Harar trip report

Attila writes:

I just visited Harar in Ethiopia and learnt that visiting hyenas is much more pleasant with a local guide who can also help you with photos. I met some travelers who encountered money-related HASSLE by local (can you guess it?) rasta-related young men trying to overcharge for every possible thing near the beasts. There is a good reliable resident guide at Thewodros hotel as indicated in the excellent Bradt guide book, but I also found a great young guide patroling the streets who is most likely to find you before you find him. I’d like to recommend him, Fajaja, because he’s not pushy at all, he speaks great English and bits of other foreign languages, too, he seemed to have good local knowledge (could be nice for a city tour as well), and he doesn’t give you any hassle about the thank you payment. Actually he didn’t quote me any fee at all, so you can donate and act accordingly. He will be around all the time but in need of call his number is 0920664020. (Final point of irony, he USED to have dreadlocks, but now he’s fine, haha.)

Another comment I’d like to leave is about couple of Harar bars and nightlife in the “new town.” I wouldn’t recommend National Hotel to many faranjis, I visited there several nights and almost every time encountered annoying low-faced hassle, ridiculous attempts on beer prices and other faranji BS. Even though I had collected all my beer bottles on my table, including the one that I had bought for another person there, when it was time to pay, the waiter tried to get double money without showing the receipt, and even when the receipt came there were two extra beers printed.

A good thing to remember in all Ethiopia: you are never supposed to pay unless given the receipt first! Ethiopians love receipts. Even though National is the major disco/club style place in town, it was significantly empty every night, including weekends, and there was only one waiter who didn’t give me hassle.

Nearby Tourist Hotel, however, despite being noisy and very dark, seemed more reliable and I didn’t have problems when it was time to pay.

Then there is another place, open very late, noisy and dark with dodgy waiters and double the amount of (very dodgy-feeling) bar girls than male customers. It’s named Keron-something (the signplate is broken!) and it’s usually packed with tuktuk drivers and street kids patroling in front of the dump. I went there couple of times for a solitary late night beer, first times always hassled with the money but once they got to know my face there were no further overcharging attempts. This is the kind of place you wouldn’t like to show to your mum.

In short, the most common trick is simply to double the real price of your drinks and try to get it without a receipt. Keep your eyes open and numerical info clear, fellow faranjis! Harar is a wonderful town.


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