Ethiopia’s second-largest city, Dire Dawa was established in 1902 as a major stop along the railway between Addis Ababa and Djibouti as it traversed the hot dry plains north of Harar. The city is split into two distinct quarters by the normally dry Dachata River. To the northwest is Kezira, a stately colonial-style quarter whose wide leafy avenues converge on the impressive French-built railway station. Southwest of the river, the old Islamic quarter of Megaala has an altogether more organic feel, epitomized by a trio of lively daily markets offering Kafira (foodstuffs and other local produce), ‘Taiwan’ (electronic and other imported goods), and Ashewa (livestock market). Though some tourists rush through Dire Dawa in transit between the airport and Harar, it’s a lively and interesting city, and the best base for visits to two major rock-art sites: Porc-Epic Cave, overlooking the Dachata River only 3km out of town, and the more remote Laga Oda.
What to See?
The vibrant market of kefira is amazing in its color and energy.
The Chemni Defer railway museum is one of the best places to unearth the history of modern railway development in Ethiopia.
The food culture o the city is also one of the places of interest for visitors.
Practical information before your trip to
Diredawa lies 452 km east of Addis Ababa along a well-surfaced road, passing through Adama and Awash National Park. Ethiopian Airlines (www.ethiopianairlines.com) flies daily between Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa, where taxis are available at
Diredawa is best explored on foot with an experienced local guide who knows the city very well. Guides can be arranged through any hotel.
Taxis and bajaji (Tuktuks) can be picked up in every part of the city. But make sure it’s arranged via your hotel.
There are plenty of standards and budget lodgings facilities in DireDawa.The option includes accommodation for backpackers too.