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
    by GrumpyDiver

Most Viewed Things to Do in Ethiopia

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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!
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    • Architecture

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    An excellent guide for Tigray

    by elsadran Updated Oct 12, 2014

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    Getachew Gebrewihet is an excellent guide, a fine person, very professional but also pleasant and helpful! I recommend him. His mobile is 0912-041225. He has his own van and he is a a very careful driver.
    We hired him for a two day tour around the Tigray villages in order to see the rock-hewn churches. This is difficult to do by bus as the churches are scattered around and the public transport is almost non existent. So the best way is to hire a private vehicle.
    Getachew is not only a driver he is also an official guide. He took us to every place we liked, stopped anywhere we liked and even satisfied our little vices, like getting drunk in the middle of the day in a local tej house! That was a great experience!

    me on top of the van

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    Tour to the South: FOURTH DAY

    by elsadran Updated Oct 12, 2014

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    The fourth day was unforgettable indeed! In the morning we visited the Key Afar market, one of the most colorful and very interesting markets of Ethiopia. All the tribes of the area go there to sell their products, vegetables, fruit and handmade items for everyday use. They have wonderful honey and nice handicraft you can buy for souvenirs.
    They might look ferocious and savage but at heart they are really nice and warm. If you want to take a photo of them please give them a couple of birrs. They then become friendly and pose for you as many times as you like. If you “steal” a photo they may try to intimidate you but don't be afraid. They do it for fun and for money of course... In reality they are good and open people.
    We also had the chance to see some other tribes on the way . We saw Hamer, Bana, Karo and Arbore, all dressed in the elaborate traditional costumes or just naked but with their bodies painted with imaginative designs and with the hair done in their own peculiar way. Very impressive! The children did everything to attract our attention, they jumped up and down, they shouted , they were standing on stilts..., they ran after the cars shouting “highland! Highland!” which means bottled water or they just wanted us to give them the empty bottles which are used in the daily life in many different ways. In the evening we started our difficult trip to Jinga.
    We tried to find a place in a beautiful camping site with lush vegetation and beautiful views, but it was completely full. So we ended up in a dull hotel which nevertheless had good beds, private bathrooms with hot water and views over the city, but I was too tired to ask for info so I remember nothing more about it......

    For Key Afar Market go to my Key Afar Travelogue

    children tried to atract attention!!! in Key Afar Market Key Afar Market in Key Afar
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    Tour to the South - FIFTH DAY

    by elsadran Updated Oct 12, 2014

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    On the fifth day we visited the territory of Mursi, deep in the jungle of Lower Omo Valley on the way to Mago National Park. Their fierce look and their hostile behavior froze us. They demanded a lot of money just to let us enter their territory and they got very wild when we took a photo of them without asking them. They asked for two to five birr for each photo for each one of them. This is not a lot of money for a Western tourist and it's logical for them to ask for it since they have no other way to survive. But the way they did it with their big guns in their hands made all the tourist freak out. I saw a middle-aged woman crying and many others wanted to leave immediately.
    Anyway we have to remember that these people are in extinction and they will be deprived from their natural environment in a few years when the national highway to Kenya is finished. We have to understand this.
    Only the wild beautiful nature of the Mago National Park sweetened our hearts and we left with the most contradictory feelings. However, one thing is certain.. this was the most impressive thing I have seen in Ethiopia.!!!
    We slept in Dimeka after enjoying another breathtaking sunset!! No doubt sunsets in the South of Ethiopia are amazing!!!

    If you want to see more view my Mursi, Omo Valley Travelogue

    Mursi people Mursi people Mursi people children of south tribes, Ethiopia amazing sunset in Dimeka!
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    Maryam Zion festival - Aksum

    by elsadran Updated Oct 12, 2014

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    People from all parts of the country come in thousands every year, sometimes even as many as 50.000-70.000.
    They all wore white clothes, men and women, and most of them, even people of Aksum spent their night in the huge church yard. It was a very emotional sight to see all this congregation who defied the bitter cold and the tiredness of the journey and came to express their faith. I woke up very early to catch the light of dawn with the candles and their beautiful white shawls.
    Some were teaching the word of God, others were sitting on the ground. The very poor ones received help by the less poor , which were grains of their crops or a few small coins.
    The priests were dressed in their best colorful clothes and young children who belonged to the church as helpers or young religion students were dancing along the way until they reached the central point of the festivities, where the high rank priests and city authorities were. There, if you dropped a pin it would not reach the ground.. Then they formed circles and danced and sang religious tunes, two or three of them dancing in the middle, giving the rhythm with their big bongos in their hands. It was a very colorful circle because of the very bright colors of their costumes?
    If you really want to attend a celebration like this, please make sure you have booked a good room with a private bathroom several days before. You don't want to know what you will suffer with common bathrooms.....!

    View my Maryam Zion Festival Travelogue

    Maryam Zion festival - Aksum They stayed in St.Mary Zion church all night... The very poor werehelped by the less poor... Many were praying touching the church wall... Many visited the museum
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    Lalibela...

    by elsadran Updated Oct 12, 2014

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    You will regret it, I am sure, if you leave Ethiopia without having visited Lalibela. The enormous churches carved in the rock deserve to be considered one the World Miracles. They are declared a world Heritage which nobody can deny... I arranged to be there just before Christmas when thousands of locals had come to show their faith. The place was really packed but I liked the picture. Thousands of locals wrapped in their “shamma”, a white cloth used for many purposes, had flooded the streets and the surrounding area of the churches. They had arrived many days ahead and had brought several cooking pots and other things that would help them to survive for a few days. They slept on the ground under the trees and waited for the big day.
    Lalibela is privileged with scenic views, as it is built on the rims of high mountains. And also attracts a lot of people for its history and its miraculous churches...... but I'll let the photos tell the rest....

    St. George church - Lalibela Lalibela Lalibela Lalibela Lalibela
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    Bati

    by elsadran Updated Oct 12, 2014

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    Bati is a small village near Dessie. It is considered worthy of a visit because of its market where one can see authentic Afar people coming from remote places of east Ethiopia to sell their products.
    Actually everything else in this place is unimportant and deterring especially the behavior of the people who made me go away as soon as possible. They were rude and very indiscreet. Disappointing. The best hotel in the village was awful, full of cockroaches and expensive for what it offered, no hot water and disgusting food... I ran away!

    Bati Bati Bati Bati
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    Timkat - Dire Dawa

    by elsadran Updated Oct 12, 2014

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    I happened to be in Dire Dawa during Timkat, Ethiopian Epiphany, one of the major celebrations in Ethiopia. Timkat is celebrated with great vigor. All people come to take part in the great religious festivities. Timkat is usually celebrated near a pool of water or river since it symbolizes John Baptist's blessing of Christ in the river Jordan.
    In Dire Dawa they gather in a huge area and get the “holy” water from the hands of the people of the church who throw water on the crowd using small jugs. Then the people return to their churches, singing and dancing.

    in Timkat - Dire Dawa in Timkat - Dire Dawa in Timkat - Dire Dawa in Timkat - Dire Dawa in Timkat - Dire Dawa
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    Nazret

    by elsadran Updated Oct 12, 2014

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    Nazret has nothing to attract tourists but it is a cool and comfortable city to have a break between your trips to the north, south, or east. You can avoid the hustle and bustle of noisy and dirty Addis. You can find a pleasant hotel to spend a couple of days doing ...nothing...but relax!
    The city is very big, but it is quiet and easy. There is dust in the main street but there is a lot of green in the rest of the city.
    Restaurants with more “Western” dishes are not plenty. There is one in Palace Hotel in a nice ambient with live music on weekends and holidays. Very pleasant place. The food is not so good but it is not easy to find food that is not too spicy and too oily in the city...
    I stayed in Adama Makonnen Hotel, one of the most pleasant hotels in Ethiopia which owns the best restaurant in Nazret according to the local people and to my taste....

    Nazret - main street Nazret Nazret

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    the River in Dire Dawa

    by elsadran Updated Oct 12, 2014

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    A really picturesque place in Dire Dawa is the river, as the locals call it. Actually it had almost no water when I visited it. We had to walk for about one hour from the street where the taxi driver left us. We passed beautiful verdant nature and walked along small paths. All the way local children escorted us and kept us company with their happy attitude.
    When we arrived in the river we saw many locals who live along the river or in more remote parts along the banks while they were going on with their daily chores. Washing themselves or their clothes, taking care of their animals, carrying their products to the city...
    Some of them were open and smiling, others were even hostile to my camera. But most of them were beautiful in their traditional colorful clothes! The picture of them coming down the river with their camels is still very vivid in my mind!!!

    people live along the river.. - Dire Dawa ..coming with their camels..  - Dire Dawa beautiful in their colorful dresses..- Dire Dawa washing themselves ...- Dire Dawa or washing their clothes...- Dire Dawa

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    Jean Nicolas Arthur Rimbaud's house - Harar

    by elsadran Updated Oct 12, 2014

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    Jean Nicolas Arthur Rimbaud, the French poet who lived in the 19th century, chose to spend a part of his life in Harar. A nice two storey restored house, said to be the place he lived, is now an interesting museum. In the central room you can find evidence of his life and work. I opened one of the big books and took some pictures of his drawings.... In another room you can see photos depicting the history of Harar, like Ras Mekonen's and Ras Tafari's photos --father and son.
    I liked the view from the upper floor. You can see a big part of the old city including the old market.
    I should not end this without mentioning the most interesting things about Rimbaud... He had created most of his famous work, which influenced literature, art and music, worldwide, before he was 21...! Rimbaud was a phenomenal child, he lived an adventurous life and he unfortunately died very young at the age of 37...

    Arthur Rimbaud's house - Harar Arthur Rimbaud's house - Harar Ras Tafari when he was young top floor, Arthur Rimbaud's house - Harar view from top floor, Rimbaud's house - Harar
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    Merkato, Addis Ababa

    by elsadran Updated Oct 12, 2014

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    A very picturesque open market, perfect for photographers and good for travellers who want to catch the breath of the city. But they should all be careful, very careful ! I saw a lot of thieves stealing in front of my eyes. I saw policemen chasing, catching them and beating them up. I heard hundreds of stories about the various ways the thieves invent to attract your attention or trap you so that you can't move and their friends can grab your things very easily. A friend told me they lay on the ground and held his legs so he couldn't move.
    However you should not leave Addis without even a short visit in Merkato. Take a local “guide” with you to protect you and make way for you. They usually do their job well and are easily found around Piazza.
    All kinds of products are sold in this huge market. Fruit and vegetables, spices, clothes, handicraft, household goods, even animals. There is every colour, smell and shape in this huge Market!!! You will like it!

    For more beautiful photos in Merkato go to my Travelogue.

    Merkato, Addis ababa Merkato, Addis Ababa Merkato, Addis Ababa Merkato, Addis Ababa Merkato, Addis Ababa

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    Fiche-(for Debre Libanos)

    by elsadran Updated Oct 12, 2014

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    Fiche is a small impersonal town, two hours by bus from Addis Ababa. Built along the main drag it has nothing to write home about..
    We stayed in Bahir Dar Hotel II (30b)– 0111351459. The rooms were around a small sunny yard where we could pick some sun during the day but in the night the cold was unbearable, at least in November when we were there.
    There is a bus going to Debre Libanos in the morning. (10b)
    The problem is there is no bus station so when we wanted to move on with our trip we had to undergo a painful experience.. We got up at 5.00, packed our things and stood by the road shivering in the bitter morning cold for more than one hour. We tried to get a lift with anything that had wheels, even big trucks. But they were all packed and asked for a lot of money. Finally we managed to negotiate with a passing jeep with few passengers and had a pleasant trip to Bahir Dar. We paid about 200 birr each for that and 60b for the negotiator, a local boy who does this job, as it is impossible to stop anybody yourself. They simply ignore you.
    The views of the countryside were amazing! The fields formed green and blond geometrical shapes spreading as far as the eye could see. The tall dark green trees scattered between the fields and the winding road with local people walking by the side was really a wonderful picture!

    Fiche - early in the morning girls working in the hotel - Fiche Fiche on the way to Bahir Dar on the way to Bahir Dar
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