Gambella National Park, April 2016

Bob Francescone writes:

Two of us visited the Gambella National Park in April, 2016. Our trip was set up as part of a 12 day trip to southwestern Ethiopia by Birhanu Mesele of New Ethiopia Tours ( Superb Birhanu was our guide and the excellent Alex Girma was our driver. An additional guide/guard is required by the Park. He and his gun joined us.

The Park is a long way from most tourist treks in Ethiopia. It’s a few days’ direct journey to get to the town of Gambella from Addis (we detoured to camp for an additional two days in Kibish and Tum, among the Surma people), then another four hours from there to the Park. When we registered at the park entrance they told us we were the first visitors in six months, and we certainly did not see any signs of anyone else other than some workers on the road.

In April the annual migration of the White-eared Kob is the draw. Second in scale only to the wildebeest migration in Masai Mara,.it is an immense movement of a million animals across a flat, barren landscape. This is not the wildlife rich savannah of Kenya and Tanzania. There are few if any lions or elephants or giraffes. There are the Kob if you’re there at the right season (we were), and many, many birds, most memorably an immense flock of Black, Crowned Cranes dancing in the heat. We did pass a caravan of nomadic Falatti people, their long-horned cattle looming large in the dust, on their way to South Sudan farther west.

It was a hot, dusty, bone-rattling trip, and it was wonderful to be where few people, other than nomads, go.

Gambella & the west

Ulirake writes:

I couldn’t find the extreme cafe in Gambela, and I was looking for it in any place near and far the spot you indicated it on the map. The same with galaxy restaurant (and I was staying in 43rd hotel!).

Concerning the transport situation: I went from Gambela to Aira with a lot of dust on me but not a serious transport problem – it’s true that Gambela to Dembidolo is tricky, but the morning I left there was a big local bus (again, no minibusses! wouldn’t make sense if its just once daily) and two trucks leaving for dembidolo – but because of the difficulties you indicated in the guide, I was asking around alot the night before – which wouldn’t have been possible without amharic (which I speak quite fluent meanwhile). the busses leave as early as 4 am at the NOC gas station (at least they say so! still I had to wait half an hour untill someone appeared at the gas station, and another half an hour untill the trucks were ready) but will pass the busstation for dembidolo (which is not the central busstation but close to the market on the way to dembidolo! the spot was indicated to me by someone the day before) where there would be a bus waiting from 5 am on and takeoff at probably 6 am (sometimes later, sometimes earlier). The drive to dembidolo only takes 3 hours, from there to aira it was more of an issue… (lots of stops)

Ethiopia & Somaliland updates

Hello Philip

Many thanks for your brilliant ‘Ethiopia’. I thought that I’d share some observations I made on a recent trip to Ethiopia (E) and Somaliland (S) with you.

Adigrat (E) – Hohoma Hotel was fantastic. We payed 100 birr for a double with great hot shower, comfortable beds with new linen and TV. The owner, a lady called Alganesh, is very warm and friendly, and cooks great food (try her shiro and thilo).

Gorgora (E) – We stayed in the villa at the Gorgora Hotel.The location was great, but there was no hot water (in fact, no water ran from the shower despite the best plumbing efforts of various cleaners and security guards). In Gorgora town, there is a very nice little bar on the main street, on the righthand side coming from the port. They serve icy-cold Dashen on tap, and are very friendly. They also have great, plain, fresh bread for breakfast.

Axum (E) – We ate a very disappointing meal at Remhai hotel. The recommended beef stroganoff was rubbish (and overpriced). -Four friends and I were overcharged on laundry services at Africa Hotel (for some 50%). Best to confirm price beforehand (and work it out for oneself).

Lalibela (E) – The service at the Blue Lal restaurant was poor and disinterested. -The ‘Unique Restaurant’, just opposite Asheten Hotel, is run by a friendly lady who serves generous, good meals (but don’t expect food to come quickly).

Gambella (E) – We stayed at Aberague Hotel, just next to bus station. The rooms were clean, but got hot at night (especially when there was no power). The manager, Fanta (or Fantom) is very friendly.

Itang, near Gambella (E) – We found the pople in theis town (50km east of Gambella) quite aggressive. Better to stay with the friendly people of Gambella town.

 Hargeisa (S) – We stayed at the Hawthanang Hotel (or something similar) just near the central bridge. Hassan, the manager, speaks brilliant english and was very helpful in organising transport and police permits. The rooms were clean and good value ($12 for a double). -The people at the recommended Oriental Hotel basically refused to help us at all unless we stayed there.

hope that this helps Kind regards Robert M (Australia)

Gambella updates

April 6, 2009 at 2:33 pm e I traveled throughout Ethiopia from early September until the end of October. I will try from time to time to add some content from various areas that will hopefully help out. Gambella – I stayed here about 4-5 days. Sultry is a pretty good word to describe the climate. Like most places I visited in the country the people by and large were very friendly. The Tourist Hotel was closed (perhaps permanently) when I was there (Oct 20-25ish). The Ethiopia Hotel (now with a new name that I can’t remember) was charging around 200-250 Birr per night but was booked the duration of my stay. A little steep on the price but in comparision to the other places I stayed probably well worth the few extra Birr. The Bia Hotel was also booked the whole time (they said they would save a room for me on a after I arrived but they failed to do so). I stayed at motel down a little and across the road from the Arenguade Hotel (can’t remember the name but you enter through a wide gate about 10 meters down a dirt road). They charged 60 Birr. The room was easily the worse that I stayed at during my entire trip to Ethiopia. I moved to another motel that was 40 Birr and the guy running it was very accomodating and they served decent food there as well as the small restaurant next to it. (unfortunately I forgot the name of the place but it is down the road past in the direction of Dembidola right past the big new building that is perhaps a hospital or social service building and then take a left down the dirt road about 20-30 meters). It is not shown on the map but it is roughly opposite the road that leads to the Lemlem Hotel. Another possibility is a rather new hotel with just a few rooms (none available when I arrived) that looks promising. It is located just across the bridge on the left side down a small valley near the Frost Cafe & Bar. The is a nightclub next to the KT hotel that was pretty good although shut down around 10 or so, there is another good place for dancing/music down the road further (200 m perhaps) from this nightclub on the right and just off the main road (the road running parallel to the Dembidolo road on the map). I went to the prison area before leaving to pick up some handmade crafts but was not very amused at the prices quoted to me and they seemed not to be in a negotiating frame of mind so I didn’t get anything (ex. 800 Birr for a beaded vase). There was a market area that had quite a few things but I didn’t get to spend much time there.

Piers Majestyk

New Hotel in Gambella

In Chapter 29, Gambella, There are still few good places to stay but Hope Enterprise has opened it’s new Guest House with accomodations that are new, clean and include one’s own bathroom.  It is located on the left side of the asphalt as you leave town traveling north. The manager is Woreda and his number, in country is 0911310120.  Out of Ethiopia 251 911310120. Also, please note that the two tribes are switched. Correction – Nuer are tall and their greeting is “Mali”.  Anuak greeting is “Derigot”.  The town roads are asphalt now therefore reducing the dust.