Festivals & Events
Great Ethiopian Run (GER)- (Nov.17/2019), GER Special Package (Nov.13-26/2019)
Race with the best on the roof of Africa – Sign up for the Great Ethiopian Run!
At between 2200 and 2500 metres above sea level, Addis Ababa is the third highest capital of the world. On November 18, 2018 you can join the world’s best and 35,000 Ethiopian runners in a 10 km race through Ethiopia’s capital.
This is Africa’s biggest road race, and along with the elite athletes there is a huge variety of runners, from young kids to pensioners, and there’s a wonderful atmosphere. 2018 will be the 17th edition.
The great runner Haile Gebre Selassie, has been the main mover behind this very exciting event, which has taken place every year since 2001, and has used the race to raise consciousness about the terrible threat posed by AIDS. (See www.ethiopiarun.org for online registration and for more information about the Great Run and other causes it supports.)
We can arrange airport pick ups, and book your hotel. In addition, we can provide a variety of trips around Ethiopia, see below for some typical packages, and visit the rest of our website for more information about Ethiopia and what there is to see.
One week package
Flying out of London on 13 November, and flying back a week later on 20 November, we can offer race participants a tour of the capital, and some day trips out of Addis Ababa to take in some of Ethiopia’s stunning scenery.
For those interested, we are also offering an extension up till 27 November, which will take in some of the legendary sites on Ethiopia’s Historic Route, including Lalibela and its rock hewn churches, acknowledged to be one of the wonders of the world. (See below for details.)
Sign up now, limited numbers available!
GREAT ETHIOPIAN RUN HOLIDAY PACKAGES
Wednesday 13 November: Fly out of London Heathrow on Ethiopian Airlines ET701 2150 flight to Addis Ababa.
Thursday 14 November: Arrive at 0700 and transfer to a hotel near the race start and finish (we can advise you of the relative costs). Rest up till lunch time, after which we will have a guided city tour, going up to Mount Entoto overlooking the capital, and take in the National Museum and other sites on the way down.
We can discuss with participants training runs, and acclimatisation – at 2300-2500 metres, Addis Ababa is the third highest capital in the world.
Friday 15 November: Today we will go on an excursion to Sodere, a hot spring resort about 120 km from the capital, accessible on a good asphalt road. There is nice scenery on the way, and the grounds of the resort has a naturally heated swimming pool, and various places to soak in the therapeutic hot waters. The grounds are full of monkeys, so don’t leave your sandwiches unguarded!
We will set off back to Addis Ababa late afternoon. Overnight hotel
Saturday 16 November: Another excursion today, this time north to Debre Libanos. Passing through the Solulta plain, an area where many athletes do their training, we come to the Jemma Valley Gorge where we can expect to see the endemic Gelada baboon, a magnificent primate with a long mane. There is great scenery as the land drops nearly 1000 metres towards the Jemma River, which is one of the tributaries of the Nile.
Debre Libanos is an important monastic center for Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity, the monastery there was founded by the renowned 13th century mystic, Saint Teclehaimanot and there is a small cave near the church (which is of recent construction) where he is said to have stood for seven years on one leg, until the other wasted away and dropped off.
Leaving the Gorge we proceed to the church. After the church visitors can make the climb to the cave of St Teklehaimanot. If you continue up the hill from the cave from the top there’s a wonderful view of the surrounding countryside.
We will set off back to Addis Ababa late afternoon. Overnight Hotel.
Sunday 17 November: Today is the great day, and it’s a short stroll down to the race start. The rest of the day will be at leisure. Overnight Hotel.
Monday 18 November: We set off west today, our destination will be the Negash Lodge, but we will be taking in some great scenery en route, including the stunning Wonchi crater, which has a lake and islands in it. We will get to Negash Lodge mid afternoon, and take it easy in the naturally heated pool, or in the beautiful grounds, which has a resident population of monkeys.
Tuesday 19 November: Another relaxing morning before setting off back to Addis Ababa on the short route. There will be time for souvenir shopping and a rest up before we leave for our farewell dinner at the Crown Hotel, where we will see cultural dancing from Ethiopia’s different regions.
Wednesday 20 November: After a late breakfast we will transfer to the airport for the final departure.
or Extension to the Historic Route
Thursday 21 November: Early transfer to the airport for the one hour flight (0700-0800) to Bahir Dar, an attractive town, well laid out with tree lined avenues and with the blue of the lake in the background.
On arrival we check into the Tana Hotel, situated on the shores of Lake Tana. 68 km wide and 73 km long, Tana is Ethiopia’s largest lake and is dotted with islands, on many of which are found churches and monasteries.
After a break for refreshments, we explore the town. We visit the former palace of Emperor Haile Selassie at Bizeit, with great views of the town, and then the markets.
We take lunch in the hotel and then leave by boat for the Zeghie Peninsula, which is known for its 14th century, round, grass roofed churches and their magnificent wall murals. We visit two churches, Betra Mariam and Ura Kidane Mehret, walking through dense forest with lots of bird life, before returning to our hotel.
Bahir Dar has several clubs and bars where visitors can see traditional and modern Ethiopian music and dancing, and is also quite safe for wandering around at night. o/n Tana Hotel.
Friday 22 November: We set off after breakfast for the 3-4 hour drive to Gondar The road is in good shape, and there is attractive scenery en route as the road skirts the lake. On arrival, we check into the Goha Hotel, and start our city tour after lunch. The Goha Hotel is situated on a hill with a panoramic view of the town and its monuments, and with great sunsets from the terrace. Occasionally visitors will see the giant Lammergeyer, with its 3 metre wing span, soaring on the air currents by the hotel.
Gondar was the imperial capital from the 17th to mid 19th centuries, and the Royal Enclosure or Fasil Gibbi, provides visitors with a idea of what it must have been like in its hey day. Within the compound are the castles of various Gondarene emperors – extensive renovation is being carried out – along with a banqueting hall, stables and churches. About 2 km from the town centre is the bath of King Fasilides, where at Timkat (Ethiopian Epiphany) a nearby river is diverted to fill an area the size of a small swimming pool. Worshippers plunge into the cold water in a re-enactment of the baptism of Christ in the River Jordan.
Although most of Gondar’s churches were destroyed during the Mahdist invasion from Sudan in the 1880s, one very fine example, Debre Berhan Selassie, was saved, according to the legend, by a swarm of bees which routed the invaders. The walls and ceiling are completely covered with murals – the angels’ faces on the ceiling have become a common motif in Ethiopian design.
A good place to end your tour of Gondar is the ruined palace of Queen Mentowab, and the church of Qusquam Mariam, situated on a hill just outside town.
Gondar is a great place for experiencing the Ethiopian tradition of azmari music, where a couple of wandering minstrels, a girl with a strident voice clapping in time to the music accompanied by a man playing a single stringed violin or masinqo, entertain their listeners with songs about life, the world and their audience. Goha Hotel.
Saturday 23 November: Transfer to the airport for the flight to Lalibela (0910-0940). At the end of the 12th and beginning of the 13th centuries King Lalibela of the Zaghwe dynasty built a series of rock hewn churches – the New Jerusalem as he called it – now rightly acknowledged to be one of the wonders of the world. There are 13 churches in the town named after him, with others in the surrounding countryside. All are still in use today.
It is estimated that the churches took 25 years to construct – for the Kingdom based on Roha (later renamed Lalibela) to have kept a large work force engaged in economically unproductive labour for such a long period means that it disposed of a large economic surplus and was very wealthy. The area then was clearly fertile and agriculturally productive, whereas now deforestation and other forms of ecological degradation have reduced its productivity and made it prone to drought.
After checking into the Jerusalem Guest House we will start our tour of the first group of churches, returning to the hotel for lunch, and continuing the tour in the afternoon. (The churches are divided into two groups, the division being the River Yordanos or River Jordan.) o/n Jerusalem Hotel.
Sunday 24 November: After breakfast we hike (or ride mules) up the church of Ashetun Mariam, we pass small villages on the way up and there are marvellous views from the top of the surrounding countryside. In the afternoon we take a trip by car to the beautiful cave church of Yemrehane Christos. Jerusalem Hotel.
Monday 25 November: Transfer to the airport for the flight to Axum (0950-1030). From around 200 BC to 700 AD, Axum was the seat of an Empire which extended across the Red Sea to Arabia, traded with India and China, minted its own coinage, had its own alphabet and notational system, constructed great engineering works and dams and which was reckoned in the 4th century to be one of the four great powers of the ancient world. Today the visitor can see stelae (the largest single pieces of stone erected anywhere on the world, it is still not understood how they were transported from the quarry and erected), the tombs and castles of kings, 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 (see Graham Hancock’s The Sign and the Seal).
On arrival we transfer to the Sabean/ Yared Zema Hotel. We start our tour after lunch with a visit to the museum and stellae, and then ascend a hill to see the castle of King Kalab, passing Mai Shum (or the bath of the Queen of Sheba) on the way. Coming back into town we will see the tomb of King Basen, visit the small museum inside the church grounds (women are not allowed inside, nor into the 17th century church, but the priests usually bring out some crowns of kings for women 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. Dinner in hotel. o/n Yared Zema Hotel.
Tuesday 26 November: Transfer to the airport for the return flight to Addis Ababa (1050-1435). We can spend the afternoon souvenir shopping and visiting the Mercato, Africa’s biggest market, where you can buy everything from livestock to computers. We will have a farewell dinner at the Yod Abyssinian Cultural Restaurant , and see dancing from Ethiopia’s different regions. From the Yod Abyssinia we leave for the airport for a departure on Wednesday 27 November, departing 0030.