Barbara Shaw & Margaret Hammond-Tooke

Dear Desire

Firstly thank you for the meticulous work that you did for our trip to Ethiopia. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and we are so glad that we went.

Everywhere we went we were greeted by a representative of Lake Tana Tours and we were introduced to our driver and our guide for the day. They were all highly experienced and even though their English was not perfect, it was good enough to understand what they were saying and to ask questions. We were looked after like royalty, particularly in Gondar where our guide was very careful that we did not get lost in the crowds and that we were able to see all the important parts of the festival. That was definitely the highlight of our trip.

The hotels were mostly good. Of course, the most luxurious were in Addis and Bahir Dar, but for friendliness and comfort, the Panoramic View Hotel in Lalibela was certainly the best. We loved it there and nothing was too much trouble for them.

We enjoyed going on the boat on Lake Tana to see the island churches. Unfortunately, Axum was rushed even though the guide did his best.
Air Ethiopia must take the blame for this, as they changed the flight times. The tours in Lalibela were taxing with dark tunnels, lots of climbing and walking through narrow passages but I wouldn’t have missed it for the world!!!

There were a few things that I would change if it was up to me. Firstly, there was very little leisure time to just “be” in the place we were visiting. I would have liked to go back to some places on my own and spend an hour or so getting my bearings or just walking around a bit. We never felt unsafe anywhere so that would have been nice.
Secondly, the tour to the Blue Nile was gruelling because the roads were very bad and there was very little water in the falls, I would leave that out.
Thirdly, Margaret loved the Simien Mountains and would have liked to spend more time there but again, the roads were bad and I found it beautiful but exhausting to go there and back in a day. That could be a trip on its own.

Tipping is sort of expected, especially for the guides and the drivers. I think that if you decide that the guides should get, say, R200 per day (400 Birr) and the driver R150 per day (300 Birr) (which I think is generous) then you need to budget for that.

Again thank you,