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Ethiopian Rift Valley Safaris
Adventure Travellers' Insights:
"Ethiopia is a fascinating, African country full of contrasts in landscape, culture and the people's way of living. From the deepest original Africa in the South, to the North with it's religious places, the country abounds in cultural history. No flow of tourists has yet left any marks. The versatility and beauty of the wildlife can hardly be bigger. A tour of several weeks through a wonderful and charming country with its deeply religious, natural and very friendly people was an inextinguishable experience. A great contribution to that was the perfect organization by Ethiopian Rift Valley Safaris in Addis Ababa. Thank you!"
"In October of 2000 we spent two weeks driving the roads of Ethiopia on a tour arranged by ERVS. Our entire trip was arranged via email. ERVS put together sample itineraries that took into consideration our personal interests. Alternatives were suggested so that we could make the most of our time in the country. Our guide, Dawit Yehualashet, was outstanding and all our drivers handled the surprises of the road with great skill and our many requests for photo stops with alacrity! Ethiopia is a magnificent country... full of breathtaking landscapes and welcoming people. The planning done by ERVS allowed us the flexibility we desire when travelling. We would be happy to act as references for ERVS."
"A step back in time would be an appropriate title for this incredible trip to the Omo Valley with ERVS. Worth every bump on the miserable roads down to the Omo area, a visit to see the Karo, Hamar, Mursi and Bume peoples is an opportunity of a lifetime! ERVS' Murulle Omo Explorer's Lodge provides a comfortable spot in the middle of "no where" to call home for a week or two while you meet some of the most exotic and beautiful people of Africa. The sweet memories of the times spent laughing and singing with the beautiful children of the Karo tribe will stay with us always! Each bungalow has screening on the windows, toilet en suite, marvelously clean and comfortable beds and fresh bottles of purified water on your night table every day! Meals are simple - and fresh - more than adequate, and the chef, Mr. Wolde aims to please, as do all the workers in this camp! There's nothing fancy here, but who needs it? If you want the Ritz, go to Paris. If you want to be surrounded by pure, raw, unadulterated beauty, a trip to the Omo Valley and the ERVS Lodge is a 'must'."
"Even among those who are drawn again and again to Africa for its timeless, natural, raw, beauty, Ethiopia is all too rarely considered an obvious destination for a wildlife safari. Yet ironically, it is its off-the beaten track status, accentuated by misleading and generally negative media coverage, that has made it one of the best kept secrets for adventure tourism.
In the southwestern corner of this vast country, one can do no better than head for the Omo River Valley, where the fast flowing steeply banked river meanders down to Lake Turkana on the Kenya border and where the endemic mammals, reptiles and birds of East Arica share a harsh but beguiling landscape with indigenous agro-pastoral ethnic groups whose way of life has remained largely untouched by western materialism. Unlike many of the private game reserves of Southern and East Africa where game rangers use modern communications to locate animals and "deliver" them to their guests' camera lenses, in the Omo Valley nothing is choreographed for the visitor and therein lies its charm.
At Murulle, ERVS' concession which is larger than two English counties or the American states of Rhode Island or Delaware, a safari is like stepping back half a century or more to an Africa when tourism was in its infancy. Indeed, on our recent visit we encountered less than a handful of foreigners in an entire week. Murulle Omo Explorer's Lodge is the perfect safari venue for those who are tired of sharing their precious holidays with people whose interest in Africa is limited to simply ticking off species on a list in the shortest possible time. It is also a refreshing change from better known places where game rangers insist that your wildlife experience take place within the confinement of a vehicle. At Murulle, you can cut yourself from the pressures and problems of the 21st century and simply savour nature as it "happens" in front of you, always unpredictable, but invariably life-enhancing: one moment it could be the silent pursuit of a hungry lioness creeping up on some lesser kudu on a hilltop in the light of dawn, another might be the moon rising over bushland decorated with eight-metre high ant hills whose flamboyant shapes are worthy of a crowd-pulling exhibition at any modern art gallery; still another when you're rowing down a mighty river under the gaze of six-metre long crocodiles, only to be beckoned ashore by friendly Karo tribesmen and women for a chat and a drink."
"SOUTH OF ADDIS ABABA - LOWER OMO VALLEY" (Page 240)
"GETTING AROUND - ORGANISED TOURS" (Page 127)
The Lonely Planet - Ethiopia, Eritrea & Djibouti
"INTRODUCTION" (Pages IX & XI)
"Ethiopia is a true revelation. It is the most welcoming, enjoyable and uplifting country I have ever visited."
"And in case you're wondering, there's really no need to pack sandwiches for the flight."
"GETTING THERE AND AWAY - THE SOUTHERN RIFT VALLEY" (Pages 235-6)
"The acknowledged specialist in the Omo Valley is Ethiopian Rift Valley Safaris, which is run by a Greek who has been working in the Omo area for more than a decade and who is said to know the area better than any Ethiopian. The company has a permanent camp on the banks of the Omo River, which can only be booked if you organize a safari through them. They prefer to do fly-down safaris as they keep a permanent vehicle at the base camp."
Guidebook to Ethiopia
"INTRODUCTION" (Pages IX & XI)
"TOUR OPERATORS IN ETHIOPIA" (Page 72)
"PLANNING YOUR TRIP" (Page 450-1)
" The next best thing (to driving) however, is one of the exclusive South Omo charter packages offered by Ethiopian Rift Valley Safaris based out of their lodge at Murelle, the only tourist-class accommodation in the region. These packages involve flying directly from Addis Ababa to the airstrip at Murelle, which cuts your exposure to South Omo's bumpy roads. For a package of this sort you're looking at around US$300 per person per day all-inclusive for a group of six to eight - the price will obviously shoot up for smaller groups. See Murelle Lodge on page 470 for contact details."
"MURELLE AND SURROUNDS" (Page 470)
"WHERE TO STAY AND EAT" (Page 470)
"Originally built as a hunting camp, Murelle Lodge now primarily caters to the ecotourism market, and is used by ERVS as the base for a variety of all-inclusive, exclusive and costly packages, ranging from fly-in charters that land right at the nearby airstrip, to drive-down trips out of Addis Ababa. Activities include game drives and nature walks with a tracker, seasonal boat trips on the Omo River, and of course visits to nearby and more remote traditional villages. The food is good, with a strong Italian flavour and refrigerated soft drinks and beers are available to lodge guests. Accommodation is available to visitors who are not on an ERVS package, but it must be pre-booked in Addis Ababa."
Murelle Campsite "A leafy campsite, also owned by ERVS, lies right alongside the lodge. It is by far the nicest place to camp in South Omo, and well worth the charge of US$8 per person per night. Unlike the lodge, no advance booking is necessary, but it is important that campers are self-sufficient in terms of food and drinks. Due to the difficult logistics of obtaining food and drinks supplies in this remote corner of Ethiopia, meals and drinks are not for sale to campers."
Guidebook to Ethiopia
"SOUTH: OMO NATIONAL PARK" (Page 709)
East Africa Handbook 2000 - 6th Edition
The lower Omo Valley in Ethiopia is one the few places left on our planet where time appears to have stood still. This meant that as ecologists we had the rare opportunity to study an environment that differed little from the way it was centuries before. While working and living in Omo National Park was the most amazing experience we have ever head, logistically it was a nightmare in terms of getting there to do our research. We were grateful to ERVS, the logistic experts of the lower Omo, for their generous assistance in helping us get to our research site over the years. We were also impressed with ERVS grasp of the conservation and human issues in the lower Omo and Mago areas, and their apparent involvement to improve the lives of the people while practicing many conservation measures. It was apparent that their efforts in both areas were responsible for the abundance of wildlife seen along the flood plains of the mighty Omo River and the warm reception they received whenever they visited a local village.
Dr. Michael J. Jacobs / Dr. Catherine A. Schloeder
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