Spend 9 days touring the Historic Route in Ethiopia and pair it with the Timket Celebration in Gondar at the Royal Enclosure and Fassilades Bath. Witness this solemn and yet joyous celebration in January while your private guide explains the rituals and gives you insight into the sacred traditions and culture of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. Explore other main sites including the Simien Mountains, and Blue Nile Falls near Bahir Dar. View the rock-hewn churches in Lalibela, explore the city of Addis Ababa, and get a good introductory glimpse into the culture of Ethiopia.
Celebrate Timket Festival in Gondar at the Royal Enclosure with the locals
Hike in the Simien Mountains, keeping your eyes open for gelada baboons
Cruise on Lake Tana to visit the 14th-century Monastery of Ura Kidane Mihret
Explore rock-hewn churches of Lalibela & witness an active worship ceremony
This morning transfer back to the airport for your flight to Bahir Dar. Transfer to your hotel here, the Avanti Blue Nile. Bahir Dar is situated on the southern side of Lake Tana and near the Blue Nile River. Settle in to freshen up before an afternoon boat cruise to some of the islands on Lake Tana, home to some of the oldest churches and monasteries in the world. Visit the 14th-century monastery Ura Kidane Mihret, most famously known for its painted maqdas and collection of crosses and crowns. This afternoon drive to the village of Tis Isat and see the Blue Nile Falls, a scenic waterfall created by a dam along the river a short drive outside of town.
Day 3: Drive Bahirdar | Awra Amba | Gondar (196 km & 4 hrs.)
Drive to Gondar, and along the way is the village of Awra Amba, located off the Woreta-Woldia 'China Road'. Visit this unique settlement, which is considered a prime model for self-help and, above all, gender equality. There is no difference in the distribution of labor between men and women, and they both have the same rights. Men prepare meals while women plow, and religion has no place. They value hard work and being good to people. Drive to Gondar after your visit to Awra Amba, a town founded in 1636 by the great Emperor Fassiladas. The Royal Capital of Ethiopia is situated in a breathtakingly beautiful setting. Visit the spectacular castles and churches built by Emperor Fassiladas and his descendants.
Continue on to the fascinating Debre Birhan Selassie Church, where the walls and ceilings are adorned with images from biblical myth and medieval history. Today, you're going to attend the Timkat Eve ceremony called, Ketera. During Ketera, the priests take out the Tabots - replicas of the original Ark of the Covenant, from each church and bless the water of the pool where the next day's celebration take place. You then return to the ‘Tabot Maderia’ to attend the night celebrations.
This morning you return to the Taboat Maderia to watch the morning ceremonies and baptisms that take place at Fassilades Bath. The water, which represents the water of the Jordan River as described in the Bible, is blessed by the priest and then a patriarch dips a golden cross in and uses the water to extinguish a burning candle on the alter. The water is then sprinkled on the entire assembly in commemoration of Christ’s baptism. Following the baptisms, the Tabots start their way back to their respective churches, while feasting, singing, and dancing continues all the way along the churches’ routes. Join in the dancing with your guide and witness this joyous event.
Drive to Sanqaber in the Simien Mountains today for a full day of hiking and exploring the breathtaking scenery, some of the most wild in all of Ethiopia. Known as the 'rooftop of Africa', the Simien Mountains are one of the largest mountain ranges in all of Africa. Enjoy your afternoon to soak up the scenery and have a picnic lunch before you head back to Gondar.
In the morning, transfer to the airport and catch a flight to Lalibela. Ethiopia's crown jewel is Lalibela, also known as "Africa's Petra." It is home to the most renowned churches and the scene of many major religious ceremonies. Check in to your hotel and then visit the Asheton Mariam. Take a hike with mules to Mount Asheton, with its 13th-century rock-hewn monastery and great views of the town.
Go on an excursion today to Genete Mariam (34 km and 4 hours), one of the fascinating churches in Lalibela's outlying area. Near the Tekaze River's source, a huge monolith named Genete Mariam was carved into a pink-tinged outcrop. The church, which is pillar-supported, differs significantly from the rock-hewn churches at Lalibela in that it is carved out in the open on a rocky hilltop rather than being hidden within a trench. According to tradition, Genete Mariam is said to have been discovered under the rule of Yakuno Amlak, the monarch who supposedly "restored" the Solomonic dynasty in the early thirteenth century. You can also complete any churches you left unfinished on the previous date.
Transfer back to the Lalibela Airport this morning to catch your flight to Addis Abeba. Settle in your hotel and depart with your tour guide to see the Red Terror Martyrs Memorial Museum, a memorial to the victims of a recent terrible chapter in Ethiopia's history under the Derg Regime. It is not advisable for small children since the museum features a lot of disturbing exhibits, including skeletal remains, photographs, and models of how victims were tortured. From here, go on to the Muya Abyssinia craft to learn how the weavings and other handicrafts are utilized to make furniture, accessories, and other items for the home.
Day 9: Addis Ababa Tour and Departure
1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Spend today exploring Addis Abeba with a guide. Drive to Mount Entoto in the north to begin your tour. Next, go to the ethnographic museum, which has a sizable collection of handmade items and historical relics from Ethiopia. Visit the National Museum of Ethiopia, which holds the renowned fossil of 'Lucy'. Have lunch at a nearby cafe before seeing the Trinity Cathedral this evening. It is the largest and most revered of all modern churches. Finish your tour with a drive through the biggest open-air market in all of Africa. Before being transferred back to the airport for your journey home this evening, have one last nap in your hotel room.
Our guide and driver were very good with their knowledge and were very helpful with our questions. It was a very pleasant visit that would have been impossible to do on our own. Hotels and restaurants were fantastic. The special places we got to go to, like the kitchens, were great. Enjoyed the entire trip!
TrustScore 4.6 | 107 reviews
TrustScore 4.6 of 5
Based on 107 reviews on
20 hours ago
Clara and Rhenee were gracious and available. Phone contact is so important to answer questions and discuss all aspects of trip. If not immediately available they scheduled a time to speak.
They were knowledgeable, honest, realistic and very friendly. They are both very professional and take their role seriously.
20 hours ago
Jason has been wonderful. He is full of information and was very willing to listen to what was of interest to us.
2 days ago
The ability (of Kassandra) to tailor a guided trip to my exact preferences is very valuable to me, as well as the ability (of Kassandra) to provide expert guidance on destinations and travel dates. I also appreciate the ability of the backup staff (Maria Ignacio, Exito Travel) to coordinate all the details to make the travel logistics easy for the customer.
2 days ago
Our Costa Rica trip was amazing! Kassandra planned everything and the excursions, hotels, overall organization were outstanding. Everything worked out smoothly, the excursions guides were knowledgeable allowing us to see so much of the fauna and flora of the country. The hotels were great as well, all in fantastic locations and with beautiful views.
2 days ago
This is our 7th trip Kassandra has planned and she is wonderful to work with. She is responsive, helpful, patient and knowledgeable. We are so grateful to have the opportunity to work together with her. We love Adventure Life!