Omo Valley & Timket Festival

Ethiopia (Addis Ababa, Arba Minch, Jinka, Mursi Village, Turmi, Bahir Dar, Gondar, Axum, Lalibela)

Come tour the Omo Valley of Ethiopia, designated an UNESCO World Heritage site for the plethora of important fossils found in the region as well as its beautiful scenery. Explore the region’s rich valleys and lush hillsides, experiencing Ethiopia’s diverse cultures. Cap your tour off with the grandiose Timket festival, the Ethiopian version of the Christian Epiphany.

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  1. 1


    Arrive Addis Ababa; meet assist and transfer to Hotel.

    Meal(s) Included: Dinner

    Overnight at Ghion Hotel or Similar

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    After breakfast drive to Arba Minch which is Amharic for ‘Forty Springs’. On the way, stop at the Melka Kunture archaeological site and Tiya heritage sites to view the stone sculptures believed to be ancient grave markers. Stop for lunch at a local restaurant in Butajira. Drive through the villages of the Guraghe, Kambata, and Wolayita and arrive Arbaminch in the evening. Enjoy an amazing view of Lake Abay and Chamo.

    Meal(s) Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

    Overnight at Swaynes Hotel or Similar

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    Day 3  ARBA MINCH

    After breakfast, visit the Dorze tribe, known for their beehive shaped houses and weaving skills. Weaving is a primary profession for many Dorze. They are also farmers, who prevent soil erosion by ingenious terracing of the mountainsides. They have little gardens around their huts with vegetables, spices, tobacco and Enset(false-bananas). In the afternoon, take a boat trip on Lake Chamo where you will see hippos and the world’s most spectacular concentrations of giant crocodiles. The water birds are beautiful and the scenery is truly unforgettable.

    Meal(s) Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

    Overnight at Swaynes Hotel or Similar

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    Drive to Jinka with a stop at the Konso villages; the tribe is known for their colorful costumes, an impressive landscape and unusually engraved wooden statues used as grave markers. Afterwards, visit the local Banna and Tsamay market; a colourful market that attracts neighbouring tribes in the region.

    Meal(s) Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

    Overnight at Jinka Resort or Similar

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    Full day excursion to the Mursi Village in Mago Park. The Mursi women wear circular clay plate on their lower lip as well ear lobes the men are known for the fierce stick fighting. Mago Park offers a variety of wild game such as Gerenuk, Oribi, Kudu, Hartebeest, Water-buck and many bird species (180 species have been recorded in this Park so far).

    Meal(s) Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

    Overnight at Jinka Resort or Similar

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    Drive to Turmi with a stop in Dimeka to visit the Hammer Tribe, known for their hairstyles made from ochre, water, and binding resin. They rub the mixture into their hair and then twist the strands repeatedly to create coppery-colored locks. This is a sign of wealth and welfare. Hammers are considered to be masters of body decoration.  They are also known for the Evangadi dance and Bull Jumping ceremony.

    Meal(s) Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

    Overnight at Turmi Lodge or Similar

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    Drive to Arba Minch, en route visit the Cushitic speaking Arbore tribe. The Arbore Tribe are pastoralists who believe that singing and dancing eliminates negative energy to brings prosperity to the tribe.

    Meal(s) Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

    Overnight at Swaynes Hotel or Similar

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    After breakfast drive back to Addis; enjoy your afternoon at leisure.

    Meal(s) Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

    Overnight at Ghion Hotel or Similar

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    Day 9: ADDIS ABABA

    After breakfast, go on a City Tour of Addis Ababa; highlight will include the scenic Mount Entoto. At 2500 m, Addis Ababa is the third highest capital in the world and Entoto is several hundred metres higher. Within Entoto’s old Imperial Compound, you will visit the churches of Mariam and the Archangel Raguel. Afterwards, stop at the National Archaeological Museum where exhibits include the 3.5 million-year-old bones of ‘Lucy’.

    Meal(s) Included: Breakfast, Dinner

    Overnight at Ghion Hotel or Similar

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    After breakfast, transfer to the airport for flight to Bahir Dar. Bahir Dar is a beautiful town with tree-lined roads and the blue Lake Tana. Lake Tana is Ethiopia’s largest lake, dotted with many islands, many of which are the sites of churches and monasteries. After lunch, depart by boat to the Zeghe Peninsula, known for its 14th century, round, grass-roofed churches with their magnificent wall murals. You will visit two, Baeta Mariam and Ura Kidane Mihret Churches, walking through dense forest with prolific bird life. Bahir Dar has several clubs and bars where you can enjoy both traditional and modern Ethiopian music and dancing.

    Meal(s) Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

    Overnight at Tana Hotel or Similar

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    Day 11: BAHIR DAR

    After breakfast, go on a full day tour of the Blue Nile Falls, about 30 km from Bahir Dar. They are Africa’s second largest waterfalls; this is where the Blue Nile, the main source of the Nile River, begins its long journey to the Mediterranean Sea. After lunch, go on a tour of Bahir Dar, including the market and a visit of the Palace of the late Emperor Haile Selassie at Bezawite.

    Meal(s) Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

    Overnight at Tana Hotel or Similar

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    After breakfast drive to Gondar the imperial capital from the 17th to the mid-19th century. Visitors come to see the Imperial Compound, with the enchanting ‘Fasalidas’ castles still in good condition. There is also the bath of King Fasilides. Here, at Timket (Ethiopian Epiphany), a nearby river is diverted to fill an area the size of a small swimming pool and worshippers plunge into the cold water in a re-enactment of the baptism of Christ in the River Jordan. Although many of Gondar’s churches were destroyed in the Mahdist invasion from Sudan in the 1880s, one fine example, Debre Berhan Selassie, survives. According to the legend, a swarm of bees diverted the invaders. The walls and ceiling are covered with vivid murals: the angels’ faces on the ceiling have become a common motif in Ethiopian design. The tour ends with a visit to the ruined palace of Queen Mentowab and the church of Qusquam. The Mini Fogera is worth visiting in the evening for Asmari music and Ethiopian food.

    Meal(s) Included: Breakfast, Dinner

    Overnight at Hotel Goha or Similar

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    Day 13: GONDAR /AXUM

    After breakfast, transfer to the airport for the flight to Axum. From around 200 BC to 700 AD, Axum was the seat of an empire that extended across the Red Sea to Arabia, traded with India and China, had its own alphabet, constructed great engineering works and, in the 4th century, was one of the four great powers of the ancient world. You can see the remarkable stelae or obelisks, which are the largest single pieces of stone standing anywhere on the world. It is still not understood how they were transported from the quarry and erected. There are also tombs and castles of former monarchs, the Axum Museum and Mariamtsion Church, built on the site of Ethiopia’s first church. A chapel within the church compound is believed by Ethiopian Orthodox Christians to house the Ark of the Covenant, or the original tablets of Moses. Your tour starts with a visit to the museum and the stelae. Then you ascend a hill to see the castle of King Kalab, passing Mai Shum (the bath of the Queen of Sheba) on the way. Coming back into town, you will see the tomb of King Basen, visit the small museum inside the church grounds (the priests may likely put on display crowns of past kings for visitors to see), and end the day with a visit to the site known locally as Queen Sheba’s Palace, although in fact it is of a later date, the villa of an Axumite notable from around the 1st century AD.

    Meal(s) Included: Breakfast, Dinner

    Overnight at Yeha Hotel or Similar

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    After breakfast fly to Lalibela; meet assist and transfer to Hotel.  Afterwards, enjoy your day at leisure.  This evening we mark the beginning of The Timket Festival, which is the Ethiopian Orthodox celebration of the Epiphany, with the celebration of the Divine Liturgy.

    The Divine Liturgy, which begins at midnight with a procession by the church priest and faithful, is meant to symbolize the path Jesus took on his way to baptism at the Jordan River. The Tabot, a replica of the Tablet of Laws onto which the Ten Commandments were inscribed, is wrapped in rich linens and taken on procession which ends on the banks of the nearest body of water.  Around 2 a.m the procession ends as the priests bless the body of water and sprinkle it on the participants. Most choose to fully immerse themselves in the water, as a symbolic renewal of their baptismal vows.

    Meal(s) Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

    Overnight at Roha Hotel or Similar

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    Day 15: LALIBELA

    After breakfast, the Timket Festival continues with the Tabot being escorted back to its church in a colorful and vibrant procession. The streets are filled with people celebrating with music, dancing and games.The clergy, bearing robes and colorful umbrellas perform dances and songs while the elders march solemnly with their weapons. The procession is also an important social event as women gather, dressed in their finest clothing and the young men to perform spirited dances and songs. The procession ends when the Ark has been safely returned to its church.

    Meal(s) Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

    Overnight at Roha Hotel or Similar

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    Day 16:  LALIBELA

    After breakfast continue Tour of Lalibela; visit the rock-hewn Coptic churches. Bet Medihanialem is the largest, supported by 72 pillars and houses the 7kg (15 lbs) gold Lalibela Cross. You will go through a tunnel from Bet Medihanialem to Bet Mariam, in which there is a pillar that it is said Jesus Christ leaned against when he appeared in a vision to King Lalibela. Bet Mariam also contains fabulous carvings of various birds and animals. You will also visit Bet Danaghel; a chapel built in honor of martyred nuns. Bet Golgotha and Bet Mikael are twin churches and many believe that a visit to Bet Golgotha alone can guarantee your place in heaven! The twin churches also contain many important religious items and some of the best examples of early religious art in the country. The last church we visit is Bet Giyorgis, one of the more recent churches and best preserved.

    Meal(s) Included: Breakfast, Dinner

    Overnight at Roha Hotel or Similar

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    Transfer to the airport for your flight to Addis; day at leisure then later enjoy an African farewell dinner. Transfer to airport for light back home.

    Meal(s) Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Trip Includes:

  • Meeting and assistance at the airport
  • Roundtrip airport/hotel transfer
  • Accommodation in the properties listed
  • Meals indicated
  • Entrance fees to sites and events
  • Domestic flights within Ethiopia
  • Transportation in private vehicle
  • Experienced Tour Guide
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