Travel Tips

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Most Popular Sites: Ethiopia offers several untouched historical and natural sites. Every site has got its uniqueness depending upon the interest of the tourist. However, the most famous sight is perhaps Lalibela rock-hewn church and Axum steles, rock churches of Tigray, the castle city of Gondar , Semien Mountains, Harar city of the Jugol wall. Other famous areas include the southern area of the Omo people,the Rift valley region, the Sof Omar cave in Bale, the Ertale volcano and Dallol region, Jimma area is of interest for those who are eager to know the origin of Coffee.

Accommodation

Addis Ababa has two 5 star hotels- the Hilton and the Sheraton (Luxury collection) and a growing number of tourist class hotels. Standards vary outside the capital, but apart from the Omo and Mago areas where camping is unavoidable it is generally possible to get relatively clean rooms with en suite toilet and shower.

Calendar & Time

Calendar and Time: Ethiopia follows the Julian calendar, which has 12 months of 30 days and a 13th month of five of six days. New Year starts on September 11th. The Ethiopian calendar is 7 years and 8 months behind the Gregorian calendar.

Ethiopia is in GMT+3 hours zone; days starting at sunrise; dawn being 12 AM, middy 6 PM, dusk 12 PM Ethiopian time etc.

Safety

Ethiopia is a safe destination; nevertheless, when traveling in any developing country, common sense is a traveler's best friend. Safety is one of the main factors that are considered while we organize our trips.

Visa

Visa applications may be obtained at Ethiopia’s diplomatic missions overseas. However, national of 33 countries are now allowed to receive their tourist visas on arrival in Ethiopia at the regular charge. The list includes Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greek, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Kuwait, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russian Federation, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Citizens of United Kingdom and United States. For China including passports issued in Hong Kong (SAR China) and MACAO (SAR China), Visa is available on arrival.

Food

The national dish for most Ethiopians is injera, a flat, sour dough pancake make from a special grain called teff, which is served with either meat of vegetable sauces. When eating national food Ethiopians eat together, off one large circular plate. Visitors and guests will have choice morsels and pieces of meat placed in front of them, and when eating doro wot, chicken stew, the pieces of meat are eaten last, after one has filled up on injera and sauce.

Vegetarians should try “fasting food”, what Orthodox Christians eat during lent and other fasting periods, and which is free of meat and animal products. For those who find Ethiopian food too spicy, in Addis Ababa there are Greek, Chinese, Armenian, Indian, Hong Kong, Arabic, French and Italian restaurants. Outside Addis Ababa, European style food, particularly spaghetti (pasta), is available in all the large hotels.

Drink

Tella, a traditional beer brewed from barely or corn and hops, is a local drink generally unavailable in modern hotels and restaurants. Fermented sorghum known as borde is a dual-purpose food- drink among Ethiopia’s lowland peoples and pastoralists. In Addition, there are bottled Ethiopian beers, local wine and mineral water that most find to their liking.

Topography

Ethiopia has an elevated central plateau varying in height between 2,000 and 3,000 meters. In the north and center of the country there are some mountains whose peaks rise over 4,000 meters. The most famous Ethiopian river is the Blue Nile (or Abbay), which runs a distance of 1,450 kilometers from its source in Lake Tana, to join the White Nile at Khartoum.

Climate

Throughout most of the country there are two seasons: the dry season prevails from October through May; the wet season runs from June to September. Temperate in the highlands; hot in the lowlands.

Clothing

Visitors should take light, summer clothes for the day time and something warm for the evenings, like a sweater or jacket. The temperature drops quite rapidly towards sunset. Simian or Bale Mountains trekkers should bring warm clothes and water proofs for un seasonal rains. Shoes must always be removed before entering churches and mosques.

People

Ethiopia’s population is estimated around 80 million (2007). Ethiopia is composed of about 83 ethnic groups with its 200 dialects. Based on the language they speak, they can be divided into Semitic, Cushitic, Nilotic and Omotic stocks. Amharic with its unique alphabet is the official language of Ethiopia; however English, Italian, French and Arabic are widely spoken.

Currency

The local currency is Birr, and 1 USD is approximately equivalent to 14 birr. Information of foreign currency by visitors is unlimited; but declaration must be made at the point of entry. Foreign currency may only be changed at authorized banks and hotels. The currency declaration form must be retained as this will be required by customs on departure.

Photography

In the smaller towns the locals may expect a small payment in return for being photographed. Video photography in famous tourist attractions occasionally carries a small charge. Photography may be prohibited on the bridge and near military camps.

Health

All visitors are required to posses a valid Yellow Fever Vaccination certificate. Vaccination against Cholera is also required for any person who visited or transited a cholera- infected area within six days prior to arrival in Ethiopia. Malaria occurs in most parts of the country, especially when visiting the lowland; visitors should take preventive dose against malaria before, during and after the tour.

Communication

Telephone, Tele fax, Internet, e-mail and postal facilities are available in the country. Internet services are available in major cities and towns only. The international dialing code for Ethiopia is +251.

Airport

Airport: The main Airport is Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa. It has various international connections. Domestic flights are also available to various regions of the country. The Historic route has daily flights from Addis Ababa, in the sites as Bahir Dar, Gondar, Lalibela, Axum and Dire Dawa South (Arbaminch and Jinka and South-west some cities are also connected (Jimma, and Gambella).
There is USD 20 departure tax for international flights.

Economy

About 85 percent of the populations earn their living from the land, mainly as subsistence farmers. Agriculture is the backbone of the national economy and the principal exports from the sector are coffee, chat, oil seeds, pulses, flowers, vegetables, sugar and foodstuffs for animals. There is also thriving livestock sector, exporting cattle on the hoof and hides of skins.

Religion

Three of the world’s major religions Judaism, Christianity and Islam have had their followers here since they were founded and thus have grown with indigenous expressions and protected in Ethiopia before anywhere else. Religions (est.): Ethiopian Orthodox Christian 40%, Sunni Muslim 45-50%, Protestant 5%, remainder indigenous beliefs. Today, almost 99 % of Ethiopians are adherents of one of these three main religions with the rest followers of animist traditional sprit or ancestral worship of one kind or another.