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Ethiopian Christmas Festival Celebration at St. Lalibela 28.Dec 18 - 09.Jan 2019

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  • Trip Type Cultural and Festival Tour
  • Tour Code GHET-F05
  • Private Journey
  • 13 Days - 28.Dec 18 - 09.Jan 19
  • Ethiopian Christmas Festival Tour- A cultural tour to the Historic Route of Ethiopia. Step back in time and explore thousands of years of history, legend, and lore as you take this trip to the Historic Route of Ethiopia to witness one of the most colorful and ancient festivals celebrated around the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela.

This is one of the greatest and most colorful festivals on the Ethiopian calendar. At St. Lalibela, it is celebrated with greater devotion, chanting, dancing, and singing around the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela which were built more than 800 years ago. The ancient city of St. Lalibela will be filled with tens of thousands of pilgrims who come from all directions of Ethiopia and from all walks of life.

Most of the pilgrims reach at St. Lalibela from far off hamlets and inaccessible valleys, walking on their bare foot for days, weeks, and even for months to share the blessing on Christmas day. Even if Ethiopian Christmas is on January 7, there will be different ceremonies to be held around the rock-hewn churches starting the night of 4th January. This is an ancient Christian tradition which has remained unchanged and witnessing this event, you feel like you are transported centuries and centuries back in time. You can’t help but feel that a scene the same to these one has been enacted here in the same manner centuries over centuries.

Discover the world of the ancient Ethiopians as you visit the unmatched sites of the Historic Route of Ethiopia – Axum, Lalibela, Gondar, island monasteries of Lake Tana, the palace of queen of Sheba and the last resting place of the Ark of the Covenant the least is endless. Cruise along Lake Tana, the source of the Great Blue Nile River, trek along the spectacular Simien Mountains “the chase pieces of gods” with the Bleeding Heart Baboon.

Trip highlights

  • Celebration of Gena “Ethiopian Christmas”
  • Experience Ethiopian Orthodox Christian doctrines and Traditions
  • Visit 4 UNESCO World Heritage Sites
  • Be amazed by a visit to the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela, “the living wonders of the world”
  • Enjoy the magnificent nature and endemic wild life of Simien Mountains
  • Mountains
  • Travel back in time to explore the ancient city of Axum the last resting place of the Ark of the Covenant.
  • Discover the fairytale castles of Gondar
  • Take cruise on Lake Tana to visit the ancient Island monasteries
  • Site the source of the mighty river, the Blue Nile  &  Blue Nile falls
  • Discover  old walled city and the fourth holiest city of Islam
  • Visit the vibrant city of Addis Ababa, Africa’s Capital
  • Meet your ancestor LUCY at the National Museum in Addis Ababa
  • Test varied Ethiopian food and attend Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony


Day 01: December 28: Arrive Addis Ababa

Arrive in Addis Ababa (ADD), Ethiopia. Welcome to Ethiopia! Upon arrival at Addis Ababa Bole International Airport, you will be welcomed and assisted by your tour guide and driver for the transfer to Hotel. There will be a short drive to your hotel. If you arrive in the morning an optional city tour can be arranged.
Overnight: Hotel Addis Ababa

Day 02: December 29: Addis Ababa- Bahirdar

In the morning, drive to Bahirdar through the Great Blue Nile Gorge with a stop over at different small towns like Dejen, Chancho and Goha Tsion.
Overnight Hotel  Bahir Dar

Day 03: December 30: Lake Tana-Blue Nile Falls-Bahir Dar

After breakfast, we will make boat cruise over Lake Tana to visit the ancient 14th century island monasteries of Lake Tana.
After having lunch at the hotel, we will drive 35 KM to visit the majestic Blue Nile Falls.
Overnight: Hotel Bahir Dar

Day 04: December 31: Bahir Dar-Gondar

After breakfast, drive to Gondar through the beautiful countryside scenery to arrive at Gondar around lunchtime.
After check in to Goha Hotel and having lunch there, we will start tour of Gondar which include: the Royal Enclosure, the pool of King Fasilidas, and we will also visit the famous Deberberhan Sillassie adorned with brilliant frescos from inside.
Overnight Hotel Bahir Dar

Day 05: January 1: Gondar-Simien Mountains National Park

After an early breakfast, we will drive to Simien Mountains National park. En-route we will be visiting the “Felasha” or the Black Jewish village.
Driving from Gondar up to Simien Mountains National Park, nothing prepares you for the spectacular scenery that awaits at the top of the massif. The rest of the day, trek around the park to explore the stunnining view and wildlife of the park including Sankaber.
Overnight: Simien Lodge

Day 06: January 2: Simien Mountains National Park-Axum

After breakfast start driving to Axum through the beautiful sceneries of Simien Mountains, Limalimo, Tekeze River Gorge.
Overnight: Hotel Axum

Day 07: January 3: Axum

After breakfast, we will start to visit the ancient city of Axum. Your visit in Axum include: the Stele Square, Kaleba Tombs, the 4th century Christian inscription of King Ezana, Queen of Sheba’s Palace, Archeological Museum, and Tsion Mariam Church where the original Ark of the Covenant is housed.
Overnight: Hotel Axum

Day 08: January 4: Axum-Hauzien

In the morning, drive to Hauzien, the center of some of the most ancient rock-hewn churches, through the stunning and historical mountains of Adwa.
Overnight: Lodge Hauzien

Day 09: January 5: Hauzien-Mekele

In the morning, drive to Mekele en-route visit some of the most ancient Tigray rock-hewn churches including: Wikro Cherkos, Abrha We-atsbeha, Dugum Selassie and so on.
Overnight: Hotel Mekelle

Day 10: January 6: Mekele-Lalibela-Celebration at Bete Emanuel

After breakfast, start driving north to Lalibela through Sekota en-route you will visit Yimrhane Kirstos and different villages of the Agwe tribal people. In the evening, we will drive to Bete Emanuel to attend the special celebration of Emanuel with chanting and dancing by the priests and deacons. The ceremony will be accompined by a capacity crowd of piligrims who came to witness this event from far of hamlets and inaccessible valleys on their bare foot walking for weeks and even months.
Overnight: Hotel Lalibela

Day 11: January 7: Rock-hewn churches of Lalibela-Ethiopian Christmas Eve

In the morning, we will drive to the sites where we will find the concentration of some of the remarkable rock-hewn churches of Lalibela from 1200 AD. At night, we will attend the Christmas Eve ceremony to be held at Bete Mariam church. This evening again, you will attend the Ethiopian Christmas Eve Ceremony with the pilgrims. The dancing by the deacons and the priests continue throughout the night and around while the pilgrims clap and ululate to the drum beat. At mid night, there will be a candle light ceremony to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ.
Overnight: Hotel Lalibela

Day 12: January 8: Lalibela-Asheten Mariam-Ethiopian Christmas

In the morning, we will once more drive to Bete Mariam to witness the final ceremony of Ethiopian Christmas. On this day, as it has been going on centuries over centuries the priest will be lined up with their drums on the cliff edge of Bete Mariam, called Mame Garia and some more on the bottom representing the shepherds and the angels announcing the birth of Jesus. You can’t help, but witness a scene the same to this one has been going here on this day centuries over centuries in the same mannerr.
After having lunch and rest at the hotel, we will continue our journey into Ethiopia’s long and marvelous history with a visit to other St. Lalibela’s remarkable churches. The rock-hewn churches that we will visit this afternoon include: Bete Gebriel, Bete Merkorios Bete Amanuel, Bethlehem and Bete Aba Libanos. At the end of the tour, there will be a special Ethiopian traditional coffee ceremony for the group prepared at a local house.
Overnight: Hotel Lalibela

Day 13: January 9: Lalibela-Addis Ababa-Departure

After breakfast, transfer to Lalibela airport for the flight to Addis Ababa. Depending on your departure time optional city tour of Addis Abeba.
In the evening, there will be Grand Holidays’ complimentary farewell dinner party with traditional special buffet and local drinks.(flight schedule permitting) At the end of the Farwell dinner, transfer to Addis Ababa airport for the flight back. End of tour!


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