13 Photos
  • Ethiopia
  • Ethiopia A Cultural Odyssey - Private Tour

Ethiopia A Cultural Odyssey - Private Tour

14 Day Escorted Tour

Ethiopia, Africa
Intermediate Pace

Journey to the spectacular peaks of Simien Mountain National Park, visit UNESCO-recognised castles and fortresses in ancient Gondar, take in the impressive Rock-Hewn Churches of Lalibela and go in search of the rare Ethiopian wolf and mighty Nile crocodile as you explore Ethiopia's architectural and wildlife wonders. Prehistoric archaeological findings, medieval churches and unique wildlife, found nowhere else in the world, combine to create this fascinating tour.

2021 Dossier

2022 Dossier

Tour Highlights

  • Spot baboons, mountain goats and the Ethiopian wolf
  • Witness the thundering might of the Blue Nile Falls
  • Explore the Rock-Hewn Churches of Lalibela
  • Wander through Gondar, the 'Camelot of Africa'
  • Journey into the Great Rift Valley
  • Spot wildlife around the Rift Valley lakes
Number of nights


Day 1
UK to Addis Ababa

Depart London on your scheduled, overnight flight to Addis Ababa.

Day 2
Addis Ababa


On arrival in Addis Ababa, you will be met by your local guide and transferred to your hotel. Check into your hotel then embark on a city tour through Ethiopia's sprawling capital. Witness Ethiopia's pre-historic importance with a visit to the National Archaeological Museum, which houses fossilised evidence of the sabre-toothed tiger and the preserved remains of Lucy, the oldest hominid ever uncovered. Take in the bustle of local shoppers and enthusiastic hawkers at Merkato Market, Africa's largest open-air market. Return to your hotel with time to relax before tonight's welcome dinner.

Day 3
Addis Ababa to Bahir Dar

Breakfast & Dinner

After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your early flight to Bahir Dar, a city of wide, palm-lined avenues nestled on the shores of Lake Tana. On arrival, continue on to the shimmering expanse of Lake Tana, Ethiopia's largest lake and the source of the Blue Nile. Join pelicans, wallowing hippos and local fishermen in handmade papyrus boats as you glide across these calm waters on a boat ride across the lake. Later, witness the daily life of local villagers at Pauper's Village and Market before checking into your hotel in Bahir Dar for your overnight stay.

Day 4
Bahir Dar

Breakfast & Dinner

Visit the Blue Nile waterfalls and its thundering curtain of water, known locally as the Great Smoke for its thunderous plumes of water and mist. One of Bahir Dar's most spectacular sites, the river then continues onwards to Khartoum. Take an afternoon at leisure to relax.

Day 5
Bahir Dar to Gondar

Breakfast & Dinner

This morning, drive north to the city of Gondar This morning, drive to the city of Gondar, where its imperial past can be seen in the centuries-old castles and fortresses, collectively known as the Royal Enclosure. which have earned the city UNESCO Heritage status. Explore this 'Camelot of Africa' on today's guided tour of the city, taking in the crumbling battlements, imposing castle walls, royal bathhouses and buildings of a past age. Continue on to the lively Gondar Market, wandering the labyrinth of stalls selling everything from live chickens to 'berbere', the spicy local pepper mix.

Day 6
Simien Mountain National Park

Breakfast & Dinner

Soak in spectacular scenery on this afternoon's walking tour along the rugged nature trails of the UNESCO-recognised Simien Mountain National Park. A region of breath-taking peaks, green valleys and rugged terrain, enjoy the chance to spot gelada baboons in their natural habitat, before delighting in a unique opportunity to witness the dramatic Jan-Bar Falls, one of the tallest waterfalls in Africa, which plunge 500 metres into a narrow chasm. Return to your lodge for dinner and your last night in the Simien Mountains.

Day 7
Simien Mountain National Park to Gondar

Breakfast & Dinner

After a second walk around the National Park, travel back to the nearby city of Gondar to visit the beautiful arched doors and two-tiered thatched roof of Debrebrihan Selassie Church, one of Ethiopia's most beautiful churches.

Day 8
Gondar to Lalibela

Breakfast & Dinner

Following breakfast, transfer to the airport for your flight to Lalibela, the geographic and spiritual heart of Ethiopia. This UNESCO-listed city draws white-robed pilgrims in their thousands as they journey to its medieval Rock-Hewn Churches. On your arrival, visit the first group of 12th century churches, a collection of monolithic structures skillfully chiselled into rock under the orders of King Lalibela, who was attempting to build a 'New Jerusalem'. After wandering the passageways linking the churches and admiring these towering temples, visit the nearby village and market for a chance to experience local life and view the traditional round huts and homes of the area. After time to explore, continue on to your hotel for check-in and dinner.

Day 9

Breakfast & Dinner

Enjoy another day exploring Lalibela's famed churches as you cross the Jordan River to the second group of these incredible structures. If you're lucky, you might have the chance to witness a church service as these ancient religious sites are still used daily for worship and prayer. Return to the village for the afternoon and discover the sights and sounds of local life before making your way back to your hotel for the evening.

Day 10
Lalibela to Arba Minch

Breakfast & Dinner

After a leisurely breakfast, transfer to the airport for your flight into the heart of Ethiopia's Great Rift Valley as you travel to the city of Arba Minch, via Addis Ababa. On arrival in Arba Minch, check into your hotel and, if time permits, travel to a nearby handicraft workshop and silk farm to learn more about the traditional techniques and creative skills used to make these beautifully crafted local goods. Return to your hotel for dinner and an evening at leisure.

Day 11
Arba Minch

Breakfast & Dinner

This morning, explore Ethiopia's spectacular Rift Valley lakes, formed during the last Ice Age along the massive fault line running through East Africa. Board a boat for a relaxing cruise along Lake Chamo, home to a large population of the world's largest crocodile - the Nile crocodile. Spot wildlife on the water's grass-lined edge as you meander across the lake, passing the area popularly known as 'Crocodile Market'. Here, watch dozens of these massive, powerful creatures basking lazily in the sunshine, mouths open to regulate their temperature. Travel onward to Nechisar National Park, a ridge of savannah sandwiched between the calm waters of Lake Chamo and Lake Abaya, and journey through the park on the lookout for the herds of zebra, antelope, buffalo and giraffe that roam these grassy plains.

Day 12
Arba Minch to Hawassa

Breakfast & Dinner

Embark on a unique cultural experience as you travel to Dorze Village this morning. Explore distinctive, tall beehive-shaped huts, built entirely from banana leaves and learn about the villagers' nimble-fingered weaving techniques whilst swaying to the beat of their rhythmic traditional music. Drive onward to the city of Hawassa, stopping en route in a village near Wolaita Sodo to visit the bustling market, displaying pottery, spices, fragrant cooked dishes and colorful Ethiopian garments. Arrive in Hawassa, a picturesque city located on the shores of Laka Hawassa, and check into your hotel in time for tonight's dinner.

Day 13
Hawassa to Addis Ababa

Breakfast & Dinner

After breakfast, join Hawassa's seafood lovers at the local market, where fishermen sell their freshly-caught bounty from wooden rowing boats and mouth-watering smells waft from food stalls. A visit to nearby Abijatta Shalla National Park takes you into the heart of this lake region, rich in birdlife. Drive through the park, watching flamingos perched in the blue waters, pelicans and cormorants swooping down for a catch and fish eagles gliding through the sky.

Day 14
Addis Ababa to the UK or chosen extension

Breakfast & Dinner

This morning, embark on a trip to Debre Libanos Monastery, one of the most remarkable monasteries in Ethiopia, situated on a terrace between a cliff and the gorge of one of the tributaries of the Abbay River. Later today, return to your hotel and relax before a farewell dinner this evening and transfer to the airport for your return flight to the UK or chosen extension.

View Full Itinerary

Dates & Prices

Price (per person)
Dates available
January 2022
from £4,278
February 2022
from £4,238
March 2022
from £4,168
April 2022
Enquire for price
May 2022
Enquire for price
June 2022
Enquire for price
July 2022
Enquire for price
August 2022
Enquire for price
September 2022
from £4,228
October 2022
from £4,308
November 2022
from £4,328
December 2022
Enquire for price


The hotels listed below are provided for guidance only and final confirmation of your accommodation will be sent to you approximately 90 days before you travel
Nexus Hotel
1 nights
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
More details
Blue Nile Avanti Resort
1 nights
Bahir Dar, Ethiopia
More details
View More

Tour Reviews

Keith Buxton

16 Mar 20

Provided full breakfast at 0445 (excellent), good internet, nice a la carte. Nice log fires, hot water bottles at night, underfloor heating in bathroom much appreciated.Amazing surroundings, not surprisingly, no internet. Nicely appointed large chalets. good tasty meals. Paradise Lodge, Arba Minch. Good quality meals attractively presented. Nice good sized pool, chlorinated (we used it). Aamazing views from the restaurant, but our room (130), was small, dark and poky, with only occasional lights working. Haile Resort, Hawasa. Excellent hotel, reasonable internet, buffet meals good, and an excellent clean swimming pool (again, which we used.). AN amazing holiday with lots of variety, and very well organised. Getachew (our guide) was amazing, with his degree of knowledge, and the clarity of his instructions/discussions. We could not fault Ethiopian Airlines,we were well supplied with meals (on the long haul) and snacks on all the short haul flights.

Neil Smith

22 Oct 18

Generally fine. No problems

Important Information

A visa is required for entry into Ethiopia. British Citizen Passport Holders can pay for their visa on arrival at Addis Ababa (Bole) International Airport. You can purchase your visa be-forehand; We work closely with The Travel Visa Company who will be able to arrange your visa for you on your behalf. Please call them on 01270 250 590 and quote 'Mercury holidays'. The current cost of the visa is £102 per person. We recommend that you apply for your visa 8 weeks before travel, however please be aware that your passport will be required for the application so make sure that you will not need it during this time. Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months from the date of entry to Ethiopia. Visa requirements are subject to change and obtaining a visa is the responsibility of the traveller and not Mercury Holidays. We recommend you check with your destinations' Tourist Board or Embassy prior to departure for the most up to date guidelines regarding visas and passport validity.

We strongly recommend that you and all members of your party are suitably insured as soon as you book your holiday. It is a condition of booking that you must have suitable travel insurance. It is important that you purchase travel insurance that suitably covers your participation in whatever activities you may undertake at the time that you make your booking. To assist you with this, we have arranged travel insurance in partnership with Holiday Extras. To arrange your travel insurance with Holiday Extras, please call 0800 781 4237 and quote 'WK830' for preferential rates. Please ensure you provide us with the name of your insurer, policy number and their 24 hour emergency contact number as soon as possible. Mercury Holidays will not be liable for any costs incurred by you due to your failure to take out suitable travel insurance from the date of booking.

If booking more than 10 weeks before departure a deposit of £250pp will need to be paid at the time of booking with the full amount payable at 10 weeks prior to departure. The deposit applies to adults and children. If you are within 10 weeks of travel then the full balance of the holiday will be payable.

Baggage allowance (per person): Each passenger is entitled to 1 piece of hold luggage with each bag not exceeding 20kg. Hand luggage: One piece not exceeding 4Kg and with maxi-mum total dimensions not exceeding 118 cm (55 cm x 40 cm x 23 cm). Should you wish to take additional luggage you will need to pay extra at check-in.

It is your responsibility to check any health and vaccination requirements applicable to your booked arrangements. We can only provide general information about this. Health and hygiene facilities and disease risks vary from country to country. You should take health advice about your own needs as early as possible and in good time before your departure. Sources of information include; www.fco.gov.uk, http://travelhealthpro.org.uk/, www.hpa.org.uk, your General Practitioner or a specialist clinic.

This tour is accessible to most people with a good level of fitness and normal mobility. It involves climbing of steep stairs and getting on and off coaches and boats. This tour is not suitable for anyone with walking difficulties.

This is a fully escorted tour, meaning that you will be met on arrival by your national guide who will remain with you for the duration of your trip. You will also be joined by a local guide in each of the cities which you visit, ensuring that you have first-hand knowledge at all times.

The currency in Ethiopia is the Ethiopian Birr. We recommend that you exchange your currency in Ethiopia, there are foreign exchange bureaus at many places across Ethiopia, your tour guide will be able to assist you. Some local banks will not change money back into Euro's or Pound Sterling, so do not change up too much money. It is advisable to carry smaller note denominations as some outlets and vendors may not accept the larger notes.

You will need to take some extra money with you to cover any personal purchases, such as souvenirs, laundry and extra drinks and snacks. Approximately £300 - £400 per person will be sufficient for the duration of the tour.