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Tips Ethiopia

Written by DanielaZavala. Posted in Africa, Tips

Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Published on February 13, 2011 with No Comments

linda mursi 5 GENERAL: Ethiopia is a fascinating country with history, culture and opportunities for adventure travel that you could easily spend a full month there. I strongly recommend having two weeks to explore at least the north and the south of the country. Unfortunately, my vacation time only allowed me to explore the south. Although most people remember Ethiopia for the famine and civil wars that devastated the country in the 70s and 80s, today you will be surprised to find a stable and a prosperous nation, full of warm welcoming smiles. These tips are based on my experience in the Omo Valley.


Yama Ethiopia Tours PLC ( I strongly recommend this agency. Owned by Tariku W/aregay, this tour operator is reliable and affordable with clear understanding of customer service. Depending on your budget, interests and specific needs, Tariku will tailor a trip for you. I was lucky to have Tariku as my guide in the Omo Valley. He is knowledgeable but most important he went the extra mile to make my experience with the tribes memorable. If you visit Ethiopia, I guarantee Yama Tours will make your experience as memorable as mine was. And if you have the chance to meet Tariku, ask him to play “Daniela’s song” 😉 Tel. +251 (0)11 662 87 10. Mobile: +251 (0)911 62 06 35. Address: P.O.Box 14973, Addis Ababa. Email:


In Addis Ababa:
• Sadula Lodge (www.sadulalodge): A budget hotel with spacious, clean rooms and center location close to historical sights. E-Mail: info

• Intercontinental Addis ( A luxury hotel with neat rooms. Offers all amenities of an international chain hotel (although it is not part of the intercontinental chain), including internet, gym, swimming pool.

In Arbaminch:

• Tourist Hotel: This is where Tariku and I stayed. It is a big complex that offers budget accommodation. The rooms are spacious, although a bit worn. The restaurant is large and located in the patio. Do not miss the fresh mango juice! Tel. +251-46-881-2171. Email:

Another option more upscale with great reviews from travelers is:

• Lodge Paradise ( It is clean, comfortable and one of the newest hotels in the city. It has great views thanks to its location, overlooking the lakes in the Great Rift Valley. Tel: +251 111 553328. Email:

In Turmi: There are no many options in Turmi. But a few lodges and camping sites serve as a base to explore the Hammer villages, including:

• Evangadi Lodge ( This is a lodge and a campsite located on the east side of Turmi town, and where Tariku and I stayed. The room was big, the bed was comfortable and had hot shower. I recommend it. Tel. 251-091-1190209/10. Email:

In Jinka:

• Goh hotel. Located opposite to the airstrip, this hotel is surrounded by rooms. The rooms are small and dark, but good enough to crash for the night. It has hot showers. Also a good restaurant.

• Jinka Resort. It seems more “luxurious” than Goh. According to a fellow traveler, the rooms are large and clean. The restaurant is big and offers good food. Tel. 0467-750-143

Note: If you want to experience the tribal life, a stay with a Hammer or a Bana family can be arranged through a local guide. It is also possible to do camping in some locations, such as Turmi.

MONEY: The local currency is Birr. As many countries in Africa, cash rules. In Addis Ababa, you will find places where you can use your credit cards, but outside the capital, it is best to have cash. If you go to the Omo Valley, make sure you bring a lot of low denomination bills to pay the tribes.

PHOTOGRAPHY & THE TRIBES: Be ready to take thousands of photos. The tribes are so unique and original that it is a crime not to photograph them. Competition for originality is fierce, and many of them have gone even more creative in order to capture the attention of the tourist in exchange of some Birr bills. Before taking a photo, you must ask for permission. You must be ready though to give a few low denomination Birr bills to the “model”. Unfortunately tourism has made that (the locals asking for money in exchange of their photo taken) a rule. It is a sad reality and at the beginning the harassment is such that it makes you feel used, but it is just the way how it works. If you don’t want to pay, take general shots.

INTERNET/ROAMING: Internet is cheap and very slow. While in the Omo Valley, internet is a rarity. In Arbaminch, just outside the Tourist Hotel, there is a tiny internet café. In Jinka, you can also have wireless at the Goh hotel. Roaming is expensive in Ethiopia (My blackberry worked as a phone but not data available). Mobile service is limited in the Omo Valley. Recommendation: Forget about your phone and internet. Disconnect!

OTHER RECOMMENDATION: Try the local dish “Injara” and do not leave the country without tasting the amazing Ethiopian coffee (and do not forget to take some with you!!!). Also, for some essential packing tips and advice on what to wear in a specific destination, check Rachel Greenberg’s Suitcase Secrets at

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