Ethiopia is located in the horn of Africa between the tropic of cancer and the equator. The country covers an area of 1,251,000 square kilometers and has about 105 million inhabitants. In contrast to most African countries, Ethiopia was never colonized and has long enjoyed its independence. This meant that the country has taken on a prestigious role in the context of Africa as a whole: in fact the African union has its headquarters in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa.
There are two seasons on the Ethiopian plateau: the dry season from October to may and the rainy season from July to September. in the south and the OMO region, the rainy season is concentrated between march and may, while the rest of the year experiences occasional rain. average temperatures range from 18 to 30°c.
Ethiopia is a multi-ethnic country with 83 languages and 200 dialects the official language is Amharic. English is widely spoken.
Visas may be obtained directly upon arrival to the international airport of bole. The cost: $50 or 47€ for a normal visa.The visa for Gibuti can be obtained at the consulate in Addis Ababa, you need two photos and the cost is 30 USD the visa for Somaliland can be obtained at the consulate in Addis Ababa, you need two photos and the cost is 40 USD
For Ethiopian currency updated information please check http://www.Combanketh.Et/
Credit cards can be used just in the best hotels, in Ethiopian airlines offices and Dashen bank. We suggest you to bring cash and change it little by little, according to your needs. Please consider that change back the birr to € or $ is almost impossible, as several days and long bureaucracy are needed.
It is possible to change the currency in any banks, the exchange rate does not very much, and there is also a foreign exchange window at the airport, straight after the visa office and before passports check.
Fikir Ethiopia tour is unable to receive payments by credit card, so please make sure you pay by cash or bank transfer.
The security at bole airport is very strict regarding the access in the building for Ethiopian personnel, therefore our guide is unable to access the arrival area, and he will wait for you in the parking area just outside the airport, with a welcoming paper.
Unless differently agreed, Fikir Ethiopia tour always provides private transfer from the airport to the hotel, therefore if you are unable to locate our staff, please contact us at the emergency number indicated below.
Ethiopian food is based on a kind of pancake, injera, made by a local grain, called teff that is served with different stews of meat and vegetables. In hotels also international food is served.
- Meskel (finding of the true cross): 26/27 september
- Genna (christmas): 6/7 january
- Timket (epiphany): 18/19 january
- Fasika (easter): date varies
- Hidar zion (axum): november 29/30
- Palm sunday (axum): one week prior to easter
- Gishen mariam: 31st december
- The royal enclosure in gondar 1979
- Axum 1980
- Lalibela 1978
- Simien mountains national park 1978
- Tiya stele park 1980
- The fortified historic town of harar jugol 2005
- Omo national park 1980
- Awash river park 1980
- Konso cultural landscape 2011
- Finding of true cross 2013
- Irecha (new year of sidamo) 2015
- Geda 2016
TENTATIVE LIST OF UNESCO SITES
- Bale mountains national park (13/03/2008)
- Dire sheik hussein religious, cultural and historical site (14/12/2011)
- Gedeo mixed cultural and natural landscape (27/12/2012)
- Holqasof omar: natural and cultural heritage (sof omar: caves of mystery) (14/12/2011)
- Melkakunture and bachilt archaeological site (27/12/2012)
- Sacred landscapes of Tigray (02/02/2018)
Ethiopia is in the GMT + 3 hours time zone. Ethiopia follows the Julian calendar and the day is measured in a way that the when the sun rises (6 am), the Ethiopian clock begins. Hence 12 noon is actually 6 am, and so on.
Telephone, fax and internet access is available in Addis Abba in most hotels as well as in communications shops. In smaller cities throughout Ethiopia, the internet may be more difficult to find. Country-wide connections often fail for many hours at a time.
HEALTH AND MEDICAL
All visitors should be in possession of valid yellow fever vaccination certificate. Immunization for hepatitis a and b, typhoid and polio is recommended.Malaria exists and is a health issue for many people living in lowland, rural areas. In the Ethiopian highlands, however, malaria is not a problem. This includes Addis Ababa, Harar, Axum, Mekele, Gondar and Lalibela.
Popular destinations such as the south Omo valley, the rift valley including Hawassa, and Bahir Dar on lake tana do pose a risk for malaria, especially at the end of the rainy season (October-November). Chlorine resistant strains have been identified in some areas so you should consult your doctor about the prescription. 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, sun block (while temperatures are moderate the sun is still equatorial) and anti-diarrhea tablets such as Imodium for emergencies (they will not cure the problem but will control the symptoms). Generally, visitors should take out standard holiday health insurance in their home countries.
Addis Ababa has every style of hotel from 5-star to an inexpensive “guesthouse”. Outside the capital city, standards may vary, yet most major cities are equipped with at least 3-star hotels if not higher. In many areas there are now a number of Eco-lodges and resorts.
Generally only 100 ASA is available, slide film usually not.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 tribes living in the Omo valley, people will demand a fee.In some sites, blue Nile falls for example, there is a charge for video photography.
In Ethiopia expecting a tip for a service provided is a common habit, but it is advisable to follow criteria for the amount given, because this will influence the expectation towards the tourists that will come after you. We suggest you to talk to your guide for the tips to give for a small services, such as porters, waiters and similar. In case of big groups it is easier to collect some money to give to the guide that will take care of it.
Also our staff expects a tip at the end of the tour; but of course it is a personal choice of our clients, if you wish to have an approximate amount of the usual tips please do not hesitate to contact us.
Travelers arriving on ethiopian airlines receive a discount on domestic flights. Be prepared to show boarding passes or a receipt. For domestic flights, ethiopian airlines is the only operator, and has over two dozen airports throughout the country. The airline is very efficient and reliable. Flights on or around holidays will fill up quickly, so it’s best to book early. Otherwise, normal weekday/weekend flights can usually be booked just a day or two prior.
Bole international airport is a travel hub for the region and links most of africa’s major cities. The airport is situated in the bole neighborhood just 5km from the city’s main square. When making same day connections or early morning flights, it’s best to stay in a hotel in bole. Paid parking, luggage carts and uniformed porters are available at the airport terminal.
Traveling by road allows visitors to experience ethiopia’s wonderful scenery, but road conditions are not always optimal. As the country continues to pave roads, the mountainous topography makes overland travel long and arduous. Nevertheless, the landscapes are beautiful. The 1-hour flight to lalibela, for example, takes nearly two days by road. Ethiopia is close to finishing a six-lane freeway between addis ababa and the eastern port of djibouti and is currently renovating a rail network, which will make the delivery of goods much easier.
CLIMATE AND CLOTHING
Because of Ethiopia’s unique position at high elevations, temperatures rarely exceed 25°c (77°f) while in lowland areas, such as awash, Omo and Gambela, temperatures and relative humidly can be very high. The rainy season usually last from may to September, but visitors should expect some rain in the months of march, April and October.
Pack light clothes for the daytime and jacket or sweater for the evenings, and a good pair of walking shoes even if you are not going trekking. Many of the villages, which are home to the historic sites, lack paved roads and paths tend to be uneven and rocky.
People trekking in the simian and bale mountains will need three layers of clothing including a rain jacket or shell and a three-season sleeping bag.
A cultural note: Ethiopians are generally modest dressers and visitors should be sensitive about going under dressed into places of worship. Shoes must always be removed before entering churches and mosques. For getting around sites like Lalibela with its many churches, comfortable sandals or an extra pair of socks are useful.
Ethiopia uses 220 volts 50 cycles ac. Adapters are easy to find in all major cities .Even if in Ethiopia malfunctioning and service interruptions are common, even for several days, internet is usually available in the main hotels in Addis Ababa, in the main locations in the north, rift valley and Harar, while it can be difficult or impossible to connect in the Omo valley, west Ethiopia and Danakil. The speed of the connection can vary a lot from place to place, but it is usually much slower than Europe.
The network is enabled for international roaming with Gsm 900, therefore it is usually possible to use your own mobile to receive phone calls and call. However, for the travelers that need to be always reachable, it is advisable to buy and Ethiopian sim card at Ethio telecom shops. Passport is needed.
Amharic is the unifying language of the country and learning greetings or phrases can enrich the traveler’s experience. Other major languages include Tigrinya, Afan-oromo, Guragenya, Somali, & afar among others. On major tourist circuits, most Ethiopians can speak enough English for communication purposes.
CURRENCY EXCHANGE AND BANKING HOURS
The local currency is the Ethiopian birr ETB). Birr notes are available in denominations of 5, 10, 50 and 100. Visitors may import an unlimited amount of foreign currency but this must be declared on arrival to the customs authorities. Foreign currency may only be exchanged at the international airport, authorized banks and hotels. Visitors may change back any surplus Ethiopian birr to cash at the airport before departure. Banking hour are usually from 8 am-5 pm, Monday to Friday as well as Saturdays from 8 am to 11 am.