Archive for the ‘Jimma’ Category

Jean Newbury writes:

Arba Minch

- Getting there on ‘level 1’ bus from Terra in Mercato, when buying ticket I insisted on a window seat and was given (with a chuckle) seat number 01. This is across from the driver and offers amazing views out of the windshield. Downside is you won’t be allowed to sleep, I received sharp prods every time I drifted off! View will keep you going though.

- Main draws – park and crocodile market – are very tough without a group, own transport or enough money to hire a 4×4 ($150 a day). I hung around the park entrance to try and join a group, but the shifty guides were most unhelpful and reluctant to allow this. Walk to 40 Springs is worth it.

- Lake Abaya jetty, 500m or so past the crocodile ranch, is not accessible. You can get to within 200m of the lake, but then swamp and marsh land block access. Don’t try and walk it – I saw a crocodile when I did, scary. Road there is pleasant, saw thirty or so baboons and white tailed monkeys.

- Avoid Kairo Hotel at all costs. Worst hotel I’ve stayed in to date and overpriced. Due to construction, it’s become the new Abaya Hotel – buses leaving early, condoms in drawer, might as well have slept in the church it’s so close and loud.

- Tourist Hotel does not sell pizzas.

- Arba Minch market is worth a wander, small but colourful (I saw it on a Wednesday).

- Really recommend walking to the hilltop church in Secha for the sunrise over the lakes. Go West at the Oil Libya roundabout (past hotel Roza), you’ll see the red, yellow and green coloured church on the hill straight ahead.


- Guides are not mandatory for a visit to the weaving and potters cooperatives (100 bir for entrance to both).

- Local buses from Arba Minch leave when full and there are no minibuses running the route. The bus is 18 bir, don’t pay more.


- Market doesn’t really kick off until past 11am.

- Buses leave to Arba Minch when full, reserve seat with bag and go for a walk.

- Easy walk from Dorze or flag a free lift with a passing bus.


- Simple day trip from Arba Minch with frequent minibuses (30 bir). Amazing scenery.

- For Konso village (Dekatu – 3km walk up hill, past museum), guide is not necessary

Chuck writes:

I’ve lived in Ethiopia (in Bonga, just 3 hours past Jimma) for most of 2011 and 2012 and can share some tips:

Both Selam Bus and Sky Bus travel the route between Addis and Jimma, but stick to no consistent schedule and frequently cancel buses the morning of departure (and expect you to just stick around for another day in Addis, as they offer no refunds). They use their most decrepit buses for this journey, but reserve their nicest buses for the North.

In Addis: Selam’s ticket station is across from Meskel Square down an alley. Sky Bus’s ticketing is done next to Taitu Hotel in Piazza. Both buses depart from Meskel Square. Selam only departs in the morning, but you may find that Sky Bus alternately departs at 1 pm in the afternoon (as it tries to do a round-trip journey to/from Jimma).

In Jimma: Selam’s ticket office is in same building as Central Jimma Hotel. Sky Bus office is next to Syf Hotel. Both buses depart from these ticket offices.

I could write in which days which bus travels between Addis and Jimma and vice versa, but that information will be completely obsolete by tomorrow. I’m dead serious. Your best bet is to get to the ticket offices two days in advance and check both Sky and Selam. My guess is that these luxury buses don’t understand the first thing about customer service: that you stick to a schedule and maintain reliability and consistency over the loss of a few birr here and there. Instead they would rather inconvenience you as much as possible.

I have to make the trip between Jimma and Addis quite often and will always try to avoid Selam and Sky bus if possible.

Suzanne writes: Prices have all gone up, some by more than 100%. Below I’ve listed the page number (5th Edition) , hotel and new price in order as we travelled around.

553       Ambo            Abebech Matafaria Hotel                        Twin Room            295 B

575       Across the street from Classic Café – new Hotel called Desalegan Hotel      Twin 330 B, Manager      Ms Tigist      0911 820 175     reception 0576 616 262.

560      Jimma            Central Hotel                                                Twin Room            304 B, The swimming pool was clean – my 9yr old happily swam in it.

153      Addis  Ababa  Mr Martin’s Cozy Place            Family Room                        340 B, Internet  35c per minute ( not 50c). Extremely clean and extremely well run by Dawit ( no longer German owned). Extremely good value and was NEVER loud ( we stayed there 3 times over 5 nights)

204        Bahir Dar            Ghion Hotel ( the darkest , dingiest place I have seen)    Twin/ triple 400 B

225        Gonder                        Queen Taitu                        Twin            280 B

226/7       Gonder Golden Gate Bar and Restaurant does not offer Chinese food, Tuscany no longer exists – now called Habesha (groovy place), Roman Hotel does not sell icecream

238       Debark                        Simien Park Hotel            Triple            400 B

256        Axum                        Africa Hotel                        Triple            300 B

268        Yeha                        Entrance                        100 B

290        Gheralta             Gheralta Lodge            EXCELLENT                        Triple            $70 (inc Breakfast), 120 B  for a 5 course Dinner

291         Abuna Yemata Guh                                    100 B entrance

291         Debre Maryam Korkor                        100 B entrance

292        Abuna Abraham Debre Tsion                        Horrible Priest – wanted a 50 B tip and was not going to open the church door. We gave him 15 .Only bad experience we had with the priests and the churches – all the others were fine and took a tip after our visit

356/7      Lalibela            Seven Olives                        Poor value – dark + musty rooms            Twin            $42;  Timkat Twin $100;  Asheton            Better value            Twin            500 B for 3, ohers reported paying 350 B for a couple

444           Hosaina            Heme Hotel            Twin            276 B

511            Arba Minch            Bekele Mola              800 B for db room + dinner (2 course) + breakfast; Paid extra 100 B for mattress. We really didn’t like this place – very isolated and apart from the view – nothing special. The meals were some of the most expensive that we saw in Ethiopia and since our fee only included 2 people , we had to pay extra for our daughter to eat and it was expensive ( so were the drinks). I would not recommend that place to individuals – OK for big groups but just stuck out in the middle of nowhere. Had to go to the doctor in Arba Minch and was recommended to go to Abaya Medical Clinic ( near the bus station) by an English nurse who works in Arba Minch. Good service.

516            Chencha + Dorze            Obligatory 150 B entrance fee to Chencha market. Initially said that it included entrance inside Dorze home as well and then asked for more money so that needs to be clarified. We did not pay more money. Dorze homes are 100% made of bamboo + grass – they are not made of enset ( false banana) leaves. The guides were adamant of that. The market in Chencha is Tuesday  ( not Monday) + Saturday. Meskel is celebrated in Dorze on 27th September ( not 1st October)

552            Konso    Strawberry Fields Eco Lodge                        Looked like a dump; Ate the worse meal I had in Ethiopia at the restaurant; It was so bad that I refused to pay for it. Karat Konso Villages – Drivers tend to take tourists to a closer village called Gamole (7kms). Obligatory   150 B  Guide  + 60 B per vehicle + 50 B per person entrance

532            Key Afar + Dimeka markets            Obligatory 150 B guide

536            Buska Lodge in Turmi            Double US $100 ( including breakfast); Twin  $ 105; Double camping with spring mattress  $ 50 ( no breakfast); Double camping with mattress on ground $ 15 ( good value); Single camping with spring mattress $ 35; Single camping with mattress on ground $ 10

541            Kolcho to visit the Karo tribe 350 B village entrance + 150 B guide (obligatory)

504           Yabello            Yabello Motel                        Large twin            863 B ( book says 200 B)

533           Arbore Tribe Wanted 200 B village entrance + 150 B non English speaking guide (didn’t stop)

463           Wondo Ganet            Wabe Shabelle Hotel                        Twin            606 B week day

That’s a

News from Jimma

Posted: December 23, 2009 in Jimma

Hi I have just been in Jimma for 10 days and lived in Central Jimma hotel. The price was the same as on the price list (169 Birr for a good, clean room with private shower). There was electricity nearly every day. They have email in the reception. Food in Central Jimma is excellent. In the moment they are making new main roads in Jimma, so it is a little bit dusty. The road from Addis to Jimma is very good. The way back to Addis I wanted to drive with Selam bus – but it is not driving every day. So i went with public bus – it was o.k. (8 hours).Flight costs 640 birr -every day without monday.

Greetings from Austria, Martin

Wenchi & Jimma

Posted: August 3, 2009 in Jimma, Wenchi, Woliso


Negash Lodge in Woliso now charges 506 birr and above for their rooms, it seems that the place has been privatised and the prices almost tripled from what you mention in your guidebook


 did an overnight trip to Wenchi. It is really beautiful. I stayed in

Ambo at the Abebech Matafaria Hotel and paid 140 birr for a single (with a queen size bed). Full breakfast at the hotel was 25 birr.

The hotel is also building at lodge at the entrance to the Wenchi crater lake. Looks like it should be finished before the end of the year.

Gudar falls charge 10 birr entrance for foreigners and 10 birr for the camera. 3 birr for Ethiopians.


In Jimma I stayed at the SYF hotel (the only place with a room, as it was graduation weekend), very much overpriced at 200 birr, water only occasionaly, mostly bucket showers, electricity only every other day (like most places in Ethiopa at the moment) There is nice juice in Jimma, but I (with my verymuch africanised intestines) still caught some bug and was pretty sick for about 24 hours. The restaurant at Syf has good national dishes (excellent shiro tagamino) and decent pasta (a bit greasy, but tasty), but it sharges more if you order from the English menu.


I almost missed my plane in Jimma on the way back, as there was a schedule change (and the flight lest 1 hour earlier than planned). I never got the call (what with the network being really bad, it is no wonder). I would suggest that even if you are told in Addis that your return has been confirmed, you should check with the EA the day of your flight, or the night before. 

Liza Debevec

We’ve just had news of two companies offering luxury coach services (or what passes for luxury in Ethiopia) along several major routers. In both cases the coach are meant to provide a compromise between expensive flights and rough local buses, and they are aimed at middle class Ethiopian as much as tourists, so not madly expensive.  Both have useful websites, if you want to explore further.  

Sky Bus started up in Dec 2008 and offers services from Addis Ababa to six major cities, namely Bahir Dar, Gonder, Jimma, Awassa, Harer and Dire Dawa.

Selam Bus runs services to Bahir Dar, Gonder, Jimma, Harer, Dire Dawa, Jijiga, Dessie and Mekele, and even has an online reservation system.

Any feedback from travellers who use these services will be greatly appreciated!

Sodo-Jimma Road

Posted: March 5, 2009 in Jimma, Uncategorized

Hi Phillip

Not sure if this is useful information for the upcoming edition, we recently spent some time in Ethiopia.

One thing we did was get the bus from Sodo to Jimma on the ‘new’ road that opened a few years ago.

There isn’t, as far as we could make out, a direct bus between the two towns as yet (August 08). You need to ‘hop’ on local buses as follows:

Get a local morning bus to Sodo to Wukka (89km, 4-5 hours, 26Birr) which is a small, high-altitude village at the end of the route with the National Hotel looking ok for an overnighter if needed.

From Wukka, you should be able to get another local bus through to Tulcha (17km, 30 mins, 5Birr), which is set in beautiful, verdant humid, valleys. It’s a pleasant enough place to spend a day and night and walk around, as the bus onwards won’t be until the next morning.

The options for accommodation are pretty good, with the newly built Engeda Hotel the pick of the bunch (40Birr double with ensuite, bar, restaurant) on the road up out of town, as well as the Kenean Hotel (yukul style rooms, great views) also looking good.

The through bus to Jimma leaves first thing in the morning, and takes about 5-6 hours, about 40Birr. Get’s to Jimma early afternoon all going well.

The trip is the usual visual feast, and very worthwhile. They are trying to build up tourism in the area, to capitalise on the Omo-onslaught, and it’s a great way to get to Jimma and beyond.

Chris Sibree

The Suri are an ethnic minority or tribe who live in the remote South West of Ethiopia. They are nomadic pastoralists living their lives in a relatively lush savanna region close to the border with Sudan. The Omo valley is well known for its diversity of tribal peoples and they do get substantial numbers of tourists each year bringing change and perhaps bringing to an end the sustainable existence they have had for Millennia. The Suri also inhabit this region but in an area to the west of the Omo which is more remote and less accessible. In 2006 they had 35 tourists visiting the region and this has probably not changed to any great extent in 2008.

I had the opportunity to travel there at the end of October 2008 and once again I was left with the feeling that Ethiopia has a periphery which truly lies off the beaten track and contains peoples and landscapes which are seldom seen. Traveling west and south west through Jima and Mizan Tefari were unmistakably Ethiopian experiences. The towns have little to offer and the infrastructure is poor. We ate Ethiopian fayre of tibs, shiro and injera – there was little choice! The area to the south of Jima, however, was stunning in its scenery and lushness. The montane rainforest and its red fertile soils seemed endless even if it had been logged and farmed for a long time. This is Kaffa country – from which coffee and the word coffee originally comes. On the second night of our trip we stayed in Bebeka coffee plantation, the largest in Ethiopia. It is government run and was originally set up during the Mengistu (communist) regime. Much of the architecture, however, is Italian and I had the pleasure of staying in the same bungalow that Mengistu used! It is now very dilapidated on the inside but outside the semblance of another era of charm and tasteful Italian architecture still exists. Sitting drinking a cold glass of wine added to the ambience. The grounds of the guesthouse were truly beautiful and trees were found from World’s beyond Ethiopia. Walking through the plantation and watching the Colobus and Grevit monkeys served to sooth the senses. We came across the estate workers washing coffee beans in long trays but we were not allowed to take photographs, in fact they were not happy that we were even walking around. A hangover from former times, certainly an inexplicable one!?

Along our route to the west the people we encountered were wonderful. We didn’t get any of the hassle that is almost ubiquitous in this country, especially from little boys who have nothing better to do but practice, for no good reason, their begging skills. “Give me the money”, “Caramella”, “you, you, you”…….all of this seemed absent and in its place was a warmth and a genuine feeling that you were not often seen! The human zoo syndrome was reversed – we were the zoo and they were doing the watching!

The last outpost of civilization, in an Ethiopian context, was the small and dismal town of Dima. This is also the last stop for any public transport, a little like the idea of a final frontier. This area is in the Gambella region and until recently you needed a convoy to get through as the locals, discontent with the Ethiopian government, were commonly taking potshots at those driving past! We were spared this and drove through with nonchalance and confidence.

The boundary between this area and the land of the Suri was marked by both a bio-physical and cultural boundary. I don’t think I have ever seen such a remarkable change. The forest cover changed from montane rainforest to savanna and the people changed colour and character almost as if entering another realm or World. To see those wearing tattered western clothes in Dima and then to see cattle herders coming out of the bush stark naked or with a simple blanket in deep blue or purple reinforced this impression. We were in the land of the Suri. Beautiful, forested but lower and warmer, with a flavour of what others might perceive as being African. The only thing that should have also been there was game. There was none it was decimated years ago, after Mengistu was deposed.

We stayed in the village of Kibish – a Suri village with a police post and few other very simple amenities. There was a bar serving the local brews – some of which are very potent and loved by the Suri! Gunshots in the night are testament to this and also a reflection of the spear having been replaced by the Kalashnikov or AK47. The civil war in Sudan has provided them with the opportunity to arm themselves and as a result exacerbate the death toll in the inter-tribal conflicts which exist in the area. The Suri are a race of warriors. They have a culture steeped in machismo and the need to prove themselves when seeking a bride or proving their worth as a man. To do this they have an age old practice of stick fighting called Donga. This only takes place for about a month at the end of the harvest and the timing of our visit could not have been better.

Apart from this ritualistic fighting, which is very violent, the tribe has some very distinctive traits and characteristics. The women wear lip plates some of which can be about 10 cms across and get bigger from the first incision as young teens. The habit is now declining as western influences take their toll. Nonetheless, a distinctive number still have a plate. They have some of their bottom teeth removed and their bottom lips pierced, then stretched, so as to allow insertion of a clay, or sometimes wooden, lip plate. The children often paint their faces with while and red clays which is startling and of course lends itself to photography. I loved it!

Village life is largely communal so they share everything. We watched them milking a cow and then using a bow and arrow to pierce the jugular vein in another to extract blood, which they mix with the milk in a calabash and drink. Lots of protein but I refrained from drinking! To see them doing this we had to walk, in the rain, to a nearby village. The paths were treacherous due to the clay having turned into slippery mud. For me this was fraught with challenges as falling was a real possibility and some of us did much to the amusement of those behind! My behind, however, remained un damaged! Crossing a river was even more of a challenge, especially when returning, as the rains had increased its discharge and the current was pulling us inexorably downstream. All part of the fun!

The men and women have scarified bodies. They use razor blades and a thorn to make lunate shaped incisions which later rise up into keloidal bumps. The patterns on their breasts, stomachs, arms and shoulders were testament to the pain that this ritual inflicts. The end result, however, is beautiful. The patterns have links to the spiritualism that is a part of their animist religion, hence you see snakes and other less recognizable patterns adorning their bodies. The people are timeless and ageless – none of them know how old they are. They are not registered – births and deaths are not recorded and there is no population count. It seemed to me that it was a fine example of survival of the fittest. If you survive, birth and infancy you have a chance. A chance which is much smaller than ours. Health care is minimal and malaria and water borne infections are rampant. When men fight in the Donga they are fine physical specimens and when they are chosen as mates by girls this perpetuates reproduction which favours the strong. I saw few old people and no-one with a disability. I presume they die to leave the fittest behind.

The good fortune of actually seeing a donga made us feel blessed. The event was incredible. There were perhaps a thousand people there and to see the fighting at close quarters further emphasized the contrasts in our lives. Naked, clay covered men in the peak of physical condition in one to one combat. The speed of the sticks and the impact of the blows to any parts of the body didn’t bear thinking about. The aggression and after the compassion was palpable and all of this was made more poignant by the singing after victory or prior to the different villages meeting to engage in battle. This was not for us, it was for them – an integral and ancient part of their culture and being. A sight to behold and not to be forgotten. To see blood running down faces and hear the clash of sticks has left an imprint which is indelible. This lasted for about 4 or 5 hours and it seemed like minutes. I took about 250 photographs in fast moving difficult conditions – I hope I captured at least some of the passion and tradition which is imbued in this rarely seen event.

The Suri have a sky god, Tuma, an abstract divine force. I hope the inexorable advancement of missionaries into these remote regions does not reach these people. They have the right to their own belief systems and live much more in harmony with their environment than we will ever do. They are inextricably linked to the land, their cattle and their culture. The gun, inter-tribal conflict and tourism are their biggest threats. I hope that zooification is not going to undermine their tribal roots. The forces of globalization are, however, strong and it is unlikely that they will resist the forces of change.

This trip was made possible by Abel Abebe an independent Ethiopian tour operator based in the Southern city of Awassa. He was the best agent I have used in Ethiopia and this was due to his sensitivity to people and environment. The first operator I have used who fully believes in the concept of sustainable tourism. He wants to keep community spirit alive and allow people to play a role in their own future. I recommend him unreservedly to anyone wanting to travel in this amazing country. His knowledge and passion are boundless. +251 911392432.

Photos may be seen at

Trevor Cole

These are new developments observed in Ethiopia.

There are more up market hotels opening in Addis.

Harmony hotel ( opened two weeks ago and also the Inter continental hotel in Addis Ababa.

Harmony is located Bole area opposite side of Medhaneralem Church. A four-star ‘Harmony Hotel’ officially opened its doors on December 21. Resting on a 1,250sqmplot, the latest entrant into the booming hospitality sector in Addis.

The hotel has 63 bedrooms and three suites located in its six floors.

Inter continental hotel has 152 rooms and 33 suites, of which one is a presidential and four are VIP suites with a Jacuzzi tub which has its own television and radio set. The remaining 28 are junior corner suites which are smaller in size and all vary in rates. The hotel is located in Kirkos District, Kazan-ches area, off Guinea Conakry Street.


Bahir Dar

Bahir Dar Ghion hotel maintain still its friendly atmosphere to tourists. I found the hotel, the best budget hotel in Ethiopia with all its ground and rooms.

More hotels are under construction.

Obama restaurant serves both Ethiopian and international meals and I recommend for any visitor in Bahir Dar.


Lalibela Bete Abraham Guest House owned and run by the church of Lalibela opened on November with 45 en-suite rooms.


The 180km road between Gondar to Metema border to Sudan is half way asphalt finished and open for traffic. The rest of the road expected to be finished mid 2009.

The road from Axum – Adigrat to Mekelle has been recently rehabilitated with good quality asphalt and opened for traffic..

320 km road between Bahir Dar to Lalibela is still under construction and expected to be finished mid 2010 according to the contractor.

Transport to tourist destinations.

Sky bus start operation with 28 MAN busses and coaches which compose the fleet are fitted with all-leather seats and some of them have bathrooms.

The first month operation which commenced last Wednesday Dec 31st, 2009 on a trip to Bahir Dar and a return route on the next day, the coaches are scheduled to connect Addis Ababa to Bahir Dar Awassa, Harar, Jimma, Dire Dawa, Mekele and Gondar.

The fair, while a little more expensive than the uncomfortable alternative buses, is nowhere near the cost of a flight. As per the one month pricing Capital reviewed, the ordinary bus tariff set by the transport authority is 73 birr for a trip to Bhair Dar while a seat on a Sky Bus coach runs 182 birr.

Surma update info

Posted: September 30, 2008 in hotels, Jimma, South Omo, Uncategorized

Just had the following info from Toni Partipilo:

we came back from our trip in the Surma area and Omo Valley made with Glory
Ethiopia Travel & Tours of Daniel Damtew and everything was perfect thanks
to his good managing and his very valuable guide Yared Yilma.
I would appreciate if you can add my feedback about them, since they are
very nice people and I would recommend them to anybody wishing to travel
We travelled from Addis to the Kibish, which is the main center of Surma
region and where most of excursions or sights can be done, via Jimma and
Mizan Teferi taking two days of travel. In Jimma we slept in Hoteela Dagituu
with rooms very basic and rough. In Mizan Teferi we stayed in hotel
Salayish, which is brand new, good quality apart the food, mosquito net and
Kibish area has now a new camp ground with kitchen facility and shower very
comfortable and guarded 24 hours a day. It is close to the river, which is
the main centre of daily life where a simple sitting on its banks will
provide half of the experiences you can get in the area. We made excursions
to Magologni, half day trek to go, famous for its red springs that local
people drink to clean their stomach. On the way to the springs stop in
Kormu, nice village on top of a hill. Also few hours trek to Regje which is
another small village near that is worth a visit, we have been lucky as we
attended a wedding cerimony. Be prepared to the assault of photo models
asking for birrs, but definitely surmas are more kind and less aggressive of
the tribes in the Omo valley. Travelling in end of august will give occasion
to watch a donga, that is an obsession for the surmas, having it everyday.
Watching a donga is anyway one of the most beautiful experiences I have had,
but not recommendable for people who are afraid of kalasnikov shooting all
the time. Making photography at a donga can be very expensive, so make sure
you have a good translator and guide to manage it. Being in the Kibish area
will give plenty of occasions to see a scarification, blood drinking,
wedding ceremony or funerals. In the Surma area to not miss gold-seekers on
the Akobo river. You get there from a small track near Dima and after 25km
appr. you get to Gabisa, but if the road is too difficult stop after 10 km
in Gazema. Here a trek along the river will provide several encounters with
many ethnic types – surma, anuak, highlanders – searching for gold in harsh
and very unsafe conditions.
Tulgit is not worth a visit, the village is 20 min away by car from Kibish,
and is not a sample of the region tribes and architecture. Maji or Tum are
worth a day excursion from the camp in Kibish during day markets. Maji is
the village of the Dizi on top of a mountain while Tum is somehow below and
is a Surma village. Do not expect to find friendly people wishing to be
photographed in the markets, their expectations of revenues are high and
discussions can be tough.
We concluded the trip going on the other side of the Omo having the classic
tour of the region.

You can
publish the website of the photos of this trip, i.e.