My husband and I have just returned from an 18 day trip to Ethiopia and we used Experience Ethiopia (email@example.com) for our travel plans. I had contacted about 15 different in-country travel companies before settling on Experience as Experience was the most willing to work with me. We did a step-by-step planning with several people involved in this company. These include Awash Gebrehiwot, Marc Gross in NY and even the CEO of Experience, John Riley:-)
Our trip took us first to Addis, next day flew to Lalibela and we were there for Genna (Christmas January 7) where we celebrated with over 100,000 pilgrims. Then back to Addis where we were met by our wonderful driver Seyoum Gessesse and our trusty guide, Alex Bedilu (more about each later) and we were off to the South Omo Valley and the tribes.
South Omo was our favorite part of the trip. We had varied, but all wonderful accommodations. This holds true for the entire trip. The tribes were fascinating, loved the Hamer especially and we were so fortunate to be able to witness a bull jumping event. It is a true WoW of a region.
We then flew back North to Axum, traveled to and stayed in the Simien Lodge in the Simien Mountains. Saw the Gelada baboons, and traveled on to Gondor for Timket. Timket was quite an experience, one I would recommend for 2014:-)
We finished the trip by staying in the beautiful Kuriftu Resort in Bahir Dar and visiting the monasteries on Lake Tana and the Blue Nile Falls.
It was mind blowing from start to finish and I cannot recommend Experience enough. I was given a price by several tour operators and when I asked Experience to match or beat the price, they were able to by $600 each and yet the quality of the places we stayed were always high end and there are huge differences in Ethiopia. I have posted reviews of each of our hotels on this journey.
Both our guide Alex (Moraro Ethiopia Tours, firstname.lastname@example.org) and our driver Seyoum (www.enattours.com, email@example.com) were amazing and I highly recommend both of them. Seyoum is from the Konso tribe and he was particularly great in the South (we had a different driver in the North). Alex spent 14 days with us and we became great friends. Both are freelance and were great travel companions. We could not have had better people to guide us through Ethiopia.
FLY from Axum to Gondar. The road is a 9-12 hour nightmare that has been under construction for three years and is no way near being a true road.
Go South if you lke seeing the tribal people. The markets were wonderful and loved the people.
Go now. Ethiopia is pretty much undiscovered especially by Americans.
Fly on Ethiopian Airlines from DC. Non-stop flight. We had more leg room than on most airlines. There is one stop in Rome to refuel on the return trip.
Have a wonderful time:-)