Chris Morris (Into Africa), Sally Ells (Dragoman), Tessa van der Walt (Jacada Travel) and Sue Anstead (Specialist Africa), embarked on an 11-day trip through the Southern circuit
They enjoyed boat trips on Great Rift Valley Lakes, including the renowned ‘Crocodile Market’, on Lake Chamo, reputedly the world’s greatest concentration of crocodiles, surrounded by abundant water birds and hippos. This was after encountering the Ethiopian Wolf on the Sanetti Plateau and visiting the vibrant market, Dimeka, as well as the tribal homelands of the Tsemay and the Hamer.
Extending their cultural journey, they travelled to numerous villages along the Omo River, meting the Karo, who with only 2000 people is Ethiopia’s smallest tribe, before heading eastwards to see the Dasenech people, famous for their body painting and scarification.
Chris told us that “the famous Ethiopian wolves were surprisingly easy to spot and ironically, we saw one saw one of Africa’s rarer sights - a pack of African Wild dogs in Mago National Park.”
Although luxury properties are few and far between, there are still plenty of clean, very comfortable and friendly accommodation options throughout Ethiopia. Sally of Dragoman praised Paradise Lodge (in Arba Minch) as boasting “amazing views of Lake Chamo and Lake Abaya”, whilst Sue described Bale Mountain Lodge as “ a simply beautiful property, and we were served excellent food”. The group also visited the Jupiter Hotel, Sabana Beach Resort, Haile Resort, Buska Lodge and Eco Omo.
The Northern Circuit was visited Roxy Cox of Aardvark Safaris, Caroline Bayly from Classic Escapes and Richard Latham of Zeta Tours, experiencing Ethiopia’s religious buildings and picturesque landscapes.
They set off on a 6 day trip exploring the historic regions of Gondar and Lalibela, along with the stunning scenery of the Simien Mountains.
Axum is the start point for the country’s ancient historic route, but due to poor weather conditions, the group was unfortunately not able to make it up this far north. In fact, Dinknesh don’t ever recommend travelling to Axum during the months of July and August.
They did however visit Lalibela, to witness the well-sculpted rock-hewn churches. Roxy went of to tell us, “Each church was so impressive, carved straight from the rocks, and you wonder how on earth these magnificent buildings were created without the machinery and modern day tools.”
They stayed at the Goha Hotel in Gondar, which Roxy praised as being in a ‘great location to see the Churches’.
Caroline Bayly described her favourite part of the trip as “An afternoon spent in the middle of over a hundred Gelada Baboons” She’d recommend two days in the Simien Mountains “to make the most of the baboons, the hikes and the birding.”
Roxy Cox was equally taken with the Geladas. “They’re an extraordinary sight, and there is something really captivating about being able to sit amongst these fine creatures observing their antics and general behaviour.”
These operators described Limalimo Lodge as the most top-end accommodation they visited in Ethiopia. The property boasts beautiful panoramic views and a unique spot overlooking the Simien Mountains.
The group also visited the Jupiter Hotel, Mayleko Lodge, Mountain View Hotel, Golden Tulip Hotel and The Sheraton in Addis Ababa.
Upon their return, the operators were all brimming with praise for Dinknesh – for their knowledgeable guides, their close relationships with local properties and the overall professionalism of the company.
Sue Anstead said “The tour itinerary ran like clockwork – despite people arriving on different days.”
Chris Morris also emphasised his guide, Eyob’s English was “superb” and Roxy went on to say “His interest in the country and its history was infectious! He was clearly incredibly well-respected across the country as everywhere we went, he was greeted so warmly.”
Both groups thoroughly enjoyed traditional Ethiopian cuisine with Dinknesh on their last night, accompanied by traditional Ethiopian folkloric dances.
Ethiopia is definitely a destination for the more seasoned Africa traveller. Make sure clients pack their walking shoes, a sense of adventure and prepare to be educated! And a tip from Kamili – don’t forget to try the Ethiopian coffee!!
For more information on Ethiopia or Dinknesh Tours, please contact Helen at firstname.lastname@example.org