Easter in Ethiopia

Led by Rev Peter Paine

Tuesday 23rd April - Saturday 4th May 2019

Ethiopia is an ancient cradle of civilization with biblical connections going back to the Queen of Sheba who visited King Solomon and to the court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was met by the apostle Philip on the road to Gaza (Acts 8:28-40).

We will share in the colourful celebrations of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church over Holy Week and Easter which will give us an insight into a rich and different tradition but one which shares the same faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. Not only will we visit the famous rock-hewn churches of Lalibela and other ancient Christian sites but also sites of antiquity.

We will spend a day on safari in the Simien Mountain Nature Reserve observing some of its unique animal life.

This will be an extraordinary pilgrimage and one which it will be a privilege to share with you.

Day 01, April 23, Tuesday, International
We depart from London Heathrow 2015 hrs

Day 02, April 24, Wednesday, Arrival Addis Ababa. Pre tour conference and city tour of Addis Ababa
Arrive Addis Ababa 5.50 go to breakfast after check in and time to rest. In the afternoon city tour of Addis Ababa Welcome to Abyssinia! We arrive early in the morning and go to breakfast after check in and time to rest. In the afternoon, Addis Ababa - a city that is very young when compared to the country. In Amharic, Addis Ababa means “new flower”. Be met and assisted by Glory Ethiopia staff members. Transfer to the Hilton hotel. After breakfast and some rest, around 12;00 Sightseeing tours of Entoto - a 3200m high mountain, the site of the palace of Emperor Menelik II, the founder of Addis Ababa. Here you will see the church of St. Mary, where Menelik II was crowned Emperor and enjoy the panoramic view of the city with its surrounding plains and volcanic cones. Then we will stop in at the Merkato, the largest open-air market in Africa - a rare opportunity to discover the vast range of goods and artefacts available from all parts of the country and to experience the Ethiopian trading tradition you will have your welcome dinner and traditional dance at Yod Abyssinia. Today we emphasise the monuments, the Ethnological Museum, the National Museum, the churches, Greek school, and the orphanage centre. Addis Ababa includes the National Museum, comprising many archaeological and historical finds, including the famous hominid fossil ‘Lucy’. This museum is your introduction to historic Ethiopia. The beautiful church of Trinity Cathedral. Overnight Hilton Hotel.

Day 03, April 25, Thursday, Fly to Axum-city tour and attend the Maundy Thursday and the Eve of Good Friday the 4th century Saint Mary of Zion church
We fly to Axum the Land of Queen Sheba. The legends narrated in the Kebre Negest (‘Book of Kings’) recount how the city of Axum as early as the 10th century B.C was the city where the Queen of Sheba resided. It is recounted that the son of the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon brought the Ark of the Covenant to Axum and it remains there to this day, preserved in a sanctuary. Famous long before the time of Christ, Axum was the capital of the long Axumite reign, one of the oldest African empires, and represented a crucial connecting point between Africa and Asia for almost a thousand years. A visit is organized to the steles, granite monoliths dating from pre-Christian times and decorated with symbolic engravings. In ancient times, there were seven steles, now there are six as Mussolini took one of them during the Italian invasion of Ethiopia. We culminate this exciting day with a visit to the church of Saint Mary of Zion, which contains the crowns of Ethiopian kings and other treasures.
MAUNDY THURSDAY is a special day on which in the Mass unleavened bread is used. For those who can, it is spent out of doors. When the fast is broken late in the afternoon no one eats ordinary bread, a mixture of special flour is compounded and boiled. A solemn Mass is celebrated on that day. The ceremony of washing the feet is conducted the same day in imitation of what our Lord did to the twelve Apostles at the Last Supper. We attend the feet washing ceremony at St. Mary of Zion Church at Night between 7:00-8:00 pm. All the faithful with clean souls should communicate on Holy Thursday. At night we will attend the Eve of Good Friday.
A beautiful Day and Night! Overnight at Yeha Hotel

Day 04, April 26, Friday, and attend the feast of Good Friday
Early in the morning, we will attend the Good Friday celebrations, then drive to Yeha to see the 2700 years old temple of Yeha and the Church Monastery of Abba Pantaleon. Yeha is considered the birthplace of Ethiopia’s earliest known civilization nearly three millennia ago. Many features here, such as the immense, windowless, sandstone walls of the so-called Great Temple are identical to those found in temples in Saba, and Yemen. It is thought that it was created by a combination of ideas from Sabaean settlers from Arabia and native Ethiopians. Yeha’s ruins are impressive for their sheer age as well as their stunning construction. The 7th c. BC Great Temple’s limestone building blocks measuring up to 3 metres in length are perfectly dressed and fitted together without trace of mortar.
High above Axsum, on top of a tall, narrow peak, lies Abba Pantaleon Monastery. Tradition states that it was built be Abba Pantaleon, one of the Nine Saints and a man who is said to have prayed nonstop for 40 years and that this is where King Kaleb retired to after abdicating his throne. The site of the monastery was sacred to pagans and it’s thought that the monastery was built here to bolster Christianity and eradicate pagan beliefs.
GOOD FRIDAY. The solemn liturgical service of Good Friday is attended by thousands of believers. There is a sense of sorrow and desolation. All the symbols, images and instruments used in the passion of the Saviour are publicly exhibited in the church. Men and women go to church to prostrate themselves, remaining there from early morning till 3 p.m. the hour of the death of Jesus Christ. Believers confess their greater and lesser offenses to the confessor or sit reading their Psalter. Overnight at Yeha Hotel.

Day 05, April 27, Saturday, Fly to Lalibela and city tour. Eve festival of Easter (Holy Saturday), in the biggest rock-hewn church in the world; Medihaniealem
After an early breakfast at the hotel transfer to the airport for the morning departing flight to Lalibela. After check in we drive to the site where we find a concentration of some of Ethiopia’s famous rock-hewn churches, built in the 12th century and attributed to King Lalibela. In his youth, King Lalibela was attracted to monastic life and later made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. After he came to power, he had these amazing churched created without using mortar or wood. Elaborately carved into solid rock, they were all completed in just a 23-year span. The largest, Bete Medani Alem, is 100 feet long, 70 feet wide, 35 feet high, and has walls that are up to six feet thick. Its basilica has five naves. This particular church is thought to be a copy of the great cathedral of Saint Mary of Zion. In the evening Attend the Holy Saturday and the night feast; Eve of Easter (Ethiopian Fasika) at the church of Bete Medihanialem 10.00pm (optional)
HOLY SATURDAY is Qidame shur on which the good news went forth. Everyone who fasts passes the day and night in expectation. On this night before Easter many go to the Church and pass the night in making prayers and in prostration on clenched hands. Confession is heard on that day.
We have dinner and overnight at Mountain View Hotel.

Day 06, April 28, Sunday, Easter Day. Excursion to Yimirehane Christos and Afternoon City tour
Attend Easter Day service in the morning if possible at Bete Medihanialem. Afternoon either take mules or minibus to Ashatan Maryam Church located in the mountains above Lalibela. If there is time we might also visit Yemrehanna Kristos Church found inside a large natural cavern on a hill, the most beautiful built up church surrounding Lalibela. Ashetan Maryam Monastery is set at 3150m atop Abune Yosef Mountain, the local priests believe they’re ‘closer to heaven and God’ here. Church treasures include some parchments and icons but it’s the stunning mountain scenery you really come for. Yemrehanna Kristos Church is one of Ethiopia’s best preserved late-Aksumite buildings. The church is built rather than excavated. Seeing the stepped exterior façade, created from alternating wood and stone layers, you’ll understand why Lalibela’s rock-hewn churches look as they do. Yemrehanna Kristos may predate Lalibela’s churches by 80 years. Incredibly the whole church sits on a foundation of carefully laid out olive-wood panels, which ‘float’ it perfectly above the marshy ground below. The carving and decoration are exceptional. The entire building sits within a cave roofed by basalt lava flows.
EASTER, the feast of feasts, is celebrated with special solemnity. The church is filled with fragrance of incense and myriad’s of lights. The clergy are arrayed in their best vestments. All the people hold lighted tapers. Greetings are exchanged, drums are beaten, hands are clapped and singing is heard everywhere: “our resurrection has come, hosanna.” Men are heard saying “O Lord Christ have mercy upon us.” They pray for a blessing “O God make it to be a festival of our good fortune and of our wellbeing! Let us have another threshing floor and another year if thou wilt.” Letters or messages are exchanged between friends and the whole day is one of spiritual and physical feasting, a commemoration of the holiest occasion of all history – a truly blessed time when Christ rose from the dead.
We will have a special night at the hotel for the Easter festival with coffee ceremony, traditional Easter Dinner, traditional drinks Honey Wain or Tej, Tella( the local beer) Cultural Dance show. At the Mountain View hotel.

Day 07, April 29, Monday, Flight to Gondar and City tour
In the morning flight to Gondar to the 17th century post-medieval capital of Ethiopia. Visit the 18th century icon-rich church of Debre Berhan Silassie. Gondar is one of the most interesting Ethiopian towns and is located in beautiful surroundings with mountains as a backdrop. Your sightseeing tour of Gondar includes visits to the major castles and churches, including the “Royal compound” with its majestic castles “the Camelot of Africa”, as well as the Ethiopian Jews/Felasha village and grave yards. Overnight Goha Hotel

Day 08, April 30, Tuesday, full day excursion to Simien Mountains
Drive to the Simien Mountains national park. Early breakfast will save our time to enjoy and have more trekking activity at the most interesting spots of the national park. Sanka ber, Wilkifit Mountatin ranges, Jinbar River falls, further to Chenek, see the troops of Endemic Gelada Baboon, Walia Ibex, possibly the Semein Wolf or Red fox. Will be our games of the day.
We will have a lunch Box at one of the most beautiful sceneries of the Simien Mountain. A stop over at one of the most historical spots that The Queen of Great Britain had stooped over to enjoy the beautiful view and breakfast in 1953 with Emperor Hilesilasie while they visited the Simien and historic Route.
After an interesting full day activity, we will drive back to Gondar for Overnight.

Day 09, May 1 Wednesday, Morning drive to Bahirday and Afternoon City tour
Drive to Bahirdar on the shores of Laka Tana, the source of the Blue Nile. Lunch at the Hotel. After lunch, drive to the thunderous Blue Nile falls and hike for about 30 minutes for the best view.
Return to Bahir Dar for dinner.

Day 10, May 2, Thursday, Full day Excursion to the Island monasteries of Lake Tana
Full day boat trip over Tana.
This day we will have a full day trip over Laka Tana, the source of the Blue Nile. Lunch will be picnic lunch on the boat with seasonal fruits and Ethiopian red and white wine. On Lake Tana islands, we visit the elaborately decorated 13th century Monastery of Ura Kidane Mehret on the Zeghie Peninsula, Intos Iyesus the female monastery and Narga Silassie. We can have our devotional time and communion in one of the peaceful and isolated monasteries. Overnight Bahir Dar Tana Hotel.

Day 11, May 3, Friday, Fly Back to Addis Ababa, Day use room, Farewell Dinner and Night transfer to the airport for the international departure
Morning visit the traditional religious school at St. Michael’s Church and the colourful market of Bahir Dar.
Check in for flight back to Addis Ababa 13015 arriving Addis Ababa 1415. A day room will be available at the hotel. Farewell dinner and night transport to the airport for flight back at 0105 arriving Heathrow 0650.

Itinerary subject to change

Price £2960 per person

What the price includes

  • Flights from London Heathrow to Addis Ababa return
  • All internal flights
  • Accommodation in good hotels in twin bedded rooms with private facilities on full board basis
  • Services of professional guide throughout
  • All ground transportation
  • All expenses at the Simien Mountains National Park
  • Traditional dinner at Gondar and farewell dinner in Addis Ababa with cultural show
  • Boat trip on Lake Tana
  • Entrance fees, service charges and gratuities
  • Airport taxes
  • ATOL protection

Not included in the price

  • Items of a personal nature including drinks
  • Travel from home to UK airport
  • Single supplement £360 per person
  • Travel insurance (see back page)

PPlease note that the cost of the tour may be subject to surcharges - please see the booking conditions. Currency exchange rates used £1 = US$1.351 as published in the Financial Times on 2nd January 2018.

* APC (ATOL Protection Contribution) provides passenger protection via the ATTF (Air Travel Trust Fund). For further information visit www.caa.co.uk


Either click 'Book' at the bottom of this page or download, complete and return the booking form to:

Worldwide Christian Travel 36 Coldharbour Road, Bristol, BS6 7NA UK

Tel: 0845 458 8308

Worldwide Christian Travel has been organising Christian holidays and tours, mainly to the Holy Land, for over 50 years. We cover all aspects of travel and are one of the most comprehensive Christian travel organisers in the country. Worldwide Christian Travel is a trading name of Hadler Tours Limited.

General Information

People of all ages are welcome, but, whatever your age, we must insist on a reasonable level of fitness. A number of sites involve rough walking.

Your protection
Hadler Tours Limited is a member of ABTA with membership numbers 93522 & V2096. ABTA and ABTA Members help holidaymakers to get the most from their travel and assist them when things do not go according to plan. We are obliged to maintain a high standard of service to you by ABTA’s Code of Conduct. For further information about ABTA, the Code of Conduct and the arbitration scheme available to you or if you have a complaint, contact ABTA, 68-71 Newman Street London W1T 3AH Tel: 020 7637 2444 or visit www.abta.com.

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Passports, Visas and Vaccinations
TBritish passport holders require a visa which is issued on arrival at Addis Ababa Airport. The cost is currently US$50 payable in cash on arrival. Please make sure your passport has six months validity and two blank pages. No inoculations are required but do remember to take any regular medications.

Travel Advice
For the latest travel advice please visit www.fco.gov.uk or call 0870 606 0290.

Further Information And Paying The Balance
Further information will be sent to you regarding any action that may be required approximately 10 weeks before departure. A final invoice will also be sent at this time and the balance for the tour must be paid at least 8 weeks before departure.

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Full travel information, including details of meeting points, flight times, accommodation and travel information, will be sent to you approximately 2 weeks before departure. Normally, tickets are not issued but are handed to you at the airport or departure point by our representative who will be there to ensure that you depart without a hitch and to deal with any last minute difficulties.

Travel Insurance
It is compulsory to have travel insurance for your booking. Holiday Extras have a range of policies available at very competitive prices. You can obtain a quote online by clicking here or alternatively you can call 0871 360 2742 and quote ABTA number 93522.

Our normal procedure is to deal with tips on a group basis and these are included in the price. The tour leader will distribute them to the guide, driver and hotels on your behalf. Individual tipping is not recommended unless the circumstances are exceptional.

Room Check In and Check Out Times
The standard international practice is to let rooms from midday to midday. However times do vary. Check-in times are usually between 2pm and 3pm, check-out times between 11am and 12 noon on the day of departure. Therefore, if you check-in immediately after a night flight this would normally count as one night’s accommodation. Similarly if your return flight is at night you will normally be required to vacate your room at 12 noon prior to leaving for the airport. Day rooms are subject to availability/cost and should be arranged locally with the accommodation management.

Page published February 2018


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