“Return to Ethiopia” — 2012

Greetings All:
This is an update on a few aspects of our September “Return
to Ethiopia.”

1. *Ethiopian Embassy in Washington, DC*:

RECPTION
The reception for us will be held at the Embassy during the
evening of Saturday, 22 September, which should allow
sufficient time for anyone flying to DC that day to attend.
Exact time & other details will be set & announced as we get
nearer to the trip date.

Those in the DC area who are not participating in the Return
To Ethiopia trip itself, but wish to attend the reception,
will be welcome.

VISAS
We have asked the Embassy about the possibility of waiving
the visa fee ($70) for trip participants, but have not yet
received a response. However, as we are 4 months away from
our departure date, there is still the possibility that our
request will be granted. Visas can be issued by the Embassy
in Washington (ethiopianembassy.org), or at the airport upon
arrival in Addis (we do not have information about the
possibility of long lines for visas at the airport).

WELCOME
Embassy staff has indicated that both they and the Ethiopian
Government in Addis are very pleased and enthusiastic about
our trip. They will have more information about official
events at the Addis end closer to our trip date.

2. *Ethiopian Airlines (EAL)*

RESERVATIONS
By the end of this month (5-30-2012) all prospective participants who plan to fly with EAL for the trip (both for the international legs as well as any flights in-country that will NOT be part of a tour package) must have sent in the required information to Russ Misheloff, who has been preparing a master roster. (See the list of travellers at

http://eandeherald.com/return-to-ethiopia/travellers/

to verify whether we have received this information from you.)

I will then deliver the roster to EAL. EAL, in turn, will price out each passenger’s itinerary, and make the reservations for him/her,

EAL will return the roster to me that will, at this point, include the price and reservation information for each passenger.

Russ &/or I will then notify each passenger of his/her flight costs. We will also provide details on how and where to pay, including the specific reference code to ensure you receive the group discount fare.

PAYMENT
NOTE: You will not be able to make payment through EAL’ s website, but only directly with EAL’s office in Washington.

You will need to pay for your tickets IN FULL prior to June 30. Your reservation will not be confirmed until payment has been made, whereupon EAL will issue e-tickets directly to you for your international flights, and in-country flights if requested.

“COUPONS” & INDEPENDENT IN-COUNTRY FLIGHTS
“Coupons” are only for those travelling in-country independently (i.e. not with a professional tour group.)

“Coupons” are only for flight segments within Ethiopia.

There are, in fact, no paper “coupons” issued; instead, you will receive your itinerary that will include any in-country flights you reserved and paid for.

The prices for these “coupons” are, according to EAL, about 30% below the “rack” rates quoted on their website, and are equivalent to the in-country fares offered to residents of Ethiopia and to local tour companies within Ethiopia.

According to EAL, the dates & places for which the “coupons” can be used can be changed, subject to a penalty of $10 or $15 each.

For those of you who have already provided Russ with
information about your planned in-country travel (specific
dates and places of travel), please indicate in an email
message to Russ at

rmisheloff@comcast.net

before the end of May – if you wish Ethiopian Airlines (EAL) to issue
“coupons” to you for that purpose. And for others who still
need to send him your information, please indicate
specifically the flights for which you need coupons (if
any). The purpose of this request is to be sure that EAL is
clear about your desires, and does not mistakenly bill you
for travel that you plan to do by surface transportation, or
for air travel in Ethiopia that you are paying a tour
company to arrange for you.

IN-COUNTRY TRAVEL WITH TOUR GROUP
Those who are making arrangements to travel in-country with
professionally arranged tours will pay the tour company for
their in-country flights. You will NOT pay EAL directly for
those flights.

DEPARTURE FROM DC
As of now, the Dulles to Addis flight for Sunday, 23 September is scheduled to depart at 11:15am, arriving in Ethiopia at 7:45 am the next day, Monday, 24 September.

DEPARTURE FROM ADDIS TO DC
The group return flight departs Addis at 10:15pm on Sunday, 7 October, stops in Rome for a 40-minute refueling (no deplaning allowed), arrives at Dulles Monday, 8 October, at 8:40am. (NOTE: You may return to the U.S. on any date following your arrival for the next 90 days.)

As with any flight schedule, these flights are subject to change; you can check periodically at EAL’s website,
flyethiopian.com
You can check the EAL website for the
scheduling of in-country flights, too. At present, the
airline flies daily between all the major airports in Ethiopia.

UPGRADES
A few people have asked about the possibility of upgrading their seats using frequent flyer miles– this is not permitted with our group rate. If you wish to fly Business Class (there is no 1st class offered on this route), the
roundtrip upgrade supplement would be about $3,000 (dollars,
not Birr!).

Should you have questions about any of the above, please
contact either me – scristofar2@verizon.net

Russ Misheloff – rmisheloff@comcast.net

or Leo Cecchini – leo@cecchini.org

and we’ll do our best to answer them.

Best wishes,
Steve Cristofar

========================================================

5/5/2012

Ethiopia & Eritrea RPCVs is arranging a trip to Ethiopia titled “Return to Ethiopia” to commemorate the arrival of the first group of Peace Corps Volunteers in Ethiopia 50 years ago and to celebrate 50 years of Peace Corps service to the country. The trip is open to all RPCVs and staff who served in Ethiopia and Eritrea . In order to keep the group to a manageable size we will allow each participant to bring only one companion on the trip.

DATES
9/22/2012, Saturday— The group will assemble in Washington DC for a reception and send-off at the Ethiopian Embassy that afternoon or evening.

9/23/2012, Sunday — The group will depart by an Ethiopian Airlines’ (EAL) direct flight from DC to Addis Ababa.

9/24/2012, Monday — We will arrive in Addis Ababa where we expect to have media coverage of our arrival. Later that day we will assemble for a function hosted by the Ethiopian Foreign Ministry.

9/25/2012, Tuesday — There will be some meetings and a tour of Addis.

9/26/2012, Wednesday — The eve of the Meskel Celebration that continues through to Thursday.

9/28/2012, Friday — The end of our group activities. The rest of the stay will be for travel to your communities of service and other travel.

10/7/2012, Sunday — This is a nominal return date  but each participant will be able to book his or her return date earlier or later. The only restriction is that you return within 90 days of the beginning of your trip, i.e. by December 22.

 AIR TRAVEL TO AND FROM ETHIOPIA
We have negotiated a group rate from Ethiopian Airlines for departure from Washington DC on Sunday, September 23, and return within 90 days of departure. For each individual the round trip fate is $1310.00. The group rate is for a limited economy class ticket that allows changes and cancellation with a penalty.

TO JOIN THE GROUP IN ETHIOPIA, BUT NOT TRAVEL WITH THE GROUP
For those who cannot join the group in Washington but want to be with the group in Ethiopia, you may travel however you like, just be in Addis Ababa on Monday, September 24. Several airlines offer round trip tickets from the East Coast USA to Addis at similar prices, but all involve stopovers en route.

ACCOMMODATIONS FOR YOUR STAY IN ADDIS
The planning committee will be sending out a list of hotels in Addis Ababa that participants can use in making room bookings for Monday, September 24 to Friday, September28. Prices will range from $70 to $200 a night.

Those staying in Addis for their entire visit can discuss rates for an extended stay with the recommended hotels.

IN-COUNTRY TRAVEL
For in-country plane travel EAL is offering coupons to those who travel to Addis with the group that can be purchased at the same time as the international ticket. Each coupon can be used to book a single flight within the country, e.g. a trip from Addis to Jimma and return to Addis will require two coupons. The price for coupons will be 2 for $160, 3 for $175, 4 for $200 and 5 for $240, plus tax.

For a map  (click on the map to see a larger version) and list of all in-country destinations and offices of EAL, plus some details of tours to Axum/Lalibella and other destinations, go to http://www.flyethiopian.com/en/network/domestic/Default.aspx

Contact information (including email addresses) for offices of EAL in Ethiopia can be seen at http://www.flyethiopian.com/en/help/domestic.aspx

HELP WITH PLANNING IN-COUNTRY TRAVEL
There are lots of resources available, including but not limited to:

  • Trip Advisor  provides all kinds of information and reviews of places and facilities by previous travelers; Lonely Planet  is similar.
  • Ethiopian Tourism Agency: info@tourismethiopia.org This is an official government agency.
  • Darrel Hagberg is the husband of an Ethiopia RPCV and will be coming on the trip. He has experience in setting up tours and would like to work with a local tour operator to put together a group tour of the Northern Historic sites for the week following our stay in Addis. Email Darrel at hagber01@aol.com
  • Mogilee Lodge and Tours run by Dr. Samuel Taddesse,
    Skype Phone: 703-659-9184; cell: +251-913-268068; Skype ID: samtad1; email: samtad@mogilee.com
    “Sam” was on the PC/Addis staff in the past, and was a language trainer for PC both in Addis and the Virgin Islands.
  • Odyssey Ethiopia Tours, Ato Legese Begashaw, manager; write info@odysseyethiopia.com.
  • Ethiopian Airlines offers various in-country tours, as well as information on hotels.

Just a word of caution: We believe these are all reputable and competent sources. But we have not vetted them. Please do not interpret our listing them as an endorsement. Similarly, others who are not listed may be good.

ERITREA
From the US State Department as of April 18, 2012: “The U.S. Department of State continues to warn U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to Eritrea and strongly recommends U.S. citizens defer all travel to the country.”

IF YOU WILL BE TRAVELLING TO ETHIOPIA WITH THE GROUP
EAL has asked that we submit a single list of travellers on the flight. We will do that on May 30. So, for those who want to take the September 23 flight to Addis, you must provide the following information FOR EACH TRAVELLER . This Information is needed not only for EAL, but also for our roster, the Ethiopian Embassy and for the Ethiopian Government to use in alerting those communities of your visit.

Send the information to Marian Haley Beil (marian@haleybeil.com)

  • Full name EXACTLY as it appears on your passport
  • Gender
  • Date of birth
  • RPCV’s community of service
  • Destinations of in-country travel by air
  • Dates of of in-country travel by air
  • Desired date for your return flight.
    (You can, but don’t have to return on October 7. In fact, the only restriction is that you return within 90 days of the beginning of your trip, i.e. by December 22.)

EAL will take the information we provide, calculate how much you owe, advise on how and where to make payment, and will issue coupons for the in-country trips you plan to make.

With this information EAL for will prepare individual ticket prices, i.e. for your round-trip ticket, and in-country air travel. Later we will subsequently inform you as to your flight costs and how to pay.
Note: you will be paying EAL’s office in Alexandria, Virginia and not via its web site.

IF YOU WILL BE TRAVELING INDEPENDENTLY TO ETHIOPIA
Provide the following information for each traveller:

  • Full name EXACTLY as it appears on your passport.
  • RPCV’s community of service.

This information is needed for the official roster, and for the Ethiopian Government to use in alerting those communities of your visit.

Send the information to Marian Haley Beil (marian@haleybeil.com)

TRAVEL INSURANCE
Things happen; including, but not limited to, illness before the trip begins, or during the trip itself (including the need for medical evacuation). Insurance is available to cover these contingencies, and to assure that you get back at least part of any monies you have paid in advance. (Some credit cards, when used to purchase air tickets, provide trip protection insurance as part of their benefits. So, participants are advised to check their card’s benefits brochures to see whether and what coverage is included, if any, and consider whether it is enough.)

Buying travel insurance is not inordinately expensive. We STRONGLY recommend that you protect yourselves in this way. And frankly, if you don’t, and something unfortunate happens, we can provide sympathy, but nothing more. Where to go for help on this? A good resource is Travel Guard. You can also contact AAA or AARP, both of which have links to insurance companies.

IMMUNIZATIONS AND MEDICAL ADVICE
Please see  important information specific to Ethiopia from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). For individual concerns, of course, consult your doctor. Also, recall that Addis is at high altitude. It may take some time to get acclimated. Don’t over-schedule yourself for the first few days.

PASSPORT
If you need a new one, please do it now. It takes some time.

VISA
We are still waiting to find out whether visa fees will be waived for the group, although we don’t think you should count on it. Visa’s are available (for a fee) at the airport in Addis. Or you can contact the Ethiopian Embassy in Washington, the Ethiopian Consulate in Los Angeles, or a tour operator for assistance.

COMMUNICATIONS
From your correspondence, we understand that many of you would like to know who is planning to go on the trip, and what their preferences are, especially regarding in-country travel.

  • We have set up a Facebook account for this purposed. To access it:
  1. Set up a Facebook page for yourself (if you don’t already have one). Go to Facebook.com.
  2. Once you have done that, in the Facebook search box enter: Ethiopia and Eritrea Returned Peace Corps Volunteers.
  3. Click on join this group. NOTE: This is a open group, but you must request to be a “friend” in order to be able write a post or make a comment.
  4. To come back to the group page after you have joined, just go to http://www.facebook.com/groups/120114451456889/.
  5. Hopefully these mechanisms will give you access to the other members of the group, and enable you to “talk to” the group as a whole, or particular individuals (if, of course, they too have to join the group).
  • On the Herald website , we have this page you are looking at, and a page called “Travellers” that lists the names of everyone who has expressed an interest in going on the trip. Please note that the names posted indicate people who have expressed interest in the trip. But it doesn’t mean that all of them have definitely decided to go.
    Check this page if you have already contacted us of your interest and check that we have all your information.

We will send out further information about the trip only to those interested. We will also incorporate it into this page.

Leo Cecchini (leo@cecchini.org), Steve Cristofar (scristofar@comcast.net), Russ Misheloff (rmisheloff@comcast.net) will be out of the country for parts of May and having mixed access to email.

Marian Haley Beil (marian@haleybeil.com) will be home and receiving your updated information for the trip — and any other issues.

One response to ““Return to Ethiopia” — 2012

  1. Randolph Marcus

    A little travel tip: Those who opt to get their entry visa at the airport, should expect a long line and a long wait to get through. I returned to Ethiopia with a few former Asella PCV teachers in December 2009. The visa process was slow and laborious. But it was worth it. The return to Ethiopia, and in our case, to Asella, was an unforgettable joyous experience.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s