11 Days “epiphany” festival at Gonder (SET44)

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Orthodox Christianity and Islam, the two main religions in Ethiopia, have coexisted since Mohammed time. The first believers in Islam were converted while the prophet Mohammed was alive and the first mosque was built in the eighth century. However, culturally the Orthodox Church has dominated the political, social, and cultural life in the highlands, as it has been official religion of the imperial court and hence also of the feudal establishment until Haile Selassie was deposed in 1974, since the religion and state have been separated. In general festivals/ celebrations in Ethiopia are great and colorful events, mostly religious, and frequently take place over several days. During the festivals days People dress in traditional costume and celebrate festivals across the country.

Accommodations/ Hotels

Your choice of Up market/ Midrange/Budget with camping during trekking & adventure trip as per your preferred program

Meal plans

Your choice of meal- BB/HB/FB with all meals during trekking and adventure trip with professional cook at camping.

Transportation (Ground Drives & Domestic Flights)

Your choice of transportation based on the route you pick with Minivans/ Buses/ 4x4s & Domestic flights with walking/hiking, and pack animals during trekking and adventure trips

Entrance fee

All Entrance fee in the sightseeing’s, villages & National parks

Guiding services

Option 1- Professional licensed federal English or your preferred languages speaking guide throughout the trip with a local guides in each destination and scout in the case of attraction sight and national park

Option 2- English speaking driver guide throughout the trip with a local guides in each destination and scout in the case of attraction sight and national park

All activities & services based on your preferred program

Boat trips, pack animals, camel & horse ridding hyena man performance, camping equipments & other activities based on your preferred programs

Water

Daily bottled water

Government tax

Since our company is legal our price include government tax

  • International air/flight tickets,
  • Alcohol beverages,
  • Tourist Insurance,
  • Video filming and photography fees,
  • Tips and items of personal nature like laundry, souvenirs, etc
  • All expense that are not mentioned in the included part

Tour Title

TEMEKET- “epiphany” festival at Gonder with Historic route tour

Tour Type

Festival of Timket, history, religious, rock churches, boat trip

Activity level

Easy

Tour Code

SET 44

Tour Duration

11 Days & 10 Nights

Mode of Transportation

Domestic Flight & Drive -/Minivans/Buses

No of traveler

Private/Groups/ Joining

Type of accommodation

Option of -Up market/ Midrange/ Budget

Attraction Highlights

TIMKET - (Epiphany the baptism of Christ, January 18th, 19th & 20th)

Timket is the greatest festival of the Ethiopian year, falling just 2 weeks after Ethiopian Christmas. It is actually a 3-day (January 18-20) affair preceded by the eve of Timket when the dramatic processions take place through a night of fasting, to the great day itself and the commemoration of Christ's baptism in the Jordan River. Ketera, the Eve of Timket is when the Priests bring out the Tabots - replicas of the 2 tablets of laws received by Moses, which are normally housed inside the altar symbolizing the Ark of the Covenant. Priests bless the water of the pool or river where the next day's celebration will take place. It is the Tabot, rather than the church building which is consecrated and given extreme reverence. Visitors have the unique chance to experience a festival lost to the rest of the world.

The famous historic route is one of the best destinations in the world to travel centuries back to perceive the civilizations of the ancient and medieval Ethiopia, medieval monasteries of lake Tana, African Camelot castle of Gonder, the UNESCO list Simien mountains, Axum birth place of Ethiopian civilizations, UNESCO registered eighth wonders of world- Lalibela are living testimonies that endow with you a complete and full history of the country

Day 1- January 17- FLY ADDIS ABABA BAHIR DAR- BOAT TRIP & BLUE NILE FALLS

Early in the morning around 5:45 AM transfer to the domestic terminal to fly Bahirdar, arrival and directly transfer to the hotel, after breakfast take a boat trip on Lake Tana and visit two of the most accessible and representative of the monasteries with very beautiful well painting from the medieval time still serving their original function, Ura Kidane Mehret and Azwa Maryam then ride back to Bahirdar on the way see the outlet of the famous Blue Nile the longest river in the world as it depart from the lake. Lunch break and Afternoon a drive to the Blue Nile Falls, (the water amount of the fall is depending on the rain), but the drive and walking by its self is great and enjoyable, Overnight hotel.

Day 2 & 3 - January 18 & 19- Bahir Dar – Gonder- visit gonder- attend the timket- eve & actual day festival

Actual After breakfast drive to Gonder 180 km to conduct tour of Gonder known as the “Camelot” of Africa, nestled in the foothills of the breathtaking Semien Mountains National Park in the northwestern part of the country was the 17th and 18th century capital city of Ethiopia, which was founded by Emperors Fasiladas (1632 – 1667) and was home to a number of emperors & warlords, curtsies and kings who built several castles and palaces around the area. Visit the oldest and the most impressive Gonderine structure, the magnificent castle compound including the two storied palace of emperor Fasiladas, built of roughly hewn brown basalt stone held together with mortar, the fantastically decorated Debre Brehan Silassie Church (light of Trinity),the bath (now baptismal place during Ethiopian epiphany, January 19) of king Fasiladas and the ruined palace of Queen Mintiwab at Qusquam, where the Scottish explorer James Bruce used to reside for sometimes, overnight hotel

Timket- Epiphany

Timket, or Timkat, is Ethiopian for Epiphany. Although the holiday commemorating Christ's baptism in the River Jordan is observed by Christians all over the world, Timket is of special significance in Ethiopia. It is the most important and colorful event of the year.

The festival starts on Timket Eve, January 18th, eleven days after the orthodox Christmas. Although the festival is largely religious, it has no lack of secular elements such as partying and match-making. According to the Ethiopian epic Kebra Negast, the Ark of the Covenant was stolen from Jerusalem and brought to Ethiopia during the first millennium BC. Since then, it has become the most sacred element of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.

Early in the afternoon on Timket Eve, the replicas of the Ark, covered by silks, are carried solemnly by priests from each church to the nearby body of water. Accompanying the procession are tens of thousands of church members and believers, chanting, dancing, beating drums, blowing horns, waving prayer sticks and rattling sistras(a simple musical instrument). All in all, it resembles the scene described in the Old Testament.

As evening falls, the priests and the pious believers participate in an overnight vigil around the Arks until dawn. Then huge crowds gather around the water. After the chief priest blesses the water, the celebration reaches its climax. Many jumps into the water, the rest are eager to get a splash. After the religious vows are renewed, some of the Arks are paraded back in the same celebratory fashion.

Day 4- January 20- attend the timket- festival DRIVE TO UNESCO REGISTERED SIMIEN MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK

Morning after breakfast attend the 3rd day festivity of Timket then drive to drive to the jagged panorama of the Simien Mountains National Park, arrivals at Debark, 100Kms from Gonder, the Headquarter of the Simien Mountains National Park. Proceed to Sankaber, 37Kms farther, which is your first trekking starting spot, 3250 ms above sea level. Spend the day trekking around the camp sites. Lunch will be served by lunch boxes on top of the view point; here you will see some endemic Ethiopian Birds like wattle Ibis, and some mammals like the Gelada Baboon. Around, overnight hotel/ Lodge

Day 5- January 21- DRIVE simien mountain national park- Axum

Early in the morning after breakfast drive through the Semien Mountains National Park escarpments to Axum, via one of the most scenic road of Ethiopia and the Tekeze river gorge. This trip is a trying one, but it is the most rewarding for those who love exceptional scenery, overnight hotel

Day 6- January 22- Full day VISIT Axum-BIRTH PLACE OF ETHIOPIAN CIVILIZATIONS

Full day visit of Axum, a place where the cradle of Ethiopian culture Christianity and the first capital of Ethiopia until the 9th century A.D., On this day you will visit the small but rich archaeological museum, the famous stele park, where the magnificent single block of stones erected since 3rd century, the Saint Mary of Zion Cathedral, where the original Holy Ark of the Covenant is still sheltered, however except one guardian (priest) no one is allowed to enter in to the sanctuary where the ark is stayed. Continuing your visit which includes the subterranean tomb of king Kalbe and his son king Gebremeskel, 6th Century AD, the trilingual inscription of king Ezana and finally visit the ruin palace and bath of Queen of Sheba who was the mother of king Menilik I of the 950 B.C, overnight hotel

Day 7- January 23- Axum- HAWZEN/ GERALTA- ON THE WAY TIGRAY ROCK CHURCHES

Morning after breakfast drive Axum- Geralta on the way visit the 8-5BC Temple of Yeha. The temple is believed to be the oldest standing worship building in the country dedicating to god of Moon called Almuqa, then Proceed to the 6th century AD famous Monastery of Debre Damo established by Abune Aregawi one of the nine Saints came to Ethiopia in the 6th century in the reign of King Kaleb to spread Christianity and introduce monastery life in different parts of the country particularly to the northern region. The monastery is only for men and accessed by climbing rope to the top of the plateau ) if you are not interested with the monastery since it is only for men and need physical capability it is possible to visit rock churches of TIGRAY (TEKA TESFA CLUSTER) arrival to Hawzen, overnight Lodge

Day 8- January 24- DRIVE GERALTA- mekelle-ON THE WAY TIGRAYR ROCK CHURCHES

Morning after breakfast head to the Geralta cluster to visit the rock churches of Tigray dated back from the 6-9th century established by the nine saints who came from Syria during the time of Kaleb and Gebremeskel kings of the Axum dynasty, the rock churches are carve on the top of mountain façade today you will visit the rock churches namely Mariam Korkur in the morning and afternoon ABUNE YEMATA – The most difficult to ascend but worth to see the surrounding mountains from the top of the cliff, after that continue drive to Mekelle on the way more rock churches of Abrehawe Atsbha and finally to Wekro Cherkos. Finally drive to Mekelle, overnight Hotel

Day 9- January 25- FULL DAY DRIVE mekelle- LALIBELA

Morning after breakfast drive Mekele- Lalibela a full day Drive to Lalibela passing through outstanding chains of Mountain via Weldia admiring the landscape and the people on the way picnic lunch will be served, overnight hotel

Day 10- January 26- Full DAY EXPLORE THE 8TH WONDERS OF WORLD LALIBALA

Full day at Lalibela visiting the brilliant feats of engineering and architectures, are often by many referred as the “8th wonder of the world” which is exceptional to find eleven rock hewn churches of such master craftsmanship in one place. In this morning among the eleven remarkable rock hewn churches built by king Lalibela in the late 12th and 13th century A.D, you will visit the first cluster of churches that represents the earthly Jerusalem. After lunch break you will visit the second cluster of churches, which represents the heavenly Jerusalem, finally visit the most beautiful and fascinating monolithic cruciform church of Saint Gorge, late afternoon Ethiopian traditional coffee ceremony and honey wine, overnight hotel

Day 11- January 27- FLY LALIBELA- ADDIS ABABA- DEPARTURE

Early morning after breakfast a quick visit the eastern (second) group of rock churches smaller in size, these are no less impressive, with intricate carvings and many dark tunnels to explore then transfer to the airport to fly back to Addis Ababa, arrival more free time for Shopping and evening head to the farewell Evening cultural dinner party in one of the Traditional Ethiopian restaurant with dances from the different ethnic Groups then transfer to airports for your departure.

END OF THE TOUR

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