AUD 4652 / pp

DATES & RATES

Timkat Festival

Ethiopia

A truly unforgettable tour

Join us on this small-group tour to Ethiopia for the Timkat Festival which is the Ethiopian Orthodox Church's celebration of Epiphany. Pilgrims travel for days to the churches at which the celebrations are held.

Itinerary

Addis Ababa → Adigrat and Tigray → Mekelle → Axum → Simien Mountains → Gondar → Bahir Dar → Blue Nile Falls and Lake Tana → Lalibela

Day 1: Addis Ababa

Arrive in Addis Ababa and transfer to hotel accommodation. The rest of the day is free to relax. Overnight at Nexus Hotel or similar.

Day 2: Addis Ababa – Adigrat and Tigray churches

A morning flight takes us to Mekele and on by road to Adigrat. We explore the sites of Tigray, visiting some of the region’s 130 rock churches including Medhane Alem Adikusho, Wukro Cherkos and Abraha Atsbeha. The architecture is notably different here. Churches are in part or wholly excavated within the living rock, rather than carved from it. Overnight at Agoro Lodge or similar.

Day 3: Mekelle - Axum

Axum passes through spectacular landscapes. Axum is Ethiopia’s holiest town and since 1980 a World Heritage Site. Highlights include a remarkable collection of ancient stelae, the bath and palace of the Queen of Sheba, and St Mary of Tsion Church, claimed by some to hold the Ark of the Covenant containing the original stone tablets handed down to Moses. Overnight at Yared Zema Hotel or similar.

Day 4: Axum - Simien Mountains

The journey to the Simien Mountains is long, but as we ascend towards the mountains the scenery is rewarding. Along the way, it’s worth keeping an eye out for endemic Ethiopian wildlife, including Gelada Baboons and many species of birds. Depending on our arrival time there may be an opportunity for a short walk in the park to glimpse the breath-taking beauty of Simien mountainscapes. Overnight at Ras Dejen Hotel or similar. Please note it can be very cold in the mountains at night so you should bring warm clothing to wear.

Day 5: Simien Mountains

Today we walk in the mountains, taking in awe-inspiring viewpoints and spotting some of the endemic wildlife. The effects of altitude, though mild, will be apparent. We’ll make frequent stops, stay well hydrated and travel at the pace of the slowest. Shorter hikes are possible for those preferring not to walk for the whole day. Overnight at Ras Dejen Hotel or similar.

Day 6: Simien Mountains - Gondar

Drive to Gondar, once Ethiopia’s imperial capital, and famous for its beautiful castles and palaces. This afternoon, you can witness the Eve of the Timkat Festival celebration. Overnight at Goha Hotel or similar.

Day 7: Timkat Celebrations

Early in the morning, we will go to the church to see the Timkat celebration and the crowd waiting to be baptized by the holy water. The water which symbolizes the Jordan River is blessed by the priest, and the patriarch then dips a golden cross into it, and extinguishes a burning consecrated candle on the altar. He then sprinkles water on the assembled congregation in commemoration of Christ's baptism in the Jordan River. The ceremony will be over around 8 am and afterwards, we visit some of the town’s main sites, which include the Bath of King Fasiladas and the ornately decorated Debre Birhan Selassie Church (Light of Trinity) known for its colourful murals. Overnight at Goha Hotel or similar.

Day 8: Gondar - Bahir Dar

After breakfast we continue to explore Gondar before the drive to Bahir Dar, close to Lake Tana, stopping at points of interest en route. On arrival check into our hotel which overlooks Lake Tana, source of the Blue Nile. Overnight at Avanti Blue Nile Hotel or similar.

Day 9: Blue Nile Falls and Lake Tana

From the town we drive to the Blue Nile Falls, taking a short walk to view the falls themselves, before returning. We take boats out onto Lake Tana to explore its collection of ancient monasteries, dramatically situated on the lake’s islands and peninsulas. Overnight at Avanti Blue Nile Hotel or similar.

Day 10: Bahir Dar - Lalibela

After breakfast, start the journey to the town of Lalibela, stopping at points of interest along the way. Overnight at Mountain View Hotel or similar.

Day 11: Lalibela

This morning we will begin to explore the rock-hewn churches known in some circles as the 8th wonder of the world. This afternoon we will continue visiting these intriguing monuments to discover more of Ethiopia’s enigmatic past. Overnight in Mountain View Hotel or similar.

Day 12: Lalibela - Eve of Timkat Celebrations

This morning we will visit the first group of rock-hewn churches known in some circles as the 8th wonder of the world. This afternoon, you can witness the Eve of the Timkat Festival celebration in one of the Rock-Hewn churches. Overnight in Mount View Hotel or similar.

Day 13: Departure

At a suitable time, you will be transferred to the airport for your departure flight. Tour ends.

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What's included

Accommodation

12 nights at the hotels

Meals

Day 2, 3, 4 - Breakfast and Dinner

Day 5 - Breakfast and Lunch

Day 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 - Breakfast and Dinner

Day 13 - Breakfast

Guided tours

Guided tours as per itinerary (only local guides)

Transportation

Transfers as per itinerary

Support

24/7 phone/WhatsApp support line

English-speaking guide

ABTA and ATOL bonded

Not Included

International flights

Meals not mentioned

Optional tours and activities

Personal expenses

Highlights

Discover Ethiopia’s natural beauty as it reveals itself in the Simien Mountains

Visit the annual Timkat Festival, which celebrates the Ethiopian Epiphany

Spend time in Lalibela exploring both the main churches and lesser-known ones

Explore the sites of Tigray, visiting some of the region’s 130 rock churches

Learn about the history of the ancient Axumite Empire at Axum

Travel to ‘Africa’s Camelot’ – the wonderful castles and palaces of Gondar

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Our reviews

Jacinta Ami

Australia

Highly recommend!! Well organised, friendly and knowledgeable staff who go out of their way to make sure you have the best experience! If you ever intend on visiting Russia, definately try this company!

Michael Morcos

Australia

The team at World of Discoveries were awesome. Didn’t put a foot wrong at all, the tours great, the people even better. Alex who followed us around everywhere was fantastic and the organisation by Varya was exceptional. Everything was made easy and extremely helpful 24/7, I don’t think they slept the whole time. Thank you, my dad and myself loved it

Mark Dawson

Australia

This has been an incredible trip. The service has been exceptional and the guides provided were knowledgeable about their cities and gave us an experience we will never forget. If I do this trip again I would take even longer to see this amazing country.

Stacy

Australia

Trans- Scandinavian train tour on a private, September 2019 I’s looking for a train trip around Scandinavia and found it was not widely available option with many operators. Mostly, they do coach tours or cruises. World of Discoveries was the first company which offered a solution, a privately arranged non-escorted train trip tour for our small party of just 6 people. We are experienced travelers in our early 40th and always want to be immersed in the culture of a new country, eat local food, meet the people. We wanted an authentic experience and it was a great trip all round. We did not have to worry about our accommodation, or train tickets, or activities in various locations. We had our transfers to and from hotels pre-arranged. Guides provided great insight into Scandinavian culture and were undeniably helpful as we all had different ideas about spare time and extra activities. We went out at every visited city and they gave us lots of great recommendations. Could have stayed for more! Would love the same experience when we visit other, less traveled and remote parts of the world with World of Discoveries! Would love the same experience when we visit other, less traveled and remote parts of the world with World of Discoveries!

Oliver William

Australia

Central Asia, beyond ordinary I was very precise regarding locations to visit and things to do and Julie was very attentive putting our private itinerary together. We skipped Tashkent and went straight to ancient cities of Samarkand and Bukhara, each worth a week stay to explore in detail! We then traveled to Pamir Highway which is a restricted access area, lots of papers need to be prearranged. It was well worth. Striking natural beauty absolutely recommend. From Osh, we travel through the most stunning landscapes to Dushanbe, Tajikistan. Each parts of the trip, cultural and adventitious, was very well prepared – as much as it was possible for Pamir, of course, with it’s changing weather, severe driving conditions etc. However our local guides served us very well and we really had no stress as all.

Alison Danesh

Iran / USA

We just returned from the World Cup in Russia where we followed Team Iran. This involved travel to three different stadiums many miles apart. Thank goodness we booked through World of Discoveries (Discovery Russia branch)! They arranged our lodging and transport. They even set us up with local English speaking guides to take us to see the interesting and historical sights of this beautiful land. We had a blast. We met new friends, ate great food, drank great vodka and cheered our team on. It was a trip of a lifetime.

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