touring | ethiopia - trekking the roof of africa
following in the footsteps of the aksum kingdom
ethiopia is one of those destinations that are defiantly off the beaten track but that all seems to be changing with the development of the continents largest airline, ethiopians airline. although most people just use addis airport as a transfer destination more & more are stopping over taking the time to stay here from a few days to a few weeks it helps that you can get an online or visa on arrival for ($50). I took a few weeks to explore this amazing country, mainly the northern mountainous areas.
my journey started in ethiopia's sprawling highland capital. truly the first thing that i noticed here is the cold, with zero humidity travellers coming from europe or the usa will feel right at home here. now i cannot say much about the city as like most cities in africa it's relatively new so not so interesting if you are interested in architecture, like me. but it does have a few gems one being 'lucy'. this early humanoid skeleton rewrote history as its one of the oldest ever founds.
finding a nice place to stay in addis can be super difficult on a budget but the humorously named mr. martins cozy place was one of the best budget stays in the city. located 10 mins from the airport its a super popular place to stay so make sure to book in advance.
internet is close to non-existent in ethiopia especially fast internet so if you are like me and need to with get some work done or just to catch up calling friends & family because believe me it's impossible on most wifi networks & mobile networks to then i can say the only profession co-working space in the city bluespace was my saviour as i needed to upload some images & edit my website. they have day passes for travellers & its a great place to meet some interesting locals.
wonchi crater lake
about three hours from the centre of addis you will find wonchi a beautiful lake that is situated in an extinct volcano. now a national park (800bir fee to enter) it still has a thriving community that seems to have totally let the world pass them by. the views are truly breathtaking from the top of the crater as you make your way down passing the friendly locals along the way.
ethiopia has to be one of the friendliest & calmest places that i have travelled as a tourist in africa. nobody really bothers you here they are not constantly trying to sell you something & the kids well they made me smile every day the smiles on their faces were infectious. to break up the trip as it would have been a long day i decided to stay in negash lodge situated about an hour from wonchi crater this resort needs a little tender love and care but for the price, its a bargain & get's you away from the hectic lifestyle of the capital. the lodge is very interesting as all the rooms are actually different types of homes that the Ethiopian tribes live in, it's a great way to immerse yourself in the culture especially with all the different types of monkeys running around.
the gateway to the simien mountains can be reached a few ways but i think the most convenient is to take the one hour flight from addis. if you arrived via ethiopian airways from an international destination then the internal flights are discounted if booked in advance it will be less than $50 including luggage.
gondar is famous for its 17th-century castles & religious centres like the beautifully hand painted 19th century debre birhan church. after a long day exploring my favourite place to eat in the city was the small local tele cafe that had the best veggie foul in ethiopia.
while staying in the hills outside the city in the super homely gondar backpackers where i met loads of friends (a great place for solo travellers). i met with the owner melese who runs one of the best simien mountain tours around.
trekking the simien mountains
my journey to the simien mountains started at gondar backpackers where melese & his company outstanding simien mountain tours picked us up in a super comfortable van for the two-hour ride to debark a mountain town where you need to register for the national park.
while in gonder i met a super upset & annoyed british guy and his group. they decided to go without a tour & had a torrid time with all the staff not being able to cook properly with all the inferior equipment that they rented so he told me for the extra ($50) they should have taken the tour.
so let's get on to my time trekking & the tour itself. I did the one night tour as i had another night organise at a beautiful eco-lodge but we will get on to that later... each day we hiked around 4-5 hours taking in some viewpoints & of-course the wildlife the baboons are something special it's a surreal experience to be peacefully among them as they do not care about the human presence at all, it was one of the highlights for sure. after the hike we had everything set up for us from the tent to tea & biscuits when we arrived from the hike. then in the evening, we had an amazing chef that whipped us up some delicious local dishes that were all traveller friendly.
since i was only doing the one night trek my final destination was the tallest waterfall in the region, it was truly a sight to behold we stayed here for a while taking in the breaking scenery before i had to be on my way to the eco-lodge....
limalima eco lodge
if you were to ask me what was my favourite part of my time in ethiopia then i would have to say my stay at limalimo. from the moment i arrived at the luxury eco-lodge perched atop of one of the highest points in the area just a 10 min drive from the hustle & bustle of debark.
within a few mins of arrival, i was greeted by one of the founders of the lodge, melese. he made me feel at home right away & after a welcome drink in the l main house we made our way to my rooms that can only be described as a mini villa. with its spacious bedroom area, ample sized bathroom with his & hers basins, an office area & small sofa with a beautiful view through the large windows that it shares with the comfy bed, waking up in the mornings was a joy. listening to the birds & watching the baboons grazing the local flora just meters away from me.
the star of the show here is the main house where all your meals are served up from breakfast to lunch & dinner the fusion of ethiopian & wester cuisine was divine, especially when washed down with a glass of the ethiopian rift valley rosé. the vast-ranging views of the main house out to the valley & mountains in the distance as far as the eyes can see made it such a peaceful place to watch the famous gelada baboons go about their grazing to the butterflies & bees that come to the meticulously manicured wild flora that surrounds the veranda.
my advice is to stay here a few nights to explore the mountains hiking this wonderful place then come back in the afternoon for a sunset drink on the veranda before you are served the sublime three-course evening meal.
book your stay here
ethiopia is a wonderful destination for nature lovers who are looking for something a little different to the typical african safari experience. although it is not for the faint-hearted this place offers everything a traveller could wish for from local experiences to luxury lodges you can truly find what you desire here.
in my experience most african countries are cheap if you are doing as the locals do in terms of food & transportation. like with most other african countries if you are looking for western comforts then the cost are similar or more than back home. local dinners are around ($2-4) , a beer ($0.50c) & a fancy meal will set you back around ($10).
⦿ budget ($15-20) a day excluding accommodation.
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country travel tips
atm: commercial bank of ethiopia offers free withdrawals. make sure not to select the on screen conversion.
sim card: ethio telecom. 10GB is ($25) for 30 days.
transport: local busses are the best way to travel
taxi: uber? use promo: carlm5078ue for free ride.
accommodation: get ($20) off your first booking.com reservation here