Christmas in Ethiopia is celebrated on the 7th of January and is called Ledet or Genna which comes from the word Gennana, meaning “imminent”, and expresses the coming of the Lord and the freeing of mankind from sin. The festival takes place throughout the country but Lalibela, the most famous of Ethiopia’s ancient cities, is the best place to participate and will be the focal point of this tour.
The celebration of Ethiopian Christmas is marked by various activities such as horse racing and authentic folk dancing. At Lalibela, the Genna celebration is the largest in the country and with much pageantry due to the birth date of King Lalibela falling on the same day. In the rural areas a popular game similar to hockey but is typically Ethiopian is played by youth teams. The game is named after the festival and is called “Yegena Chewata”.
Along with Lalibela, you will visit Axum and Gondar, home to UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and Bahir Dar, with its island monasteries on Lake Tana.
WhenFrom January 2, 2018 to January 8, 2018
InclusionsEntrance fees to historic sites, city tours of Addis Ababa, hotels and ground transportation
Meeting PlaceWe will pick you up upon your arrival at the Addis Ababa Bole International Airport
TransportationVan, coaster bus and domestic flights. Domestic flights are not included in the tour price.
MealsEthiopian cuisine and western foods
AccomodationHotels range from comfort to premier class
Group Size8 to 16 people
Price$1,609.00 Per person, double occupancy. Domestic and international flights not included
OptionsThree-night tour of Harar, the ancient walled city. $524
Per person double occupancy. Excluding domestic flight
Upon arrival in Addis Ababa, our representatives will meet you at Bole International Airport and proceed to the National Archaeological Museum, to view the 3.6 million year old remains of “Lucy”, whose skeleton was discovered in 1974.Check-in to your hotel to freshen up and enjoy lunch. Continue to the Ethnological Museum at Addis Ababa University; a great insight into the many different peoples of Ethiopia and their respective cultures. At the end of the day ascend to Mount Entoto offering a panoramic view of Addis Ababa.
Harmony Hotel (L,D)
This morning fly to Bahir Dar and check in at the hotel then drive to the small town of Tiss Abay to visit to the impressive Blue Nile Falls, locally known as Tis Isat or 'Smoke of Fire'. The falls throws up a continuous spray of water droplets which drench onlookers. The surrounding area is extremely fertile and the Amhara people who live here farm wheat, sorghum and teff, which injera, the national bread, is made from. After lunch enjoy a boat cruise on Lake Tana to visit ancient monasteries. Visit two of the most accessible monasteries, still serving their original function; Ura Kidane Mehret and Azwa Maryam. Your hotel is a serene and deluxe retreat on the shores of Lake Tana.
Kuriftu Resort & Spa (B, L, D)
Gondar UNESCO site
On our drive (110 miles) to this ancient Imperial city, we travel through a fertile landscape of wide-open fields of a typical African tableau and then undulating farmland. Gondar was once the old imperial capital, founded in the 17th century by Emperor Fasilides, who built a palace and seven churches. The subsequent five Emperors built their own respective palaces and Gondar became known as the Camelot of Africa. Visit the royal enclosure containing six castles, a complex network of connecting tunnels and raised walkways. Proceed to the fascinating Debre Birhan Selassie Church with its walls and ceiling decorated with scenes of Biblical lore and medieval history.
Goha Hotel (B, L, D)
Axum UNESCO site
Fly to the heart of ancient Ethiopia, the capital of the Kingdom of Axum which was the most powerful state between the Eastern Roman Empire and Persia. The archaeological and historical attractions in Axum include monolithic steles or obelisks, the tombs of King Kaleb and King Gebre Meskal, the legendary Bath of the Queen of Sheba, and the ruins of her ancient palace. Also visit the new and the old Cathedral of St Mary of Tsion (Zion) and the sanctuary that houses the original Arc of the Covenant. The older of the two cathedrals, built in the 16th century, is believed to be built on the ruins of an earlier 4th century church, and is the holiest site in Ethiopia.
Consular Hotel (B,L,D)
This morning fly to the most unique Christian sites of Ethiopia.
Lalibela’s churches are collectively referred to as ‘The Eighth Wonder of the World’. Legend has it that Emperor Lalibela had been instructed, in a vision from God, to build the new Jerusalem after returning from Jerusalem which was sacked by the Muslims. Visit the 11 majestic rock churches that are still used as places of worship by Lalibelans. Since its relatively remote location, Lalibela has yet gained the worldwide exposure and has been referred to as the “Petra of Africa”.
Unlike the western part of the world, the Ethiopian Christmas falls on the 7th of January and leap year 8th of January. It is one of the biggest religious festivals and celebrated all over the country; in Lallibela it is very much colorful and is celebrated by a church service that goes on throughout the night with people moving from one church to another. This evening you join eve of the ceremony.
Mountain View Lodge (B, L, D)
The ceremony continues and early in the morning you attend the wonderful church song made by dozens of priests, followed by thousands of pilgrimages. Then you will visit the rest of the main group of rock-hewn churches. Evening you will visit traditional restaurant to admire the cultural dance and taste ‘Tej’, home-made honey wine.
(B, L, D)
Fly this morning to Addis Ababa and proceed to visit the Holy Trinity Cathedral, the largest and most magnificent church in Ethiopia. It is the resting place of the last Emperor (Halie Selassie) After lunch continue to the Merkato Outdoor Market; on the largest on the African continent. Early this evening proceed to a local restaurant for a farewell dinner which offers the traditional coffee ceremony. Proceed to the airport for your late night flight back to Home.
(B, L, D)
Three Night Harar Tour
The tour continues with an overnight stay in Addis Ababa.
Harmony Hotel (B,L, D)
Harar UNESCO site
Morning flight to Dire Dawa and drive (30 miles) to the old-walled city of Harar. After hotel check-in, visit museums, the different old-walled gates of the city, colorful market and a most colorful evening activity viewing a “character” who feeds hyenas from his mouth.
Heritage Plaza Hotel (B,L,D)
Not far from Harar, visit the village of Koremi, located in the mountains which offers delightful landscapes and a collection of stone houses. Since the 12th century the Argoba people have enjoyed their unique life style. Continue to the Valley of Marvels offering interesting rock formations. Upon returning to Harar, visit the Market of Spices.
Heritage Plaza Hotel (B,L,D)
Return to Addis Ababa and departure
Drive back to Dire Dawa and visit the old train station and check in for your flight to Addis Ababa. You will be picked up in the airport and have time to visit the souvenir shops. Enjoy light dinner before your transfer to the airport for your flight back home.
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