Some people come to Ethiopia expecting everything to operate like it does in the western world, but sadly it does not. This is Africa and it does run on African time.
I cater my tours with these conditions in mind, so I have allowed plenty of time for us to travel to the places I have said I will take you to. 20 kilometres here does not get covered at the same pace it does at home. Most people and animals in the south commute on the roads, so there is never a shortage of obstacles for us to dodge. The roads are poorly maintained in places and you can never plan on a puncture. On top of that dry riverbeds can begin to flow and flow rapidly over a period of hours even when there is not a cloud in the sky. Again this is Africa; so contingency plans are readily available. As one door shuts, another is sure to open, so any problem is only an obstacle rather than an issue.
Other expectations that are usually dashed are that of food – some people think that when they are on a holiday that they should be treated as being in a 5 star resort. Unfortunately, demand in these areas we will be travelling in do not cater for such a crowd. Most hotels, restaurants and roadside eateries do cater for western tastes. Spaghetti, hamburgers and steaks are readily available and there is always the option available to us to bring our own food from Addis. Most travellers prefer to eat injera and once they start, they cannot stop. It is always available, it is always fresh and it is always a tasty and filling meal.
Accommodation is always another expectation that is often dashed. What you get is what you pay for. Comfortable tourist hotels are available in all the towns we overnight in. The more expensive come with your own shower and toilet, while other less expensive options have communal agreements and long drops. One thing that is assured is they are all clean and have clean linen, mosquito nets and a comfortable mattress. Campsites are always an option and they are always very cheap.
Photography is always an eye opener to first time tourists to southern Ethiopia. The places we visit and the people we meet all know about the value of money. If you wish to take their picture, it will cost you. 1 Birr – 2 Birr maybe 5. Once the camera comes out, you will be hearing familiar chorus of “poto – poto – poto – poto”, so be prepared. I always arrange a small mountain of small denomination notes for this purpose, so an opportunity will never go begging, but some travellers do find it annoying.