Ethiopia travel tips

What do you know before you come to Ethiopia, as Travel Tips?


Do I need a Visa to come to Ethiopia?

No visa is required for the nationals of Kenya Djibouti, and The Sudan. In addition nationals of the following countries can easily get a visa on arrival in the airport. . Argentina . Australia . Austria . Belgium . Brazil . Canada . China . Denmark . Finland . France . Germany . Greece . Ireland . Israel . Italy . Japan . Korea Republic . Kuwait . Luxembourg . Mexico . Netherlands . New Zealand . Norway . Poland . Portugal . Russian Federation . South Africa . Spain . Sweden . Switzerland . Taiwan (Province Of China) . United Kingdom . United States

I want to taste the national foods and drinks of your country.

A wide variety of different dishes are available in Ethiopia and most of them are unique to the country so you have to familiarize yourself first with the names of different dishes. You can choose from the spicy and hot Doro Wot, Kitfo, or Key Wot to less spicy dishes like Alicha Wot you can get these foods virtually anywhere in the country and portions are generous and very cheap. There are also homemade and fabricated local drinks for you to choose from Araki- a strong alcoholic beverage made from millet and maize, Tej – a mead like drink made from honey and Tela – locally brewed beer from maize, wheat and barley and Guder- the Ethiopian wine.

Is Ethiopia really the cradle of mankind? What can you tell me about Lucy’?

Lucy is a 3.5 million years old female skeleton, which is among the important archaeological discoveries that make that make Ethiopia to have the prestigious title of ‘the cradle of mankind’. It is a complete direct hominid fossil discovered in the north – eastern part of Ethiopia at the place called Hadar. Now any tourists in the National museum in Addis Ababa can visit it. So the fact that the most crucial discoveries, including the Lucy’s, have taken places in Ethiopia make the country the most probable site for the cradle of mankind.

What can you tell me about Ethiopia?

The Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia is a developing country located in the northeastern part of Africa commonly known as ‘ The Horn of Africa’. It lies in the equatorial region between 30 – 180 north and 330 – 480 east, Eritrea and Djibouti bound in on the northeast, on the east and southeast by Somalia, on the south by Kenya and on the west by the Sudan. Ethiopia, as large as France and Spain combined, has an area of 1,104,300 km? It is the tenth largest country in Africa. It is a democratic national comprising of 11 semi-autonomous administrative regions organized loosely along major ethnic lines. It has an agriculturally dominated economy, which is about 65 per cent of the land is presently cultivated. Ethiopia is the oldest independent country in Africa having its own calendar, alphabet and clock.

What can you tell me about the topography of Ethiopia?

A volcanically formed central plateau, isolated on three sides by low- flying desert dominates the Ethiopian landscape. The central plateau, often referred to as the Ethiopian highlands, has an average altitude of above 2,000m and includes 20 peaks of 4,000m or higher. The Ethiopia highlands are dramatically mountainous, no more than where they are bisected by the Rift valley, which starts at the Red sea, then continues through the Danakil depression and through southern Ethiopia to Mozambique in Southern Africa. The part of the Rift valley, south of Addis Ababa, is notable for its string of eight lakes.

The most extensive mountain ranges on the highlands are the Semien, which lie directly north of Gondar, and Bale, which lies in the southern highlands to the east of the Rift Valley. Mount Ras Dashen in the Semien is at 4,620m, the fourth highest peak in Africa. The highlands also form the source of four major river systems. The nest known of these is the Blue Nile or Abbay, which starts at Lake Tana in the northwest and supplies nine- tenths of the Nile’s water, which eventually reaches Egypt’s Nile valley.

What does thirteen months of sunshine mean?

Ethiopia follows the Julian calendar, which consists of twelve months of thirty days each and a thirteenth month of five days (six days on leap year). You can see the sun every day of the year that is why we call our country- a country where the sun shines thirteen months. You will be seven years younger when you arrive in Ethiopia because the calendar is seven years and eight months behind the western calendar.

What is the base of the Ethiopia economy?

Ethiopia’s economy is predominantly agricultural. The highlands are very fertile, which contain many large rivers with enormous untapped potential for irrigation projects. About 90 per cent of the population earns their living from the land, mainly as subsistence farmers. Agriculture is the backbone of the national economy and the principal exports from this sector are coffee, oil seeds, pulses, flowers, vegetables, sugar and foodstuffs for animals. There is also a thriving livestock sector, exporting carrel on the hoof and hides and skins. 25% of the populations grow coffee and it accounts for 55% of Ethiopia’s exports.

What is the best time to visit Ethiopia?

Ethiopia can be visited at any time of the year. People are often advised against traveling during the rainy season, which normally runs from June until early October. But it has its own advantages. The scenery is particularly wonderful green in September and early October. At this time the whole country will be a riot of wild flowers. The ideal time to visit Ethiopia is between October and April, when the rains are over but the countryside is still green.

What is the climate in Ethiopia?

Ethiopia shows a wide climatic variation, ranging from the peaks of the Semien and Bale, which receive periodic snowfall, to regular daytime temperatures of over 500 C in the Denakil Desert As a rule, the highland has a temperate climate and average day time temperature of 160C. Due to their proximity to the Equator, the eastern lowlands and far south is dray and hot. The western lowlands are moist and hot, making them one part of the country that feels truly tropical. The southern rift valley, much of which is at the relatively high altitude of 1.500m, is temperate to hot and seasonally moist. The general precipitation pattern is that the bulk of the rain in the highlands and Rift valley falls between mid-June and early October.

The rainy season in the Rift Valley generally starts and ends a few weeks earlier than in the highlands. The northeastern highlands have a less reliable rainy season than other highland parts of Ethiopia. In normal rainy season the highlands receive an average rainfall of 1,000mm. From a tourist’s point of view, rain tends to fall in dramatic storms, which end as suddenly as they start a situation that is infinitely easier for travel than are days of protracted drizzle.

What is the time difference in Ethiopia?

Ethiopia has a different time calculating system and three hours ahead of Green witch Mean time (GMT). The Ethiopian day is calculated in a manner similar to that in many equatorial countries, where day and night is always the same length. Time remains constant through the year counting starts from western 6 and 6 Western 7 is therefore one o’clock, noon is 6 o’ clock and 6 is 12 o’clock. In Addis Ababa, then sunrise and sunset at around 6:30 and 18.45 respectively.

Photos and Tips?

We always recommend asking for permission to take photos. In some place people ask payment for any photo taken and the amount is to be negotiated. We suggest consulting the guide to give donations or anything else to schools and other organizations. .

As a matter of courtesy, permission should be sought before photographing individuals and in many parts of the country, particularly among the Afar and among the ethnic groups living by the Omo River, people will demand a fee.

In some sites (Lake Tana monasteries for example) there is a charge for video photography. You can usually take photos of celebrations in Coptic churches; however, you should maintain a distance of respect and make a photography request beforehand. This charge is also valid for Muslim celebrations.


The local currency is the “Ethiopian Birr”, made up of 100 cents. Credit cards, Visa, MasterCard, Access, American Express and Diners Club are not widely accepted except in a few establishments in the cities. Cash and travelers cheques are recommended.

Electric Supply

Ethiopia uses 220 Volts 50 cycles AC. Sockets are with 2 holes. A universal two – prong adapter is recommended.

Telephone, fax, internet and postal facilities are highly available in most main towns. The country code for Ethiopia is +251.

Health & Precautions

Ethiopia requires all visitors to have an up-to-date Yellow Fever vaccination certificate. Generally, for their own protection, visitors should be immunized or have received a booster shot against hepatitis A and B, Tetanus, Typhoid and Polio.

Prior to entry, visitors should be in possession of a valid health certificate for yellow fever. Vaccination against cholera is also required for any person who has visited a cholera-infected area within six days prior to arrival in Ethiopia. However your passport must be valid for at least 6 months.


A Yellow Fever vaccination certificate is no longer mandatory in order to enter Ethiopia, but if you’ve recently traveled to a country where it is present you will need proof of immunization. For US yellow fever vaccination clinics

Several vaccinations are highly recommended when traveling to Ethiopia, they include:

  • Yellow Fever
  • Typhoid
  • Hepatitis A
  • Diphtheria
  • Meningococcal

It is also recommended that you are up to date with your polio and tetanus vaccinations.


There’s a risk of catching malaria in many parts of Ethiopia especially areas that lie below 2000 meters (6500 feet). So while the Highlands and Addis Ababa are considered low-risk areas for malaria, you still have to be careful and take precautions. Ethiopia is home to the chloroquine-resistant strain of malaria as well as the dangerous falciparum strain. Make sure your doctor or travel clinic knows you are traveling to Ethiopia (don’t just say Africa) so s/he can prescribe the right anti-malarial medication. Tips on how to avoid malaria will also help.

High Altitude

Addis Ababa and Ethiopia’s highlands (which you’ll be visiting if you’re planning on doing the historical circuit) are at high elevations. High altitude can affect healthy individuals in a number of ways including: dizziness, nausea, shortness of breath, fatigue and headaches.

Security and Safety

Despite its location in the Horn of Africa, Ethiopia is a very safe country to visit, and Addis Ababa is still the safest and the hub of Africa. There is little incidence of personal crimes such as assault and robbery, and the country’s security forces have taken great measures to prevent terrorists from instigating violence that could arm the safety of residents and visitors and disrupt the business community, which has registered significant growth. Visitors should, of course, take the usual precautions – not carry large amounts of money with them and leave particularly valuable items locked away.

Like everywhere else, pickpockets to create some kind of diversion before making their move, so visitors should walk purposefully and be cautious about sudden introductions in the street.

For the most part traveling in Ethiopia is safe, but you should take the same precautions as you would travel in any poor country (see below). It is also wise to avoid all border areas (with Somalia, Eritrea, Kenya and Sudan) since there’s still pockets of political unrest, and kidnapping of tourists in these areas have occurred in the past.

Basic safety rules for travelers to Ethiopia

  • Make a copy of your passport and keep it in your luggage.
  • Don’t walk on your own at night in Addis Ababa and other major tourist towns.
  • Watch out for pickpockets at the Mercato in Addis Ababa
  • Don’t wear jewelry.
  • Don’t carry too much cash with you.
  • Wear a money belt that fits under your clothes.
  • Don’t carry a lot of camera equipment especially in the major cities.

Avoid travel at night because roads are perilously filled with potholes, livestock, and broken down vehicles.


Ethiopians are modest dressers and visitors should be sensitive about going undressed into places of worship. Shoes must always be removed before entering Churches and Mosques.