Category Archives: Tour

The Ethiopian New Year & the month Meskeram

Meskal flowers in Meket, North Wollo

September is a wonderful time in Ethiopia and particularly the Ethiopian month of Meskerem that runs from 11th September -10th October marking the beginning of the Ethiopian year. The countryside is lit up with the masses of bright yellow ‘Meskal’ daisies and more sunshine flickering through the rain clouds, and it brings with it all the promise of the new year.

However 2009 ends with that Ethiopian peculiarity, the 13th month or Pagumay. It is generally 5 days long, but on leap years it is 6 days. It works as a fill in with all other months being 30 days and 12 x 30 being 360, so it adds up the year to 365 days. There is one very special day in Pagume– St Rufael’s day which is on 3rd day of the month (8th Sept). If it rains on this day the rain is holy and blesses those it falls on.  A great day for dancing in the rain! St Rufael for those that did not know (and I had to look it up!) is an archangel coming 3rd in rank after St Michael and St Gabriel.

The Demara – the flames of the Meskal fire.

So what are the celebrations for New Year? It is of course not only a national holiday but a feast day and families will celebrate the New year together on the 11th – Enkutetash as the day is called. They will visit and be visited by close friends and relatives.

It is closely followed by Meskal which his celebrated across the country but most especially in parts of the south such as Gurage, Wolaita, and in the north in the town of Adigrat. Across the country bonfires – demara -are erected around a central pole that holds a cross and are decorated with the Meskal flowers. In Addis they are lit on the night before Meskal 26 Sep or Meskeram 16.  The big demara will be in Meskal Square but they are in every neighbourhood, roundabout and street corner. The fire is lit and goes up with much dancing and wielding of sticks and the direction which the cross falls is said to predict the success of that years harvest. Meskal day itself – the 27th is another public holiday, and families will again celebrate with a feast at home.

Stick Dancing in Meket

Meskal (itself means cross) is a ceremony that commemorates the Finding of the True Cross. Legend has it that in 326 AD, Queen Eleni (Empress Helena, mother of Constantine the Great) was guided by a dream to light a fire and follow the smoke to find the True Cross. The smoke rose high in the sky and descended at the point where she found the Cross. Many think that Meskal marks the end of the rainy season, well not quite, but its true the rains get less frequent, the flowers are in full bloom and the promise of a new harvest is seen around the country. But don’t put away your rain clothes, for the end of the rainy season – as per the old time calendar – is Meskeram 25th, or 5th October.

If you want to know in advance of the holidays coming up and the workings of the Ethiopian calendar then why not pick up a Tesfa Calendar from Tesfa Tours. It starts on 1st Sep 2017 and runs til 31stAug 2018. it has Saints days, fasts, Ethiopian dates and a wealth of other information set into the western calendar, with wonderful photographs from the Tesfa Village treks across the country – which will make you want to get out of Addis and explore this beautiful country.  Please contact calendars@tesfatours.com or tel 011 124 5178 to get your copy.

Leave a comment

Danakil trip – places available

Ertale Volcano

The caldera on Ertale – feel the heat of a live volcano

Tesfa Tours is running two Danakil trips in September.

Each is a 2 night / 3 day adventure taking in the desert with the stunning mineral deposits and Erta Ale volcano with the active lava lake.

The first departure date is 4 September from Mekele / returning on 6th September in the afternoon.

potash and sulpher deposits

Spectacular mineral deposits at Dalol

The second trip will run starting on 28th September and return on 30 September.

Both start and end in Mekele and can include airport pickup and drop off.

We have excellent Toyota Hardtop landcruisers and experienced drivers who regular drive on Danakil trips, a first rate guide and a very good cook.

Tesfa Tours own 4WDs in Dalol

The maximum number of clients on a trip is eight! Which keeps it small, personal and flexible to your needs.

For more information please contact Danakil@tesfatours.com

For a complete holiday why not add a couple of days walking in the mountains of Eastern Tigray after your Danakil safari?

 

 

Leave a comment

Client looking to join others on Ethiopia Tour in early September

We have a request from a single client looking to join a group on the first half of September. The client is interested in all areas of Ethiopia. Contact betty@tesfatours.com if you would be interested to join a tour at that time. It should probably include some trekking in the mountains in Tigray with local communities, as well as historical places across the country.

Leave a comment

Journey in the Mountains of Tigray on the May Day weekend

Book a trip now while places are available for the May day weekend (1-5 May)

View from Enaf Community Guest house

View from Enaf Community Guest house

Experience the beauty and serenity of the Mountains of Eastern Tigray. Explore the Agame massif, a much less visited mountain block just north of Gheralta.  Walk along the sandstone ridges enjoying spectacular views and through the intensely farmed  valleys. Among the wildlife you can see are  Gelada baboons, birds of prey (Lammergeyers, Batteleur Eagles, Marshal Eagles and more) soaring on the thermals, many many smaller birds (Bee eaters, sunbirds, chats, cordon bleu and many more) and Rock hyraxes. You will be hosted by the local people,  a people who still use age-old farming practices and live life with a fierce pride in their own special history and culture.

IMG_2644

Farmhouse (Hedemo) in Agame Mountains

On the walks you will come across several lovely rock hewn churches (there is also a built up church in the style of Debre Damo on a ledge in the cliff), and rock tunnel excavated through the mountain to connect farmers to the west with the church to the east. End your trip with a night at one of the beautiful lodges in the area and see a couple of the more visited rock churches of Tigray before returning to the hussle and bussle of Addis Ababa!

Price for 2 people (sharing a room) $700 USD per person (payable in birr, Euro, Sterling or USD).

 

Includes Local flight (based on clients providing a valid Ethiopian Resident or ID card); three nights at Tesfa Community Guest houses with the fully catered trek & one night at Gheralta or Agoro Lodge; transport in 4WD from Mekele A/P to trek, from trek to Lodge & to explore churches & on last day back to Mekele A/P; a guide on each day, full board on the Tesfa trek and breakfast at the Lodge.

Excludes church entry fees and any arrangements in Addis Ababa. Meals (other than breakfast at the Lodge) when not on the trek, bottled drinks on & off trek.

Email Mayday@tesfatours.com for more details and to check availability

RockChurch AbYemGoh web

Ceiling frescoe at Abuna Yemata Goh (Gheralta Massif)

Leave a comment