Practicalities

Seasons and Weather

Although Ethiopia is in Africa and not far north of the equator, there are a great many variations in climate and weather. The great range in elevation (-150 metres below sea level in Afar to 4,543 metres on Ras Dashan, the highest peak) is mainly responsible for this, together with seasonal   influences. In much of the country, particularly in the highlands, daytime temperatures rarely exceed 25 degrees Centigread. In lower lying areas (Awash, Omo and Mago parks, Afar and Danakil) it can get considerably hotter, up to 45-50 degrees Centigread  at hottest times of the year.

It can get cold in the highlands. However, generally the sun is warm and the air cool in most of the popular and frequently visited tourist areas. In the main rainy season, there can be heavy daily downpours, between June and September. It can also rain at other times of the year, particularly during the short rains in February-March.

In the Omo Region in the South west of Ethiopia, the seasons are different with the main rains from March to June, and shorter rains in November.

The sun is also strong at altitude and a good sunhat and sun cream are important. The air is generally dry too and bringing lip balm is recommended.   Moisturising cream is a good idea.

When to Come

Most of the popular tourist sites are accessible and comfortable to visit year round. The main roads have improved greatly in recent years making it possible it possible to visit Axum, Gondar, Lalibela, Lake Tana/ Blue Nile Falls and Harar throughout the year. Ethiopian airlines provides services to all these major tourist centres.

However, when you chose to come can depend on where you are going. In most of the country, It is not advisable to try to visit Omo Park during the rainy seasons of March-June and November. During recent years unseasonal rains have also made sections of the Omo impassable. Anini Tour Operators Ethiopia can advise you on the constraints and practicalities of visiting more remote parts of the country.

Following the main rainy season in the highlands the countryside is green, full of flowers and extremely beautiful in September and October.

Clothing

Bring light clothes for the day time and a jacket, light fleece or jumper   for evenings in the highlands. It is wise to have a good pair of walking shoes, even if you are not going trekking. Paths to and around historic sites are frequently rough and stony. If trekking in the Simien or Bale Mountains warm clothes are a must, together with water-proofs and a good sleeping bag, as above 4,000 metres it can fall well below freezing during the night.

Visitors should be sensitive about going underdressed (shorts, tank tops and bare backed), especially into places of worship. Shoes must always be removed before entering churches and mosques.

Medical and Health Precautions

As for travel in many developing countries, the most likely health issues to be encountered are stomach bugs, often from eating unfamiliar food. Some precautions include drinking bottled water.

Yellow Fever vaccination certificates are no longer essential to show on entry but visitors coming from countries where Yellow Fever has been reported might be asked. Immunisation for Hepatitis A and B, Tetanus, Meningitis, Typhoid and Polio is recommended.

In many of the popular sites malaria is not a problem because of the elevation, including Axum, Gondar and Lalibela. Malaria generally occurs below about 1900 metres and places such as Lake Tana and and Bahar Dar can be a risk, particularly at the end of the rainy season (Septrmber –November) and after unseasonable rains. There is always a potential risk in lowland areas eg the Omo Valley, Rift Valley, Gambella and Awash National Park. Chloroquine resistant strains can occur in most areas so you should consult your doctor about the prescription. Carry repellent creams and sprays to reduce the risk, especially if you are going on trips into malaria prone areas below around 1900 metres.

It is a good idea to bring a simple first aid pack, which would include: different size plasters, antiseptic cream, anti-histamine cream and/or tablets for insect bites, sun barrier cream (while temperatures are moderate the sun is strong) and anti-diarrhea tablets such as flagyl, tinidazole, bactrim and imodium for emergencies. It is advisable to bring any regular prescription medicines with you as not all medicines are readily available in Ethiopia.

There are a number of reasonable hospitals and clinics in Addis Ababa, but medical facilities are limited outside of the capital.

It is strongly encouraged that visitors should take out good travel health insurance with emergency evacuation cover in their home countries.

Food

The Ethiopian national dish consists of Injera and wat. Injera is a large flat pancake made from fermented dough made from a local grain called Teff wich is ultimate gluten-fee crop. One or more wats (sauces) are served on top of the Injera and are made from different kinds of cooked meats, vegetables and pulses. Wats are generally spiced with berbere, a blend of herbs and spices.Food Fasting Ethiopian Food Beye-Aynetu

Vegetarians can find “fasting food”- Injera with salads, wats made from vegetables and pulses. It is wise to be cautious eating salads, especially at the start of your trip, until you are acclimatized to the local bacteria.

In Addis Ababa there are many different types of restaurants and in larger towns and most tourist hotels it is generally possible to get western food. In the countryside and smaller towns generally only Ethiopian food is available.

If your trip includes some days camping, then Anini Tour Operators Ethiopia (ATOE) will ensure adequate supplies of non perishables are purchased in Addis Ababa or other large towns along the way. Vegetables and fruit can generally be purchased at local markets which can be a fun experience.

Drink

Mineral water, soft drinks are available throughout the country and it is advisable not to drink water other than these. Sparkling mineral water from natural springs (Ambo) is also popular.

Fruit juices are available in small fruit stalls (jus beits) in larger towns. Try sprice- a mixture of layered juices, depending what is available in season.

Coffee shops are ubiquitous features of every large town. As the home of coffee Ethiopians are proud of the coffee ceremony which is a highlight of every family’s day.

Ethiopian honey wine-Tej

 

Ethiopia produces its own wine and spirits, while imported spirits are also widely available. Home made alcoholic drinks include talla (home made barley ) and tej (made from honey).

Accommodation

There are a many hotels of varying standards in Anini Tour Operators Ethiopia (ATOE) can arrange accommodation to suit your budget. The Hilton and Sheraton in Addis Ababa are both 5 Star. There are now many good quality tourist class hotels in Addis and in the cities and popular tourist sites. Standards vary outside the capital.

If your trip is of a more adventurous nature, involving visiting remote areas of the country, National parks and trekking, then vehicle supported camping is the only option. Anini Tours is well experienced in providing an enjoyable camping experience and will advise you what to bring during the interactive trip design process. Staying in inexpensive local hotels in smaller towns may also be necessary. It is generally possible to get reasonably  clean rooms with en suite toilet and shower.

 

Travel by Air, Road and Rail

Ethiopian Airlines operates a safe, extensive (43 airports and an additional 21 landing strips) and a generally efficient and reliable domestic air service. Cancellations and delays can occur so travelers must always be prepared for the unexpected.

Without doubt travelling by road allows visitors to experience the magnificent scenery, and to encounter unexpected cultural and other interesting events along the way. There are an increasing number of asphalt roads and the Government is undertaking an ambitious road building programme.  However, in more remote areas roads are frequently in poor  condition and travel can be slow, especially in the mountainous areas. Trips can be designed to include both flying and driving eg fly one way from Addis to Axum or Gondar and return by road.

There is one by rail line from Addis Ababa to Dire Dawa and on to Djibouti. Travelling on this train is not a tourist quality experience although the line has an interesting history. Visitors     should be prepared for cancellations and delays and run down carriages.

Money

It is not necessary for visitors to declare foreign currency in their possession on arrival. However, if you wish to change money back on departure, it will be necessary to produce receipts from banks and authorised foreign exchange dealers. The Ethiopian currency is the birr (ETB). In May 2017 The rate was approximately 23 birr to 1 US $.Ethiopia Money Birr

Credit cards are accepted in major hotels in Addis Ababa and a many places elesewhere. There are ATMS at the airport and at numerous banks around Addis. ATM sare not common outside the capital except in a  major cities/town

It is not recommended to rely only on credit cards. Bringing a small amout of cash in US$ & € Euros is advisable. Other currencies are less well accepted.

Ethiopian Money Santim

Money transfers can be made through Western Union and Money Gram. Both have branchers in Addis Ababa and also make their services available from private and national banks.

Visit update foreign exchange  via the link  http://www.combanketh.et/more/currencyrate.aspx

Insurance

We emphasize the importance of taking out good quality travel insurance with health cover before coming to Ethiopia. Locally available insurance is not adequate for tourists.

Visas and Documents

Citizens of at least 33 countries can now get 1 month visas on arrival at the international airport in Addis Ababa. Visitors from other countries should obtain visas from the Ethiopian Embassy in the their country of residence. If you plan to stay longer than 1 month in Ethiopia it is advisable to obtain a tourist visa up to 3 months duration in your home country. Visas can be extended at the Department of immigration in Addis Ababa, but it is preferable to eliminate the need for this. If there is no Ethiopian Embassy, arrangements can be made through tour operators to obtain one on arrival at the airport.

Electricity

220 volts. Plugs are two-pin. We recommend bringing an Universal Adaptor

Shopping and Souvenirs

Shops are open Monday to Friday 8.00am-12 noon and 1.00-very flexible. Some shops are open on saturday. There are now many supermarkets in Addis Ababa where imported food can be obtained. A few are open 24 hours.

There are many souvenir and antiques shops in Addis Ababa. A wide range of beautiful souvenirs, jewellery and antiques can be purchased. However, be aware that some antiques cannot be exported and may be confiscated if found in airport searches.   The National Museum in Addis Ababa can issue a clearance certificate.

Bargaining and Tipping

As in many other countries bargaining in Ethiopia is normal, particularly for crafts and souvenirs and other items travelers purchase.

Tipping at restaurants, is generally appreciated and for other services in a country where wages are very low. Tipping of guides, porters, cooks and mule drivers is also the norm particularly if trekking in the Simien or Bale Mountains.

We encourage you to talk with Anini Tours about bargaining and tipping at the beginning of your trip. While we cannot be overly prescriptive we can provide some general guidelines on how to go about this in a fun and enjoyable way.

Communications

Telephone, fax and internet access is available in Addis Ababa in most hotels, at the Ethiopian Telecommunications Authority main office and at private Internet service centres situated around the city.

Photography

Ethiopia is a travel photographer’s paradise.

It is preferable to bring all digital camera items and accessories with you.

Permission should be always be sought before photographing individuals. Due to the high levels of poverty and in many parts of the country, particularly among the ethnic groups living by the Omo River, people will almost certainly expect payment.   If you engage in this exchange in a relaxed and good humored manner, you are likely to get good photographs.

Your Anini Tour driver guide will advise you on the do’s and don’ts of photographing people and wherever possible strive to maximize your opportunities for good photographs.

Beggars and Begging

Beggars are found throughout  Ethiopia. Visitors can often find this custom quite confronting.  Begging is the norm and Ethiopians frequently give to beggars. Famine, poverty and lack of development all contribute to a ‘culture’ of begging’. Destitutes are to be found on the streets of Addis Ababa and elsewhere. Giving to one often provokes a flood of others and does not really solve the problem and can results in a frustrating experience for visitors.

One of the negative impacts of tourism has been to encourage a culture of begging, even among those not particularly in need. Generally, visitors should avoid giving pens, clothes and sweets to children. If visitors wish to donate it is preferable to make a donation to local NGOs working on development projects. Or to community groups aiming to implement an activity in their community.

 

 

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