Ethiopia 2025 | Ark of the Covenant Expedition & Timket Festival | Dr. Yohannes Zeleke & Rhonda Sand

With Dr. Yohannes Zeleke & Rhonda Sand

From $3,959 per person

January 16-25, 2025 | Optional Pre-Tour to Gheralta & Debre Damo | January 12-17, 2025

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Tour Leaders:

Dr. Yohannes Zeleke & Rhonda Sand




Join us as we combine the adventure of an African safari, the mystery of following the route of the Ark of the Covenant, the truth of seeing God’s Word come to life in the people of Axum, Ethiopia, and the joy of attending a festival that has been celebrated since the Ethiopian eunuch of Jesus’ time. During our time in Axum – known as the mysterious place where the Ark of the Covenant was kept – you will see a centuries-old festival of worship that is a re-enactment of 2 Samuel 6:13-15, where not only David danced in linen, but all of the worshippers danced in linen to the same music, the same Psalms and the same instruments. What a precious time it will be!

And it was so, that when they that bare the ark of the Lord had gone six paces, he sacrificed oxen and fatlings. And David danced before the Lord with all his might; and David was girded with a linen ephod. So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouting, and with the sound of the trumpet. – 2 Samuel 6:13-15


We will be traveling in comfort while we join together in invaluable times of devotion and worship. Our hope is for you to see why God has chosen these people and this land to hold such a special place in history and to leave with a love for what we believe is one of the most unique places on earth. Let the adventure of a lifetime begin! Led by Dr. Yohannes Zeleke and Rhonda Sand, this Biblical exploration includes meals, airfare, touring, all transportation, and heartwarming experiences.

From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia my suppliants, even the daughter of my dispersed, shall bring mine offering. – Zephaniah 3:10


The core tour starts at $3,959 per person (sharing a double room), plus airfare. We do offer an air package that includes all international and domestic air for $1,640 per person round-trip from the Washington-Dulles airport in Washington, D.C. The 6-day pre-tour is only $1,199 per person, sharing a double room. You can also book a single in a private room, or if you’re traveling alone, we also match roommates! Living Passages also now offers an insurance program called “Cancel for Any Reason” which is working well during these turbulent times. It is added at the time of booking.

Optional Pre-Tour to Gheralta & Debre Damo
January 12-17, 2025

ethiopian ancient biblical manuscript

Explore the mountainous area of Gheralta, where you can visit churches with cherished gospel writings and Old Testament stories painted from ages past while staying in a pristine Italian rock lodge. You will have an opportunity to see the oldest gospels in the world, the Garima Gospels, in the beloved church of Garima. You will also be able to see TWO of the oldest sanctuary stones where the Ark was kept.

To download a brochure with tour details, please request a travel brochure.

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Ethiopia2025 Map


  • Pre-study materials to prepare you with the Biblical background and timeline on where Ethiopia has fit historically and may fit, prophetically.

  • Two teaching guides: 1) A Jewish Falasha and scholar with the highest levels of access to the country of Ethiopia from an archeological, political, and geological background, and 2) A Biblical background on integrating the New Testament, enhanced sights that apply to our foundational beliefs and forms of worship– plus who has a missions background.

  • Every meal and all non-alcoholic beverages.

  • All unique accommodations are chosen based on their individual and special aspects.

  • Entrance into areas not normally shared with the general public and not easily known or accessible. These include the various monasteries and churches with treasured and important ancient Biblical and extra-Biblical manuscripts.

  • All transportation including in-country air is included in the price if you book our over-water air program. If not booking our over-water air program, it will be included for an additional and separate price. The reason for this is that Ethiopian Air provides a discount when you fly in with them with our group.

  • All tips are prepaid.

  • Laundry and some other items of a personal nature are included.

  • All touring is not with just our two teaching guides alone, but with local guides who can share intricate background knowledge on some of the Biblical manuscripts, ancient paintings, and holy sites.

  • Visit to the church of St. Mary of Zion and a special moment of sharing with the Keeper of the Ark of the Covenant.

  • Visit to the special site of the Queen of Sheba Palace with a curator who will take us into the area where the Ark was kept in the time just after Solomon.

  • Special boat expedition to the island of Tana Qirqos (Tana Kirkos) where the Ark was kept on and off over the years. Meet the high priest of the island and keeper of the artifacts that were used and left just after the time of King Solomon.

  • Visit the museum and see the blanket that lay for centuries on top of the Ark of the Covenant and the cisterns, horns, and other implements that are important to the keeping of the Ark.

  • Finally, participate in one of the most humble, yet spectacular worship festivals for all of God’s children—the Timket festival—as they re-enact the arrival of the Ark of the Covenant with King David. This includes songs of David’s Psalms in which you will participate, overnight melodious worship with candles and incredible songs, food, mass baptisms, foot washings of all the poor and elderly and so much more! Your heart will melt with joy at how our heavenly Father has indeed kept this precious place intact. There is nothing “commercial” about this visit. Your heart will leap with joy at what The Father has prepared for you to see!

  • Optional excursion to several hidden and precious mountain-top churches that have encased the serious ancient Biblical and ancient Biblical texts, including the oldest and most famous original gospels of Garima.

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Departure on Airplane
  • January 12
  • Depart Washington, DC, Dulles.
  • Guests depart Washington-Dulles airport at 11:00AM if taking our international air. If not taking our group air, please meet us in Addis Ababa on January 13 for our domestic flight that departs Addis at 10:30AM on January 13.

Adigrat Canyon ethiopia
  • January 13
  • Arrive Mek’ele.
  • Arrive in Addis in the early morning and transfer to our domestic flight to Mek’ele. We’ll arrive at the Jupiter Hotel in Mek’ele and have a nice dinner out on the patio. The weather will be a beautiful 78 to 85 degrees during our stay and the hotel is air conditioned.

  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Ethiopia Camels carry salt unsplash
  • January 14
  • Salt and camel markets; Adigrat Canyon
  • After breakfast this morning, we will load up in our 4WD vehicles and visit the enthralling markets for the camel caravans of Danakil. You will be moved by the colorful scenes in this marketplace, where people from afar come to trade salt for goods. Some of these caravans only come into the trading center once a year. You will be so blessed to see this trade in action! We drive out of the city and visit the mysterious monastery at Wukro. This monastery is a training center for youth who are committed to God from birth, and the Christian and Jewish faith of these people has been practiced here for thousands of years. We will drive the majestic road into Adigrat and beyond into the mysterious, conical-shaped rock formations. Our luxury lodge is hidden inside those mountains. This is known as the “Grand Canyon” of the African continent. Along the way, we will also stop at the monastery of Abraha Atsbeha, where they have had church services since the 16th century. Arrive at our hotel for the next two nights, Gheralta Lodge (or similar). Dinner on the patio amidst the stunning rock formations

  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

hiking to ancient rock churches of Tigray
  • January 15
  • Rock churches Gheralta; Queen of Sheba/King Solomon mines
  • Today will be a day we will treasure for a lifetime! We will climb to the ancient rock churches of Tigray. These churches are known to have hidden many of our most treasured Biblical manuscripts and history. We will see ancient paintings of Christ, the angels Gabriel and Michael, Melchizedek, Abraham, Isaac, and the Apostles. While there, we will meet with monks who have been isolated all their lives to worship in this remote place. We will have much to discuss as to why God would choose to hide the Book of Enoch and other books in this place. Tonight, we will enjoy a sumptuous Italian dinner while we discuss our huge day!

  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

ethiopia archaeology excavation sleeping beauty
  • January 16
  • “Sleeping Beauty” discovery; Daniel Korkor
  • Those wanting to rest may enjoy a leisurely breakfast this morning and have some quiet time. For those who have the energy, there is time this morning to see a church said to be built by the hands of angels. The colorful gospel message was painted on the walls and is given to the worshippers, on an almost daily basis, by the priest of the church. This wonderful man has lived in this church on the mountain all of his adult life. The mountaintop church has 20 to 50 elderly worshippers who visit it daily. What an amazing site to see their weathered bare feet walk the heavily-trodden rock path. Once inside the church, you will see a thousand-year-old, 25-foot painting of the archangel Gabriel. We take a rest at our luxury lodge and then head out in our 4WD vehicles to see the mines of the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon as discovered by archeologist Louise Schofield and to see a new discovery called “Sleeping Beauty.” This is an ancient burial site that will knock your socks off! Dinner tonight will be spent with the lodge owner on the terrace.

  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Debre Damo Ethiopia
  • January 17
  • Wukro; Abraha Atsbeha monastery; Yeha Temple; Garima; Debre Damo
  • Later in the morning, we retrace our steps over the spectacular scenery! We make a stop at Debre Damo. You will be one of only a few guests that have visited this treasure. The top of this mysterious monastery is accessible only by leather ropes. Women are not allowed at the top, but we will have plenty of opportunities while we wait. Dr. Zeleke will share the reason for the male-only segregation, as it is also iconic. Time permitting, both men and women, (or women only, if the men are still entering Debre Damo) will visit the world-renowned small church of Garima. Garima came into the world’s limelight 9 years ago when the world’s oldest Biblical manuscript with paintings was discovered in their treasury. The monastery also has the Book of Enoch and other treasures. Next, while we are near Garima, we will visit the Temple at Yeha. Yeha is thought to be a Jewish building from the time of the Queen of Sheba – it has a mikveh and incense burners with many Sabean writings from the time of King Solomon and Sheba. The Temple is one of Ethiopia’s greatest treasures. We arrive back in Axum tonight with dinner at our favorite hotel, overlooking the ceremonial grounds. You will meet the group arriving for the main tour today at the hotel.

  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner


Plane Wing Golden Clouds Itinerary
  • January 16
  • Guests depart Washington-Dulles airport
  • Guests depart Washington-Dulles airport at 11:00AM if taking our international air.

Axum Stele Ethiopia
  • January 17
  • Depart Washington, DC, Dulles
  • Arrive in Addis in the early morning and arrive in Axum today at 4:00PM. We will be met by our drivers and transferred to our strategically located hotel for lunch and a short rest before the adventure begins. The legends narrated in the Kebra Nagast “Book of Kings” recount how the city of Axum, as early as the 10th century B.C., was the city in which the Queen of Sheba resided. It is recounted that the son of the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon brought the Ark of the Covenant to Axum and it remains there to this day, preserved in a sanctuary. Famous long before the time of Christ, Axum was the capital of the long Axumite reign, one of the oldest African empires, and represented a crucial connecting point between Africa and Asia for almost a thousand years. We will visit the steles, granite monoliths dating from pre-Christian times and decorated with symbolic engravings, and the church of Mary of Zion, which contains many implements used in service to the Ark along with many other treasures. Tonight after dinner, we will gather around a fire overlooking the ceremonial grounds that are being prepared below. You will feel that something is about to happen to you spiritually in the coming days.

  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Lion of Judah in Ethiopia
  • January 18
  • Axum: ancient Lion of Judah etching
  • In the morning, you will attend the Timket festival. We will also visit the tomb of Bazen – a new discovery now known as the tomb of one of the wise men who visited Christ after his birth. We will visit the frankincense trees, the rock inscription of the Lion of Judah, various tombs, and witness colorful mass baptisms taking place in the Queen of Sheba pool while hundreds of participants cover the hills draped in white gauze dresses, singing the Psalms of David. Your spirit will be lifted by the sweetness of it all! We break for lunch together on the terrace of our hotel. Late afternoon, we will arrange for you to visit the church of St. Mary (said to house the Ark of the Covenant) and see the grounds where their kings (in the lineage of David) were all crowned. Afterward, we’ll pay a visit to the spice and antiques markets, then return to our hotel terrace above the ceremonial grounds to listen to the sweet voices below while we enjoy our dinner.

  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Ethiopia Timket Festival
  • January 19
  • Axum: Timket festival; Stele Square; Saint Mary of Zion (Ark of the Covenant)
  • Waking this morning, we will hear the sweet and melodious singing from the churches below. Grab a cup of hot coffee or tea and sit and admire stele fields and beautiful vistas from our deck. Today, we are going to visit the camel market, the spice markets, and more. We will engage in the community and have an opportunity to visit a mysterious mountaintop rock-hewn church that holds many ancient Biblical manuscripts. We will also be able to ride a camel and visit some of the schools that were created by our friends. Dinner again overlooking the stele field.

  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

timket festival ethiopia unsplash
  • January 20
  • Axum: Timket festival; Queen of Sheba Palace; tomb of the Kings
  • Time to visit the ancient monasteries nearby and the outdoor marketplace. Make our way via Addis onto our next city of Lalibela with an overnight at the Addis airport.

St. George Church, Lalibela, Ethiopia unsplash
  • January 21
  • Lalibela; the “Jerusalem of Africa” UNESCO site of rock-hewn churches.
  • We fly late morning to Lalibela. This city of Christian pilgrimage, for our Africa-based brothers and sisters, is located at an altitude of 2,600 meters above sea level. In this ancient city, 11 monolithic churches were built in the twelfth century and are carved out of pink granite rock; they have been classified as one of the wonders of the world. Each church has a unique architectural style. All are superbly carved and most of them are decorated with well-preserved paintings. The entire city may be described as a sculpture, dedicated to the glory of God. The day is devoted to visiting both groups of churches and the city itself. We have an overnight stay at the Mountain View Hotel.

  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Yemrehanna Kristos ethiopia
  • January 22
  • Yemrehanna Kristos
  • After breakfast, we will drive through the beautiful countryside to an incredible, hidden monastery and church called Yemrehanna Kristos. The church is built inside a cave, deep inside the rock wall. The local dead have been brought to this place for centuries and it is considered one of their most Holy sites. You will be able to see their Biblical manuscript treasury and learn of the worship that has been passed on from King David’s time to the children of the Book. You will hear the lovely singing and chanting that is directly taken from our treasured Psalms. Tonight, we return to the Mountain View Hotel, where the view is indescribable. We will have a fantastic dinner prepared by our Jamaican chef.

  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Blue Nile waterfalls ethiopia unsplash
  • January 23
  • Bahir Dar; Blue Nile Falls
  • We board our flight to Bahir Dar, the jewel resort city on Lake Tana, the source of the Nile. Bahir Dar is known as the wedding capital of Africa: there are more honeymoons and weddings here in this setting than in any other place in Africa. Upon arrival, we visit the waterfalls of the Blue Nile: 100 meters wide, the water plunges 45 meters, giving rise to steam clouds and rainbows. Those who wish to do so may descend to the base of the falls, climb back up the other side, and cross the Nile in a papyrus boat (traditionally known as “Tankwas”) to return to the point of departure – which will be a walk of about 60 minutes. You will enjoy the monkeys jumping from tree to tree overhead, joining us on our walk. Our overnight stay is at the Kuriftu Resort. This hotel has a spa and a fantastic lakeside restaurant that will be our home away from home!

  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

lake Tana Ethiopia unsplash
  • January 24
  • Tana Kirkos Island
  • Today we have a full-day boat trip across the lake. This island was most recently highlighted on the TV series “Expedition Unknown.” Our destination (as was theirs) is the mysterious Tana Kirkos. It is here that you will see the treasury implements that were used when the Ark of the Covenant was brought to Ethiopia for safekeeping. The men will have a unique experience with Dr. Yohannes, where he will take them to the place where the Tabernacle poles fit into the rock, and they will receive a teaching from him that will melt their hearts. Ladies will take part in examining the treasures hidden in the treasury and will be able to visit the monastery where these precious keepers farm for their existence. We will have lunch and plenty of storytime!

  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

hippos on south africa tour unsplash
  • January 25
  • Nile fishing trip; depart this evening
  • Today, we will relax and enjoy a fishing trip on the Nile. Bring your favorite pole or use one of ours. We will also have a crocodile and hippopotamus safari! Not only will you be able to see these amazing animals in the wild, but you will see plenty of the world’s most exotic birds and monkeys and even a couple of wild boar. What a glorious day of rest! We depart the hotel around 6:00PM tonight for our overnight flight back to the US.

  • Breakfast, Lunch

Plane Wing Pink and Purple Clouds Itinerary
  • January 26
  • Arrival back in Washington, DC, Dulles
  • Arrive back at Washington-Dulles airport today at 7:30AM.

Book Now

Or Call 1-888-771-8717 to Book

Rhonda Sand

Rhonda Sand

President Living Passages
Coeur d’Alene, ID

Rhonda has traveled to Ethiopia well over 20 times and led over 13 expeditions to the Biblically relevant sites in Ethiopia. Her research and findings have been utilized by numerous scholars in search of the roots of the Abrahamic faith of the Ethiopian Falasha people, the route of the Ark of the Covenant throughout Ethiopia and the Nile River, and the mysterious correlation between Levitical worship and modern-day forms of worship. Her teachings during the expeditions will be enhanced when you witness the Torah come alive before your very eyes. The mysteries of Zephaniah 3, Psalm 68, Isaiah 18, the books of Enoch, the Kebre Negast, and especially the findings of why the oldest gospels in the world were kept hidden in God’s humble hideaways.

Rhonda has been interviewed by Ethiopian television and other scholars in search of the archaeological route of the Ark’s presence through the ages.

Dr. Yohannes Zeleke profile

Dr. Yohannes Zeleke

Washington D.C.

Dr. Zeleke is the first Ethiopian and African who participated in the expeditions of authenticating Jabal al-Lawz or Mount Jabal Almusa (the true Mount Sinai). Dr. Zeleke has been a great help over the past two decades in ascertaining Hebraic documentation in Ethiopia and in the archives of various museums with our expeditions to Ethiopia.

In 2012, Living Passages sponsored an extensive expedition throughout Ethiopia, from the lost elevation of the earth, the Dalol depression, to its rift valley (of importance today prophetically). The expedition also included very remote Abrahamic Holy teaching sites that are still used today. In North Ethiopia, several places were visited where we were able to document and measure sites where the Tabernacle (or a replica of the Tabernacle) was kept over the centuries (from the time of Solomon). During the visit to the Axum (Aksumite Kingdom), the archeological sites were opened to us through Yohannes’ deep contacts. We visited the important places where many of the artifacts are kept, even to the present day, by a custodian at St. Mary’s of Zion that is continuously bathed in prayer.

In 2023, due to the nature of the Thamudic, Proto-Canaanite, and Proto-Sinaitic inscriptions, we invited Dr. Yohannes to join a biblical expedition in Saudi Arabia to Mount Sinai and to study the complex history of the Exodus. The inscription documentation has an important trail that includes the Land of Sheba and Ethiopia, and he believes that with the help of the Almighty God, one day Ethiopia will allow the common heritage of the Abrahamic God artifacts, and the route towards Ethiopia will be the greatest center of pilgrimage from Africa to Mount Sinai in Arabia.

Dr. Yohannes Zeleke is a Research Associate at the Natural History Museum of the Smithsonian and a research professor at George Washington University. He also has a wealth of background in the important languages on these routes and the treasures that have been kept hidden in both Ethiopia and Saudi Arabia.

Book Now

Or Call 1-888-771-8717 to Book


Book Now

Or Call 1-888-771-8717 to Book