The time was finally here for a trip  of lifetime for the Burford Ontario, Canada family who won the Canada150 Facebook contest last year. In his own words contest winner Aaron shares his remarkable experience with his family. Thank you Aaron, Leslie and Jamie. We look forward to having you fly with us again in the future.

Aaron writes to Ethiopian Airlines Canada;

Hey Ethiopian Airlines, it’s Aaron Phillipo, the Ethiopian Airlines Canada 2017 contest winner.   I just returned from the amazing trip you gave me and I would like to give you another BIG thank you for the incredible opportunity to win this trip.

 The trip was amazing and the first class flights were an incredible bonus to the trip and made the flights feel a lot shorter. 

We were greeted at Elephant Hills Resort by monkeys, warthogs and impala. The grounds were beautiful with a golf course, tennis courts and a very nice pool. We enjoyed a sunset cruise to finish off our long day of travel and met hippos and an elephant on the cruise. The following day we woke up to monkeys and impala in the backyard outside our balcony. We had an exciting day and we loved the experience of seeing the falls in person and feeling the mist.

From Vic Falls, Zimbabwe we headed to Kadane, Botswana to do a cruise and safaris at the Chobe National Park where we saw hundreds upon hundreds of elephants and impala. It was incredible to see how close they came and how big and slow they are; and of course the babies were adorable. We tried our hand at tiger fishing where we were very close to crocodiles (a little too close for comfort but it was still really cool). We didn’t catch anything but it was still great to be on the water experiencing wildlife up close and feeling the nice breeze blow across the Chobe river. During our safaris we saw lions, elephants, impala, waterbuck, a leopard and a single lonely zebra, but that was just a few of the animals.

The next part of our trip brought us to Ethiopia where we experienced tombs, monasteries, churches, castles, ruins and a whole lot of history. Let’s start with Gondar!  We went to see the castles of previous kings and leaders from not only Gondar, but from Ethiopia as a country. The architecture was incredible for the time period in that the castles were built from pure rock and mud mortar and it was amazing to hear about the way life was at 1400 A.D. We then visited the swimming pool of the annual timket celebration of baptism.

The next step of our trip was Axum Ethiopia where we saw tombs, stelae and churches. The 50+ feet high and 520 ton stelae carved out of pure rock that fell over was insane to see and the mystery of how it got there still isn’t answered.  The other 6 stelae are not as big but have over 15 tons of rock that are still standing and hold the iconic shape of architecture on the tops.

The final step of the trip, Lalibella, sure didn’t disappoint as we jumped back in time to the historical town referred to as “The New Jerusalem” where the churches carved from solid rock reside in the ground and the amazing architecture of the 11 churches was unbelievable. Each of the eleven were breathtaking and the scenery above ground was absolutely the best view in the world. Our time below ground was over so we went to the mountains about 2400m above sea level to the Debre Damo monastery where I struggled to climb a fifteen-metre-high rockwall using the mountain side and a leather rope. The village and church were incredibly breathtaking and the architecture was yet again unbelievable. Only men were allowed at the top and that includes animals so the only animals they had were male oxen. The moment I turned around and saw the view from the top, I was speechless! Rolling hills and mountains were all you could see and the thousands of terraces climbing the mountain walls made the scene even better.

We want to give one last thank you! This was by far the most incredible opportunity I’ve had so far and it was the trip of a lifetime! We will forever be grateful for you generosity and we will be sure to head back to Africa in the future.   Thanks again Aaron

Photo Above; Aaron in front of Victoria Falls.

Photos Below: Picture with Ethiopian Airlines Canada Country Manager Birhan Abate who welcomes the family onboard Cloud Nine as they get ready for their direct flight from Toronto, Canada to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Aaron in Axum visiting the tombs and rock climbing.