Correction to 7th edition Visa on Arrival information

In the 7th edition of Bradt Ethiopia, we incorrectly state that passport-holders from all European Union countries can obtain a Visa on Arrival at Bole Airport.

In fact the list of ‘tourist-generating countries’ eligible for Visa on Arrival excludes several member states that joined the EU in or after 2004.

According to Ethiopian Airlines, the full list of countries eligible for Visa on Arrival is as follows: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China (including passports issued in Hong Kong and MACAO), Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greek, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Kuwait, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, North Korea, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russian Federation, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, United Kingdom and United States.

We strongly recommend you confirm this information independently before you travel, as it always subject to change.

Note, also, that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website saying you can request a visa online if your country doesn’t have an Ethiopian embassy is and has always been false.

 

 

December 2015 trip report

Simon writes:

I am just back from 2 1/2 weeks in Ethiopia using your 6th edition (I bought it just before 7 came out &#X02639) It is very good, thank you.

I am a geriatric backpacker at 60, usually travelling around southern Africa in my own Landy for the past 15 winters. This was my first trip to Ethiopia, prompted by the start of direct flights to Dublin, Ireland.

As a general comment I found no evidence of the ‘hassle’ and ‘overcharging’ you frequently refer to in the guide. Was I lucky, or have things improved?

A few detailed points:-

Addis Ababa:-

I used the new metro in Addis to get from the Autobus Terra to Piazza, a handy trip for backpackers. It seems very safe with police in every carriage.The trains are lovely, but the signage is not too good yet!  You buy your ticket in the orange kiosk just by the exit of the bus station, cross the busy road and climb the steps on the far side to get to the correct platform.  On arrival at ‘Menelik Square’ you take the steps at the front of the platform to the surface, then do an about turn and walk 300M to arrive at Menelik Square itself. You have the ‘Fire Department’ marked incorrectly on pp146, it should be on the south side of Gal Hailu Kebede. To go from Menelik to Autobus Terra take the entrance near Gyorgis church.

Tesfa Trekking:-

I arranged everything on arrival in Lalibela. I did the 3 day western Meket trip alone and was charged $260 which is probably high as there wasn’t a group. I travelled to Gashena by bus with the guide which was crowded but fine. It was good having the guide to sort things out and it is recommended for ‘local colour’. I was travelling on to Bahir Dar, but for those returning to Lalibela it may be better to arrange private pick up at the end of the trek as apparently finding public transport back to Lalibela is not so easy. I really enjoyed it.

Is it ‘good value’? We should be careful not to go soft in the head at the thought of ‘community involvement’. Getting a similar standard of lodging and food in any town would be a fraction of the cost. I was keen to point out to them that they could easily improve things with a little effort.

 

Lake Tana Ferry:-

I travelled from North to South, which still leaves Gorgora on Thursday, but I believe the departure from Bahir Dar has changed.

The road from Gondar to Gorgora is being rebuilt and minibus traffic has stopped. The bus was very full and took 3 1/2 hrs. The repairs are expected to be finished by end of 2016.

Gorgora Port Hotel is still as bad as when you described it! Apparently there is another place to stay in the village about 15mins away which is better. (Note from PB – Simon will be referring to Kim & Tim listed in the 7th edition)

Arrival at Konzula:- Apparently there are now 2 ‘hotels’ in town. I am not sure which one I found, but it wasn’t the Hilton! There seemed no need for a ‘mad dash’ and the 10min walk is actually on the flat! It does not feel so remote anymore. There is a bank and lots of mobile phone shops!

Blue Nile Falls:-

Your description of the way to the falls is a bit wrong. The ticket office is right by the gates to the hydro plant. You don’t need a guide despite what they suggest. I was a little hassled but not too bad. The map shows the correct position of the side road about 100m back up from the ticket office. You just follow this ‘road’, keeping left at a junction before dropping down to the left AFTER the church. A quick look on Google earth will help your description. After crossing the suspension bridge, beware the tea lady selling the most expensive drinks in Ethiopia! It is then about 5mins walk to the motor boat to cross back to the town.

Debra Libanos:-

The entrance fee for the church included the museum (and I got a guided tour!) so was reasonable value I thought. You now get a ‘guide’ to go up the pretty steep steps to the cave, but as it is a holy shrine it is good to have one to avoid upsetting pilgrims.

The walk back up to the main road is not that steep! ( a climb of 160M according to my GPS)

There is a  hotel about 300M down the road from the junction with lovely views over the gorge. It is a bit basic but half the price of the Ethio-German Park next door!

I hope some of this may be of help!

 

December 2015 trip report (Hawassa, Bale, Awash, Guassa)

Many thanks to Ray and Joyce for this very detailed trip report from their 9th (!) trip to Ethiopia, using the new 7th edition of the Bradt Guide

 

Addis Ababa

Caravan hotel; good hotel with shuttle bus pickup service from the airport

 

Hawassa

Lake View Hotel had no room available when we arrived at 20:00 in spite of our booking.

Oasis hotel; okay for 733 birr for a large room incl breakfast and wifi

 

Hawassa – Aposte – Negele Borena

Take the road from Hawassa further south and take the junction at Aposte direction Negele. Till Aposte there is roadconstruction going on, after Aposte till Negele is a very good new asphalt road with beautiful scenery.

Saturday market in Bore.

Bongo: best tibbs ever, restaurant on the right side with a small butcher shop attached.

 

Negele Borena

Turaco hotel was fully booked.

Maereg hotel; room for 805 birr, no breakfast available, incl wifi, no water to flush the toilet, shower oké, staff not friendly.

Gooshi restaurant is the place to be.

a little bit further than Gooshi are very nice and busy breakfast restaurants (we were there at 7:30) seating outside.

 

Dola Mena

Bassufigaad hotel; 90 birr for clean room, nice staff, cold water shower, no toilet in room. Diner/breakfast available.

Breakfast; direction Bale Mountains, at the end of the town, on the left side of the road, you find the best ambesha (local bread) we found during our trip. Just ask around. It is behind a metal plated fence.

 

Bale Mountain lodge

Beautiful but expensive lodge. The rate in high season is $ 290 + 10 (park bed levy) per person per night and not per room, so for 2 persons it wil be $ 600 for a night, incl guide, food and drinks. When you haven’t made a reservation you can always ask for a last minute rate.

Made a 2 hour walk to Mt Gushuralle with a wide view, 1,25 hour walk back to the lodge.

 

Goba

Wabe Shebelle hotel; the rates are higher then published in the 7th edition. We paid $ 40 after negotiation, they first asked $ 45. I noticed no difference to the rooms from our first visit in 2006………..

Restaurant; Baltina, ask for directions, it is of the mainroad.

Nice horse riding excursion from Dinsho to the Web Valley, 7 hours incl rest.

Walk excursion from Dinsho to the Gaysay grasslands with close encounters with Mountain Nyala’s, warthogs, wattled ibis, klipspringers etc.

 

Goba – Goro – Sof Omar – Ginnir

Road was bad but at the moment road construction is going on.

Sof Omar; entrance fee of 300 birr pp, we argued and walked away (we have been there before), then were allowed for 150 pp excl 50 birr for the guide.

Ginner; decided to overnight in Ginner because the trip took longer than expected.

Bale Tourist hotel; truckers hotel, 100 birr, incl wifi, lot of chat chewing going on, no toilet, shower full with mosquito’s.

 

Ginnir – Sheik Hussein – Wabe Shebelle Gorge – Asbe Teferi = 366 km

Long road, preferably overnight at Sheik Hussein

Sheik Hussein; 80 birr entrance fee pp + 150 birr for a English speaking guide (former teacher).

 

Wabe Shebelle Gorge; Beautiful scenery

see for more information:   http://balemountains.org/multi-day-driving-itineraries/

from Sheik Hussein to Hawi Gudina we there was no traffick, but we saw several people and small settlements.

Sheik Hussein – bridge 1         7 km

Bridge 1 – bridge 2                  27 km

Bridge 2 – bridge 3                  26 km

Bridge 3 – Hawi Gudina          17 km

Hawi Gudina – Mechera          68 km

Mechera – Gelemso                 35 km

Gelemso – Bedesa – Asbe Teferi         73 km

 

Asbe Teferi

Burka hotel, 200 birr, rundown room, bathroom with toilet and warm shower.

 

Awash

Hotel Buffet d’Aouache, new well maintained annex, very nice room for 308 birr. Restaurant is in the old building (walkingdistance across the railway).

 

Awash – Doho lodge – Duleche – Ankober

This route is described in the 7th Edition, from north to south. We did the route the other way and had a hard time finding the startingpoint of the route and ended up at the new Doho lodge. The manager new the road we had to take: back to the asphalt road, turn left direction sugar factory. Ask there for the right turn to Duleche.

The route was harder to travel than expected, especially when we came across junctions and had no clue which one to take. It’s Afar territory and they don’t have a good reputation, but we found the Afar very helpful. It’s a beautiful trip but think twice before going with only one car and without a guide.

 

Ankober

Ankober Palace Hotel; the first night we were the only guests, $ 65 for single, $ 85 for 2 persons, incl breakfast. Beautiful rooms with warm shower and spectacular views.

Sometimes no electricity, no generator. Excursions expensive.

Very nice Thursday market in Aliyu Amba.

 

Debre Birhan

Eva hotel has a new name, telephonenumber and owner:

Getva hotel                  Tel.nr: 011-6375040

Rates new wing: single 629, king 834, twin 1047

Rates old wing: single 335, twin 587

 

Debre Birhan – Tarmabir – Guessa plateau -Mehal Meda

The road from Tabernat to Mehal Meda is bad, near Mehal Meda it is under construction.

Guassa Community Lodge; 300 birr pp + 100 entrance fee for park pp. Nice rooms with common shower/toilet.

They are building 2 tukuls with private bathroom, will be ready in a few months.

Aryam Hotel in Mehal Meda is closed at the moment. The other hotels in Mehal Meda are very basic.

The new road to Ataye is open en a very recommended scenic drive.

 

 

 

Somaliland Embassy in Addis Ababa

According to this post (January 2016) on the Thorntree, the Somaliland Embassy in Addis Ababa has moved yet again – this time close to Edna Mall & Medhane Alem Church (Grid G5 on the map on p 158-9 on the Bradt 7th edition)

https://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree/forums/africa/somalia/current-somaliland-embassy-location-in-addis-ababa-58920b23-d001-4a26-a740-c7f1ad52c679?page=1#post_21941788

7th edition errata

I’ve picked up a few typos and the like in the 7th edition, as follows:

Addis Ababa map, p 159 – The road erroneously named ‘Guest House’ is actually New Haya Hulet Road, the name used in the text.

Awra Amba p 249 – references to Debre Sina in the directions should read Debre Tabor.

Dessie map, p 305 – the walking route marked on the inset is arrowed in the opposite direction to the description in the text.

Arrival at Bole Terminal 2

AddisAdvisor writes:

Because of recent events in Paris and elsewhere, Bole Airport is protected by more Federal Police than ever before. And meet-and-greeters are NOT allowed into Terminal 2 unless they have a special permit from the Ministry of Tourism, which they wear around their neck…

So:

a. If you are being met by personal friends, or unofficial solo guides, they will probably meet you outside in the car park as described in point d below. If you are being met by the representative of a hotel or tour company, or an official guide, check in advance whether they will wait inside or outside the building.

b. Try to have a local mobile phone number to call.

c. If inside, your meeter will be sat or near a metal barrier that is in front of you as you emerge from the secure area/baggage hall/customs.

d. If  outside, they will be at the foot of the central steps. i.e. the building has a rectangular outdoor car park outside running its full length. This car park is below the level of the building. Come out of the building and turn left. Soon you see an outside set of about 20 steps on your right that lead down into the car park. Greeters will be at the foot of these steps hopefully with their or your name….At the top of steps you can turn right down a long ramp that allows you to push a luggage trolley down. The ramp delivers you to the front of the yellow taxi queue where you go left back along a pavement to reach the foot of the steps and the crowd of greeters!!

e. IF you are unsure of where you are being met, and/or phoning someone, the best place to wait is at the Yellow Spot cafe just to left of where you exit secure area into public area.

f. BE AWARE that once you go out of the building it is difficult to get back in……

g. If you arrive after dark all this still applies/. The car park is very well lit up

NOTE Please do not let this put you off . Ethiopia is one of the safest nations in the world and Ethiopia’s intelligence systems and security forces are second to none.