Ethiopian tour

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We are looking to go to Ethiopia next January and are looking for a good small group tour operator or a tour guide for a couple or small group. We would like to see the churches, etc but our main interest is in the Omo valley. Any information would be appreciated. Gail

Eldertreks has a discounted 23 day comprehensive trip to Ethiopia departing January 16, 2013 that we signed up for last week. It is a guaranteed departure for no more than 16 people. The discounts on their trips supposedly expire tomorrow, but who knows? Check out http://www.eldertreks.com/discounted.php

spiekermann travel based in eastpointe, michigan. I travelled in 2008. trip is superb. If interested, i will provide more info

I did the Blue Nile and Lalibela (Northern/HIstoric route) trip with Explore (www.exploreworldwide.com)
http://www.exploreworldwide.com/holidays/details/blue-nile-and-lalibela?...

At the time I visited Ethiopia (in 2004) I couldn’t find any group tours to the Omo Valley, so made arrangements for a private tour with:

Travel Ethiopia
 www.travelethiopia.com
info@travelethiopia.com

The company is based in Addis Ababa. Their guides are full time and the one assigned to me, Assefa Ayale was excellent. He spoke many of the Omotic Languages, spoke English really well  -- and also guides in German and French! I had a car/driver, cook, cooks helper and a Assefa Ayale as the guide. We stayed in modest, but best available hotels and at Turmi, there was a established camp with walk-in tents with double beds, dresser, and some other furniture. Facilities were shared. I understand there is now a hotel in Turmi so you might not need to use the camp or take your own cook.
Ms. Senait was my contact person  (I think she is one of the managers).

For group tours, I did a quick internet search and the only Omo Valley itinerary I could find which was with a company I was familiar with as well as a reasonable price was with Exodus:
http://www.exodus.co.uk/holidays/ayo/overview?

Exodus is a British company, with a group size up to 22/24. They are good, and provide clean, safe accommodation. I’ve traveled with them several times (though not to Ethiopia) and have been pleased with their unique itineraries. You might want to find out if they are using local guides, or a UK guide for this trip.

The Omo is a wonderful experience. Good luck with your research!

Thank you for taking the time to answer me. I will look into the groups you mentioned. They are two I did not find before. And I like your idea of going with a guide, etc. We have done this before in Africa and it worked out well but the company we went with does not do Ethiopia. I will try travelethiopia.

I saw sp[iekermann travel in ITN but could not find them online. Do you have a website for them?

www.mideasttrvl.com Phone is 1800-645-3233

I traveled to Ethiopia in Jan. 2008 with Adventures Abroad (adventures-abroad.com; 1-800-665-3998)and to this date it remains one of my favorite trips. We traveled from Addis to Lalibela (for the Timkat festival); Axum; the Simien Mtns.; Gondar; Bar Dahr; then south to the Omo Valley. I've traveled with AA four times so far, and they always do a fine job- and are especially good (I think) in operating tours to places that are deemed "out of the ordinary" destinations. You're welcome to contact me for any further information, and just thinking about my trip makes me want to return!

I traveled to Ethiopia with ElderTreks a couple of months ago. We ran into a group with Mountain Travel Sobek (I think that is the name of the company) in the south. I also know someone who traveled with The Serious Traveler which had an add-on to the Omo Valley.

What was your opinion of the Eldertreks tour? And what did the others say about their tours?

Gail

The ElderTreks tour was fine. Our national guide/tour leader was very knowledgeable.

It seems like most tour groups travel the same route and use the same hotels. The Mountain Travel Sobek tour we ran into in the south was in our hotel in Arba Minch; they were going to the Omo Valley as we were coming back. But we also met another tour with the same company in Lalibela, both in the churches and at the restaurant for lunch. The people we spoke with there were enjoying their tour.

I looked up Mountain Travel Sobek on the website and their tour stays at the same hotels we did.

I have traveled with ET quite a lot. Ethiopia ranks as one of my top 5 trips due to the sights and experiences. But as I said above, most trips to Ethiopia are pretty similiar. We were lockstep with a large Israeli group and another very large Dutch group in the north. There was a Chinese group staying at several of our hotels in the south. And we ran into the same Israeli group again. We all visited a Hamer village during a ceremony, so there were probably as many tourists as Hamer people. This trip was a little more generic than most ElderTrek tours I have taken.

I do think ET was the only group that stayed in the Simien National Park, where seeing the gelada baboons was a highlight.

We also ate in a couple of restaurants where we were the only non-locals, which is what I like about ElderTreks. And I enjoyed Ethiopian food, which surprised me. Of course, many of the meals, especially dinners, were taken in the hotel.

I would certainly recommend traveling to Ethiopia. The hotels in the south were pretty basic, but if you want to get off the beaten path, there aren't going to be luxury resorts.

After thinking a while, I realized I have a few more comments about the ElderTreks tour to Ethiopia. I was on the Sept. tour, which attends the Meskel Festival in Addis Ababa. After the festival, we drove down to Lagano and stopped at a couple of family bonfire celebrations along the way, where we were happily welcomed.

And while we did visit the Hamer ceremony with other tourists, several of the other tribal villages were a bit more removed from the general tourist circuit.

The last hotel of the tour (other than the last night in Addis) was a family run eco lodge near Awassa, which was a perfect way to finish the tour.

Our Addis hotel was also good. The hotel itself was a standard 4 star hotel, but it was very well located, right above a supermarket and bank. There were shopping centers and many cafes with wifi access in the neighborhood. My favorites were the Lime Tree Cafe and La Vie Parisienne, both filled with trendy young Ethiopians drinking macchiatos, eating croissants and cake. Very different from the Omo Valley!

What I treasure most about the Omo Valley aren't the visits to the actual villages, but the surreal experience of seeing the local people walking along the highway, dressed in their native clothing. They weren't dressed up and posing for the tourists, but just going about their normal daily lives.

I would suggest you get the Lonely Planet and/or Bradt guidebook for Ethiopia for a good description of the experiences for the village visits in the Omo Valley.

I traveled to Ethiopia with Patrick Syder Travel( Info@SyderTravel.com) out of the UK. Patrick runs very small group trips to out-of the way places specifically in Asia and Africa. He is as associate of the Royal Geographical Society and a former tour leader fro Exploreworldwide, also of the UK. He personally accompanies each trip and his Ethiopia trips are excellent. Check out his web site and contact him for more detail if needed. He is most responsive. I've traveled with over 25 companies in the past 12 years and would rate Patrick near the top for my specific needs. Contact me if you need more detail.

If you have not yet booked - check out Ethiopian Quadrants run by Tony Hickey. He is an Irishman married to an Ethiopian woman living in Addis. Two of us did a tour arranged by him to our specifications. It was excellent. He and his guides took great care of us. We had intended to go to Harrar, but the flight was delayed and we gave up. He refunded our money and arranged to us to do other things. The driver picked us up at the airport right away. The driver was terrific. We had a wonderful time. Some of the time another couple or person was with the guide and sometimes not - but they were all interesting people to meet. I highly recommend him.