Journey into the Heart of Ethiopia’s past during Ethiopian Epiphany or"TIMKET"Celebration
Ethiopia has a proud and long history extending all the way to the known beginnings of human kind. The Historic Route overland tour takes visitors from the current capital of Addis Ababa to the former capitals of the Gonderite and Axumite empires, as well as to the sacred city of Lalibela and the rock churches of Tigray. Our journey takes travelers some 2000 kilometers through the Ethiopian countryside, mountains and desert. Driving from site to site gives the traveler a chance to see the places in between, enjoy local culture and see the Ethiopia that exists outside of these incredible historic sites. From Addis Ababa, we journey north and visit a series of churches before arriving to Bahir Dar on Lake Tana. Our next stop is Gonder, where visitors walk through the great castles, royal bathes and churches built by the kings of Ethiopia over 400 years ago. The next day we drive the most scenic byway in Ethiopia around the Simien Mountains to Axum, the first capital and ancient entry point of Christianity to Ethiopia. Here, travelers will be stunned by the great stele left behind by this mysterious civilization. We continue the overland journey through the region of Tigray to Axum. Finally, travelers go back in time to the late middle ages of Lalibela, where a great religious civilization flourished and a pious king constructed more than a dozen churches hewn out of massive monolithic. In this Historical holy town you will attend the Ethiopian Epiphany in the historical town of Gondar.
Timket is a religious festival celebrated with much zeal in Gondar, Addis Ababa and Lalibela in Ethiopia. The celebrations start from the eve of the festival which is on 18th January at 2 pm local time with traditional horns that herald the celebrations with colourful processions and ceremonies. The main ceremony commences with the priest solemnly carrying the Tabot which is a model of the Ark of the Covenant, reverently wrapped in rich silk cloth to the nearby stream at around 2am on 19th January. The Tabot is a representation of Jesus as the Messiah when he came to the Jordan River for baptism. The Holy Ark is immersed in the water by one priest whilst the other chants some prayers. The most relevant symbol of the festival is colorful embroidered umbrellas that protect the sacred Tabot and the priests carrying the Tabot. Once the Ark is baptised, the priest then blesses the water body and sprinkles some of the blessed water on the devotees.
By noon on Timqat Day a large crowd has assembled at the ritual site, those who went home for a little sleep having returned, and the holy ark is escorted back to its church in colorful procession. The clergy, bearing robes and umbrellas of many hues, perform rollicking dances and songs; the elders march solemnly with their weapons, attended by middle-ages men singing a long-drawn, low-pitched haaa hooo; and the children run about with sticks and games. Dressed up in their finest, the women chatter excitedly on their one real day of freedom in the year. The young braves leap up and down in spirited dances, tirelessly repeating rhythmic songs. When the Holy Ark has been safely restored to its dwelling-place, everyone goes home for feasting.
Itinerary – Duration: 10 Days and 9 Nights
Day 01: Arrival – City Tour
Arrive in Addis Ababa, you will be welcomed by our stuff members and given transfer to your Hotel. Then you will start sightseeing tour of Addis from the National museum the Haile Selassie Church and Mount Entoto, part of the Entoto Mountain Chain, reaching 3,200 meters above sea level, it is also a historical Place where Menelik II resided and built his palace. And one of Africa’s largest outdoor market places, Merkato.Dinner and overnight Caravan Hotel(www.caravanaddis.com )or similar.(Hotel check in policy 14:00 mid day)
Day 02: Fly Addis-Lalibela
Be transferred to the airport for your flight to Lalibela. You will be meet upon at the airport and drive to your hotel. Then you will start your city tour of Lalibela, a jewel in the crown of Ethiopia, the most famous churches and the scene of so many major religious ceremonies. Also known, as ‘Africa Petra,’ Lalibela and its rock hewn churches are arguably Ethiopian’s top most attraction. These churches include Bete Medhane Alem, Bete Mariam, Bete Meskal, Bete Denaghel, Bete Golgotha, Bete Mikael, and Bete Giorgis. Dinner and Overnight Panoramic Hotel(www.panaromichotel.com ) or similar.
Day 03: Excursion to Asheton Mariam
After having breakfast trek (one hour mule or horse ride) to the 13th C. rock hewn monastery of Ashton Mariam. It is about 8 kms from Lalibela. The road is very steeply looked like twisted rope hugged on the wall but very beautiful scenery with a rewarding experience. In the afternoon visit the rest of the rock hewn Churches of Lalibela i.e. Bete Amanuel, Bete Markorios, Bete Aba Libanos, and Bete Gabriel-Rufael.Dinner and Overnight Panoramic Hotel(www.panaromichotel.com ) or similar.
Day 04: Drive Lalibela-Mekele ~440 7-8 hours drive
Morning drive to Mekele on the scenic byway through the town of Sekota. Overnight Hilltop Hotel or similar
Day 05: Drive Mekele-Axum
This day you will drive to Axum, on the way you will visit 5th century Temple of Yeha, which date back to about seven or eight hundred years before the birth of Christ. The temple is believed to be the oldest standing building in the country. Beside the remarkable temple, a church dedicated to Abba Aftse, one of the famous nine saints who came to Ethiopia in the 6th century from the east Roman Empire to teach the Gospel. The church shares the same compound with the temple of Yeha. Dinner and overnight at the Africa Hotelor similar.
Day 06: Sightseeing Axum
After breakfast you will start city tour of Axum, Once the center of a great empire, and the seat of learning for the ancient Ge’ez language and literature, Axum is the prime historical site in the north of Ethiopia. Take a city tour that include the Stelae park, St. Mary’s Church, the sanctuary Chapel which is the repository of the ‘Ark of covenant’, the coronation yard, Tomb of Kaleb and his son Gebre Meskel, Ezana’s Inscriptions, Queen of Sheba’s Bath, Queen of Sheba’s palace ruins and Axum Museum. Dinner and overnight at the Africa Hotelor similar.
Day 07: Drive Axum-Gondar ~ 350kms/full day 7 hours
Leaving Axum you will drive to Gondar passing through the spectacular canyon of the Tekeze River, one of the principal rivers of Ethiopia followed by the adventurous road of Lima–Limo.Dinner and overnight Gondar Florida Hotel(www.floridahotel.com) or similar.
Day 08: Gondar - Eve
After breakfast you will start the sightseeing tour of Gondar, Once home to Ethiopian kings during the 17th and 18th centuries. Here visitors can visit the castles of Ethiopia known as Fasilades. The series of castles were all built by the Ethiopian royal family before Gonder lost its power and the capital was eventually moved to Addis Ababa in the late 19th century. Then you will attend the eve celebration of Timket, which is on 18th January the priests respectfully carrying the Tabot – a model of the Ark of the Covenant wrapped in rich silk cloth by the priest on his head to King Fasil swimming pool.Dinner and overnight Gondar Florida Hotel(www.floridahotel.com) or similar.
Day 09:Gondar - Timket - Drive to Bahir Dar
After breakfast you will attend the Timket celebration. The Holy Ark is immersed in the water by one priest whilst the other chants some prayers. Once the Ark is baptised, the priest then blesses the water body and sprinkles some of the blessed water on the devotees. Thereafter the Holy Ark is carried back to its church amidst lots of chanting, music, and dancing. Then you will drive to Bahir Dar. Overnight Bete Daniel Hotel(www.betedanielhotelbahirdar.com ) or similar.
Day 10:Drive Bahir Dar –Fly back Addis –Dinner- Departure
After breakfast you will take a boat trip on Lake Tana. It is the largest lake in Ethiopia with an area of 3600square kilometers. The lake hosts 37 islands and 29 monasteries, founded between 11 and 16th C. one of these monasteries, Ura Kidanemihret, established on a peninsula called Zege, about an hour by boat from Bahir Dar. Visit the 13th century Monastery with its very beautiful paintings and a priceless collection of crosses and crowns. In the afternoon you will drive an hour’s south to the Blue Nile Falls a monument to continents greatest river, the Nile, which flows north through Sudan and Egypt. Then you will be transferred to the airport for your flight back to Addis. You will attend a folkloric dinner where you will have a chance to taste several national dishes and watch dances of the various ethnic groups of Ethiopia. The traditional coffee ceremony will also be served. Then you will be transferred to the airport for your departure flight.