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Ethiopia in Depth: Timkat Festival

From £2499 for 15 days
Trip Overview
Mysterious, deeply traditional and breathtakingly beautiful, Ethiopia is unlike any other country on the African continent. Its location at the confluence of civilisations and important trade routes means that it developed a rich history, culture and heritage which is still strongly felt today. This unique culture is framed within the rugged beauty of some of the finest mountain scenery in Africa. Ethiopia’s Timkat Festival is one of the greatest celebrations on Earth and a great time to visit the country. We also have special departures during the Meskal Festival and Ethiopian Christmas. Please note this page relates to the 'Ethiopia in Depth: Timkat Festival' departures. For other departures, please view the standard 'Ethiopia in Depth' page.
Essential Info
Starts: Start Addis Ababa; city tour.
Ends: Trip ends.
Ages: Min 16
Theme: Culture & Festivals
Trip Code: EAYG
Activity Level:     
Countries visited: Ethiopia
What's Included


All breakfasts included


12 nights comfortable hotels, 2 nights basic hotel, most with en suite facilities Travel by mini or coaster bus


Trip Highlights

•    Timkat Festival

•    Castles of Gondar

•    Spectacular scenery in the Simien Mountains

•    Stelae of Axum

•    Rock-hewn churches of Lalibela and Tigrai

Dates & Availability
Start date
End date
Departing: 11th Jan 2020
Returning: 25th Jan 2020
Fully Booked
Departing: 16th Jan 2020
Returning: 30th Jan 2020
Fully Booked
Itinerary & Notes
Early morning arrival in Addis. Please note that if you are being picked up at the airport (either on the group transfer or private transfer) you will have to exit the terminal to find our representative with the Exodus board. You may see people with signs inside the terminal but they are generally people with special permission such as the UN, Government or hotels with desks inside the terminal. After a leisurely morning to relax we will spend the afternoon on a site-seeing tour of Addis Ababa. We will visit the National Museum which houses some of the country’s historic treasures. The collection of fossils and bones of early hominids discovered in Ethiopia include the 3.5 million year old remains of ‘Lucy’, the oldest hominid every found. We will also visit the Holy Trinity Church, Ethiopia’s main cathedral and home to the remains of the last emperor, Haile Selassie. Finally we will visit Menelik’s Mausoleum. ***Magnolia *Hotel* or similar*
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- Enjoy a dinner in Bahir Zaf restaurant and support a project that opened its doors to train young people in catering services, thereby generating an income and creating employment opportunities after training.
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A mostly enjoyable trip. Gebre was a great leader, very knowledgeable of his country and kept us away from trouble when there had been rioting on the road to Axum. He also managed not to lose any of his clients during the chaos surrounding Timkat!
An incredible country: its history, geography and people!
Excellent guide Reasonable accommodation Coach could have been better
What a brilliant trip in an amazing country. Every day was different and full of surprises ...the scenery was awesome and the smiles of the Ethiopians lit up each day.
For the most part, exceeded expectations. The festival in Axum was a wonderful experience - pleasingly haphazard! Wildlife (particularly birds) better than anticipated
Poor food, worse wine, fantastic scenery, friendly people, a plethora of birds, some unique endemic species of flora and fauna, some very dodgy hotel service and the worst Exodus arrivals procedure ever because the local Exodus guide is not allowed into the arrivals area!
This was a busy and varied trip through northern Ethiopia. I had a great time and met lots of friendly, interesting and kind people. We bonded as a group and with our guide, which made it really special. The Simien Mountains are stunning and we got to see them from the national park, during the long drives and on the mule trek and climb up to a church in Lalibela. Our guide let us stop frequently on the long drives to take pictures, which broke up the journey and made it interesting. The unique paintings in the monastery churches in Lake Tana were breathtaking when we first saw them and the rock hewn churches in Lalibela were a true wonder. When we were there, the Ethiopians celebrated their Christmas and we experienced the pilgrimage that thousands of people make to Lalibela for the Christmas Day service. On Christmas Eve, we went up to the church in the Simiens by mule and on foot, which was dangerous and crowded coming down, but which was an amazing and unforgettable experience. We managed because of paid helpers who were mostly young lads trying to earn money for their education and I did not begrudge this at all. Also, the Ethiopians were kind, understanding and allowed us to pass safely, amazed that foreigners were there at all. In the evening, at 10 pm, some of us went to the rock hewn church of St Mary and joined thousands of pilgrims who were spending the night there, some holding candle wicks and watching the night time service. It was really atmospheric. Thankfully, we went back to the hotel to sleep. Others got up at 7 am to make it to the Christmas Day service itself and were seen in the crowd on Ethiopian tv! The accommodation was varied, some ok and some below standard. The wifi is unreliable and weak, even if the hotels say that it is available. The functionality of the plumbing, general cleanliness and availability of hot water is varied amongst all the hotels where we stayed and were the main problems. The availability of clean and functional toilets outside the hotels during the day was sparse. Be prepared to tolerate all of this when you go on this trip.
Overall it was an excellent trip for those who enjoy exploring history, current culture, scenery and wild life and who are happy to spend at times many hours riding in mini buses sometimes over dirt roads. Welcome from local people was genuine, some begging, some bartering but never felt under pressure to buy or give money. Mountain scenery was amazing, historic churches and pre christian sites were fabulous and with relative few visitors competing for space, views and photos. Local food was interesting and European particularly Italian options were available for those less adventurous. Tour description of climbs to some of the Rock churches and mountain walks under-estimated the toughness but were worth the challenge for those who were fit enough. Hotels generally pretty good except in Harar and there were more cash machines available than tour description suggested. We saw no sign of political unrest although aware of difficulties due to government cutting off wi-fi as several points in the holiday.
Kipling wrote of Burma to the effect that it was like no other country you have seen. Had he visited Ethiopia, and there is no evidence that he did, he might well have come to a similar conclusion; I did. Overall we had a very comprehensive insight into the country; taking in the fabulous and varied scenery, the religious settlements, the wildlife, food, markets and the way people live.
This was the most amazing holiday. Our guide Gabre was excellent. Scenery was beautiful. We had a very good driver who negotiated some terrible roads with great care. Hotels were good considering it is such a poor country,pot luck sometimes . People were so friendly, which made the holiday for us. It is cool in the evening, jacket needed.Good strong trainers or walking shoes for very uneven surfaces around churches. Ethiopian airways were excellent. Ethiopian food is an acquired taste. !! One of our most memorable holidays.
This was a fascinating journey through northern Ethiopia. We saw churches and monasteries galore, each one interesting for its paintings or architecture, often hewn out of the living rock. The road journeys were long but the scenery and the sheer engineering feats involved made it worthwhile. Accommodation throughout was much better than I'd anticipated; we had en suite facilities in all hotels and hot water was usually available.
I didn't know much about Ethiopia. We suddenly make plan to visit Ethiopia and in this trip we come to about its culture and history. This trip is quite nice, sometime such sudden plans give you lot of happiness and fun.
A thoroughly enjoyable holiday with many memorable moments
Amazing culture, history and scenery.
This trip opens your eyes to an oft neglected and misunderstood place. Ethiopia is not brown and parched. Ethiopia is not 1984 and Live Aid. Ethiopia is a beautiful place, with so much to see and a people very proud of their long and interesting (independent) history. Ethiopia is a surprise and a joy to visit.
A full-on trip to a truly African country. It has the people, history, culture, and scenery all in one country.
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