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Your Words - We tell it like it is! Holiday Reviews by previous Exodus travellers  

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61 Reviews

  • Reviewed February 2020
    Lindy Fozard

    An amazing country

    Recently returned from a wonderful trip , travelling with a friendly set of companions and Kibrom as our guide. It is a deeply spiritual country with amazing scenery and lovely people. The accommodation is generally good although not everything works ! The Ethiopians don’t have a culture of eating out so restaurants menus are simple and somewhat repetitive - and I didn’t really like Injera which is a classic staple in the Ethiopian diet. Our guide was very knowledgable especially about the church and Ethiopian history and it was interesting to discuss cultural differences with him, which often challenged the Western way of looking at life. Some of the days are very long , with early starts , toilets in restaurants can be a bit grim and you have to accept that “ bush stops” ( girls to the right and boys to the left ) are often required . I think the Exodus assessment of activity levels is an under estimate and a reasonable level of fitness and agility is required especially as many of the sights are at high altitude which can make you feel tired and breathless with minimal activity.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Walking in the mountains, sitting with the baboons, and the walk to the waterfall on market day. We were humbled to be part of the Timkat festival and share in the excitement and fervour of the local people.The boat trip on Lake Tana was very relaxing and enjoyed stopping off at monasteries hidden on the islands.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Kibrom was very knowledgable and once he got to know us was able to share jokes and stories about himself and his family . I wasn’t at the Timkat accident( when a neighbouring stand collapsed with multiple injuries to local people) but I gather he got everyone to safety very quickly. His religion is clearly very important to him and he was able to talk about the churches in great depth.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    There are lots of visits to various holy sites - so please bear that in mind when you book if you are not particularly interested in the religious part of the trip . You need to be fit and agile as lots of climbing up and down steep rocky paths, walking poles are a good idea. The suggested amount of spending money on the Exodus trip notes is too low, most people ended up looking for an ATM ( not that many available) Food , drinks and shopping are not expensive but there is a strong tipping culture .

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Addis Ababa airport is very security conscious, we had to go through security checks 3 times. Don’t buy water in the departure lounge to take on the plane- there is another security check to get to the departure gate , and the water is confiscated immediately ( even when the bottle hasn’t been opened) Tourism is in its infancy and we feel privileged to have visited when we did.
  • Reviewed February 2020
    Rosemary Sampson

    Ethiopia in Depth

    Overall, it was an interesting and very enjoyable experience. Our guide, Yitbarek, was very well organized, knowledgeable, and his love for his country and people shone through. Scenery was spectacular. Hotels, food, and wine ranged in quality, but I went knowing Ethiopia’s infrastructures were poor as were many of the roads. Timket was amazing.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The Timket festival.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Excellent. Well organized, calm, and accommodating when possible. As stated in Summary, his love for his country and people shone through.
  • Reviewed February 2020
    Nigel Pitt

    Ethiopian tour

    A very enjoyable tour. An interesting and beautiful country. The Ethiopians were friendly people. Our Tour Leader Yitbarak was a very good Leader all round. The hotels were better than I expected. The Group was congenial. My most enjoyable group tour so far.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The joyful exuberance of the Ethiopians participating in the religious processions.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Very good all round.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Stomach upset minor but pack some immodium !
  • Reviewed February 2020
    Dorothy Latimer

    Ethiopia in Depth: Timkat Festivsl

    Interesting itinerary but too many long bus trips. Could have been better if bus trips were separated by days or stopped for more breaks. Simien mountains day were wonderful, would have liked longer there. Following day was a long day to Axum and the following day we visited the stelae - would have preferred to have a short walk included into this. Could have shortened the 2 days through Tigrai to Wukro and Mekele. A very long day with wonderful scenery but would have appreciated more and longer stops.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The walk up the Simeon mountains and the Lake Tana visit.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Good and pleasant but would have preferred much more information during the long bus trips. He did not have or did not use a loud speaker until more than half way through the trip. I would have liked much more information about the country during the long bus journeys.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Beware of very long bus trips!
  • Reviewed January 2020
    Angela Coates

    Ethiopia, everything starts from here...

    Ethiopia is a truly unique. Everything begins in Ethiopia. The trip takes you through the historical and cultural aspects of northern Ethiopia - tracing the beginnings of Christianity through different empires and kingdoms. The natural environment is spectacular and the long drives are simply a pleasure as you take in the magnificent scenery - when you step out and walk through it and meet the local flora and fauna - it just increases the impact - the Gelada Monkeys are a highlight for sure. This trip requires physical fitness to fully enjoy what it offers - if you are lucky enough to have this and have the chance - take the opportunity to discover a truly amazing place.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Participating in the religious celebrations - Ethiopians are welcoming and inclusive and they love it when you join in - so join in with an open heart. The people for me were the absolute highlight. The monasteries on the lake are incredible - I could have stayed there for a week! The churches in Tigray are also spectacular - well worth the climb - you will be rewarded. All the stories - this is a land full of human history.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Kibrom happily shared everything with us - the history, culture, religion from the past to the present. He was funny and warm and is a great ambassador for Ethiopia. I am happy that he was our guide because of his knowledge and care - by the end of the trip we were a big family - a good group leader and a good group.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The trip from my point of view is very comfortable - all the hotels were clean with good facilities. The trip notes were also correct and explained what to expect - so there are long drives and you do need to be physically fit to participate in everything that is on offer. Take the advice of the guide - they are there to ensure you enjoy your trip fully. Go now to Ethiopia - it is wonderful.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The departure that I went with was witness to an accident at the Timket celebrations in Gonder. This was very upsetting. In these moments you learn a lot about life, your place within it and the resilience of the Ethiopian people. I have total respect for the Ethiopian people, they are proud and strong. I also want to acknowledge those that lost their lives during the ceremony, I will hold them in my prayers. This event should not deter any future visitors and my comments here are not to meant to cause concerns - but to acknowledge what happened and recognise that life continues.
  • Reviewed January 2020
    John Gilligan

    Orthodox Christmas in Ethiopia

    Ethiopia is not like any other African country. It is Orthodox Christian by choice not conversion and had no colonial period. It's modern economic development is astonishing with people being lifted out of poverty before your eyes. It is still strange and erratic at times - they turn off the internet from time to time - but the scenery is astonishing and the people generally welcoming and pleased to meet you, even if the children have all figured out that tourists mean rich pickings.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    We were there for the Orthodox Christmas which was truly memorable as tens of thousands converge on churches to celebrate. Crowd control is minimal and the experience is a full-on sensory assault.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    The guides are excellent and almost by osmosis you learn about why this country is unique, culturally and geographically.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Food is either Ethiopian and odd to a Western palette (dals, stews and dips with thick sourdough pancake - and what exactly is "fasting food" anyway?), or Italian inspired and absolutely fine. Beer is excellent and cheap and gin essentially all but free. Hotels vary from "pretty good" to "you could do better if you tried a bit", but anyone who goes expecting western chains is going to the wrong place. Fascinating.
  • Reviewed January 2020
    David Abbott

    Simien mountains trek

    Great trek, challenging and a wonderful experience. Both guides ( Sara & Messi ) we’re first class and the group gelled so well. Thank you everyone and happy travelling for 2020.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Getting to summit of Rash Dashan which was a very long but very rewarding day.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Excellent communicator and extremely considerate. Would not think twice about going on another great trek with her.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Get fit before you go and don’t under estimate the challenge or the environment.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Ethiopia is a beautiful country with lovely people and it was a privilege to spend time there.
  • Reviewed October 2019

    Sudden plan to Ethiopia

    I didn't know much about Ethiopia. We suddenly make plan to visit Ethiopia and in this trip we come to about its culture and history. This trip is quite nice, sometime such sudden plans give you lot of happiness and fun.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Simien Mountains hiking
  • Reviewed March 2019
    BARON-VAHL AMOS

    Out of breath

    Poor food, worse wine, fantastic scenery, friendly people, a plethora of birds, some unique endemic species of flora and fauna, some very dodgy hotel service and the worst Exodus arrivals procedure ever because the local Exodus guide is not allowed into the arrivals area!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Getting up close to Geladas without any sort of animosity/aggression being shown on their part was the best wildlife encounter. The iconic rock-hewn churches in Tigre provence came a close second and the cattle/camel market ranked with the walk through the everyday market with its vibrant colours and sometimes noisome smells and people watching both us and them reciprocating almost equally. The various churches and associated museums with priceless artifacts were everywhere. The unique history of the country and its relationship in the modern world made this trip superb. If there had not been the animal market visit it would have been better to have flown to Mekele instead of taking the road trip which became boring after a couple of hours and most people caught up on their sleeping.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Gebre was not there to pick us up at the airport on our arrival he only turned up about an hour after we had landed and this caused problems. I called the local office to find out where the guide was when I exited the arrivals area of the airport at just after 07:00. The office people told me the guide was on the way and was just minutes away, other people at the airport said there were two meeting points at the bottom of the stairs and at the end of the ramp. I waited at the bottom of the stairs until after 07:10 then went to see if the guide was at the other meeting point which was a couple of hundred feet away. At the other designated meeting point another person called the Magnolia hotel for me and the hotel staff said I should join their bus which was waiting for two Italians and come with them to the hotel. The bus waited until 08:40 and then departed for the hotel and after a ten minute check-in I was shown to my room. On returning to the hotel foyer to change money I found the rest of the Exodus group had arrived and they were being checked-in. I asked about the meet and greet meeting which I duly attended at which most of the information provide was changed throughout the course of the trip, some data given was happily changed later, where the hotels being used were important for location if not for facilities so said the guide. The information provided by the guide was that only the first hotel had been changed from what was in the original notes that turned out not to be true. The guide was capable but the English was a mite difficult to understand at times the odd turn of phrase needed to be interpreted and mostly he was understood. The restaurants we were taken to outside of the hotels all seemed to be of the same pattern with the same menus and on only two occasions did I see the guide put his hand in his pocket to pay for his own food or drink at lunch or dinner. The guides ability to steer us through potential hazards was not in any way detrimental to the trip. The offer of taking the road instead of the mule ride was not made until the departure day of the excursion and only mentioned in passing the previous night, the alternative was not mentioned in the trip notes. Getting out of the bus, the guide helped in chopping up a tree trunk that had fallen across the road on the very long journey to Mekele, which was only relieved by the camel market visit. The guide helped me with the purchase of stamps for my postcards none of which have arrived yet even though the first set was posted over two weeks ago this might be because the quantity might have not been sufficient for each card as each time the amount to be used for each card varied depending on the vendor of the stamps. Overall I have nothing bad to say about the guide he did his best and the driver was also very helpful to me personally by finding a drinkable wine and posting my cards at the post office.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    If you are likely to struggle at altitude it might be worth while getting some altitude sickness pills before going as some of the walking was at 3000 ft, I wheezed continuously. Buying give aways such as pens for the local children, some adults also wanted them, it is better to buy locally this puts money into the local economy and it is cheaper than buying at home and transporting to Ethiopia. A bic pen costs about 30 pence each here in the UK but for <£10 you can buy 50 locally. Ask what the Exodus supported charity would like to receive and perhaps purchase items locally. Shoes are a big item cost wise in Ethiopia taking a few old pairs for give aways to individuals might be useful, though embarrassing also. There are numerous stalls that sell plastic shoes beside the roadside ask the local charity if they would like a donation towards the purchase of shoes for the kids they sponsor at their school and or help towards the buying of materials for the school itself. Money is the practical item most appreciated at the charity since it takes a lot of determination and usable skills to become a volunteer on site. If you are not a pasta or pizza person normally then your diet is going to be assaulted by this food carbohydrate for most meals but better this and macaroni than the local fare, the indjera. The local wrap, Indjera, is made from the teff grain which seems to be endemic to Ethiopia its fermented for up to three days before being treated as floor and made into the slightly sour sponge-like and rubbery textured wrap called Indjera, an acquired taste which I hope I never acquire try it at least once! The fish is usually good and the meat overdone, western style dishes might be on the menu but they will not be a patch on the food you expect to get from the name. I'm not fond of larger but it was better than the local wine! Since the holiday does not include food other than breakfast a trip to the local supermarket is advisable perhaps a requirement if you have a delicate stomach and would prefer snacks to vast amounts of pasta or iffy local cuisine. The coffee and the frankincense are good purchases as are the basket work and cotton shawls, if you're looking for that t-shirt that says been there and done that, good luck, I tried but failed. Watch out for slippery floors in the hotels and the ironing scam where the price is exorbitant and the result questionable. In the major towns some of the wide boys will try to attach themselves to you with implausible stories about how they are looking after themselves their families and going to school all at the same time that people their age are at work or trying it on with the tourists! There are genuine cases of hardship but they are clearly visible and they are not the well dressed/heeled wide boys, the shoes and the condition of the clothes are the usual clear indicators of the scam artists. Do not be surprised by the casual cruelty meted out to the domestic beasts of burden and livestock in general, thrown rocks, lashes with sticks and fists or kicks are not unusual.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I mostly enjoyed the trip, my slip getting out of the shower and wrenched shoulder muscles as a result did not detract from the experience. Take your full first aid kit with you and remember the painkillers/diarrhoea/constipation prophylactics. Good shoes are a must even in the cities the wear and tear on your footwear will be high as the pavements are very uneven. help is always at hand but this might be unwelcome at times especially when going up the 60 degree climb the unbalanced grip on your elbow can be unhelpful. if you are able to use walking / hiking sticks then take them with you but only if you are adept at using them, as a new toy the would be a hindrance not an aid, they will be a boon along the rocky paths and uneven surfaces.

    Reply from Exodus

    Reply from Exodus

    We would like to thank Baron-Vahl for his feedback. Whilst we are pleased that he enjoyed a number of aspects of the trip we are very sorry that he found the arrival set-up to not be as expected. It is true that no tour leaders from any organisation are allowed to enter the terminal hall, however, they will meet members of the group at either of the two meeting spots outside the terminal; we have confirmed that the tour leader was there and picked up all other members of the group who arrived on the group flight so we are sincerely sorry that Baron-Vahl and the leader missed each other. We have passed the feedback on to the local team in the hopes they can make the meeting spot more obvious in the future.

    John Penge - Product Manager for Ethiopia

  • Reviewed January 2019
    Wing Chan

    Amazing experience but challenging conditions

    This was a busy and varied trip through northern Ethiopia. I had a great time and met lots of friendly, interesting and kind people. We bonded as a group and with our guide, which made it really special. The Simien Mountains are stunning and we got to see them from the national park, during the long drives and on the mule trek and climb up to a church in Lalibela. Our guide let us stop frequently on the long drives to take pictures, which broke up the journey and made it interesting. The unique paintings in the monastery churches in Lake Tana were breathtaking when we first saw them and the rock hewn churches in Lalibela were a true wonder. When we were there, the Ethiopians celebrated their Christmas and we experienced the pilgrimage that thousands of people make to Lalibela for the Christmas Day service. On Christmas Eve, we went up to the church in the Simiens by mule and on foot, which was dangerous and crowded coming down, but which was an amazing and unforgettable experience. We managed because of paid helpers who were mostly young lads trying to earn money for their education and I did not begrudge this at all. Also, the Ethiopians were kind, understanding and allowed us to pass safely, amazed that foreigners were there at all. In the evening, at 10 pm, some of us went to the rock hewn church of St Mary and joined thousands of pilgrims who were spending the night there, some holding candle wicks and watching the night time service. It was really atmospheric. Thankfully, we went back to the hotel to sleep. Others got up at 7 am to make it to the Christmas Day service itself and were seen in the crowd on Ethiopian tv! The accommodation was varied, some ok and some below standard. The wifi is unreliable and weak, even if the hotels say that it is available. The functionality of the plumbing, general cleanliness and availability of hot water is varied amongst all the hotels where we stayed and were the main problems. The availability of clean and functional toilets outside the hotels during the day was sparse. Be prepared to tolerate all of this when you go on this trip.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The mule trek and hike to the church in the Simien Mountains and the hike down was one of the highlights. The other was Christmas Eve and being amongst the pilgrims at night time as they slept/waited for Christmas Day.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Gebre was fantastic. He is very knowledgeable, friendly and was pleased to answer any questions that we had. He made sure that we got to see everything, negotiating with locals and sorting out any problems with accommodation. He went out of his way to ensure that we got the most out of our trip.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be prepared to put up with poor toilets (generally everywhere), plumbing that does not work (no hot water in some hotels and toilets that do not flush well), lack of cleanliness, loose electrical wires and lack of functionality of mundane items (tv, hair dryer - if there is one) in some of the accommodation (in Lalibela, the seals on the shower cubicle had gaps in them and so the room was flooded each time we had a shower, but there was hot water). There is unreliable wifi, which is frustrating when the hotels say that it is available. In Lake Tana and Gondar, the hotel staff opened our windows during the day time, which let the insects and mosquitoes in and the mosquito nets in the windows had holes in them. Good walking boots are essential for most days. The steps to/ground around the churches are all uneven and sometimes steep, even in Lalibela. Some of the trip is exceptionally dusty, which is why the showering issue becomes important. There are early starts and long days in order to travel to see everything described. This is is a rewarding holiday but definitely not 'relaxing'. Read the trip notes. They are fairly accurate.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Our driver, Tegen, was also great. He was very skilled at driving us through the most challenging of 'roads', manoeuvring us through chaotic traffic jams and making the van do things that we did not think were possible. We were completely safe with him. 11/12 of us became ill at some point of the trip, all of us suffering from upset stomach and not feeling well. It lasted a day or two and did not spoil the trip.