Genna Festival (Ethiopian Christmas) at Lalibela
Genna, Ethiopian Christmas, is one of the greatest and most colorful festivals in Ethiopia. In Lalibela, Christmas is celebrated with greater devotion, chanting, dancing, and singing around the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela, filled with tens of thousands of pilgrims who come from all directions of Ethiopia.
Arrival in Addis. Welcome by our guide.
Visit the National Museum & the Ethnographic Museum at the Addis Ababa University. Drive to YekaTerara for Addis Ababa City view and short trekking (1/2 hour). Lunch break. Coffee tasting at Tomocca. Drive to Entoto Mountain to visit Emperor Menelik II palace & Museum. Visit the largest open-air market, Merkato. Beer tasting at St. George Brewery. Overnight in hotel in Addis Ababa.
Breakfast at the hotel. Flight to Lalibela. Arrival in Lalibela. Check into a hotel.
Visit to the eleven rock-hewn monolithic (carved from a single rock) churches of Lalibela (UNESCO World heritage site, with magnificent architecture & paintings inside the churches). Time at leisure. In the late evening, attend the Christmas Eve ceremony to be held at Bete Mariam Church. The chanting by the deacons and the priests continue throughout the night with pilgrim’s claps and ululations. And then, attend candle light ceremony to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ. Time at leisure. Overnight in hotel in Lalibela.
Breakfast at the hotel. Visit historical churches around Lalibela: the Hill Church of Asheton Mariam (on the back of a mule or on foot), Yimerhane Kirsotos or Nakute LeAb or Genete Maryam. Overnight stay in hotel in Lalibela.
Early in the morning attend the very colorful Christmas procession performed by beautifully dressed priests and deacons chanting at the edge of the rock hewn churches of Bete Mariam and some more on the bottom representing the shepherds and the angels announcing the birth of Jesus.
Afterwards, people disperse to their homes to feast and the clergy break their fast. Walk to one of the family home in Lalibela and join the holiday. Get involved in food preparation of several Ethiopian cuisines. Attend the blessing and good wishes of elders, followed by traditional Coffee ceremony. Enjoy the local foods and drinks and celebrate with music and dancing with the family. Overnight in a hotel in Lalibela.
Breakfast at the hotel. Drive to Lalibela (440 Km from Lalibela) through the beautiful landscape of Ambalage Chain of Mountains. Stop at various villages and market places. Arrival in Gondar early evening. Check into a hotel. Overnight in a hotel in Gondar.
Breakfast in hotel. Visit to the Royal Castles (built in the 17th Century A.D.), the Bath of Emperor Fasiledes, and the Historic Debre Birhan Selassie Church. Overnight in hotel in Gondar.
Breakfast at the hotel. Drive to Debark (100 Km from Gonder, a nearby town to the Simien Mountains). Spend the day visiting the Simien Mountains National Park (registered by UNESCO as a world heritage site, with endemic & mammals, birds, natural vegetation, & wonderful landscape). Check into a lodge. Time at leisure. Overnight stay in a hotel in Gondar.
Breakfast at the hotel. Drive to Bahir Dar (280 Km from Semien Mt.). Check into a hotel. Time at leisure. Overnight in a hotel in Bahir Dar.
Breakfast in hotel. A boat ride on Lake Tana to visit the medieval period island monasteries (Azua Mariam & Ura Kidane Mihret: beautiful mural paintings, religious books & sacred) on Lake Tana. Drive (some 30 Km) and visit to the Blue Nile Falls.
Flight back to Addis Ababa. Arrival Addis Ababa.
In the evening, a farewell cultural night at the renowned cultural restaurant for authentic Ethiopian cultural food buffet along with live music and dances of the diverse nations and nationalities of Ethiopia.
Transfer to airport for a flight home.