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Helen Kennedy
Helen Kennedy Africa Travel Specialist
"Ethiopia offers a very different wildlife experience: it is home to some of the world's rarest and most endangered mammals such as the Ethiopian wolf, Walia ibex and Swayne's hartebeest, all of which number only some 500 individuals. Other endemic mammals include the unmistakeable Gelada monkey and localized Bale monkey."

Axum Reviews

Hello Derek 

Thanks very much indeed to you and Rainbow for all the help, advice and organisation for our recent trip.  I am sure you will want feedback and perhaps you want an online survey, but I just wanted to say it really was the trip of a lifetime, and we had an extraordinary time, thanks to the guides, especially Belete Beleke, who says that he knows you, and we thought he was extremely special: a great spotter of incredible birdlife, animals and plants too.  Very intelligent, he adapted our itinerary very slightly so that we should not be exhausted.

However, something you may not have caught up with yet - at Erta Ale, we discovered that the Afar have closed a significant portion of the new road you mentioned  - we estimated an approx 3km hike up the gravel track that a 4x4 would just have made,  before reaching the "footpath" scramble to the camp at the top - but at least we did make it, if somewhat slowly, we realised we would never have done it from the previous camp!  Apparently the Afar were losing too much money through people not hiring camels to take their gear to the top camp!  They seem adroit at collecting cash for all kinds of extras, even ones already paid for.  

We really did have a wonderful trip.  Thank you again, 

With very best wishes,

Rosie

 

Hi Derek

I just want to endorse everything Rosie says below but especially to praise Belete Bekele - he really was exemplary. 

Big thanks for your and Rainbow’s help and advice - it was an unforgettable trip. 

Very best wishes

Ruth

 

 

 

 

Ms Hoare and Ms Anders
November 25, 2019

Dear Derek,

We recently returned from our holiday in Ethiopia.

We had a wonderful time, and I would like to express my thanks for the excellent organisation that you laid on for us.  Our guide Gita, was simply brilliant.  Not only was he an excellent guide but he went out of his way to make our trip really enjoyable, way beyond the call of duty.

I would love to return one day and would have no hesitation in coming back to book with you, and would most certainly recommend Rainbow to friends.    We had a great time.

So thank you again

Kind regards

Judy 

Ms Copp
March 6, 2019

Dear Derek,

I just wanted you to know that we had a wonderful trip in Ethiopia and I think we've all fallen in love with the country and its people. Thank you for the perfect organisation, both in the route chosen, interesting hotels and above all in our outstanding guide, Get a, such an intelligent and charming man who went to the greatest trouble in looking after us. It was as near to a perfect holiday as possible, thanks to your planning.

I will certainly think of using Rainbow again.

Kind regards,

Melany.

 

Hughes Party
February 22, 2019

Dear Derek

I had a marvellous time [on the Ethiopia Timket 2019 small group tour] thank you!

Ethiopia is such an ancient and quite unspoiled place- the countryside, people, flora and fauna were all one hoped for.

I think Lucy was particularly taken with Yeha, near Axum, and it was one of my favourite sites.

I took lots of pictures of the indigenous flora, and have written a little blog/

Best wishes

Carlene
 

Ms Crowe
February 11, 2019

The Ethiopian trip (Timket Small Group set departure 2019)  was a revelation and exceeded expectations in every way.   

Best,

Ms L.S

.

 

 

Ms L.S.
February 6, 2019

Hi Derek

Wow. What a beautiful country Ethiopia is, the sights we saw took our breath away. The Timket experience in Addis was outstanding, so much colour and ceremony.

We enjoyed all of the towns we visited, thought the castles in Gonder were brilliant and the churches in Lalibela  magnificent. We were in Lalibela on St Georges day so we saw St. Georges church being used -again wow. We are quite well travelled however would say that Ethiopia has become one of the best places we have been to.

All the arrangements went well.

Hotels were largely as expected. The Golden Tulip is international standard and well located in Bole, the Blue Nile is OK but well located, the Goha hotel has a wonderful location as the does the Simien Mountain lodge . Our room in the Mountain lodge needed a bit of TLC as the bathroom was a bit broken and the room a bit dusty. The Maribela hotel had the most impressive views-our kind of place. The Sabean hotel was OK however the room was just too hot and if the windows were opened mosquitoes came in  it needs aircon.

The only issue we had really was the last day which is very very long. After a full morning visiting Yeha, lunch then visiting the Queen of Sheba palace we took the 17:15 flight to Addis, it was a little late however we did not get into the Golden Tulip until 19:30, we were due to leave again at 20:00 for the farewell dinner but none of our party felt up to this especially as we had to be at the airport for just after 22:00 to check in for the international flight. We opted (as did everyone) to rest for two hours and forego the farewell dinner. Maybe this part of the tour needs tweaking. (If we had thought about it beforehand we could have chosen to stay another night in Addis,have a look around the city without timket being on and fly back a day later-if we had done this I'm not sure if we would have arrived in Manchester as the airport was closed on the Wednesday)

Please can you ensure that your Ethiopian partners are informed about how good our guide Elijah Worku was during the tour. We have had some mediocre guides during our time however Elijah was one of the best, always smiling, on time and enthusiastic even when we were getting tired etc. He ensured that wherever possible we ate away from ‘the hotel buffet’ taking us to dance shows and restaurants outside of the itinerary which we all greatly appreciated.

The group (Timket small group tour 2019) felt so confident in him. He made a good holiday better. We always had a good supply of water, on the bus, at lunch and dinner and in the hotels much needed in a warm climate.

Really enjoyed Ethiopia during this fast paced tour

 

 

Mr and Mrs Fridlington
February 5, 2019

Will have a full report for you in a few days, but for now, I'll just tell you it (Timket Small group tour 2019)  was AWESOME (as I have come to expect from Rainbow.)   

Great group of travelers, comfortable accommodations, OUTSTANDING local guide.  Elijah is knowledgeable and enthusiastic...  did a great job of shepherding our diverse group!

 

Ms Snyder
February 4, 2019

Dear Derek,

 

We have just returned to Australia after our almost 4 weeks in Ethiopia. 

Our trip could be divided in 2 – the Southern and Northern component.

We felt the driver (Robi) and the escort Younis for the southern 2 weeks were excellent. Knowledgeable and attentive. We felt very comfortable with the driving particularly in difficult conditions.  They both enhanced the experience.

The northern component had Sayed as the escort. Whilst he was good, he was not have the same skills or knowledge of Younis so by comparison he suffered a little. We were satisfied with his services.

We have no hitches with accommodation and recognised that what was provided was “best available” or very close to it.

Overall, we were more than happy with the arrangements put in place by Rainbow.  We were glad we just didn’t “do” the classic tourist northern circuit.

The south was, for us the highlight. The Bale Mountains were truly memorable, we saw at extremely close range a number of wolves. Whilst we didn’t see lions, we heard them on consecutive evenings – they were not that far away.  Lake Langano was excellent.

The Omo Valley was fascinating and we felt privileged to see a number of the tribes and their way of life (one that is no doubt changing).  In the north we were captivated by the Simeons – we enjoyed time sitting with a group of researchers watching the Geladas and were fortunate to have a small group Wahlia Ibex pass very close to where we were standing.

Timket was a once in a lifetime experience. Just extraordinary.

We left Ethiopia feeling that we had gained a greater appreciation of the country, its people and the inherent issues facing the country. More so, than could ever be gained by the groups whizzing around in groups of 10-12 in mini buses.

Thank you for organising an excellent trip.

 

Mr and Mrs Rae
January 26, 2019

Service from Rainbow Tours: excellent

Knowledge of travel specialist: excellent

Overall level of satisfaction: excellent.

In the Omo Valley and Gondar our guides were excellent.

Ole Sereni Hotel: very helpful, lovely people.

Jupiter International Hotel: excellent 

Buska Lodge, Turmi: comfort and service excellent; location, meals and facilities good. Nothing too much trouble; a nice place to stay.

Eco Omo Lodge, Jinka: average. We took earplugs as advised but they could not cope with the noise of the all night party from the village especially the drums, and then the chanting from 03h30 am. 

Kanta Lodge, Konso: comfort, service and location: good. Meals and facilities average. 

Haile Resort, Hawassa: Excellent in all respects. Beautiful hotel.

Goha Hotel, Gondar: good in all respects. 

Lalibela Lodge: cmofort and location good; service, meals and facilities average. 

Sabean International Hotel, Axum: comfort: good; service excellent; location and meals good. No not water in our basin so they found Stephen a spare room in which to shave, lol. 

Speke's Camp, Kenya: a great camp for a safari; very well organised; amazing food; very clean and lovely staff. Very good knowledge of the wildlife on the game drives, 

A very enjoyable holiday. Just a few minor blips but overall a very well organised trip. Thank you.

 

 

 

Mr and Mrs Shearing
January 25, 2019

'Overall holiday satisfaction (Timket Group 2, January 2018): Excellent. A good variety of different activities and destinations giving an excellent introduction to the country. 

Avanti Blue Nile: needs refurbishment, then this can be excellent. 

Mayleko Lodge: Good in terms of comfort, service and location. Meals and faclities average. Large room; comfortable. No toiletries provided except soap. Peaceful. TV and WiFi only in reception. 

Simien Lodge: restaurant manager surly; beer overpriced but overall a super place. 

Lalibela Lodge: good in terms of comfort and service. 

Sabean Hotel: convenient if a little noisy. 

We were fortunate to have an excellent guide (Temesgen) and a good group of people of similar ability and interest. This added greatly to our enjoyment of the holiday.'

 

Mr and Mrs Little
April 11, 2018

'The start of the trip was Timket. What a stroke of luck we got there. It was a fascinating and unique experience. Well done to Rainbow for spotting it.  

Staff of all the hotels were friendly, helpful and invariably tried their best. Full marks to them. Our tour guide was excellent and really made our trip that much more successful. He was VERY knowledgeable; he was patient and nothing was too much trouble. 

Local guides were a mixed bag. But our tour leader knew everything anyway so problem solved. The local guides in the [Simien] mountains and at Lake Langano were fantastic; knowledgeable and enthusiastic. 

All drivers were excellent and highly capable. 

Hara Langano extention: wonderful local guide and super setting. Birdlife wonderful and hippos just yards from the beach!

Mr Cole and Ms Campbell
March 1, 2018

(Timket Tour 2018): Overall excellent. Henok absolutely superb. No fault. Hotels no better nor worse than expected. Drivers and vans fine. Everyone friendly and delightful. Fascinating time. Axum the least spectacular; Lalibela the best. I would go again to see the South. Ethiopians (were) almost universally lovely as well. Extraordinary.

Mr Hollingworth
February 23, 2018

Overall holiday satisfaction (Timket 2018, group 1): Excellent.

Henok was quite extraordinarily excellent. Incredibly knowledygeable, energetic, helpful, calm and encouraging. 

Service from tour operator: Excellent

Local guides incomprehensible and unecessary - Henok usaually knew more than they did! 

Golden Tulip: excellent comfort, service and location for airport.

Avanti Blue Nile: excellent comfort, service and location. Meals average. Facilities good. 

Simien Lodge: excellent in terms of comfort, service and location especially. Meals and facilities good.

Maribela Hotel: same. 

Sabean Hotel: Excellent comfort and service. Location good. Meals average. Facilities good. 

Overall an excellent and a memorable trip. Many thanks!!

Sir and Lady Davies
February 23, 2018

Golden Tulip, Addis Ababa: excellent in all respects

Avanti Blue Nile, Bahir Dar: Good service and location. Average comfort, meals and facilities. 

Mayleko Lodge, Gondar: excellent service, location and meals. Good in terms of comfort and facilities. 

Simien Lodge: excellent in all respects. 

Maribela Hotel, Lalibela: excellent service and location. Average comfort and meals. Facilities good 

Cameron family
January 26, 2018

'Hi Derek,

Quite honestly, we have done most of the world but let me tell you that we are never going to forget Ethiopia !!

A very poor country it may be, but it is rich in its history & culture & it is also particularly unique. Quite simply it was an amazing experience for both of us.

We were extremely well taken care of especially our assigned Guide - Teddy Teudrow who was simply brilliant! All the attractions bar none, exceeded our expectations but Lalibela was something else!

You had warned & also from reading, we gathered not to expect too much from the accommodations. Here too we were pleasantly surprised & very satisfied. All in all, an unforgettable experience in an unforgettable country!

Let us take this opportunity to thank you in particular & the Rainbow team for your advice, expertise & care for putting up this great holiday for us.

Thanking you & best wishes

Farouk & Hutoxi'

Mr and Mrs Manecksha
March 22, 2017

'Hi Derek

 We had a great time - a really beautiful country, and very warm and friendly people.  The highlights for me were the Church of Saint George in Lalibela, the Simien Mountain baboons, and chilling out at the 'Highest Bar In Africa'.  Challenges for me were the internet facilities (it was barely usable outside Addis Ababa),  the lack of Diet Coke (I'm an addict, and it was only available in Addis Ababa)..  At one point early on I remember feeling that it was all a bit too exhausting and maybe we should've gone somewhere easier, but then I got adjusted to it, and wished at the end that we'd had more time to see a few other places too, such as Axum and the Danakil.        

 The guides were great, and the hotels were pretty good too, especially the Maribela which was a really chilled-out place with a fantastic view.  Thanks for organising it all for us - I've been telling everyone here what a fascinating place Ethiopia is, and it will always hold a special place in my heart for having been my 100th country!

 Phil'

Mr Saunders and Mr Stein
March 21, 2017

'Ethiopia (the Historical Route) was very very good indeed.  The itinerary was very good indeed, we could not fault it; very good time-management. It was busy, it was intensive but very different. Lovely people., very warm, very kind, very friendly.

The guide is fundamental to a holiday’s success: Henok was outstanding!. We have done a lot of tailor-made tours and have never had such a good guide anywhere in the world. He made all the difference – he was very kind, very helpful, very personable and really, really good.

The attractions were all better than what we were expecting after having read books such as the Bradt Guide. Lalibela in particular, was remarkable. The highlight. The local guide there was very good too. I would recommend - especially if visitors go in the rainy season - to take walking poles and footwear with a strong grip for the stairs at Lalibela's churches.

Simien Lodge is lovely. It is an experience. But we did feel the altitude there. The viewpoint we went to was lovely. It is a remarkable place. 

Accommodation was all good except the Avanti Blue Nile at Bahir Dar which doesn’t have character or charm – it is a business-peoples’ hotel.  

Food was lovely at Habasha-2000 on our way out of the country and it works very well to have the farewell dinner there before the flight back to the UK.

We are very impressed with Rainbow Tours, thank you for going to so much trouble to arrange everything; we plan to contact you soon again to arrange travel to Africa and Latin America’.

 

 

 

Mr and Mrs Rennison
March 7, 2017

'Overall holiday satisfaction: excellent.  Loved the Simien Lodge; could have stayed another night.  Our trip to Ethiopia was truly amazing; one we will never forget. The people are beautiful, friendly and very welcoming. The scenery and wildlife are incredible and the wildlife fascinating. Our guide, Yohannes, was first class. His knowledge of the history of Ethiopia and of the birds, wildlife, flora etc is outstanding. All the drivers were excellent'. 

 

 

Mr and Mrs Perry
March 16, 2016

'Really appreciated having an excellent, single guide with us throughout. We had not experienced this before and thought it worked very well. 

Overall holiday satisfaction: Excellent. 

Gardens of Abyaminch Lodge were excellent. Choices for evening meals seemed better when more guests were staying.

Simien Lodge is a great hotel in a fantastic location - would have stayed an extra night. 

Mayleko Lodge (Gondar): excellent room - the best all holiday. 

Sabean Hotel: excellent comfort, good in all other respects. Better than we had been led to expect! 

Bishangari Lodge: excellent in all respects. Very well run hotel in fantastic location. Food was particularly good. 

Bale Mountains Lodge: comfort excellent. Overvall this lodge was a disappointing experience as our expectations had been raised quite high for it. Service: the local people on the staff were very helpful. Schemes in place for the local community seemed well thought out and are an excellent initiative.

The holiday was really good and as you will know a fantastic combination of history, culture and wildlife that would be tricky to reproduce in such a short period in most other countries' 

 

Mr and Mrs Smith
February 26, 2016

'We (both my husband and myself) thought that Ethiopia was amazing - we went with high expectations and it surpassed these.  Our guide, Hennok, was first class, we got on well with our fellow travellers - but more importantly the scenery, wildlife, local people and culture we experienced were truly outstanding.  The tour arrangements worked extremely well - hotels were clean and comfortable, travel was efficient and on time, and the content of the trip was pretty much spot-on.  We knew very little about the Timket festival when we booked the tour, but now realise that it right up there with other top cultural events around the world.  To have been given such close-up access to the festival with our "guest passes" made it even more special and it will stay in our memories forever, especially returning before dawn and seeing all of the local people who had kept overnight vigil on the Ark of the Covenant.  We're so pleased that we went this year because we suspect that Ethiopia will become a "must do" on many people's destination list and that in coming years it may become more commercialised.  Very definitely one of our best ever (and we've had many) trips and we're still absorbing many of the wonderful things we experienced.  My husband is a keen photographer and he came home with some incredible wildlife shots (geladas, wolves and birds), stunning portraits of local people and great scenery shots'

Mr and Mrs Haley
February 8, 2016

'This trip was an experience of a lifetime not just because of the beauty of the country and kindness of the people, but mainly because of our exception guide, Henok. He is extremely knowledgable, patient, kind, and thoughtful. I had some mobility issues and he ensured that I was cared for and safe. He also has a great sense of humor which was very important with our jovial group, who got along with each other from the start and laughed constantly. He handled our mixed Brit/Yank jokes very well! Our driver, Lake, was exceptional. We never had a moment of worry about our safety, even over difficult terrain. Every day of the tour was a new amazing experience, from Gelada monkeys to the ancient rock-hewn churches of Lalibela and finally, the inspiring, beautiful ceremonies of the Timkut festival. I am spreading the word that Rainbow's Ethiopia with Henok is an experience not to be missed!

Jan Cowell, Pasadena' 

Ms Jan Cowell
February 4, 2016

'Dear Derek

We are now back in the UK, just a bit flight-lagged, having spent the last week in Dubai with our family.  Rosie and I have such happy memories of our recent trip. Our highest appreciations go to such a beautiful country with its lovely welcoming and happy people. To finish the tour with the amazing Timkat celebrations was the icing on the cake. Unforgettable.

The amazing guide Henok Tsegaye was definitely the best we have ever experienced in our many travels to other countries. He was incredibly well-informed historically and he is so proud of his country, which he loves so much. He was totally clear in his diction and instructions, attentive, caring, with a great sense of humour (he quickly came to realise when we Brits and the lady from the USA were winding him up in a friendly, jokey way!) and nothing was too much trouble. Those essential touches, such as plenty of bottled drinking water being always available wherever we were, make all the difference on a busy schedule. We will be sending him and Dinknesh Ethiopia Tour an email of appreciation. The drivers on our trips were all first-rate, courteous and careful.

Our group of ten visitors all bonded so well. We had fun and a happy time together. Amazingly, we discovered that one couple (Andrew and Viv) live here in East Molesey! If it is at all possible we will try to arrange a reunion for us all early this June, when Ken and Mandy are over from South Africa. We may even tempt Jan over from America!

A big thank you to yourself, together with your colleagues in London and Ethiopia for all your diligence in organising everything. We will send off the questionnaire to you when we come down to earth!

When we said to friends that we were going to Ethiopia several said 'why?'

It is merely that they are unaware of the culture, the history and the beauty there. Our photographs, some of which have already been posted on Facebook, show why! We have sent you a few. Let us hope that many more will travel there and see for themselves. We will certainly encourage this, since tourism is so important for the Ethiopian economy.

Kind regards

John and Rosie Rendall'

Mr and Mrs Rendall
January 27, 2016

'Overall holiday satisfaction (of the Ethiopia Timkat 2016 small group departure): Excellent.

Sora Lodge, Lalibela: very friendly, attentive staff.

Henok is an excellent guide. He dealt with all with humour and patience. He was knowledgeable and a delight. The driver - Hake (spelling?) was also exceptional'.

Ms Yate
January 25, 2016

'Overall holiday satisfaction (of the Timkat 2016 small group set departure): excellent. Jupiter International hotel is a comfortable, international hotel with hot water and Wifi.

Abayminch Lodge, Bahir Dar: good in all respects; excellent location. Electricity is erratic, didn't have this issue elsewhere.

Goha Hotel: good tourist hotel; good breakfast; OK dinner

Simien Lodge: great choice - loved it! Excellent in all respects.

Sora Lodge, Lalibela: excellent. Superb location; cooking class excellent. Fair to say vegetarians are not confused by choice.

Sabean Hotel, Axum: Comfort, facilities, location all good. Service and meals average. Meals here were a little poor especially dinner.

WOW, What a great holiday. Everything went like clockwork. Henok i the No 1 from the moment we arrived to the second we left at the airport for our flight back home. Nothing was too much trouble. New bottles of water in the bus every day. He arranged for the collection of our luggage from our hotel rooms, and even off the airport carousels. He took care of the tipping as we westerners are hopeless when it comes to this - when and how much. The VIP tickets in Addis for the Timkat festival meant we were literally right in the action. Again Henok was on hand to explain and direct us.

Ethiopia is THE place to go....and do it now whilst it is unspoilt by tourists. The people are amazing - we didn't see one private car for 8 days. People walk everywhere. The scenery is fabulous, awe inspiring with thousands of donkeys and mules, goats and sheep. Henok stopped at the roadside for us to photograph alongside a stop to see a young lady making injera, their local tef pancake (acquired taste but lovely).  Henok is Number1! 

Great holiday - where next?

 

 

 

Mr and Mrs Stockdale
January 25, 2016

'The trip was wonderful and it is really a beautiful country.  We had a great time and it certainly met and often exceeded our expectations.  Eyob, our guide, was fabulous as were the drivers'

Mr and Mrs Robbins
January 13, 2016

'Overall holiday satisfaction: excellent.

Jupiter Interntional Hotel: god in all respects; service excellet.

Panoramic View, Lalibela: excellent service and location; meals, facilitie and comfort: good.

Sabean Hotel, Axum: excellent location. Good in terms of comfort, service and meals. Facilities average.

Avanti Blue Nile, Bahir Dar: excellent in all respects. Facilities good.

Mayleko Lodge, Gondar: Good in all respects. Service excellent. Issues with lack of water due to power cut.

Simien Lodge: Excellent service, location and meals. Good facilities. Comfort: good.

Like many other Africa countries it is their attention t detal that lets them down. Electrical outlets not fixed to walls properly. The service and the local people were great; very courteous and extremely helpful. That is a massive plus f the country's tourism '

McAleer family
December 15, 2015

Service from tour operator: excellent. Overall satisfaction: excellent. All guides were good or even excellent. We enjoyed this trip so much that we are thinking of visiting again.

John and Angela Brown
October 31, 2013
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