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.
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. Drive to Bahir Dar (540 Km from Addis) by our 2016 4WD MiniVan and professional driver/guide. Visit the 13th century DebreLibanos monastery and the 17th century Portuguese Bridge. Photo stop on the way. On arrival, transfer to a hotel for check in. Time at leisure. Overnight in hotel in Bahir Dar.
Breakfast at the 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. Time at leisure. Overnight in hotel in Bahir Dar.
Breakfast in hotel. Drive to Gondar (180 km). Arrival Gondar. Check into a hotel (if rooms are ready). Lunch break. 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. New Year’s eve party cultural night. Overnight stay in a hotel in Debark.
Breakfast at the lodge. Drive to Axum (270 Km from Debark) through the Simien Mountains & magnificent topography & scenery, the Limalimo Gorge, Tekeze Valley. Arrival in Axum. Check into a hotel. Time at leisure. Overnight in a hotel in Axum.
Breakfast at the hotel. You will visit all day to the Steale of Axum, the Inscription of Ezana, Queen Sheba’s Palace, the famous St. Mary of Zion Church, ruins of ancient palaces (built until 4th century A.D.). Time at leisure. Overnight in hotel in Axum.
Breakfast at the hotel. Drive to Hawizen. On the way, visit Ethiopia’s earliest known capital city of Yeha (considered as the birthplace of the country’s earliest civilization, a single most remarkable antiquity, well-preserved walls of the 12m-high stone temple of the moon, thought to be over 2500 years old). Another possible excursion is to DebreDamo monastery (only allowed for men, built on the flat- topped mountain of DebreDamo, only accessible by climbing a rope which hangs down from a perpendicular rock, recommended for younger travelers.) Upon arrival, check in to the lodge. Time at leisure. Overnight in a lodge in Hawizen.
Breakfast at the lodge. Visit some of the most beautiful medieval churches on impressive viewpoints such as: Debre Maryam Korkor or AbrehaWeAtsheba church, all situated near to the road between Mekele and Hawzien (It requires climbing a steep mountain to reach these churches so good walking/mountain shoes are recommendable.) Arrival in Mekele early evening. Check into a hotel. Time at leisure. Overnight stay in a hotel in Mekele.
Breakfast at the hotel. You will be driven to Lalibela (470 Km from Mekele) through the Ambalage Chain of Mountains. Arrival in Lalibela. Check into a hotel. Time at leisure. Overnight in hotel in Lalibela.
Breakfast at the 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. Overnight 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 hotel in Lalibela.
Breakfast in hotel. Drive to Konbolcha (335 Km). On the way, you will visit Hayk Estifanos Monastery, famous for its variety of bird life near the town of Hayk). Overnight in hotel in Kombolcha.
Breakfast in hotel. Drive back to Addis Ababa. Arrival Addis Ababa. Time for leisure and shopping.
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.