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Ethiopia

 

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Summary

 

Foreword

Some long-standing friends asked me to take part in a 2 weeks trip to South Ethiopia.
This journey lasts usually 4 weeks : 2 in North then 2 towards South.
For security reasons, we agree on 2 weeks towards South together. Thus we waited in Addis Abeba for a 4 people group coming from North Ethiopia.
Then, we were 10 people splitted into 3 4x4 Toyota Land Cruiser 80 with the guide and 2 drivers.

Desire Tours is the Tour Operator. Gilbert Milhac, the manager, planned a route in the Rift valley, focused on safety, to make us discovering landscapes, wildlife, and above all, different ethnic groups.
Here are the coordinates :

Desire Tours Ethiopie Gilbert Milhac

Usually it's the dry season in Ethiopia, but there were many surprises in store for us on that trip. Gilbert had to carry out some changes due to the rain and security.
I wasn't upset and I sympathetized when he drove on waterlogged roads because I own a Land Cruiser as well and I know how it could be very tough.

Going from Grenoble to Roissy, I chose a TGV Grenoble-Paris Lyon station, then Bus-Direct to Roissy from the station.
I didn't wish taking a TER to Lyon, then TGV Lyon-Roissy for 2 reasons :
- I thought 14 minutes wait between 2 trains in Lyon wasn't enough.
- 50€ cheaper proceeding as I did in 1st class train.


Practical informations

- Take a poncho.
- Take a mosquito net and a repellent for material.
- Take a mosquito repellent. The best is Anti Brumm forte available at Versandapo.
Or Insect Ecran infested areas.
- Bring medications knowing that you'll go in NO-doctor NO-hospital areas.
Before leaving Ethiopia, I left mine to Gilbert so he 'll make a good use.
- I made enquiries about risks upon diseases. I got vaccinated against yellow fever (no side effects) because this disease is fatal.
Concerning paludism treatment (required because very infested areas), I didn't wanted to take Malarone because of its frequent side effects. I chose an antibiotic treatment : Doxycycline.
Cons :
Photo sensitized. You have to take a pill in the evening at least 2h before going to bed to avoid gastric side effect. Treatment has to go on 4 weeks after leaving Ethiopia.
I have got no side effects.
- Don't bring "gifts". You couldn't satisfy everybody. Buy on the spot soaps, pens, .... that you'll give discreetly.
- Don't hesitate to strongly haggle over. Don't hesitate to give up the talk. Either the seller 'll run after you, either you 'll make the deal further.
Don't forget as soon as you buy an object, you 'll set the price in the area.
I declined buying an object for 600 birrs at a woman (her last price) to, after all, buying it for 250 birrs a little bit further. Later I could notice that the woman set her price down to 250 birrs.
- Don't change too much money at once. 100€ is pretty good. The Birr felt 17% in value one week later we landed. (1€ = 32 birrs)

What to bring back

Ebony
More the black color is dark and flawless, more the quality. Ethiopian ebony has got a good reputation because no vein inside.

Statuette ebene Ethiopie

Coffee
Ethiopian Arabica coffee is well-known. You could buy in Addis Abeba close to the central post-office.

Cafe Ethiopie

Blankets
In Awra Amba, village 74 km from Bahir Dar, capital of Amhara region (Gondar Sud)
I bought 2 in a Dorze village close to ArbaMinch.

Blanket Dorze Konso Ethiopie

Spices
Cardamom, chilli, cinnamon, ginger tea, cinnamon tea.
Bérbéré (chilli, garlic, ginger, red onion, cardamom, fenugrec, cinnamon, clove nails )
Mitmita (chilli, cardamome, clove nails, salt)

Opale welo
This stone soaks up water and becomes transparent.
They got it from Semien Wollo region, N-W of Ethiopia.

Opale welo Ethiopie


Tour

You can follow my routes which were registered on my Garmin Vivoactive HR watch clicking the Route link. When on the opened page, click icon icone.
In the drop-down list, toggle Terrain, then click icon in the bottom middle of the map.

Day 1 : Addis Abeba - Lake Ziway

Route

After landing in Bole airport, we took breakfast in Addis Abeba.
After getting to Gilbert's home for the last procedures, we went to visit National museum.
Back to Gilbert's home where the North group were waiting for us, we hopped in the 3 4x4 towards lac Aiwa.

We dropped off our bags in Haile Resort in Ziway, then we got to Ziway lake (1636m high).

Day 2 : Lac Ziway - Goba

Route

Going to Bale NP and Wabe Shebelle hotel in Goba, town in Oromia region (2743m high).
On the way, we saw wart hogs, baboons and nyalas in wildlife park.
After dropping off our bags, we got to Dinsho refuge to watch an herd of nyalas.

Day 3 : Goba - Shashamane

Senneti

In the morning, we went to Senneti high plateau (4000m high) to watch Abyssinie wolves (red fox).
We were very lucky to find out some, one of whom hunting, then devouring its prey.

Route

We went down and got lunch in Siko Mendo hotel in Robé (2492m high).
We set off again towards Shashamané (609m high) to Haile hotel.

Day 4 : Shashamane - Yabelo

In the morning, we got to the fish market at Awasa lake. Many birds (marabouts, ...)
In the afternoon, going offroad towards Yabelo where we'll stay 2 nights.

Day 5 : El Sod

Route

We get to El Sod volcano crater close to a Borana village where some men gather salt in a black water. Coming down is pretty tough in rocks.
It took me 58 minutes to walk back up with heavy sun at noon.

Cratère El Sod

In the afternoon, discovering savannah and water supplies, then back to Yabelo.

Day 6 : Yabelo - Jinka

Route

In the morning, waterlogged track to Konso. Lunch in Weyto.
Discovering different ethnic groups : Hamar, Banna, Ari.
Then enough good road to Central hotel at Jinka where we'll stay 2 nights.

Day 7 : Jinka - Maggo - Jinka

Muddy track to get to Maggo reservation to visit a village of Mursi ethnic group (women with trays)
Mursi are reputed agressive. Therefore, Gilbert hired an armed bodyguard.
Strange atmosphere where we were surrounded with men wearing kalachnikov.
Considering Gilbert's advises, I didn't take my GoPro (not even photo).
Because you must pay taking a picture of one person. So what about a camera....
Some friends took pictures for me and I paid for that.
Yet, all was going fine because everyone did obey Gilbert's instructions.

In the afternoon, back to Jinka, then visting the colorful market place.

Day 8 : Jinka - Turmi

Route

Going to Turmi and Hamar ethnic group. Walk to the village to see the local marketplace.
Settling in campsite lodge in Turmi where we'll stay 2 nights.

Day 9 : Turmi

The whole morning we visited Dimeka colorful market. Lunch on the spot.
During the afternoon we visited a Hamer village; back in the evening to attend dances celebrating a wedding. So genuine.
Program had to be modified because of floods and hazard crossing fords with 4x4.

Day 10 : Turmi - Konso

Back to Konso. Arrival at beautiful Kanta Lodge.
Walk to the village.

Day 11 : Konso - ArbaMinch

Route

In the morning, visit of the Konso museum. Lunch at lodge.
In the afternoon, back up to the North, arriving at ArbaMinch Tourist hotel where we'll stay 2 nights.

Day 12 : ArbaMinch - Lac Chamo - Dorze

Dorze

In the morning, boat ride on Chamo lake to watch giant crocodiles, hippos, ...
Lunch at restaurant Soma in ArbaMinch.
In the afternoon, visit of Dorze village and its handycraft.

Day 13 : ArbaMinch - Hossana

Route

Going to Soddo where we had lunch and visiting bazaar.
Then going to Lemma International in Hossana.

Day 14 : Hossana - Addis Abeba

Route

Back to the capital with a stop to visiting Tiya steles.
Last shopping in Addis Abeba with a guide.
Diner at restaurant Yod Abyssinia Traditional Food with folk dances. We ended with a flourish.
Back to the airport taking off to Paris.


Hotels

Many water and power cuts in these hotels. The first thing to do when getting to your room is to check if the water boiler power is on, otherwise no warm water.
Power cuts are due either the city, either the hotel itself. Little savings!
The employees are friendly. Meals are good in restaurants.
About wifi (not essential), you could connect but the bandwith is weak.

Haile Resort at Ziway
The best hotel during my trip ( i.e. the less trouble I got )
Lovely place. Nice pool.

Wabe Shebelle at Goba
So-so no more.

Haile Lodge at Shashamane
Beautiful secured hotel downtown.

Motel at Yabelo
Execrable. No water and electricity. I had to clamour for them many times.
Flushing toilet not working ( water bucket instead )
Expensive: $65. It's a rip-off, but no other hotel in the surroundings.

Central hotel at Jinka
Picturesque but flooded when raining.

camping lodge at Turmi
In countryside. Nice restaurant.

Kanta Lodge at Konso
Magnificent setting! Nice restaurant.

ArbaMinch Tourist hotel at ArbaMinch
From outside, it looks nothing. But inside it's beautiful .... when it doesn't rain.

Lemma International at Hossana
Just cosy.


Personal thoughts

The relationship with people from South Sud let me puzzled.
They lacked everything but they didn't complain.
Some ethnic groups are living as we did 6000 years ago. I wonder whether they are the best to survive in case of nuclear disaster.

In Morocco I saw how damaged it was in relationship because of tourists behaviors.
Money was asked everywhere, we had to pay to take pictures, stones were thrown over 4x4, ...
I don't go there anymore for these reasons.
Is Ethiopia going to take the same path ? I'm afraid so. Indeed, you have to pay to take a picture of one person and as many as they are.
You have to pay a guide (?) to be allowed to visit a village in savannah.
How much will the village get ?
And to cap it all, a man, boss of a cheap tavern at a lake edge, asked for money to the 4x4 parked on the road.
As well, some tourists literally thrown off pens, sweets, .... to children and women.
I find it disgusting. They are people, not animals. We are not in a zoo.


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