Trip Type: Cultural and Festival Tour
Tour Code: NEWS-
The Meskel Festival is one of the most colorful festivals celebrated in Ethiopia for more than 1600 years. It is celebrated at the end of the rainy season, with much dancing, feasting, and the lighting of a massive bonfire to commemorate the discovery of the true cross on which Jesus Christ was crucified.
On this tour, we explore the main sites of Ethiopia’s ancient culture including the steles of Axum, the temple of Yeha, the Palace of the Queen of Sheba, and the amazing rock-hewn churches of Lalibela as well as experience one of Ethiopia’s most colorful festivals. Join us on this journey of discovery and get to know one of Africa’s most fascinating ancient civilizations.
- Celebrate Meskel “The Finding of the True Cross” with the bonfire and its processions.
- Visit four UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
- Be amazed by the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela, one of “the living wonders of the world”.
- Enjoy the magnificent nature and endemic wildlife of the Simien Mountains.
- Travel back in time to explore the ancient city of Axum, the last resting place of the Ark of the Covenant.
- Discover the fairytale castles of Gondar.
- Take a cruise on Lake Tana to visit the ancient island monasteries.
- See the source of the mighty Blue Nile River and Blue Nile Falls.
- Visit the vibrant city of Addis Ababa.
- Meet your ancestor Lucy at the National Museum in Addis Ababa.
- Try the varied Ethiopian food.
- Attend an Ethiopian coffee ceremony.
Day 1: Arrive Addis Ababa
Arrive in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Welcome to Ethiopia! Upon arrival at Addis Ababa Bole International Airport, you will be welcomed and assisted by your tour guide and driven to hotel. If you arrive in the morning, we can arrange an optional city tour.
Day 2: Addis Ababa, Bahir Dar
In the morning, drive to Bahirdar through the Great Blue Nile Gorge with a stopover at different small towns like Dejen, Chancho, and GohaTsion.
Day 3: Lake Tana, Nile Falls
In the morning, we will take a boat cruise and visit some island monasteries from the 13th and 14th century. After having lunch at the hotel, we will drive 35 km to visit the majestic Blue Nile Falls.
Day 4: Bahir Dar, Gondar
After breakfast, we drive to Gondar through the beautiful countryside scenery and arrive at Gondar around lunchtime. After lunch, we tour the ancient city of Gondar.
Day 5: Gondar, Simien Mountains National Park, Axum
After an early breakfast, we will drive to the Simien Mountains National Park. For the rest of the day, we trek to explore the surroundings of Sankaber, part of the Simien Mountains National Park.
Day 6: Simien Mountains National Park, Axum
After breakfast, we will drive to Axum through the beautiful Simien Mountains and Tekeze River Gorge.
Day 7: Axum
After breakfast, we will visit the ancient city of Axum and the Stele Square, Kaleba Tombs, 4th-century Christian inscription of King Ezana, Queen of Sheba’s Palace, Archeological Museum, and Tsion Mariam Church, where the original Ark of the Covenant is housed.
Day 8: Axum, Mekele
In the morning, we drive to Mekele through the stunning and historical mountains of Adwa enroute visiting the pre-Christian temples of Yeha and Wikro Cherkos.
Day 9: Mekele, Lalibela
After breakfast, we drive north to Lalibela through Sekota. Enroute you will visit Yimrhane Kirstos and different villages of the Agwe tribal people.
Day 10: Meskel Eve at Lalibela
In the morning, we visit the first group of rock-hewn churches. The rock-hewn churches that we will visit today include Bete Medhani Alem, Bete Mariam, Bete Meskel, and Bete Denagil.
Day 11: Meskel Festival at Lalibela
In the morning, we will witness one of the most colorful festivals held in Ethiopia — the Meskel Festival at Lalibela.
For the rest of the day, we will continue our journey into Ethiopia’s long and marvelous past with a visit to other of Lalibela’s remarkable churches. The rock-hewn churches that we will visit this afternoon include Bete Gebriel, Bete Mercorios, Bete Amanuel, Bethlehem and Bete Aba Libanos.
Day 12: Lalibela, Kombolcha
In the morning, we will drive to Kombolchaon to the top of the amazing Yeju Wadla Delanta land bridge, a high land plateau that adjoins the Wello and Gondar regions and the beautiful Lasta Mountains. We will also drive through the towns of Weldia and Dessie.
Day 13: Kombolcha, Addis Ababa, Departure
In the morning, we return to Addis Ababa through Kemise, Ataye, Shewarobit, and Debresina. At Kemiise, we will have the chance to see a multi-tribal local market.
In the evening, there will be NEWS complimentary farewell dinner party with a 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. End of tour.