Archive for the ‘crime, safety & hassles’ Category

John Grinling has sent the following advise about how to avoid the unwanted attention of yelling children. Personally I’m not convinced that the way you dress or behave will do much to encourage or deter this behaviour, but for what it’s worth…


Yelling children is a sporadic but undeniable irritant to visitors to Ethiopia. But in order to minimise the hassle, I would stress the need for visitors to apply two basic rules:

1. The blend-in factor: Try to dress and behave like an average
Ethiopian: no shorts for men or women, never ever ever. Always long
trousers or a decent dress. No ridiculous hat and sun glasses, never.
A sober cap or hat, and ordinary sun shades. You are on holidays, but
it doesn’t need to show. No undue bright colors. Everything dull.
Avoid backpacks as much as possible: they identify you immediately as
farangi and tourist. Blend in. If the men wear their shirts outside
their trousers, wear yours the same way…

2. The harm reducing attitude: Don’t react or answer to uncalled
solicitations. Ignore them gently, but as a matter of course, not
showing any irritation or any feeling at all. Do not react. The French
say “Qui répond apond” “Who answers ads on”. Simply, and modestly,
keep on with what you are doing. Heckling will sooner dye off. And if
circumstances permit, if the kids are few and gentle, you can also be
friendly and natural, and engage in some kind of communication. But no
giving birr, no pen, no sweets and especially no holding hands. Unless
some most uncommon circumstances call for it.

Stefan Arts writes:

I got bitten by a probable rabies infected animal when I was in Ethiopia for my master thesis. After quite some stress and some searching I found two locations in Addis Ababa where a proper vaccination against Rabies (when you already have had three shots beforehand) can be given. The first one I found was the Swedish clinic, where two shots of VeroRab would cost 10000 ETB, the second one is at the Ethiopian Health and Nutrition Research Institute near the former St. Paulus Hospital where two shots of RabiVax only costs 650 ETB.

Harm Bouta writes:

I would like to add some information regarding the Hippo-pool and crocodile watching near the Koka-Dam close to Adama/Nazret.
This area has recently turned into quite a dangerous area. Last week my family and i have been violently robbed of practically all our belonging (a violent robbery of my bag and a break in in our car whereby all our camping stuff has been stolen). I understood from the police that this area has become very dangerous even for Ethiopians (while at the police station a farmer came in who had been ambushed in the area).
It would be good to add this warning or completely remove the reference to the Hippo-pool as it is currently very likely other people might become victim of these thiefs as well.

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




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.






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




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




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!!!




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.




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




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




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.




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.

Thanks to Stuart Dickson for this important news about the Moyale border (written 5 Dec 2013(:

Due to serious and bloody fighting amongst local Kenyan tribes in the Moyale region there is zero transport (private or public) leaving Moyale heading south into Kenya and it seems no traffic coming up in the other direction. The reason for this is tribal members are being pulled from buses and throats are being slit. Normally transport is not affected but for some reason this time round they have decided to attack traffic. I am going to the border each morning for updates and the general consensus from the police and immigration officers is that next week sometime will be the earliest that transport may start rolling.If you are in town “a word of warning” do not believe a word from the hawkers in the streets they will promise you all you want to here but nothing is moving and you will just loose your cash.There are no planes coming in due to the small strip being in the conflict area. People are saying that the plane will land at the police strip but that is just a helicopter pad.
You are free to go back and forth between borders and snack on soggy chips and milky tea in Moyale Kenya and catch all the rumors or hang out and have a laugh with the very kind folk at the immigration office, police station or border crossing in Kenya,

Stuart Dickson writes:

Eating & drinking: The Xanxad bar was a very short lived adventure it is now the Famous Kitfo restaurant. But don’t worry adjacent you have the wonderful Fiqir Buna house which serves what I think is the best buna in town- Dila Organic along with great Ful and many other local dishes. With Yerom and Ganet running the place you cannot go wrong
Also just up the road next to Dolca Vita you have The Garden Lounge a wonderful bar and restaurant with great garden ambiance and a deadly blues jazz rock playlist.Danni the owner is of the Emperors family decent and back after 20+ years in New York. Another nice new addition if your want to escape 20 most popular Ethio songs being played all over the country and listen to Billy Halliday and the likes over a cold drink or two. ,The family along with Bob Geldof also bought out the Awash winery and are bringing in South African wine makers to upgrade the whole operation, so some time soon hopefully Ethiopian girls can enjoy wine without lacing it with Coca Cola.

Hotels: Hotel Hawassa : I found out yesterday that Hotel Hawassa has price discrimination rates. I think this is a new policy because six months ago a bungalow cost 600 per night or 400etb if long term . Now it is 1000etb. When asked if they practice prices discrimination the manager openly admitted that they did.If I had a resident card it is 500etb.
The Circle of Life Hotel has reopened, only the rooms at present and within a month or two the Jamaican style restaurant shall be open. Sophie has done a hefty renovation of the place, Rasta style. All the rooms have been fixed up, toilets cleaned up ,the lovely gardens trimmed and spruced up and lots of nice new art work dotted around. The cake shop and ice ream shop will also be functional again at the front entrance. The only problem now is this are has become a very noisy area with all the bars just outside and when they go to sleep the new tin hut church across the road wails at all kind of hours of the night with it’s new sound system.
The little GUEST HOUSE next door to COL has reopened after much intrigue – it is a good deal at 150etb per night, clean with large rooms some with hot water. Nice to see it back.

Security: A German tourist was stabbed to death late Saturday night(approx 3am) in Hawassa. the man was attacked in the 05 region of town outside commercial bank.This is a booming part of town with lots of new little coffee shops, burger joints bars and fish restaurants popping up.People have been advised to be aware and not be alone at night.It is so easy to take a Bajaj there is no need to walk especially that late.Be aware this is more bad news after the knife attacks on Tabor hill last year,

Ulrike writes:

About the single female travelling: I travelled a lot within the last years (Middle east, Ghana, Egypt, British Guyana, Japan,….), usually on my own or with friends I met on the road, mostly by hitchhiking (which works really well in Ethiopia too!) and preferably to sites where I could meet people from the country I visited and not other Europeans or Americans. But I have to say, maybe also because I stayed in Ethiopia because I had to (research in Addis Ababa and working in a hospital in Hawassa) I was never that exhausted with a whole country’s chauvinism! And you can easily tell by throwing a rough look on Ethiopian women’s daily life (on average 11 hours work daily) comparing it to the male counterpart (3 hours work daily!!!!) that women are seen more of a gratis working power then as actual people. being white and a woman I suffered some serious depressions from time to time (and usually, even in Egypt, I am taking those things in a tough manner), questioning my flight schedule, thinking about coming home earlier. I usually can’t walk a long a street without some young man rapping about my booty or whatsover, and in the daily life it makes work really really difficult if noone takes you serious, but everyone wants to take you out for coffee and more. The other issue (more interesting to travellers then to working expats) is the kids throwing stone – I’m a person who doesn’t like prohibitions and things like “don’t do this on yourself, it’s not good!” I usually run once daily, and I mostly kept on doing this in Ethiopia, with the result that in Hawassa I was stoned DAILY while I was running at the part of the lake behind the referal hospital along some villages. Behaviour which was supported by the parents who quite didn’t understand that sports pants don’t have pockets to hide any money inside. Same around Harar, as I mentioned, even in Addis Ababa where I lived (Alem Bank) and in Arba Minch as well.