Backpacking Africa | Ethiopia : itinerary, budget and travel tips

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Lisa & Pol
by Lisa & Pol
This post is linked to the following video :
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Visiting Lalibela & people of Addis | Ethiopia travel vlog

Filmed on : october 2023

Filmed in : Ethiopia

addis ababalalibelamercatototot traditional restaurantunesco world heritage siteamharaethiopia

Date : 19th October to 11th of November (23 days)

Itinerary : Addis, Lalibela, Harar, Omo Valley, Moyale to Kenya

Our three weeks itinerary in Ethiopia
Our three weeks itinerary in Ethiopia

Top things to have in mind when planning your trip :

* flying in or out internationally with Ethiopian Airlines means you get 50% off on all domestic flights

* there is a black market rate you should take advantage of if you want to stay on a low budget. 1usd = 100-115birr if you exchange in Addis. $ is better than €.

* Ethiopia is landlocked + has a very weak currency: it can be very hard/expensive to find some western products (for example contact lens solution)

* use the RIDE app in Addis (Uber equivalent)

* the lightrail in Addis is extremely packed and doesn't go so often, all bags are searched beforehand and water is forbidden. Prefer minibuses.

* you will be charged a different price in many places, buses, restaurants, cafe (because you are foreign), there is no way around it

* if you happen to not like injera, brace yourself :)

* in my experience in Addis, 95% of people talking to you want money, even if they insist from the start that they just want to help

* if flying is expensive for you, use "luxury buses" for long stretches. From Addis, they all go at 4am from the bus station. Price is fixed and is the same for all companies. Count around 1200birr to Harar or Arba Minch. Book directly a day or 2 before in Estifanos.

* if you need to take a bus at 4am, book a shuttle service at the same time that will pick you up from the hotel around 3/3:30am and bring you to the station. It costs between 250 and 500 depending on where you stay. They will probably want to speak Amharic with someone the night before to confirm pickup.

Addis & Lalibela

In Addis we felt pretty safe overall (just not so much one day walking to Mercato from Estifanos). We might have gotten food poisoning from a samoussa bought in the street. Having dinner at a traditional restaurant (for example Totot) is very interesting but quite expensive, we thought that you might get away with just ordering drinks. We stayed a week in total in the city but mostly because we needed to slow down from a bit. Overall it's the place we liked the less in our trip.

Lalibela was originally not on our list as we thought it was too "risky". But seeing that guests in our hostel were going we got in touch with some people that reassured us. We flew (paying cash at the airport), and got to a deserted town. During our stay, we were a total of 5 tourists in the entire city. Your accommodation will arrange a shared transfer for 200birr/person if you ask them. There is quite some pressure on you to compensate the loss of business for all the guides and sellers and they can get a bit pushy. But our budget was really suffering and we visited without.

Lalibela entrance is now 100$ (payable in birr) but apparently it's possible to pay 50$ to stay on the outside of churches only (this is not confirmed).  There is no internet there (but phone works), so make sure to book a roundtrip ticket and tell some friends about your stay in case you're stuck there for whatever reason.

We visited on 23 to 25th of October and the situation was fine at the moment. Make sure to keep up to date with all the info before going. It's a gorgeous powerful place, and we're so grateful we got to see it.

Harar & Arba Minch

Omo Valley

Budget

We spent 23 days in Ethiopia, visiting the capital Addis Ababa, churches of Lalibela, hyenas of Harar, and tribes of the Omo Valley! This all comes down to 1600€ for 2, or 800€ per person!

💸 The calculations per person:

1.flights & visa 253€

2.transportation 155€

3.activities 170€

4.accommodation 98€

5.food 100€

6.others 22€

You can check our instagram @lisaandpol which features a dedicated Ethiopia highlight and some posts :)

Lisa & Pol
Lisa & Pol
We're a Slovak-French couple in our twenties currently backpacking across Africa for a year. One of our goals is to inspire travellers to go explore this often forgotten continent. On this blog we're focusing on providing up to date info about prices and itineraries, especially geared towards backpackers on a budget. We also create content on Youtube and Insta if you prefer a more visual approach 😉
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