I spent three weeks in Ethiopia last month. Thanks so much for this awesome guidebook! (Lonely Planet owners would ask to borrow my Bradt guide, but not the other way around…)
A few things:
The current animosity between some Amharans and Tigraians caused a few tense situations. My local bus from Gondar to Gorgora was stopped by a riot in a village where an Amharan mob was burning the house of a Tigraian family. The bus driver was too scared to continue, so he kicked everyone out (politely giving us partial refunds) and turned back to Gondar. I managed to find a taxi to Gorgora, but a friend of the driver came along with a loaded six-shooter in case rioters attacked us. There were no buses on that road for two days because the drivers were still scared. Kim and Mercobar at Tim & Kim Village were wonderful through all of this, very protective of their guests and working hard to help us because of the bus situation. When I did catch a bus back to Gondar, an Amharan thug stopped us in the riot village to look for Tigraians. About a week before, while walking to the Khokholo Yohannes church near Mekele, I was detained and questioned by an armed Tigraian militia that was on edge because of rumors of Amharan violence. There were also a lot of military checkpoints between Amhara and Tigrai causing delays. Our entire minibus had to switch to a new minibus at one checkpoint, because a soldier became nervous about our minibus having a lot of Eritrean passengers.
That aside, my trip was tremendous.
I highly recommend the Lalibela Guesthouse in Mekele – excellent value, clean comfortable rooms, and very friendly staff.
The Blue Cafe across from the bus station in Woldia was particularly delicious and the staff was so welcoming that they were hand-feeding me. (Though I can’t guarantee hand-feeding for everyone.)
Shire Inda Selassie‘s Africa Hotel is no longer “scruffy” – it was the highest-end place I stayed for the whole trip.
The Ethio-Star Hotel in Bahir Dar was wonderful value and the staff was very helpful with arranging reasonably-priced tours. The Lakeshore restaurant in Bahir Dar was quite disappointing – mediocre food, overpriced, and angry staff – especially considering the great meals that I had in other Bahir Dar restaurants.
The Africa Hotel in Axum and Yordanis Hotel in Woldia had bed bugs. I would recommend some bed bug safety tips so travellers don’t bring any tiny guests home: Never put luggage or clothing on beds. Check mattresses for small red stains. If your luggage has been infested, don’t bring it into your house when you return home. There are a variety of good methods available online for killing bed bugs in luggage and clothing, but the only really effective ones involve heat. As a quick fix on the road, if you suspect some of your clothing has bed bugs, pour/soak the hottest possible water on them.
Thanks for all your hard work in producing this fantastic guidebook! I was so happy to have chosen you over Lonely Planet.