Archive for the ‘Awash National Park’ 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.

Jahnka writes:

I’d like to recommend tourists going eastwards a possible solution for the accomodation in the Awash Park area: the Animalia Lodge, run by Dimitri Assimacopoulos, son of the Greek old woman Madame Kiki who manages the Buffet d’Aouache in Awash Saba.

The lodge is located on the top of a small hill in the Bilen area, totally immersed in the wild Afar savannah, overlooking into a vast plain from which beautiful sunsets can be enjoyed on the restaurant’s outdoor veranda.

To get there, from Awash Saba follow the asphalt road east for 7 km and then turn left to the road directed north to Mile; after 50km from the junction you will see a signboard where you will turn left onto dirt road for 6 km, then just follow the clearly indicated signposts.

The lodge is composed by 7 cosy bungalows, each with two beds, a private outdoor shaded veranda, a toilet whose shower is naturally warm since water is pumped from a nearby natural spring.

I went there with a group of Italian tourists for a couple of nights. We arranged their two pick-ups for a morning game drive in the Aledeghi Wildlife Reserve (entrance 90 br per person) where we spotted several Soemmering Gazelles, Beisa Oryxs and Warthogs and even some Gravy’s Zebras from distance. In the afternoon we went to visit a local Afar village, the cotton farms, the Awash river, the hot spring and the beatiful plain surrounding the lodge, dotted again with several wild animals such as Salt’s Dikdiks, Warthogs, Northern Gerenuks and so many birds like Marabou Storks and Pelicans.

Finally, one of the most notable remarks, that is, the excellent food, really the most exquisite of our trip. The restaurant combines Greek, French and Italian cuisine that can satisfy both the vegetarian and non-vegetarian palates. The Italian tourists (who are notably very exigent about food) were totally approving every choice of the rich buffets !

Prices are very reasonable and worthy the quality! The atmosphere is very relaxing!

Contacts:
animalialodge@yahoo.com
+251 (0) 911 20 84 42
+251 (0) 115 50 93 64 – 65

 

Awash National Park

Posted: February 16, 2013 in Awash National Park

Matthias writes:

I would like to make some positive remarks on Awash national park, as I read mostly negative remarks.
When I was there we visited the place only for one day with 3 students and driver in a private car. You should not at all expect to see high amounts of wildlife, that is really the wrong attitude. But if you are lucky you can see some nice mammals (we saw beisa oryx, greater kudu, warthog, baboons and soemmering’s gazelle) and the bird life is superb. Moreover, the landscape is increadebly nice; the falls and the gorge, the savanna, but also the warmwater sources, surrounded by palm trees in the north, located in a deserted landscape where Afar boys roam with their cattle. Definitely visit that site too!

I made a fifteen days trip with my wife and some other Dutch tourists, organized by a Dutch agency via the Ethiopian agency Greenland Tours.

We started in Addis, flew to Harar, spend two nights there, then drove to the south, with overnight stops in Nazareth, Dinsho, Goba, Awassa, Konso, Jinka, Mago NP campsite, Turmi three nights, Arba Minch two nights, then back to Addis.

Security = Ethiopia feels very safe. Never felt threatened. No thefts. Only town where I thought someone was following us in the street, and where I met an American man whose passport and money were stolen, was in Awassa.

Economy = Ethiopia looks booming! Everywhere you see new buildings being built. Road works to improve the infrastructure in many different places. There is more and more asphalt.

Harar = Lovely city to spent two days. Special atmosphere in those little alleys. Visited Rimbaud house and Harari cultural house. Good lunch at the popular restaurant “Cozy – pizzeria and coffee”, about 50 meters away from the equally good and popular Fresh Touch restaurant (same side of the street), mentioned in your book on page 418. We went to see the “new hyena man”. Weird to see, but still worth it. We stayed in the Heritage Hotel, was good. From the terrace of our hotel, at the end of an afternoon we saw a hyena walking between the gardens below. We payed 20 birr for a tuktuk ride from the city centre to our hotel.

Between Harar and Nazareth we visited the big khat market in Aweday.
Awash NP = saw crocodiles down in the river from the lodge near the Falls. In the park we saw kudu, wart hog, gazelle and many beautiful oryxes.
Nazareth Rift valley hotel = hotel looked nice, good restaurant, but the room we had at the second floor was shabby, dark and dusty and there was no water in the bathrooms during the whole evening.

Shashemene = lunch in restaurant Lily of the valley was good, they had special juices i had never seen before, maybe Caribbean/rasta.

Dinsho = spent a night in the Dinsho lodge. Made a log fire in the lounge, but after a while the whole lounge was full of smoke! At night temperature dropped to about minus 2 celsius. Next morning made a lovely walk with a very knowledgeable ranger. Saw wart hog and many endemic mountain nyalas, as well as francolins, white tailed ibis, bushbuck, yellow fronted parrot.
In the afternoon we drove to the very summit of Tullu Deemtu, 4377 meters, highest road in Africa. As far as I know, this is the only place in Africa where you can go above 4000 meters by car. (In my younger days, I used to hike African 4000+mountains: Kili, Mt Kenya, Ruwenzori, Meru, mt Cameroon, Toubkal Atlas, Karisimbi, …). Sanetti plateau is of great beauty. Ethiopia has such a huge diversity in landscapes, incredible.
We saw the Abyssinian wolf, mole rats, lammergeier, shelduck.

Spent the night in Webe Shebele hotel in Goba, very comfortable room. Condoms provided in the room!

On the right side of the road between Robe and Dodola, I visited the house of cave people in a place called Sebsebe Washa. You can see the rock from the road. The house is built against the rock, and once you are inside the house, you notice the house is connected to tunnels in the rock. I paid the owner a couple of birr to visit his house. Bring a torch light, cause it is very dark.

Awassa = spent the night in the very comfortable new Pinna hotel. Made a motor boat trip on the lake to the place where the hippos live, pretty expensive faranji prices.

Dilla = delicious mango and avocado juice in Rendez Vous restaurant.

From Dilla to Konso = I showed our driver the new road from Fisiha Genet to Konso, mentioned in your book and on our good Hungarian Gizi map, but he said the road was not good, he prefered to drive via Yabello.

Konso = Edget Hotel was pretty basic, no running water and no electricity when we were there, but the place is popular with locals, for a beer in the evening.

Omo valley = we visited villages and markets of ethnic groups like Hamar, Karo, Mursi, Konso, Ari, Dassanetch and Arbore. Price of a picture was mostly 2, 3 or 4 birr. Communication was difficult. I found a very basis Hamar word list on the internet, the people liked it when i spoke some of their words. That was always good to break the ice and make the people smile.
On page 533 you write that Arbore is “far more rustic and unaffected than many similarly sized towns in south Omo”. Probably times have changed, because the Arbore people standing along the road, waiting to be photographed, were the most pushy. They surrounded me, kept on pulling my arms, etc, nothing bad, but far from unaffected. Lots of jeeps with tourists when we were there. We were one of them.

Turmi Evangadi camp site = showers were always working. Not a bad place to camp. Lots of bees though in the open air restaurant.

Mago NP = on the road to the camp site we saw baboons, dikdiks, guinea fowls. At the camp site lovely black and white colobuses. End of afternoon we made a game drive, starting behind the Colobus camp site, crossing the river by car, and then through high grass. So high that soon our main concern was not finding animals, but finding the track. I think we were the first car there since long. The armed scout walked ahead of our car, to look for the track. During two hours of game drive, we saw 1 dikdik, thousands of tse tse like flies and one sad lonely turtle, that was all. So dont go to Ethiopia for the animals, but for the people! And when we found that turtle or tortoise, our local guide who had been to the Mursi village with us, lift the poor animal from the ground, hold it above his head, put it back on the ground and then put his feet on it. I think Ethiopia has still quite a lot to learn as far as nature conservation policy is concerned!

Omorate = had to go to an office where an official checked our passports and wrote our names in a notebook. Local guide asked us 100 birr to cross the Omo river, two ways. Your guide book says “a few birr”. Probably faranji price, we did not bargain. No police escort necessary.

Way back in Konso = had lunch in new Kanta Lodge, looks very beautiful, nice tokuls, nice garden. Extremely crowded, all the landrovers with faranji stopped there for lunch.

Arba Minch = lovely boat trip to see the huge crocodiles, very exciting, many fish eagles, goliath heron. Swaynes Hotel definitely misses character, isolated place, no locals, a small bottle of water costs one euro, and there was no running water for a big part of the day. Very nice atmosphere however in Tourist hotel in lower town, popular with both locals and foreigners.
Nechisar NP = saw baboon, dikdik, yellow necked francolin, Grant gazelle, ground hornbill, ground squirrel, kudu, Burchells zebra, and all five remaining Swaynes hartebeest, hundred procent score.

Humbo = visited the thursday big cattle market, not many tourists, people dont ask money for pictures

Tiya stelae field = worth a visit if you are interested in history. Very knowledgeable guide who opened the doors for us.

Regards,

Wil

We did a 2 weeks trip in South Ethiopia. This travel was less surprising and atonishing that the northen part (Lalibela, Simien).
Nevertheless, I would like to give update on the Dodola/Adaba lodges and also the Dinsho one.
Happy to start with Changeti as everything is perfect (clean, large tent, kindness…) thanks to the couple who is taking care of the lodge and even sweeping the cow dung up from grass.
But unfortunatly all the other ones (Angafu,Molichio and Duro) cannot be compared. Bed clothes are not clean and we needed to desinfect them before sleeping.
Duro was the worst as we could not stay in the dining room as the oven was expelling smoke instead of warming up the room. Windows panes of one bed room were broken.
Our local guide told us that these damages are dated back several weeks (or months?).
Question is to know who is responsible for the repairs as local farmers told us that they are not paid for that.
I will talk also of the Dinsho lodge where the owner (who keeps the bed rooms keys) was not there at 4.30pm and we had to wait 2 hours before he returns from town with our driver as he could not be contacted (his mobil was off). The following day was the same story with other guests.
I trust that this is a daily trip to town for drinking beers.
These comments are given in a positive/constructive way to avoid tourists just to notice (or most probably not) these disorders and nothing new happens even after the complains.
Could it be possible to write to The Tourism Organisation or Ministry of Tourism to explain our concern and let them know that if the situation persists, tourists will avoid coming to this marvellous mountains but do they care ?????..
I did not like at all the children dancing like Michael Jackson in the slop going to the Dorze village. Could we ask again (as you wrote many times in your guide) tourists not to give money.
In overall, I recommand the 5 hours trekking in the Wenchi crater and also Wondo Genet that deserves more than 1 day. I was disappointed by Awash Park where there is not so much to see
For the hotel, number 1 spot is SABANA in Langano, then Paradise Lodge in Arba Minch.
Ethiopia is a very fascinating country.

Robert Val

Yirmed Demeke, who contributed information about Babille Elephant Sanctuary to the Beadt Guide, just wrote to let me know the following:
“I have built a very traditional style lodge in Awash National Park. It has become popular with both resident and foreign tourists as a weekend escape or as a stopeover site while traveling to and from Eastern Ethiopia. For more details, see our website  www.awashfallslodge.com.”
Tel: +251 116 530 245/911 643 388 E-mail: info@awashfallslodge.com and yirmed.demeke@gmail.com

Awash Saba

Posted: December 29, 2009 in Awash National Park

Stopped at Awash Saba on my way from Langano to Harar and spend couple of hours at the Awash George where all sort of wildlife can be seen, mainly birds though – just take the binoculars with you, sit at the ridge, mind the excrement and be patient. Also, the kids won’t be bothering as they will have so much fun with your binoculars. Stayed and ate at Buffet d’Aouache, very nice French feeling.
Goran Jovetic, London, UK

The World from Afar – the edge of Ethiopia
February 2009
My second visit to the Danakil desert and the hottest place on Earth. Ethiopia continues to enthrall and Afar is one of those regions which is on the edge, in many different senses. It is remote, inhospitable and has a reputation, probably justified, for being insecure. We went as a group of ten in 4 landcruisers using a very experienced local expedition organizer. To do this trip they have to be! We travelled to Mekele, north from Addis, initially along some of the worst roads in Ethiopia – mainly because they are being rebuilt. For some reason in this country road building seems totally illogical. They endeavour to build the whole road at once, hence the chaos and disruption seems endless, as did this stretch of road! We spent the first night in Kombolcha and the second in Mekele.
North central Ethiopia is comprised of a series of tablelands, dissected deeply by rivers which leave remnants of features not dissimilar to the canyon lands of the American west. The area is quite arid and the rocks vary from old lava flows to a variety of sandstones. The road improves after Dessie but topography creates a need for tortuous ascents and descents. The roads, as a result of these ups and downs, challenge vehicles and drivers, the evidence of which is seen by the frequent accidents where cars, Izuzu trucks (locally known as Al Qaeda, because they kill so many!) and intercity buses which have gone over the edge. A sobering reminder of the need to have good drivers, vehicles, and take care. The altitude along the roads north remains high – over 2000 metres and in places rising to 3000. It is only when you leave Mekele, a pleasant town which is well maintained, that the long descent begins.
We had a vehicle break down in Mekele which annoyingly delayed our departure. But despite knowing that we would get to the Danakil late we persisted in our journey. The trip down takes the vehicles down incised river valleys, over ridges and truly provides the drivers, passengers and vehicles with a rough ride. We picked up our police and army escort, needed for the political tensions and potential kidnappings which exist in this area, and our permits, in Berhale. By then it was dark and not knowing what was to the side or ahead was somewhat intimidating. We drove on and even if the night had descended the heat and aridity increased. We were entering the hottest place on Earth where temperatures in the summer can reach record levels of 58C! As we travelled down we passed the caravans of camels who have plied this route for centuries to extract salt from the former sea bed of what was an extension of the red sea. They seemed ethereal in the moonlight and we appeared to be disturbing their lentitudinous, but unending, steady cycle from Mekele to Dallol and back.
We camped, there are no hotels, in Ahmedila. A small Afar settlement which is dependent on the salt trade. The people here control the extraction. They dig it up, they shape it into blocks and then it is transported out to markets throughout Ethiopia. In the evening the men can be seen sharpening their axes and cutting implements. The village is friendly and they have a deep well to help sustain their existence in such a desolate and harsh environment. The salt itself is a sustainable resource. When the water table rises as a result of rivers which flow into the area in the wet season the old workings are dissolved and new salts are precipitated over time. We watched the production lines as they cut, prised out, shaped and loaded the salt. They do this all year in all temperatures. I do not know how, but they do! This is an age old practice and it looks set to continue for the forseeable future.
However, we didn’t just come to the Danakil to look at salt extraction. The Danakil is amazing for some of the most unique landforms and physical features seen on Earth. Dallol, at 120 metres below sea level, has an old volcano which simmers beneath the surface. It last erupted in 1926 but now the gases and heat mix with water and other minerals found as part of the salt deposits to create a bizarre landscape of salt pillars, small yellow, green and orange lakes and fumaroles. There are bubbling pools of sulphuric acid, hot gas emissions, offensive smells and terraces of precipitated minerals. It is highly active and since my last visit there it was more extensive and even more exciting. Despite the heat the sights are incredible. There are former remnants of an Italian extractive industry which was based here in the 1930’s. They came in from what is now Eritrea. Old buildings built of salt blocks and fossilized cars, encased in salt! The colours, steam, smoke, bubbling pools fringed with rocks recently formed and looking like icing make this an incredible sight to see. Not just a desert!
Driving across to see Dallol we crossed the area where the salt was being extracted but the tracks made by vehicles created a strange road made of salt polygons – I have never seen anything like it. These patterns stretched to the mirages on the horizon, where camels floated above the illusive watery surface.
The day after visiting the solfataras, the yellow peril, we ventured south into was people might perceive to be real desert – sand dunes. In actual fact only about 5% of deserts are covered with dune systems. Going south there is no road, only a direction and anastomosing patterns of tracks left by other vehicles who have made the journey. One of our vehicles, having lost its four wheel drive capacity, got stuck on a few occasions but in the end, as a result of the driving skills of our intrepid guide, Teddy, we got to the base village where we set off to climb Erte Ale. Erte Ale is a very gently sloping volcano which pours out, from a permanent lava lake, vast quantities of fluid lava. We drove up a very cindery and rocky track towards the parking place. This track was very sadly, a few weeks later, to be the final place that our cook, Assefa, ever saw. He had been on four trips with me and he was blown up on this road, along with several others, by a deliberately placed landmine. This is testament to the fact that Afar is truly on the edge and the Afaris are discontent with Government influence and the fact that a new road is going to dissect their land and expose them to more control. They like their isolation and autonomy. The impact of this on tourism, however, means that the Afar lose a potential source of income even if only a few tourists pass this way.
We started trekking late in the afternoon and we arranged camels to take up our food and gear. We were going to sleep on the edge. An edge with a view! It took two and a half hours to reach the summit along a fairly well worn path. The moon was up and the stars were out by the time we neared the summit. As we got closer the beautiful sky was forgotten about, for the moment, and our attention focused on the orange glow which varied in intensity as the lava occasionally broke through the surface crust. Erte Ale is one of three, I believe, volcanoes in the World which have an active and permanent lava lake. All three are found along the Great Rift Valley in Africa. When we arrived at the summit and took a little time out to rehydrate and rest we contemplated the fact that beneath our feet we had the materials that created our atmosphere and indeed life itself. This, together with the stars above, creates an impression and vista that stays with you for life. The crater lies within a crater and we had to climb down, by torchlight, to walk over old and very fragile fields of lava to reach the cauldron. The lava we walked over was crusty and ropey in nature and the Hawaiian islanders call it pahoehoe. When I reached the edge, even having done it before, I was mesmerized by the sight below. A black crust dissected by serrated fissures of molten red lava. The lava rises in small plumes and in microcosm mimics the great movements of the Earth’s crustal plates. It spreads where it rises and sinks where it cools and when there is a build up of heat and pressure it erupts and sprays lava skywards. It was much more active this time and the gases emitted were, in places and at times, overpowering. Some of the eruptions were really quite big and made us all retreat from the rim. What an experience, to see molten lava seething, breathing and erupting. This was humbling and at the same time exhilarating. Only being there and catching those moments can convey the insignificance you feel for yourself and power of the planet which has created us. I love taking photos and I took many but somehow it is never enough to feel the experience.
We slept in rough hewn stone shelters under the stars and rose early to see the sunrise over the lava lake. The glow still impresses but it is at night time that the pyrotechnics are at their best. It took us two hours to descend and as we did so the air became more oppressive and hotter. Feet were sore and we knew we had two long days of driving ahead to reach Addis. We stayed one night in a very basic hotel in Afdera, a centre for commercial salt mining. We were still in the Danakil. A simple shower, a cold beer and the beds pulled outside made the night more tolerable. It was hot, very hot. Our final night was spent in Awash national park where we went to the waterfall and the hot springs. The latter are beautiful and very hot. But they certainly helped to mitigate against the aching limbs created by the climb and to cleanse the pores which were filled with Danakil dust. The next day we finished the trip and went out to the Irish ball – good training for a night of revelry! I am not sure which was tougher!
Teddy Berhanu runs Acacia tours in Ethiopia. He is one of the most experienced tour operators I know and his service is exemplary. He has been to the Danakil many times and I would personally use no-one else. His equipment, intimate knowledge, car handling and the fact that he takes along a mechanic and cook make it all possible in terrain which is so challenging.
Theodros Berhanu (Teddy) theodrosb@hotmail.com Acacia Tours +251 911 201394

Trevor Cole
5.5.2009

Tariku W/aregay Says:
August 28, 2008 at 6:51 pm e

Dear Philip,

I am a friend of Jacinta Beehner and Thore Bergman, the gelada baboon researchers up on the Semien mountain whom you might have meet few years back and gave you my information about specialty on trekking and tours in ( Awash, Harar, Bale and Omo Valley ). I am always great admire of your guide book and recommend it to every one. I just want to update you with my few changes on my website and e-mail: eltatours@yahoo.com and gltguide2000@yahoo.com ( telephone and fax is the same 00251 911 62 06 35 ) address and I have more activities now. I have up upgraded and started working in the north routes for trekking and historical tours, beside keeping the specialization on Awash, Harar, Bale and Omo valley. Recreantly we also have been working with the big filming and reporting companies like BBC natural history unit from UK and New York times from US. You can contact Patrick Morries from BBC on his e-mail patrick.morris@bbc.co.uk

And Danielle pergament on her E-mail dpergament@gmail.com for reference, Jacinta and Throe as well. As I am originally from Awash National park ( you can see more detail on my website about personal biography) I have started working on support of national parks conservation , we organize volunteering service from all of the world to support better conservation of this national park. People can see our activities on our website Save Awash National Park. I hope my new information will help you for updates and I will keep on contributing any things new shows up. Keep up the good work.

Respectfully

Tariku W/aregay
EL-TA Tours Ethiopia
Tour operation Manager

I have a comment about the provider Travel Ethiopia, which is recommended in your guide book. In November I was staying in Addis for a month working. I wanted a weekend trip for my colleague and I to the south (Friday to Sunday) and asked Travel Ethiopia to quote. They quoted $670 dollars for a trip to Awash national park and Awassa. They picked us up at the hotel in a minibus and took us to the office to pay. My colleague pointed out that in a minibus we couldn’t actually go to the Awash hot springs – which was included in the first day’s itinerary. They did not however admit that this was the case and adjust the price, but argued back and said it depended on the conditions. In fact my colleague was completely correct – and this must have been obvious to TE from the start. We had an uncomfortable time driving very slowly around the park and saw very little on our first day. We also drove to Awash at snail’s pace to disguise the fact that it was really only a half day trip without the hot springs. The itinerary they gave us at the office still included the hotsprings but did not include the camel ride on the second day – on the drive to Awassa. I pointed this fact out – TE did not draw this to our attention. TE told us that they had discovered there were no camels. However, having now done the trip and seen the reaction of the locals to tourists, personally I doubt that it has been possible to have a camel ride in the area safely for many years and therefore this was misleading to include this in the original quote. No reduction was offered to us for this. So our second day actually consisted just of driving from Awash to Awassa – and arriving at Awassa in time for a quick walk by the lake before it started to get dark. The third day we managed to see the flamingoes at Lake Abiata – at my insistence – but saw little else at the park as travel in the minibus there was painful and slow. The hotel we stayed in at Awash (Bouffet D’Angelou) put us alone in two rooms in a separate complex where we didn’t feel safe, being two women and no other guests staying there. Further, at the hotel in Awassa, one of our rooms was on the ground floor when we had clearly paid higher rates for a quieter room on the higher floors. Overall we felt the tour was (i) misleadingly quoted in terms of the itinerary we were given both by email, and to our faces and when we visited the TE office (ii) was well-overpriced taking account of the poor accommodation and the fact we only had a minibus. When we returned we were offered an $80 refund between us to compensate for not having seen the hotsprings at Awash – but frankly still felt pretty ripped off. I relied on TE and their reputation when asking for quotes and itineraries and did not expect to be given an itinerary that was unworkable and poor service. I could not recommend this company and think that your recommendation of them in the current version of the guidebook is misleading based on my experience. Generally I think that the costs of tours in Ethiopia are significantly inflated bearing in mind the service and facilities available and I think this should be reflected in your book. Hope this is helpful. Regards Rosemary Norton