A diverse country in geography, climate and culture
Yes, we are in Africa and close to the equator and some of the hottest temperatures on earth can be found here, but we are high up and it can get cold in the evening due to the high altitude between 1290-3000m above sea level on the central plateau. Make sure to bring some warmer clothes as well as clothes suitable for the heat of the day. Those visiting the mountain ranges should be extra warm clothes as temperatures near the peaks often drop below freezing!
Anyone travelling between May and September would be advised to bring a light waterproof as rain can be expected almost daily during these months.
!Please check your visa requirements at www.passportindex.com!
Visitors who require a visa have the option of either a 30 day visa ($50) or a 90 day visa ($70) either on arrival or (for many nationalities) it can be booked in advance online at www.ethiopiaevisa.com .For those getting a visa on arrival it is important to have foreign currency equivalent to 50/70USD. Change is not given so prepare the exact amount. Local bank ATMs are available at baggage claim where Ethiopian Birr can be withdrawn.
Upon exiting the airport you can either pre-book a transfer here or take a yellow metered taxi from the taxi station at the bottom of the ramp. They have set prices but may quote an inflated price, ask to see their price list if you believe the price is unfair.
We do not recommend taking the cheaper blue taxis as there are unregulated and not as safe as the yellow ones.
!For official advice please check www.fitfortravel.nhs.co.uk !
As a foreign visitor to Ethiopia it is unfortunately likely at some point during your trip you may get slightly sick, but we have some tips to reduce that risk.
If you are of lighter skin tone or know you suffer from the effects of the sun, please bring and wear sun cream as well as keeping to the shade during the hottest part of the day. Ethiopia boasts “13 months of sunshine” (check The Ethiopian Calendar and Clock to see that’s not a typo!) so it is important to stay hydrated. Bottled water is readily available everywhere. Tap water is usually safe to drink but use your own judgement and experience if drinking from an unknown source.
Ethiopians usually eat with their hands (the right hand preferably!) so it is common to wash your hands before eating. All restaurants will have some kind of facility to do so no matter how basic. It is common to feed your friends directly from your hand, something called “Gursha”. It is impolite to refuse this and you will do well regardless not to have it forced in your mouth, but if you don’t trust the cleanliness of their hand try to make extra effort to refuse! Other food you may wish to refuse is raw meat. It is delicious, widely consumed and on the whole quite safe, but as with all raw meat it does carry the risk of bacteria and tapeworms.
Should you get sick, pharmacies should be your first stop and are common in all towns. The staff are well trained and have at least a basic level of English. For any more serious health issues, don’t hesitate to contact us and we will see you get the care you need.
Malaria is present in Ethiopia but not as common as in other African countries. Areas less affected are the Central Plateau and Northern Ethiopia due to the altitude and the dry heat during the dry season. It may occur in these places during the cooler rainy season (March-September). In lower lying areas such as the south and the west it is perennially present and anti-malarial tablets as well as repellent should be used.
A yellow fever vaccination is recommended although you will not be asked for proof of the vaccination upon entry to Ethiopia. The issue will only arise if you enter another country within 6 months of leaving Ethiopia (such as Kenya) who require the vaccination certificate as Ethiopia is considered a risk country despite only a handful of cases ever being recorded and only in the southern part of the country.
Although Ethiopia is the safest country to visit in Africa, from time to time tensions still rise between rival tribes and although tourist are not usually targeted, we urge all visitors to remain vigilant and avoid any marches or demonstrations. We will of course advise anybody of any current situation when they book through us.
Other security issues are largely confined to pickpockets and hustlers/scammers. Always keep your valuables close and secure to yourself and be aware of anybody unusually close to you. Another tactic of pickpockets is to invite you to share their Bajaj (tuk tuk) with them, which may seem nice but thieves will use the noise and the vibration as a distraction whilst they relieve you of your money or your phone. Violent crimes against tourists are almost unheard of in Ethiopia.
As for hustlers and scammers, if you book through us you won’t have any problems!
as you travel across ethiopia
Begging is something every tourist will encounter at some point during their trip. This may be from a poor person on the street or just little children looking for a free hand out or money or sweets. As with everywhere in the world it is important for you to use your own judgment about whether and what to give.
We have divided our accommodation into four price bands; budget, mid, high and top. These relate to the average spend for the location and do not necessarily reflect quality.
Meals in most places are usually available for between 1-6 USD, although top hotels may occasionally charge more. 1 litre of bottled water usually costs 0.3USD from a shop and around 0.7USD from a restaurant.
For all our destinations we have provided an indicator for the costs of travel around the town, although Bajaj drivers will always require negotiating before entering, especially for foreign visitors! All travel between destinations can be booked here. Flight prices change slightly as the flight gets nearer and any change by the customer will involve a 300 Birr amendment fee.
Although holidays are incredible spectaculars full of colour, noise and the smell of incense, travel around these times is usually booked up in advance and your movements around the country may be slowed. Check out our list of holidays/festivals to see if this effects you.
Ethiopia uses its own ancient calendar system and is consequently 7-8 years behind the rest of the world due to a thirteenth month in their year consisting on 5 or 6 days with New Year celebrated on the 12th September.
If that wasn’t confusing enough Ethiopia also uses a different time system! There is still 24 hours in a day but their day starts as the sun rises at 6 a.m. international tim, meaning 7a.m. international time is 1 a.m. Ethiopian time!
To avoid any confusions we always use the international date and time, but it is worth clarifying with any external arrangments if they are talking about Ethiopian time or International time.
Ethiopia is a country of great tradition and faith. Although the larger cities are modernizing and more people are freer to wear what they want, we kindly request that when visiting sites of faith that your dress respectfully by at least covering your shoulder and upper legs as well as covering any tattoos.
It is common practice to tip in many places in Ethiopia such as restaurants, beauty salons and for tour guides and services, although it is always discretionary.
Unfortunately some guides see it as their right to be tipped even if they have done little more than let you know the name of the place you were visiting in a heavy, interpretable accent. Whilst we do not discourage tipping, if any of the guides provided through our services ask for a tip, please report them to us as such entitlement reduces the service quality and also leaves a sour taste in the mouth for the visitor.