Trip Summary and Itinerary Map
Explore Addis Ababa, the historic capital city named by the European council of tourism as the #1 tourist spot in the world.
Fly to Bahir Dar to experience the incredible Timkat festival on the shores of Lake Tana and on the lake's islands. These islands have been a home to Christianity since the beginning of the Christian era and before that was home to Jewish Temples. Outside of the hustle and bustle of the major cities, this Timkat experience is truly unique.
Spend a couple of nights community trekking in rural Lalibela. This is among our favourite experience on offer in Ethiopia. Take meditative walks along the plateaus of rural Lalibela surrounded by astonishing views and stay in basic guesthouses run by the local community.
Head to central Lalibela to explore the famous rock-churches. There is a chance to see the little known Bilbala Cherkos church just outside of Lalibela during a festival. This is one of our favourite 'unkown' churches.
Discover Debre Berhan Selassie church in Gondar. Over a hundred colourful cherubs gaze down on you from the ceiling as a reminder of God’s omnipotence, and the country’s religious roots. Explore the ancient castles of Gondar before heading up to the Simien Mountains.
Explore the stunning Simien Mountains and stay at Ethiopia's best lodge, the luxurious Limalimo Lodge.
Visit Axum, one of the oldest inhabited places in Africa. Considered Ethiopia’s holiest city, it houses a field of obelisks.
Head to Tigray and spend a couple of nights community trekking through this fantastic landscape. Spend your last night in Ethiopia at the fantastic Gheralta Lodge overlooking the incredibly Tigrayan landscape.
Landmarks visited on Brilliant Timkat 2020
Day 1: The adventure begins
Saturday 18th January 2020
Your first day is spent exploring the bustling capital city of Addis Ababa. Upon arrival at the airport, you'll be met by your driver and transferred to the hotel. After check in, take your first steps into the city and discover Lucy at the National Museum. Visit Selassie Church and take a short drive up Mount Entoto to enjoy views of the sprawling capital from the best vantage point around.
Return to the hotel to relax before heading for dinner in one of Addis's famous cultural restaurants.
Overnight: Capital Hotel & Spa
Day 2: Bahir Dar
Sunday 19th January 2020
After breakfast, catch a mid-morning flight to Bahir Dar. After checking in to the wonderful Kurifu Resort, you'll spend the afternoon enjoying the Timkat celebrations and processions on Lake Tana.
Overnight: Kuriftu Resort Bahir Dar
Day 3: Timkat in Bahir Dar
Monday 20th January 2020
Spend the day enjoying Timkat celebrations on the shores of Lake Tana.
Overnight: Kuriftu Resort Bahir Dar
Day 4: Mequat Mariam
Tuesday 21st January 2020
Take a stunning morning drive through the countryside to Meket, a village just outside of Lalibela and home to the very first community trekking guesthouse: Mequat Mariam. Stop for lunch at Werkhaye (simple but delicious local food) before starting the trek to Mequat Mariam.
The trek is around 3.5 hours through even terrain passing through a number of local villages. The final stretch takes you through untamed grassland before arriving at plateau edge where the staggering views open up and you find the guesthouse perched on the cliff edge.
Upon arrival at the guesthouse, you'll be welcomed with a refreshing beverage and some snacks to enjoy as you marvel at the surrounding views. Dinner will be prepared by the local team and enjoyed around a campfire in one of the adjacent tukuls.
Overnight: Mequat Mariam Community Guesthouse
Day 5: Wajela
Wednesday 22nd January 2020
Enjoy coffee/tea and breakfast over the stunning morning skyline. Today marks your first full day of community trekking in rural Ethiopia as you walk through the countryside towards the next guesthouse, Wajela.
Traverse the escarpment edges and through the meadows down to the bucolic village of Wajela. Wajela is again perched on the escarpment edge offering overwhelming views. The trek is a full day trek (but not too challenging) with a lunch stop at another local village.
Overnight: Wajela Community Guesthouse
Day 6: Lalibela
Thursday 23rd January 2020
As your first community trekking experience comes to a close, today takes you to the nearby town of Lalibela, home to the famous rock-hewn churches. Take short walk along the escarpment to the lunch stop Ras Dejen Giyorgis before meeting your driver to transfer to Lalibela.
After checking in at your hotel, your guide will meet you and take you to the first cluster of rock-hewn churches as well as Bete Giyorgis church. We recommend having dinner at the remarkable Ben Abeba restaurant.
Overnight: Tukul Village Hotel
Day 7: Lalibela
Friday 24th January 2020
After breakfast take a short drive to Bilbala Cherkos church and enjoy the Saints Day celebration. This is a fantastic stop on the itinerary as Bilbala Cherkos is one of the lesser-known churches and you'll be visiting during one of their bigger celebrations on the Ethiopian calendar. After visiting the nearby Yemrehana Christos church, drive back to Lalibela to visit the remaining clusters of rock-hewn churches.
Overnight: Tukul Village Hotel
Day 8: Lalibela > Gondar
Saturday 25th January 2020
This morning you have the option to stop by the churches in the early morning to see early morning service inside the rock-churches. Head to the airport to catch and early afternoon to Gondar.
Upon arrival in Gondar, transfer to your hotel and spend the afternoon at leisure. Your hotel, Goha hotel, offers a great view from the terrace and is a great spot to relax. You can also explore the town and discover some of Gondar's great restaurants!
Overnight: Goha Hotel
Day 9: Gondar > Simien Mountains National Park
Sunday 26th January 2020
Spend the morning exploring the sites of Gondar. Visit the famous Debre Berhan Selassie church before wandering through the ancient castles from Gonderine kings and queens gone by.
In the afternoon you'll drive up to the Simien Mountains and check in to Ethiopia's most stunning accommodation, Limalimo Lodge. Enjoy sundowners with a view from the lodge's terrace before retreating indoors to enjoy dinner next to the roaring fire.
Overnight: Limalimo Lodge
Day 10: Simien Mountains National Park
Monday 27th January 2020
Today is a full day exploring the Simien Mountains via a sortie into the park with our 4x4s. The road takes you all the way to Chennek and therefore passes all of the major viewpoints. You'll encounter troops of Gelada Monkeys and you might even see a herd of Walia Ibex.
Overnight: Limalimo Lodge
Day 11: Simien Mountains > Axum
Tuesday 28th January 2020
Drive down from Simiens, across the Tekezze river and along the Tigrayan plateau to Axum. Enjoy a picnic lunch along the way and in Axum visit the Stellae field and some of the other historic sites.
Overnight: Sabean Hotel
Day 12: Axum > Erar
Wednesday 29th January 2020
Visit the church in Axum in the morning and possibly visit the tombs before heading to the trail head to begin your second community trekking experience. On the way you can see the pre-Axumite ruins at Yeha and a lovely church called Mariam Kiat. It's a relatively short 90 minute walk from the trail-head to the first guesthouse, Erar.
Overnight: Erar Community Guesthouse
Day 13: Erar > Shimbrety
Thursday 30th January 2020
Trek down from Erar and along the sandy valley before reaching a tunnel cut through the escarpment to link the farmers on the western side to the church and market on your side. See the pretty church and ascend the path up to Shimbrety. Gelada Baboons are often sited here, and you can spend the late afternoon exploring the plateau and visiting the nearby farmhouses.
Overnight: Shimbrety Community Guesthouse
Day 14: Hawzien
Friday 31st January 2020
After breakfast, drop back down to Idega Arbi and enjoy the market before transferring to Gheralta Lodge for a well-deserved rest and lunch. In the afternoon, you can visit some of the famous Gheralta Churches, or choose to relax around Gheralta Lodge and soak up the stunning views from plateau edge.
Overnight: Gheralta Lodge
Day 15: Return to Addis Ababa
Saturday 1st February 2020
A morning drive takes you to Mekele where you will catch a flight back to Addis. En route, you can visit some other famous rock churches in the region. You'll arrive in Addis around 6pm and connect with your international flight home.
Prices, Departures and Inclusions
Group size maximum 6 persons.
|Start date||Price (pp)|
* Note: Prices are per person. Paid in USD ($) - figure above is based on today's exchange rate. Actual cost $2,786
- Prices based on complete group of 6. Per person prices for a group of less than 6 will be higher.
- Subject to availability of accommodation and flights at time of booking. Some accommodation is already held, but late bookings may need to use different hotels.
- Prices based on discounted domestic flights and so travellers should book with Ethiopian Airlines for their international flights
- Prices based on twin/double rooms. Single supplement not included.
- Meal plan bed and breakfast. Breakfast not included upon arrival on first day.
- Meal plan full board while on treks and at Limalimo Lodge.
- Transport via minibus and 4x4 as detailed in itinerary.
- Experienced escort guide throughout the trip.
- All entrance fees in Addis, Bahir Dar, Lalibela, Gondar, Simien Mountains, Axum and for the 5 churches in east Tigray.
- Domestic flight based on discounted rate.
- Any meals not mentioned as included.
- International flights and visa fees.
- Additional charges on domestic flights if not holding Ethiopian Airlines international ticket.
- Excludes anything not specifically mentioned as included.