Travel Ethiopia trip report

I have a comment about the provider Travel Ethiopia, which is recommended in your guide book. In November I was staying in Addis for a month working. I wanted a weekend trip for my colleague and I to the south (Friday to Sunday) and asked Travel Ethiopia to quote. They quoted $670 dollars for a trip to Awash national park and Awassa. They picked us up at the hotel in a minibus and took us to the office to pay. My colleague pointed out that in a minibus we couldn’t actually go to the Awash hot springs – which was included in the first day’s itinerary. They did not however admit that this was the case and adjust the price, but argued back and said it depended on the conditions. In fact my colleague was completely correct – and this must have been obvious to TE from the start. We had an uncomfortable time driving very slowly around the park and saw very little on our first day. We also drove to Awash at snail’s pace to disguise the fact that it was really only a half day trip without the hot springs. The itinerary they gave us at the office still included the hotsprings but did not include the camel ride on the second day – on the drive to Awassa. I pointed this fact out – TE did not draw this to our attention. TE told us that they had discovered there were no camels. However, having now done the trip and seen the reaction of the locals to tourists, personally I doubt that it has been possible to have a camel ride in the area safely for many years and therefore this was misleading to include this in the original quote. No reduction was offered to us for this. So our second day actually consisted just of driving from Awash to Awassa – and arriving at Awassa in time for a quick walk by the lake before it started to get dark. The third day we managed to see the flamingoes at Lake Abiata – at my insistence – but saw little else at the park as travel in the minibus there was painful and slow. The hotel we stayed in at Awash (Bouffet D’Angelou) put us alone in two rooms in a separate complex where we didn’t feel safe, being two women and no other guests staying there. Further, at the hotel in Awassa, one of our rooms was on the ground floor when we had clearly paid higher rates for a quieter room on the higher floors. Overall we felt the tour was (i) misleadingly quoted in terms of the itinerary we were given both by email, and to our faces and when we visited the TE office (ii) was well-overpriced taking account of the poor accommodation and the fact we only had a minibus. When we returned we were offered an $80 refund between us to compensate for not having seen the hotsprings at Awash – but frankly still felt pretty ripped off. I relied on TE and their reputation when asking for quotes and itineraries and did not expect to be given an itinerary that was unworkable and poor service. I could not recommend this company and think that your recommendation of them in the current version of the guidebook is misleading based on my experience. Generally I think that the costs of tours in Ethiopia are significantly inflated bearing in mind the service and facilities available and I think this should be reflected in your book. Hope this is helpful. Regards Rosemary Norton

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