Ethiopian orthodox church at dawn, Addis Ababa

Ethiopia in Depth

15 days
from
£2,549
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Traveller ratings
4.6 / 5 from 10 reviews >
Trip code: 
AYF
Ways to Travel:
Guided Group, Tailormade Adventures
Activity:
Culture & Discovery Holidays
Min age:
16
Group size:
4–18

Dive deep into Ethiopia's incredible culture and history.

In the northeast of Ethiopia is the little visited region of Tigrai. Over the centuries a series of churches of differing sizes and architectural styles were carved into cliff-faces and rocky-outcrops, many still in use today. Whilst following Ethiopia’s classic northern circuit through Lake Tana’s monasteries, Gondar’s castles, the Simien Mountains and Lalibela’s monolithic churches, we get off the beaten path and explore this beautiful region in the heart of Ethiopian history. This trip and Discover Ethiopia share a similar itinerary. The difference is that this trip explores the Tigrai region whilst Discover Ethiopia explores the Great Rift Valley lakes of the south.

Highlights

  • Rock hewn churches of Tigrai and Lalibela
  • Castles of Gondar
  • Spectacular scenery in the Simien Mountains
  • Stelae of Axum
  • Monasteries on Lake Tana

Key information

  • 11 nights comfortable hotels, 2 nights basic hotel, most with en suite facilities
  • Travel by mini or coaster bus
  • Two internal flights
  • Off the beaten path in the Tigrai region

What's included

  • All breakfasts
  • All accommodation (see below)
  • All transport and listed activities
  • Tour leader throughout
  • Flights from London (if booking incl. flights)

What's not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Single accommodation (available on request)
  • Visas or vaccinations

Responsible Travel

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here… 

Itinerary

  • Day 1

    Depart London.

    Depart London.

  • Day 2

    Arrive Addis Ababa; city tour.

    Early morning arrival in Addis. Please note that if you are being picked up at the airport (either on the group transfer or private transfer) you will have to exit the terminal to find our representative with the Exodus board. You may see people with signs inside the terminal but they are generally people with special permission such as the UN, Government or hotels with desks inside the terminal. After a leisurely morning to relax we will spend the afternoon on a site-seeing tour of Addis Ababa. We will visit the National Museum which houses some of the country’s historic treasures. The collection of fossils and bones of early hominids discovered in Ethiopia include the 3.5 million year old remains of ‘Lucy’, the oldest hominid every found. We will also visit the Holy Trinity Church, Ethiopia’s main cathedral and home to the remains of the last emperor, Haile Selassie. Finally we will visit Menelik’s Mausoleum.
    Ghion Hotel or similar, Standard Hotel

  • Day 3

    Fly to Bahar Dar; free afternoon with option of Blue Nile Falls visit.

    Today we will take a spectacular flight to Bahar Dar. From the air we can gaze across the extraordinary nature of the Ethiopian Plateau, repeatedly cut by immensely deep gorges. Bahar Dar is a small but fast growing town on the southern shore of Lake Tana, the source of the Blue Nile. It has long attracted religious men and the area contains numerous churches and monasteries, many of them on the thirty or so islands of Lake Tana.

    The afternoon is free to enjoy the fantastic bird-watching around the lake or head into Bahar Dar itself and explore its local market.
    Tana Hotel or similar, Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 4

    Discover Lake Tana's famous monestaries.

    We have a full day boat trip on Lake Tana to visit the monasteries of Narga Selassie & URA Kidane Mehret. We’ll travel by boat to visit some of the more remote monasteries and churches, most of which date back to the thirteenth century. The monasteries are fascinating and unlike any others outside Ethiopia, often decorated with bright mural painting. Because of their isolation they were used to store art treasures and religious relics from all over the country. Local history says the Ark of the Covenant was kept on one of these islands when the city of Axum was under threat, and the remains of five emperors are to be found at Daga Istafanos.
    Tana Hotel or similar, Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 5

    Drive to Gondar; visit the castles, Fasilides' bathhouse and the churche's ceiling.

    This morning we drive north to Gondar, the former capital of Ethiopia. Arriving in Gondar we will stop by the Kindu Trust, a local organisation which works with disadvantaged children, their families and communities.

    After lunch we will explore Gondar and visit the castles, which were built in the 17th and 18th century by several generations of Ethiopian kings. Nearby is Debre Birhan Selassie church with its sensational angelic ceiling, and the bathhouse of Fasilides where thousands of Ethiopians celebrate Timkat festival every January. Our hotel is up on a cliff top with wonderful views looking over the town.
    Goha Hotel or similar, Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 6

    Drive to Simien Mountains; afternoon hike along the plateau.

    After breakfast we drive to Debark on the edge of the Simien Mountains. The road has considerably improved and the drive should take about 2hrs. In the late morning we drive up into the mountains for some spectacular views of this unique ecosystem. The highland plateau is capped by a dramatic skyline of jagged volcanic plugs and split by deep gorges and gullies. On a good day, the views are sensational and the striking towers and formations have been described as the 'chess pieces of the Gods'. We take an optional 2hr walk, mostly flat or downhill, and hope to see the endemic Gelada baboons and Klipspringers before returning to Debark. The maximum altitude we reach is 3250m.
    Simien Park Hotel or similar, Basic Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 7

    Continue to Axum.

    Continue on a full day's drive to the fabled city of Axum via the lowlands of the Simien Mountains and Tekeze River gorge. Though this is a long journey, the spectacular views make time slide away. Arrive in the late afternoon.
    Yared Zema Hotel or similar, Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 8

    Full day visiting the ancient capital of the Axumite Kingdom.

    Axum is the seat of the ancient capital of the Kingdom of Axum, which was once one of the most powerful in the ancient world. Located at the centre of the trading routes between the Mediterranean and India, and the great port of Adulis on the Red Sea, it was economically, politically and technically advanced and at times had control over both sides of the Red Sea.

    Axum is also the origin of Christianity in Ethiopia and believed to be the resting place of the Ark of the Covenant. The old church of St Mary of Zion was the first church to be built in Sub-Saharan Africa around 330AD. Its ruins can be seen in the precinct of the church compound.

    We visit the famous monolithic stelae of Axum, the tallest one still standing reaches over 21 metres and the greatest one of them all, once 34 metres high now lies toppled on the ground. It is still, however, the largest monolith ever erected by man. The subterranean tombs, stone inscriptions of ancient Axumite kings and the small archaeological museum are also living witness of the ancient Axumite history. We will also visit the ruined palace of the Queen of Sheba who is said to have given birth to Menelik the First, fathered by King Solomon, the founder of Ethiopia's ruling family until the late Emperor Haile Selassie.
    Yared Zema Hotel or similar, Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 9

    Visit Yeha Temple and through eatern Tigrai to Wukro.

    We leave for Wukro visiting some of the rock hewn churches of Eastern Tigrai on the way. We first pass through the Battle field of Adwa, where the Ethiopians defeated the Italian colonial army in 1896, and then stop to visit the 500 B.C. pre-Christian Temple of Yeha. We will have lunch at Adigrat and proceed on to Wukro. En route we visit the beautiful rock-hewn church of Medhane-Alem Adi Kesho in Tsaeda Imba. Overnight stay at Wukro.
    Fiseha Hotel or similar, Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 10

    Visit Wukro's rock-hewn churches and on to Mekele.

    This morning we start by driving about 20Kms North West of Wukro to visit the famous rock-hewn church of Abreha Wo Atsebeha and Wukro Cherkos, on the northern outskirts of the town, before proceeding on to Mekele in time to explore this fast growing city.
    Planet Hotel or similar, Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 11

    Drive through mountains and gorgest on the way to Lalibela.

    Today is a long day’s driving but the scenery, once again, is spectacular as we pass through mountains and river gorges, seeing for ourselves why Ethiopia’s landscape is completely different to anywhere else. We eventually reach Lalibela, possibly Ethiopia’s most famous site.
    Roha Hotel or similar, Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 12

    Explore Lalibela amazing churches.

    We spend the day exploring Lalibela’s rock-hewn churches. Whilst they may feel busy compared to the ones we’ve visited in Tigrai they are still spectacular and well worth visiting. The churches are mostly cut from solid rock, and therefore have the appearance of being underground. The most famous church is Bete Giorgis (St George, patron saint of Ethiopia), carved in the form of a Greek cross. It is exceptionally well preserved and visually almost flawless.

    The churches are quite dark inside, with little artificial light, and in some cases limited natural light. In each one there is a resident priest, who is usually happy to put on richly embroidered vestments and pose for a photo with his crosses, ancient bibles and sunglasses (due to constant camera flashes!). Although the churches are remote, they are not short of worshippers: most Ethiopians, certainly of the older generation, are devout Orthodox Christians, and the services in the churches on religious festivals are of marathon length: sixteen hours is not unusual!
    Roha Hotel or similar, Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 13

    Mule trek up to Ashatan Maryam.

    In the morning we enjoy an optional (no extra cost) adventurous mule journey to visit Ashetan Maryam (St Mary), built on a ridge with excellent views over the surrounding countryside. The trip takes approximately 6 hours (round trip) and will start early to avoid the heat. We will ride the mules up the mountain for approximately an hour, before hiking the rest of the way up the mountain to the church. After visiting the church we will walk back down to the village on slippery mountain paths. This is a tough walk and is optional. If you choose not to do the walk there is plenty to do in Lalibela: There is the opportunity to walk into the town and visit some of the many shops or relax in a Tej bar to sample the local fermented honey drink or a local café to socialise.

    The rest of the day is spent absorbing the atmosphere of this extraordinary town with its Tukul or round houses. Made as two storey buildings, they are unusual in Africa.
    Roha Hotel or similar, Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 14

    Fly to Addis Ababa.

    An afternoon flight takes us back to Addis Ababa. We are then transferred to the hotel for day rooms and get settled before enjoying an optional final dinner at a well-known local Ethiopian restaurant. Transfer back to the airport in the late evening for our international flight back home. Please note that due to flight schedules, some departures may include an extra night at the end of the trip for flightinclusive clients and a day-time return-flight.

    The extension to the Islamic city of Harar starts today with an overnight in Addis Ababa.

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 15

    Arrive London.

    Arrive London

    Please note that due to flight schedules, some departures may include an extra night at the end of the trip for flight-inclusive clients and a day-time return-flight.

Essential Info

Visas

Ethiopia

All nationalities require a visa for Ethiopia which can be obtained before departure (at a cost of GBP26) or on arrival (at a cost of USD50 - be prepared to queue for a while). Please note that the Ethiopian government may change their visa on arrival policy at very short notice so make sure to check the latest advice. A certificate of Yellow Fever vaccination maybe required in order to obtain your visa, for instance if you're travelling from a country at risk of Yellow Fever transmission - please check with the embassy for the latest advice.

Vaccinations

Ethiopia

There are no mandatory vaccination requirements. Recommended vaccinations are: Polio, Tetanus, Diphtheria, Typhoid, Hepatitis A, Yellow Fever. Malaria prophylaxis is essential and we suggest that you seek advice from your GP or travel health clinic about which malaria tablets to take. Dengue fever is a known risk in places visited. It is a tropical viral disease spread by daytime biting mosquitoes. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available for Dengue, and therefore the best form of prevention is to avoid being bitten. We recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites.

Eating and Drinking

All breakfasts Hotel meals are generally good although they can lack variety. Local dishes tend to be very good if you like hot, spicy food although milder versions can be requested. Local food is traditionally eaten with the hands. The sour bread known as injera is used as a scoop from the casserole dishes known as wat. Ethiopia is the birthplace of coffee. It is normally drunk black with sugar. The coffee ritual is something to be experienced at least once on your trip. It is possible to get coffee with milk which the Ethiopians call Machiato. Please note that you should not drink the tap water in Ethiopia. We also suggest that clients bring snack food as this can be difficult to obtain outside of Addis Ababa. Vegetarians can be catered for but they will have a limited choice. The Ethiopian diet is meat based except for fasting days. Fasting food is completely vegan as fasters should not consume any animal by-product. Clients who have specialist dietary requirements must contact us to discuss if they can be accommodated. Ethiopia is a poor country and they are not familiar with gluten or lactose free diets.

Weather

It is likely to be sunny most of the time on all departures. Most of Ethiopia is at a high altitude, so although the sun is powerful, the temperature is usually very pleasant. There is, however, the risk of sunburn at high altitude, so it is essential that you ensure you are adequately protected. Nights are generally cool to cold, depending on the altitude. Daytime temperatures seldom rise above 25ºC except at lower altitudes. The main rains come between June and late September, and while November is one of the coolest months of the year it is also generally one of the clearest. January and February will be hotter and much drier and the landscape is likely to be more arid and dusty than in October and November, which can still be quite lush and colourful after the rains.

Addis Ababa

Is this trip for you?

This is a busy trip and requires a certain level of fitness and agility, especially due to the heat and altitude. There are several walks that are not difficult. The harder walk and mule ride in Lalibela is optional. When visiting the rock hewn churches in Tigrai and Lalibela passengers have to walk on uneven ground and climb steps that can be slippery. Clients who suffer from vertigo should be aware that the Simien Mountains is famous for its dramatic sheer cliffs, however you do not have to walk close to the edge. What tourism exists is quite well organised and in places you may be surprised at the standard of services and personnel. However, you should never forget that you are travelling in one of the world's poorest countries. Water and electricity can be erratic and hotels usually have set times when hot water is available. The maximum altitude reached on this trip is 3250m. Clients with heart or respiratory problems should consult their doctor. Please leave behind your western comforts and bring with you a sense of adventure, humour and flexibility for the experience of a lifetime!

Accommodation

Hotels

You will spend 11 nights in comfortable hotels and 2 nights in basic hotels, all with en-suite facilities. Accommodation is basic in comparison to European standards. Ethiopia is a developing country and there may occasionally be no hot water, or indeed, no water at all! Most rooms are furnished simply. 

Single accommodation (available on request).

Expert Blog Entries

African sunset

From the volcanic slopes of Kilimanjaro to the highland plateaux of the Simien Mountains, Exodus has cultivated an ar

  • Reviewed February 2016
    Susan Thackray

    Ethiopian Odyssey

    This was a fascinating journey through northern Ethiopia. We saw churches and monasteries galore, each one interesting for its paintings or architecture, often hewn out of the living rock. The road journeys were long but the scenery and the sheer engineering feats involved made it worthwhile. Accommodation throughout was much better than I'd anticipated; we had en suite facilities in all hotels and hot water was usually available.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    It is difficult to pick out one - the Stelae of Axum; the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela; the climb up to the monastery on the way to Wukram just before sunset; the camels, cattle, sheep and goats heading to the cattle market on our way to Lalibela; our final meal in Lalibela at Ben Abeba as the sun went down.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Genre was wonderful throughout. He was the fount of all knowledge on the history of the country and its religion and politics while also helping Jane and I to identify birds and flowers en route. He always seemed to anticipate when breaks were needed and remained unflappably and good tempered at all times. I must also mention our tremendous driver, Ananya, who seemed to know every inch of our route intimately and was totally indefatigable..

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    In February, the temperatures were between 25 and 29 degrees all day and warm clothing was not needed. Ladies should bring scarves for the churches. In restaurants, portions were more than ample and it might be an idea for those with less than enormous appetites to share dishes. It proved to be very easy to get our visas at the airport in Addis. Queues were short and photos were not required. In all, much easier than going to the embassy in London.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    My only hitch at the very end of the holiday was getting a bottle of duty free gin out of the country! Though we had already gone through two full security checks, when I took my gin (bought at the airport duty free) through the final one, I was told I could not take it in my cabin baggage. I had to send it to the hold In my rucksack while I put other things for the flight into another bag.
  • Reviewed February 2016
    Sally Wade

    Ethiopia in Depth

    A thoroughly enjoyable holiday with many memorable moments

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    walking at 10,000ft in the Simien mountains over a carpet of thyme. the rock churches in Lalibela the mule trek

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Gabre was a very attentive and informative leader

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    go with an open mind

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I don't think so
  • Reviewed February 2016
    Amanda Sutton

    Ethiopia in Depth

    Fascinating trip learning about a culture I didn't know much about. The West has a distinct impression of Ethiopia and is was great to challenge those ideas.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I really enjoyed the rock hewn churches in the north and Lalibella. We were lucky to be there at Christmas and could watch all the pilgrims.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our group leade (Gabre) was very good. He had a lot of passion and his country and its potential and was also able to answer any questions we had. Our group was quite mixed in terms of interest and physical capabilities and Gabre ensured everyone was included and could participate at their level.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be prepared to cover up in churches, fasting days and travel days in the bus.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    We had a great driver who looked after the minivan very well. However bigger transport would give everyone a bit more room on long travel days and assist with the unsaved roads, which are of course an avoidable.
  • Reviewed February 2016
    Peter Rogerson

    Ethiopia in Depth - Timkat Depature

    A very enjoyable trip in a very interesting country. Ethiopia is a fast growing and exciting country, and within Africa, a population second only to Nigeria. The infrastructure is improving fast and its mainly young population are starting to enjoy the freedoms of an education and an emerging confident country. The rural areas remain very poor, but infrastructure, including electricity and improved irrigation and transport links, mean that Ethiopia is no longer the barren, drought prone region imagined by most westerners. In fact, during the rainy season, it must be one of the greenest countries in Africa, and the people are generally very friendly and welcoming. Addis in particular is something of a building site, but most of the other towns have concrete shells intended as future apartment blocks and hotels, and there are apparently more university graduates than jobs in many areas - so the future of the country appears bright - although there are still challenges with over-population and the amount of available land for farming. Most people are still subsistence farmers, and the economy is yet to open fully (you can't own land for example), and if the population is to continue growing, more efficient methods of farming will need to be adopted. However, Ethiopia is already a generally good place to travel. The hotels are good and clean, and despite the worries of others, hot water is generally available, and most places have Wi-Fi of varying quality. The country also yet, hasn't become a tourist mecca, meaning you will not have the place to yourself, but you certainly won't be experiencing the crowds of other more well known destinations. The scenery is wonderful - I hadn't realized quite how mountainous most of the country is. We were there in the dry season, but it was clear that following the rains, when everything greens up, it must be spectacular. Ethiopia is also very culturally distinct from anywhere else I've been in Africa - things start to look very "Ethiopian" quite quickly, being a blend of Jewish, Arabic and both north and southern African, as well being close to Sudan, so it comes across as a real melting pot of cultures and ideas.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    We were there for the Timkat departure. I would seriously recommend taking this departure if you can, as the festival was a wonderful experience to be a part of, and there seemed to be parades and festivals everywhere we went - for example we also got caught up in the St. Georges day parade in Lalibela, and came across plenty of other related festivities. The moment when hundreds of young men jump into the Facilides pool in Gondar at the conclusion of the festival for the ritual baptism was a real highlight of all my travelling, not just this trip. It is difficult to imagine the trip without Timkat as this was such an integral party of the experience, so if you are considering this trip, try and do that one. I was also very pleased to have spent some time with the Geladas in the Simiem mountains. I'm not sure how lucky we were to come across them, as they move while they graze, so you only have about 15 minutes before they're all gone, but it was great to see them. The Simiems themselves are beautiful - I am seriously considering the Simien Trekking holiday as a result.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Gebre was excellent. He has been leading Exodus tours for many years, and was clearly very experienced, knowledgeable and very patient with some of the more challenging members of the group. The trip ran like clockwork and we didn't need to really worry or think about anything. Gebre worked tirelessly for us every day and was a great tour leader who clearly enjoys his job.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    I was very surprised at how good the hotels were. Many are resort style hotels, intended for tourists, and government owned I think (part of the Ghion chain). The downside was that there were often other European tour groups there, rather than Ethiopians, so you were a little removed from Ethiopian life, but there were certainly no issues with them, and there was generally wifi, hot water, bars and souvenir shops. They were a mixture of being close to town or a little out of the way, depending on where we were. The "Basic" hotel in Debark, near the Simiens, was actually perfectly good, and probably my personal favourite as they had a nice bar on the street, frequented by locals, and from what I recall, good food in the restaurant. Every child in Ethiopia seems to have been told that foreigners won't give them money and that begging is bad. Consequently, they all want pens. If you bring a suitcase full, they won't last an hour. The ubiquitous "hello pen" ... became a constant companion everywhere we went, but this was more endearing than irritating, and the Ethiopian adults generally won't let them get out of hand, delivering sharp rebukes to any groups of over eager children. We had been warned about pick pockets and things like that, but none of us really had a problem. It made you initially suspect people who were overly friendly, but don't let this cloud your behavior and most people are just very friendly, and basic precautions will most likely be all you need to be concerned with. Certainly, the towns and cities are very safe, generally. Beer is readily available - costing between 12 birr (the cheapest I found in a local bar) up to 25 birr in the upscale hotels. It comes in half pint bottles and you can get it anywhere. St. George was the best I think, although there were other options. I changed all the money I thought I'd need at the Ghion hotel in Addis, which offered a good rate I think - about 30 to the £. changing money elsewhere was not that easy, so I would suggest changing it up at the start. I managed with about £400 worth for the 2 weeks, which included quite a lot of beer and some souvenirs. Meals were generally about 100 birr, but with additional courses, anything up to 200, and you pay for most lunches and dinners. Most souvenir shops will quote in dollars too, so I carried some extra for that. Lalibela is the place for souvenirs - there are loads of cheap shops in town, and opposite the hotel, and some of the stuff is quite good. There is a Tej bar in Lalibela (honey wine). This is surprisingly hard to get hold of otherwise - I tried - but Gebre took us to a nice local place on the final evening to try some. Talla is a locally fermented "beer" - it tastes like scrumpy that has gone off, but is ridiculously cheap. I took a good pair of walking boots for the Simiens and around Lalibela. You will need shoes with a good grip, but good trainers or walking shoes will be fine I think. There is some walking on uneven ground, so if you use poles, bring them with you if you think you might need them. The optional walk in Lalibela is worth doing - although I opted not to use the Mules due to some not unfounded concerns about animal welfare. Check that your mule is healthy and fit before you get on it, please, as some looked very scrawny and others, not particularly healthy at all. The walk was actually very enjoyable too, so if you like your walking, you can always avoid the painful thighs that everyone else seemed to suffer from the previous day and take the views in from foot. Take some sweets or snacks for the bus journeys, as they can be long, and there may be quite a gap between breakfast and lunch on some days. You won't really have access to any luggage while on the bus, as it will be on the roof, and during the day, only what you carry in your rucksack, so pack accordingly. A head torch would prove useful in some of the darker churches. if people ask to have their photo taken, they may be expecting some "photo money" money - but they won't mention this until after you've taken their picture. 10 birr was usually fine, or 5 for the kids. If you're happy with this, then you may get some great pictures, but obviously, think before you take the picture and whether you want to pay for it. Not everyone is like this, however, but do ask first as many Ethiopians are not used to having their photo taken and, women in particular, not comfortable at all with it. Exercise discretion, essentially.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Just that your ideas of Ethiopia are probably wrong. A very beautiful and fast growing country, very green after the rains, and with a vibrant and colourfully unique culture, I am certainly very pleased I went.
  • Reviewed January 2016
    Michael Hardiman

    A Wonderful Tour

    Amazing culture, history and scenery.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There were lots of great moments, visiting the churches of Lalibela and sitting among a vast troup of Gelada Baboons are just two of the highlights.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Gebre was first class, anticipating all of our needs. He looked after our large group with skill.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Remember there is quite a variation in temperature so pack accordingly. Hotels in Ethiopia are not up to European standards, but most of the staff are friendly and helpful.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    A fantastic introduction to Ethiopia and you'll come away wanting to see more of this beautiful country.
  • Reviewed November 2015
    Elizabeth Evans

    Ethiopia in Depth

    This trip opens your eyes to an oft neglected and misunderstood place. Ethiopia is not brown and parched. Ethiopia is not 1984 and Live Aid. Ethiopia is a beautiful place, with so much to see and a people very proud of their long and interesting (independent) history. Ethiopia is a surprise and a joy to visit.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There were lots of wonderful moments but the highlight for me was sitting on the top of a hill in the Simien Mountains next to a herd of Gelada monkeys eating and playing and grooming each other. I would like to apologise to David Attenbrough - I remember watching a documentary where he was standing in amongst a herd of Gelada and shouting at the TV, "Well, that would never happen!" How wrong I was. A truly special moment.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Gabre was full of enthusiasm for his country and he is a great ambassador for Ethiopia. A warm, funny, intelligent man who wanted to tell us so much and share everything with us. He went above and beyond for us. The trip ended on Saturday afternoon but several of us had expressed an interest in buying coffee and seeing some opals and Gabre gave up his free time to help us do that. He was always available to ask questions and to give food and eating places advice. He also very gallantly took us to a tej bar to sample the local brew - an acquired taste!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Please go with an open mind and a sense of fun. I did not have a warm shower for about 5/6 days and in one hotel I had no water at all. Did it matter? No. The Simien Mountain hotel is basic but it is clean and that is what counts. A lot of the hotels were a pleasant surprise and far exceeded my expectations. Try and read up on some history/literature before you go - The Emperor, The Barefoot Emperor, In Ethiopia on a Mule.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Please go to Ethiopia - it has got everything (except a coast!) You will not encounter history and buildings like it anywhere else in Africa. It is unique in that respect. The scenery is beautiful. I remember one day as we stopped for a photo opportunity, looking back down in to a valley and thinking, "That looks like the Swiss Alps". The people are friendly and the kids love waving at the ferengi in the bus and shouting "You, you, you! The Gelada are wonderful to see and there is some great bird life. I would love to go back again to Harar and to the south. Fingers crossed I get the opportunity to do so.
  • Reviewed February 2015
    Sonia Richardson

    Ethiopia in Depth

    A fascinating and beautiful country which I first visited 2 years ago and was keen to revisit. I was not disappointed although we were mostly travelling the same route as on my previous visit. Our Tour Leader, Gebre, was excellent; knowledgeable with good people skills and a sense of humour.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I think revisiting the first painted church on Lake Tana.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Gebre was excellent.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be tolerant about waiting for service in cafes and restaurants and of the dust; be prepared to have your preconceptions challenged; Ethiopia is such a rewarding country and with luck, you will leave with some different perspectives and some wonderful memories.
  • Reviewed February 2015
    Nancy Aldridge

    Ethiopia in Depth February 2015

    Wonderful mountain scenery and sights for the intrepid traveller.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Every day had something or several things but the mountain scenery and roadside scenes were amazing.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Kind and willing to fit extra requests into the schedule. Very considerate and proactive if there were any problems.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The days travel to Labelia was too long.
  • Reviewed February 2015
    Caraline Marchant

    Ethiopia in Depth

    A full-on trip to a truly African country. It has the people, history, culture, and scenery all in one country.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The spectacular scenery throughout the country, but particularly in the Simien Mountains, together with the smiling and friendly faces of the people of Ethiopia, most of whom had so little.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Gebre was an exceptional tour leader who was always helpful and patient with us. A man who truly loves his country and wanted to convey that to everyone who would listen.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Although this holiday is rated as a 2, travelling in Ethiopia is never easy with some very long and tiring days. Two whole days were spent travelling to Axum and Lalibela and so travellers should be aware that most of these days will be spent in the bus. Also remember to be patient as things generally take longer to happen and comfort standards can vary considerably.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Water was a problem in some of the hotels, with hotels turning off the water supply totally before 6pm (even the cold water). However that being said, if adventure is what you are after, go before Ethiopia steps into the modern world.
  • Reviewed February 2015
    Carol Field

    Ethiopia in depth

    A fantastic trip to an amazing country. The travelling was sometimes long and hard but the scenery and sights made it all totally worthwhile.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Constantly feeling on top of the world looking out over mountain tops in every direction.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Gabre, our tour leader, was exceptional. Sensitive, patient, good humoured and very knowledgeable.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The travelling can be hard and long - take snacks and music!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The group was too big -18 is too many Although the trip notes warned about the possibility of lack of hot water there were still complaints within the group - perhaps this needs to be highlighted as people don't seem to realise our very privileged accessibility to water

Dates & Prices

An overview of flight options

Exodus is committed to making joining our tours as easy as possible, wherever you live. We generally only block book seats from London, but this certainly does not mean that you need to fly from there. Depending on the route and airlines available, there will usually be various options available for those who want to fly from their local airport.

This page aims to provide a useful overview of the options available to our clients. However, the best flight arrangements should be tailored to your personal requirements, so please contact our Sales team for expert advice.

 

What kind of options do I have ?

1. We can book for you: Flights from anywhere in the world - not via London  

Depending on the route, this may be direct or via an overseas hub like Amsterdam, the Middle East or elsewhere. On short haul routes there may be direct flights with low cost airlines, charter flights or scheduled airlines. Exodus can book most, but not all, of these for you. The most appropriate airline may be different to that which we use for the group flight from London, but many people now travel on different airlines and meet up with their fellow passengers at the destination.

Pros Cons
  • May be the most direct route
  • Often the extra fare compared to the London flight is minimal.
  • As you will be in the hands a single airline for your entire journey, the airline will be responsible for your bags and your connections.
  • You may not be able to join the group transfers. However, we can usually arrange private transfers, or book your flights to try and coincide with the group transfers. See notes on transfer arrangements below.

 

2. We can book for you: Connecting flights from your local airport to London

Exodus can book connecting flights to London so you can join the group flight there. Connecting times will be followed according to airline advice, or as requested by clients. There are two types of fares we can use for this option: a 'through-fare' or a 'published fare'.
 
a) A 'through-fare' is where you will be in the main airline's care throughout. You change planes, but your bags are checked all the way through to your final destination. 

b) A 'published fare' ticket is completely seperate from your onward ticket from London. It is usually cheaper than a through-fare but will need to be paid for and issued as soon as it is booked. This can be a problem if your tour has not yet reached minimum numbers. On 'published fares' neither airline is aware that you have connecting flights, so Exodus is responsible for timing your connection, not the airlines involved. The tickets are also usually non changeable and non refundable.

Pros Cons
  • Depending on the fare type, Exodus or the airline is responsible for flight connections.
  • Through fare tickets can be expensive.
  • On a published fare, tickets must be issued immediately; tickets on published fares can be very difficult to change if onward flight times change; bags are not checked though to your final destination.
  • Published fares are non-refundable.

 

3. Booking some or all of the flights yourself

You can also book connecting air travel yourself, either to London, or all the way to the start point. There may be certain airlines or routes we don't have access to, so this is always an option. However, if you make your own travel arrangements you become liable for any delays, cancellations or missed connections, and Exodus is not required to offer refunds if you have trouble reaching the start of your trip.

Pros Cons
  • You might find cheaper fares, or routes not available to Exodus.
  • You are responsible for any delays or missed connections, and the cost of the tour is not protected should you miss your flight be cancelled.

 

 Notes on transfer arrangements

Sometimes it is possible to travel on a different airline to the group flight from London. Where this is the case, we need to think about ensuring you meet up with the group with minimum extra cost and hassle.

  • On certain trips, it is easy to arrive on a different flight and still meet the group at the hotel with time in hand. We can usually arrange private transfers (at extra cost) or offer advice on taking a taxi to the start hotel.
  • On other trips (especially in Europe), the transfer meets the group flight and then travels some distance to the first night's accommodation. Where this is the case, our Sales team will try to arrange flights that arrive before (and depart after) the group. However, we do have to make it clear in your final documentation that if your flights are delayed, the transfer cannot wait for you. While Exodus or our local operators will do what we can to help you reach the start point of the tour, any additional costs must be paid by the client. 

 

Next steps? 

Call our Sales team on: 0203 733 0698

Email your query: [email protected]

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