I returned from Ethiopia after a two-month trip with many stories to tell and thousands of photos.
Two intense months that led me from the borders with Kenya to those with Eritrea, an important and poignant dive in a world that I like to call “something else”.
The first time in an African Country and an initial desperate search for common grounds with my culture or with those I knew up to then.
An amazing country, beautiful, diverse and very peculiar. You are never ready for Ethiopia, not until you actually get there.
So many lessons I learned that I wish to share with you, hoping that they will come in handy for your next fantastic trip in one of the most interesting countries of the globe.
Addis Ababa is a big city and as such it offers several areas in which to stay.
The main destinations of the tourists are two: Square District, Bole District. How to choose?
Area full of hotels and where all Backapckers generally prefer to stay. In particular Taitu Hotel, Wutma and Boro are among the most lively and the meeting place for travelers.
In this neighborhood you find shops, the AirEthiopia office and links for the whole town by minibus.
Chaotic and always full of people, I have always opted for this area, although I admit not everybody likes this area, especially because of the children on the road and the high number of beggars. Besides the risk of "harassment" lays just outside the hotel door. But you must get used to this in Ethiopia.
This is the business district of Addis, the style is completely different from Square, close to the airport, the embassies, Meskal Square ( whence most of the long distance buses leave ) . From here it is easier to get around Addis independently but room rates are considerably higher than in Square District, we start from about $ 25 per night. The cons of staying in this area is that you don’t get to meet many travelers, as they’d rather go for cheaper solutions in hotels in the Piazza District.
Addis Ababa is considered as one of the safest capitals in Africa, this is true when it comes to violent crimes, but a little less if we refer to pickpocketing. I personally never had such experience, but it happened to my guide in Addis, therefore you must pay attention especially when visiting Market, the most impressive and largest market in Africa.
However you needn’t be afraid if you only take some measures aimed at discouraging the pickpocket:
Aside from this danger, Ethiopia is really a safe country, the only fears (rare but I admit I had them myself at times) are the roads, especially those trafficked with animals and during market days, the drivers are used to it but it is not too rare that in some cases in order to dodge some animals they’d drive off road.
The reliable and fast internet connection is still rare in Ethiopia, but the hotels even economic ones are beginning to offer it, although not always free (take foe example Taitu hotel ) .
Wifi access , however , is available at the common area of many international hotels ( such as the Jupiter Hotel and Intercontinental) , in order to get access you may go to the bar and the restaurant and at the cost of a drink you can stay online. For those who do not need WiFi, Internet cafes are everywhere in Addis but things get complicated in the south, as there are none in the Omo Valley.
I admit that I was amazed by the lack of wifi in hotels but the presence of the connection via mobile, obviously to make a card with data connection you need to go at the Ethiotel office, armed with passport and photos, and in a few minutes you will have your own 3G card.
Ethiopia is big and for those who have never traveled in Africa the arrival could be a bit of a shock. To know how I lived the first few weeks click here.
As a fact, the northern circuit is well equipped with public transport but if you're visiting independently you need to consider at least two weeks not including the Danakil.
If you wish to travel South and the Omo Valley the situation is more difficult given the lack of links with public transport and in this case it would be advisable to use a private car.
Hence it is not possible to travel along the entire Ethiopia in just two weeks, but you need to choose what you would like to discover and engage the correct amount of time.
For independent travelers it would be ideal to have at least five weeks.
If traveled independently and you have a minimum of 5 weeks time, the total cost of traveling in Ethiopia is not exaggerated, if we exclude the Danakil and you only choose two destinations in the Omo Valley as most tribes cannot be reached independently.
On the other hand if you leave with an all inclusive organized tour the costs can be quite high, as for housing there is no mid range.
Either hotel starting at $10 per night or less, with outdoor shared bathroom or resorts. In addition, the rental car with driver has quite high costs
The costs are very high for those who travel alone, but for those traveling as a couple or with more people costs get more even and it becomes definitely more accessible.
In two months traveling I have spent about €1700 Danakil included.
Absolutely yes!! I admit that Addis can be a difficult city to love for plenty of reasons, but a trip to this country is a real adventure. Accompanied by a lot of books that have kept me company in the many days spent in solitude, you wouldn’t meet many fellow travelers, I discovered a new world, different, diverse, colorful, chaotic and noisy but also very beautiful, fascinating and almost mythological.
Indeed, my advice is to go as soon as possible because in 10 years time probably the Omo tribes are bound to disappear and just that corner of the country is worth the time and cost!
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