PLAN YOUR TRIP
Return flights from Joburg to Addis Ababa on Kenya Airways start at around R5 300. Ethiopian Airlines flights between Addis and Gondar are from R3 000. ethiopianairlines.com, kenyaairways.com. By road from Addis, Sky and Selam bus services are the most reliable, with a bus change in Bahir Dar on Lake Tana. R600 (R300 per leg of the trip).
WHEN TO GO
Timkat is from 19 to 21 January (in leap years on 20th to 22nd).
NEED TO KNOW
Ethiopia’s Coptic calendar is seven-and-a-half years behind our Gregorian calendar, and things get more complicated with leap years. The same goes for time – Ethiopians use a 12-hour clock, starting at dawn and dusk (so 7am and 7pm are both be referred to as ‘one o’clock’). A 30-day tourist visa on arrival at Addis Ababa airport costs $50 (bring two passport photos). Yellow fever certificates are required if you’re coming from a country that has a risk of it. There is malaria in Ethiopia.
For three nights in Gondar and two in Addis (with domestic flights) and taking into account inflated hotel prices during festivals, food, drinks and a guided tour, you can expect to spend around R17 000. If you have more time and less money, go by bus and use budget digs; this will cost around R13 000.
DO THIS Explore the Royal Enclosure,
a World Heritage Site. You’ll see the remains of banquet halls, Turkish baths and even lions’ dens in this compound of castles. A tour with a guide (R150) includes a visit to the palaces of Fasilides and Iyasu I. On Meskel Square.
Lodge Fasil is near the Royal Enclosure but far enough from the frenetic city centre. Upper rooms have valley views. R650 for a double room B&B. lodgefasil.weebly.com L-Shape Hotel is aptly named and offers bang for your birrs. There’s good pizza at its restaurant. R150 for a double en-suite. lshapehotel.com
Tele Cafe makes great ful – a paste of slow-cooked fava beans served with tomatoes, green onions, peppers and lemon juice. On Highway 3, in front of Gondar post office. Habesha Cafe is a must for injera, a spongy sourdough pancake used to scoop up wat (stew). Meskel Square. Bunabets (coffee bars) are on most busy roads, and your caffeine kick will cost R5. The one near the L-Shape Hotel at 13 Kebele Street is full for good reason – follow the aroma.
* Prices and conversions correct at time of going to print