Harar safe for travel? (Jan. 2012)
Replies: 9 - Last Post: Jun 15, 2012 4:25 AM Last Post By: ecleary96
Jan 21, 2012 12:57 AM
Harar safe for travel? (Jan. 2012)Hello -- I am wondering if any independent travelers or knowledgeable locals have any current info on travel to/around Harar -- has it recently become unusually hazardous? A friend-of-a-friend who works for a UK tour operator just told me they "don't recommend that area at the moment because it is quite close to the Somali border." I was surprised, because I hadn't heard a thing before this indicating that Harar was unsafe. Farther east, perhaps yes, but not in the immediate Harar area. Any information you have would be much appreciated, as I will be in Ethiopia in February and am considering whether to arrange my itinerary to include it (Harar). It sounds like an only-in-Ethiopia experience that I wouldn't want to miss. Any thoughts?
Jan 21, 2012 7:36 AM
1Ethiopia is one of the safest countries in the world for visitors. It is safe to travel in Harar.
The country has enjoyed many years of peace and tranquility with no serious security incidents on any the tourist routes. Particularly since the end of the conflict with Eritrea in 2000, the whole country has remained safe and secure, though the border with Eritrea remains closed.
Conflict in neighbouring Somalia has made travel in parts of Ethiopia's Somali Region in the south east of the country inadvisable, however it should be noted that these areas are well outside the normal tourist routes, and no tours are currently being conducted there. Otherwise, the whole rest of the country continues to be extremely safe, and all the tourist attractions accessible.
Jan 21, 2012 7:54 AM
2greenbeach, we also plan to visit Harar, and was surprised not to find very much information on it either here or on tripadvisor.
We plan to go there in March and am trying to get a contact address, number, email for Rowda Waber Harari Cultural Guesthouse which seems to get good reviews. If you have any info on that, I 'd be grateful to here. Also if you could report back on your trip there, that would be great!
Jan 22, 2012 5:39 AM
3Thanks Jill, I hadn\t actually seen that earlier post, but I put a similar question up on tripadvisor and was given the same tel number, so that is a good beginning. The post on tripadvisor also mentioned that a double costs 350 birr for a double incl breakfast.
Look forward to hearing some feedback from you :)
Jan 23, 2012 3:02 AM
Jan 25, 2012 2:45 AM
5technicaltitch, alas, the US embassy is neither so organized nor so detailed. I was very impressed with the UK site. I see they (the UK) have Harar as a green; I'm in Addis now and haven't heard anything (including from locals) but that I should go, so I'm going. I'll have more to tell in a week or two. Thanks, everyone, for your comments!.
Feb 10, 2012 12:02 AM
6Hi, here's the Harar report: no security issues in town that I noticed or that anyone mentioned; I didn't even see any soldiers. I took Sky Bus from Addis and Selam Bus back. On the return, the non-faranji passengers' checked baggage was inspected (rather cursorily) before being loaded on the bus and hand baggage was briefly frisked. We were stopped abut 1.5 hours outside of Awash Saba -- the bus had to pull over at a police station/checkpoint and the driver had to sign something, but I wasn't able to determine what that was about. No one seemed to consider it out of the routine.
I loved Harar, it's my favorite stop in Ethiopia so far. I will put in a plug for my guide, a kid who met our bus and guided me to my guesthouse without asking for a fee. He and I really hit it off -- he's a smart, laconic, sarcastic 17-year old -- so I kept him on as a guide for the weekend and he was great (a lot of that was similarity in personality, of course, so your mileage may vary). Edom speaks all 3 local languages (Amharic, Oromori (sp?), and Harari) which came in handy at my guesthouse, where my landladies spoke ONLY Harari -- their English was better than their Amharic -- and is especially useful in navigating the local chat markets. His American English is also quite good and idiomatic. He seems to know everyone in town; if he suggest you try the Kuti (sp?) tea, do so -- I thought it was delicious -- it's roasted coffee leaves steeped with a pinch of salt -- sort of in the Tibetan butter tea family, without the, um, texture issues. :) Edom's contact info is: Edom (like "Adam") Mulugeta, cell: 092 400 9496, email: email@example.com.
Re guesthouses: I stayed at the Zubdeyda Waber Harari Cultural Guest House, which is the, literally, "sister" guesthouse of the Redwe guesthouse. According to Edom, Zubeyda and another sister are the unmarried sisters of Redwe (who married and left home), and run their own guesthouse. Like Redwe, the guesthouse is in a traditional Harari household with the central, traditionally decorated living space, and individual rooms for other family members/guests. It's set up around a central courtyard and is very cool and quiet in th heat of the day. The sisters have a phone number (02-546-64692 or 02-566-606-14) but don't speak much English, so will take your information and have someone who speaks English call you back. This frequently is Edom, who runs errands for them and otherwise helps out. If ylu are having problems contacting either Zubeyda or Redwe, Edom says you can call or email him at the #s above and he will be a go-between.
The mosquitoes do come out promptly at dusk in Harar (and it's a malaria zone) so bring your spray. And yes, the hyena man is worth a visit. Even if the hyenas do look, asa fellow visitor said, pretty plump and cheerful.
Hope this helps!
Feb 11, 2012 1:28 AM
7Thanks very much greenbeach for that constructive report. We will be heading there by bus (and flying back) for one day in March.
Any idea roughly how much we should expect to pay for Edom's services as a guide? There will be four of us so I guess we will be expected to pay a little more, but some approximate idea would be very helpful. Thank you :)
Jun 12, 2012 10:35 AM
8Thank you for the great report! Do you recall how much the room cost? Guide?
I am hoping to visit Harar in a couple of weeks.
Jun 15, 2012 4:25 AM
9This may sound like a dumb question, but how do I reserve a room at the Rewda Guesthouse? What information will I need to provide when I call? I am assuming a credit card number will not be required! I once provided one to a hotel that was not required that they only requested to steal my credit card information so I'm cautious now. Any advise?
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