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Blue Nile and Lalibela ET

Visiting: Ethiopia
Tour Duration 14 Days

Reviews for Blue Nile and Lalibela

Travellers were asked to provide a review of the trip, including highlights and tips.

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We have the following different versions of the Blue Nile and Lalibela tour available at present.

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Blue Nile & Lalibela reviews verified by Reevoo

45 reviews

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Blue Nile & LalibelaScores 8.7 out of 10 based on 45 reviews
(4 out of 10)

Confirmed traveller

Summary of the tour: gorgeous landscapes in the North; Ethiopian coffee is simply the best in the world; the Churches, esp. around Lake Tana and at Lalibela are fascinating; the saving good grace and humour of my fellow travellers made this a trip worth doing. Just about. However, more negatives than positives overall. In my opinion, this tour would benefit from being half the duration; from the groups being smaller, and from the hotels being held to account on price gouging.
Confirmed traveller: 11 January 2016
Published on: 15 April 2016

We absolutely agree that the local coffee is always outstanding, and the churches are beautiful – especially at Lake Tana and Lalibela. On reviewing the customer feedback on this trip, most rate the itinerary, length and group size to be excellent. In light of your comments, however, we will keep an eye on things. We discussed your comment about hotel ‘price gouging’ with the Operations Manager for this area, and we’ll also monitor this aspect to ensure the prices correctly reflect the accommodation type offered locally.

Samantha, Customer Relations

(8 out of 10)


This trip far exceeded my expectations ! For me, as a keen birder the highlights were the sheer number of birds & species – especially the lammergeiers at Lalibella and the early morning boat trip on Lake Tana. Sitting amongst the geladas in the Simien mountains, the procession around the church at Axum and Lalibella – the scenery, the churches & Ben Abeba restaurant were also amazing experiences.
Sue Guthrie was a brilliant tour leader. Being English but also having an amazing knowledge of the country, its people and history gave us an excellent insight through a westerner’s eyes in a way that no local leader could have done.
The hotels and food are pretty basic at times but always clean & the locals always tried hard to correct any issues that they could. A cold beer was always available ! The pool , good food & home-made ice-cream at the hotel in Gondar were a highlight, even if for only one night.
I will always remember the striking faces of the people & their smiles – they have so little but always seem happy.
Confirmed traveller: 20 March 2016
Published on: 13 April 2016
(10 out of 10)


We expected to be impressed by the rock cut churches in Lalibela but Axum was a unexpected surprise. The walk in the Simien Mountains and sitting with the Geladas was a highlight. There was a lot of travelling but overall the trip was fantastic.
Confirmed traveller: 06 March 2016
Published on: 21 March 2016
(10 out of 10)


The tour leader is poised, professional, efficient, knowledgeable, good natured, experienced, and a model of good relations with the local people as her knowledge of Amharic is excellent. Her ability to move a group of people from place to place, fly to new location with ease proves the use of the "kitty money" to be of excellent value.

The hotels are just as described in the website, some better than others, but all clean. The stopping places while traveling by bus are well-chosen, carefully vetted, and clean.

The itinerary is jam-packed with wonderful places, historic sites, and scenic overlooks. The hikes are very do-able and I was able at age 76 to complete them.

The briefings we had before each visit enhanced their impact.

I have traveled with explore between 15-18 times, and appreciate the great value for the money!
Confirmed traveller: 05 March 2016
Published on: 13 March 2016
(10 out of 10)

Confirmed traveller

This is an absolutely amazing tour, fantastically well run by the local operator Green Land Tours, and the tour guide Dawit made the tour.

The tour is well structured- doing the east and Harar first and then doing the Northern circuit, Lalibela being a good climax. Don't be put off by the number of internal flights, they are definitely needed and all in right places. Ethiopian Airlines were on time each internal flight and provide good service.

The tour has a really good mixture of historical sites as well as scenery and seeing the country with token wildlife watching at Lake Tana, the Simiens and Awash.

Ethiopians are generally thoroughly friendly, hospitable people. For example in the village of Mieso, passed through on the drive to Awash, we were randomly offered sugar cane by local kids!

Overall, thoroughly enjoyed the tour. Found some days long - particularly driving days (Harar to Awash day saw the driver drive 10 hours!). There is a run of early starts round the middle of the trip so you get quite tired round there. Some hotels- particularly in Debark were a bit basic, whilst it was surprising to see a late change in hotel in Aksum. However, the experience was still great. Best tour guide I have ever had anywhere.
Having a local tour guide makes a huge difference. Even if English tour guides can speak the language fluently and know locals, I still think it better to employ Ethiopians for this tour. This is because Dawit was very good at dealing with mischievous little kids trying to get candy - telling them to go to school and get an education instead so they can become like him which I think a non-Ethiopian would find more difficult to do. Prepare for airport bureaucracy. Ethiopian airports you go through security twice. Don't be put off by last day- you get a day room and don't spend whole last day in Bole airport. However early morning in Bole airport wasn't a good way to end the tour- but nothing can really be done about this.
Don't give to beggars. Most kids begging we encountered didn't think themselves beggars and were simply trying their luck with tourists, plying for guilt so they could get candy or cash. Don't give in and they are more likely to go to school and get an education.
Prepare for variable temp. You might wonder why you brought cold weather clothing until you reach the Simiens! That hotel was freezing!
Hotels not best. Don't expect good breakfasts. Aksum hotel Yared Zema kept on making mistakes overpricing dinners etc. But a couple of the hotels are really really nice - e.g. Gonder.
Confirmed traveller: 01 November 2015
Published on: 12 March 2016
(10 out of 10)

Confirmed traveller

Ethiopia is a charming country, welcoming and generous of spirit. It smells of incense and roasting coffee. The famine was thirty years ago. Things have changed since the days of the Dergue Regime. They say Ethiopia is the birthplace of mankind. It's hard not to feel welcome here.I feel privileged to have spent two weeks in Ethiopia with Sue Guthrie as a tour leader – it’s been an experience made so much richer thanks to her phenomenal knowledge, and love of the country. She promotes responsible tourism and constantly set us an example of how to spread ‘love and kindness’ to those less fortunate. Sue is a fantastic ambassador for Ethiopia. She also looks after her tour members. No request was too much – she speaks fluent Amharic and seems to know everybody! Camel caravans would stop to speak to her. Her approach is also flexible. Once we were stuck in a traffic jam. No problem! She suggested we walk instead. In the process we crossed a bridge and unexpectedly saw hippos swimming in the river below. Sue is an example to us all. She makes every-one feel special. And as a tour leader, well, wow!
Confirmed traveller: 01 June 2015
Published on: 12 March 2016
(8 out of 10)


The middle and end of the tour were 1st class. Axum was an excellent venue for Timkat. The Simien mountains were superb. Sue was a wonderful leader: very informative, enthusiastic and efficient and helpful. Sue was able to add in seeing St George's day in Lalibela, which was wonderful The hotels in Bahar Dar and Lalibela were very good and the one in Debark was the first to have everything working!
I think there is a question about whether the trip to Harar, and the Awash National Park is worth the heavy amount of travelling required to get there.

This is maybe not the place to speak of the Explore headquarters, which was not up to scratch, but it needs saying. The wait to speak by phone was very long. We received an out of date itinerary (others didn't) and only online. We did not get a list of hotels so my companion didn't bring a bathing costume. Sue did not have my passport number though I was the one to book the holiday. It looks as if admin standards have slipped a bit.
Confirmed traveller: 29 January 2016
Published on: 17 February 2016

We’re sorry to hear that you were unhappy with the service you received prior to your trip. Unfortunately we can experience high volumes of calls at certain times of the day, but we are continuously working on our service levels and we have recently hired a number of new staff members to help deal with the volume of incoming calls.

We do recommend downloading a set of trip notes online before you depart, but we also will always send you your final documentation 3 weeks prior to your departure – this will include a copy of the itinerary and a list of the accommodation details.

We’re glad you enjoyed your overall trip experience despite these issues and we really appreciate your comments for your Explore Leader Sue.

(7 out of 10)


The Highlights were the old city of Harar, walking through the Sunday market at Gondar, the Simien Mountains and walking to the Monastery above Lalibela. Be prepared for some long, not to say exhausting days. For example the first twenty four hours included a seven hour flight, transfer to Addis, museum, flight and drive to Harar. Also don't rely on changing money back at Addis Airport.
Confirmed traveller: 22 January 2016
Published on: 26 January 2016
(3 out of 10)


silver spring
I felt the explorer catalogue description oversold and overstated the cultural attractions, both in quality and quantity.

The highlights were castles of Harare, Gondar, hiking the national park, Axum, and Lalaibella. A lot of the other stops seemed unnecessary.
Confirmed traveller: 02 January 2016
Published on: 05 January 2016

We are sorry to hear you thought this trip over promised. We have reviewed all the feedback over the last two years and can see that all our customers rated this tour excellent and found Ethiopia a country of great contrasts. Due to the distances covered, there can be some extended traveling time involved with stops at places that may be of interest along the way to break up the journey. We appreciate that some of these may not suit every customer though we do try to find locations of interest or local colour.

(9 out of 10)


The Group Leader made the success of the trip. She smoothed down all the difficulties and in Ethiopia there were many. She was very sensitive to all our demands and responded always very professionally. She was passionate about Ethiopia and helped all of us to put our selfishness behind us and see it with open mind. She was great fun to be with and lovely with everybody of all ages in the group.

The best leader I encounter in all my Explore trip.
Confirmed traveller: 22 November 2015
Published on: 17 December 2015