Timkat Festival, Blue Nile & Camelot

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. Discover Ethiopia’s natural beauty as it reveals itself in the Simien Mountains and Blue Nile Falls. Explore Africa's Camelot, stunning Gondar. And there is more to discover on this exciting adventure!

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

Acomodation

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)

Transport

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
Trustpilot

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.

Andrew Weifler

Australia

I decided to use the Tour Service of the World Cup after some extensive research into the tour alternatives. These guys seemed to differentiate its tour Service by providing a more culturally based service with a healthy dose of Football and Fun. My experience was that it as well run ie they delivered on their promises. They have a health mix of local staff and Australian staff. The Russian staff had a great empathy for the challenges for us Aussies traveling in a country where you had no language skills they bridged that gap with there wonderful help. I know there are many alternative tours but this one certainly lived up to its name. I felt I discovered part of Russia but there’s plenty more to go!’ Overall just a great experience

Chris McCabe

Australia

Varya and the World of Discoveries staff were amazing. Any pre trip trepidation was quickly dissolved by how safe we felt through our travels. We saw the sights and partied hard with not even a hint of any trouble. The Russian people were so eager to help and make our trip memorable. The language barrier was over come with their willingness to make us feel safe. Thanks Russia memories for ever

Gordon Ketelbey

Australia

World of Discoveries put an excellent tour together. All well organised with lots of side events all unplanned but the focus was on fun. Pity Australia can’t score goals but the party made up for it.

Francisco Caycedo

Colombia / USA

Travelled to Russia FIFA World Cup 2018 with a family of 4 including (2 boys: 4 and 12 y/o) . What an amazing experience it was! Super well organized, transfers were always on time, hotels were good, we couldn’t ask for a more responsible tour guide, Phillip was awesome and in care of every little detail to make us feel like at home, would recommend the company with no hesitation at all!

Rami Selim

Egypt / Australia

Thanks you Abby and Varvara and all the other staff members of World of Discoveries for making our stay in Russia over 2 and a half weeks easy, comfortable and memorable. Thanks for the great organisation with transfers and accommodation. Thanks also for organising a phone sim card for each one in our group. It made our life much easier to stay in touch with each other and with our family and friends back home. We loved our stay in Russia and will certainly come back soon.