Fun things to do in Ethiopia

  • A typical view of a market street
    A typical view of a market street
    by GrumpyDiver
  • Fron of the museum
    Fron of the museum
    by GrumpyDiver
  • Painting by Afewerk Tekle
    Painting by Afewerk Tekle
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Most Viewed Things to Do in Ethiopia

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    Tigray . the rock-hewn churches...

    by elsadran Updated Oct 12, 2014

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    There are many possible itineraries for you to plan in order to see the famous rock-hewn churches of Tigray, this beautiful part of the country. It depends on your desire to see as many as possible, or on how much you want to walk in the wonderful countryside, or even on how fit you are as some of them demand climbing or struggling up difficult rocks, which is not so easy if you are not fit.
    They say there are about 120 rock-hewn churches in the area, some of them in clusters which you can easily visit in a jeep with a guide, or even in your own vehicle. Some of them are real wonders! It is better to ask a local driver or guide to describe them to you and then decide what your goal is.
    We visited 6-7 in a two day tour. We skipped those which involved too much physical effort or climb, and focused more on nice scenery and originality of the building itself.
    I liked the village Atsbi, because of its unique atmosphere. Very simple outlines of the houses in the colours of the Earth, joyful faces, honest smiles, friendly attitude....
    We “invaded” their local "tej house" and a "tela house". A unique atmosphere and wonderful pictures I kept in my mind.... I observed their weather-beaten faces and liked their pensive look....

    rock-hewn churches of Tigray rock-hewn churches of Tigray in beautiful Atsbi village in a in a
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    Tour to the South

    by elsadran Updated Oct 12, 2014

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    If you contact a travel agency things will be well organized and the price will be about $US110 per day. In case you are a group of up to four people yourselves you can share the expenses. There are also unofficial guides who can arrange the tour for you and the price is a little less, about 80-100US$ per day depending on whether you are a good negotiator... These people are quite efficient and if you are lucky you can have a very good time! They usually cooperate with travel agencies.
    We chose the second option and were very lucky. Not only did we have an excellent driver but we also had a very good time. They even adjusted the route to our preferences and did everything to please us. They found two more people to share the trip and the expenses with us. So we paid only 20$ each per day.

    Hamer people in  South Ethiopia Mursi people in South Ethiopia local children in Key Afar in the markets in te markets...

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    Tour to the South – EIGHTH DAY

    by elsadran Updated Oct 12, 2014

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    On the eighth day we roamed in the streets of Awasa, and then we went to the banks of the beautiful lake. This is the best place for a weary traveler … it offers nice scenery, fresh air and a place to relax and watch the local people.
    After lunch we started our way back to Addis Ababa, where we arrived late in the afternoon. We were really exhausted but absolutely satisfied trying to bring back all the stunning pictures our mind was completely overwhelmed with.
    Now that I am back home writing, I have to admit that this trip was one of the most memorable in my life!

    Awasa Lake Awasa Lake locals fishing in Awasa Lake
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    Tour to the South – SEVENTH DAY

    by elsadran Updated Oct 12, 2014

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    The seventh day was mostly spent on the way but it was no less interesting as we travelled along the road parallel to the beautiful Rift Valley. So we stopped a lot on the way to enjoy the amazing views of this famous valley which extends all the way to Kenya. We stopped a lot in the small villages where local people went on with their daily life.
    All the way, local children tried to attract our attention either dancing or running after our car and asking for water or whatever they could get. Some of them were not so carefree as they had to work in the fields or take care of their herds. The scenery was something that can not be erased from my mind!!!
    We slept in Awasa, a pleasant city at the banks of beautiful Lake Awasa.

    a child standing in front of termite children with their goats Termites build their on the road....
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    Hamer people, a tribe in Ethiopia

    by elsadran Updated Oct 12, 2014

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    Hamer people live in the Omo River Valley. They are not more than 50,000 people and they have their own culture and language.
    The most distinctive features are their hair which they cut in their unique way and dye with a kind of brown natural dye.
    Their clothes made of goat skin and decorated with anything they can find handy, even used pens or broken bracelets they get from tourists....
    And the scars they make on their bodies. These scars on their skin make them more respectable in their tribe as they represent a higher status. Some of them are the results of their custom of whipping or they make them themselves forming regular patterns. They told me the “doctor “ of their village makes them. He makes small cuts in a decorative motif and then he puts some dirt on them so that they are infected. When the infection is cured the scars are swollen so they form patterns considered to be very attractive to the members of the other sex. They were showing them off to me with great pride so I believed them!
    Mursi also make these scars.

    Some are really beautiful! Don't you think? the scars...! scas are made for beauty... Hamer Hamer women in

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    Debark

    by elsadran Updated Oct 12, 2014

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    Debark is a very dusty and sleepy place and the only reason to stop there is for Simien mountains. However I found interesting photo options in the local market.
    You also have to book a seat in the morning bus the day before and insist that the Station Manager make a call to Gondar in front of you. If you don't do this, you will have to wake up early and try to convince him to find a place for you, which you will fight hard to get or tip the Manager, if you can find him sober....
    The best thing about Debark is the view from the bus when you are leaving, going north to Aksum. The wonderful views of Simien Mountains and the valley are a compensation for the nothingness of Debark...

    in the market - Debark Debark Debark Debark - in the market Simien mountains
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    Debre Libanos

    by elsadran Updated Oct 12, 2014

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    Debre Libanos is a village with nothing special but the church of Debre Libanos which is visited by hundreds of locals. It is a big church built where the old monastery was found. It is near a gorge run by Abbay river.
    A few meters away there is a cave with a rock-hewn church where the pilgrimage go to prey. We paid 100b to visit it.
    If you ask me, it is not worthy of getting into so much trouble to visit this unless you are crazy about churches, or you make it a part of a tour in your own vehicle. In Addis Ababa you may be offered tours for Debre Libanos. Well, it is up to you to decide if it is worthwhile...

    Debre Libanos Debre Libanos - inside the front part of the church-Debre Libanos rock-hewn church-Debre Libanos on the way to Debre Libanos
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    Bahir Dar

    by elsadran Updated Oct 12, 2014

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    Ethiopians are proud of this city and tourists like it because of the main street with the line of palm trees, the modern way of life and the lake Tana, which I have heard of since I was a child. Well, you may like it comparing to other Ethiopian cities, but don't expect too much. The lake is rarely blue, it usually has a brownish color. And the vegetation around it is nothing special. The islands though are beautiful and the monasteries built on them quite interesting.
    Sunsets are very pleasant at the bank of the lake with a long drink in your hand. If the hotels at the lake are booked up you can just visit at sunset and have a drink there.
    If you need cash there is a Dashen Bank with ATM.
    The market is very big and colorful !
    On Sundays there is a good chance to see and take photos of the local people gathering around and inside the yard of the central church of Saint George. Their snow white cloth they cover their heads with makes a nice picture in the morning light!

    Sunday's congregation - Bahir Dar local girl in Bahir Dar in the market - Bahir Dar in the market of Bahir Dar Bahir Dar

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    Ura Kidane Mihmet - Lake Tana

    by elsadran Updated Oct 12, 2014

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    One of the most impressive churches is Ura Kidane Mihmet which actually sits on Zege peninsula and not on an island.
    It is built in a round shape with a corridor all around it.
    The paintings on the walls and the wooden doors are 100-250 years old and the church itself dates back to the 16th c.
    Some of the paintings are very elaborate and others are somewhat naive but still quite attractive.

    The priests there were asking for used batteries which they recharged and used again, so if you have any, please bring them with you.

    Ura Kidane Mihmet - Lake Tana Ura Kidane Mihmet - Lake Tana Ura Kidane Mihmet - Lake Tana Ura Kidane Mihmet - Lake Tana Ura Kidane Mihmet - Lake Tana
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    Chatting or not?

    by elsadran Updated Oct 12, 2014

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    Chatting or not?
    Well, it is up to you. First of all chat is legal in Ethiopia. It is a kind of plant the leaves of which are chewed and are supposed to bring a relaxing feeling to the person, as they claim. But I think the effect is not the same for everybody. If you observe the locals that have been chewing for years they fall into a stupor, they can't speak, laugh or eat for two hours after they stop chewing it. On the contrary I felt happy, full of life and ready to get up and dance and have fun. Maybe because I was new to the sport...
    They like to gather between friends in the special common rooms with a huge square sofa or on the floor with a lot of pillows and chew for at least three to four hours. Each one chooses his place and starts chewing. There is usually soft or loud music, peanuts and cups of coffee. Coffee is always served in the traditional way. There are a lot of chat houses where you can go and make friends with locals..if they are in a condition to speak of course.... what I always hated was the little smelling coals they used to burn which filled the room with smoke and I was suffocating...
    When you first try it might taste bad, but the more you chew the more your mouth is numb and the effect is stronger so you forget about the taste. The next day your mouth and your muscles may hurt a little.
    Chat needs patience and good mood to have the right effect, and it's a very good way to socialize with local people and get to know them better.

    Ethiopians chat anywhere... chatting... chatting goes with smoking... chatting goes with dancing, too....

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    Project Mercy Organisation - Butajira

    by elsadran Updated Oct 12, 2014

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    The accommodation buildings are in perfect condition and very functional. The food is excellent, organic, very carefully prepared and highly nutritious.
    This complex of buildings is situated in an enormous site where 1500 children are fed and educated, treated with love and care, and there are facilities like sport grounds where they can spend their leisure time.
    Shelter is always given to children who had a great misfortune in their life...
    The scenery around it is breathtaking with beautiful mountains and interesting local people living in their traditional houses made of clay or wood, which they always make with their own hands.

    .

    children like going to school.. schoolchildren of Project Mercy Project Mercy Project Mercy children playing after classes

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    Shire

    by elsadran Updated Oct 12, 2014

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    It took us 7 hours to go from Debark to Shire.
    Shire is an open and airy town very near the borders with Eritrea. The distance from Addis Ababa is more than 1000klm. It is a very quiet city with nice and pleasant people but there is nothing to do but rest from the tiring journey.
    The beautiful mountains and the surrounding countryside was the site of important battles between Ethiopians and the advancing Italians in 1930.
    We stayed at the best hotel of the city, Gebar Shire Hotel.

    Shire Shire

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    Adwa

    by elsadran Updated Oct 12, 2014

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    Adwa is a pleasant quiet town. It is the surrounding mountains and the views we had from the balcony of our hotel that made it worth visiting... The town was so quiet that looked abandoned. We couldn't even find a decent restaurant to have a meal or even juice. The few people we saw walking in the streets, however, were friendly and helpful.
    We also came upon a nice guide and driver who gave us a good offer for the tour to Tigray. We paid 2,500 birr for 3 days and we had the whole van for ourselves.
    The next morning on the way from Adwa to Wukro we stopped to enjoy the view of the city surrounded by the fascinating countryside, the most typical of Tigray, and Ethiopia, too. We approached the fields and the few scattered houses where locals went on with their daily work.

    Adwa early in the morning Adwa and the countryside the countryside around Adwa - Tigray countryside house in Tigray baking Injera
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    Adigrat

    by elsadran Updated Oct 12, 2014

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    A very sleepy town, where there is nothing to do but relax. And you relax a lot! You can have wonderful juice watching people come and go, and visit the market for nice photography.
    Hohoma Hotel (100b a room) has a restaurant with acceptable local food; there is not a great choice in the city anyway. I liked their burger and their shiro with meat. Tel 0344452469
    Geza-Gerlase Restaurant, built in a traditional style is a little more expensive but good. Tel 0344452500
    We also tried Agame hotel, which had a lot of water cuts and made us leave. It was 80b a double room, and somewhat impersonal. Tel 0344452466
    Until we found Woldu Sibagdes Modern Hotel. The colour is so conspicuous you can not miss it. I have a separate tip for it.
    Also Eva Hotel is not bad, at 150-180 b for a double room.
    There was no ATM in the city when I was there.

    View my Adigrat Travelogue and Adigrat Market Travelogue for more beautiful photos!

    Adigrat - a girl in the market in the streets of Adigrat in the streets of Adigrat in the streets of Adigrat Adigrat
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    The Historical Circuit

    by elsadran Updated Oct 12, 2014

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    The historical Circuit includes: Debre Libanos, which you can skip with no regrets, in my opinion, unless you have a private or rented vehicle. Bahir Dhar and lake Tana, with the islands and their monasteries. Blue Nile is very near Bahir Dhar. Gondar with its famous ruins in the Royal Enclosure and more... Simien Mountains, for an unforgettable two or more-day walk.. Aksum with the famous stelae. Addigrat, if you have time, from where you can visit Yeha and Debre Damos. Also Lalibela, with its awe-inspiring churches and the beautiful views. I also visited Adwa, and Mekele, which I can not recommend unless you have plenty of time to waste...
    You should not miss the rock-hewn churches and monasteries of Tigray, which are more than 120. You have to choose some of them, and you can see them in two or three days.

    in Debre Libanos Lake Tana, near an island Waterfalls, Blue Nile The famous Lalibela, amaing rock-hewn churches!
    Related to:
    • Archeology
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    • Architecture

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