The only African country that has never been colonised, Ethiopia is also unusual for its rich Orthodox Christian heritage, which was maintained even when all its neighbours embraced Islam in the seventh century. This journey travels through this enthralling and beautiful country, little explored by tourists, and discovers the layers of history that have shaped the land.
13 nights from £3225pp
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Ethiopian Odyssey Itinerary
Day 1: Fly to Addis Ababa
Fly overnight from London (regional connections available) to Addis Ababa. (N)
Day 2: Addis Ababa
Arrive in the third highest capital in the world. Afternoon city tour, including the Ethnographic Museum and the Holy Trinity Cathedral. Overnight at the Golden Tulip Hotel (or similar). Pre-dinner welcome drink. (L, D)
Day 3: Fly to Mekelle • Hawzien
Morning flight to Mekelle. Short tour of Mekelle, including Bete Yohannes. Drive to Hawzien. En route, visit the rock-hewn churches of Wukro Cherkos and Abraha Atsbeha. Stay overnight at the Gheralta Lodge (or similar). (B, L, D)
Days 4-5: Axum
Morning drive to Axum. Stay 2 nights at Sabean Hotel (or similar). The next day visit the tombs of King Kaleb and Gebra Meskel, the Queen of Sheba’s swimming pool and palace, King Ezana’s Stone and the magnificent stele (obelisks). Afternoon visit to the Cathedral of St Mary of Zion and the Chapel of the Tablet, said to contain the Ark of the Covenant, as well as the Axum Museum. (B, L, D)
Days 6-7: Fly to Lalibela via Gondar
Fly to the world heritage site of Lalibela, via Gondar. The site features 11 rock-hewn churches. Afternoon visit to the north-west cluster of churches, including the Church of St George. Stay 2 nights at the Mezena Lodge (or similar). Morning walk the following day up to Asheton Maryam (weather permitting). Alternatively, visit the cave church Nakutelab, accessible by car. Afternoon visit to the southeast cluster of churches. (B, L, D)
Days 8-9: Fly to Gondar • Simien mountains
Fly to Gondar, located at the foot of the Simien mountains. Visit the Church of Debre Berhan Selassie to see its murals. Drive to the Simien Mountain Lodge (or similar) and stay for 2 nights. Evening talk on gelada monkeys, endemic to this area. Morning drive the following day to Chennek, home to the endemic walia ibex. Stop to view gelada monkeys and walk to a waterfall. Afternoon at leisure. (B, L, D)
Day 10: Gondar
Drive to Gondar and stay 1 night at the Mayleko Lodge (or similar). Afternoon tour of the castles of Emperor Fasiladas and the Palace of the Queen Mentuab. (B, L, D)
Day 11: Gorgora • Zege peninsula • BahirDar
Drive to Gorgora and visit the monastery of Debre Sina Mariam. Cross Lake Tana by boat and visit Narga Selassie. Continue to URA Kidane Mihret and Azwa Mariam on the Zege peninsula. Stay 2 nights at the Kuriftu Resort & Spa (or similar). (B, L, D)
Day 12: Blue Nile Falls • Bahir Dar
Visit the Blue Nile Falls at Tissisat. Afternoon visit to the Bezawit Palace and the market in Bahir Dar. Optional spa treatments available. (B, L, D)
Days 13-14: Fly to London via Addis Ababa
Morning flight to Addis Ababa. Day room at the Golden Tulip Hotel. Short visit to the Mercato. Dinner at a cultural restaurant and transfer to the airport. Fly to London. Arrive the next day. (B, L, D) (N)
As per itinerary – B: Breakfast, L: Lunch, D: Dinner, N: No meals.
This tour is best suited to the hardier traveller as it includes some rougher road journeys and some basic accommodation. Hotels, while sometimes not reaching western standards, are clean and comfortable and the country’s cultural wonders more than make up for occasional deficiencies (please note that some churches are not open to female travellers). Ethiopia is mountainous and altitude may be a problem for some visitors.
Group tour manager
This tour is fully escorted throughout by a local tour manager from arrival in Addis Ababa.
Festivals of Ethiopia
Some of the departures have been scheduled to coincide with Ethiopia’s most celebrated festivals listed below. Timkat: Taking place in Bahir Dar in January, Timkat is the Ethiopian Orthodox celebration of Epiphany. The 9 January 2020 departure leaves and returns on a Thursday. The Timkat festival departure has an extra night duration of 15 days & 12 nights. Meskel: Celebrated in Addis Ababa in September, Meskel commemorates the finding of the true cross by Queen Helena. The 16 September 2020 departure includes time to enjoy this festival. Hidar Tsion: Celebrated in Axum in November, Hidar Tsion is associated with the presence of the Ark of the Covenant and is a joyous annual pilgrimage. The 26 November 2020 departure is timed to coincide with this celebration.
Private & tailor-made travel
This itinerary can be taken privately on a date that suits you, for which guideline prices are shown. Alternatively, it can be tailored to your exact requirements.
- Explore the impressive Tigray & Lalibela rock-hewn churches
- Spend 2 nights immersed in the spectacular Simien mountains scenery
- Take a boat trip on Lake Tana and visit the Blue Nile Falls
- Small group size - average 10 people (max 18)
- Stay in 3-star accommodation
Average group size - 10 people (max 18)
Direct international and internal flights
Transfers in air-conditioned vehicles
Experienced local tour manager
11 breakfasts, 12 lunch, 12 dinners
Welcome drink to meet the group and guide
Guided sightseeing & entrance fees
Special festival departures, including Timkat