Ethiopia’s Travel Information
Sublime Nation, Ethiopia
Ethiopia is an ancient land with many unique features, which are true. Ethiopia is the only independent African country that has never been conquered throughout the ages. It is located in the Horn of Africa, North of the Equator with total area coverage of 1,1 million sq. km. Ethiopia is truly a land of mystery and marvelous with an extraordinary history, culture, nature and with a mixed religious events, these spectacles could be thoroughly explored and looked up to under the paradise of intense African blue skies.
The heart-breaking attractions of Ethiopia can be told and explored by varying tourists with different tastes that could hold varying meanings of significance. Through these great lands, the travelers can make a journey of a lifetime which he could not experience anywhere else. Ethiopia’s long history of collective antiquities circles the beauty of its sightseeing that could not be found within anywhere of sub-Saharan Africa. This unique, magnificent, splendid and fascinating attraction makes Ethiopia a country to be listed as one of the top tourist attraction sites in the world. The historical edifice of great endogenous civilization in Ethiopia leads to astonishing sites of World heritages registered by UNSECO.
The prominent ones are:
Lalibela – the unofficial eighth wonder of the world that is known by live 11 rock hewn churches;
Gondar – the medieval capital of Ethiopia with complex of Castles;
Axum : where the fabled Queen of Sheba capital, majestic standing monolithic obelisks stand and the Sanctuary of Ark of Covenant;
Harar : the eastern Islamic learning center and the walled city;
Bahir Dar : beautifully decorated timeless islands monasteries of Lake Tana.
The temple of Yeha : the oldest standing structure defines an ancient glory and the Al- NegashiMosque that represent the very first history of Islamic Faith in the world.
The natural beauty of Ethiopia amazes the first-time visitor. Ethiopia is a land of rugged mountains (some 25 are over 4000 meters high), broad savannah, lakes and rivers. The Great Rift Valley that cuts Ethiopia from northeast to southwest is unique and made a remarkable region of volcanic lakes , with their famous/diversity of birdlife, great escarpments and stunning vistas. Tisisat, the Blue Nile Falls , must rank as one of the greatest natural spectacles in Africa today. With 14 major national parks and other wildlife protected areas, Ethiopia provides a microcosm of the entire sub-Saharan ecosystem.
Birdlife abounds, and indigenous animals from the rare Walia ibex to the very shy Wild ass, roam free just as nature intended. Ethiopia, after the rains, is a land decked with flowers and with many more native plants than most countries in Africa. Among the many natural tourist attractions only the principal ones are briefly given below. The majestic landscapes of Ethiopia open to tremendous range of climate and altitude variety, which leads the country to extreme diversity. Africa’s top impressive experience between Desert to Afro alpine climate, highest elevated mountain Ras Dejen (4620 m a.s.l) to Danakil Depression (120 m below sea level the lowest point of the world), colorful religious ceremonies to Ethnic Ritual activities, immense ethnic varieties, an extraordinary species of wildlife and plants are authentically remarkable and breathtaking.Ethiopia is Africa’s oldest independent country and it’s second largest in terms of population. Apart from a five-year occupation by Mussolini’s Italy, it has never been colonised. It has a unique cultural heritage, being the home of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church – one of the oldest Christian churches – and a monarchy that ended only in the coup of 1974.
It served as a symbol of African independence throughout the colonial period and was a founder member of the United Nations and the African base for many international organizations.
UNESO registered Heritages
Cultural (8) :
- Aksum (1980)
- Fasil Ghebbi, Gondar Region (1979)
- Harar Jugol, the Fortified Historic Town (2006)
- Konso Cultural Landscape(2011)
- Lower Valley of the Awash (1980)
- Lower Valley of the Omo (1980)
- Rock-Hewn Churches, Lalibela (1978)
- Tiya (1980)
- Mesikel celebration, finding of the true cross (2015)
- Chambelala, Sidama nation new year (2016)
- Geda system, Oromo age grade system (2017)
- Timiket (2020 January)
A Tentative List is an inventory of those properties which each State Party intends to consider for nomination.
- Bali mountain National park (2008)
- Dirre Sheik Hussein Religious, cultural & Historical site (2011)
- HolqaSofomar: natural & cultural heritage (2011)
- Gedeo mixed cultural & natural landscape (2012)
- MelkaKunture&Bachilt Archeological site (2012)
Climate & Season
Ethiopia has five climatic zones, characterized by altitude and temperature.
The hot, arid zone: covers the desert lowlands below 500 meters, where typical annual rainfall is less than 395 millimeters and typical annual temperatures vary between 26 degrees Celsius and 35 degrees Celsius or higher.
The warm to hot, semi-arid zone: comprise areas with an altitude of 500 – 1,500 meters, typical annual rainfall of about 550 millimeters but in the western lowlands of Gambella can reach 1,600 millimeters and a typical annual temperature range of 22 – 29 degrees Celsius.
The warm to cool, semi-humid zone: covers the mild highlands between 1,500 and 2,500 meters. Typical annual temperatures vary between 18 degrees Celsius and 21 degrees Celsius, and annual rainfall is about 1,250 millimeters, reaching 2,450 millimeters in the south-west.
The cool to cold humid zone: comprises the mild highlands between 2,500 and 3,200 meters, where typical temperatures range between 11 degrees Celsius and 17 degrees Celsius, with an annual rainfall of 1,100 millimeters and up to 2,100 millimeters as the elevation increases.
The cold, moist mild zone: covers the Afro-alpine areas on the highest plateaus between 3,200 and 3,500 m; typical temperatures are below 9 degrees Celsius and annual rainfall averages less than 900 mm.
- Kiremt or Meher (Summer) – June, July and August are the summer season. Heavy rain falls in these three months.
- Belg (Autumn) – September, October and November are the spring season sometime known as the harvest season.
- Bega (Winter) – December, January and February are the dry season with frost in morning specially in January.
- Tseday (Spring) – March, April and May are the autumn season with occasional showers. May is the hottest month in Ethiopia.
Time & Calendar
Ethiopia has its own unique calendar,which is alike Julian calendar, instead of the Gregorian one used by Europe and the Americans. The New Year is September 11 (Meskerem 1), and end of year is September 10 or Pagume 5 (6 in leap year). All of the 12 months has equal 30 days and the 13 th month of Pagumen has 5 or 6 in leap year days, hence it has 13 months of sunshine,amusingly the month of pagumen would be 7 in each 600 years intervals. Ethiopia is three hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time. Time remains constant throughout the year. The Ethiopian day is calculated in a manner similar to that in many equatorial countries, where day and night are always the same length: counting starts at Western 6:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. Western 7:00 a.m. is therefore one o’clock, noon is six, 6:00 p.m. is twelve o’clock, and so on.
All travelers you should be up to date on routine vaccinations while traveling to any destination. Some vaccines may also be required for travel. Make sure you are up-to-date on routine vaccines before every trip. Routine these vaccines include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, vaccines diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, polio vaccine, and your yearly flu shot. Malaria Talk to your doctor about how to prevent malaria while traveling. You may need to take prescription medicine before, during, and after your trip to prevent malaria, especially if you are visiting low-altitude areas. The majority highland parts of the country is one of the healthiest place of the world See more detailed information about malaria in Ethiopia.
The Ethiopian Birr is the currency of Ethiopia. The currency rankings show that the most popular Ethiopia Birr exchange rate is the USD to ETB rate. The currency code for Birr is ETB, and the currency symbol is Br. You can find Ethiopian Birr rates and a currency converter. Read the XE Currency Blog , or take ETB rates on the go with the XE Currency Apps and website. Ethiopian currency – Birr . 1 Birr is divided into 100 cents. There are 1, 5, 10, 50 and 100 Birr notes. The Birr is very stable and there is no significant difference between the official rate and black market rate. 200 Birr note ????
For caution: Arriving in the country without a major currency such as euros or US dollars is not recommended, especially if one has not obtained a visa prior to arrival. Travellers’ cheques and cash can be exchanged at the airport. There are several ATMs in the international airport terminal (Terminal 2) accepting VISA-branded cards (both debit and credit cards), but they’re not reliable. You should have some cash in any major currency (USD, Euro, Pounds, Swiss Franc, and Japanese Yen)
Visa & Travel Materials
Requirements for Entry:
- World Health Organization (WHO) card with yellow fever vaccination.
Visas – Every national (except Kenyans) need a visa to enter Ethiopia. Single-entry 1 -3-month tourist visas can be issued upon arrival at the Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa for most Europeans, US, Australian and Canadian nationals. There is confusing information about whether you pay for visas with US Dollars (you need to prove you have at least $100) or equivalent Ethiopian currency (which you can get at the bureau de change at the airport). Either way, you will also need 2 passport size photographs. To get the most current visa information; for business visas and multiple-entry tourist visas, contact your local Ethiopian Embassy.
Proof of an onward or return ticket is frequently asked for upon arrival in Ethiopia.Most visitors to Ethiopia require a visa. Nationals of Djibouti may enter visa-free for up to 3 months, and nationals of Kenya may enter visa-free for up to 1 year.
Nationals and permanent residents of Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China (PRC), Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Luxembourg, Macau, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, North Korea, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Slovakia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, the United Kingdom and the United States may obtain a visa (valid for up to three months) on arrival at Addis Ababa Bole International Airport, provided that they are not of Eritrean or Somali origin and do not hold Pakistani nationality. The fees for single entry visa-upon-arrival are USD50 for one month or USD70 for three months, regardless of whether one is applying for a tourist, business or transit visa. International transit without staying overnight will be visa-free, or you may request a free transit visa card from the interline counter on arrival at Addis Ababa Bole Airport if you are transiting between terminals 1 and 2. The procedure is relatively quick and painless; just look for a door with a “Visa” sign on the left hand before the immigration counters. Multiple entry visas are only issued with prior approval from Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
All other nationals, in addition to travellers from the above specified nations who do not intend to enter Ethiopia through Bole Airport, will require a visa beforehand. Overland travellers coming from Sudan can easily obtain a visa in the Ethiopian Embassy in Khartoum. A filled in form, a passport copy (available for S£6 at the embassy) and 2 passport photos dropped in the Ethiopia issued e-visa recently. Things you should know about Ethiopian e-visa are:
Please refer the following requirements for Ethiopian e-VISA.
- e-Visa application fees are not refundable
- Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months from the date you intend to enter Ethiopia.
- A passport size photo and scanned copy of passport is required.
- Currently we are issuing single entry tourist visas only.
- Currently, we allow travelers with e-Visa to enter Ethiopia via Addis Ababa Bole International Airport. Entry via other ports of entry is not allowed.
- The validity of Ethiopian e-Visa starts from the date you intend to enter Ethiopia not from date of issue.
- If you are not national of the countries listed as ‘Eligible countries’ or ‘Country of Residence’ and you claim that you have permanent residence permit in one of these countries, you are required to upload the residence permit while submitting your application and you must show it to the Immigration officers on your arrival at the entry point.
- Please carefully read and comply to the important notices and guidelines stated in each step of the application form.
Ivory Jewelry: Travelers transporting ivory will definitely be detained, imprisoned, or fined and the ivory may be confiscated.
Emergency Travel Assistance
We suggest you learn as much as you can about Ethiopia before your trip from travel agents, tour operators and guide books. The best help is often close at hand so if you have problems, start by talking to your local contacts, tour operator representative or hotel management.
You can contact the emergency services in Ethiopia by dialing:
- Police: 991
- Ambulance: 939
- Fire: 939
- Red cross
Our tips for safe travels
- Purchase comprehensive travel insurance which covers all your intended activities
- Add an alert for your destination within the Travelwise App.
- Register your details with us so that we can contact you quickly in an emergency, such as a natural disaster or a family emergency
Addis Ababa is the third only to Brussels and Washington DC, Addis Ababa is home to nearly 120 diplomatic missions accredited to both the government in Ethiopia, the AU and the UNECA. The best is yet to come, when the Sheraton Hotel Addis Ababa, a member of the Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide Inc., was opened in February 1998, it marked the first of such investment the city had to enjoy in nearly three decades – the only other global name to precede it, Hilton Addis Ababa, was opened in 1969. The years in between were, unfortunately, relegated to disproportional insignificance in the development of the hotel industry. Until recently there was little luxury accommodation available in Ethiopia, and to a degree that is still the case. The country’s main offering is a range of camps and safari lodges of various degrees of sophistication, some of which remain both basic and primarily functional. However, particularly in areas such as NaLalibela, Axum, Bahir Dar, Gondar, Hawasa, and in Addis Ababa , there are now an increasing number of luxury International Hotels, Lodges, Guest houses, Villas and Spas that are of a good to excellent standard.
There are a several highways in Ethiopia, majority of the roads in Ethiopia are in good condition:
Road 1: Addis Ababa-Asmara via Dessie and Mekelle
Road 3: Addis Ababa-Axum via Bahir Dar and Gonder
Road 4: Addis Ababa-Djibouti via Nazret (Adama), Awash and Dire Dawa
Road 5: Addis Ababa-Gambela via Alem Zena and Nekemte
Road 6: Addis Ababa-Jimma via Giyon
Road 8: Addis Ababa-Nekemte-Gambela National Park via Gambela
TAH 4: to the north: Cairo via Khartoum and Bahir Dar-Addis Ababa
TAH 4: to the south: Cape Town via Gaborone, Lusaka, Dodoma, Nairobi and Awasa-Addis Ababa
TAH 6 to the east: Djibouti via Dessie-Mekele
TAH 6 to the west: Ndjamena via Darfur-Khartoum-Addis Ababa
Ethiopia is undergoing a vast modernization of its railways, with significant Chinese, Turkish and Brazilian investment. A new electric standard-gauge railway has recently been built from Addis Ababa to Djibouti; limited freight operations commenced on the line in 2015. The line fully opened in October 2016, and will start carrying passengers in January 2018 The line includes stops at Adama, Awash, Dire Dawa and Ali Sabieh, among others. Two other railways are currently under construction – these will link Mek’ele with Awash and Addis Ababa with Bedele.
In addition, a light rail network – also constructed – runs in Addis Ababa in a beautifull down town of the city .
Food & Clothing’s
Ethiopian food is one of the most exciting cuisines in the world. Not only is the food extremely unique and extraordinarily flavorful, but the food culture that makes up Ethiopia is also something truly fascinating. Ethiopian food is eaten with friends and family. Even the way Ethiopian food is served, on a communal platter, is designed for sharing food with each other. Food is not meant to be eaten alone in the culture of Ethiopia.
Injera is Ethiopia’s national dish. It is a spongy, tangy-tasting sourdough made from the grain teff, which grows in the highlands of Ethiopia. It is baked in the form of giant thin pancakes, then often rolled up and sliced to hand-sized portions. It is eaten with sos (wat), traditional stews made with spices and meat or legumes. Some popular wats are doro (chicken) wat, yebeg (lamb) wat . Most dishes are somewhat spicy, but still very enjoyable for western travellers. At the same time probably the long cooking times of stews will leave you with minimal food-related problems compared to other low developed countries.
The injera sits directly on a large round plate or tray and is covered with wat placed symmetrically around a central item. The various wats are eaten with other pieces of injera, which are served on a side plate or come free of charge once you finished the non vegetable covered injera on the main plate. Injera is eaten with the right hand – rip a large piece of injera and use it to pick up one of the various flavours of wat on the main platter.
The Ethiopian Orthodox Church mandates a large number of “fast days” during the year – officially more than 180 days annually, including a 55 days fast during the Orthodox Lent. During these periods, the observant are required to eat no animal products, only vegan food. In large tourist restaurants in Addis and in predominately Muslim areas, you will find the fasting period has no impact on the food available to you. But in smaller restaurants, including in tourist venues like Lalibela and Axum, a tourist will be handed an English language menu full of chicken and meat options – but when attempting to order those items, will be told they are not available, and given the option of “fasting food.” The result will be a very tasty injera plate with 3-6 vegetable and legume wats, including lentils, spinach/greens and similar items. While this can be frustrating to carnivores, and be served the same “fasting food” for days on end can become tiresome, it makes Ethiopia much more vegetarian friendly. For those that require gluten-free dietary the teff-based and therefore gluten-free injera will make you love the country.
Clothing: In Ethiopia European dressing style is usual everywhere and Ethiopian traditional clothes are available in markets in every tourist destinations of the country. The people dressed their cultural clothes during festivals & Ethiopian holydays. Ethiopian “Shema” broad scarf made from cotton by the local weavers is widely dressed in church ceremonies and people of the countryside every day.
Tourists should emphasis on the following:
- When visiting churchs, monasteries and other religious shrines, women should not
expose their upper body with tank tops, and any skirts or dresses should be at the knee or below.
- For women, the dress code is as follows: Jeans and capri’s are acceptable. If you wear a dress or skirt, it should reach the top of your knees. Sleeveless tops are acceptable, but we do not recommend wearing spaghetti strapped tank tops. In dressing for church, a nice, long skirt and nice top would be fine. What you would ear to church at home would also be appropriate for church in Ethiopia.
Stay safe & healthy
Ethiopia is a relatively low-crime country compared with other countries in Africa. However for the sake of being a strange, avoid traveling in the mid night time either in Addis Ababa or out of Addis Ababa. .
- Organized crime and gang violence are very unusual in most parts of the country. However, in the border areas of Sudan (Gambella Region) and Kenya travelling should be advisable with organized travel plan.
- Though Ethiopia has a secular government, the people are very religious. The two dominant religions (the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and Islam) strongly influence day-to-day life, due to their influence the crime is taboo in Ethiopia.
- Compared to other African countries, robbery is not a major problem in the cities and towns. However, travelers are advised to look after their belongings. Travelers should be cautious at all times when traveling on roads in Ethiopia. Travelers are cautioned to limit road travel outside major towns or cities to daylight hours and travel in convoys, if possible.
- Prostitution is legal, but be careful not go in places that are brothels. Brothels are illegal, and there is the possibility of police raids. Do not interact with prostitutes that are below the legal age of consent, punishments are severe. Also be aware of those with HIV/AIDS, even though in Ethiopia, it is a small risk.
Be careful of the food you eat, and don’t stay in the sun too long. If you get sick, go to one of the big private hospitals, eg. Korean, Hayat, St Gabriels.
Do not drink tap water. Bottled water for drinking is available almost everywhere in small, medium and big bottles. The hotels generally recommend that guests do not drink tap water. However, do make sure you drink enough water, especially when the weather is hot.
Consult a doctor before going to Ethiopia and stock up on prescription drugs you require. The risk of malaria is low in the capital and the highlands, but high in the lake regions and lowlands. Doxycycline for malaria prevention is cheap in Addis.
Homosexuality is illegal in Ethiopia and isn’t tolerated; Penalties are harsh and can include imprisonment up to 10 years.
Ethiopia is a multiethnic state with a variety of languages spoken in the country, of which there are 83 with 200 dialects. The main three languages are: Amharic (the national working language of the country with its own unique alphabets), Tigrigna and Oromigna. English is also widely spoken mainly in urban areas of the country. Other international languages like French, Germany, Spanish Arabic and Chinese also has Ethiopian speakers.