Why Travel Ethiopia?
Ethiopia boasts a rich cultural, historic and natural
heritage that cannot be measured by money. In historic
terms, Ethiopia was the first country west of Armenia
to adopt Christianity. In natural terms, it has an exceptional
number of endemic wildlife species, including one of the
largest African bird diversities. Ethiopia is a country
of many civilizations, each of which has left a cultural
fingerprint on the country: two thousand year old Axum,
the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela, the walled city of
Harer, and the castles of Gonder are just some of the
wonders of Ethiopia.
is a large country with varied
landscapes, ranging from the ruggedly carved Simien Mountains,
which offer breathtaking views, to the lunar-like Danakil
Depression. The Great Rift Valley decorates the country
with a beautiful chain of lakes, where different tribes
live and practice their own unique cultures and religions.
interested in history, nature and culture
should not miss these and other unique treasures found
in Ethiopia. Every visitor will be sure to take home a
mental album of unforgettable impressions!
Best time to travel
depends on the region you are traveling to. In the
main part of the country, in particular the highlands,
the main rainy season runs from June to the end of September,
with a short rain period in March. So the best time
is to travel from October till the begin of the rainy
season. In the Omo- Valley in Southern Ethiopia however,
the seasons are different with the main rains from March
to June and shorter rains in November.
Climate and Clothing
of the elevation, temperatures rarely exceed 25°C
in the highland part of the country, although in some
of the lower lying areas (Awash, Omo and Mago parks)
it can get considerably hotter. Pack light clothes for
the day time and a jacket or sweater for the evenings,
and a good pair of walking shoes even if you are not
going trekking - path ways around historic sites are
usually uneven and stony. Trekkers in the Simien and
Bale Mountains will need warm clothes and waterproofs.
On a cultural note - Ethiopians are generally modest
dressers, and visitors should be sensitive about going
underdressed (shorts, tank tops and bare backed) especially
into places of worship. Shoes must always be removed
before entering churches and mosques - for getting around
sites like Lalibela with its many churches airline socks
are very useful.
is known to be still one of the safest places in Africa.
Violent crimes are very rare. Tourists should be aware
of pickpockets in crowded places like markets and it
is better not to show off valuables and money. In some
overland regions it is recommended not to drive after
dawn. In some remote areas, separatist movements have
been active in the last years. Those regions are usually
not easy to visit, or only with an official authorization.
to strict custom regulations, it may cause problems
at the airport to carry more than the usual basic electronic
devices, especially if they are new. Import Tax payment
may be required. Souvenirs imitating historic artifacts
have to be approved not original by the National Museum
in Addis Ababa, if not they can be confiscated at the
airport customs before leaving Ethiopia. Buying receipts
have to be saved.
Photo and video cameras
or high standard video equipment is difficult to be
brought to Ethiopia. An official permission letter
can be expensive. In many places small fees are charged
for photos taken of people, especially in the southern
tribal areas of Ethiopia. Video fees can be very high
in national parks and other guarded places.
Health and medical information
possession of a valid Yellow Fever vaccination certificate
is not mandatory. Immunization for Hepatitis A and
B, Tetanus, Typhoid and Polio is recommended. Malaria:
in most of the sites malaria is not a problem because
of the high elevation, e.g. Addis Ababa, Axum, Gondar
and Lalibela. But it may occur in Bahir Dar at the end
of the rainy season and after unseasonable rains. Lowland
areas along the Awash River, the Omo Valley, Rift Valley
and Gambella are subject to malaria outbreaks. Chloroquine
resistant strains have been identified in most areas
so you should consult your doctor about the prophylaxis.
Alternatively, you can keep mosquitoes and other insects
at bay with repellent creams and sprays. Visitors should
take a simple first aid pack, which would include: different
size plasters, antiseptic cream, anti-histamine cream
and/or tablets for insect bites, sunscreen (while temperatures
are moderate the sun is strong) and anti-diarrhea tablets
such as Imodium for emergencies (they will not cure
the problem but will control the symptoms).
Ethiopian national dish consists of injera, a flat,
circular pancake of fermented dough made from a grain
seed called Tef, on top of which are served
different kinds of cooked meats, vegetables and pulses.
The sauces are generally spiced with berbera, a blend
of herbs and spices (including hot peppers) that gives
Ethiopian food its characteristic taste. Vegetarians
should try fasting food (for devout Ethiopian
Orthodox Christians fasting days make up more than half
of the year), a colorful spread of salads, vegetables
and pulses, devoid of all meat and animal products.
One eats national dishes with the right hand (water
for washing is usually brought to the table before the
food is served), tearing off pieces of injera to pick
up the toppings. Addis Ababa now boasts
of a wide variety of restaurants, and at hotels in tourist
sites European style food such as pasta is always available.
If you are traveling to remote areas, such as the Omo
Valley and parts of southern Ethiopia where there are
no hotels or lodges, it can be advisable to stock up
with tinned and packed food in Addis Ababa.
and still mineral water, along with soft drinks,
are available throughout the country. There are several
brands of Ethiopians beers, wine and spirits. Imported
spirits are also widely available. There are home made
alcoholic drinks: Talla (home made beer)
and Tej (wine made from honey).
Ababa has three 5 star hotels and a steadily growing
number of tourist class hotels. Outside the capital
a variety of good and clean hotels and lodges can be
found. Standards vary, but apart from the areas around
Omo and Mago national parks, where camping is unavoidable,
it is generally possible to get relatively clean rooms
with en suite toilet and shower. Some companies have
started to construct eco-tourist lodges.
Traveling by air and road
Ababa is the only international airport of Ethiopia,
flights by Ethiopian Airlines connect most
of the regions and bigger town daily or at least twice
weekly. For flights to smaller airstrips, charter flights
are available. Travelling by road allows visitors to
experience Ethiopia's wonderful scenery. Road conditions
are good to all the destinations of major importance.
More roads are being asphalted and there will be a good
web of well accessible roads in between the next years.
Especially to the south, it is still necessary to travel
in 4 WD vehicles. The train connection to Dire Dawa
and Djibouti is currently out of use.
can be exchanged in the airport, in major hotels
and in most banks. Exchange requires a passport and
the receipts should be kept, as re-exchanging back into
foreign currency is difficult otherwise. The Ethiopian
currency is the Birr (Silver in Amharic),
the rate of which is fixed against the US dollar in
weekly auctions. VISA and Mastercard Credit cards are
accepted in the main hotels and big shops and enterprises.
Few ATMs are available at banks and international hotels.
foreigners except those who hold the Kenyan, Tanzanian
and Djibouti passport need a visa!!! You can get your
visa from the Ethiopian embassies and most nationalities
can issue the tourist visa at the Bole International
Airport in Addis Ababa (valid three months, fee currently
20 USD or 17 EUR).
is the official language of Ethiopia, and English
is widely spoken and understood, especially in the big
cities. In remote areas English communication is harder.
has its own calendar of 13 months: it follows the
Julian calendar which is divided into 12 months of 30
days each and a 13th month of five days (or six in leap
years) at the end of the year which is September 11th
in the Gregorian calendar. The time difference is +3
hours from Greenwich Mean Time.