Ethiopia tour with Timkat festival departure

“One extraordinary country and one of the greatest celebrations on Earth – visiting Ethiopia while its annual Timkat Festival is on makes this 16-day trip truly unforgettable.”


Addis Ababa | Bahar Dar | boat trip on Lake Tana | Narga Selassie and URA Kidane Mehret | Gondar | Debark | Simien Mountains | Tekeze River gorge | Axum | rock hewn churches of Eastern Tigrai, Abreha Wo Atsebeha and Wukro Cherkos | Temple of Yeha | Wukro | Mekele | Timkat festival | Lalibela | mule trek to Ashatan Maryam

Description of Ethiopia tour with Timkat festival departure

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, held each year in January in Mekele and Gondar, is one of the greatest celebrations on Earth and a great time to visit the country. Timkat literally means Baptism and this festival symbolises the baptism of Jesus Christ in the River Jordan. Get up early to join the crowds by the springs whose water has been blessed by priests. The Talbot, a replica of the Arc of the Covenant, spends the night here before being processed with singing and chanting back to church.

In addition to the festival, discover Lalibela’s rock-hewn churches, explore the Simien Mountains and visit Gondar’s castles and the obelisk of Axum. Lake Tana, the source of the Blue Nile, is another highlight, and this area contains numerous churches and monasteries, many of them on the 30 or so islands of the lake. Hike in the highlands of the Simien mountains looking out for Gelada baboon, take a mule trek to Ashatan Maryam, and enjoy a boat cruise on Lake Tana. This is a busy small group adult holiday, with a tour leader throughout, and it requires a certain level of fitness and agility, especially due to the heat and altitude.

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Responsible tourism

Ethiopia tour with Timkat festival departure

Carbon reduction

Your holiday will help support local people and conservation. We must also reduce CO2. Learn about the CO2 emissions of this holiday and how to reduce them.


We aim to benefit Ethiopian communities as much as possible by stopping to use local restaurants, Tej cafes and services as much as possible. For example, we encourage clients to take the optional mule trip to Ashatan Maryam as local people who run these excursions rely on tourism for income. We operate on a strict ‘leave no trace’ policy and local guides enforce this through responsible tourism briefings. These should help clients better understand the living situation for many and the environmental issues in the area.

UK Office:
It all starts at home so we have first worked at reducing our carbon footprint in our UK Offices. Through energy conservation measures and recycling policies, we are proud to be actively reducing the waste produced and our impact on the environment. We support various projects all over the world to try and give something back to the places we visit.


Accommodation and Meals:
You will spend 12 nights in comfortable hotels and 2 nights in a more basic hotel. Accommodation will be locally staffed as per law in Ethiopia, which is a benefit to local communities. Hotels provide plentiful, locally sourced breakfasts and where meals are not provided, your local guide will be able to recommend the best restaurants and cafes wherever you are. This is a wonderful opportunity to support businesses in the area and to explore Ethiopia’s delicious cuisine. At the marketplace in Bahar Dar, clients can buy fresh produce and even see the local specialty ‘enjera’ being made. This is sour dough made from a grain called ‘teff’ and is used as a scoop to eat from warm, and often spicy, casserole dishes known as ‘wat.’

Local Craft and Culture:
There is plenty of culture to discover in Ethiopia and we include several cultural events and historical sites on this itinerary. We start at Addis Ababa and visit the National Museum, Menelik’s Mausoleum and Holy Trinity Church- Ethiopia’s main cathedral. We also visit some of the monasteries and churches around the thirty or so islands of Lake Tana, 17th and 18th century castles in Gondar, the tombs and stelae of Axum and the rock-hewn churches of Abreha Wo Atsebeha, Wukro Cherkos and Labilela. The highlight of the trip is joining the Timkat Festival, which celebrates the baptism of Jesus Christ in the River Jordan. Our entry fees contribute to the preservation of many of these important places, whilst we can also support locals by purchasing souvenirs. There are handmade religious crafts such as traditional paintings, icons and wooden crosses on our trip to Bahirddar, Gondar, Axum and Labilela.

Since 2013, plans have been in place to support a remote village school in Debre Chiwa in the Simien Mountains. Over the past couple of years, we have supplied financial donations and manpower which has allowed 2 new, furnished classes to be built. Because of these improvements, the number of pupils and teachers has doubled and the school now receives some state funding. Arriving in Gondar we will also stop by at the Kindu Trust, a local organisation which works with disadvantaged children, their families and communities. We receive a briefing on their projects and are shown their small handicrafts shop where clients can purchase souvenirs including baskets, textiles, prayer beads and jewellery. These are all made by the beneficiaries of the Trust and profits fund their activities. Occasionally we stop at villages or schools where clients can also leave behind much needed educational supplies such as pens and notebooks.

Group Size:
This small group tour has a maximum of 18 participants, meaning that we have a low impact on the environments and communities we visit and are able to ensure that we do not disrupt or lead to the displacement of local people. The small number also allows us to stay in unique, family-run hotels that cannot benefit from coach tours and other mass tourism due to their limited sizes.

1 Reviews of Ethiopia tour with Timkat festival departure

5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed on 25 Jan 2019 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Walking in procession amidst the welcoming crowds celebrating Timkat, the Ethiopian Coptic Church Epiphany, in Mekele.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Go with an open mind to discover Ethiopa's history and amazing wildlife. Take binoculars.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Certainly benefited local people through employment of local guides and work at hotels through tourism. Ethiopia needs more tourism to help its economy.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Brilliant. We had a fabulous Ethiopian guide who could identify every bird, animal and plant as well as interpret all the historical sights and cultural events. It was a hugely varied trip where we saw and experienced so much but never felt rushed.

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