Ethiopia Travel Tips

Travel Tips to Traveling to Ethiopia

Here is a summary of some of the information you need to know about Ethiopia for your trip.

Location – Ethiopia, found in the Horn of Africa, is rugged, land locked country split by the Great Rift Valley.

Land – Ethiopia covers an area of 1,104,300 Square Kilometers (approx. 426,372 square miles)

Climate – There are two seasons: The dry season, October – May, and the Wet season, June – September.

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 25 mountains whose peaks rise above 4,000 meters. The most famous Ethiopian river is the Blue Nile (or Abay), which flows north a distance of 1,450 kilometers from its source in Lake Tana to join the White Nile at Khartoum, Sudan.

Population – The population of Ethiopia is estimated at 96,633,458.

Economy – About 90 percent of the population earns a 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 cattle, hides and skins.

Language – Ethiopia is a multi-ethnic state with 83 languages and 200 dialects. Amharic is the working language of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, while Oromiffa, Tigrigna and Guragigna are widely spoken.

Electric Supply – Ethiopia uses 220 volts 50 cycles AC. Plugs are European two-pin.

Time – Ethiopia is in the GMT +3 time zone. It follows the Julian Calendar, which consists of 12 months of 30 days each and a 13th month of five or six days (on a leap year).

Currency – the units of currency are the Birr and cents. Notes are 100, 50, 10, 5, and 1. The 1 birr coin is also in circulation. ATMs are found in major hotels, shopping malls, the Bole International Airport. It is important to retain currency exchange receipts.

Banking Hours – Banking hours are usually from 8:00 am – 5:00 pm, Monday to Friday and 8:00 am – 4:00 pm Saturdays. Most banks work through lunch time; however, foreign exchange services are closed during lunch hours.

Courier and Money Transfers – Money transfers can be made through Western Union and MoneyGram. Both have representative branches in Addis Ababa and also make their services available from private and national banks. For courier services, DHL, Fedex, TNT and EMS have offices in Addis Ababa.

Communications – Telephones, fax machines, and Internet access are available in Addis Ababa and other parts of the country in most hotels and at private Internet service centers around the city.

Public Holidays – Public holidays are celebrated according to the Ethiopian (Julian) Calendar. The calendar is seven years behind the Western or Gregorian Calendar, with the New Year falling in the month of September.

  • September 11: Ethiopian New Year
  • September 13: Eid Al-Adha (Sacrifice)*
  • September 27: The Finding of the True Cross (Meskel)
  • December 12: Birth of Prophet Mohammed PBUH (Mawulid)*
  • January 19 : Ethiopian Epiphany (Timket)
  • March 2: Victory of Adwa (1896)
  • April 29 : Ethiopian Orthodox Good Friday
  • May 1 : Ethiopian Orthodox Easter Sunday
  • May 1 : International Labor Day
  • May 5 : Ethiopian Patriots (1941) Victory Day
  • May 28: Fall of the Dergue (1991) Day

*These holidays are subject to moon sighting

Health Requirements – A Yellow fever certificate is required for some African destinations. Vaccination against cholera is also required for any person who has visited or transited a cholera-infected area within six days prior to arrival in Ethiopia.

Customs – Duty-free imports are permitted for up to

  • 200 cigarettes, 100 cigars or 250 grams of tobacco
  • 2 liters of alcoholic beverages
  • Half a liter of perfume
  • Souvenirs (by visitors) with a value not exceeding 500 birr

When it comes to currency

  • It is illegal to carry more than 200 Birr when entering or departing Ethiopia
  • You must declare to customs officials at the point of entry any cash in excess of US $3,000 (or the equivalent). If you have more than US $3,000 on departing, you must present a receipt from the purchasing bank

Immigration Requirements – Visas are required for all foreign visitors to Ethiopia, with the exception of nationals of Kenya. Visa applications may be obtained at Ethiopia’s diplomatic missions overseas. Nationals of 37 countries are now allowed to receive their tourist Visas on arrival in Ethiopia. The list includes: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Kuwait, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, North Korea, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russian Federation, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, United Kingdom and United States.

Security -  Security at the airport is tight, and travelers need to produce their air ticket and passport to enter the terminal. All other visitors are required to pay a fee of 10 birr in the car park and may be required to show identification.

Source : Selamta