Ethiopia Things to Do Tips by DAO Top 5 Page for this destination
Ethiopia Things to Do: 194 reviews and 492 photos
Fir Fir !!!!
HUNGRY? Really hungry? The largest and most filling breakfast food in Ethiopia is Injera Fir Fir. ‘Fir Fir’ means literally ‘torn-up’. Its hundreds of tiny pieces of injera soaked in kai wat (somewhat hot red sauce) and some meat and served folded in injera. Some places use more meat than others and ask for it 'with meat' to ensure it’s in there. This will fill you up until your evening meal. That is a DAO guarantee!
This is my good friend and one time guide: Solomon Kasaye. Solomon was the first person I ever met in Ethiopia and we still keep in touch. He is a close friend and a very excellent guide. Would you like to see the real Ethiopia? Solomon is the man. He can show you how shared taxis work, take you to a chat house, any museum and also guide you throughout the beautiful rural south and historical north of Ethiopia. He really opened my eyes to what many tourists who never leave the hotel will not see. He also provides escort service to the Merkato and knows where and how the pickpockets operate. Please drop him an email if you would like to use his invaluable help. You can also email me if you need any help.
I highly recommend Solomon if you really want to see and understand Ethiopia and make the most of your time here.
You can email him on:
- or -
All the best,
Update: I recently received this feedback from a non-VT Member about the fantastic job Solomon does:
We also greatly appreciate your assistance and guidance which made our trip very good and enjoyable."
THE NORTHERN STELAE FIELD
Of all the cities on the ‘Historical Route’ of Ethiopia, Axum is the most overlooked. It shouldn’t be. What other city is home to the following?
• The Arc of the Covenant/original 10 Commandments
• The Queen of Sheba
• The golden crowns of Ethiopian Emperors
• The traditional city for all Coronations
• Massive Stelae over 200 years old
• Tombs of Kings
The other nice thing is that Axum is flat, easy to explore and has a relaxed atmosphere. It would be a great town to see just to get away for a few days.
Axum started as an ancient empire that started as early as 400BC. It was a land and naval power which traded across the Middle East and East Africa. Each king built higher stelae to symbolise their power. These also served as places for sacrifice with the holes to drain away the blood still present. The tallest now standing in 82 feet high. Legend has it that they tried to go too high and the last built crumbled meaning the end of the old religion. This would have had the effect of ending the magic around them and the King. King Ezana converted to Christianity around 300AD and his obelisk is the 2nd highest still upright.
The Queen of Sheba was born here (you can see here Palace) and travelled to Israel to marry King Solomon. Their son, Emperor Menelik, retuned as the first Emperor with the Arc of the Covenant. Axum is considered the first city founded in Ethiopia and is the holiest city for Ethiopian Orthodox Christians.
You can see all the main sites in 1 day with a guide who will not cost a lot. There is an amazing amount of history to see here.
Ethiopian Airlines is the quickest way here and back and they have an office in town.
566.67km (352 miles) North of Addis Ababa (Ethiopian Airlines or 2 days by bus)
The Coffee Ceremony is an elaborate way of being welcomed into someone’s home. A lot goes into it. First fresh grass is placed all over the floor. This means that when you walk inside your guest’s home you have a pleasant smell and feeling of freshness. Your host will then put incense on the coals of the charcoal burner and the house is now full of perfumed air. Next green coffee beans (Buna) are produced and roasted in a small metal pan. As they turn black, your host will wave some of the roasted aroma towards you and you should wave it towards your nose with your hands, breathe it in and give them a smile and nod. Now the roasted beans are put into a wooden pestle And ground into a powder. Your host will pour the powder and water into the coffee (ceramic) jug, add water and leave it to boil. The consistency of the coffee is checked several times and water added to come up with the perfect texture.
Now, the drinking begins. The first small cup is offered to you with sugar. Milk is never offered. After drinking the first, please acknowledge your host with a smile. You will be offered 2 more cups. The Third Cup is very important! It is considered a blessing to have 3 cups and a tribute to your host. After 3 cups, please say:
“Betam Tiru No”
This means ‘its lovely coffee’.
Now the finale. Popcorn is made in oil over the charcoal. Please note some folks add sugar to this.
You may see the Coffee Ceremony in restaurants and hotels, but the full experience can only be gained in someone’s home.
In Ethiopia there is a deposit, paid by the shop or bar owner, on every glass bottle of drink. In some places they may even refuse to sell you soda in a bottle if they do not know you! That’s because they are worried you will leave with their bottle. Just assure them that you will drink it right away and hand the bottle back. So take care with the bottles and if you get some from the grocery store, please leave them for the hotel staff.
If you break a bottle, please offer 1-2 Birr to cover the cost.
THE SINK EXPERIMENT
What is the sink Experiment? Scientifically water going down a sink will rotate counter clockwise in the northern hemisphere and clockwise in the southern hemisphere. I set out to conduct this experiment for Virtual Tourist here in Ethiopia, which is in the Northern hemisphere. This is due to the Coriolis Effect, a force caused by the rotation of the Earth. Guess what? It’s A MYTH! I found that I could get the water to go in either direction just by diverting the water slightly. Often it ran in the ‘wrong’ direction. Don’t believe it? Come for a visit and try it for yourself!
Teff is a mighty little grain. It’s actually a kind of grass and the small grain is very very small in size. What it lacks in size, it makes up for in nutrition. It is very high in fibre, iron, protein and calcium. What it lacks is lots of carbohydrates found in wheat. The grain is dried, then soaked and later made into a dough for cooking into injera – the staple of any Ethiopian meal. You will never see a fat person in Ethiopia and it is essentially only grown here. If you go to an Ethiopian restaurant in London you will see injera made from wheat and bigger people!
Teff – it’s a great grain.
King Lalibela wanted to create a New Jerusalem in Ethiopia. What he created probably went several steps further. He had 11 Churches cut from the rock of the mountains in the area. Where Petra has only facades and rough caves behind, these Churches have all 4 sides and interiors with beams and even statues. This is clearly a Wonder of the World. In addition to the architecture, each Church has its own Priests and Processional Cross. The tour through the caves that connect and are part of the complex are an amazing testament to the King and his workers.
Please visit my Lalibela Page for a lot more information and great pictures:
DAO’s LALIBELA PAGE
Why buy a new sim card when you can rent one? There is only one network here and its all ‘Pay As You Go’. Prices are as flows:
Buy a sim card – 300-400 Birr
Rent a sim card – 100-200 Birr a month
Airtime: 25 birr per scratch card (lasts a long time)
Text messaging is now available. If you do not have a suitable phone – you can rent that too! Ask in your hotel or go to one of the mobile stores in every virtually every good-sized town .
The internet is exploding here! New internet businesses open almost daily, but they are slow. That’s because more and more people are using the same old telephone lines. Do not use businesses that do not display their prices prominently! They will rip you off. Most charge .25 Birr (25 Ethiopian cents) per minute and log down when you come in. The speed is usually 100mps which is staggeringly slow. Don’t try to do a lot on the net like banking or using websites with heavy graphics. You will be there all day!
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