10th-24th July 2020
JOURNEY TO ZION
Travel to Ethiopia to celebrate the birthday of H.I.M Emperor Haile Selassie I.
From $1,450 p.p
We will take you on a tour of the country following the life of His Imperial Majesty.
As we guide you through Zion you will be walking in Haile Selassie I’s footsteps, visiting his roots, interacting with his personal possessions, discovering his achievements and witnessing his legacy, all whilst revelling in the incredible beauty of Ethiopia.
Your tour will be fully guided by local Rastafarian guides, who will share their knowledge of Rastafari and what it means to them to live in Mother Ethiopia. Our tour will culminate in Addis Ababa on Haile Selassie’s birthday with a party to celebrate the life of the King of Kings, Lords of Lords, Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah, H.I.M Emperor Haile Selassie I, Jah!
The tour will take you to 8 destinations across Ethiopia.
- Visit to Haile Selassie’s Birth Place
- Meeting the fabled hyena-men of Harar
- Bathing in a dessert oasis
- Getting up close with African Wildlife
- Sharing Rastafari Culture with the Rastafarian Communities of Shashamane
- Visiting Selassie I’s palace and personal chambers
- Getting as close as permitted to the Ark of the Covenant
- Breath-taking Landscapes
- The royal court of Gondar
- Majestic Lalibela
- The tomb of Haile Selassie I and Empress Menen
- Birthday Celebration of H.I.M
N.B Itinerary subject to minor changes in exceptional circumstances
- Unity Park
- Menelik’s Mausoleum
- Cultural Club
You will be collected from the airport and taken to your hotel.
After refreshing in your room, you will be taken to a local juice and salad bar to revitalise after your flight before heading to Unity Park, the recently re-opened Grand Palace and grounds. Here you will be familiarised with some of the history of this great country and the various cultures that blend together to make it. Your visit to the park will culminate with a visit to the mausoleum of Menelik II, Haile Selassie I’s uncle and predecessor in the Solomonic Dynasty.
If you still have energy we suggest enjoying dinner and a show at a cultural club where dancers perform traditional dances on stage and give classes at your table.
Accommodation: Mr. Martin’s Cozy Place or equivalent
- A desert oasis fed by volcanic waters.
Early morning departure to Awash Sebat by mini-bus. Once in Awash you will drop your bags off at Buffet D’Awash, a repurposed railway maintenance station on the now defunct French-built railway line. Amongst the rooms here are two more splendid than the rest. These were the rooms used by Haile Selassie I and Empress Menen when they used to travel by train.
Once checked in we will head over to a real desert oasis where we will spend the afternoon relaxing and bathing in hot springs and observing wildlife including warthogs and ostriches.
You will then return to Buffet D’Awash for dinner and bed.
Accommodation: Buffet D’Awash (draw straws for Haile Selassie’s room)
- Arabic influenced historic architecture
- Close-up encounters with hyenas
- Tour of Ras Teferi’s local centre of power
Following breakfast you will drive to the historic town of Harar – a walled city full of winding alleyways and traditional Harari architect that will make you feel as if you fell directly into an Aladdin film.
You will be navigated through the city by our local guide who will share the history and traditions with you. Time dependent you may have the opportunity to visit one of the museums or feed eagles by hand at the meat market.
After the sun goes down our local guide will take you to one of the hyena feeding spots where for centuries in order to appease the wild hyena population, Harari citizens have fed them scraps of meat. The brave amongst you will also have the chance to do so.
Accommodation Traditional Harari House or equivalent
- Trip to Haile Selassie’s place of birth
A morning trip to Ejersa Goro, a small town just outside Harar and the birth place of H.I.M Emperor Haile Selassie I. Here you will be shown the ruins on his father’s house and the church built by Haile Selassie I after he became Emperor.
After the visit you will drive to Dire Dawa where you will take a short domestic flight back to Addis Ababa.
Accommodation: Mr. Martin’s Cozy Place
- Rest and relaxation at Lake Langano
- Visit a local musician
In the morning we leave Addis Ababa and drive along the King’s Highway to the town of Shashamane, approximately 250 kilometers south of Addis Ababa. On the way we make a stop at Lake Langano, one of the few swimmable lakes in Ethiopia. You can have lunch there and enjoy the natural environment. At the end of the afternoon we arrive in Shashamane. We will check in in our hotel, and take some time to relax. Then we will visit a local musician at his house who will share his music and philosophy with us.
- Meet Rastafari communities living in the land gifted to them by Haile Selassie I
- Optional boat trip to see hippos
We will spend a full day in and around Shashamane. We visit different Rastafari mansions like The Nyabinghi Tabernacle, the Bobo Shanti, and the Twelve tribes of Israel. We meet the community leaders and elders and engage with them in reasonings and meditation. We have lunch at a local Rastafari restaurant, drink the best juice in town and meet different local people. In the late afternoon you can decide to stay in Shashamane and mingle further with the Rasta community, or for example go to Hawassa for a boat trip on the lake. Chances are good you will see Hippo’s from up close! We will discus the options with you.
- The nature of Wondo Genet forest
- Natural mud bath and hot springs
Early in the morning we go to Wondo Genet, a forest reserve not far from Shashamane. We will visit a Rastaman who lives there in the middle of the natural environment. We walk to the source of the hot springs in the mountains and enjoy a natural ‘Spa’ experience with a mud bath and a revitalizing shower with hot water from the mountains. Then we return to Shashamane for a late breakfast. We have some time to visit some local people or for example buy souvenirs. After lunch we drive back to Addis Ababa.
In the morning you will be taken to the former palace of Emperor Haile Selassie I now part of Addis Ababa University. You are able to explore many of the rooms which contain national artefacts and also enter the Emperor’s bedroom where many of his personal possessions remain on display.
After lunch you will be shuttled to the airport and will fly to the northern town of Axum.
Accommodation: Nyala Hotel or equivalent
Your day today will be spent in the ancient city of Axum. Axum was once one of the most influential civilizations, trading with the Greeks, the Roman Empire and Asia. Reminders of these times exist across the town but no more prominently than by the mysterious giant carved Stelae Field that cast shadows across the town. You will explore them and the tombs beneath and will also see ruins told by legend to be the Queen of Sheba’s palace and a multilingual stone that shows how culture from around the world met here before being taken to look at the St Mary of Tsion Church built by Haile Selassie. Your day’s tour will culminate with a visit to the chapel that houses the Ark of the Covenant which contains the two tablets inscribed with the Ten Commandments given to Moses at Mt.Sinai.
The rest of the day will be yours to relax in the sleepy avenues of Axum and drink fresh juice.
Accommodation: Nyala Hotel or equivalent
Today is a day of driving but don’t be put off! The road from Axum to Gondar is one of the most spectacular in the country, if not the world! Landscapes shift from desert to incredible rock formations and valleys as you wind your way up into the Simien Mountains and then down again into the fertile lands around Gondar.
Accommodation: Sycamore or equivalent
Gondar was the former royal home of the Ethiopian Imperial dynasty between the 17th and 19th century. It is often called the African Camelot due to the many castles and ceremonial structures that form the focus of the town. It remained in Imperial use through Haile Selassie’s reign and although he didn’t use it as a residence, he did house his prize black-maned lions here.
You will spend the day discovering the splendour of Gondar’s royal history.
Accommodation: Sycamore or equivalent
In the late morning you will take the short flight to Lalibela. Upon arrival you will head straight to your hotel and you will have at the nearby Seven Olive’s restaurant who are now the owners of the special ceremonial seat made for Emperor Haile’s visit in which you are invited to sit.
After lunch you will be taken on a tour of the incredible subterranean collection of churches ornately craved directly into the bedrock by the Solomonic dynasty of Zagwe 1000 years ago. 11 churches in total of increasing intricacy are linked by a tunnels, monk holes and secret entrances and are still very much alive and in use today. The smell of incense and the chants of prayers will fill the air as you make your way around this staggeringly impressive UNESCO sight.
Accommodation: Blue Nile Guesthouse or equivalent
You will return to Addis Ababa today. Once in Addis Ababa you will be taken to Trinity Cathedral were you will visit the final resting place of His Imperial Majesty and Empress Menen whose ornate sarcophagus rest, just as they were crowned, side by side.
In the evening we will celebrate Haile Selassie’s Birthday with a live music celebration.
Accommodation: Mr Martin’s Cozy Place or Equivalent.
Included in this price is everything to make your time in Ethiopia run smoothly.
-All accommodation personally selected and vetted by us
-All transport around the country including domestic flights
-Dedicated experienced Ethiopian rasta guide
-All entrance fees and local guides where applicable
-Ticket for Haile Selassie I birthday celebration
-Water and snacks on the road, breakfast in most hotels
What’s not included?
In order to enable your personal preferences the following are not included:
-Meals and drinks
-Visa (please check your country’s entry requirements)
-Any non-obligatory gratuities
– Optional boat trip to see hippos
Tour Departure and Termination
The tour will begin 10th July and will finish 24th July. The tour will begin in Addis Ababa at lunch after everybody has arrived and settled in at the hotel.
The tour will end in Addis Ababa on the 24th July after the birthday celebration. There is no planned itinerary on the 24th, we will be offering airport shuttle for those departing and for those staying on we will be happy to help with plans.
Who is the trip suitable for?
This trip is open for all but has been designed with those who have an interest in the Rastafari faith in mind.
The tour is suitable for young and old alike as there is little physical demand. Although we do not exclude children it should be considered that there will be late nights and long journeys.
Ethiopia is a developing country and some of the facilities may be more basic than you would expect at home.
Do I need a visa?
Please check visa requirements online www.passportindex.org
A one month visa is available on arrival for most nationalities at $50.
Ethiopian Birr can be withdrawn from ATMs and banks with most international bank cards. We are also able to assist with the exchange of USD, GBP and EURO upon arrival.
What vaccinations do I need?
Please check https://www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk/destinations/africa/ethiopia for the UK government’s recommendations.
What to bring
Ethiopia is a land of contrasts therefore packing must reflect this. The tour take part in the rainy season (usually rainfall in the early evening) so we recommend as well as warm weather clothes you also bring a light waterproof jacket or brolly and something to keep warm in chilly evenings. The terrain can often be unpredictable during this season so we recommend bring a robust pair of footwear.
Although we do not enforce an Ital policy, Ital food will be available at all dining venues.
Daily Food Budget
We have tried to cover as many expenses as possible. Still you will be required to pay for your own meals in many places for which a budget of $10-15 a day should be perfectly adequate and a little more if you enjoy a drink in the evening.
Up to date travel advice
Ethiopia is one of the safest countries in Africa. Still occasional tribal disputes arise. We always monitor such developments on our routes and reserve the right to alter the route if any safety issues arise.
We offer a free cancellation policy and will refund any bookings in full (minus processing fees) up to a month before the booking after which we will refund as much as possible (minus any costs occurred by us).
In the most unfortunate circumstance that it is necessary for us to cancel the trip, we will provide a full refund of the tour price. We regrettably will be unable to refund any costs outside of the tour price.