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Christmas Special: Religion & Spirituality in Ethiopia Full Itinerary

Saturday 22 December 2018

You arrive in Addis Ababa, the capital city of Ethiopia. We pick you up from the airport and take you to the Orange Lion Guesthouse, our comfortable base in the city. If there is time we can show you around in Addis Ababa.

Accommodation: Orange Lion Guesthouse

Meals: None

Sunday 23 December 2018 

We start the day with a Sunday mass in an Ethiopian Orthodox Church. Sixty percent of the Ethiopian population belongs to this Church, which is one of the oldest Christian churches in the world. We will give explanations about the mass and the traditions. The rest of the day we explore Addis Ababa, we visit the National Museum, make a city walk, visit an old imperial palace, and we end the day with a hike on Entoto Mountain, the highest point of Addis Ababa. We serve dinner in our guesthouse.

 

Accommodation: Orange Lion Guesthouse

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

 

Click here to download the full itinerary in PDF

Monday 24 December 2018 

We start the day with a visit to a local school where we are involved in sports activities for children who have a disability. The tour company The Ethiopia Experience is founded to generate income for this purpose. The rest of the day we continue exploring Addis Ababa. We visit among other things the Merkato market (the largest market of Africa), we try traditional Ethiopian cuisine, and we have a meeting with the Interreligious Council of Ethiopia. They will explain about the unique religious and spiritual traditions of this nation. We serve dinner in our guesthouse.

Those who want can attend a Christmas mass in a Catholic or Protestant church. Most Ethiopians do not celebrate Christmas yet, the Orthodox Christmas is on 7 January.

Accommodation: Orange Lion Guesthouse

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and dinner

Tuesday 25 December 2018 

We leave Addis Ababa and drive East towards the magical city of Harar. On the way we stop in Awash National Park, one of the great areas of natural beauty in Ethiopia. We explore the natural environment and spend the night in a lodge located near natural hot springs, and with magnificent views over a hippo sanctuary.

Accommodation: Doho Lodge

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

  

Wednesday 26 December 2018

We continue are journey east to Harar. On the way we pass the largest annual pilgrimage of Ethiopia, perhaps of whole Africa. More than a hundred thousand people from all over Ethiopia are drawn to a church on a hilltop near the town of Kulubi, honoring st. Gabriel. We will join the pilgrims and walk with them up to the church. At the end of the day we arrive in Harar. If there is time we will make a city walk in the evening to catch the city’s atmosphere.

Accommodation: Ras Hotel

Meals: Breakfast & Lunch

  

Thursday 27 December 2018

Today we spend a full day in Harar. We explore its ancient city center with its 1000-year-old city wall. Harar is known as ‘the city of peace’, according to UNESCO it is one of the most tolerant and peaceful cities in the world. It is predominately a Muslim city, and according to some it is the 4th holiest place in Islam. Nowhere in the world there are so many mosques on one square kilometer as in Harar. On our tour we will visit a local Muslim cleric who will explain about the significance of this city for Islam. We also visit the lively market and wander through the colorful streets and alleys.  In the evening we can witness a unique phenomenon: local Harari people feed wild hyenas. It is one of the few places in the world where hyenas and people live together and do not consider each other as enemies. Local residents even feed the wild animals out of their hands, and you can try it too!

Accommodation: Ras Hotel

Meals: Breakfast & Lunch

Friday 28 December 2018

Harar is also the birthplace of His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie I, the former emperor of Ethiopia and considered a divine being by the Rastafari Movement. A local Rastafarian will take us to his actual birthplace, a little village in the countryside outside the city, and explain about his faith. Then we leave Harar and go to the airport of Dire Dawa, from there we fly to the other side of the country, to the city of Bahir Dar. Bahir Dar is located at the shores of lake Tana, the biggest lake of Ethiopia. We spend the night in a comfortable hotel and take time to relax.

 

Accommodation: Jacaranda Hotel

Meals: Breakfast & Lunch

Saturday 29 December 2018

We explore Bahir Dar and surroundings. We make a boatride over lake Tana and visit one of the many dozens of little islands where there are ancient monasteries that are hardly affected by time. We also make a trip to the Blue Nile Falls, one of the main sources of the river Nile.

Accommodation: Jacaranda Hotel

Meals: Breakfast & Lunch

Sunday 30 December 2018

We drive further north to the city of Gondar. This area is the home ground of an ancient Jewish tribe that dates back to the times of King Solomon. Most of them already left for Israel in the 1990s, but a small community still resides here. We visit them and learn more about the unique Jewish traditions of this community. Gondar is furthermore a historical city, it is the only place in Africa where you can find medieval castles, which we will visit.

On the way to Gondar we will also visit the village of Awra Amba. In this place, several decades ago, some people decided to found a new kind of society. A ‘Utopian’ world, where everybody is equal and is not dependent on foreign aid. It is society without organized religion and complete equality between men and women. We will visit the community and learn about their unique way of life.

Accommodation: AG hotel

Meals: Breakfast & Lunch

Monday 31 December

We leave Gondar and drive up to the Simien Mountains, without doubt one of the most spectacular mountain ranges of Africa. We leave early so we can spend the rest of the day in the mountains. We walk along steep cliffs and stunning views over the valleys. On the way we look out for indigenous animals like the Gelada Baboon and huge predator birds. We dine and spend the night in Simien Lodge, the highest hotel of Africa.

In the evening we celebrate ‘Ferenji New Years eve’. Ethiopians however don’t celebrate New Year’s Eve today. They have their own calendar, and their New Years eve is on September 11.

 

Accommodation: Simien Lodge

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Simien-mountains-1-620x410.jpg

1 January 2019

We leave the Simien Mountains and drive further north to the city of Axum. Axum is the most holy place for Ethiopian Christianity. According to local legend, this is the place where the original Ark of Covenant is kept. It will be a long ride, but on the way,  you can enjoy the beautiful landscapes of North Ethiopia.

Accommodation: Sabean International hotel

Meals: Breakfast & Lunch

2 January 2019

Today we explore the religious and historical sites in Axum. For example, the ancient stellaes that date back more than 2000 years. Nobody really knows how they got there and why. It is a mystery. We also explore religious sites of interest in Axum. We come very close to the place where according to local tradition, the original ten commandments of Moses are kept. If there is time we can also explore the surroundings of Axum, for example the place where the famous battle of Adwa was fought in the late 19th century, and which kept Ethiopia free from colonisation. We will discuss the options with you.

Accommodation: Sabean International Hotel

Meals: Breakfast & Lunch

3 January 2019

We fly from Axum to Lalibela, another holy place for Ethiopians. Lalibela is known for its ancient monolithic Rock Hewn Churches. The flight only takes 30 minutes, but it saves us a full day driving over virtually inaccessible terrain. In Lalibela we will explore the first set of in total 11 churches that were carved out of solid rock 900 years ago. This is an amazing site, unique in the world. In the evening we dine in a restaurant overlooking the beautiful countryside of Lalibela.

Accommodation: Panoramic Hotel

Meals: Breakfast & Lunch

4 January 2019

We spend another day in Lalibela. We will continue to explore the churches, and we will have a meet and greet with local priests. They will explain about the religious and spiritual significance of Lalibela. The rest of the day you can take time to relax or see more of Lalibela and its surroundings. We will discuss the options with you. 

 

Accommodation: Panoramic Hotel

Meals: Breakfast & Lunch

5 January 2019

In the morning we visit the lively Saturday market of Lalibela. In the afternoon we fly back to Addis Ababa. There you can end your trip and check in for the flight back home, or extend your stay in Ethiopia. For example, with a visit to the tribal regions of the south. Contact us to discuss the possibilities.