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May 9, 2011

The young guides

by swebackpacker

Addis Ababa

I stayed at hotel Wutma in the Piazza area in Addis Ababa for 60 Birr / night about 8 US dollars. This is a small nice budget hotel with a clean room and hot shower. It was in the end of my traveling around Ethiopia and had five more days before flying home. I was at the Piazza then a young man said, do you know me? My answer was  no! He said, I am working at hotel Wutma there you are staying. I had not seen the man before. He said, what are you going to do in Addis Ababa? Well, I don´t know? He said, why not rent a car and drive down to the Rift crater lakes?

I said let´s go to a café and discuss this matter over a cup of coffee? The man said it´s possible to rent a car for fifty US dollar a day all-inclusive, and it´s best to rent a car with a driver. He could arrange everything. I said, well come the next morning at 09:00 to hotel Wutma with the car and the driver. I will pay him filthy US dollar a day for four days driving down to crater lakes and back again. He agreed about my suggestion and left the café.

I was eating breakfast at Hotel Wutma and expected the man to turn up any minute at 09:00 the guide at the hotel asked if a needed any kind of service? Well, I am expecting a rented car and a driver any minute? Who is the renter?  In fact it´s a man working at the hotel! Another guide joined us and discussed the matter. Clock struck ten and no car and driver turned up. Well, the guides said there is no man renting out cars at the hotel this man is not working here, but we can rent you a car? How much do you charge? We want 60 US Dollar a day all-inclusive with a driver? After some negotiating, the price settled to 50 US Dollar a day all-inclusive. At eleven o clock the car and driver turned up, and we were off to Rift crater lakes.

One advantage of driving oneself is that you are in control of the car and can choose a suitable speed. The disadvantage is you have to figure out how to come out of Addis Ababa and you are responsible if an accident occurs. The driver was a man in his late fifties dark hair mixed with gray hair. He was proud of his about twenty-five years old car. The car had seatbelts, I used mine the driver didn´t use seatbelts . His view was one doesn´t need them in Ethiopia he had never used it. He didn´t see the point in using seatbelts. We left Addis Ababa and drove south while the driver talked about the good old days when the last emperor Haile Selassie ruled the country. The speed increased and he was driving faster.  We were driving through small villages with  heavy traffic and a lot of people on the road with donkeys and horses. The driver was driving at least 30 km/h faster than I have would have chosen. I felt uncomfortable. I tried take in everything happening in front of the car but was unable to do so. We were overtaking car after car in these villages in an enormous speed. When suddenly during overtaking a car in a village  a car coming from the opposite directions was trying to turn left standing in the middle of the road.  I thought we are going to crash! The driver reacted fast  trying to over taking the car turning left on the left hand side but there was another car coming in the opposite direction. The driver reacted again going out on the road side and overtook  all three cars on the far left side of the road.


We arrived in Awassa in the late afternoon I had chosen to stay for two nights at Awassa Wabe Shebelle hotel 94 Bir about 16 US dollar. The hotel was at the shore of Awassa Rift crater lake. This is the smallest cater lake a birding paradise one could photograph king fishers several kinds, fish eagles, woodland and water birds are everywhere. In the trees were vervet monkeys. One had a wildlife sanctuary less than filthy meters from the hotel room. The restaurant at the hotel was surprisingly good too.


After two fantastic days at Awassa it was time to go north again. Next Rift water lake for me was Lake Ziway. I stayed at Bekele Mola Hotel. They charged 35 Birr about 6 US dollar for a large chalet with a king sized bed and hot shower. I was walking down to the lake shore when two young boys come up and asked if they could be my guides. Boys approaching me with this kind of suggestions was normally 16 to 17-year-old. These boys were far younger than so, maybe not even teenage boys. One of the lads was wearing a black and white Juventus football jersey with Del Piero name on his back. The other even younger boy was wearing a blue jersey. I decided to say yeas to their suggestion after all the other boys would come up and ask the same question everywhere I go in Ziway. The boys’ names were Tedesse and Henok. The younger brother Henok was carrying my photo bag while Tedesse took my tripod. We went down to the fishing jetty and the boys negotiated a renting of a rowing boat. About one hundred meter out in Ziway lake was a small rock filled with Pelicans the goal for our boat journey. Back on the shore again Tedesse started to ask for some money for their guiding service. You know we need food. We are hungry can´t you give us some money? This is a tricky situation, one can easily give away more money than their parents can earn in fourteen days even a month. I said so you are hungry, that’s not good. Let´s go to a restaurant and eat something.

My choice was Ziways best restaurant the Tourist Hotel. This is the hotel there people from Addis Ababa were staying during the weekend. Tedesse and Henok were a bit shy and didn´t dare to step into the courtyard of the restaurant. I said no problem follow me. The waiter didn’t like the idea and said are these boys supposed to eat with you? Yes they are was my answer. We ordered our food and soft drinks. I had a wonderful moment at the restaurant then I secretly followed the boys’ reactions during our dinner at the restaurant. The evening was approaching and it was time to go back to the hotel again. Tedesse and Henok asked if they could be my guide tomorrow as well? We decided to meet at nine a clock in the morning for a walk along the Ziway shore.

Next morning was spent around the Ziway lake shore the boys were carrying my photo gears. At lunch time, we walked back to my hotel. I decided to give Tedesse and Henok a small amount of money five  Birr each. This is what a poor farmer in the Simien mountains earns in about fourteen days.  At the hotel, an older boy approached us and said our family would like to invite you for dinner can you come at five o clock? At five a clock in the afternoon, I went to the house according to the direction. It was Tedesse and Henoks parents, their grand parents and all the children’s meeting me for evening dinner. Tedesse suggested I would like to go with you to Sweden but that was of course impossible.

© SWEBackpacker, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material including pictures without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to SWEBackpacker with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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