DO IT YOURSELF TRIP FROM NAIROBI TO ETHIOPIA
Many people have expressed fears and doubts about the prospect of visiting Ethiopa, but having lived there for 4 years, I can put my hand on my heart and say that it is a place not to be missed.
The diversity of geography, cultures, climates and even animals is mindboggling.
Its capital is Addis Abeba.
No it’s not a spelling mistake, it is Addis Abeba, which means new flower in Amharic, the official language of Ethiopia.
Gondar was the old capital, but Emperor Tewodros II moved it to Magadela in 1855.
The site of the new capital, Addis Abeba was chosen by Empress Taytu Betul and the city was founded in 1886 by her husband, Emperor Menelik II, and now has a population of around 2.7 million. It lies at an altitude of 7,546 feet (2,300 metres), making it the third highest capital in the world. [3
Ethiopia is the oldest Christian civilisation in Africa, having adopted Christianity in the 4th century ad.
In the north can be found what I like to call the magic circle, the historic route, taking in Gondar( old capital), Axum, (Obelisks), Lalibela, (rock hewn churches) and other historic cities, Bahar Dar, the walled city of Harar and then of course there are the beautiful Simien Mountains, one of the few places where you can find the striking, baboon like Gelada.
To the south is a total contrast in the form of the Omo valley and Awash National Park, where big game still exists, lion elephant, leopard, cheetah giraffe and much more and no horrendous park fees. Tribes exist in the Omo Valley which are hardly touched by civilisation and it is not uncommon to find ladies with large plates in their lips.
However, safaris are not so easy to come by in Ethiopia and you are not tripping over guides by the dozen as in East Africa.
Flights between African countries can often be as expensive as flying between Africa and Europe and flights between Nairobi and Addis are no exception.
A much cheaper option is to do a Do-It-Yourself package, using buses and trucks.
A trip from Nairobi to the border at Moyale should be done over minimum 2, but recommended 3 days.
Day !. Take a normal bus to Nanyuki, then a matatu to Isiolo, which is the end of tarmac road in Kenya.
There are buses all the way to Isiolo, but they are less frequent than the Nanyuki buses as Nanyuki is the base town for Mt Kenya climbs.
In Isiolo, there are several small hotels, but find one with cattle trucks parked outside, These are the trucks that travel to Moyale on a regular basis and you can find the drivers easily in the hotels, in fact they will more than likely approach you.
Many travellers take the cheap option and choose to ride on the superstructure, but the road is dusty and bumpy and passes through the northern desert with extreme heat, so this decision is often regretted. It is much more sensible to pay a bit extra to get a seat in the cab.
( No more than 2000 Kenya shillings).
It is better to find a truck that is going to stop in Marsabit and continue on to Moyale the next day.
If you have a tent, it is possible to camp in the Catholic Mission in Marsabit. It is easily found from the chimes of the church clock every half an hour.
On arrival in Moyale, try to cross the border before it closes at 5pm, as Moyale Ethiopia is much cleaner than Moyale Kenya and safer.
There are several small hotels at the Ethiopian border.
The trip north to Addis Abeba should take 2 days and can be done by either bus or trucks.
Awasa is a nice place to spend the first night.
Ethiopian food is a true experience in itself, usually served with injera, which resembles a honeycomb to look at.
If you cannot take spicy foods, Italian pasta is also common.
Ethiopian coffee is incredible and the coffee ceremony is a part of their oldest culture.
The journey in itself is an experience, but common sense should be used at all times.
Do not wander round the streets at night on any part of the trip and do not carry too much cash in one pocket or wallet.
I hope this helps, but if you need more advice, or assistance with activities in Kenya, please feel free to ask.
Please also check out our safari briefing sheet on our website to help you with your planning.