4-17 NOVEMBER 2019
Ethiopia has been casting a spell on foreign travellers since the days of the Crusaders. Indeed it was voted by European tour operators as the top travel destination in 2015 and the JR groups who went in 2015 and 2017 were bowled over.
We are giving our readers another opportunity to experience this incredible country before the masses arrive. We are repeating the tour in 2019, extended to 13 days, to give more time to enjoy the stunning sites and scenery – and to relax.
The JR group will again be led by Rabbi Sybil Sheridan who has visited the country many times and taught the Jewish children in Gondar and by local guide Abye. The love of both of them for Ethiopia was inspiring. This is the assessment of 2017 travellers:
It was a wonderful holiday. The landscapes were beautiful, the churches in Lalibela astonishing. Rabbi Sybil was very helpful and Abey always full of interesting information and ready to give a hand. The group got on well and the hotels were comfortable and clean. I also liked the Ethiopian food.
Sybil Sheridan was an excellent leader and the insight into the Jewish communities of Gondar and Addis Ababa was of the highest order and deeply moving. Our Ethiopian guide for the whole of the trip could not have been improved on and left many of us thirsting for additional opportunities to visit other parts of the country.
Photographs from 2015 tour by Lilian Goldberg and Joan Freeman
Day 1 Monday
Leave Heathrow on Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 701 at 8.15pm.
Day 2 Tuesday
Arrive Addis Ababa at Bole International Airport 6.30am.
We meet our guide Abye and take a 30-min flight to Bahir Dar. We check in to Avanti Blue Nile Hotel, relax and acclimatise. After lunch we drive to the Blue Nile Falls, the second largest in Africa. Expect bumpy roads.
Day 3 Wednesday
We take a boat trip to the Uka Kidane Mihret monastery and its amazing mural paintings. We will pass by islands with extraordinary bird life, and may see a hippopotamus or two. After lunch by the lakeside, we experience our first African market before we return to our hotel for dinner.
Day 4 Thursday
We take a coach for the 3.5 hour drive to Gondar, stopping en-route to take in the stunning scenery and unusual rock formations. Check in at the new Jacaranda Hotel with its amazing views of Gondar and the surrounding countryside. Lunch at the Hotel. In the afternoon, we visit the village of Ambober with its synagogue and children’s cemetery. Dinner at the hotel.
Day 5 Friday
Morning visit to the Meketa Jewish school homework cub to share in their Kabbalat Shabbat. Meketa is a British based charity that supports the Jewish community waiting to go on Aliyah. We will see the weaving co-operative sponsored by Meketa and other micro enterprises where you will have the chance to buy scarves, tallitot, and kippot.
Lunch at the Link Ethiopia/Kindu Trust compound. this is a British based charity that focusses on education in schools in Ethiopia and that supports the work of Meketa.
After a rest at the hotel, enjoying the view and its swimming pool, we attend Kabbalat Shabbat service at the synagogue followed by a kosher meal at Lamergaier Hotel close to the synagogue where members of the Community will join us.
Those who observe Shabbat will stay at the Lamergaier Hotel.
Day 6 Saturday
Early service in the Synagogue, after which, we visit the church of Debre Birhan Silassie After lunch, we visit the famous Gondar Castles and the swimming pool of Fasilades. Shabbat observers will be led by Sybil Sheridan on a walking tour, joining the rest of the group for lunch and a tour of the Castles, and returning to the synagogue for MIncha/Ma’ariv and havdalah. Dinner at the famous Four Sisters restaurant, and a display of traditional dancing.
Overnight at the Jacaranda Hotel.
Day 7 Sunday
An early start for the Semien Mountains where we take walks and drives to see the local flora and fauna, including some of the most exotic birdlife on this planet.
Overnight in the Semien Eco Lodge Hotel.
Day 8 Monday
After another nature walk we leave for AXUM, the legendary last resting place of the Ark of the Covenant, a place crammed with ruins of palaces, underground tombs and huge monolithic steles.
We check in at the Sabean Hotel
Day 9 Tuesday
We visit Axum’s historic route of the tombs of Remhai and the city museum, the legendary palace of the Queen of Sheba. Overnight at the Sabean Hotel.
Day 10 Wednesday
An early flight to Lalibela and check in at the Mountain View Hotel. Lailibela, is a site of remarkable red rock formations. The rock-hewn monolithic churches dating from the 12th century, some lying in deep trenches and others in quarried caves, are among the wonders of the world. Each building is structurally unique with carvings and beautiful paintings, complex in architecture with super human workmanship and concept.
After lunch at the hotel we will visit the first set of rock-hewn Churches.
Dinner at the hotel.
Day 11 Thursday
We drive to the monastery of Yimrehane Kirstos returning to Lailbela for lunch and t explore the second set of Churches, which represent the ‘heavenly Jerusalem’.
Overnight in the Mountain View Hotel
Day 12 Friday
We fly back to Addis Ababa where we check in to the Hilton Hotel. We visit the National Museum, and the Cathedral Church of the Holy Trinity. Kabbalat Shabbat prayers at the Beta Israel Synagogue returning for dinner at the hotel. (Shabbat observers will remain at the hotel.)
Overnight at the Hilton Hotel.
Day 13 Saturday
Optional tours around Addis, including the National Ethnographic Museum, and the Merkato – the biggest market in Africa.
Early return to our Hilton Hotel for rest and relaxation before final group meal celebration ahead of departure to Bole International airport for 1.15am flight home to London. Arrival at Heathrow from Addis Ababa at approximately 6.15am on Sunday.
Vegetarian food will be available throughout. Those who observe Shabbat will stay on Friday 3 November at the Lamergaier Hotel near the Gondar Synagogue and will be led by Sybil Sheridan on a walking tour the next day.
Please note that this is a demanding tour and is not suitable for those with walking difficulties.
The cost in 2017, excluding the international flight, was £2,350 per person sharing a twin or double room. The single supplement was £695. This trip was full, with 20 participants. The cost covered all accommodation, meals and non-alcoholic drinks taken with them, two internal flights and other transportation, guides, museum entry, tips to drivers and local guides. The cost of the 2019 trip will be higher through the cost of an extra day plus any changes caused by exchange rates and local charges.
Note that this tour is for Jewish Renaissance subscribers only, so if you are not already a subscriber you will need a year's subscription (£29) – CLICK HERE to subscribe.
2019 tour costs will be confirmed at the beginning of 2019.
Please send expressions of interest to email@example.com and you will be sent a form to reserve a place, on payment of a returnable deposit cheque for £400, which will not be paid in until the tour is confirmed.
Note that following demand from our 2017 travellers, a trip to southern Ethiopia, also led by Sybil Sheridan and Abeye, is being arranged for 14-27 February 2019.
These tours are arranged in association with West End Travel.