An Ethiopian tour guide with regal connections and a former Team GB Olympic marathon runner have teamed up to launch Britain’s first Ethiopian specialist tour operator
Brighton-based Tadele Travel, run by Girma Moges Tadele, whose family have a direct line to the 11th century Zagwe Dynasty, and Richard Nerurkar, who finished fifth in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, offers tailor-made and specialist group travel to the East African country.
Girma and Richard have extensive personal experience of, and connections to, Ethiopia, allowing them to use their relationships with some of the country’s best guides to develop unique itineraries designed according to their client’s travel party, the time they have available and their interests.
Former Ethiopian tour guide, Girma set up his first travel company as a local tour operator in Lalibela in the north of Ethiopia in 2006. Soon after, he joined TESFA (Tourism in Ethiopia for Sustainable Future Alternatives) as a Technical Advisor and worked closely with Mark Chapman, a British community development specialist, to develop a range of community trekking tours in the highlands around Lalibela. The programme developed rapidly as tourists came from all over the globe to hike in the Ethiopian highlands and stay in the country’s lodges. Over the coming years, the network of walks was expanded to provide employment for more guides and local community hosts.
Girma met British tourist and international development consultant Philippa Haden in 2009 when she signed up for a community development project. They married two years later and moved to Philippa’s home county of Sussex. After studying for a two-year foundation degree in travel and tourism management and a short stint at Kirker Holidays in London, Girma set up Tadele Travel with Richard.
Wolverhampton-born Richard had a distinguished career as a long-distance runner, representing Team GB at multiple World and European championships and finishing fifth in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. His knowledge and passion for running took him to Ethiopia, where he spent 10 years in event management at the Great Ethiopian Run, an international 10km race founded by Richard’s close friend and marathon legend Haile Gebrselassie. The experience gave him a wealth of contacts in Ethiopian government agencies, including its sport and tourism sectors.
“We know Ethiopia – our people, our culture and our language – like no other UK travel company. This is reflected in the travel suggestions we make and the details of our planning. I am a native speaker and Richard is fluent in Amharic, and we both have unique personal experience of and connections to Ethiopia,” Girma told Essential Journeys. “We are motivated to share our knowledge of Ethiopia with people keen to experience not only the remarkable landscapes, wildlife and history of Ethiopia, but also the culture, warmth and hospitality of Ethiopians themselves.”
According to Richard: “We don’t have any set itineraries. Our tours are not ‘cookie-cut’ – they are certainly not put together by a travel company on the ground and sold on to our clients via us. We work directly with our own tour guides in Ethiopia, all of whom we know personally. We can therefore guarantee the most authentic and unsurpassed experience for our clients. Each bespoke trip offers plenty of opportunities to experience everyday life and local traditions in Ethiopia.
“One of our tourists will be breaking the Easter fast at the family of her guide; another will be spending a day doing water-colour painting at a local artist’s home. In short, local knowledge counts, as well as understanding how local people will best respond to the interests and needs of the tourist.”
- For more on Tadele Travel, contact James Ellis (07956 499 043) or Lyndsey Thomas (07568 488 474), or visit www.tadeletravel.com