Tour Code: AA-ETO 10 days Timket

Duration:Duration: 10 Nights/ 11 Days

Destinations-Axum, Lalibela, Gondar, Bahir Dar

Directions- Northern Ethiopia

Transportation: Air and Surface

Meal- Full board base

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Day 1: Arrive Addis Ababa

On arrival late in Addis Ababa our representatives will meet you at Bole International Airport and transfers to your Hotel. An overview of the program and itineraries will be given. Overnight in Hotel.
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Day 2: Fly Addis Ababa-Axum

In the morning, transfer to Addis Ababa airport for your flight to Axum. After check in to Hotel, you will start to visit the ancient city of Axum.
This is the birthplace of Ethiopian civilization, and by the first century Axum was a major trading center for exotic goods from Egypt, Rome, Nubia, Greece, Syria, and India. The Holy Ark of the Covenant was brought here before the destruction of the Temple, and Axum is reputed to be the second Jerusalem. Your today’s visit in Axum include: the Stele field, 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 in Hotel.
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Day 3: Axum-Yeha-Debre Damo

After breakfast, drive out of town to the pre-Christian temple of Yeha and to the most ancient monastery of Debre Damo, en-route enjoying the stunning view of historical Adwa Mountains and the dramatic mountainous country side scenery of Tigray. The rest of the day, walk around to explore the ancient city and interact with the local people. Overnight in Hotel.

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Day 4: Fly Axum to Lalibela

After breakfast, transfer to Axum airport for the flight to Lalibela. After check in to Hotel, drive to the site where you will find a concentration of some of Ethiopia’s most famous rock-hewn churches, mostly referred by many as “the living wonders of the world” These churches are, and they have been for at least 800 years, an active Christian shrine, the spiritual center of the country’s religious life. The monolithic churches were carved out of 2,600-sq meter natural rock terrace in the 12-century AD by king Lalibela.
Bete Medhani Alem, the largest monolithic rock-hewn church in the world, measures 37.7 ft in height, covers an area of almost 2625 square ft and has walls that are up to six feet thick. A plain building supported by 36 pillars on the inside and another 36 pillars around the outside, BeteMedhani Alem was modeled on the original St. Mary Zion Church built by King Ezana in the 4th century at Axum.

The rock-hewn churches that you will visit today include: Bete Medhani Alem, Bete Mariam,Bete Meskel, Bete Denagil, Bete Golgotha Michael and Bete Giorgis. What makes this tour of Lalibela different from any other time is that, you will be visiting the churches with pilgrims from all over Ethiopia. most of them have come here from far off hamlets and inaccessible valleys walking for days, weeks and sometimes for months on their bare foot to share the blessing at this holy place. They will be chanting, singing and dancing with joy, for these people coming to Lalibela and going to Bethlehem where Jesus Christ was borne is the same, as Lalibela is considered to be the second Jerusalem. Overnight in Hotel.


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Day 5: Lalibela-Excursion to Asheten Mariam-Timket Eve

In the morning, mule ride, and walk to the top of Asheten Mariam Monastery. This is very famous for its 12-century monastery church and beautiful view at 10,298 ft above sea level. We will walk/mule ride through dramatic highland scenery and which eventually ends in a beautiful serene agricultural hamlet.
The rock-hewn churches that you will visit today include: Bete Medhani Alem, Bete Mariam,Bete Meskel, Bete Denagil, Bete Golgotha Michael and Bete Giorgis.
In the afternoon, witness one of the most colorful and highly celebrated festivals in Ethiopia, theTimket eve ceremony, Ketera. During Ketera, 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’ celebration will take place. At Lalibela all the Taboats are taken to the ‘Taboat Maderia’, accompanied by priests bearing prayer sticks and sistra, ringing bells, blowing trumpets, and swinging bronze censors from which wisps of incense smoke escape into the evening air. TheTabots are kept in their special tent in the meadow, each hoisting a proud banner depicting the church’s saint in front. The dancing and chanting by the priest and the faithful continue all night long.
After having dinner and rest at the hotel, we will return to the ‘Taboat Maderia’ to attend the night celebrations. Overnight in Hotel

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Day 6: Attend Timket Festival at Lalibela

Early in the morning drives from your hotel to the ‘Taboat Maderia’ to join the celebration and the crowd waiting to be baptized by the holy water. Early in the morning, the water which symbolizes the Jordan River is blessed by the priest and the patriarch then dip a golden cross and extinguish a burning consecrated candle in the alter. Then he sprinkles water on the assembled congregation in commemoration of Christ’s baptism in the Jordan River.
Following the baptism, the Tabots start their way back to their respective churches, while feasting, singing and dancing continue all the way to the churches. Every year on Timkat, everyone-men, women, and children-appears splendid for the celebration. Dressed in thedazzling white of the traditional dress, the locals provide a dramatic contrast to the jewel colors of the ceremonial velvets and satins of the priests’ robes and sequined velvet umbrellas. The elders march solemnly, accompanied by singing, leaping priest and young men. All these activities of the priest and the deacon recall the ancient rites of the Old Testament; a culture which remained unchanged centuries for centuries.
After having lunch and rest at the hotel, you will continue your journey into Ethiopia’s long and marvelous history with a visit to other St. Lalibela’s remarkable churches-their architecture and artistry must be seen to be believed. Ones we finished visiting the second group of churches we will walk to the village through the complex bewildering labyrinth of underground tunnels to the monastery were the monks and nuns live. Overnight in Hotel.

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Day 7: Fly Lalibela to Gondar

After breakfast, transfer to Lalibela airport for the flight to Gondar. Thirty minutes flight takes you to Gondar. After check in to Hotel, located on a hill overlooking the city, and having lunch there, you will start your tour of Gondar.
Gondar, founded by Emperor Fasiledas around 1635 is famous for its many medieval castles and the design and decoration of its churches-in particular, Debre Birhan Selassie represents a masterpiece of unique Ethiopian School of traditional art.
This afternoon, you will explore the ancient city and its famous sites including: The Royal Enclosure, a walled compound having 6 different castles built from 17th century by different kings who ruled in different times, the pool of King Fasilidas which still serves as a baptismal pool during Ethiopian Epiphany and you will also visit the famous Deberberhan Sillassie which is adorned with brilliant frescos from inside. Overnight in Hotel.
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Day 8: Drive Gondar to Simien Mountains and then back to Gondar

After an early breakfast, start driving to Sankaber for your full day excursion to the SimienMountains National Park en-route visiting the “Felasha” or the Black Jewish village. It is believed that the “Felashas” settled at this village during the time of King Minlik I, the son of Queen of Sheba and King Solomon.
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 rolling grassy plateau comes to an abrupt stop, and sheer cliffs plunge almost vertically for 1,000m (3280 ft) to the plains below. The massif itself has been sculpted by 30 million years of up thrust and erosion into a wonderland of jagged ridges, pinnacles and strangely cropped conical mountains, so that looking out over the heart-stopping precipice; you feel you might just be at the edge of the world.
At Sankaber, group will certainly have a chance to make relaxing trek and see troops of ‘bleeding heart baboon’ the Endemic Gelada Baboon, in the most dramatic sceneries of the parkincluding Ginbar River Falls and Wolkafit mountain chain. You will have your picnic lunch at Sankaber while enjoying the stunning landscape across. Overnight in Hotel.
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Day 9: Drive Gondar to Bahirdar

After breakfast, drive to Bahirdar through the beautiful countryside scenery of Fogera and Gojamto arrive at Bahirdar around lunchtime.
In the afternoon, you will have a boat cruise over Lake Tana to visit the ancient island monasteries of Lake Tana. The 37 islands of Lake Tana shelter twenty monasteries-surviving remnants of an old, contemplative tradition. Because of their isolation, these monasteries were used to store treasures and religious relics from all the part of the country. The monasteries are famous for their typical Ethiopian religious paintings, illuminated manuscripts, and other ancient church treasures. The monasteries that you are going to visit this afternoon include KibranGebriel, Ura Kidanemihret and Azua Mariam. Overnight in Hotel.
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Day 10: Bahirdar full day sightseeing -Lake Tana-Blue Nile Falls

After breakfast, drive 35 KM to visit the majestic Blue Nile Falls. 30 KM after it exits Lake Tana, the Blue Nile plunges over a 45m-high face to form one of the most spectacular waterfall in Africa. Walking to the fall through the beautiful river gorge on the ancient bridge from the 17th century, and meeting the local people at the small villages on the way to the fall is also a great experience.
After having lunch at the hotel and taking little rest, drive to Bezawit Hill where you can see the summer residence of Emperor Hailesillasie I, from outside. This is also the best viewpoint to wander the sunset on Lake Tana and to see the outlet of the Blue Nile River; where the Blue Nile begins its long journey nourishing millions of lives all the way to Egypt and finally to Mediterranean Sea. Overnight in Hotel.
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Day 11: Fly Bahir dar-Addis Ababa-Departure

After breakfast, transfer to Bahirdar airport for the flight back to Addis Ababa.On this day we will see more of Addis and you will also have time for shopping and leisure on your own. In the evening, farewell dinner party with traditional special buffet and local drinks. At the end of the farewell dinner, transfer to Addis Ababa airport for the flight back departing.