Flight to Ethiopia:Many flight companies offer flights to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Why you still might consider to fly in with Ethiopian Airlines (EAL) is, that they offer a significant discount on domestic flights, if the international flight is also booked with them. Tickets are then, compared to international standards, relatively cheap.
Visa Requirements:A tourist visa can be obtained on arrival in Ethiopia for the following nationalities: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, Luxemburg, Mexico, Nederland, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Great Britain, und USA. Visas can also be obtained at the Ethiopian Embassy of each country. Other nationalities and travelers on the land way have to apply for a visa at the Ethiopian Embassy of their home country (2 pictures, a return ticket and prove of enough finical resources must be presented). The passport must be valid for at least 6 month on arrival. For certain nationalities, there might be special requirements. Also visa requirements change from time to time. Please check in advance at the embassy.
Customs:Duty-free imports are permitted for up to 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or ½ lb of tobacco. Also 1 liter of alcoholic beverage and 1/2 liter or two bottles of perfume. There is no limit to amount of foreign currency that can be brought into Ethiopia, but it must be declared on arrival if it exceeds an amount of 3000 US $. A maximum of 200 Ethiopian birr is allowed to be taken out or brought into the country.
Valuable electronic devices have to be declared on arrival and have to be taken out of the country on departure. It is strictly forbidden and severely punished to bring drugs, weapons and pornographic material into Ethiopia. Objects of art, older then 50 years, but also some newer works like icons, crosses, bibles, wood sculptures, etc. are only allowed to be taken out with the permission of the National Museum in Addis Ababa. If in doubt a permission (which is not difficult to get) should be obtained. Please check before travel.
Criminal Activities:Homosexual activities, sexual intercourses with minors and possession of drugs (also in minor cases) are illegal in Ethiopia and will be punished with long imprisonment. Chat is tolerated most of the time. It is forbidden to take pictures of military, police or safety relevant buildings like airports, bridges, railway, governmental buildings, etc.
Health Precautions and Vaccination:
There are no obligatory vaccinations for Ethiopia unless you just traveled to a cholera or yellow fever infested area. Still it is advisable to have the basic vaccinations against typhoid, polio, meningitis and hepatitis A and B. Also it is advisable to bring some antibiotics and something against stomach problems. Malaria is everywhere under 2200 m altitude present. On the Ethiopian highland plateau and the north of the country (Axum, Gondar, Lalibela, Bahir Dar) malaria is seldom. Still an insect repellant is advisable and for the sensitive eventually some antihistamine. In the lowlands there are also chloroquin-resistant strains. Therefore the traveler should take Chloroquin as well as Paludrine tablets. Please discuss with your doctor.
Even so the climate on the highland plateau is moderate, there is still the need for proper sun protection (sunscreen, hut, lip balm, sun glasses), especially for travelers coming from cooler regions and on trekking and mule excursions. For planed or unplanned sexual adventures you should think of the rapidly increasing number of HIV-Infections and protect yourself properly. We recommend every visitor a health insurance with medical emergency help before travelling. Please discuss any questions regarding health precautions with your doctor.
Calendar:Ethiopia follows the Julian Calendar, which has 12 months of 30 days and a thirteen month of five or six days (in every four year). The Ethiopian Calendar is eight years behind the Gregorian calendar. When the rest of the world celebrated the millennium, it was 1992 in Ethiopia. The Ethiopian fiscal year begins on 8 July, the Ethiopian New year is on 11 September and Christmas is on 7 January.
Time:Ethiopia lies in the GMT +3 hour's time zone. The use of the Julian calendar also affects the time counting. Counting starts when the sun rises, at 1:00 o'clock (7:00 AM) and stops at sunset at 12:00 o'clock (6:00 PM)
Climate:The dry season lasts from October to May, the wet season from June to September. January and February are the hottest months. On the highland the temperature is moderate throughout the year, not exceeding 30° C. The southern Rift Valley is classified as moderate to hot, the eastern lowlands and the far south are hot and dry. The western lowlands have a tropical climate.
Ethiopia has developed to a relatively safe and stable country over the last few years. Conflicts are seldom and only around the borders to Eritrea and Somalia. There is also a warning for the Danakil region. The rest of the country is safe and most Ethiopians are very friendly to tourists.
Still the visitor should take precautions and not carry big amounts of money, leave valuables at the hotel reception and be cautious in crowded places and busses. Especially in the capital there are many con-artists trying to divert the attention before they strike. Be always suspicious if someone approaches you on the street.The safety of our clients and staff comes first. We would not run any holiday that we did not consider safe. Should the office for foreign affairs advice against travel to a certain area, we will contact anyone booked on this trip to discuss alternatives.
Roads:Roads in Ethiopia are no highways and are sometimes in good, sometimes in poor condition. Even if the road condition is good, driving times are long, due to trucks and animals on the street. A road journey to Axum for example takes three days, while the flight from Addis Ababa takes two hours.
Car hire is relatively expensive in Ethiopia. There are cheap, but generally uncomfortable buses running between most towns. There used to be also a train between Addis Ababa and Djibouti, but it stopped a few years ago.
Miscellaneous:Dialing code: 00251
Language: The main three languages are Amharic, Tigrinya and Oromo. Amharic is the official language. English and French are also widely spoken. There are over 70 dialects in Ethiopia.
Currency: is the Ethiopian Birr (ETB). 1 US $ is ca. 11 Birr.
Money: bancs are in all major cities and many towns available and money can be retrieved, but with a considerable fee. Outside of Addis credit cards are seldom accepted.
Electricity: Ethiopia uses 220 volts, 50 cycles AC
Telephone, fax & internet: are available in most of the towns
Driving license: a valid international license is required, if you would like to drive yourself. Ethiopia drives on the right side of the road.