Ethiopia trip - 3weeks Dec-Jan, advice please! Where, how, food, music -all
Replies: 17 - Last Post: Dec 22, 2008 7:48 AM Last Post By: naugastyle
Nov 12, 2008 4:52 AM
Ethiopia trip - 3weeks Dec-Jan, advice please! Where, how, food, music -allSo I've booked a three week trip to Ethiopia with my partner leaving a few days before (our) Christmas and I'm looking for any of the valuable and worthy advice of the travellers on this forum! At the moment we have nothing at all booked apart from the flight. I'm particularly interested in hearing about:
Music: I love the old Ethiopiques recordings - is there anywhere you can still see this kind of thing?
Practicalities: Safety - whether we need to book in certain areas/at certain times - stuff we should bear in mind
Any suggested trips during our three weeks? Places to stay away from? How to travel? Where to stay? What sort of a budget we're looking at?
I'm quite blind right now but I have the LP for Ethiopia which I'm starting to read, so at this stage any advice or info at all would be most welcome, not just the areas I asked about!
And as I learn, I'll post on this thread too!
Thanks very much for your help!
Nov 12, 2008 5:02 AM
Nov 12, 2008 5:33 AM
2Safety - these rules are pretty hard to break, as you simply won't be able to: do not travel by road at night (no buses travel at night anyway); do not go to border areas with Somalia (not high tourist areas anyway). Be careful when travelling around Addis Ababa at night - take taxis. Be aware of pickpockets if you visit the Mercato in Addis Ababa. Other than that, it's a perfectly safe country to travel in.
It sounds to me like you are travelling in high season, so if you want to stay in mid-range accommodation then it's best to book ahead. The best hotels in town always book out quickly as tour agencies book them up ahead of time for their groups, and often by early afternoon the decent places are full. Tourism has increased markedly in Ethiopia during the last five years, but unfortunately hotels have not kept pace.
How to travel? On the long trips (over a day) I'd recommend flying as Ethiopian buses are incredibly uncomfortable. But do be sure to take a couple of bus rides as they are great for interaction with the locals.
You only have three weeks, so spend your time in the main areas. It's such a big country with so much to see that you're never going to do more than just scratch the surface in three weeks.
Have a great trip!
Nov 16, 2008 1:04 PM
3A few hints: the prices in the book are horribly out of date- count on double (or sometimes triple) what's listed- even with a good haggle- although it's still cheap by Western standards. You really can't beat two cups of coffee and two pastries for 4 birr.
Pick up the Bradt guide too- lots of good info there. But don't be afraid to stray from the guides- we had a much better time when we did.
Toilet paper! Bring some and be prepared to buy some more along the way.
Do you know if you want to focus on cities or trekking? North or South?
Dec 16, 2008 7:37 PM
4Firstly, thank you very much to Julie and curse10 who replied before and sorry I didn't post myself before now!
Basically i haven't had time to organise and thought it'd be OK if I left it a while, and even left it free enough when we get there so that we can change plans depending on how much we like a place..
Right now the general plan is: Addis (museums and acclimatize), Lake Langano (relax, ecolodge), Bahar Dar/Lake Tana(explore&enjoy), Gonder(explore), Simien Mountains (trek), Lalibela (trek&leddet) then fly back to addis.
I realize this is quite a lot, and things may change!
Couple of questions:
Has anyone been to Addis lately and can recommend a good Ethio jazz venue in the city? There seem to be quite a few, just after a personal recommendation!
Taxis in addis; is it safe to get in pretty much any taxi or do you have to book? We were in Latin America recently and quite a few capital cities there have rather dubious taxis about the place.
Accommodation: any recommendations for places to stay in any of these towns?
Leddet: is there somewhere other than Lalibela that is good for the festivites or is it really worth the huge hotel prices to be there with everyone else?!
Trekking: any info on Simien mountains&TESFA would be cool, such as minimum number of days needed to see and experience a good amount of what we went to see!
This forum is great for personal recommendations & info that you don't get in the book, so if anyone has anything to say about any of the places we plan to go, or the ones we should try to go to that aren't there then please post!
Thanks very much Thorntree-ers!
Dec 17, 2008 12:28 AM
Dec 17, 2008 8:39 AM
6We were supposed to go to Harlem Jazz club on New Year's Eve after dinner at Habesha restaurant, but the waitresses pouted so much when we wanted to leave, we felt guilty! We were a big group of strangers that had met that night at Taitu Hotel so I don't think anyone was feeling up for pushing the group to do any particular thing, so we stayed and missed the jazz club. Heard that it was very cool though, from an ex-pat Ethiopian who was in town visiting family.
TESFA was my favorite part of the Ethiopia trip. I'd say 2 nights minimum but I did 4 nights, which was the max at the time...I believe they have 5 camps now. If you are planning on lots of trekking anyway, you could do a short trip as TESFA is not a place for dramatic scenery (although it is beautiful), more about community interaction. If you're a serious trekker this is really just walking, albeit for 5-6 hours per day. Only one day between camps is steep & rocky, and if you are on a shorter trek you might not do that hike.
Harar was my second favorite part, and with 3 weeks I can't imagine you wouldn't have time to fit it in. I admit my time in the historical towns was relatively short, as I only had 16 days total to fit in the circuit + 3 days Harar + 5 days trekking...but again, Harar and the trek ended up being more important to me.
Dec 17, 2008 11:11 PM
7Taxis - yes, any taxi is safe. We also found that in Addis Ababa it's actually more convenient, and certainly much cheaper, to take the minibuses around town. Sometimes taxis charge more for going uphill (back to the Piazza area, from town), and rather than haggle over the prices with several taxis, we'd find it was much simpler to get a minibus.
Accommodation - I recommend the Taitu hotel in Addis Ababa. Due to illness we stayed there for three weeks and it's a really good place to stay. Bahir Dar I'd recommend the cheaper ex-government hotel by the lake (can't remember the name).
Dec 18, 2008 8:50 AM
Dec 18, 2008 12:34 PM
9Anyone have ideas about transport from Lalibela to Bahir Dar? LP says there is "sometimes" a bus...
Thank you all for your tips and advice!
omoomo: Anywhere from budget to top end! Basically, we're after the best deal, so if there's a hotel somewhere that's way cheaper than the rest but still has some things going for it then I'm interested...or if somewhere else there's an amazing place to stay then we can blow the budget for a few days!
I think I'm going to call the Taitu tomorrow for our Addis accommodation.. generally, it'd be OK to call a day or two in advance, right? Apart from Lalibela at Leddet, of course.
I don't think we'll get to Harar - next time!
We've now dropped the idea of Lake Langano - no time.
But I'm in touch with TESFA about arranging something after all the rave reviews.
Thanks again for all the tips!
Dec 18, 2008 12:37 PM
Dec 18, 2008 1:41 PM
Dec 18, 2008 2:03 PM
Dec 18, 2008 2:13 PM
Dec 18, 2008 3:13 PM
14When I was in Addis Ababa this time last year I saw two ATMs - one in the Sheraton and one in the Dembel City Centre. I believe both of them are linked to foreign banks (ie. you can get money out), but I can't confirm as I didn't use them. I always take a mixture of cash and Travellers Cheques to Ethiopia - you get a slightly better exchange rate with TCs and they're not difficult to cash in any bank.
A few years ago I tried to call Ethiopia to make reservations ahead of time, but couldn't get a line into the country. You can email the Taitu as they have an email address - do a search for 'Taitu' as I have posted it in here on my trip notes from my last visit.
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