8 independent reviews for Ethiopia cultural holidays

Reviews for Ethiopia cultural holidays

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review 10 Feb 2016

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

Walking in the Simien mountains.

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

Great if you are interested in culture, history and religion - there are a lot of churches!

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

Not specifically, but I didn't see it do any harm, and generally contributed to the developing tourist industry.

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


review 13 Apr 2015

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

Although the Churches, Museums and Palaces were stunning and memorable the aspect that made the most impact was meeting people in different parts of Ethiopia and gaining some understanding of how they live. In particular the Awrumba village on the way from Gondar to Bahir Dar was quite an eye opener and proves that with a lot of will and effort anything can be accomplished.

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

Be prepared for some arduous walking - not constant but definitely requires some stamina! Don't try to do too much in a short period. There is a lot of flying involved and if you are not careful you can spend too much time getting from one place to another. There are some early starts involved and with the time difference the first few days can be hard. It makes sense to start the day early particularly if it is hot but go to bed early! Bring enough US Dollars to cover hotel extras (drinks, laundry etc). A lot of hotels have the "Visa" sign in reception but the connection rarely works outside of Addis Ababa.

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

I certainly hope so but it is hard to know where the money is going. We mostly stayed in Ethiopian run hotels so we hope that we helped to promote employment of local people. Buying a few souvenirs and eating in local restaurants also helps. Not convinced that tourism of any kind reduces environmental impact or supports conservation.

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

9/10. My only regret was that we couldn't stay longer in some places. It can feel like a bit of a whirlwind tour but if you only have two weeks there is no alternative.

review 4 Feb 2015

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

The most memorable parts of the holiday were the fantastic scenery, visiting the churches hewn out of rock at Lalibela, being present at the Timkat festival and spending time with the baboons

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

Go with an open mind and you will have many wonderful surprises

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

The money spent by the tour provide employment for local people

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

It was very well organised and a wonderful experience

review 31 May 2014

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

rock cut churches of lalibela and tigray, waking up in the crisp cool morning in tigray with the gheralta mtns in clear view, right in front of my room in beautiful gheralta lodge, nice evenings by the lake tana

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

be prepared for the flies, tourists, mosquitoes and patience for the water/electricity (might get turned off suddenly)

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

yes. bought souvenirs from locals, discouraged beggers, stayed at accommodations that use solar energy and are self supplied, like growing their own vegetables and used local material for buildings

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

very good

review 29 Jan 2014

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

There were so many memorable parts of the holiday. Ethiopia's amazing scenery, the rock hewn churches of Tigray and Lalbela, and the Blue Nile Falls; and all the magnificent paintings in their churches.

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

I would recommend that they establish how much money they require on a day to day basis. I would budget for $20-$30 max. When I emailed Responsible travel and asked their response was not very helpful in my opinion.

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

To a degree

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

Amazing. However with a bit of tweaking I believe it could have been even more amazing.

Read the operator's response here:

Hi David Many thanks for your review. We really value the feedback. We are so pleased you enjoyed your trip in Northern Ethiopia. With regard to budget most meals are included except in Addis Ababa and also lunches throughout. We do allude to a budget for food and drink in our country notes. All other items are really of a personal nature so it is difficult to say what a good budget should be but we thank you for your guidance. In terms of benefiting local people, our philosophy is to only use small and locally owned partners, meaning that the income remains within the country and creates a positive economic contribution. We also feel that the passion inherent within our partners means that your experience will be enhanced. We engage with our partners on an equal basis – getting the lowest possible price usually isn’t the best outcome for local communities and is ultimately unsustainable. We aim to always treat our local partners fairly and with respect; they are after all part of the key to our success and to us working together is much more than just a business arrangement, but an on-going relationship. Our travellers are usually only accompanied by locally based staff and guides. We do not send UK or other non-local staff to escort our clients unless absolutely unavoidable. This ensures that your tourist spend goes directly in to the local economy. Also to keep our environmental and cultural footprint to a minimum we operate only small groups that average 6-8 clients with an absolute maximum of 10. I would be interested if you could contact us directly so that we can see how some tweaking would have made the trip even more amazing for you. Best Wishes and thanks again Mark

review 24 Jan 2014

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

Debre Birhan Selassie church and the openness of the Ethiopians.

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

Saviour it and enjoy!

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

It is difficult to say whether the tourist dollar reaches those in need but buying their handicrafts may do so. We supported conservation but I don't think there was either a negative or positive effect on environmental issues.

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

Much to appreciate and enjoy

Read the operator's response here:

Many thanks for your feedback. We are delighted that you enjoyed your trip to Ethiopia. Our very small groups and limited departures means that our impact – both cultural and environmental – on the destinations that we visit is small and sustainable. By not bringing groups to our destinations on a regular basis, we hope not to have an adverse effect on the sometimes vulnerable ethnic groups that live there and the local environment. For this trip we only operate 3 departures a year with an average group size of 6-8 people. We take our role incredibly seriously and are determined to put as much as possible back into the communities we are privileged to visit. We have gone to great lengths to personally research our tours and to meet with our locally owned and operated partners. We have built up strong relationships with our partners who we prefer to call ‘colleagues’. We believe that our continued success is dependent on these close ties. Our philosophy is to only use small and locally owned partner organisations, meaning that the income remains within the country and creates a real economic contribution. We also feel that the passion inherent within our partners means that your experience will be enhanced. We try to engage with our partners on an equal basis – getting the lowest possible price usually isn’t the best outcome for local communities and is ultimately unsustainable. We aim to always treat our partners fairly and with respect; they are after all part of the key to our success and to us working together is much more than just a business arrangement, but an on-going relationship that we aim to ensure truly benefits everyone involved. Our travellers are usually only accompanied by locally based staff and guides. We do not send UK or other non-local staff to escort our clients unless absolutely unavoidable. This ensures that the money you spend goes directly in to the local economy. Once again thank you for your comments.

review 3 Nov 2013

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

The rock churches at Lalibela. The fact that they are not monuments or museums but a live and living church and place of pilgrimage makes them all the more special.

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

This tour had some long drives to get to Tigray and then the Simeon Mountains. They are worth it. The scenery is stunning and the churches at Tigray well worth the effort to get to.

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

It benefited local people because we used a local tour company and hotels rather than international chains. Also we used two lodges which were environmentally friendly. However apart from employment and tourist spending it is difficult to define environmental or conservation benefits.

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

Very good. I will be looking for more similar experiences.

review 1 May 2012

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

Everything was excellent, could not find any faults. Unexpectedly we stayed at the Giralta Lodge for one night, which was very nice, would liked to have stayed longer. Stopped for a picnic one lunch time and shared our food with 3 local children who did not know how to crack a hard boiled egg, so the driver told them to crack it on their head! Driver did not like donkeys on the road, but they kept walking in front of him. On last night had a surprise trip to a local restaurant with traditional music and dancing before catching our flight home.

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

We were advised to take US$, but when changing money at the bank UK £ was a better exchange rate, so it is best to take £ with a few dollars $. Don't rely on ATM machines or credit cards. Simien Mountain Lodge a rip-off considering the price. Bedrooms good, but food was extremely poor. Staff did not seem interested, service the worst of anywhere.

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

Local hotels and restaurants used.

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

Excellent, we were the only 2 on the trip and had a 4WD air-conditioned vehicle to ourselves. Driver was really good and we were able to stop whenever we wanted to either to take photos or at a market, etc. It was a really surprising country and would recommend it to anyone who likes a bit of adventure and history.

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