Lonely Planet Ethiopia & Eritrea 4th Ed.: 4th Edition Paperback – Nov 4 2009
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...these smart and exhaustively researched guides have become the gold standard for serious, independent travelers.' --San Francisco Chronicle --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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A Lonely Planet Country Guide. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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The Lonely Planet series, in general, is short on describing luxury accomodations, dining, and chichi places and long on local history, customs, and out of the way places. Described in the guide, for example, are the dubious pleasures of chewing "chat," the lovely Ethiopian coffee ceremony, and the possibilities for trekking in several Ethiopian national parks.
Ethiopia is one of most contradictory and complex countries in the world. It it one of the oldest Christian countries, claims to house the Ark of the Covenant (remember "Raiders of the Lost Ark") in a church in Aksum, boasts "Lucy" the bones of one of the oldest ancestors of human beings, and has some of Africa's most spectacular scenery, the Blue Nile falls for example. Ethiopians have a strong, confident ancient culture and perhaps the most distinctive cuisine in the world. Steak tartare fans will like kifto. Cold beer and hot pasta (reflecting the brief Italian colonization of Ethiopia) can be found most places for less adventurous eaters.
One tip from me that may not be in the guide. Ethiopians for some reason are reluctant to accept 1996 US $100 bills and any bill that is torn or worn.
Ethiopia is a country well worth visiting. This guidebook will tell you all you need to know.
I cannot comment on the Eritrea section as I didn't travel there. I didn't read any other guides to Ethiopia, but I would strongly advise getting something else - there has to be something better than this.
Some things I would love to have improved in future editions:
- maps of Addis are really hard to come by. A REALLY good map of the city of Addis, taking several pages would be extremely helpful. Sure, you could use Google Maps, but have you noticed how terrible internet connections in Ethiopia tend to be?!
- a much more extensive, cross referenced index. The index of this book really lets it down. It is not extensive enough. It might take up several more pages to improve it, with more entries, but that would make the book so much more useful!
We have done the Northern Tour, and found the information about the different places and their sites to be very interesting. Especially in places like Axum, where myth and legend are presented as fact, the LP helped to keep our feet on the ground and heads out of the clouds, and to just enjoy the stories our guide presented for what they were: entertaining stories.
The shoe minder information for Lalibela (on tipping them) was very useful. We were ready to tip our shoe minder for her helpful service - three times we tried - but she refused each time. We think that she felt she was getting the benefit from us, by being allowed to spend a couple of hours with two very cute Western kids, one of whom has extremely blonde hair!
The information on museums in Addis was also useful, though some indication of opening days and hours, and entry prices (it wasn't included for all museum listings) would have been helpful. Public holidays meant that some we visited were closed, but LP gave us no indication of that.
Overall, a great book, with excellent information. Wouldn't have come here without it.
Hotel information was very accurate, except the prices had come up 10 %.
Now I am back in Finland and I am very thankful for the writers. The arranged me a safe trip to one of the worlds poorest and most dangerous countries.