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Fantastic Tour Guide / Lalibela and Gondar - Zewdu Malek

Zurich, Switzerland
Level Contributor
7 posts
35 reviews
Fantastic Tour Guide / Lalibela and Gondar – Zewdu Malek

During my stay in Ethiopia, I took a long weekend to travel to Lalibela and Gondar. After some research online and talking with various tour companies based in Addis Ababa, I made my decision to engage Zewdu Malek as my tour guide and travel planner. He was always responsive to my emails and we spoke on the phone as well before I made my decision to hire him.

I didn’t have much flexibility when making my plans and Zewdu worked with me to make it all happen. While I booked my internal flights (ADD > Lalibela > Gondar > ADD), Zewdu handled the hotel bookings. We discussed various options and preferences, and I was pleased with the final results – one night at Maribela Hotel in Lalibela and one night at Goha Hotel. Both hotels had lovely views and offered comfortable rooms (with hot running water, good water pressure, towels and breakfast).

I can’t imagine visiting Lalibela without a guide. The history, insights and many local legends would have been missed. On Saturday, Zewdu and the driver picked us up at the airport with a safe and comfortable van (stocked with bottled water). We visited the local Lalibela market before having a traditional mesob lunch at the Seven Olives Hotel. It was a lovely setting under the trees filled with various birds.

We spent the remained of the afternoon exploring the six northern churches and St. George’s. Simply sensational! Sunset and cocktails were enjoyed at the Maribela Hotel before heading out for a nice al fresco dinner at Bet Abeba. We went to a neat traditional bar called Tej Torpido with Zewdu afterwards for the locally made honey wine, which was excellent.

We were fortunate enough to be in Lalibela on a Sunday, which was also a saint’s day. We went early to St. Gabriel-Raphel’s Church in the southern area of Lalibela to witness a church service and it was fascinating to see so many locals, dressed in their white shawls, as they listened to the chanting priest and sought to make it inside the church for a blessing and/or communion. Zewdu has personal insights too – not only did he grow up in Lalibela but his father is also a priest. In the 24 hours that we were in Lalibela, we were able to see all of the churches and visit the market.

Onwards to Gondar by plane – everything worked out smoothly and the next driver met us promptly at the airport. We enjoyed lunch twice at Four Sisters’ Restaurant, a great recommendation by Zewdu. They offer a fantastic traditional buffet, which is a delicious way to sample the local tastes and flavors.

We visited the palace and Fasiliads’ Bath – again, having a guide made it a more enriching experience as we learned about the history and the special annual ceremony of Timkat that takes place in Fasilidas’ Bath.

Before departing Gondar, we visited the very small and underwhelming Falasha village. The history is far greater and interesting than what one sees and experiences at this roadside village.

But on the other side of the road is a wonderful women’s cooperative called Ploughshare where great things are happening. We stopped by to see the traditional handicrafts of the single mothers working there – creating beautiful pottery (the glazed ceramics are for sale), weaving Ethiopian mesobs / baskets, working the looms and designing colorful shawls, and more.

We had a delightful experience exploring Lalibela and Gondar. Zewdu enhanced our travels and allowed us to really appreciate just how unique this part of Ethiopia is. Everything ran very smoothly with Zewdu – he was friendly, respectful, fun and followed up – before and after the trip.

Zewdu speaks English very well. He is amazingly knowledgeable about the famous rock-hewn churches of Lalibela, and the Orthodox Ethiopian community. He also snapped plenty of photos for (and of) us. You can reach him via email or mobile:

zewduger@gmail.com

+251 913 636 414

I know that Zewdu works throughout Ethiopia, although my experience is limited to Lalibela and Gondar. I would highly recommend his services and hope to travel with him again. Thank you!

Edited: 09 March 2017, 16:55
20 replies to this topic
Zurich, Switzerland
Level Contributor
7 posts
35 reviews
1. Re: Fantastic Tour Guide / Lalibela and Gondar – Zewdu Malek

When reaching out to Zewdu, best to use the following email for the quickest response:

zewdume_18@yahoo.com

Zaragoza, Spain
3 posts
2. Re: Fantastic Tour Guide / Lalibela and Gondar – Zewdu Malek

Zewdu can also manage our your trip in the north of the country, book the flights, the trasports, the hotels and guiding everywhere around there. It is completely honest and trustly person, and perfect english!

Saint-Jorioz, France
Level Contributor
104 posts
227 reviews
3. Re: Fantastic Tour Guide / Lalibela and Gondar – Zewdu Malek

Advice: there is a great book guide, if you are visiting Gondar and Lalibela, solo as I did. The Bradt is an amazing book guide to Ethiopia, practical, historic background information. Bar codes: 9781841629223. Last edition, march 2016. 17.99£. 646 pages.

Seattle, Washington
Level Contributor
4 posts
6 reviews
4. Re: Fantastic Tour Guide / Lalibela and Gondar – Zewdu Malek

We traveled with Zewdu for a two day tour of Lalibala in early October and I would give him the highest recommendation. Lalibela is his home and he has a good, respected relationship to the members of the community and those we interfaced with throughout the day. He is well educated and his English is easy to understand. He provided detailed information at the sites and also kindly answered my many questions. I felt safe and taken care of throughout our visit. Zewdu even helped me manouver the steps and terrain between the churches. Zewdu was flexible and able to modify our schedule to meet the changing goals of my camera happy husband. We greatly enjoyed our time with him!

5. Re: Fantastic Tour Guide / Lalibela and Gondar – Zewdu Malek

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Edited: 03 January 2018, 14:36
 
6. Re: Fantastic Tour Guide / Lalibela and Gondar – Zewdu Malek

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7. Re: Fantastic Tour Guide / Lalibela and Gondar – Zewdu Malek

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Removed on: 11 January 2018, 16:24
 
1 post
8. Re: Fantastic Tour Guide / Lalibela and Gondar – Zewdu Malek

First of all, this is the first time that I have been motivated to post on trip advisor. I am hopeful that my experience will help others. I was a solo, female, first-time traveler to Ethiopia and I must admit that I was a little hesitant to chose a guide online but since I was going to Lalibela for Timket, I knew that it would be helpful to have the aid of a local guide. I based my decision to hire Zewdu on the above advice and I am very glad that I did. I stayed 3 days in Lalibela and it was an amazing experience.

Zewdu was born and raised in Lalibela. His english is great! He has a degree in tourism and has a deep knowledge of Ethiopian culture and history. His father is a priest and he is thus very attuned to local religious practices. His historical knowledge truly enhanced my experience in Lalibela. Zewdu has previously worked for tour companies for several years and has traveled extensively throughout Ethiopia but he has chosen to work on his own now. Given this prior experience, he has lots of contacts and works to design a very individualized itinerary. (I must admit, it was lovely not to be herded around in a large group!).

It all started with Zewdu picking me up at the airport. He was able to secure a lovely driver with a good, clean, 4 wheel driving car (a must given the construction and roads). Over the trip, we got to listen to some great Ethiopian music together which was fun. I had already arranged my hotel, but in retrospect, if you contact Zewdu earlier in the process, he is more than happy to help with flights/hotels and the entire experience.

Obviously, we spent the majority of the time visiting the churches in and around the city... somehow, despite the crowds of the holiday, Zewdu was always able to position us in a picture perfect position to see the ceremonies. I truly felt embedded in the local experience (even dancing the shoulder shaking local dance on one occasion). I was overwhelmed with the beauty and joy of the Ethiopian people.

Zewdu was very responsive and designed a fantastic itinerary. This included making sure I had a good sampling of local cuisine. The restaurants that he chose were lovely. Because I was on my own, he even accompanied me to a local bar so I could sample some honey wine and see some of the night time entertainment ... something I wouldn't have otherwise done on my own.

Finally, Zewdu was kind enough to work with me so that I could also learn a little more about how people lived ... we visited a farming home outside of the city, we visited a countryside market which was fascinating. I was able to tour a local school (the kids need school supplies and books if you are thinking of bringing anything), and as a doctor, I even got to visit the local clinic to see what resources they had/needed. Zewdu also helped me to learn a small sampling of the local Amharic language .... in this, he was very patient :).

I have stayed in touch with Zewdu and would highly recommend to any of my friends and family that they should seek him out. I am planning on going back and will certainly hire him again to see Gondar and as many other sites that I can squeeze in during my volunteer trips.

His contact email is zewduger@gmail.com.

Zaragoza, Spain
3 posts
9. Re: Fantastic Tour Guide / Lalibela and Gondar – Zewdu Malek

zewdu is a fantastic guide! but he changed email adrees now, this is the right one:

zewduger@gmail.com and phone number

+251 913 636 414

2 posts
10. Re: Fantastic Tour Guide / Lalibela and Gondar – Zewdu Malek

I visited Ethiopia for the first time in March 2018. During my research for a tour guide, I found Zewdu Melak’s contact info here on some TripAdvisor reviews, and am SO glad I did. I was a bit worried about traveling to Ethiopia (solo) during a time of political tension, but Zewdu was very responsive, thoughtful and respectful of my sentiments throughout both the planning process and the entire 9-day tour around the country. He helped me craft a plan for my trip which was totally safe and catered to my interests. He booked all accommodations and transportation on my behalf, and all was very fair and affordable in comparison to any other companies one can find. He has loads of experience, having worked for multiple tour companies through the years. Also, he is the son of a priest, which is a testament to his extensive knowledge of the church and history of Ethiopia. He has connections all over the country. We met in Addis Ababa (he picked me up at the airport as a courtesy!) and traveled together to Bahir Dar, Gondar, Lalibela to see the history/culture/religion, and then to Hawassa/Sidama/Yirgalem to see the coffee farming operations. I can honestly say Zewdu quickly became a close friend and someone I knew I could trust. He always went the extra mile to make sure I was enjoying the experience. He even taught me lots of Amharic, which came in quite handy! I am confident Zewdu and I will remain friends for a long time, and I can’t thank him enough for showing me such an incredible time in Ethiopia. I will return! His email is zewduger@gmail.com. Send him a message - trust me, you won’t regret it!

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