Our much-enjoyed and ever popular, annual Timket Small Group departure has been one of Rainbow Tours' most successful small group tours in our 20 year history!
The festival of Timket celebrates the baptism of Christ, and is considered to be Ethiopia's most spectacular event. Our 13-day small group tour begins in Addis Ababa, where Timket is at its most impressive because of the magnitude of the processions. The tour includes visits to Bahir Dar & Lake Tana; the Blue Nile Falls, Gondar, the Simien Mountains and the awe inspiring rock-hewn churches of Lalibela. Places on our small group tour are limited to a maximum of 10.
The night before the festivities begin, priests take the Tabots (symbols of the Ark of the Covenant, containing the Ten Commandments) from the church, to a tent beside a consecrated pool or river. The ritual takes place amidst a cacophony of bells and trumpets and clouds of incense.
At 2 am crowds carry flaming oil lamps to a special Mass. As dawn breaks, a priest uses a ceremonial cross to extinguish a candle that is burning high on a pole, set beside the consecrated river or pool. This is the sign for members of the congregation to leap into the water. The Tabots are then transported back to the churches in colourful processions, accompanied by horsemen, and the three days of festivities and celebration begin.
We encourage you to have a look at the reviews on our website from our previous tours, which have been very highly praised by our guests.
Please note that with 2020 being a leap year, the Eve of Timket is the 19th January and Timket is on the 20th. (So a day later than last year)
Day 1 Depart from London Heathrow on the overnight Ethiopian Airlines flight to Addis Ababa.
Day 2 On arrival into Addis Ababa in the early morning, your professional guide/tour leader and your driver will meet and assist you. Transfer to Golden Tulip Hotel for a 2-night stay with breakfast included. Relax for the morning. In the afternoon and evening, attend some of the Timket festivities which are at their most impressive in the capital. Your special passed will ensure you have prime positioning to make the most of the activities and to get wonderful photographs.
Day 3 Attend the Timket festivities which today are focused on the morning mass. In the afternoon, you'll be taken to see some of the capital city highlights. Overnight in the Golden Tulip, breakfast included. (The group will be taken to a good restaurant for lunch)
Day 4 Transfer to the airport for the early morning 1 hour flight to Bahir Dar, where you stay two nights in a superior lake-view room at Avanti Blue Nile with all meals included. Take a boat trip on the deep blue Lake Tana, Ethiopia’s largest body of water (3600 km sq) to see the regions famed, round, grass-roofed island monasteries with their magnificent friezes.
Day 5 Visit Africa's second largest waterfalls, the Blue Nile Falls. The Blue Nile plunges over a 45m high rock face into a steep narrow gorge to form one of Africa's most spectacular waterfalls, known locally as Tis Abay (Smoke of the Nile). Note that the 30 - 40 minute walk from where vehicles park to the falls viewpoint is on uneven surfaces. Spend the rest of the day on a tour of Bahir Dar, visiting the colourful local market.
Day 6 After breakfast, set off on the 2hr,30min drive along the scenic shores of Lake Tana from Bahir Dar up to Gondar, where you visit the town's attractions, best known of which are the impressive 17th century castles in the Imperial Compound. This is one of Ethiopia's many UNESCO World Heritage Sites. You will also see the ‘Bath of Emperor Fasilidas’ and the church of Debre Birhan Selassie, praised for its 'hallmark' wall and ceiling murals. Day ends at Goha Hotel for an overnight stay with all meals included.
Day 7 Set off early morning on the two hour drive to the Simien Mountains National Park, another of Ethiopia's World Heritage Sites and one of Africa's largest mountain ranges with varied flora in three distinct biospheres. Stay overnight in an en-suite bungalow at Simien Lodge, all meals included. Visit Sankaber nearby, for a walk in the beautiful Afro-alpine zone. There, and at the lodge, Ethiopia's most distinctive endemic primate, the Gelada monkey, is commonly seen as groups frequent both places. It is the world's only primate which grazes and males sport their magnificent, almost leonine manes. Birdlife, as is the case everywhere in Ethiopia, is wonderful.
Day 8 After a visit to Chennek, deep in the Simien Mountains, to seek the endangered Wahlia ibex, you will be driven back to Gondar. Overnight in the hill-top Goha Hotel with all meals included.
Day 9 Transfer to Gondar airport for the morning flight to Lalibela, Ethiopia's best known World Heritage Site, thanks to its awe- inspiring 12th AD rock-hewn churches, cut into the mountainsides here. Visit the first group of churches with your guides. After completing the visit of the first group or cluster which includes the largest of all Lalibela's churches, Beta Medhane Alem, the excursion ends with a visit to the remarkable cruciform Beta Giorgis - a great end to an absolutely unforgettable day! Overnight at Maribela Hotel with all meals included.
Day 10 In the morning, visit the second cluster of Lalibela's phenomenal rock hewn, monolithic and semi monolithic churches. Lunch at a local restaurant such as Seven Olives, which has an excellent menu.You wil thenl be taken to see the astonishing Yemrehane Kristos - it is about 40km from town, carved into a mountainside and positioned in a cave. (This place is remarkable). * We recommend you take a torch as the interiors of some of Lalibela's churches are very dark. Overnight in Maribela Hotel, all meals included.
Day 11 Transfer to the airport for flight to Axum in the semi arid northern part of the Historical Circuit, for a 1 stay in the Sabean Hotel , all meals included. Visit the many attractions of this town, notably the Obelisk Park, the Axum museum, the remains of the Bath of the Queen of Sheba and the Mariamtson Church where the original stone tablets of the Ark of the Covenant are said to be housed. Spend the night at Sabean Hotel.
Day 12 Fly to Addis Ababa where you will be taken to see more of the city's attractions including the Merkato, Africa's largest market districts selling everything from casual clothes and spices to spare parts. You will have the use of day rooms at Golden Tulip Hotel. This evening will be a farewell dinner at a traditional restaurant in Addis to enjoy a variety of Ethiopian dishes and traditional dances. Late evening transfer to the airport for clients departing just after midnight.
Day 13 The Ethiopian Airlines flight to London departs at 01h50 and arrives in Heathrow at 06h35
This trip has no fixed departures but restrictions may apply - check operator website
** If you see this next to a price, a specific price in your currency has not been provided, this is an estimated-only price based on a currency conversion, the price you pay may be different to that shown
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