Ethiopian Christmas Festival 9 days/ 8 nights

Arrival   Bole International Airport

Extraordinary Ethiopia Tours will meet all clients arriving at the airport regardless of arrival time.  For morning flight arrivals you may begin your tour after checking into your hotel.  For afternoon or evening arrivals, you may begin your tour the following day.  

Day 01: Arrival

Visit the Ethnographic Museum, a great introduction to Ethiopian culture and history.  Tour the Mercato, one of Africa’s largest outdoor markets, and Trinity Cathedral, resting place of Emperor Haile Selassie.

Overnight at the Jupiter International Hotel 

Meals (B.L.D)

Day 02: Fly Addis – Bahar Dar

You will be transferred to the airport for your flight to Bahar Dar. Up on your arrival there will be transfer. After check in you will precede your sightseeing. On the commencement you will have a boat trip on Lake Tana with a surface area of 2,282 square miles it is the largest lake in Ethiopia.

The lake is dotted with islands, many of which shelter isolated monasteries containing the remains of ancient Ethiopian emperors and treasures of the Ethiopian Church. Visit Ura Kidane Meheret monastery, famous for its ancient manuscripts, crosses, icons, and paintings. Your Overnight will be at Blue Nile hotel. In the afternoon you will drive to the village of Tis Isat to see the Blue Nile falls (please be informed that due to the newly constructed electric dam in the vicinity the water level of the falls could be very minimal). Drive back to Bahar Dar.

Overnight at the Abay Minch Lodge

Meals (B.L.D)

Day 03: Drive Bahar Dar – Gondar

Drive to Gondar, a town founded in 1636 by the great Emperor Fassiladas. Set in a landscape of incomparable beauty, it was the Royal Capital of Ethiopia. Visit the Castles and Churches built by Emperor Fassiladas and his descendants. Later proceed to the fascinating Debre Birhan Selassie Church its walls and ceilings decorated with scenes of Biblical lore and medieval history.

Overnight at the Taye Belay Hotel  

Meals (B.L.D)

Day 04: Excursion to Simien Mountains National Park and day hike.

This morning drive to Buhit Ras the first segment of the Semein Mountains National Park – the “Roof of Africa” set an altitude of 3260 meters 1072 ft. En route, you will observe the magnificent scenery with unique flora. Following, you will drive to Buhit Ras via Simien National Park. Total drive time approximately 4- 5 hours. Drive back to Gondar.

Overnight at the Taye Belay Hotel  

Meals (B.L.D)

Day 05: Fly Gondar – Axum

There will be transfer to the airport for your flight to Axum. On arrival, there will be transfer and after check in you will precede you sightseeing in Axum. Take a city tour that includes the Stele Park. These famed granite obelisks are relics of this time and have gained UNESCO World Heritage Site status.

The tallest, the Great Stele, has fallen and broken into six massive pieces, but when standing was 33 meters (108 feet) tall and weighed about five hundred tons. The tallest obelisk still standing at Axum today is about 23 meters (75 feet) tall, still an impressive sight! We continue the city tour, visiting St. Mary’s Church and the Sanctuary Chapel which is the repository of the Ark of the Covenant; the Coronation Yard; King Ezana’s Park; and the “Queen of Sheba” ruins, once a massive palace with finely mortared stone walls deep foundations, and its own impressive drainage system, believed to be the oldest building in Axum.

Overnight at the Sabean Hotel.

Meals (B.L.D)

Day 06: Fly Axum – Lalibela attend Christmas Eve

Lalibela is the jewel in the crown of Ethiopia, the home of the most famous churches and the scene of so many major religious ceremonies. Also known, as ‘Africa’s petra’, Lalibela and its rock-hewn Churches are arguably Ethiopia’s top most attractions. Visit the rock-hewn Churches. These Churches include Bete Medhane Alem, Bete Mariam, Bete Maskal, Bete Danaghel, Bete Golgotha & Bete Mikael, and Bete Giorgis.

Afternoon, you will visit the rest of the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela i.e. Bete Amanuel, Bete Markorios, Bete Aba Libanos, and Bete Gebriel-Rufael. In the evening, you will attend the Christmas Eve ceremony with the pilgrims to be held at Bete Mariam church. The chanting by the “deacons” and the priests continue throughout the night and around while the pilgrims clap and ululate to the drum beat. At midnight, there will be a candlelight ceremony to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ.

Overnight at the Sora lodge  

Meals (B.L.D)

Day 07: Ethiopian Christmas – Excursion

At sunrise, the church more than 100 priests climbed the rocky steps to the rim of the pit overlooking the church and formed a line that snaked to the very edge of the drop. They wore white turbans, carried golden scarves and had red sashes stitched into the hems of their white robes. Several deacons began beating large drums, and the priests began to sway in unison, rattling their sitars, then crouching in a wavy line to the beat and rising again—King David’s dance, the last of the Christmas ceremonies.

In the courtyard below, two dozen priests formed a tight circle with two drummers in the center and began chanting a hymn to the priests above, who responded in kind. According to the priest “The courtyard priests represent the world’s people, and the priests high above represent the angels,” “Their singing is a symbol of the unity between heaven and earth.” On they went for two hours, their movements and voices swelling in intensity. Many of those high above slipped into ecstatic trances, closing their eyes as they swayed.

Overnight will be at the Sora lodge  

Meals (B.L.D)

Day 08: Excursion to Genete Mariam

Today you will have an excursion to Genete Mariam, one of the most interesting churches in Lalibela’s outlying area. Genete Mariam is a large monolith carved into a pink-tinged outcrop near the source of the Tekaze River. Supported by pillars, the church is very different from any of the excavations in Lalibela in that it is not hidden within a trench, but carved openly on a rocky hilltop, though the cover of scaffolding detracts from the impact of seeing it from afar. According to tradition, Genata Mariam was excavated during the reign of Yakuno Amlak, the king who ‘restored’ the Solomonic line in the early 13th century.

Overnight will be at the Sora lodge

Meals (B.L.D)

Day 09: Fly Lalibela – Addis

You will be transferred to the airport for your flight to Addis.

In the evening, there will be Extraordinary Ethiopia Tours complimentary farewell dinner party with traditional special buffet and local drinks (flight schedule permitting). At the end of the farewell dinner, transfer to Addis Ababa airport for the flight back.

Meals (B.L.D)