11 Days 10 Nights

Tour Type

Specific Tour

Group Size



Amharic, English


Ethiopian Christmas ‘Genna’ (7th January 2023) is the most important religious festival in the second country in the world to become Christian. This adventure provides the unique opportunity to experience the elaborate and highly stylised rituals and parades alongside the thousands of Ethiopian pilgrims who flock to the 13th Century rock-hewn churches in Lalibela. After this amazing celebration we will travel up to the Gheralta mountains for hiking in stunning rural surroundings.


  • Genna Festival amidst 13th Century rock-hewn churches of Lalibela
  • Walk in the Simien Mountains
  • Visit the Blue Nile Falls
  • Discover the historic cities of Gondar & Harar
  • Walk through stunning mountains staying with local communities
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Tour Itinerary

Day 1

Arrive in Addis Ababa

 On arrival meet your guide and transfer to the hotel. The balance of the day will be your leisure time to spend at your hotel; optionally, you can have a visit to Holy Trinity church and Ethnological museum. Founded in 1886 by Emp. Menelik II, Addis Ababa is the capital of Ethiopia and the seat of the African Union (AU). Addis Ababa is the third highest capital in the world and one of the largest cities in Africa with a population well over 5 million. It is located at 2500 m above sea level at the foot step of the highest peak of Entoto Mountain chain (3200m above sea level), and enjoys an excellent climate all year round; with an average temperature of 160C. Addis Ababa is a pleasant city with wide avenues of Jacarandas, interesting museums and one of the largest open-air markets in Africa, known as Merkato. Ethnological Museum:-It is found in the main campus of the Addis Ababa University by the Institute of Ethiopian Studies with the aim to preserve the country’s historical and cultural heritages. It has complete collections that describe almost all the tribal groups in Ethiopia. Here you will have an overview about the history, culture and traditions of the people of Ethiopia. The collections include the nomadic tribal groups that are now living just as man’s forefather lived thousands of years back. Trinity Cathedral:-a beautiful church with a baroque style of European architecture which is unique to both Ethiopia and Africa and is dedicated to the Holy Trinity. Here you will find scripts of the imperial families, statues done by a Greek sculpture, Stained glass window paintings from the Old and New Testament in the Bible and coffins of Emperor Haile Silassie-I; the founder of the church, and his wife.

Day 2

Fly to Bahir Dar

 Visit Lake Tana Monastery and Blue Nile Falls. After breakfast, drive to the airport and catch your flight to Bahir Dar. Later, visit Lake Tana Monastery and Blue Nile Falls. Lake Tana is the largest lake in Ethiopia, measuring approximately 84km long and 66km wide, and is also the source of the Blue Nile. The lake contains 37 islands; however their visibility varies according to seasonal water fluctuations, which are regulated to measure inflow to the Blue Nile Falls. The islands accommodate 20 monasteries, which are used to store religious artefacts due to their remote location. The Blue Nile Falls, also known as Tis Abay, mean ‘smoking water’ in Amharic. They start as a gentle river flowing 5,223km north of the Mediterranean Sea before joining the impressive falls. The waterfall itself is around 150ft high and half a mile wide, which is just spectacular to witness. Surrounded by immense natural beauty, the falls attract parrots, bee-eaters, white throated seedeaters and vervet monkeys, just to name a few
Day 3

Drive to the Simien Mountains

Drive to Sankaber- the headquarters of Simien Mountains National Park- passing rural villages and crossing mountain passes with stunning vistas. The Simien Mountains National park occupies a surface area of 180 km sq. The park, situated between 4,430 and 1,900 meters (6,200 – 4,500 feet), boasts varied flora with three marked botanical areas. The highest parts have meadows with little vegetation, characteristic of afro alpine zones. Here we can find the endemic Lobelia rhynchopetalum, small groups of perpetual flowers, Helichrysum, and the striking Kniphofia foliosa. Late in the afternoon, walking near your lodge to spot the endemic Gelada baboon and appreciate the breathtaking scenery.
Day 4

Tesfa Trekking Day One

‘Tesfa’ means ‘hope’ in the local Amharic language and this community trekking route is a fantastic way to give back to the local communities: At Werkhaye villagers from Mequat Mariam will await you with a donkey to carry your bags. From here you trek across the plateau following well-worn paths (often bolder strewn) through the agricultural landscape of the highlands. Little boys and girls watch their sheep,cattle, horses and donkeys. Older girls can be seen fetching water from springs along the way, and the men ploughing fields with oxen, engaging in harvesting activities or other agricultural work depending on the time of year and day of the month (on saints days it is forbidden to engage in many activities). At the newly renovated church of Hanna Mequat, with acacia trees dotted around the church compound, you will get a glimpse of the escarpment edge that will be with you for much of the trip. Beyond the church you will join it and follow it round to the tukuls (thatched cottages) at Mequat Mariam. The total walk time is about 3 hours including stops. The staff – all members of the local villages – will meet you and serve snacks – perhaps a ‘Meket Pizza’ with tea or coffee, or perhaps you will be ready for a beer. As you enjoy this you can watch the birds soaring on the thermals – ravens, the odd vulture, perhaps a lammergeyer, and innumerable others. There is a shower, with water warmed by the sun. Don’t miss the sunset on the ‘rock bar’ with a sundowner drink. The community will serve a good meal – simple western food – after dark in the dining tukul, and if you would like will prepare a traditional Ethiopian style coffee ceremony. The community has built especially designed tukuls bedrooms – traditional style with thatched roof, and stone walls. However the beds are comfortable mattresses, with clean bed linen and blankets
Day 5

Tesfa Trekking Day Two

A breakfast of either eggs or pancakes, with tea or coffee will get you ready for a good days walk. The walk from Mequat Mariam to Wajela winds along the escarpment for much of the way with staggering views of the river systems and farm land below. There is a good chance to see Gelada Baboon along these escarpments, and if you are lucky Rock Hyrax, even a Klipspringer. After a few hours the Mequat community hand over to the Wajela community – a fresh donkey for the luggage. Here you can eat the simple picnic lunch, maybe with a soft drink carried by one of the community. Some of the route cuts across the plateau top and there are some short cuts if you want to reduce the walking, but if you feel fit much of the time you can follow the escarpment edge. Towards the middle of the afternoon you will reach the church of Kura Anbessa Giyorgis, perched on the rock edge, with Olive (Olia Africanus) and other indigenous trees around. Kura means crow/raven and Anbessa Lion! If you meet one of the priests ask for an explanation of the name. It is possible to take another route and come across the carpet weavers, but there is not time to do this and the church. After Kura Anbessa you cross the road and head north across the plateau to the Wajela site. Again a warm welcome and snacks will await you at Wajela with its cozy tukuls overlooking a wooded escarpment. If you are early there is a 2 hour round trip to a church and cave structure below. You can also rinse off in the shower. Dinner as in Mequat is served in the dining tukul, sometime after sunset.
Day 6

Drive to Lalibella, Nakuto Leab church, Genna preparations

Lalibela is arguably one of the most important religious and historical sites in all of Africa and the entire Christian world. There are no less than 200 churches in the Lasta Region of Lalibela, some hidden in enormous caves, but it’s exceptional to find 11 churches of such master craftsmanship in one locale. These brilliant feats of engineering and architecture are often referred to as the “Eighth wonder of the world”. The churches are said to have been constructed during King Lalibela’s reign during the 12th and 13th centuries when Lalibela (then known as Roha) was the capital of the Zagwe dynasty. On the way to Lalibella, Visit Nakuto Leab Church, Situated around 7km from central Lalibela, the Na’akuto La‘ab Monastery is found inside a natural cavern in the highlands surrounding the town. A wonderful monastery that pre-dates the more popular churches in the centre of the town. You will also witness the thousands of pilgrims who have travelled from all over the country, and the preparations being made for the Genna Festival.
Day 7

Genna Festival & visit the first group rock hewn churches of Lalibella.

Visit the first group of the churches which represent the earthly Jerusalem. This group includes BeteMedhanialem (Savior church), Bete Miriam, BeteDenagel, BeteMeskal, Debra Sina, and Bete Golgotha. Standing 38 feet tall with seventy-two pillars, MedhaneAlem is not only the largest in Lalibela, but it is the largest monolithic rock-hewn church in the world. Bet Golgotha houses remarkable reliefs of figures, early Christian art rarely seen in other parts of Ethiopia. All of this amidst the worship of priests and pilgrims alike at this holy place. Your guide will make sure you are present for the main ceremonies to be able to experience the ancient traditions passed down for centuries from the second country in the world to officially proclaim itself Christian after Armenia.
Day 8-9

Visit Asheton Mariam and the second group rock hewn churches

After breakfast, visit Asheton Mariam, Trek (half way mule or horse ride) to the 13thc rock hewn monastery of Asheten Mariam (over 3000 meters high). It is about 8 kms from Lalibella. The road is very steeply looked like a twisted rope hugged on the wall but very beautiful scenery and rewarding to experience it. On top, it looks like flying over the town of Lalibella and its surroundings. The mountain views are impressive and panoramic and it’s easy to understand why the priests at this church believe they are the “closest to God.” In the afternoon, visit the Second group of the churches representing the heavenly Jerusalem. In this group are the Bete Gabriel & Raphael, BeteMerquorios, Bete Emmanuel, and Bete Abba Libanos Finally, visit the most interesting cross-shaped church of BeteGiorgis (St. George), which is said to be the symbolization of Noah’s ark. The cruciform-shaped BeteGiorgis is the most perfect and beautiful church here; its interior is dominated by depictions of Saint George killing the dragon.
Day 10

Back to Addis Ababa and then either flight home OR to Harar via add-on

After breakfast, catch your flight to Addis Ababa. Later, you will have half day city tour of Addis. The city tour includes visit to Merkato. In the evening, you will have a fare well dinner and you will be transferred to the airport to catch your departing flight. Merkato is the largest open-air market in Africa. Here you will be presented with confusing, but fascinating, glimpse of the vast range of goods and artifacts available from all parts of the country and you will enjoy the Ethiopian trade exchange tradition in the open air, you can purchase anything you desire here.


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