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Sebaratmu Festival Tour — 13 Days

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  • Trip Type Cultural and Festival Tour
  • Tour Code GHET-F02
  • Cultural and Festival Tour
  • 13 Days, Jan. 15–29, 2019
  • This cultural tour takes you on Ethiopia’s Historic North Route and ends with the Sebartamu Giorgis Festival—one of the most colorful festivals celebrated at Lalibela. This festival is less famous, but equally as absorbing as Timket, and it is celebrated colorfully around one of the most famous rock-hewn churches, St. George, just 1 week after Timket.

On this tour you will also visit the classic Historic Route of Ethiopia that includes Axum, Lalibela, Gondar, the island monasteries of Lake Tana, the palace of the Queen of Sheba, and the last resting place of the Ark of the Covenant. Cruise along Lake Tana, the source of the Great Blue Nile River; trek along the spectacular Simien Mountains, "the chess pieces of gods"; and see the Gelada "Bleeding Heart" Baboon. And last, but not least, get to know the friendly and charming people of Ethiopia.

Trip Highlights

  • Celebrate at the Sebaratmu (St. George) festival.
  • Experience Ethiopian Orthodox Christian doctrines and traditions.
  • Visit four UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
  • Be amazed by the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela, one of "the living wonders of the world". 
  • Enjoy the magnificent nature and endemic wildlife of the Simien 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 a cruise on Lake Tana to visit the ancient island monasteries.
  • See the source of the mighty Blue Nile River and the Blue Nile falls.
  • Visit the vibrant city of Addis Ababa.
  • Meet your ancestor Lucy at the National Museum in Addis Ababa.
  • Try the varied Ethiopian food.
  • Attend an Ethiopian coffee ceremony.


Day 1: Addis Ababa

Arrive in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Welcome to Ethiopia! Upon arrival at Addis Ababa Bole International Airport, you will be welcomed and assisted by your tour guide and driven to your hotel. If you arrive in the morning, we can arrange an optional city tour in Addis Ababa.

Overnight: Hotel, Addis Ababa

Day 2: Addis Ababa, Bahirdar

In the morning, drive to Bahirdar through the Great Blue Nile Gorge with stops at different small towns like Dejen, Chancho, and Goha Tsion.

Overnight: Hotel, Bahirdar

Day 3: Lake Tana, Blue Nile Falls, Bahir Dar

After breakfast, we will take a boat cruise on Lake Tana to visit the ancient 14th-century island monasteries of Lake Tana.

After lunch at the hotel, we will drive 35 km to visit the majestic Blue Nile Falls.

Overnight: Tana Hotel, Bahirdar

Day 4: Bahir Dar, Gondar

After breakfast, we drive to Gondar through the beautiful countryside scenery to arrive at Gondar around lunchtime.

After checking into Goha Hotel and having lunch there, we will start our tour of Gondar that includes the Royal Enclosure and the pool of King Fasilidas. We will also visit the famous Debre Berhan Sellassie church adorned with brilliant frescos inside.

Overnight: Goha Hotel, Gondar

Day 5: Gondar, Simien Mountains National Park

After an early breakfast, we will drive to Simien Mountains National Park. Enroute we will visit the "Felasha", or Black Jewish village.

As we drive from Gondar up to Simien Mountains National Park, you will be astounded by the spectacular scenery that awaits at the top of the massif. For the rest of the day, we trek around the park to explore the stunnining views and wildlife of the park and Sankaber.

Overnight: Simien Lodge, Buit Ras

Day 6: Simien Mountains National Park, Axum

After breakfast, we will drive to Axum through the beautiful scenery of the Simien Mountains and the Tekeze River Gorge.

Overnight: Hotel, Axum

Day 7: Axum

After breakfast, we will visit the ancient city of Axum. Your visit in Axum includes the Stele Square, Kaleba Tombs, 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 8: Axum, Hauzien

In the morning, we 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 9: Hauzien, Mekele

In the morning, we drive to Mekele enroute visiting some of the most ancient Tigray rock-hewn churches including Wikro Cherkos, Abrha We-atsbeha, and Dugum Selassie.

Overnight: Hotel, Mekele

Day 10: Mekele, Lalibela, Sebaratmu Giorgis Eve at Lalibela

After breakfast, we drive north to Lalibela through Sekota. Enroute you will visit Yimrhane Kirstos and different villages of the Agwe tribal people.

Late in the afternoon, we will drive to Bete Giorgis to attend the eve of Sebaratmu. Here, the priest and deacons will be chanting with their drums and sistras to celebrate the eve of St. George.

Overnight: Hotel, Lalibela

Day 11: Lalibela, Sebaratmu Festival at Lalibela

After breakfast, we will drive to the Tabot Maderia, where the replica of the Ark of the Covenant has rested overnight. The next morning, the Ark will be taken to Bete Giorgis, with a lot of feasting, singing, and dancing along the way. When the Tabot reaches the church, there will be dancing by the priest along the cliff edge of the church while the faithful continue to dance forming different groups.

Overnight: Hotel, Lalibela

Day 12: Lalibela, Asheten Mariam

In the morning, we take a mule ride to the top of Asheten Marima to visit the monastery church from the 12th century.

After lunch and a rest at the hotel, we will continue our journey into Ethiopia’s long and marvelous history with a visit to other of 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: Lalibela, Addis Ababa, Departure

After breakfast, we transfer to Lalibela airport for the flight to Addis Ababa. Depending on your departure time, we can arrange an optional city tour.

In the evening, there will be a Grand Holidays Ethiopia Tours 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.

Upcoming Dates

January 15–29, 2019

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