Tour Code: JEF2
Tour Title: Northern Historic Route & Christmas Festival at Lalibela
Duration 11 days/10 nights
Fixed Departure Date: Dec 29- Jan 08
Mode of transport: Surface + Flight
Ethiopian Christmas Celebration (Genna or Ledet) at Lalibela
Genna or Ledet (7 January), the Ethiopian Christmas, celebrated with greater devotion, chanting, dancing, and singing around the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela. The holiest legendary town of St. Lalibela will be filled with tens of thousands of pilgrims who come from all directions of Ethiopia. The people wear a thin cotton wrap and gather in the churches to celebrate the birth of Christ with a beautiful ceremony, pilgrims jammed the church shoulder to shoulder and thronged the surrounding hills, throughout the night with traditions of Ethiopian Orthodox Church.
Dec 29: Arrival Addis Ababa, City Tour
Up on arrival at Bole international air port and met by our guide/representatives and transfer to hotel. After check in to hotel, city tour of Addis. Which includes; National Museum, the home of the famous complete hominid fossil remain of Lucy dates 3.2 million years back, Mount Entoto, panoramic view point at the highest peak in Addis with an altitude of 3200 meter above sea level, Trinity Cathedral, a beautiful church with a baroque style of European architecture unique to both Ethiopia and Africa, Ethnographic Museum and Merkato (the largest open air market in Africa). Overnight in hotel
Dec 30: Flight to Bahirdar
Early in the morning, flight to Bahirdar. After check in to hotel, boat rides on Lake Tana. On Lake Tana time has still stood and dominated by an archaic, dating from early Christian mysticism and the religious interpretations of African art are characterized by the Ethiopian Christianity, and the world’s Old Testament is still practiced. Visit Azua-Mariam and Ura-kidaneMihret monasteries which are rich in icon painting. In the afternoon, journey by sympathetic African plains eventually leads to the mighty Blue Nile fall commonly known as “Tis Isat” (water that smokes). After hiking the cataracts drive back to Bahirdar. Overnight in hotel
Dec 31: Bahirdar- Gondar- Royal Enclosure- Debre Brihan Sillassie Church
After breakfast, drive to Gondar, which was one of the hidden cities of the foreign trade area in the 17th century AD. Gondar is the site of ancient castle building palaces of different emperors constructed in the European middle age architectural style. After check in, visit the curious symbiosis of Ethiopian and Portuguese architectural representation of the Royal Enclosure which is also known as” the Camelot of Africa”, the iconic church of Debre-Birehan Silassie, bath of king Fasilledes which still in use for the colorful celebration of Ethiopian epiphany (Timket). Overnight in hotel
Jan 01 – Gonder- Simien Mountains National Park
After breakfast, drive to Semen mountains national park which is the most marvelous of all Abyssinian landscapes. Semen Mountain National Park constitutes many summits above 4000masl and culminates at Ras Dashen, the highest peak in Ethiopian and it is the home of the endemics gelada baboon, Ethiopian wolf and Walya ibex. After visit, drives back to Debark (head quarter of Simien Mountain National Park). Overnight in Simien Lodge or similar
Jan 02: Simien Mountains National Park – Axum
On this day, drive to the ancient city of Axum by enjoying very beautiful and spectacular landscape along the Semien Mountains and Tekeze Gorge. The road descends from 3100 meters through hairpin bends down the mountain side to 1400 meters in just 40kms! The drive down and back up to Adi-Arkay showcases not only the immensely beautiful Simien Mountain massifs but also the people who eke out an existence in this unforgiving countryside. The drive continues through the Tekeze valley, crossing the Tekeze River, and onto Axum In the far north. Overnight in hotel
Jan 03: Axum
The ancient city of Axum is found close to Ethiopia’s northern border. It marks the location of the heart of ancient Ethiopia, when the Kingdom of Axum was the most powerful state between the Eastern Roman Empire and Persia. The archaeological and historical attractions in Axum include: the archaeological museum, monolithic steles, 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. You also visit the new and the old Cathedral of St Mary of Zion and the sanctuary that houses the original Arc of the covenant. 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. Overnight in hotel
Jan 04: Axum- Mekele
After breakfast, drive through the historical town of Adwa, this is the major African battlefield. Drive to the very small town of Yeha to visit the 5th century B.C imposing ruins of Yeha’s temple. It was a large pre-Christian temple consisting of a single oblong chamber. The temple is believed to be the oldest standing building in the country. You will also visit the 6th century A.D church of Aba Afse –the church, sharing the same compound with the temple, is rectangular in shape. Continue driving to Mekele-the capital of Tegray region en route visit Rock church of Wekro Cherkos. Overnight in hotel
Jan 05: Mekele- Lalibela
On this day, drive through the rough nature of road but nice to experience along with the magnificent scenery (gigantic, ups and downs landscape). Overnight in hotel.
Jan 06: Lalibela
On this day, sightseeing tour of Lalibela. Lalibela, famous for its Rock Hewn churches dating back 800 years. There are no less than 1000 churches in the Lasta Region of Lalibela, some hidden in enormous caves, but it’s exceptional to find 11 churches of such master craftsmanship in one local. This magnificent architecture often referred to as the “Eighth wonder of the world”. The afternoon is also spent exploring the atmospheric subterranean complex of passages and the 11 remarkable rock-hewn churches.
In the late evening, attend the Christmas Eve ceremony to be held at Bete Mariam Church. The chanting by the deacons and the priests continue throughout the night with pilgrim’s claps and ululations. And then, attend candle light ceremony to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ. Overnight in Hotel
January 07: Genna Festival (Ethiopian Christmas)
Early in the morning attend the very colorful Chrismas procession performed by beautifully dressed priests and deacons chanting at the edge of the rock hewn churches of Bete Mariam and some more on the bottom representing the shepherds and the angels announcing the birth of Jesus. Afterwards, people disperse to their homes to feast and the clergy break their fast. Walk to one of the family home in Lalibela and join the holiday. Get involved and attend the blessing and good wishes of elders, followed by traditional Coffee ceremony. Enjoy the local foods and drinks and celebrate with music and dancing with the family. Overnight in Hotel
Jan 08: Lalibela- Addis- Departure
After breakfast flight back to Addis Ababa. In the afternoon, you will have shopping and leisure time. In the evening, farewell dinner in one of the Ethiopian restaurants for cultural dinner and dances by different ethnic groups. Then transfer to airport to fly back to home, where your tour ends.
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