It is the most colorful festival of the year celebrated for the memorandum of Christ’s baptism. The religious ceremony is best known for it is the combination of old and New Testament, which is unique to Ethiopia now a day. The church Tabots are taken to a nearby body of water on the afternoon of the eve. During the night, the priests and faithful participate in a vigil around the Tabots. The following morning, the crowds gather around the water, which is blessed, the splashed on to them; religious vows are renewed. The Tabots is then paraded back to the church accompanied by much singing and dancing. Gondar is considered the best place to be on Timket. The two best places to witness this festival are Gondar and Lalibella.
CATERGORY: FESTIVAL + HISTORIC ROUTE OF ETHIOPIA
TRANSPORTATION: FLIGHT AND SURFACE
TOUR DURATION: 11 DAYS
|DAY 1: FRIDAY, JANUARY 14, 2010, ARRIVAL ADDIS ABABA:-Arrival in Addis Ababa Bole International Airport, meet and great, get assisted and transferred to hotel. Overnight stay Hotel|
|DAY 2: SATURDAY, JANUARY 15, 2010, ADDIS ABABA – AXUM: - Transferred to the Air port. Flight to Axum and check in to the Hotel. Sightseeing tour in Axum that include the Stele Square, king kaleb’s Tomb, queen of Sheba’s palace, Archaeological museum and Tsion Mariam church where the original Ark is housed. Overnight stay Hotel|
|DAY 3: SUNDAY, JANUARY 16, 2010, AXUM – YIHA – DEBRE DAMO: - Drive to DebreDamo, Visit the Yeha temple, the pre- Christian shrine known for its perfectly fine architecture and Abuna Aftse church, the site of the 6th century church, and Debre Damo monastery, dated back to Axumite time. Overnight stay Hotel.|
|DAY 04: MONDAY, JANUARY 17, 2010, AXUM - LALIBELLA: - Transferred to the Air port. Flight to Lalibella and check in to be Hotel. Visit half of the rock hewn churches of Lalibella. Overnight stay Hotel.|
|DAY 05: TUESDAY, JANUARY 18, 2010, LALIBELLA Asheten Mariam-Timket Eve: - Mule ride to visit one of the hill top churches around Lalibella town and enjoy the scenery. In the afternoon, witness one of the most colorful and highly celebrated festivals in Ethiopia, the Timket eve ceremony, Ketera. During Ketera, priests take out the Tabots- replicas of the original Ark of the Covenant, from each church and bless the water of the pool where the next day' celebration will take place. At Lalibela all the Taboats are taken to the ‘Taboat Maderia’, accompanied by priests bearing prayer sticks and sistra, ringing bells, blowing trumpets, and swinging bronze censors from which wisps of incense smoke escape into the evening air. The Tabots are kept in their special tent in the meadow, each hoisting a proud banner depicting the church's saint in front. The dancing and chanting by the priest and the faithful continue all night long. |
After having dinner and rest at the hotel, we will return to the ‘Taboat Maderia’ to attend the night celebrations. Overnight stay Hotel
DAY 06: WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 19, 2010, LALIBELLA: TIMKET FESTIVAL AT LALIBELLA: - Early in the morning, drive from your hotel to the ‘Taboat Maderia’ to join the celebration and the crowd waiting to be baptized by the holy water. Early in the morning, the water which symbolizes the Jordan River is blessed by the priest and the patriarch then dip a golden cross and extinguish a burning consecrated candle in the alter. Then he sprinkles water on the assembled congregation in commemoration of Christ's baptism in the Jordan River.
Following the baptism, the Tabots start their way back to their respective churches, while feasting, singing and dancing continue all the way to the churches. Every year on Timkat, everyone-men, women, and children-appears splendid for the celebration. Dressed in the dazzling white of the traditional dress, the locals provide a dramatic contrast to the jewel colors of the ceremonial velvets and satins of the priests' robes and sequined velvet umbrellas. The elders march solemnly, accompanied by singing, leaping priest and young men. All these activities of the priest and the deacon recall the ancient rites of the Old Testament; a culture which remained unchanged centuries for centuries.
After having lunch and rest at the hotel, you will continue your journey into Ethiopia’s long and marvelous history with a visit to other St. Lalibela’s remarkable churches-their architecture and artistry must be seen to be believed. Ones we finished visiting the second group of churches we will walk to the village through the complex bewildering labyrinth of underground tunnels to the monastery were the monks and nuns live.
|DAY 07: THURSDAY, JANUARY 20, 2010, LALIBELA – GONDAR: - Transferred to the Air port and flight to Gondar. Visit compound king Fassil’s Bath Debre Birhan Selassie church Qusquam Monastery and the Fellasha (Black- Jews) village. Overnight stay Hotel
|DAY 08: FRIDAY, JANUARY 21, 2010, GONDAR – SEMIEN MOUNTAINS - Gondar: - Drive to Semien Mountains National Park. You will take spectacular mountain scenery, spotting endemic animals and hiking on the escarpment.|
|DAY 09: SATURDAY, JANUARY 22, 2010, GONDAR - BAHIR DAR: - Drive to Bahir Dar and boat excursion on Lake Tana to visit the monastery church of Kibran Gebriel, Tana Cherkos, Daga Estiphanos (closed for women), the beautifully decorated Ura Kidanmihret, Narga Selassie and Azwa Mariam that allows both genders. Under the thatched roof of the monastery, there are some distinctive colorful frescoes of religious scenes an impressive display of illuminated bibles written in “Geez” the religious language from which Amharic is derived. Overnight stay Hotel. |
DAY 10: SUNDAY, JANUARY 23, 2010, BAHIR DAR: - In this morning, you will take a scenic drive of 35 km to the little town of Tiss Abay and walk for about twenty minutes to visit the famous Blue Nile Falls. The falls lunges 40 meters below and 400 meters wide, giving rise to steam clouds, smoke like fire, which is locally known as Tiss Isat meaning, “Water that smoke”. Those who may wish to descend to the base of the falls must be climb back to the other side and cross the Blue Nile in a boat in-order to back to the point of departure.
In the afternoon, you will drive to Bezawit Hill, which is dominated by an ostentation split-level palace built for Emperor Haile Selassei I in 1967. The hill provides an excellent vantage point over the town of Bahir Dar, Lake Tana and the surrounding area, then drive back to Bahir Dar. Overnight stay Hotel
|DAY 11: MONDAY, JANUARY 24, 2010, BAHIR DAR - ADDIS ABABA: - Transferred to the Air port and flight back to Addis Ababa. Sightseeing tour in Addis Ababa including Merkato, the biggest open air market in Africa and souvenir shopping. Fare well dinner with national music and dancing. Overnight stay Hotel|