Stuart Douglass-Lee, of Holiday Hunter, fell in love with Ethiopia on his first visit. He explains why he finds this little-visited country so appealing
By Amanda Angus |
When it comes to exploring the world, Saga customers are extremely adventurous and always eager to learn more about other cultures.
“My challenge as a Holiday Hunter is to keep finding new and exciting destinations to sate our customers’ thirst for discovery,” says Stuart.
“I’ve wanted to launch a tour of Ethiopia for as long as I’ve worked at Saga. Often-overlooked, it’s a very interesting country with exhilarating landscapes, atmospheric churches, absorbing heritage and the most wonderful people.
“Culturally, Ethiopia is incredibly rich. There’s a palace in Axum said to have belonged to the Queen of Sheba, and the Arc of the Covenant is there too; but what I consider to be the Taj Mahal of Ethiopia are the fifth-century rock-cut churches at Lalibela. These monoliths are hewn from the ground itself – they carved down into a plateau. They’re said to be the eighth wonder of the world, and when you see them, you can see why.”
The friendly Ethiopians are another reason to visit, says Stuart. “They’ll come out to see what you’re doing, or if you stop to watch them, they might even wave and invite you over.
“My guide told a story about how he stopped with a group beside a man ploughing a field, and the next thing he knew, the farmer was showing the group how to plough and letting them have a go! In another country, perhaps, the farmer might have asked for money, but that just isn’t part of their consciousness here. They’re as interested in you as you are in them.
“Ethiopia is one of the most interesting countries I’ve ever been to; there’s so much to see and experience. I think some people might be a bit nervous about visiting, but I can honestly say I’ve never felt safer.”
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