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annhig May 19th, 2007 04:30 PM

hi, maxwell,

just came across this thread and was fascinated.

what gave you the idea of going to ethiopia in the first place?

on or two of your experiences touched a chord with me - about 20 years ago we went to gambis [already very touristy] but were determined to get off the beaten track. we quickly discovered that the only way to do this without being continually mobbed was to allow one local to "adopt" us. then he graciously let us take him round with us!

we ended up going to his village and meeting his family, and giving them a "present" too of course. of course there was a commercial element to this, but benefits on both sides so all were happy.

we also strayed into a hotel like yours once in tunisia - I itched for days!!!

loved the report. where are you going next?

regards, ann

maxwell May 20th, 2007 06:04 AM

Hi Ann –
Thanks, glad you enjoyed the report….I ended up in Ethiopia because of financial constraints (I had initially wanted to do a safari, but as a solo traveler I could not line up anything that fit my budget and I didn’t want to be in a group on this trip). So after that fell through I figured it might be an interesting experience to tackle something in Africa alone and Delta had a frequent flier seat open to Addis. I am happy to say that (perhaps thanks to my sleeping bag liner, that I never leave home without) I never got bedbugs…I know you can get them even in nice hotels, but the idea of them really freak me out!

As for where next, I just returned from Benin / Togo last week, am headed to Slovenia/Austria next month for a quick weeklong family trip, and am trying to get back to Africa this fall, but airfare is a killer. So, I will probably end up going to Iran (airfare is much more reasonable)….unless someone would like to fulfill my dream of being a (well behaved, do-gooder) trust fund baby and donate a trust fund to me – then I will sign up asap for any luxury safari I can get my hands on ;)

Leely May 20th, 2007 07:50 PM

Linda, I happened to see some decent fares to Nairobi from SFO (and you're East Coast, cheaper, right?) on Virgin for September.

I've grounded myself until I make some $, so I'm not sure why I was even checking--but of course I need to keep the dream alive. Or maybe someone else could use the info.

maxwell May 20th, 2007 08:28 PM

Leely – yes east coaster (Atlanta) – thanks for the tip, now I am re-checking fairs to Nairobi to see what I could get in October. I’m going to look at Nyamera’s thread to see how she found something on a budget. I’ve set a hard $$ number that I can’t go over for this trip.
(and you aren’t the only one - I check airfares all the time to places that I’m not likely to visit anytime soon)

Femi Dec 8th, 2008 09:52 AM

Enjoyed reading your report just as much the second time around. Makes me recall all the more trying parts of my trip; including more enjera than I would ever want to see again (well maybe a little bit of 'pure' enjera would be ok). Looking at your pics, how could I forget those hyena pictures! Eritrea does seem like a much milder version of Ethiopia.

maxwell Dec 8th, 2008 08:44 PM

Thanks Femi...
you must do Ethiopia next so we can compare stories :)

and I never, ever want to eat injera way jose...

kewilliam Dec 17th, 2008 11:15 AM

Hi Linda...

I loved your trip report on Ethiopia! My wife and I are in the preliminary stages of planning an Ethiopia/Uganda (gorillas) combo trip in April 2009. We will have 17 days roughly and we are experienced "adventure" travellers. We are looking for a good combination of local culture and would like to see some animals. We did SA a few years back for our honeymoon.

I have been searching online for airfare deals to Addis or Entebbe but I can't seem to find any. I know Ethiopia Airlines flies from Washington DC to Addis. You said you used Delta but I don't think they fly to ADD anymore. We will be using (hopefully) FF miles from Delta or would be open to buying cheap tickets.

Any other suggested places to visit in Ethiopia and/or Uganda?

We are also considering replacing Uganda with Rwanda.

Let me know and thanks.


Chris_GA_Atl Dec 17th, 2008 04:03 PM

Kevin, I am sure Linda will answer your question, but since the trip you are planning is very similar to one we did in Dec. 2006-Jan.2007, I wanted to chime in. We spent a week in Ethiopia and visited Addis, Bahir Dar, Gondar, Axum and Lalibela. Then we went to Ngamba Island in Uganda, then Kigali, Volcanoes National Park (gorillas), Mgahninga and Bwindi (more gorillas). It was an incredible trip, and you can see our pictures at

Anyway, I'd be happy to give you some suggestions for planning your trip, but it would help to know what you're interested in seeing, especially in Uganda or Rwanda. Our favorite places in Ethiopia were Gondar and Lalibela.


maxwell Dec 17th, 2008 07:59 PM

Hi Kevin –
Glad you enjoyed the report – thanks! I just skimmed it and it was fun to relive that experience. I was going to point you to Chris’ report too, so I’m glad he chimed in. You know, although I said Delta, I likely flew in on Air France to Addis. Have you checked with Sky Team members? I would think they are still flying there. I despise Ethiopian Air but for a cheap ticket I'm positive I'd suck it up and fly them again.

Like Chris, Lalibela was one of my favorite places, however, I did not like Gondar (lots of people do – I couldn’t wait to get out of there). If you like trekking, you really should consider a few nights in the Semien mountains – I really wish I had done that instead of Gondar/Bahr Dar, and my kiwi friend I met on the trip loved it. After Lalibela, Harar was my next favorite city – if you want adventure, and want a really wild experience (without much comfort), Harar is your place.

Although I did Uganda on a different trip than Ethiopia (I ended up in Uganda rather than Rwanda because of pricing issues) I would second Chris’ recommendation for Uganda if you can do Ngamba Island. It’s not inexpensive (at least for me) but if they are still doing the chimp walks and it fits in your budget – it was really one of the most memorable travel experiences I have ever had along with tracking the gorillas. The chimps are getting older though and I believe they were phasing out the walks, so you’d want to check. Chris and I both talked about Ngamba Island in our trip reports if you click on our names.

Lots of people on here will have better wildlife recommendations than me, but I can't imagine how a trip combining Gorillas and Chimps could leave you disappointed. Please report back – I’ll be very interested to see how your planning goes.


cruisinred Dec 18th, 2008 07:31 AM

If you are intersted in trekking, you might check out this community based tourism iniative which treks between villages near Lalibela.

I did not get to do this on my trip to Ethiopia this year, but I'd love to return and do some trekking.

kewilliam Dec 18th, 2008 07:33 AM

Hi Chris..

Thanks for posting. Yes your itinerary sounds perfect for us! I am looking for your trip report but can't seem to find it. Can you point me in the right direction? Your pics were great! How long did you go for? We only have 17 days or so..not sure that would be long enough to see all that you saw. Did you use a guide? We would rather NOT use one but would be open to it (I guess). Also, trying to find a good website to book international airfares. Travelocity/Orbitz doesn't seem to use all airlines. We are going in late April so the weather looks rather mild. Any thoughts are greatly appreciated.



P.S. We were considering Mongolia as well..your pics are amazing!

kewilliam Dec 18th, 2008 08:10 AM

Hi Linda..

Thanks for posting. Yes I will check with the SkyMiles partners as I have lots of FF miles thru Delta. Hopefully, that will be the answer for me. Sounds like Lalibela ia must see..and the mtn trekking sounds perfect. We did a 10 day trek in Nepal that was astounding!

The chimp walks sound amazing! I'll check into this ASAP. Can you book with Ngamba directly or do you have to go thru a tour operator?

Thanks for all of your help.


P.S. I love the hyena pics!

Chris_GA_Atl Dec 18th, 2008 02:31 PM

Hey Kevin,

Here is the Ethiopia part of our trip report:;keyword=452

Our total trip was about 3 weeks, so I doubt you would have time to do Ethiopia, Rwanda and Uganda all in 17 days. But you probably could to Ethiopia for 7-10 days and then spend the rest either doing gorillas in Rwanda or going to Ngamba Island in Uganda.

We did use a guide for our Ethiopia trip, and we were very glad that we did. We observed that there are many idiosyncrasies in traveling in Ethiopia, and we would have been lost without a guide. We did a private tour with just us and our guide, and the company we used is Dinknesh Ethiopia Tours. Our experiecne was a good one with them, so I'd have no problems recommending them.

We arranged the gorilla-trekking part of our trip, as well as Ngamba Island, through Volcanoes Safaris. They are an extremely reputable and very professional company and they did a great job on that portion of our trip.

I might echo Linda's comments about Ngamba Island -- doing the chimp walk there was easily one of the most memorable travel experiences we have had -- anywhere, anytime.

I believe you can book directly with Ngamba Island and there is a company that runs the very small tented camp on the Island -- maybe Wilderness Safaris, but I don't remember. You can easily find that out on the Ngamba Island web site and book directly with them.

Anyway, take a look at our trip report and let me know if I can answer any other questions for you.


P.S. If you decide to go to Mongolia, let me know and I will tell you the name of the guide we used. He was absolutely top-notch and was also the guide for another Fodor's member (atravelynn). She thought he was great too.

maxwell Dec 18th, 2008 07:50 PM

Hey Kevin - Chris is right - you (or your Uganda operator) have to book your stay at Ngamba through Wilderness -- for the life of me I can't remember who I used for my uganda trip off the top of my head and am too lazy at the moment to look up my trip report, but any operator should be able to book the stay at Ngamba with Wilderness for you. (Atravelynn and some others on here have also stayed at Ngamba) - you have to stay overnight to do the chimp walks - they have very comfortable tents so you really aren't roughing it. I just looked online and their website says they still do the walks. I did two (one in the afternoon, one the next morning) and I would definitely recommend that.
Note that you need to get a lot of shots to do the walk (Again, totally worth it), so I'd get rolling on this asap because you need to get the director at Ngamba your records in advance, etc.
It's a hassle, but so worth it. I didn't want to leave.

maxwell Dec 18th, 2008 08:04 PM

Kevin, hit post too early and meant to add something on Ethiopia-

There are definitely a lot of hassles in not using a guide as Chris points out - but you can definitely do Ethiopia w/o one. I booked my air tickets with Ethiopian Air in advance b/c I was told the flights often sell out. (at the time, I had to do this over the phone, and then fax - yes fax - them my credit card info, despite the fact their office was in DC). As long as you re-confirm each and every flight once you are there, you should be fine. It's a hassle, but I get the no guide thing. I had to use a guide on a recent trip and he drove me batty! (but I understand why many people would rather use one so that's just my idiosyncrasy and not any sort of judgment on how other people travel). I think it just depends if you want the convenience of not having to deal with the hassle, which certainly helps maximize your time, or just want to wing it...but you guys are adventure travelers so you know this!

I can't wait for your report on the Semien Mountains since there isn't one on here yet! :-D

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