It was one of the worse trips we have been on and we have been on many. The culture of the country is amazing! The churches we have seen and people we have met in the north were wonderful. Definitely good memories. So I really hope that exodus will improve this trip! Because the country is worth visiting for sure. However, there were some logistical issues: Exodus forgot to book our internal flights, all 3 of them. So the second day of our trip we spent in the airport waiting for available seats on the plane. Other people on the tour had some issues with shared or single rooms, which also was a bit of a booking issue from what we have understood. In fact, the communication all through the trip lacked significantly. We arrived to the designated hotel and although, the trip notes said there will be a board with the information, there was nothing. The people at the desk were not even sure who we are with and what we are doing there. The north of the country is amazing. On the other hand the south part of the tour was a complete waste of time. 1. The national park had cattle and people living in it. Not one wild animal that we could see. It was more like visiting a village. 2. What was advertised as a forest walk with bird watching, ended up being a bush walk, because of the deforestation with a small number of the same birds as we have seen at the hotel. 3. The natural springs, looked dirty. Nothing like what the trip notes description. Long bus drive did not justify the time spent there. Overall the food and hotels wished to be better. There was no variety in hotels at all. Every room in every hotel looked exactly same. Everything is very standard and most certainly not memorable in a good way. The majority of nights we had no hot water. The food was "westernised" and to the worse standards. The restaurants did not have what the menu contained. They usually gave us 3 choices and if you are vegetarian like me, you are stuck with pasta with tomato sauce for 2 weeks. In one of the hotels the waiter refused selling me a tonic, because he said he had only five and he is keeping them to sell them with gin and tonic. So you get the idea of service etc in some places. I am not sure why the guides+ exodus do not look into it, given that they supply them with the customers on regular basis.
I’m sorry you had such a bad experience in Ethiopia. It is true that there were some issues with the booking of the domestic flights, for which we have sincerely apologised, but we believe we have now put a system in place which ensures that this does not happen again.
Regarding the hotels, Ethiopia does not have the same standard of accommodation as other parts of the world and choices can be limited. The hotels we use have, in the past, been requisitioned by the government to host high ranking officials during meetings and conferences. I have stayed in those same hotels myself and never had issues with hot water though, of course, this can happen. This is why we forewarn clients in the trip notes that you should be ready to ‘leave behind your western comforts.’
I do agree that the food can often be uninteresting and can lack variety, but when I was on this same trip I was able to have local Ethiopian food on a number of occasions, including vegetarian dishes as Ethiopians have a whole selection of vegan foods for lent, but I did find Injera, the local bread, to be somewhat of an acquired taste. Exodus and our local partners have raised the subject of food with hotels, unfortunately they still believe they are offering what western tourists want.
I am aware that the southern portion of the trip appeals to some people who enjoy the contrast with the north, but not as much to others. My personal experience of the area was a good one, but we have taken your comments into account and are looking at ways to improve things. In March, for instance, we will have a special itinerary which visits the Tigrai region between Axum and Lalibela rather than visiting the south. Should the feedback from this trip be positive, I will consider changing future departures.
Overall, however, I truly believe that Ethiopia is a fantastic and fascinating country with a unique culture and geography, and a rich history and tradition dating back centuries and a wonderful place to visit.
Tom - Product Manager for Ethiopia