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



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.



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:

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.



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 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         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.




Ankober trip report

Rupert Simons writes:

Hi – since I’ve learnt so much and seen so many places using the guide I wanted to update the Ankober section as it’s a pleasant and very peaceful weekend break from Addis Ababa.

The main road from Addis to Debre Birhan is good. Buses or minibuses leave from a new station about 2km east of Megenagna and take about 2 hours (50-60 birr). I arrived at Debre Birhan at 2pm and got the last bus to Ankober (20-25 birr). Buses seem to leave fairly regularly throughout the morning in both directions. This is still quite a rough road and the bus takes nearly two hours to cover 40km. I would not take a saloon car unless it had very robust suspension.

The views from Ankober are beautiful, and unlike Koremash it’s possible to stay the night. To get the best view, you have to walk down the hill to the Palace Lodge (just follow the main road) which takes 30-40 minutes. The Palace Lodge is overpriced as others have commented, but the location is incredible. They said at first they had only family rooms left, and asked for $125 which is the price for a group of 3 to share, but after some negotiation I got a double room to myself for $50. The Ethiopian food and breakfast were basic but good, slightly lacking in vegetables. The foreign food didn’t look so good.

If you’re on a tight budget, I found one place offering rooms for $1-2 in Ankober town, there may be others. The beds looked clean but people who stayed there said they saw fleas in the room. You can get drinks and basic meals (shiro) there as well.

I got very little hassle in Ankober, and found people were friendly and polite, especially walking up and down the hill to the Lodge. I would be interested if anyone has tried to drive down the mountain to Awash National Park. The literature in the lodge said this would take 6-7 hours in a 4×4. I didn’t see any public transport going down that road apart from trucks, so independent travellers would probably have to hitch-hike.

Zara Yacob Horse-trekking Trail

Yves Stranger of Equus Ethiopia writes:

I wanted to introduce the first exploratory ride on the new Zara Yacob Trail, a horse trekking route that will link Ankobar and the forest of Wof Washa to the forest of Menagesha Suba, 40 km to the west of Addis Ababa.

The trail will highlight the historic Emperor Zara Yacob who first passed edicts protecting the forest of Menagesha Suba in the 15th century, bringing seedlings from the forest of Wof Washa some 250-300 km away.
It is hoped that the Zara Yacob Trail will:
* Develop eco tourism in Ethiopia
* Create employment opportunities
* Create an indigenous story of environmental protection
* Boost Ethiopia’s positive image
You can find some more information about the Zara Yacob Trail here:
and more information about who Emperor Zara Yacob was here:
For more information please contact Yves Stranger at or

Debre Birhan & Ankober news

Ankober Palace Lodge has let us know that the road from Addis Ababa to Debre Birhan is now completed and the road from Debre Birhan to Ankober is has been upgraded, so ou can now use ordinary sedan cars to get there.  The total driving time from Addis Ababa to Ankober is now less than three hours.
They are also offering low season tariffs, which extend to the end of August 2011. Single rooms are now at $40 for weekdays and $50 for weekends. Double rooms are $50 weekdays and $60 weekends, breakfast Vat and service charges included.

Ankober Palace Lodge review

We were a bit disappointed with this hotel. The cheapest daily rate for a double room is USD85 per night including breakfast (the price in the Bradt Guide is USD 35/45). It was our honeymoon; so we were a bit disappointed to find out all rooms have two single beds and not at least one double bed. The rooms are simple but nice. Also, they had quite a few guests during our stay and placed them right next to us, although there were other rooms available not so close to us.

The place is basically run by two members of staff who do everything from reception to waitressing, reception and acting as guides (guided tours and coffee ceremonies are charged separately though, and are not particularly cheap).

On the first night, we were greeted by the owner, who gave us a lecture on how he is just breaking even (which I doubt), and how he wanted to help the community by setting up the hotel where the ancient Menelik Palace was. On the same night, the chicken we had ordered was virtually inedible. It was quite embarrassing, as we had to leave it right in front of owner (he was eating with us).

On the second day, though, we went for a walk to town, only to find lots of children asking for money, a young boy who appointed himself our guide, until we told him were didn’t need one and were not going to give him any money. There is no indication that Ankober Palace interacts with the locals as most guests do not even leave the hotel and a security guard by the front door does not allow locals to come in (though the staff are at least employed from amongst the local population).

To complete the experience, their menu is really quite expensive, comparing unfavourably with restaurants of a similar quality in Addis. Most disappointing of all, their ‘international’ food is practically inedible. After ordering two overcooked and impossibly tough meat dishes, we started ordering local food, which was actually very good (and much cheaper than the international dishes, though still rather more than one would find in most Ethiopian restaurants). Having said that, there are only 3 local dishes available in the menu and 2 of them are vegetarian.

The hotel offers guided tours and visits, for which one pays separately. My husband did a trek that cost 650 Birr, in which one of the two principal members of staff acted as the guide. On day 3, we paid 150 Birr to visit Aliyo Amba on the market day. In the hotel description it said “Drive 14km by car to Aliyo Amba to visit the market etc…”. When we booked, we thought it was a bit cheap and asked if the ‘car’ was included, which we were told it was. On the day, the guide/restaurant lady/member of staff told us to be ready at 7am and meet her at the gate. It turned out that the ‘car’ was the local bus, which was actually full and didn’t stop for us. Luckily, some guests who were staying at the hotel and had their own 4WD gave us a lift to Aliyo Amba. We did the market thing (our lady guide was very nice and helpful) and took the local bus back to the hotel, which was NOT included in the 150 Birr we had paid and was 25 Birr per head for the 3 of us (lady guide, myself and my husband). The 150 Birr apparently covered her fee – a not unreasonable rate at all and far cheaper than the 650 Birr option the prior day, but not at all clear in the guidance notes and price list.

At the market, we bought mangos and papaya. The hotel kept running out of juice, so we thought it would be nice to get our own fruit for them to use to prepare juice for us. Once back at the Lodge, we realised that they only offer papaya juice because papaya is much cheaper than mango. When we asked the kitchen staff to make the mango juice for us, they didn’t know how to do it and I ended up doing it myself in the kitchen, which was actually worth it as the mango was really nice and sweet.

Members of staff were very nice to us all the time, the place has a fantastic view, and is peaceful and quiet (apart from the couple with a baby placed in the room next to ours on day two of our four-day visit).

Debora Chobanian

Ankober & Koremash

KOREMASH : it is really a wonderful place and it is possible to pitch a tent in the police compound, which is the most impressive place in the village. From this spot, one can organize walks with a guide, even into the large valley (which is not the Awash River but the tributary Kassem.  

ANKOBER : Ankober Palace Lodge is a pleasant place but the restaurant is overpriced and the rooms cost 80/95 $ for single/double. When we showed the Bradt guide to the person in charge of the staff, he laughed and told us you made a big mistake with the prices. He didn’t want to make a discount, even during weekdays, though he had only 2 or 3 customers!!!!  On top of this, we had to pay 32.10 Birrs for 2 people as an entrance fee just to visit the lodge, look at the landscape and a wall of old stones! We decided to return to Debre-Birhan for the night. Shoestring hotels are very dirty in the town.

The walk from Ankober to Aliyu-Amba is about 3 ½ to 4 hours. It goes downhill through beautiful country with friendly people everywhere. There are some basic hotels in the village but the Wabit Café has clean rooms with common shower, it charges 20 Birrs for two. The local cook is good. No farenji tariff is applied here and the owner is amiable.

Yolande and Jacky BOTTINI

Ankober Palace Lodge

Ankober Palace Lodge  – great place ,been twice BUT

1.       Customers need to be aware you have to leave your car at the bottom of the conical hill on which lodge is built and climb steps/footpath for 5/10minutes to reach reception. Not the place to take the elderly or immobile..

2.       You are some 9000ft plus – you need warm clothes in the evenings –  restaurant has a fire but rooms chilly.

3.       As at 09/09 Addis  to Debre  Berhan road under repair 2009 – ie new tarmac being done…

BUT   Don’t be put off by these facts… it is a magical place —you will probably get photos with the clouds  below you in the valley…..

Frank Rispin