Archive for the ‘Hawassa (Awassa)’ Category

Thanks to Michael Pinet for this wonderfully detailed and informative trip report:

We have read and studied the Bradt guide again and again to prepare our 2011 and 2014 trips to Ethiopia and it was the only guide we took with us. We like its thoroughness, accuracy and personal touch. However here is some updated detailed information I would have liked to find either in the latest edition or on the internet. I have also added some impressions about our own experience. I hope it will be valuable to people planning a visit to Ethiopia.

Bale trek
Goba is no longer the hub of the Bale area, Robe is. This the place where minibuses leave for and arrive from Shashemene. Bekele Mola hotel (250 birrs for 2 people in a single room with hot shower) is still fairly good value with its bungalows. As usual in Ethiopia, the bathroom is in poor condition.
The organization of a trek in the Bale mountains is not done through the park headquarters, dealing with civil servants , as in the Simiens but through the Nyala Guide Association next to it. So you need to be very clear and check twice what you really want as English is often misunderstood and they are keen to charge you for extra days, etc. The price are as follows :
– guide 300 birrs per day
– horse 120 birrs per day
– horse handler 170 birrs per day
– cook 400 birrs per day
– tent + sleeping bags 400 birrs per night (rented by a guide’s friend!), expensive but quite
decent equipment
– entrance fee 90 birrs per day / per person
– camping fee 40 birrs per night
If you do not walk back to your starting point, Dinsho, then you have to pay extra days for the horses and handlers. Logical. The same with the guide or cook unless they use your car or minibus to go back.
For a 5-day trek for 2 people you will need to add 1500 birrs (same amount in the Simiens 2 years ago) for the food which the cook will buy (you feed the whole group, of course as in the Simiens but you can tell the cook what you want to eat). He will also supply the cooking equipment.
You might need a car or minibus to pick you up at Sanetti Campsite, at the end of your trek to take you back to Robe, Goba or Dinsho. We paid 1900 birrs (a guide’s friend again). Expensive as usual, but it is the same all over Ethiopia and when you take into account the poor conditions of the roads it is acceptable.
We did the usual 5-day trek
– Dinsho – Sodota campsite (22k / 3100m to 3500m)
– Sodota – Keyrensa campsite (20k / 3750m)
– Keyrensa – Rafu campsite (17k + 4k to visit spectacular lava flow / 3990m)
– Rafu – Garba Guracha campsite (18k / 3950m)
– Garba Guracha – Mt Batu (4200m) – Sanetti campsite where a hired minibus picked us up
That was absolutely great! Not breathtaking as the Simiens was, due to the tracks often along the escarpment, but majestic because of the huge scopes of land and varied landscapes. No problem whatsoever with altitude, etc. and we are both over 65. Contrary to the Simiens there is no water at the campsites and there is a cold northerly wind (you can’t keep a T-shirt on as you would in the Simiens, you need warmer clothes and a woolly hat, especially the last 3 days!). The cook, Idris, was competent and nice and so was the guide, Awol.
They all expect tips as they would in Ethiopia. A day’s fee is the norm as I read in Bradt’s guide when we did the Simiens, so a day’s fee it was and they were pleased.
Wabe Shebelle hotel in Goba is nice, clean, with pleasant grounds (454birrs for a single room for 2, breakfast included).

Shalla hotel : good quality, clean, nice. 250birrs for a single room for 2 people. Not far from bus station

Midroc Zewed Village hotel (called Old Zewed Village now) is just as mentioned in Bradt guide. It is a haven of green, quiet and relaxing, thriving with wild life . We spent our late afternoons sitting by the lake and watching cormorants, Egyptian geese, egrets and kingfishers endlessly . The bungalows are roomy with still decent bathrooms. The manager told us he was planning to pull everything down and rebuild it. Let’s hope he will keep its unique atmosphere. A bungalow with a double bed is 414 birrs, breakfast included. The fish market is not to be missed and neither is the superb walk along the lake, full of life. Had a good meal at the Pinna hotel as mentioned in guide.

Be careful with the freshly appointed civil servant called Astbeha at the Tigrai tourist commission in Wukro. He blatantly overcharged us and is unknowledgable . He offered to be our guide for 275 birrs a day, which we found reasonable , yet it turned out to be the fee per person! (Our fault, I assume for not making things clear at the beginning!). However he proved to have no knowledge whatsoever about the churches we visited and made us miss the opportunity to visit Debre Tsion through lack of information.
It is important to know that you need a guide from the Gheralda Guide Association in Hawzien to visit the churches nearest Hawzien, namely Mariam Korkor and Abuna guebre Mikael as far as we were concerned. We were pleased to get rid of our “guide” for a proper one .
We used Wukro as a base for our 3 day visit and used a minibus (1500 birrs a day) with a competent, nice, responsible driver (Sishay Degu 09 14 49 07 06). Here again it sounds expensive yet the distances are important and the roads are just tracks most of the time. What’s more the driver accompanied us in all the visits and was a good help in discouraging the usual kids and teens .
Day 1 : Mikael Imba and Medhane Alem Adi Kasho
Day2 : Abreha We Atsbeha and Yohannis Maikudi (Debre Tsion could have been done!)
Day3 : Maryam Korkor and Abuna Gebre Mikael
Each church charges 150birrs per person and a receipt is given . Most of the priests do not ask for a tip and all have been very pleasant, sharing some injera and wot with us on two occasions.
Tigrai is not to be missed for the churches of course but also for the landscape and the walks which can be just as good as the churches themselves (the walk to Mariam Korkor in particuliar).
Lwam hotel is clean and pleasant (300birrs for a single room for 2)

Wenchi crater from Ambo
Abebech Matafaria hotel in Ambo is clean, very nice with welcoming grounds (285birrs for a single room for 2 with a good hot shower)
We paid 1100 birrs for a minibus to take us to Wenchi crater and back, a 1.5 hour drive each way on a bumpy track, leaving at 8.30 and coming back at 4.30. A good price negotiated through the hotel receptionist. It should have been 1500 birrs.
Did a superb 5-hour walk down to the lake, across to the island of Deber by boat , then to Immogil point by boat again , then along the Dawala hot spring valley with its watermills, back up to the park headquarters.
– car park fee :30 birrs
– entrance fee : 50 birrs per person
– guide : 200 birrs
– boat : 50 birrs per person
– horse and handler = 50 birrs (we hired them to contribute to the local economy but we didn’t
really need them and hardly used them )
A very scenic place with a nice and clean village and friendly people.
2 hours by minibus from Addis from Asco bus station or Mercato .

Some frustrations
– No maps or guide available anymore (Bale mountains national park, Wenchi crater, Tigrai

- Dallas hotel in Mekele is dirty, smelly, not worth the 200birrs for a single room for 2. And we are
not fussy people in the least! The small Moringa hotel next door is much better with friendly staff
yet more expensive (300 birrs)

- Sky buses are still efficient with friendly staff in their ticket offices but the buses are deteriorating
fast and drivers do not seem as cautious as they were. We saw a huge difference in 2 years’ time
and not for the better (cockroaches in one, worn out clutch and creaking gears in another)!

Addis Advisor writes:

I stayed at this hotel 3 days over Genna – it is excellent.

A superb new boutique hotel with genuine lake view, only 40 metrers from lakeside path. Located on cobbled road that goes to Lewi Lakeside

Has 21 huge rooms on 3 floors, none are at the back, ie all have lake view.

This place is such good value for money you are advised to book with Manager Ato Mulugeta Mola. on 0462 20 80 80/81 It has only 21 rooms all with lake view from front balcony.

Almost without doubt it is the best deal in Hawassa right now.

Prices at the moment are

Standard Double 350/450

Double with King Bed 450/550

Semi suite double 600/700

Twin with 2 beds 650/750

in each the second price is weekend price, first mid week.

Prices include the Vat BUT not breakfast, but a very full bkfst is only 75br, or if you prefer less you can order individual items. Bar restaurant is on the ground floor and run by a returnee from London.

Wi fi available 24hrs, satellite tv in rooms

Compared to Hailes and Lewi on Lake this is very reasonable. You can always pay to swim at these places



Stuart Dickson writes:

A new little Pension has opened up just down from Kibru Hospital. Kal Penision Hawassa 0916162476 A good little place, very clean, very quiet, hot water in good supply, good cleaning staff and prices are very reasonable at 250etb for big room and King bed with crispy white sheets, 200 etb for smaller rooms. It is well located just a two minute walk from the Pina Hotel area of town.The grounds are just your typical Ethio U style pension with a few bushes, but it’s a good night kip. Vercadou the manager does not speak English but is easy to get along with.

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,

Proprietor Yonas Tefera writes:

Located on the ground floor of Lake View Hotel, family-owned and operated Hi-Life Bar & Grill is the finest restaurant and the trendiest bar to be found in Hawassa. We serve a varied menu of fresh and bold flavours and have created a relaxed ambience with an African theme. Whether you’re looking for a place to put up your feet over a coffee, grab a cocktail with friends before heading to town, linger over a romantic dinner, or host an important meeting, Hi-Life Bar & Grill is the ideal dining experience for any occasion. Enjoy the view of Lake Hawassa from our scenic terrace, experience the energy of our exhibition kitchen from a cosy booth indoors, or lounge in our vibrant bar area.

We combine good quality ingredients and unique flavour combinations with influences from Africa, the Mediterranean, Europe, and America. Our specialities include healthy grilled meat and fish platters, salads, burgers, fresh juices and homemade bread. No matter where you’re from, you’ll enjoy the unique style we call Hi-Life. Most of the ingredients we use are sourced locally from specially selected farmers and suppliers. It helps to remind us to keep things simple and authentic – and helps keep the conversation flowing too!

In short, whether you’re planning a casual family lunch or a sophisticated dinner with clients, there’s something to suit every palate. For bookings or more information please call the Hi-Life office on +251 46 2211118 or the Hi-Life manager Yonas Tefera on +251 930108351.

Joerg writes:

Awassa: The food in the restaurant of Lewy hotel was excellent (including free Wi-Fi), I stayed in Midre Genet Hotel (80 Birr) = ok. The reservation by phone of the Gebre Kristos Hotel (200 Birr) did not work, next day nobody knew about the phone call and no room was available …

-          Goba: Yilma Hotel: The very well English speaking owner (manager) was very helpful to his guests. So he arranged a one day trip  to NP Bale Mountains und the forest for a fair price. (Because of a bad leg I cannot do 3 day trekking …), The price for a single/double room was 80 Birr.

-          Bale Mountains: There is a possibility to stay overnight without tent at a place called the Harena Forest Hotel & Cultural Centre. You can leave the regular bus from Goba (with the slight problem to get further…)

During our short stay in Awasa (400km south of Addis Ababa) my friend and I were planning to do one of the hikes in and around the city as recommended in the guide. One of them was a hike up Tabor Mountain, a small hill giving views over Awasa lake. We did the hike, but were violently robbed of all our belongings. The robbers (three against two and armed with knives) were very hostile. When reporting at the police, we found out that two days before two people were robbed and stabbed (and died of the injuries). A week before two tourists were robbed. When talking to the locals they all confirmed that it was dangerous to go up the hill without a guide. They told us that there is a gang residing on the mountain ready to attack whenever a possibility would offer itself. However, all the tourists and expats we talked to were surprised and reacted that they had done the hike, did it regularly or even used is as an daily exercise. You might understand that we do not recommend anyone to do this hike.

The experience was very horrible and frightening, but nevertheless it opened the doors to seeing some of the most generous, welcoming and warm people in Ethiopia. The moment we came running of the mountain and stripped of nearly everything we had, we ran into a random property. The moment we entered, the women of the house came running towards us, screaming and crying. In less than a minute we were surrounded by thirty or more people who stood around us, shaking their heads saying: “sorry, sorry.” The people were genuinely angry about what happened and symphatized about what happened to us. Everybody who was around left their work or occupations for what it was and started comforting us. They were shouting for justice to be done and the robbers to be caught. It was for this reason that within five minutes the community arranged five strong men to go up to the mountain trying to find back the stolen bags. And it was because of this courageous effort that we got back one of the bags.

After the incident, one family took us into their house, made fresh coffee and bought lunch with the little money they had. They helped us to go to the police, stayed with us during the hourlong process of reporting. The same night we were invited by a local girl we had met on the buss from Addis to Awasa. Her family cooked enjira for us and preformed a traditional coffee ceremony with leaves, incense and fresh brewed coffee. They borrowed their only phone to us so we could call home and arranged the brothers of the family to bring us home to the door of our hotel, sound and safe.

Each reaction of the Ethiopians who came to know about what happened were they same: genuinely sad for us and angry for the injustice being done to us. One of these moments was in the bus back to Addis Ababa. A nun took us under her care during the lunch break and when she found out the news, the whole bus knew it instantly. All of a sudden all the eyes were on us and the heads shaking: “sorry, sorry.” One of the girls on the bus suggested the whole bus to collect money for us to support us financially. When declined she called a Dutch relative living in Ethiopia, so we could tell him the story in our own language and ask him for help.

Upon arrival in the capital we were offered a driver with a car who took us along all the steps of the procedure to obtain the emergency-passport and exit visa. Besides all his practical help, he even started praying when he saw me breaking down for a moment. Even up to the point of leaving the country on Bole airport, the desk attendant was offering her apologies when she saw the emergency passport.

This experience has had two sides: extreme hostility and extreme heartwarming people. In the plane I met an expat who had been living in Ethiopia for three years. He had been mingling with Ehtiopians in stead of staying in the expat bubble. But not once had he been invited to a diner in the house of an Ethiopian family. We had shared not only a meal, but also our sorrows with them many times in one weeks time.