Thanks to Matthias fir alerting me to this very useful new downloadable brochure about Jimma and nearby sites in the western highlands, including coffee plantations and a new national park where you can see elephants!
Jean Newbury writes:
– Getting there on ‘level 1’ bus from Terra in Mercato, when buying ticket I insisted on a window seat and was given (with a chuckle) seat number 01. This is across from the driver and offers amazing views out of the windshield. Downside is you won’t be allowed to sleep, I received sharp prods every time I drifted off! View will keep you going though.
– Main draws – park and crocodile market – are very tough without a group, own transport or enough money to hire a 4×4 ($150 a day). I hung around the park entrance to try and join a group, but the shifty guides were most unhelpful and reluctant to allow this. Walk to 40 Springs is worth it.
– Lake Abaya jetty, 500m or so past the crocodile ranch, is not accessible. You can get to within 200m of the lake, but then swamp and marsh land block access. Don’t try and walk it – I saw a crocodile when I did, scary. Road there is pleasant, saw thirty or so baboons and white tailed monkeys.
– Avoid Kairo Hotel at all costs. Worst hotel I’ve stayed in to date and overpriced. Due to construction, it’s become the new Abaya Hotel – buses leaving early, condoms in drawer, might as well have slept in the church it’s so close and loud.
– Tourist Hotel does not sell pizzas.
– Arba Minch market is worth a wander, small but colourful (I saw it on a Wednesday).
– Really recommend walking to the hilltop church in Secha for the sunrise over the lakes. Go West at the Oil Libya roundabout (past hotel Roza), you’ll see the red, yellow and green coloured church on the hill straight ahead.
– Guides are not mandatory for a visit to the weaving and potters cooperatives (100 bir for entrance to both).
– Local buses from Arba Minch leave when full and there are no minibuses running the route. The bus is 18 bir, don’t pay more.
– Market doesn’t really kick off until past 11am.
– Buses leave to Arba Minch when full, reserve seat with bag and go for a walk.
– Easy walk from Dorze or flag a free lift with a passing bus.
– Simple day trip from Arba Minch with frequent minibuses (30 bir). Amazing scenery.
– For Konso village (Dekatu – 3km walk up hill, past museum), guide is not necessary
I’ve lived in Ethiopia (in Bonga, just 3 hours past Jimma) for most of 2011 and 2012 and can share some tips:
Both Selam Bus and Sky Bus travel the route between Addis and Jimma, but stick to no consistent schedule and frequently cancel buses the morning of departure (and expect you to just stick around for another day in Addis, as they offer no refunds). They use their most decrepit buses for this journey, but reserve their nicest buses for the North.
In Addis: Selam’s ticket station is across from Meskel Square down an alley. Sky Bus’s ticketing is done next to Taitu Hotel in Piazza. Both buses depart from Meskel Square. Selam only departs in the morning, but you may find that Sky Bus alternately departs at 1 pm in the afternoon (as it tries to do a round-trip journey to/from Jimma).
In Jimma: Selam’s ticket office is in same building as Central Jimma Hotel. Sky Bus office is next to Syf Hotel. Both buses depart from these ticket offices.
I could write in which days which bus travels between Addis and Jimma and vice versa, but that information will be completely obsolete by tomorrow. I’m dead serious. Your best bet is to get to the ticket offices two days in advance and check both Sky and Selam. My guess is that these luxury buses don’t understand the first thing about customer service: that you stick to a schedule and maintain reliability and consistency over the loss of a few birr here and there. Instead they would rather inconvenience you as much as possible.
I have to make the trip between Jimma and Addis quite often and will always try to avoid Selam and Sky bus if possible.
Suzanne writes: Prices have all gone up, some by more than 100%. Below I’ve listed the page number (5th Edition) , hotel and new price in order as we travelled around.
553 Ambo Abebech Matafaria Hotel Twin Room 295 B
575 Across the street from Classic Café – new Hotel called Desalegan Hotel Twin 330 B, Manager Ms Tigist 0911 820 175 reception 0576 616 262.
560 Jimma Central Hotel Twin Room 304 B, The swimming pool was clean – my 9yr old happily swam in it.
153 Addis Ababa Mr Martin’s Cozy Place Family Room 340 B, Internet 35c per minute ( not 50c). Extremely clean and extremely well run by Dawit ( no longer German owned). Extremely good value and was NEVER loud ( we stayed there 3 times over 5 nights)
204 Bahir Dar Ghion Hotel ( the darkest , dingiest place I have seen) Twin/ triple 400 B
225 Gonder Queen Taitu Twin 280 B
226/7 Gonder Golden Gate Bar and Restaurant does not offer Chinese food, Tuscany no longer exists – now called Habesha (groovy place), Roman Hotel does not sell icecream
238 Debark Simien Park Hotel Triple 400 B
256 Axum Africa Hotel Triple 300 B
268 Yeha Entrance 100 B
290 Gheralta Gheralta Lodge EXCELLENT Triple $70 (inc Breakfast), 120 B for a 5 course Dinner
291 Abuna Yemata Guh 100 B entrance
291 Debre Maryam Korkor 100 B entrance
292 Abuna Abraham Debre Tsion Horrible Priest – wanted a 50 B tip and was not going to open the church door. We gave him 15 .Only bad experience we had with the priests and the churches – all the others were fine and took a tip after our visit
356/7 Lalibela Seven Olives Poor value – dark + musty rooms Twin $42; Timkat Twin $100; Asheton Better value Twin 500 B for 3, ohers reported paying 350 B for a couple
444 Hosaina Heme Hotel Twin 276 B
511 Arba Minch Bekele Mola 800 B for db room + dinner (2 course) + breakfast; Paid extra 100 B for mattress. We really didn’t like this place – very isolated and apart from the view – nothing special. The meals were some of the most expensive that we saw in Ethiopia and since our fee only included 2 people , we had to pay extra for our daughter to eat and it was expensive ( so were the drinks). I would not recommend that place to individuals – OK for big groups but just stuck out in the middle of nowhere. Had to go to the doctor in Arba Minch and was recommended to go to Abaya Medical Clinic ( near the bus station) by an English nurse who works in Arba Minch. Good service.
516 Chencha + Dorze Obligatory 150 B entrance fee to Chencha market. Initially said that it included entrance inside Dorze home as well and then asked for more money so that needs to be clarified. We did not pay more money. Dorze homes are 100% made of bamboo + grass – they are not made of enset ( false banana) leaves. The guides were adamant of that. The market in Chencha is Tuesday ( not Monday) + Saturday. Meskel is celebrated in Dorze on 27th September ( not 1st October)
552 Konso Strawberry Fields Eco Lodge Looked like a dump; Ate the worse meal I had in Ethiopia at the restaurant; It was so bad that I refused to pay for it. Karat Konso Villages – Drivers tend to take tourists to a closer village called Gamole (7kms). Obligatory 150 B Guide + 60 B per vehicle + 50 B per person entrance
532 Key Afar + Dimeka markets Obligatory 150 B guide
536 Buska Lodge in Turmi Double US $100 ( including breakfast); Twin $ 105; Double camping with spring mattress $ 50 ( no breakfast); Double camping with mattress on ground $ 15 ( good value); Single camping with spring mattress $ 35; Single camping with mattress on ground $ 10
541 Kolcho to visit the Karo tribe 350 B village entrance + 150 B guide (obligatory)
504 Yabello Yabello Motel Large twin 863 B ( book says 200 B)
533 Arbore Tribe Wanted 200 B village entrance + 150 B non English speaking guide (didn’t stop)
463 Wondo Ganet Wabe Shabelle Hotel Twin 606 B week day
Hi I have just been in Jimma for 10 days and lived in Central Jimma hotel. The price was the same as on the price list (169 Birr for a good, clean room with private shower). There was electricity nearly every day. They have email in the reception. Food in Central Jimma is excellent. In the moment they are making new main roads in Jimma, so it is a little bit dusty. The road from Addis to Jimma is very good. The way back to Addis I wanted to drive with Selam bus – but it is not driving every day. So i went with public bus – it was o.k. (8 hours).Flight costs 640 birr -every day without monday.
Greetings from Austria, Martin
Negash Lodge in Woliso now charges 506 birr and above for their rooms, it seems that the place has been privatised and the prices almost tripled from what you mention in your guidebook
did an overnight trip to Wenchi. It is really beautiful. I stayed in
Ambo at the Abebech Matafaria Hotel and paid 140 birr for a single (with a queen size bed). Full breakfast at the hotel was 25 birr.
The hotel is also building at lodge at the entrance to the Wenchi crater lake. Looks like it should be finished before the end of the year.
Gudar falls charge 10 birr entrance for foreigners and 10 birr for the camera. 3 birr for Ethiopians.
In Jimma I stayed at the SYF hotel (the only place with a room, as it was graduation weekend), very much overpriced at 200 birr, water only occasionaly, mostly bucket showers, electricity only every other day (like most places in Ethiopa at the moment) There is nice juice in Jimma, but I (with my verymuch africanised intestines) still caught some bug and was pretty sick for about 24 hours. The restaurant at Syf has good national dishes (excellent shiro tagamino) and decent pasta (a bit greasy, but tasty), but it sharges more if you order from the English menu.
I almost missed my plane in Jimma on the way back, as there was a schedule change (and the flight lest 1 hour earlier than planned). I never got the call (what with the network being really bad, it is no wonder). I would suggest that even if you are told in Addis that your return has been confirmed, you should check with the EA the day of your flight, or the night before.
We’ve just had news of two companies offering luxury coach services (or what passes for luxury in Ethiopia) along several major routers. In both cases the coach are meant to provide a compromise between expensive flights and rough local buses, and they are aimed at middle class Ethiopian as much as tourists, so not madly expensive. Both have useful websites, if you want to explore further.
Sky Bus started up in Dec 2008 and offers services from Addis Ababa to six major cities, namely Bahir Dar, Gonder, Jimma, Awassa, Harer and Dire Dawa.
Selam Bus runs services to Bahir Dar, Gonder, Jimma, Harer, Dire Dawa, Jijiga, Dessie and Mekele, and even has an online reservation system.
Any feedback from travellers who use these services will be greatly appreciated!