16 independent reviews for Ethiopia holidays, tailor made4.5 star rating

These full and frank independent reviews are from travellers who have booked directly through responsibletravel.com. They are not edited by us or any of the companies we work with. Find the real story, from real travellers below.

Michelle Le Blanc review 6 Nov 20145 star rating

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


We loved the whole trip but, for us, walking with the gelada monkeys in the
Simien National park was truly special. We were also amazed by the Lalibela
churches and had a fantastic trip on Lake Tana - we saw hippos, crocodile and
many types of bird, including pelicans, kingfisher and fish eagles.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Go for it! The whole trip was brilliantly organised - ran like clockwork - and
thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes - it was great to travel with a local company and to have local guides.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Splendid, we had a truly wonderful holiday.

Helen Spence review 26 Oct 20144 star rating

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


I visited Ethiopia thanks to an inspirational article I was sent about half a year
back about the rock-hewn churches of Tigray. I was not disappointed when I visited them, but for me the highlight of the trip was trekking in the Simien mountains. I would heartily endorse anyone who is physically able to undertake this journey of 2-8 days with a credible tour company (suggest Eskinder). Although my tent living conditions were not 5 star, the experience was. My guide, scout and especially the cook were wonderful. I had better food on this trek than in any of the restaurants I visited in the 10 days in Ethiopia.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Be prepared for less than luxurious accommodations. Ethiopia is spectacular but its infrastructure for good plumbing, electricity, Western food, hot water etc. is lacking. I'd suggest you always have a head lamp for additional light. Light is particularly poor in many hotels and restaurants even when there is electricity.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Absolutely. In each locale, my operators had to engage local guides (a new government regulation). When trekking, we had local scouts, mule handlers, cooks etc. There is a very clear understanding that impact on the environment should be minimal and tourism should benefit the local populations.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


I had a wonderful trip and I was especially pleased with the service provided by
Eskinder Hailu Sebeta. Traveling alone as a woman in my mid
sixties, I naturally had security concerns. Eskinder answered every email immediately and provided accurate information. He was trustworthy and reliable. It contributed greatly to my enjoyment of the experience.

Sharon Woodworth review 17 Feb 20144 star rating

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Camping and hiking in the Simiens.
Travelling through breathtaking landscapes.
The friendliness and hospitality of the people we met along the way but most of all our driver and guide who looked after us throughout the whole trip.


2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Travelling overland is not easy - Very long travel days on bad roads. Flying is an option but then you miss out on the marvellous sights and smells along the way.

Don't umm and aah about this trip - just do it - you won't regret it.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes, Highway Tours is an Addis based locally owned company employing local people. We stayed in lovely hotels that weren't corporate owned.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Loved every minute of it! Want to go back and do the South next!

Fran Ellis review 17 Aug 20135 star rating

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Being able to take my children (6,8,10) to Ethiopia was fantastic; they loved seeing the animals- Jago loved the tame ostrich and dik dik, Jasper loved hunting lizards and Leo loved everything. For me, my heart was filled with joy just to be back in Africa; never a dull moment driving right down to the South Omo valley and seeing the amazing landscapes and people, everyone so friendly and
interested in the boys. The organisation by the operator was impeccable: competent and knowledgable guides who were also incredibly nice and made us feel very welcome. Any concerns we had about taking the children to Ethiopia were immediately erased when we arrived and realised that everything was going to be made as easy as possible for us all. We loved all the places we visited
but for me the South Omo valley was particularly amazing, a real privilege to see a part of the world that feels so unchanged by
time.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Take a coat for the Simien Mountains; don't bother taking Traveller's cheques as they are not accepted anywhere; most hotels will do your laundry for you; antibacterial hand gel is really useful; many hotels have mosquito nets; bottled water is cheap and easy to get- we didn't need water purifiers; there are ATM's only in Addis.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes. Our holiday benefited many local people- a whole variety of jobs were involved in providing our holiday including guides, guards and drivers. All were carried out by Ethiopians. We stayed in privately owned hotels and ate locally. We visited Nature Reserves.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


It was a fantastic experience for our whole family; the children coped extremely well with the change of culture and will have learnt a great deal from their experiences. They are looking forward to sharing their photos and thoughts with their schools. We are extremely grateful to Eskinder for his meticulous attention to detail, efficiency and organisation, and also to the fantastic guides who
shared their wide knowledge with us and treated the sometimes troublesome boys with great patience and kindness- particularly Mr Ayela and Solomon with whom we spent 11 or 12 days.

Stephen Osgerby review 21 Oct 20134 star rating

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


It is difficult to identify one single part of such a great itineray. if pushed then I would say Lalibela, but all the other places - Lake Tana, Gondar, Simien Mountains, Acksom, Harar were fascinating in their own right.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


It's Africa - there will be delays, some things won't work, you may even be ill for a couple of days. If you can cope with these minor inconveniences then don't hestitate - Ethiopia ia a greast destination

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


I certainly feel that using a local agency kept the money spent within the country.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


I can't speak highly enough of Eskinder and his team - organisation was efficient and all the guides were excellent. The only reason not to give it 5-star rating is that Ethiopian food is an acquired taste (that I haven't acquired)

Scott Stanway review 29 May 20125 star rating

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


The two days in Lalibela was by far the peak and summit of my trip to Ethiopia and a dream come true. However, apart from the visits, the best thing by far about being in Ethiopia was the people. I had such fun with them and they are an extremely friendly nation - the guides, in particular, were fantastic, knowledgeable and always keen to show you some extra places. Also worth mentioning is the agent, Eskinder, who went flat out to ensure that everything ran smoothly and was always able to go the extra mile for his customers - a real hero.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Prepare yourself for a completely different culture to your own, be open minded, be ready to have some amazing experiences and see some amazing sites. Importantly, don't worry - the guides and agents are fantastic and will go out of their way to make sure that you enjoy yourself and have a great experience.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


As I stayed at local hotels, ate in local restaurants and shopped locally, I feel that the local people definitely benefited in some way. Regarding environmental impacts and conservation, I can't really comment apart from that I know our party didn't disturb any of the natural environments with litter or such things.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


It was a dream come true, an absolutely fantastic trip and one I would take again in a heartbeat. Everything went well, from general organisation to travel to accommodation to the sightseeing itself. The agent, Eskinder, chose the best people in each town and made sure that everything was as good as it could possibly be.

Stuart Read review 4 Feb 20125 star rating

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


It's not easy to pick out any one thing that stood out above all else, this trip was a feast for the mind from start to finish. Itís now a good couple of months since our return and I've had time to begin digesting the memories. With that in mind, I guess it has to be the people we met along the way, so many wonderful people. All our guides were excellent without exception but not just the guides... all their support staff, cooks, drivers, kitchen assistants, hotel and restaurant staff etc ... the local people wherever we went, the waving smiling children ... I could go on forever. Yep, above all else, the people really did it for me.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


My top tips... Take a large empty bag in which to bring home a few souvenirs. Keep smiling (hard not to!) the locals seemed to warm very quickly to a friendly face. Try not to be too intrusive with your camera, if you want to photo local people just ask politely. If at any point you feel yourself wilting from culture overload, donít be afraid to tell your guide you'd rather like to chill out over a coffee or a beer, they are more than happy to go with the flow.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Short answer, Yes ... local guides, locally sourced food, Souvenirs made by local people, local airline, local drivers and all our tips went to local people. Just the way it should be.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


This trip will live with me forever for so many reasons... Ethiopia is a stunning country of incredible landscapes, mind blowing mountain vistas, magical towns and villages and breath taking scenery that left us speechless.

Special thanks must go to Eskinder for knitting everything together so seamlessly. Remarkable! 5 stars.

Bettina Walsh review 16 Dec 20124 star rating

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


The Ethiopians themselves are the most memorable part of our holiday. They are genuinely kind people, passionate, proud of their heritage and country and fun-loving! Eskinder, who owns and manages the travel company is an inspiration and
his level of personal service is unbeatable. We had fantastic local guides, but special mention goes to a young gentleman called Rafael who was our guide from Axum to Gheralta region -- his enthusiasm was infectious, his knowledge was
impressive, his English was v good. Credit also goes to Sama from Gonder who showed us the non-touristy attractions of Gondar and gave us memorable moments in the Simien Mountains.

Highlights of the trip were : rock-hewn chuches in the Tigray region (Abuna Yematah Guh) and Mariam Korkor, and the experience of being up close and personal with the rare Walia Ibex and the geladas.


2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


- If you're travelling outside the rainy season of Ethiopia, suggest you take out Blue Nile from your itinerary. Personally, we didnt think the waterfalls were impressive enough.
- In Lalibela, try the Ben Abebas restaurant
- In the Gheralta region try the local speciality, Thalo
- In the Gheralta region, make sure you stay at the fabulous Gheralta Lodge
- if you are reasonably fit, highly recommend the trekking and climbing up the mountains to visit the rock hewn chuches (Abuna Yematah is our personal favourite), and for great views, the Mariam Korkor. It's a bit of hard work and by no means are we spring chickens, but once you're reached the churches, you would think it's worth it. We personally preferred these churches in the Gheralta/Tigray region over those of Lalibela
- for men: climb the Debre Damo monastery (sorry ladies, women are not allowed here) by rope. My husband thoroughly enjoyed it. I didnt enjoy the long wait at the bottom and saw another woman was cross with her husband when he got
back. It's approx 1.5-2 hrs wait, so suggest women waiting for their men have a good book, etc.
- Get the latest edition of the Bradt guide to Ethiopia -- packed with lots of useful info!
- For long drives, insist on getting the more comfortable 4x4 as opposed to minivans, specially when it's just the two of you travelling
- Hotels outside Addis are booked based on the best available at the time of booking. Regret not all hotels are up to standard.
- Tipping is optional and as all guides/drivers etc have already been paid for, there is no need to tip. However, it is much appreciated. As a general rule, if the guides ask you for a tip, don' tip them -- report them to Eskinder. In our experience,
no guide has asked us for tips, but we gave them tips because we thought they did a great job. There are some "unofficial guides" who would help you climb the mountains in the Gheralta region -- these are not paid for, so with the amount of
work they provide in ensuring your safety, it is good to give them a generous tip. I would suggest though that the local guides would explain this to visitors at the outset...


3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


- Yes

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Fabulous. One of the best holidays we've ever had. We would like to go back and see the Southern region next time, and if we do so, we would happily book again with Eskinder.

Keith Cornish review 14 Jul 20124 star rating

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Seeing the diversity of culture, history and geography in the north of Ethiopia. All places visited were special in their own way but Lalibela was especially stunning.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Travelling by road can be difficult because of all the works that are in progress (especially Gondar to Axum). Flying is efficient and cheap.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes-Lalibela Lodge in particular.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Excellent-very well organised by the operator and all guides and drivers were superb.

Martin Sheldon review 7 Dec 20115 star rating

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Highlights of this holiday for me was the inspiring friendliness of everyone we met. It was a total feast for the eyes and unravelled lots of grey matter that was festering in my brain! The varied landscapes that we passed through were immense, and in my view unsurpassed in their natural beauty - from the bustling streets and markets of Addis to the tranquil lake Tana, on to the jaw dropping Simeon mountains that make you feel insignificant in natures raw power. Lalibella was truly special and thought provoking, with a visit to Harer near the end of the trip the last piece of icing on this very large and expansive cake - what an amazing two weeks... such memories will linger on for the rest of my life. How can so many people live in poverty yet remain so positive and happy? I just dont understand !!

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Tips for this trip would be to just go with the flow. Talk to as many locals as you can. Be flexible with the agenda, the guides and drivers are very friendly, time out to sit and ponder over coffee is a must. Dont hesitate book this trip with Eskinder you will not regret it... I promise!

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


As far as i am concerned all money spent went to the local people in Ethiopia. Tipping is important and should never be missed. Tourism in Ethiopia should be encouraged they have so much to offer and brings much needed revenue to a whole host of people with very little impact on the vast environment.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


This holiday or experience to my mind will never be beaten. Eskinder and his fellow guides and drivers provided an extremely well organised and mind blowing experience... I will be back!

Andrea Bray review 7 Mar 20114 star rating

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


The scenery and the climate were spectacular, but the general feel of Ethiopia is great, much cleaner than I expected.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


One of the main benefits to booking directly with the operator, is the cost, compared to UK travel companies I guess it was half the price. We seemed to receive the same trip as other travellers, but with a much more personal service, just the 2 of us in a 4 x4 whilst others were travelling in mini buses,

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


I am not sure how local people benefited (maybe something happens behind the scenes), apart from the tourism bringing income to local families. Some local lads are starting to demand money from tourists, which is a little daunting and could be off putting to future travellers, I think the tour companies should warn of this in advance and assure people it is just boys pushing their luck and to ignore them, for the sake of the tourist industry in Ethiopia.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Eskinder and the operator were great, they looked after us every step of the way, and we have some wonderful memories to keep.

Christopher Shann review 25 Jan 20114 star rating

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Our main purpose was to experience the ancient churches, monasteries and other cultural icons. These were awe inspiring and beyond anything we expected.

The landscapes will also live on for us.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


We opted for a road only option. We do not regret this as we do not like either airports or flying. However this involved some very long days.
Also temperatures at night can fall to zero and rooms are not necessarily heated. Take plenty of layers and be very cautious about camping.
Check guide book re climbs suggested to some rock churches in relation to your age and fitness level.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Obviously we hope local people benefited, especially as we dealt direct with a local operator and were careful to avoid economic disruption e.g by giving not buying. Having said that, Ethiopia is a desperately poor country and we are uncertain to what extent tourism will help with basic problems.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Wonderful and at times challenging. We would certainly commend this holiday operator. They were efficient and caring at all times. In common with other operators they were let down by hotels they had booked in Lalabella and coped very well on our behalf. Other independent or small group travellers were less fortunate.

Anne Moir review 22 Dec 20104 star rating

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


The trek in the Simeon Mountains - amazing scenery although tough trekking. The gelabi baboons were also wonderful - a rare treat to get so close to a wild animal. Also rock churches of Lalibella are definitely worth a trip.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


If trekking ensure you take sufficient thermal gear as its very cold at night. Ensure you have enough battery for your camera (or take a spare) - the trek is so stunning we ran out! It takes ages to get the right shot of the baboons! And too many options on the scenery.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Yes - everyone was careful on the trek to clear up rubbish etc and local people employed to work for us at all stages.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Very well organised from logistics - not any single thing to improve on. Eskinder, from the travel company, was brilliant - especially when we got stuck due to the snow at Heathrow!

Barbara Gallani review 4 Feb 20104 star rating

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Driving through breathtaking landscapes, being on the "roof of Africa" with the Gelada baboons and experiencing the magnificent rock-hewn churches of Lalibela during Leddet.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Ask Eskinder if Abush is free to be your driver. As well as accommodating our needs and being very reliable and careful on the roads, Abush was also great company and made us feel very welcome and comfortable during our many road trips on the historical circuit.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Ethiopia is a beautiful country with a proud history and magnificent sites. Tourism, if responsible, can provide economic support there for local communities and make a real difference to people's lives. We feel that Eskinder organises his trips in a way that is sensitive to the needs of local people. Our guide for our stay in the Simien mountains showed great knowledge and respect for the local environment.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


The organisation was excellent. The car, driver, hotels and guides were all of a high standard and within our budget. Overall, our holiday was immensely enjoyable and totally hassle-free!

Jan Burgess review 8 Feb 20103 star rating

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Visiting the historical sites in the north of Ethiopia. The travel arrangements were good and we were met at each airport by English speaking, local guides who were very knowledgeable and proud of their country's history. The churches at Lalibela are stunning and the stellae at Axum magnificent.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Everyone should be aware that Ethiopia is a country fairly new to tourism. The standard of the hotels varies from good to dreadful. Water and electricity supplies are intermittent. The altitude may affect some people as for the majority of the time we were above 2000 metres and in the Simien Mountains over 3000 metres. In the south the countryside is beautiful but roads with tarmac are few and many hours each day are spent negotiating what are little more than donkey tracks through the mountains. On the whole the people are extremely kind, helpful and friendly but unfortunately a culture of asking tourists for money is becoming obvious.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


We were taken to tribal villages, some set up for tourists, and were able, but not coerced, to buy locally made artefacts. Also stating in local 'hotels' provided work for many people in each area. As far as impact on the local environment is concerned because of the distances, terrain and time involved we had to fly between the major sites in the north. The southern part of the trip involved many hours in a diesel Toyota Landcruiser.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


This was an EXPERIENCE not a holiday. It is not for anyone wishing to see the country from cushioned 5* travel. It is a fascinating place to visit but only for people who are prepared to accept the differences in culture and standards without being too upset. My travelling companion and I were 70 and 69 at the time, both reasonably fit and had previously travelled to Nepal, India etc but felt that this was the most challenging trip.

Clare Nicholls review 23 Nov 20095 star rating

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Too many to single out the one! The Simien Mountains were breathtaking and the lodge is a haven. Lalibela lives up to and surpasses expectations - we were very lucky to see two important festivals taking part in the churches - that was incredibly special to see the churches as living places of worship and not mere tourist sites.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Get out of the minibus and meet the people. Ethiopia is an extraordinary country, with a deep, rich heritage and Ethiopians are incredibly civilised, dignified and welcoming. It really is worthwhile spending some time with them, you will learn a lot - about the country, yourself and humanity.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Yes - on an economic level it certainly benefitted local people. Re the environment - I think you should boycott hotels such as the Mountain View in Lalibela should they open up a swimming pool as suggested. Deeply inappropriate when the town has significant water issues.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


One of the best trips of my life. A brilliant country but the trip was really made by our agent, Eskinder. I cannot stress how professional and considerate he was throughout the holiday.

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Unedited reviews from other travellers

5 stars
I am reborn! Simply the best holiday I have ever been on
4 stars
Some great stories to tell the grandchildren. Would recommend to a friend
3 stars
Very enjoyable
2 stars
It was OK
1 star
A bit disappointing really
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