Just back from one month in Ethiopia
Replies: 13 - Last Post: Mar 19, 2012 10:42 PM Last Post By: saxonsa
Nov 12, 2011 11:20 PM
Just back from one month in EthiopiaHi Guys,
I am just back from spending a month travelling around Ethiopia in Sept/Oct….and given that I got some great ideas from Thorn Tree before I left…thought I would try to give a few ideas of my own….
1.The Danakil Depression – this is a trip that is simply a must-do. We all travel to visit places that are truly different….and the Danakil is unlike anywhere else. I can’t recommend it enough…and would even suggest delaying your trip to save the money for it if you need to….as it obviously isn’t cheap. The landscapes you pass through are stunning, the people you meet are incredibly friendly, and the experiences like climbing Era ‘Ale volcano and being able to stand just a couple of feet from the crater’s edge and peer down into the boiling molten lava are just incredibly special. I travelled with Pangean Safaris (based on previous recommendations in Thorn Tree) and can whole heartedly recommend them. Christos and Liza who run the business are fantastic and are truly passionate about doing what they can to help develop sustainable tourism in Ethiopia.
2.Lalibela – everybody comes here for the churches…and they are absolutely stunning….however the surrounding countryside really took my breath away. If you can, I would recommend scheduling in a few extra days to take advantage of them….the TESFA trek follows a fantastic route…or there is a brilliant new eco lodge that will be open from the start of next year called “Lalibela Hudad”….I was lucky enough to get to know the owner (who also runs the Seven Olives hotel in Lalibela) who let me stay there for a night before it was finished….and the location, perched on the edge of a plateau on the top of a mountain is breathtaking….and with a whole host of integrated activities planned with the local community, it is also a great way to meet the local families who are incredibly welcoming and generous. The walk up to Hudad…and the views from the top….were definitely one of the highlights of my trip.
3. Around Axum….another highlight of the trip for me was Debre Damo monastery….climbing a 15m high rope up the rock face to get into the monastery is the just the beginning. Unfortunately this is one only for the men as the monastery is male only and they don’t allow females to visit. The landscapes around here are also stunning.
4. Simien Mountains – I did a trek to climb Ras Dashen….the Simien Mountains are as beautiful as everyone says….and I would recommend this trek highly….a few tips though…..if you are fit, don’t believe the trekking companies who try to convince you to have rest days on the way up….you just don’t need them…and I met a number of groups who were annoyed at having to sit around in camps and do small walks around when they just wanted to get going. Also…if your time is limited….or if (like me) you aren’t a big fan of back trekking over the same path….you can get picked up on the way back from the village of Chiro-Leba to drive you back to Debark.
5. Gonder – depending on your budget, it is definitely worth thinking about staying at the Goha Hotel in Gonder….and if the budget doesn’t stretch that far…then definitely go there for a drink….it has a great view out over the town….perfect for sunset, has reliable and fast internet, food and drink were good, and service was remarkably good….can tell this hotel is now in private hands!
6. Drought / Famine – I know that there has been lots written in the thorntree about travelling when parts of the country are in drought….just to give my view…I drove something like 3,000km over the month, so saw a fair bit of the country….and I was admittedly there at the end of the wet season….and I stress I didn’t go to the specific areas in drought….but what I saw in vast areas of the country were bountiful crops that were about to be harvested, animals (cows, goats, chickens) everywhere, very green landscapes….the country is of course incredibly poor and many people live by subsistence farming….but comments in thorn tree about taking food out of the mouths of locals is just simply ridiculous….and Ethiopia continues to struggle against the misconception that the whole country is one big dusty drought which is simply not true….I also met lots of young Ethiopians working in restaurants / guest houses / hotels who all had stories about working so that they could pay fees for private colleges/universities/training….if tourists don’t come, those young people lose their jobs and can’t afford to continue their education….I personally feel it is much better to visit, spend money with local businesses, help create jobs, and then hopefully also find a way to do a little extra by supporting some local projects / community action etc. But that is just my two cents worth and my experience….don’t want to start the whole debate again!
Ethiopia is a truly special country….with incredibly diverse landscapes, experiences and people….and the people are so warm and welcoming. So hope you enjoy your trip….and I am already planning a return visit for next year!
Nov 13, 2011 12:50 AM
Nov 13, 2011 2:47 AM
Nov 13, 2011 10:25 AM
3I just came back from Ethiopia also and was really amased about how beautiful and green the country is!
The people are so friendly and welcomming! It was one of my most memoriable trips!
The churches of Lalibela are stunning....and I agree the surrounding countryside is very beautiful, and perfect for trekking! I wish I could have spent more time there!
I am also plannig to go back next year to see more of the country!
Nov 13, 2011 12:07 PM
4Thanks so much farfromhomeagain! This is really helpful since I'll be traveling around the northern circuit for 3 weeks next months. Btw, did you manage to get a guidebook? Which one? I'm currently in Addis Ababa already and I couldn't get it anywhere. Again, thanks for all the info- it's really helpful.
Nov 13, 2011 2:33 PM
Nov 14, 2011 12:03 AM
6Hi Anna, Chris...am sure you will both have a fantastic time. Roger...great to hear you also enjoyed your time so much!
Hi mosquitonet....I had the Bradt guide....but bought it on amazon and had it sent to Australia. Sorry but didn't come across any bookshop i could recommend in addis.
Anna....re doing this trip as a solo woman....for the Danakil and the Simiens you are required to have armed scouts and guides...so not an issue there....the northern circuit is well touristed and with the usual caveats about taking the usual precautions I wouldn't see any problems for a solo woman....any traveller in Addis needs to keep their wits about them, but more for pickpockets than any violent threat. You might like to seriously consider Ethiopian Airways for some internal flights....it is actually quite a good airline....and if you book flights when you are in Addis the flights are very cheap....and if you are planning to visit the Danakil you are going to be spending a lot of time in the car anyway....so a few flights to overcome the poor roads and the usual hassles of catching public transport might not be a bad idea.
Nov 14, 2011 7:47 AM
7I've heard great things about the TESFA treks and would like to arrange one for January, when my husband and I will be there. But I've been e-mailing various e-dresses for them for the past few weeks and haven't gotten any responses.
Does anyone have any advice re: the best way to contact them? Thanks much!
Nov 14, 2011 2:15 PM
Nov 14, 2011 10:02 PM
9yeah , i agree! A trip to Ethiopia is a must to do! i wanna go back there like next year! who wants to go back there by next year? im planning on February or March.
Nov 15, 2011 3:06 AM
10Thanks for all the great info , my family will going to Ethiopia after the year for 9 weeks!
We have planned out our routes and have a rough itinerary, we will also be going to Daloll and all the places you mentioned , could you please let me know you how much Money you spent on your trip? Your help would be great , and Thanks again for the time you spent writing this,
All the best
Nov 17, 2011 1:22 AM
11Hi Tammy...wow....9 weeks....that sounds like a fantastic trip!
I guess it is always a bit tough to say exactly how much money you will spend just because it depends so much on the quality of the accommodation you stay in and where you eat....I stayed in a couple of nice places at about $60 per night and some pretty grim places at $3 per night....if you are staying at ex-government hotels you will probably spend about $60 per double room and maybe $3 for breakfast and $6-10 for dinner....if you are eating at local places it is cheap and you will pay only a fraction of that.
Trips to the Danakil are relatively expensive....every group needs at least two 4x4s (one support) and you end up with a huge support group of police and local militia....and be a little bit careful about simply going with the cheapest quote....the Danakil is a pretty formidable environment....you don't want to be breaking down / running out of water etc out there....and some of the cheaper tours use really old cars and equipment...so worth seeing if you can talk with people who have been on their previous trips.
Hope that helps a little bit at least....and have a brilliant trip!
Nov 17, 2011 3:01 AM
12Thank you so much , that's the kind of info I need now ! I keep hearing about prices going all the time ... But not everyone is as kind as you with the advice, So very much appreciated,
My kids and I will be writing a diary and I have sworn to god that this time I will defo be writing a trip report to help other REAL backpackers and price conscience travellers to do loads without breaking several banks! Also the kids can write a blogg of their own and they can share there experiences with other kids that go trekking ,
So thanks again mate and all the very best!
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