Archive for July, 2013

Kevin McBriarty writes:

My friend has just returned from Ethiopia, and she said the banks in Addis Ababa are not accepting travellers’ cheques because of some security issue. It is not clear how long this situation will last but I would advise carrying other forms of currency.

Alan Friedlob (Bellingham, Washington) & Mariann Kocsis (Baltimore, Maryland) write:

This April, we were fortunate to have spent about three weeks traveling with Overland Ethiopia Tours (http://www.overlandethiopiatours.com ). (Haileab Seyoum Beyene and his support staff)– in a private tour of the Northern Circuit, Rift Valley, South Omo, and the Bale Mountains. What impressed us is the social network Haileab and his guys have across the country. Everywhere we went—from Gonder to Yabello, warm greetings were exchanged through chance encounters with acquaintances of friends, and Haileab’s seamless connections with local guides opened doors to a better understanding of the cultural diversity that is Ethiopia. Haileab speaks Amharic, Oromaic, and Tigrinya; any of which may come in handy in helping guests bridge the challenges of Ethiopian travel. . As a guide, he listened to what we wanted to do—stopping at an unexpected market, listening to music, or finding high quality crafts and high grade coffee. He and his colleagues did everything possible to accommodate us. Haileab’s itinerary and accommodations were exactly as we had agreed. In one instance where he could not secure the hotel on our itinerary, he compensated us with three nights’ of meals at our next location.

Regarding our itinerary, I would like to suggest that you consider not visiting the Mursi people, or if you go, clarifying what your visit will entail, and then decide. As you are probably aware, the people of the South Omo Region expect to be paid for all photos. In the case of the Mursi, this practice has become extreme. It will be extremely difficult for a tourist to learn about Mursi ways as “photo,photo” will dominate the experience. Many world renown photographers like McCullin and McCurdy have captured the Mursi. Perhaps better to buy their books than contribute to the tribe’s self- exploitation. A difficult decision for some tourists.

Thankfully this is not the case for other people that you are likely to visit, even though similar pressures will be found. For example, the Key Afer and Dimeka markets are “must dos” but there are many other markets where you would be the only outsider. Haileab patiently negotiated the landscape with us, and we learned.

Again, if you are planning to visit, please check out Overland Ethiopia Tours. You won’t be disappointed.

 

 

Nico Demus writes

There is a new traditional guesthouse in the Jugol (walled town) of Harar that finally challenges the Rawda and Zewda houses and their disagreeable, unfriendly attitudes. Its called the Anisa guesthouse and is located near the Jemi mosque. Anisa is a very friendly, outgoing woman. Call her at 0915330011 or call Hailu, the best local guide in town, at 0913072931. It can sleep up to 4 or 5 comfortably. But if you have a group that doesnt mind the floor, it can sleep up to 7 or 8. Price is something like 150 to 200 birr per person w breakfast.

Ian Spence of Australia writes:

My wife and I recently spent 3 weeks in Ethiopia, travelling with the company “Amazing Ethiopia Tours”, arranged by Simeneh. We can’t speak highly enough of this company. During the planning stages, Simeneh was always ready to make suggestions, to alter the plan to suit our desires and he was extremely prompt with replies to our emails. His prices were more than competitive with other companies.
We visited Debre Markos, Lake Tana, Gondor, Siemien National Park, Axum, Mekelle, Lalibela, Awash National Park and Hara. We travelled by 4×4 with a driver and guide.
Again, we cannot speak highly enough of the guiding done by Yigo Getu Tarekegn (Contact details: phone: +251 911 718289 email address :yigotours@gmail.com)
We can recommend in the highest manner Yigo’s services. He was at all times informative, knowledgeable and communicative. His knowledge covered history, geology, geography and religion. He was young and enthusiastic and committed to informing foreign guests above his interesting country.

Brian writes:
1) The thievery on the way to Washa Mikael has apparently gotten bad enough that a vigilante cartel has sprung up. A group of old local men wearing makeshift uniforms (caps and gray jackets) and carrying hefty sticks approached us near the road. We paid 200 birr for one of them to act as an escort. I felt very secure and the trip was great. He added a lot of information and color to the trip. I think the net effect is that this site can now be safely visited.

My guide showed up early to inquire about the way, since he had not been there in ten years. The local boys managed to convince him that we should pay them to show us a shortcut. When I arrived I told him that was a bad idea on account of the muggings (thanks Bradt guide!). I started thinking of how to politely cancel the trip. Thankfully that’s when the old men approached us, corroborated my/your story, and seemed quite legit. We set out under their protection.

I can see how this site would not add much to a tour of all the country’s highlights, but anyone seeking an urban escape should be quite happy with the archaeological fun at the end of this pleasant hilly walk. Especially if they won’t have time to leave Addis during their trip.

2) I think my guide was a great choice for someone who wants get the most out of their trip but can’t pay the real pros. He’s especially good with the museums and churches in Addis and, by extension, probably a good companion for the historical and cultural sites around the country.

Mesfin Bogale   mesfinbogale18@gmail.com  +251912656050
Over two whole days, my only concern was the Washa Mikael incident, when I honestly believe he was duped. But I was the one with the up-to-date book and the Nairobi-born cynicism.