North & south 16 days and 15 Nights

North & south 16 days and 15 Nights

Tour Name: North & south 16 days and 15 Nights
Tour Code: AD 015

Tour Type: Historic, Religious, Scenery & Culture
Program: Fixed package for “Genna“& “Timke
Transport: Flight and surface

Accommodation: Standard Hotels and Lodge
Trip highlights

On arrival at Bole International airport, Enter Ethiopia Tour Operator representative will welcome you and transfer you to your reserved hotel. Depending on your arrival time, you will have a half-day city tour of Addis Ababa. We will visit the National Museum (home of the remains of the famous hominid fossil, “Lucy”) and the Ethnological Museum at the Addis Ababa University (housed in the former palace of Emperor Haile Selassie). If you arrive late, the remainder of the day is at your leisure.

Overnight Sapphire Addis hotel or similar standard

For the Ethiopian Christmas Eve celebration (Genna Festival), early this morning we take a flight from Addis Ababa to Lalibela, which contains 11 monolithic churches that were built in the 12th century and are carved out of the local pink basaltic scoria rock; they have been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Each church has a unique architectural style and all are superbly carved. Most of them are decorated with fascinating and well-preserved paintings. Upon arrival, we will spend time admiring and exploring the rock-hewn churches. This evening, we will witness the white-robed devotees celebrating the eve of the Ethiopian Christmas (known as “Genna”) in a church ceremony at the Bete Maryam (Church of the Virgin Mary) which runs from 8:00 pm until midnight.

Overnight Maribela hotel or similar standard
(Please note: flight schedule is subject to change and availability)

Ethiopian Christmas celebration (Genna Festival) always is celebrated on 7th day of January but once in a four years will be celebrated on the 8th day of January, the main celebration day for the Ethiopian Christmas (known as “Genna”), and also the birthday of King Lalibela, which makes it doubly fascinating. The spectacle of tens of thousands of faithful pilgrims thronging the rock-hewn churches such as Bete Giyorgis (Church of St. George), passageways, courtyards, cliff edges, and surrounding hills, plus the rhythmic chanting of elaborately dressed “deacons” and priests to the beating of drums, is an unforgettable experience. It is impossible not to be mesmerized by this unique spectacle, which has been celebrated for centuries. After lunch will do an excursion to the Church of Asheton Maryam about 7 km outside the city after driving a short distance, the monastery itself (3,150m) (some steep sections) or by riding on a mule if you are interested (done at own risk and own expense).

Overnight Maribella hotel or similar standard

Early in the morning, you will catch your flight back to Addis Ababa upon arrival; you will be transferred to Hawassa. En route, we will make a few stops in Lake Ziway for birding and to view the beautiful surroundings. If time permits, we may also visit the Fish Market in Hawassa.

Overnight in Hawassa Haile Resort
(Please note: flight schedule is subject to change and availability)

This morning we will continue driving to Arba Minch. En route, we will visit the Dorze ethnic group 30 km drives. One of the smaller ethnic groups, Dorze is known for its textile weaving and beehive-shaped huts.

Overnight hotel in Arba Minch Haile resort

This morning, continue our journey to Turmi, one of the largest towns in the region. En route, we enjoy a boat trip on Lake Chamo, one of the best in Ethiopia. There is a chance to spot many hippos and large concentrations of giant crocodiles. Water birds are abounding and the scenery is truly unforgettable. The lake is about 32km long and provides a lush wetland habitat for many species of flora and fauna. Afterward, we will pass through the village of Weyto (market day Saturday), which is home to the Tsemai tribe.

Overnight hotel in Turmi Paradise lodge

This morning we begin with a memorable excursion to the Karo Tribe (63 km drive), who are very famous for their body painting. The Karo people use clays and locally available vegetable pigments to trace fantastic patterns on each other’s faces, chests, arms, and legs. Karo men, as with neighboring tribes, are also famous for their unique hairstyles and we return to Turmi. In the afternoon we visit a Hamer village. The Hamer tribe is one of the largest groups in the Valley. They are known for the fine pottery they produce as well as their remarkable hairstyling. The women wear beaded necklaces and iron coils around their arms and decorate their skin with cowry shells. These decorations indicate the wealth and prestige of a woman’s husband. Finally at night, ”if there is” we may see the traditional night dancing of the Hamer tribe, known as Evangadi.

Overnight hotel in Turmi Paradise lodge

This morning drive to Jinka, which is the nearest town, set in the hills above Mago National Park. On arrival, begin with an excursion to a Mursi village. The Mursi are one of the original ethnic groups in Ethiopia. They live in very low huts made of straw leaves. The women like to wear terracotta jewelry on their enormously stretched lower lips and ear lobes. The men are famous for their hairstyles. Overnight stay will be in a hotel at Jinka.

Overnight in Jinka Eco omo lodge or similar standard

Today we will witness the distinguishing behavior of another ethnic group by visiting Konso tribal village, a World Heritage-listed site of cultural significance. Invariably built on hilltops as protection from the lowland tribes, traditional Konso villages are surrounded by high stone walls and encompass separate compounds, with outlying terraced agricultural fields. You will be fascinated by the unique architectural aspects, largely unchanged cultural heritage and social cohesion of the village, and how it has adapted to its harsh environment.

Overnight hotel in Konso or Kanta lodge

After a relaxed morning, we will drive to Arba Minch to board our flight to Addis Ababa. Upon arrival at the airport will be transferred to the hotel to take rest.

Overnight Sapphire Addis hotel or similar standard
(Please note: flight schedule is subject to change and availability)

Early this morning fly to Axum, ‘Aksum’. Believed to be Ethiopia’s oldest city, a city with more than 3000 years of history Axum was once the center of a great empire and ancient civilization. Axum is exclusively known for being the home of the original Ark of the Covenant. The sightseeing of this ancient city include St. Mary’s Church, the sanctuary Chapel which is the repository for ‘Ark of the covenant’, the coronation yard, the Stelae Park, Tombs of Kaleb and his son Gebre Meskel, Ezana’s inscriptions and ruins of Queen of Sheba’s. Unfortunately, no one (except one specially chosen guardian monk) is allowed to enter the chapel where the Ark is kept.

Overnight Yared Zema hotel in Axum
(Please note: flight schedule is subject to change and availability)

Today we drive to the small town of Debark, in the foothills of the Simien Mountains. The views are spectacular but, be prepared for a long, rough, adventurous day through Debark to Sankaber, an impressive landscape.

Overnight night Simien lodge or camping

In Amharic, ‘Simien’ means ‘north’. Six hundred million years ago, the mountains were an enormous volcanic mass. Rain and ice have carved deep fissures into them and rivers have continued the erosion, creating one of the greatest sculptures on the planet. The landscape is stunning with peaks, canyons, gorges, clefts and pointed, amethyst- colored pinnacles like obelisks making dramatic panoramic vistas. We have the opportunity to walk in the area and take in the immense beauty of these mountains. We try to spot some of the region’s endemic wildlife. In late afternoon drive to Gondar.

Overnight Goha hotel in Gondar or similar standard

Gondar was once the capital city of the Ethiopian empire, which began in 1632 with the reign of Fasiladas. Gondar has now become one of Ethiopia’s largest and most impressive cities. In addition to the impressive walled Royal Enclosure, there are a dozen castles built by various emperors over the course of 236 years. The city seems more European than African and also has Islamic influences. We will visit the palaces, residences and also the church of Debre Birhan Selassie (Light of the Trinity) which is located at the summit of a hill and surrounded by fortified walls. The interior is decorated with beautiful frescoes.

This afternoon, we will witness the pre-Timket festivities (which are just as exciting as the actual festival day). Tonight is the eve of Timket – the biggest religious festival in Ethiopia marking the Epiphany (or baptism of Christ), Local priests carry Tabots (replicas of the Ark of the Covenant) from their churches to Fasiladas’ Bath in Gondar where they are guarded overnight. The baths, empty for the rest of the year, will be filled with water for the occasion. The parade of Tabots is brilliantly colorful and we will dedicate the afternoon to watching the entire event.

Overnight Goha hotel in Gondar

Today is the main celebration day for the Timket Festival and is marked by a public holiday. We start very early in the morning with a transfer to Fasiladas’ Bath where priests and faithful Christians have spent an all-night vigil watching over the tabots (replicas of the Ark of the Covenant). Crowds gather at the Bath in the morning where the water is blessed and splashed over the believers and the gathered people.
We will witness the whole baptism ceremony where religious vows are renewed before the Tabots are paraded back to the church accompanied by a spiritual singing. The spectacle of thousands of white-robed faithful following a procession of colorful and elaborately dressed priests is truly incredible. It is impossible not to get caught up in the fever of excitement associated with this celebration. This afternoon we will drive from Gondar to Bahir Dar, situated at 1,800 meters above sea level it is situated on the shores of Lake Tana, the largest lake in Ethiopia.

Overnight Avanti Blue Nile hotel in Bahir Dar

This morning we take a boat trip on Lake Tana to fully appreciate the sheer size of this waterway. There are myriad of monasteries and churches on the islands; some are private and not accessible to the public. We will visit Ura Kidane Mihret church on the Zeghie peninsula with its rich history and ornate frescoes; afterwards we drive to marvel at the Blue Nile Falls or “Tiss Abay”. The falls are located about 2 hrs drive. In the late afternoon, fly from Bahir Dar to Addis Ababa (Please note that flight schedule is subject to change and availability). Upon arrival, there will be a farewell traditional dinner with live cultural music and dance. Your trip arrangements conclude with a drop-off at the airport.

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