My wife and I booked a custom, private Ethiopian trip early in 2017 with Paradise Edge Tours – an operation run by a person named Solomon Mulugeta. About 2 weeks before we departed, Solomon stopped returning email messages. When we arrived in Addis Ababa on November 3, 2017, we were told by two of his associates, one of whom goes by the name Johannes, that Solomon had died of stomach cancer five days before we arrived.
On the morning of our first full day in Addis, a person named Worku Yitbark, a tour operator running a business called Golden Gift Ethiopia Tours, and going by the name Gold, suddenly appeared on the scene, offering to help us do our tour. We were told he had been taken off another tour, in order to help us. Yet, several days later when he was showing us his new tattoo, he claimed it had been done on what we calculated to be the day before we arrived in Addis Ababa.
After looking at our itinerary, he offered to check into all the internal flight and hotel reservations that should have been made by Solomon; while we were doing an all-day Addis tour with a local guide. At the end of the day, he claimed that none of the flight reservations nor any of the hotel reservations had been made, but that he was able to book everything according to our itinerary, including paying for all the internal flights with his own money, in expectation of being reimbursed. Yet, my wife had confirmed all the internal flights while we were in Dubai on our way to Addis. Gold told us that because we hadn’t arrived on Ethiopian Airlines, all the internal flights were more expensive than what we had planned – a total of $800. more. This Ethiopian Airlines policy is correct, but any additional surcharge was supposed to have already been factored into the total trip cost with Solomon before we had arrived. Nonetheless, we were grateful to have the good fortune of being able to continue our tour, and made arrangements to pay the extra $800. to Gold.
The tour went off without a hitch.
About two weeks after arriving back in the US on November 21, I received an email from Solomon (!!!) asking how we liked our trip, and for feedback. When I asked for an explanation, and that I thought Solomon had died, I got no reply. I asked Gold, via email about it, and he, too, did not reply. My wife, using an alias and posing as an interested potential client, queried Solomon’s Paradise Edge Tour’s web site, which was still up & running. A week later she received back a reply from Solomon (!!!)
Then six days later, on December 12, 2017, I received an email from Gold saying that the house of his mother, to whom he had referred repeatedly throughout the trip, had burned to the ground, and that he was asking some of his recent clients for money to help rebuild it.
Anyone denying or refuting this account in any way is lying, because it’s exactly what transpired with no exaggeration.
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