Terrible Guide in Ethiopia


May 6th, 2013, 04:02 PM
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Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 1
Terrible Guide in Ethiopia

In January 2013 we had the worst experience that we have had in our many years of travel to many countries. We had booked a private tour ( January 16-February) with Daniel Demtew Aseffa of Glory Ethiopian Travel. Friends had previously used Daniel with a positive experience 2 years before. In the interim something changed Daniel. We were cheated, lied to, robbed, and eventually abandoned because of Daniel's incompetence and dishonesty. Here are the details:
We spoke to him via Skype and sent numerous emails back and forth. We paid him by means of wire transfers a total of $9194 for three people for a tour from January 16th through February 1, 2013.
1) At the last minute he reversed our trip so that we went to the south first. We now realize that was because he had no reservations for us in the north.
2) Before the trip we researched some of the hotels and decided to upgrade 2 of them. We sent Daniel the extra money for the upgrades but we never stayed in those hotels for 2 of the nights 3 nights booked. He pocketed that money too.
2) More than once he took us to hotels we had not booked and told us it was because they were better. We now know that it was because the ones we booked were more and/or would no longer take his reservations.
3)) Also on day one we gave him $200 cash so that he could negotiate with the villages which required a fee to enter ($20 per village. We later found out that this was 10 times what he would have to pay. So he, all along, planned on pocketing that money.
4) The car: Most importantly we were the only non 4 wheel drive car we saw in the South Omo! The warning lights on the dashboard were lit day one. He said the light was broken. Then day 2 the air conditioning went (it was in the 90’s and very dusty). The brakes squeaked which he claimed were because of new brake pads. Then the radiator went and he began gluing it together, leaving us for hours and days on the side of the road and in restaurants/hotels to supposedly fix it. Later we found out there were no radiators in Southern Ethiopia so we have no idea what he was doing while we were stranded. One back door did not open. One back window did not open at all and the other opened only halfway. Car was a death trap. In an accident there was no escape.
During this time there were 4 days where we had breakfast, were stranded and given a 3-4pm lunch and no dinner, having arrived at hotels after 9pm. One day were left at a hotel at 6pm and not picked up until 3pm the next day with no contact in between.
6) At the Mursi village we wanted to buy lip plates. He told us it would cost us 200 birr per plate. Without negotiating we bought them for 30 birr each from a woman who approached us. I’m sure he planned on pocketing the difference there also.
5) At the Murulle Lodge he asked us for an additional $100 each saying the price had gone up and if we didn’t pay we’d have no place to stay. When we questioned how they could do that after we had reserved at a particular price we were told that was common practice in Ethiopia. I’m sure he pocketed that money
6) At one point we went to see some totems and the people kept yelling at us in Amharic and waving us away. Daniel went in an office and we heard arguing. He came out and said they were accusing him of his papers not being good. He called them stupid peasants. Later we found out it was true that he was not licensed.
7) On our many drives he slept or read. No conversation or information occurred.
8) The morning of our departure for the north at 5AM he said he would pick us up to take us to the airport and, at that time, would bring us our vouchers for the northern part of the trip. We ALL know that that was a lie.

9) On our last ride with him to Addis from the south the car was completely broken down so we had to take a taxi van. He wanted us to pay that also but by then we were disgusted and refused. Then Daniel, the taxi driver, and a friend drove up to 180 kph, chewing chat and drinking a clear liquid mixed with coke. When we complained Daniel said we had to accept it or they could just leave us on the side of the road with our luggage. We were truly afraid for our lives by this point. The license number of the taxi van was # 07809

10) We arrived in the north to find out that the tour operator there expected us to arrive with the several thousands of dollars they were owed by Daniel. We were told the m oney was to pay for the last month’s tour group of Australians that Daniel never paid for. He also had not paid for us so we were on our own. We then had to repay for everything (hotel, transportation, tours) until we got back to Addis 5 days later to fly home. We had to stay in hotels that took credit cards as we did not have that much cash on us. At Lalibela the fees had double since the time we had booked so because Daniel never paid for our admission or tour, we had to pay the increased fee to enter the churches ($100 each)
11) A man name Fitsum Gezahegne( President - Ethiopian Tour Operators Association and Managing Director Paradise Ethipia Travel) helped us. He is the president of the Ethipian tour guide association. It was from him that we learned that Daniel is not licensed. Fitsum rebooked the hotels and tours. He also got us a van when a dust storm from the Sudan cancelled all flights for three days. In this way we were able to pay him at the end with a credit card since we did not have enough cash on us to continue the trip.
12) We also spoke with a man named Mr. Sisay Teklu, an assistant to the Minister of tourism. However when we met with him it was in an office with lots of boxes and a desk. He said they were remodeling. When Daniel was asked to repay us he said he had spent the money long ago. We wanted to have him arrested right then but we assured the ministry would recover our money and we would not get anything if Daniel was in jail..We signed papers (in Amharic) supposedly saying that if Daniel didn’t pay the agreed upon amount he and his wife (his partner in crime) would go to jail. We were also told in an email from Fitsum "The next day after you left, Mr. Sisay of the Ministry of Tourism had written a formal letter to Daniel requesting for an explanation about the whole thing and he signed a paper at the Ministry to pay all your money back before 31st of March. If he cannot pay the money by then, the government will pay you back and prosecute him accordingly." We naively believed the ministry would stand by its promise. However when Daniel didn’t pay by the deadline, we received an email from Mr. Sisay that Daniel had been given an extension until May 4. We wrote asking them to honor the original agreement but that has not happened. At this point we are convinced we have been totally used and lied to and will never see this money and that Daniel will not go to jail for what he has done.
We believe the ministry should honor their promise to pay us and then get their money back from Daniel since they seem to trust Daniel and we don’t.

Side note: We tried to get help from the American Embassy but they would only give us a list of lawyers to contact.
Also, not all Ethiopians are dishonest. We did meet several who tried to help us, including Fitsum.
GailR is offline  
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May 7th, 2013, 05:37 AM
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 12,491
What a shame. I hope others pay heed and come to the board first for advice and how not to be scammed in any country where you have to wire money.

Good luck with your attempt to get reimbursed. I hope it works out for you.

on another note: Is there anything positive about your trip that you could do a trip report on?
lincasanova is offline  
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May 9th, 2013, 08:24 AM
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,440
Thanks for sharing the bad stuff. That's important to know too. Duly noted. Hope you had some nice experiences, memories.
atravelynn is offline  
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Aug 24th, 2013, 09:06 AM
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 1

we are so sorry for what happened to you and it is really painful for us to hear such comments. It will affect others who are working genuinely. but I want to assure you that the tourism minster officials are taking measures against those illegal persons. now a days, one has to fulfill tens of criteria to get the license and if people are found arranging tours without license, they will be sent to prison. It is part of the tourism strategy to enable professionals lead the sector.
hopefully, we will hear a positive outcome from your case.
fklmtours is offline  
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