New Tours To Take Culture Vultures On An Ethiopian Journey

Gane and Marshall brings ancient Ethiopia to life with two special tours that encompass the country’s most spectacular religious festivals

Specialist tour operator Gane and Marshall (www.ganeandmarshall.com) has launched two Ancient Ethiopia tours that will give holidaymakers the rare opportunity to experience two of the most im portant festivals on the Ethiopian Orthodox Christian Calendar; Timket, which is Epiphany, and sometimes known as “Ethiopian Christmas”, in January 2015 and Palm Sunday in April 2015.

The two small-group tours, which depart 16 – 28 January 2015 and 1 – 13 April 2015, are designed to offer an insight into the country’s rich cultural heritage and offer a deep understanding of the story of Ethiopia.

Perfectly combining adventure, history and culture, the itineraries follow ancient trails and enable travellers to explore a host of remote, rarely-visited historic sites including palaces, mosques and the hidden cave and mountain churches of Tigray, an area which is not usually visited by tourists.

Guided by leading expert on Ethiopia’s Historic Route, Zablon Beyene, who featured on BBC’s ‘Human Planet’, ‘the Incredible Human Journey’ with Dr Alice Roberts, ‘Tribe’ with Bruce Parry, ‘An African Journey’ with Jonathan Dimbleby, and ‘Nile’ with Joanna Lumley, both tours will take in Addis Ababa, Tigray, Lalibela, Gondar, The Simien Mountains, Lake Tana and Axum.

The highlight of the 13-night ‘Ancient Ethiopia’ tour in January 2015 will be the festival of Timket. It’s one of the most exciting times to visit Ethiopia and Gane and Marshall is the only tour operator offering travellers the chance to experience Timket in Tigray, away from the crowds who gravitate to the larger gatherings in the capital. A celebration of the Epiphany, Timket is a jubilant, joyous festival, which sees Ethiopians from across the country take to the street s in a ritual that begins with a procession of tabots (replica Arks of the Covenant) and culminates in a re-enactment of the baptism of Christ. From the spectacular rock church of ‘Abreha & Asbeha’, located on the River Mareb in Tigray and one of over 100 rock churches in the region, to staying at the remote ‘Gheralta Lodge’ mountain retreat, travellers will experience the holiest festival on the Ethiopian Orthodox Christian calendar and explore regions little visited by travellers.

The 12-night April 2015 itinerary, also named ‘Ancient Ethiopia’, will coincide with the Palm Sunday festivities, which travellers will experience from the Church of St Mary Zion in Axum, arguably the very heart of Ethiopian Christianity. The Palm Sunday celebrations take place a week before Easter an d commemorate Jesus’ entry to Jerusalem. Unlike Timket, which takes place across the country, the main celebrations during Palm Sunday are at Axum, where the morning ritual at St Mary of Zion on Sunday provides a stunning spectacle.

Ethiopian tradition holds that the royal city of Axum was founded in the 10th century BC as the royal seat of the Queen of Sheba. It is said that, around this time, Menelik, the son of the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon, brought the Ark of the Covenant to Axum where it remains to this day, preserved in a sanctuary within the Church of St Mary of Zion.

Prices for Gane and Marshall’s two Ancient Ethiopia tours are £2,045 per person land-only. This includes all ground arrangements, transfers, full-board accommodation, guide and activities. Flights with Ethiopian Airlines, including international flights from London and all regional flights within Ethiopia start from an additional £870 per person.

To book go to www.ganeandmarshall.com or call 01822 600 600.

About Gane and Marshall

Founded in 1991 as an adventure trekking company, specialising in Kilimanjaro climbs, Gane and Marshall has evolved to become one of the UK’s leading providers of tailor-made wildlife and adventure holidays around the world.

The tour operator, which prides itself on delivering off-the-beaten-track travel experiences in safe hands, whether that’s an Africa safari, an Arctic cruise, wild-life watching in Finland or an adventure trek in Nepal, provides bespoke holidays to Africa, Antarctica, Indo-China, the Galapagos, India, Costa Rica, Scandinavia, Indian Ocean Islands and Canada.

Gane and Marshall employs an expert team of travel consultants, all with at least 20 years’ experience in their specialist sector. Each holiday is managed from start to finish by a dedicated member of the team, who is able to draw upon their extensive knowledge of the destination to provide the best possible experience for the client.

Gane and Marshall is an ATOL bonded holiday company and a member of Tourism Concern’s Ethical Tour Operators Group.

For reservations and more information call 01822 600 600 or go to www.ganeandmarshall.com

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