People: Ouff. How not to make this one sound too bad!? Well, we did meet some nice people, for example owners of well-running local restaurants who are not dependant on tourists. Anyone who worked in transportation though, was an a… And everyone wanted something from us: money, pen, be our guide,… It was exhausting. Literally no friendly conversation would just remain friendly – it would always end in a request. Also, people lied to our face many times e.g. that there was water in the bathroom when there wasn’t (for days probably already). Unfortunately, Ethiopia has been the most exhausting country we have ever travelled, where we experienced the most hassle.
Food: It was a nice change after expensive South America, to go out for food every day three times a day again. But at the smaller restaurants there often wasn’t much choice, and after a while I was a bit sick of injera (sour pancake) and shiro (lentil paste) – the most common dish. Sometimes, they had mixed vegetarian platters which we quite enjoyed and the pasta was often quite tasty. For once, being a vegetarian was pretty easy!
Weather: We travelled Ethiopia in dry season, so it was sunny and nice. In the evenings you did need something long though, as it got quite chilly.
Costs: On average, we spent almost 30€/person/day which is below what we expected, but certainly above what we could have spent. But as travelling Ethiopia was quite exhausting, we ended up getting better accommodation over the course of the weeks and booked quite some flights instead of enduring more long bus trips. Also, anything touristy like entrance fees or the Danakil tour cost a lot more than you would expect from an otherwise cheap country like Ethiopia.
Accommodation: We stayed in simple double rooms, mostly with our own bath room, for very little money. Finally, a country like that again! It was basic though, internet a struggle, water not always available etc.
Infrastructure: Busses were very old, uncomfortable and got filled to the max. Same as minibuses. As soon as you entered the bus station, you would get stormed at by guys who would pull you into their van and take the backpack off your shoulders. It was very exhausting. The bus trips took long even for short distances and since people don’t shower much at all and some people throw up, the smell was often bad. We also took some flights, to avoid some of such bus rides.
Illnesses: We both had some stomach issues at one point – I got it really bad for the first time. But I guess that’s normal in Ethiopia.
Safety: In Dire Dawa and Harar, I didn’t feel so safe with many weird characters hanging around in the streets. The rest of the country was no issue.
Itinerary: We travelled along the Historical Circuit in the North, clockwise: Addis – Bahir Dar – Gondar – Simien Mountains – Axum – Tigray – Danakil Depression – Lalibela. We then added a complicated detour to Harar, from Lalibela back to Bahir Dar by bus, then a flight to Addis, another one to Dire Dawa, and a minibus to Harar. Not sure it was worth the effort.
Highlight: Danakil Depression.
Lowlight: The people, our visa situation and Dire Dawa/Harar.
Click on the photos below to see our full photo album of Ethiopia: