Visas are required for all visitors to Ethiopia and can be obtained from Ethiopian diplomatic missions abroad. In addition to that visitors from the countries listed below are allowed to receive their tourist visa on arrival at Bole International Airport (Addis Ababa):
Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Kuwait, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russian Federation, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, United Kingdom and United States.
Baggage space on safari is restricted to two medium suitcase or hold all per person, plus hand baggage. Hotels will normally store baggage at no extra cost. Baggage can also be stored at Empire tour store.
Credit cards are not widely accepted except Tourist class hotels in Addis, Air ticket offices, so make sure you have cash notes before traveling. The most accepted cards are VISA, MASTERCARD and AMERICAN EXPRESS.
Since rules concerning disease prevention change from time to time, a check should be made with the nearest Ethiopian Embassy or consulate, or any airline flying scheduled services into Ethiopia. There is malaria in some parts of Ethiopia but is advisable visitors should start taking anti-malarial tablets before departure and continue taking for the prescribed time after their return. Insect repellants should be made use of after dusk and suitable cover up clothes should be worn in the evenings.
Ethiopia, as large as France and Spain combined, has an area of 1,112,000 square kilometers. About 65 percent of the land is arable, with 15 percent presently cultivated. From the north and running down the centre are the Abyssinian highlands, to the west of the chain the land drops to the grasslands of Sudan, to the east to the deserts of the Afar. South of Addis Ababa the land is dominated by the Rift Valley Lakes. The main rivers are the Blue Nile, the Tekezze, the Awash, the Wabe Shabele, the Omo, and the Baro.
The current population is about 74 million, making it the third most populated country in Africa.
There are two seasons: the dry season prevails from October through May; the wet season runs from June to September. Temperatures are determined by altitude, with highlands (including Addis Ababa) rarely exceeding 25º C. In the lowlands it can get considerably hotter exceeding 40ºC, while in the Danakil Depression it can approach 60ºC.
Ethiopia has an elevated central plateau varying in height between 2,000 and 3,000 meters. In the north and centre of the country there are some 25 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.
Roads : There are some 4,100 kilometers of asphalt roads with a further 19,000 kilometers of gravel and dry-weather roads.
Railway : A 778-kilometre long railway line links Addis Ababa with Djibouti, and carries both freight and passengers.
Air: Ethiopian Airlines has an extensive domestic network flying to 43 airfields and an additional 21 landing strips.
Telephone, fax and internet access is available at every corner and most hotels in Addis Ababa as well as major tourist destinations including Axum, Gonder, Bahirdar, Harar, and Arbaminch.
There is an almost constant twelve hours of daylight in Addis Ababa, The sunrise and the sunset start at around 6:30 and 18:45 local time respectively.
Drivers require valid International Driving Licenses, which can be obtained by exchanging your local Licenses at the Transport and communication Office.
Best Time To Visit
Ethiopia can be visited any time of the year as it provides you with 13 months of sunshine or any kind of weather you like. It depends on the region that you want to visit and/or the activities you want to engage in. For Example:
Mid December to mid march, and July-August – is the best season to travel, as it is a dry season.
November – mid December, and June – visitors shall be flexible on the itinerary since one day of rain can render the roads temporarily impossible. September and October, and from mid March to May – not recommended due to high rain
From late September to December – at the end of the rainy season highly recommended as the area is very green and clear scenic view.
From December to March – the dry season, recommended. From June to September – the rainy season, not recommended.
October – after the rainy season is recommended for the scenery and green vegetation. December to March – dry season. June – to September – not recommended, as it is the rainy season.
Ethiopia is a Federal Democratic Republic made up of 9 regions, mainly based on ethnicity. The present government was re-elected in May 2005 for a 5-year term.
Ethiopia is a multi-ethnic state with a great variety of languages spoken in the country, of which there are 83 with 200 dialects. The main three languages are Amharic, Tigrigna and Oromigna. English is also widely spoken.
Ethiopia uses 220 volts 50 cycles AC.
There are several foreign – language newspapers published in Ethiopia including the daily Ethiopian herald, Fortune and Reporter.
Ethiopia is in the GMT + 3 hours time zone. Ethiopia follows the Julian calendar, which consists of twelve months of 30 days each and a thirteenth month of five or six days. The day and night Time remains more or less constant through out the year.
The population is estimated at 78 Million , over 50 percent of whom are under 20 years old. The average number of inhabitants per square kilometer is 49. The ancient Ethiopians were of Hamitic stock which later intermingled with Semitic immigrants from southern Arabia.
Addis Ababa has hotels that cater for all pockets, from the luxurious Sheraton and Hilton hotels to the tourist-class hotels such as the Ghion, The Ethiopia and the Wabi Shebelle. All tourist resorts offer a choice of Modern hotels.
Food and Drinks
The food and drink of Ethiopia reflects the many different cultures. A typical dish is Wot, a hot spicy stew of meat or vegetables, seasoned with a blend of Berbere (chillie powder). It is made with Doro (chicken), and normally served with Injera, the traditional spongy pancake made from a fermented Teff flour batter. Ethiopia produces its own wines; Dukam and Gouder are fine reds, while Axumite is sweeter. Crystals is a dry white wine. The famous honey wine or Tej is found all over the country as is Tela, a local beer, and Katikala, distillated liquor.
While the scenic beauty of Ethiopia makes it a photographer’s paradise, photographs should not be taken of military or strategic buildings. These include airports. Before photographing any person, religious festival or rural homestead it is courteous to ask permission. While film is readily available in most towns, we recommend that visitors bring plenty of film with them.
The local currency is the Ethiopian birr made up to 100 cents. Tourists may import and unlimited amount of foreign currency. Foreign currency may only be changed at authorized banks and hotels. Credit card acceptance is now growing throughout the country but not yet in all main cities.
Duty free imports are permitted for up to: – 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars or ½ 1b tobacco – 2 liters of alcoholic beverages. – Half liter or two bottles of perfume. Visitors may export souvenirs a value not exceeding ETB 500, although some Articles (such as animal skins and antiques) require an export permit.
Christianity and Islam are the two main religions in Ethiopia making up 45% of the population each with other religions making up the rest. Most of the Christians belong to the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. While visiting Churches- Shoes must be removed before entering the building. – One should never smoke anywhere near a church. – Only priests are allowed to step into the Holy of Holies where the ‘TABOT’- replica of the Ark of the Covenant is kept.
Ethiopia is generally a safe country, and Addis Ababa a safe capital city, but one should still take the normal precautions, avoiding unfamiliar areas at night and other than that violent robbery and muggings are rare and generally visitors can tour the city day and night in safety.
Airport Departure Tax
International Airport departure tax equivalent to US$ 20 per person is payable on departure from the International airports. A local airport service charge is included in the domestic ticket.