Ethiopian Travel Tips

We've been home for 4 days now, but it feels like an eternity to be separated from Judah and Addise. I'm grateful to be able to share our story over and over. I'm grateful for a lot of work to catch up on. I'm grateful for the ability to finalize preparations for them coming home forever. I'm grateful for time to process meeting our kids before we bring them home. For those of you headed to Ethiopia to meet your kids in the near future, here's a few lessons learned from our trip...

Places to Visit and Shop ::

  • Ethiopian Guest Home - We stayed here and had an incredible time. They arranged all our transportation excellently. The staff was remarkable in every way. The rooms and shared bathroom were very clean and nice. The food was great. The drivers and translators were more than that...they became friends. We just LOVED staying here. We can't wait to go back because the staff truly became friends during our 5 nights.
  • ALERT leper compound – shop here first because you know that your money goes back to these people who make the stuff right there. This has a fabulous selection of all types of Ethiopian goods [scarves, blankets, clothes, wooden crosses, candlesticks, bags, tablecloths and napkins, etc.]. This was the best selection of goods, fixed pricing, and the cheapest we saw! [Me with a resident of ALERT who taught me how to spin yarn. AMAZING!]
  • Postal District – to get the rest of what you didn't get at ALERT
  • Tomoca Coffee – the best coffee in the world! You can buy about a pound of coffee for less than $3. I’d also HIGHLY recommend ordering a macchiato. It’s maybe the best coffee I’ve ever had, and it’ll only cost you about $0.20. Take that Starbucks!
  • Jebana pots [traditional coffee pot – outside of Tomaca Coffee]. They were $2 each! You can also buy little wooden coffee cups and saucers for about $1 each
  • Merkato – the largest open air market in all of Africa! It’s beyond huge. It’s where all the local Ethiopians shop, but don’t really recommend for souvenir shopping. Our translator and drivers just drove us through the Merkato, but wouldn’t even let us shop there! It can be a pretty dangerous place; pick pocketing is very common for tourists.
  • The Former Women Fuel Wood Carriers Project scarves and leather crafts. We didn’t shop here, but it’s on the way to Entoto Mountain if you go.
  • The National Museum – great overall look into Ethiopia history, culture, and traditions. It’s only a few birr for entrance. You could spend 1-2 hours here. Totally worth the time!
  • Entoto Mountain – about 45 minute drive, depending on your location in Addis. Cost us about 600 birr for the driver and translator. It’s an incredible drive up the mountain and gives you an incredible view of ALL of Addis. There’s also an old church, palace, and museum at the top. We LOVED this part of our trip. We learned a ton about Ethiopian history and culture.
  • Fistula Hospital – We didn’t have time for this, but have read lots of amazing things about this organization. I just finished reading Hospital by the River by Dr. Catherine Hamlin who started this ministry/organization with her husband over 40 years ago. This is beautiful justice work in action!
  • Oromia region to visit a beautiful gorge/waterfall – 2 hour drive. We didn’t have time to visit here, but have heard great things about it. Be sure to arrange a driver in advance to ensure transportation. That was our mistake!
Entoto Mountain in front of an 150+ year old Ethiopian Orthodox Church [above] and view of sprawling Addis Ababa from Entoto [below]

Places to Eat ::

We ate for the most part at our guest house and nearby eateries, but we did get to eat at a couple AWESOME places!

  • Yod – Ethiopian restaurant with dancing! This 3 hour dinner was super amazing!!! The food was authentic and delicious. It was a sneak peak into the diplomatic, high life of Addis [there are 105 Embassy’s in Addis!]. There was live music and dancing from all the regions and various tribal traditions throughout Ethiopia. We were enthralled and captivated by the breadth of culture and beauty of the country! This “expensive” meal for 6 of us cost around $30.
  • Zebra Grill – great view in of Addis from a high rise building. They have a mixture of Western food and yummy Ethiopian food. The ambiance was really cool, it was quiet, and the view was spectacular. Dinner here was less than $25 for 4 people.

Gift Ideas for Your Adopted Kids ::
We wanted to make sure that we purchased some items from our kids' birth countries for their life's milestones and just connection to Ethiopia. Here's a list of most of what we found... [PICTURE: word next to my finger is "Ethiopia" in Amharic]

  • 1st Birthday – Traditional Dress for Addise
  • 10th Birthdays – wallet/purse
  • 16th Birthday – key rings
  • 18th Birthday – Traditional Ethiopian outfits
  • Wedding – Hand embroidered table runner and napkin set
  • Ethiopian crosses
  • Names in Amharic
  • Ball with Amharic letters for Judah to play with

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask! We ADORED our time in Addis, and can't wait to go back!!!


April L. Diaz

April has been a visionary activist her entire life. She has made it her mission to lead high performing teams and develop leaders in the margins of society while caring for our bodies, mind, and spirit. Secretly, she’s a mix of a total girly girl and a tomboy, and is still crazy about her high school sweetheart, Brian. Together, they co-parent 3 fabulous kiddos and live in Orange County, CA.