Archive for the ‘Addis Ababa’ Category

Matthew Birt writes:

I enjoyed reading and made good use of everyone else’s information, so I thought I ought to contribute:

 

Dec/Jan 2014

Travelled solo, independently using local transport

 

Bradt Guidebook excellent

 

General

 

Generally felt very safe and welcome

Quite a lot of hassle from kids, beggars, tourist touts, blokes in the street – quite consistent, but not that persistant and certainly not threatening in any way. Groups of kids are a right royal pain in the ____ .

 

Transport pretty good. People always really helpful – and I always got to where I was heading, even if I’m not sure how. Roads generally good and traffic free – all the driver has to worry about are the people standing in the middle of it and the aimlessly wandering livestock

Cheap tuk-tuks just about everywhere – seem to have replaced garis in most places

Mobile phone coverage generally good – cheap and quick to get sim (need photocopy of passport and photo)

 

Everything seemed very inexpensive – accomm, transport, food, etc

Easy to change cash in banks/airport

ATMs in a lot of places – Dashen and Commercial Bank worked for me

 

Forgotten how noisy Africa is, especially at night – or at least it was where I slept. Every night. My top tip – take the finest ear plugs money can buy. As well as eye drops (for the dust) and lip balm (for the sun).

 

Budget hotels – apart from in Harar – always provided towel, toilet paper and soap.

 

Weather – always sunny and hot during day – 25-30 C. No rain. In some towns, pretty cold early morning and night and required two fleeces (e.g. Debark, Debre Birhan, Abese Teferi)

 

Bole Airport

 

Arrived 2am, and stayed in there until morning flight to Axum. Felt safe, although pretty cold. Nowhere nice to sleep, try and get into domestic terminal departures asap where there are comfortable loungers.

 

 

 

Axum

 

Hotel reps waiting at airport with free transport

Africa House – fine – 175B en suite single

Thought Tsion Maryam complex at 200B a rip-off, considering much of it closed and under refurbishment

Really enjoyed walk out to Debre Liqanos Monastry

 

Shire

 

Africa Hotel – fine – 150B – adjacent restaurant good but noisy at night

Nice just to be in a normal town, without the tourist ‘nonsense’

Good to walk out of town into countryside to see ‘real’ Ethiopia

 

Debark

 

Bus from Shire didn’t leave until after 7, even though told to be there at 5. Awful road. Wonderful Simien scenery for 10 hours or so!

Simien Park Hotel – good – 250B en suite single

Unique Landscape next door also looked good, but slightly more expensive.

If not trekking, negotiate hard and get a number of quotes for your day trip into the national park – tourist touts, argh!!!

 

Gondar

 

Queen Taitu Pension – 200B en suite single. Poor. No hot water, etc. Noisy.

Moved to  Belegez Pension, 200B, water still a problem, but quieter and nicer courtyard

Four Sisters Restaurant – great food and fantastic dancing. Before I left I didn’t think some contrived dance show for tourists would be a highlight of my trip. But it was. Go and see for yourself.

 

As solo, negotiated guide fee down to 100B (rather than 200) for castle complex

 

Kosoye also a highlight. Easy to get to (30-40 mins north of Gondar). Had a very nice breakfast at Befikir Ecolodge, which is visible from main road. Staff super friendly. Then great walk down into valley. Scout cost 100B, and worth every penny. Tough going.  Highly recommended.

 

Bahir Dar

 

Wudie Pension -  nice big room – 200B.

Ghion looked really run down to me, although good spot for meeting fellow tourists.

Tread carefully with the tourist touts in town. Both half day trips to the lake monastries and waterfall were shambolic and a rip-off. Average price paid seemed to be 200B/person, but I’m sure you can get for less. Get itinerary and any additional costs written down. You have been warned! Good for meeting other (equally hacked-off) tourists though!

Lucky with Blue Nile Falls – water was flowing – and another highlight.

 

Lalibela

 

There for Christmas, so very busy and accomm prices x2 or x3 normal rate

Hotel Lalibela, been refurbished and now rather swish. $45/double en suite

Private Roha – very basic, but felt safe – 400B/twin shared facilities

Recommend Unique Restarant opposite Asheton – cheap and good fun

Walk up to Asheton Maryam good, although hard

 

Used local guide  – Zewudu Melak – +251 (0) 913636414 – for churches – nice guy – only ‘guide’ I used that I can recommend

 

Lake Hayk

 

Logo Hayk Lodge (I think, maybe name changed, not sure)

This place could probably be very peaceful and relaxing, but not on Christmas Day with a huge party going on!

230B/hut ensuite for okayish room (150B if you’re Ethiopian!)

 

Debre Birhan

 

Akalu Hotel – reasonable place – 100B for ensuite

Really nice restaurant at Eva Hotel

 

Bishoftu

 

Alaf Hotel – bit noisy and water issues – 170B en suite. Great view of lake

 

Awash

 

Buffet D’Auoache – 150B/room – pretty nice and peaceful place. Dusty, nondescript town though

 

Managed to find a ‘guide’ to get me into Awash National Park by asking around at hotels. Hired a good minibus and driver for 1000B for the day (6am-6pm). Really enjoyed the reserve, it’s not the Serengeti, but saw quite a lot of game. Waterfalls fab. Awash Falls Lodge looked nice and was a good spot for lunch

 

Abese Teferi

 

Kebsch Int Lodge – decent room – 150B en suite; good restaurant attached

 

Got 6am bus direct to Kuni, found ‘guide’ quickly albeit using sign language and pointing to pictures in my Bradt Guide and visited Kuni Muktar Mountain Nyala Sanctuary. Not sure about ‘30-45 mins walk to river’. I got taken 2 hours up a bloody mountain, then 2 hours back down it. Not my ideal start to the day at 7 am. Fantastic though. Saw plenty of (skittish) nyala, warthogs, reedbuck and hyena.

 

Harar

 

Everyone I met moaned about the hotels in this place – except for those in the cultural guesthouses. The only town where I found that hotels were full

Trawfik Sharif Hotel – bit grim – bucket shower – 150B

Tewodros – 160B ensuite – okayish – despite stinking communal bathrooms at entrance

Belayneh – only offering doubles for 300B and water issues

Heritage Plaza looked more run down and mismanaged than guidebook suggests

Harar Ras – looked best bet – been refurbished – cheapest room 230B – good restaurant serving absolutely wonderful pizzas

Fresh Touch Restaurant – good, but expensive (for Ethiopia)

Hyena feeding cost me 100B – the greatest concentration of tourists I saw in one place throughout my 4 weeks in the country

 

Addis Ababa

 

Almaz Pension – 200B shared bathroom – clean, friendly, quiet, safe

Yod Abyssinia – good fun, if expensive – don’t go alone, sit at the front and be of above average height, otherwise you are liable to get dragged up on stage to dance – much to the amusement of the local crowd. This can lead to embarrassing flashbacks.

 

Have a good trip.

Addis Advisor writes:

Today, 8:29
Met my grandson Saturday, took over 2 hours to get out. London plane landed 0550, we were not out till 0800. I got into the baggage area to see what was happening.

Another arrival Sunday, was out in 35 minutes. WHY?

Delays are now more to do with baggage handling capacity than visa queues or, immigration lines.

Passenger numbers at Bole are now well over 6 million per year ( tho a big % are in transit.) The main international terminal was opened 2003 but it cannot cope at rush hours now.

Rush hour is 0530 to 0930 am, and about the same pm….

There are only 5 carousels and 1 is reserved for priority bags. So IF you have gold or silver Sheba miles on Ethiopian or any Star Alliance carrier you are laughing….but on Saturday the bags from the London plane had to wait for a carousel to clear, and that took a long time, so the bags from the London flight did not appear till nearly 80 minutes after it landed!!!!!!! I think it was partly because the Washuington plane, a 777 – 300 with nearly 400 people got in before the London plane…..and its bags occupied a carousel for a long time….

THEN once you pick up your bags you have to join the Q for one of the 2 x ray machines that are in use at customs – ALL bags have to go through them. This Q can take another 20 minutes.

AT THE FRONT OF THE Q they will ask you for your baggage tags from check in. This used to be done randomly but they are now doing it for everyone…,..

AGAIN gold / silver folk have a fast track green carpet to X ray machines.

FINALLY a reminder that some meeters and greeters from hotels/ngo’s etc still wait in the car park outside T2 , tho most go inside. If someone is meeting you make sure you know if they will be INSIDE the arrivals hall or out in car park.

Getting to Durba

Posted: November 24, 2013 in Addis Ababa, Durba

Henri de Noblens writes:

Durba lies more like 35km from the Bahir Dar road than the estimate of 20km on p176 of the guidebook.

Stuart Dickson writes:

Hotel News in Addis- The Wanza Hotel located in the Olympia region of Addis Ababa is soon to be closing it’s doors. Sadly this great little meeting place for many interesting characters from around the horn and East Africa is falling victim to yet another government land grab. The government here have a policy of stern options when it comes to taking land it wants for development. When a plot is needed such as the Wanza location the owners are given a option “build your hotel up to eight, thirteen or twenty one levels or sell up and move out. This happens all the time around the country and sadly the Wanza family do not have the resources to expend on such a huge project so they have no choice but close up shop.
It is very sad and many people are paying the price- the Chinese influence here is stronger than we assume.
I will miss the Wanza (even though it was falling apart) and all the weird and wonderful people that used to pass through and shared tales in the restaurant.

I have been roaming the area and there are other options which is good because Olympia is such a great location as a base to venture from.
There is Rita’s Guest House just up the road on the left at $25.00 + a well run, clean quiet spot with free breakfast and WI-fi service. There is the Almaz just down from the Wanza at 200 – 350 etb per night but like the Wanza it is now blasted nightly by live music and DJ at a new club on the block. Also there is King Guest House just past the Residence Inn and Homage Hotel at 250-350 and 400etb per night depending on your needs. It is quiet, clean and basic and at 250 for a single with hot water it’s a good deal for Addis with it’s ever increasing prices. There are other options in the area if you look around. By by Wanza but we can still meet at the delish Sudanese Ful house. Elisa’s nice little Buna and Chi house- The Parisian or lets eat great goat meat with rice , Harissa and flat bread at the Yemeni restaurant on Meskel Flower. See you around Stuart.

Photohunter writes:

Last sunday we were trying to visit the former train station in Addis Ababa. The “Chemin de Fer Djibouto Ethiopien” could be a major touristic attraction for the city if the man in charge was not such a cheater. When the guard phoned him, he asked 100 birr per person and when he arrived and saw i was the only one to enter he increased his price to 150. I smelled some corruption. When i told him this is not correct he started to threaten me and it ended up in a scrimage. So it is better to avoid the place or to limit your visit to the front outside. Taking backside pics is only possible by crossing the footbridge at the right side of the station.

Addis Advisor writes:

Anyone planning to do the GER or watch it on Sunday Nov 24th should be aware that the course this year is completely different, due to massive road works in city centre and Debre Zeit Rd for the building of the Addis Metro Light Rail system. The run is in the north east sector of the city so a huge area between Arat Kilo; Amist Kilo, Sidist Kilo and Magananya is likely you be closed to traffic from 0800 till lunchtime at least. For exact route see GER website http://www.ethiopianrun.org/index.php/international-10k/race-course

Easiest places to walk into the course will be from Arat Kilo or Megananya, or from the new road that goes north from Holiday Hotel towards British Embassy.

If you are on holiday in Addis and want to watch it be aware it is a huge event, the largest road race in Africa, with 37,000 runners.

Best place to see the 500 elite runners possibly about 0910 at Shola Market, 0920 at St Matthews Church between Arat Kilo and Ras Amba Hotel, 0925 Sandford International School

BUT note that last two places are elite only i.e. the other 36000 go on different route from Green Valley Hotel back to finish at Jan Meda. So if you want to see everyone the T junction by Green Valley Hotel is a good place.

If you want to see everyone near start head for Sandford School and walk just past it to where the road comes out on a 6 lane highway

Finally, if you wish to avoid it head for Bole or the city centre area this year….

Yves Marie Stranger of Equus Africa writes:

It’s time to loosen the girths, bolt the stable door and hang up the good ol’ hat: Equus Ethiopia is closing down from 30 Oct 2013.

Please follow this link for the closing remarks on what has been a very good ride:

http://uthiopia.com/?p=1369

and do circulate on Facebook…etc. for people to have info.

 

Charles writes:

I have just returned from a very enjoyable two-week group visit to Ethiopia. Your Bradt guide was an excellent companion and very useful on both day-to-day matters and the history and culture of the country. This was my first time using a Bradt guide and I will definitely consider using them in future.
A problem I encountered on the last day involved attempting to change my remaining birr back into dollars. I had just over $20 worth. The Dashen Bank branch in the Ghion hotel, where I had originally obtained my birr, insisted on copies of my passport page and my return flight ticket. Staff said this was a central bank requirement.
I did have the original receipt for the purchase of birr and a copy of my passport page. I did not have a return ticket however, merely an electronic ticket locator number. That is all most travellers would have nowadays. This was not enough however. Anyway, staff said, their photocopier was out of action so even if I had had a ticket I could not have copied it. How convenient for them was that?
Two other travellers in my group had a similar experience and the intervention of our local guide had no effect. (One later managed to change her dollars with the hotel cashier.) We were told we could change our birr at the airport. However, the exchange office on the departures level at Bole Airport said it could not exchange birr for dollars. So I have come home with $20 worth of useless and very grubby birr.
At best this is bureaucratic incompetence, at worst a scam by either the bank or the government to hang on to any dollars travellers exchange. This may be a one-off but I think travellers should  be warned.
Addis Advisor writes:
 
1. There are so many new hotels, guest houses etc in Addis Ababa these days that taxi drivers may not know them all. So, if you are staying at a new hotel without an airport shuttle bus, have the location description ready for your taxi driver (ideally in relation to a well-known landmark), and the phone number in case he still doesn’t know where it is.
 
2. If  you are arriving at Terminal One and being met by somebody, be aware that non-passengers are never allowed inside this terminal, so you should go out to the car park to look for your lift.

3. The situation if you are arriving a Terminal Two is more complicated, as meet-and-greeters  and drivers are allowed into the terminal, but to do so they have to buy a ticket and queue up for a security check, so most of them opt to wait outside in the car park. I spent three hours waiting for two Colombian Tourists on Friday – on a late plane from Jeddah – and in that time I met four groups or individuals who were waiting inside, when their drivers proved eventually to be waiting outside!  The driver for the Taitu Hotel is especially bad – he was inside at 0730 but outside for his next group at 0930. The potential for confusion is made worse by the phone network, which is pathetic right now. So make sure you know in advance whether the person meeting you is going to be outside or inside.  And if you do agree to meet inside, a great rendezvous is the Yellow Spot Cafe, which is immediately to your left as you emerge from baggage hall, and is open plan (no walls) so you or they are very visible sitting there.

AddisAdvisor reports:

The widening of Bole Road is finished. You can now cover the airport to Maskel Sq in under 10 minutes out of rush hour. If arriving at night you no longer need to use hotels near airport.

But the construction of a new metropolitan rail system is disrupting traffic elsewhere, since the planned lines mainly run down the centre of existing roads. The two lines will extend 17km from east to west stretching, from Ayat Village to Tor Hailoch via Megenagna, and  17km from north to south line through Menelik Square, Mercato, Gotera and Kaliti, with about 3km of common track running from Lideta to Meskel Square via Mexico Square, the old railway station, and the stadium.  For a full map, see this government site. The line should be completed some time in 2017/8 and is bound to ease congestion once it opens.