Traveling alone in Ethiopia

Traveling alone in Ethiopia

A leap into the dark, into the heart of the earth until you touch it with your hand cradle of civilization which still today can be explained among the 150 different tribes, the numerous languages, the different traditions that are concentrated in a single large country.

It doesn’t matter how much you have traveled in the past, a trip to Ethiopia it takes you completely and you can’t escape it. Get ready to live an experience that goes far beyond the journey made up of itineraries where sometimes you don’t even realize that you are an external observer who sees places and people flowing by.

In Ethiopia the journey is colored by a healthy egocentrism because Everything revolves around youaround your attitude and instinct, around the people you want to accompany you to discover black Africa, perhaps one of the proudest.

Traveling alone in Ethiopia paradoxically leads to never seeking solitude but rather seeking the company of an Ethiopian.

Therefore, a radical change in the perspective adopted up to this moment.

You need it, and not because the risk is always lurking, on the contrary, but because without it you would see but not understand and because the confusion, the continuous music, this “inability” of the Ethiopian to stay silent or without music will be the constant company during the journey.

And never more than in this corner of the world in the Horn of Africa, not understanding it would mean traveling a fifth of it.

There is no Ethiopia without Ethiopians and there is no understanding without someone who introduces you to this magical and arduous world made of colours, music, sometimes strong and intense smells (incense, the smell of goats and the clothes of the Hamar tribes which permeate everything they support for more than 15 minutes in a hut).

Ethiopia is considered one of the safest countries in Africaalthough apparently one of the most “annoying” regarding the continuous request for money or offers of services.

Some want breakfast, some lunch, some birr for a photo, some sweets, some a pen or a t-shirt and so on. But after a few days you will be able to laugh and joke about this too and the trouble will gradually become less until you no longer notice it. Traveling alone means taking on all the consequences that also have to do with something new for those who have never set foot in Africa: poverty.

It’s hard, personally it took me two weeks to get used to it, to understand how to behave in the face of my inability to understand and separate who is well from who is bad.

The first few days everyone seemed the same to me, a perception that changed as the weeks went by and today, almost two months later, they make me see Addis itself as a cutting-edge city, always considering that we are in Africa, and much less distant from many other Central American capitals, for example.

It’s a hard and intense journeynot exactly for beginners, it was not uncommon to meet those who after two weeks thought they wanted to leave, for a moment I admit it, me too.

Long hours in uncomfortable buses, continuous breaks for pee, then for lunch and then because there are too many people and the police continues to give fines, continuous requests for money, poverty on every corner, you white in a world of blacks to whom At least that’s how it was for me, I had to get used to it.

It’s tiring but above all time passes slowly.

It’s as if you were following the rising and setting of the sun and the amount of information and input you have during this planetary movement is so great that it’s rare to reach midnight.

Traveling alone is possible and a few days will be enough to be fascinated by one of the most beautiful and intriguing countries in the world, a place that deserves time to be discovered in its complexity made up of tribes, deserts, mountains and a mix of cultures and traditions among the most varied on the globe. A beautiful journey into the heart of proud black Africa

If you are planning a trip to Ethiopia read the posts – How to organize a trip to EthiopiaJourney to the Danakil DepressionWhat to do in Addis Ababa


Is it easy to travel to Ethiopia alone?

Easy is a big wordyou need to arm yourself with patience and above all a spirit of adaptation.
Trips can be very long and uncomfortable, it will take a lot of time, but that’s what adventure is all about right? So it’s not easy, but as the weeks go by, so does the bus level 2, the most uncomfortable one will be just one of the many fun and unlikely means in this country.

It must also be said that this is one of the few African countries that offers the possibility of taking any internal flights, for those flying into the country with Ethiopian Airlines there is a 50% discount, and connections with buses, for north and east circuit, are pretty good with Salem Bus e Sky Bus.

Things become much more complicated for the south and the west where the spirit of adaptation must be maximum from all points of view. Not easy, but definitely adventurous!

If you don’t feel comfortable, let a local person or guide accompany you

For me they were providential, born as guides and then ended up as friends, they were all my keys to the Ethiopian world and without them I would have been lost the first few weeks because the strong sense of discomfort and being out of placethe inability to take a mini bus alone in Addis tore at me.
If you don’t feel comfortable then let yourself be accompanied by a local person, you will find in these people (obviously not everyone is the same, I was lucky) an openness to a complex world that is perhaps difficult to digest at first.
Then when you feel able to continue on your own….go!

Is Ethiopia dangerous?

Absolutely not! It is the safest country in Africa and apart from some markets, in particular Mercato di Addis Ababa where it is good to always keep an eye on your bag, there is no danger. Maybe some theft, of which I have not been a victim, but even when it is dark, and this will often happen for those who take the buses, walking the streets is safe.

Too bad if you don’t feel comfortable you can always take a taxi. I don’t feel like defining Ethiopia as a dangerous country and this also according to many other travellers. I repeat, one of the safest in Africa.

Will I meet other backpackers?

Actually no, although things have been changing a lot in recent years and the country is becoming an increasingly attractive destination.
The number of backpackers is in line with most African countries where independent travel is quite complex and expensive.
If you fear loneliness, don’t worry, Ethiopians know how to never make you feel alone, even when you want it!

How can I meet other travellers?

Given that Ethiopia is enormous, it takes at least a month and a half to backpack around it by public transport given the size and heterogeneity of the population and cultures, and it is not always easy to match your itinerary with that of others but possible if you get ready in time.

In particular this applies to the two areas that mainly require a private car and I am talking about theOmo Valley and of Danakil depression.

This is because the more you are, the less you pay. A very useful site for finding travel companions is forum della Loneley Planet here you will find many other independent travelers looking for travel companions.

Some recommendations for traveling to Ethiopia

There are no dangers but there are some recommendations that I would like to give which are very practical

  • Make sure you leave with one travel insurance
  • Watch out for diarrheaalways carry some pills with you, I am the irreducible one who has always eaten and drank everything here I felt sick 3 times
  • Watch out for lice, cover your head when you are in close contact especially with children. Having worked in a school, lice were there and, in some cases, you could see them, which is why I always have a scarf on my head in my photos. Prevention is better than cure and lice are not nice.
  • Remember to get the necessary vaccinations. For recommended vaccinations Click here

Ethiopia guides

In this case I would strongly recommend it Bradt Guide unfortunately only in English, which unlike the other guides I have read is the only truly complete one.
Despite myself, if you don’t read in English and search in Italian I will have to recommend it Lonely Planet Ethiopia and Djibouti which in my opinion is disappointing but above all it seems written by someone who did not appreciate this splendid country. Therefore, if you read in English and want an excellent guide, without a shadow of a doubt, Bradt is the best.

Organize your trip to Ethiopia with local operators

If you want to organize a trip to Ethiopia and want to rely on a reliable and safe local operator, contact me on KipepeoExperience. I collaborate directly with a tour operator in Addis Ababa and together we can organize a wonderful trip

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