Nordic Medical Centre, Addis Ababa

Therese writes:

The Nordic Medical Centre is Norwegian run and staffed by both international and Ethiopian doctors and nurses. They are open 24/7 and operate an ambulance services – also with trained ambulance staff, which is not always the case here. In addition, they have teamed up with a flight operator, and using a network of airstrips this means that you can be medivaced from many parts of Ethiopia using an air ambulance. Apart from all the emergency medical services, they have a range of family medical services. Here’s a link: http://www.nordicmedicalcentre.com/services/

Addis Light Rail

Zac writes:

The light rail is a quick and very cheap way to get around Addis Ababa. There are two lines (one is north-south, one is east-west) which intersect along Ras Mekonen Avenue.

Every station will have a bilingual Amharic-English map, however they aren’t overlaid on a map of the city, so it can be difficult to find your bearings. One alternative is to use OpenStreetMap, which includes the stations and the tracks. For tourists, the most important stops will probably be:

  • Menelik II Square, which is around the corner from St George’s Cathedral in Piazza. It’s the only underground station in the network, so look for escalators.
  • Autobus Tera, which is the main bus station and adjacent to Markato. It’s pronounced “Atobistera”, and using the English pronunciation like I did at first will result in confusion.
  • Stadium, named after Addis Ababa stadium but also the main station at Meskel Square. This station serves both lines; St. Estifanos station is also next to Meskel Square but it only serves the much less useful [for tourists] east-west line.

Tickets cost 2 to 6 birr depending on how far you are going. To buy a ticket, look for an orange booth with people lined up out the front. There are no signs, and sometimes the booths can be confusingly far away from the stations themselves, even around the corner. But no matter what, the booths will always be in the line of sight from the station, and once you know what they look like they will be easier to spot. There are no light rail conductors, and you cannot buy a ticket on board or on the platforms. There will occasionally be police officers posted at stations to check everyone’s tickets, but they seem disinterested in checking foreigners’ tickets. You can purchase single and return tickets, but beyond this they are not reusable.

On board a voiceover will remind you not to bring cattle and fowl into the carriages, while a promotional video for the Chinese company that built the network plays on repeat.

 

For more of Zac’s posts about Ethiopia, see https://new-faces-new-places.com

 

 

Excellent Ethiopia travel blog

 

https://new-faces-new-places.com is a great new blog with detailed stories and pictures based on the author Zac’s trip to Ethiopia from December 2015 to February 2016. It includes posts on Addis Ababa and Harar, and Zac hopes to add to add Lalibela, Awra Amba, Bahir Dar, Gondar, Simien Mountains, Axum, the Tigray Churches/Hawzien, Mekele and the Danakil Depression in the near future.

 

Panoramic View Hotel, Lalibela

Amdemariam Yalew, owner & sales/marketing manager of the Panoramic View Hotel, has forwarded me the following info about his hotel, which I evidently overlooked whilst researching the 7th edition of Bradt Ethiopia:
Panoramic View Hotel stands high on a privileged hilltop commanding 360 degree views of the highlands around Lalibela, only 10 minutes’ walk from the famous rock-hewn churches. We have a total of 35 rooms, all with stunning views, and the service is to 3-star standards. Our talented chef uses the finest ingredients available to prepare mouthwatering food. Guests can enjoy meals inside the grand restaurant or choose to eat on our rooftop terrace. Every night there is a bonfire at the hilltop terrace and we offer a complementary coffee ceremony and tej (honey wine).

Our Room prices are
1. Single Bed Room 49 USD (One Standard Single Bed room for one person)
2. Double Bed Room 62 USD (One King Size Bed for couples of 2 people)
3. Twin Bed Room 62 USD (Two Separate Twin Beds in one room for two person)
4. Triple Room 75 USD (Three Separate twin beds in one room for 3 person)
ALL ROOMS with a private bathroom, + private balcony. Rates include full breakfast and complimentary airport pickup.
Here are contact details:

Mobile: + 251-911-022398
Mobile: + 251-937-454545
Tel: +251-333-360270
Fax: +251-333-361026
P.O.Box: 18, Lalibela, Ethiopia
E-mail: info@panoramicviewhotel.com or amdaya10@gmail.com
http://www.panoramicviewhotel.com

 

Highland Trekking, Lalibela

Daniel Melese of Highland Eco Trekking Tours writes:

I operate a small trekking company in Lalibela. We offer homestay tours in the highland above Lalibela, where our customers get deep into the highlander community, see their way of life, even take part on their daily activity, like: farm on the field, cooking, baking Injera, preparing coffee ceremony, milking cows…
We also have guest huts built on Abune Yosef, 20 minute away from the village of Tigu Keble. We give our customers chance to stay with their guest host families, or in their own tukuls (huts), or in a tent.
Our office is located on the top hill of 7 olives hotel. Contacts are 251 912130831 or +49 17680355053 or info@highlandtrekking.com, www.highlandtrekking.com

Go Addis Tours

Addis Eats, recommended in the 7th edition of the Bradt Guide, has changed its name to Go Addis!
Founder Eliza Richman explains: “We started as a company focused on food but thanks to our customers, fans, guides, local partners and our vision for creating something much bigger, we quickly grew to offer city tours, market tours, wine and beer tastings, trip planning and more. It’s been a few years coming, but we’ve outgrown the name Addis Eats and are excited to continue as Go Addis.”
For more details see http://goaddistours.com

 

Harar to Somaliland and back, May 2016

Bob Francescone writes:

We did this trip overland in May, 2016. It’s an easy trip to Somaliland, a time-consuming one back. Buses leave from Harar for Jijiga very frequently, but not until they are filled, double-filled, and triple-filled. Our bus had 25 seats and 45 people. Ditto for the bus from Jijiga to the border. It’s all easy. Transfer time in Jijiga was just a few minutes, but we may have been lucky. The two buses are about 35 and 40 Birr each.

The border is a mayhem filled market, but the passport procedures are a snap…if you can find where you stamp out of Ethiopia and into Somaliland. People will help. The Ethiopia guys are pleasant and efficient. The Somaliland guys are worth the trip, happy go lucky, hand-shaking, welcoming, smiling guys. Our visa had expired, but they made a quick phone call up to Addis and issued us a new one, for the usual charge of $60 for a Somaliland visa. Easy stuff! They only get about 25 walkers a day, so they remembered us 5 days later on the way back, with equal affability and charm. Harar to the border on the two buses took about 4 hours.
The ride into Hargeisa is about $7.00 and takes about 2 hours. It will be cramped. They’ll drop you off at your hotel.
(NOTE: if you get your visa in Addis, plan carefully. Pay very careful attention to the 30 day limit. It begins to count down from the day you GET your visa. 60 day visas may also be available there. Issuing the visas takes a few hours. If you go early you may get it almost immediately. We got there at 11 and had the visa at 1. )

The return trip is another experience altogether. Border to Harar took 8 hours. Details to follow.
The bus from Hargeisa leaves from the bus station and is about $3-$4, with seats and little crowding. Reverse the immigration process at the border. There had been heavy rains so the Ethiopian passport office had moved. People helped us find it.

The bus to Jijiga was crammed with people and piles of goodies they are trying to bring back into Ethiopia. Somaliland has no taxes. Things cost a fraction of what they cost in Ethiopia. You’re traveling with small time ‘smugglers’, and the Ethiopian authorities know it. The buses were stopped 8 times. They’re looking for electronics (and smuggled US cash, the currency of favor in Somaliland) , we were told. They search everything and every package. One stop was essentially a pro forma wave through. Most required us to off load, be questioned and searched. Our back packs were emptied onto the road and our wallets emptied and counted at one. That one also included a body search. It was all polite, and everyone else seemed to take it as a matter of course, so that’s what we did. Other passengers showed us what to do and where to go. It was pretty simple. All the goodies were opened and confiscated.

Our trip might have taken less time, but the first bus broke down and the substitute bus had clutch problems and ‘sped’ along at the rate of a careful stroll. We got to Jijiga as it was getting dark, but there was a bus loading up. It left about 30 minutes later. The bus fare collectors may try to charge you more than they charge the other passengers. On the border-Jijiga busTwo women behind the fare collector waved 3 fingers at us, telling us the fare was 30Birr and not the 50 he asked for.

All in all, it was easy, fun, crowded and a quintessentially Ethiopian experience, with friendly people. This is why we travel.