Aside from serving as base for nearby Bati’s Monday Market, Kombolcha (ኮምቦልቻ) is really just a place to break up the journey between Addis and the north. If coming from nearby Dessie, the dramatic and curvaceous descent into Kombolcha outdoes anything the twin towns have to offer. Kombolcha is less of a transport hub than Dessie, but it’s also less dirty and noisy.

Kombolcha is a city and woreda in north-central Ethiopia. Located in the Debub Wollo Zone of the Amhara Region, it has a latitude and longitude of with an elevation between 1842 and 1915 meters above sea level. Some guide books describe Kombolcha as the twin city of Dessiewhich lies some 13 km to the northwest. Kombolcha is connected with Dessie through Ethiopian Highway 2.

This city shares Combolcha Airport with neighboring Dessie. It is also home to Kombolcha Steel products, a metalworking factory that is part of MIDROC, a conglomerate owned by businessman Sheikh Mohammed Al Amoudi. Another industry in this town is the Kombolcha Textile Factory (KTF), which announced 9 March 2009 that it was beginning a 190 million Birr modernization project to improve the quality of its projects. At the time of the announcement, the KTF exported its goods to Italy, Sweden, Belgium and China.


Pick up from the hotel is earlier than usual at 6.30 am, since it is about 275 km to Senbete or about 5 hours’ drive up the main road north, or the Asmara road. There is spectacular mountain scenery en route. We should aim to get to the market before it gets hot, and before the other shoppers imbibe too much local beer, honey wine and home distilled spirits! Markets in Ethiopia are not only about buying and selling, but are major social occasions, where people meet and exchange information. Once the business is done, the socializing begins.

Senbete market is a place where the highlands and lowlands meet, and brings together different ethnic groups: the Afar (with their camels and distinctive knives), the Oromo, the Amhara, Gurage and Argoba. (The latter claim descent from the Muslims who fled persecution in Saudi Arabia before the triumph of Islam.) Visitors can buy different kinds of crafts, jewelry, baskets and woven materials.