4x4 basis.

Accommodation: This tour assumes four star accommodations in Addis and the best available outside of Addis Ababa. The names of the Hotels used would be disclosed upon inquiry. This tour also assumes twin bed room arrangement.

My Own Room: please do advice while booking if you are seeking a single room arrangement throughout the trip.

Personal activities: please write to us your personal interests, if you looking for shorter celebration and more activities you want to add in this tour and we would be very happy to incorporate it.

Local Currency: Ethiopian Birr.

Price includes:

  • Meet and greet at the airport
  • Air port /Hotel Transfer in and out
  • One night and one day use in four Star Hotel Accommodation in Addis Ababa.
  • Best accommodations available outside Addis as per the itinerary.
  • Meals on the tour on full board base in reputable restaurants and hotels
  • Bottled water, soft drink and coffee throughout the trip
  • Professional Multi Language speaking guide (group leader) accompanying throughout the trip
  • All Transportation costs with the mentioned fully insured vehicle and Expert 4x4 driver allowance.
    • Boat trip costs, Local guide, Scout and all entrance fees and embarkation fees
    • Addis Ababa city tour
    • Government tax

Price excludes

  • International air fair
  • Camera &video fee
  • Alcohol drinks
  • Laundry & other personal interests

A final copy of your Trip Details, local cost over view, Joining Instructions, Emergency Contact, What to Take, Checklist, Money Exchange, confirming prices and other practical information available upon inquiry

 

 

 

 


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