Tips for Travellers

When to Travel

Suggesting on the best times to visit Ethiopia depends on your choice of destinations in Ethiopia. You can explore the big four and Harar historic routes, Rift Valley lakes, all round the year either by surface driving or flight program. For keen trekkers to the mountains we generally recommend to plan after the big rains of July-September. The rains in South Omo are sometimes unpredictable but most of the time this region gets much of its rain between March and June during which access can be difficult. Thus we advise travelers to plan their Omo Valley trip before March or after June. Tours to the off the beaten trail destinations such as Tigrai Rock hewn churches can be organized in any time of the year. However we strongly advise to travel to the Danakil during the relatively cool seasons between November and March.

Money matters and Banking

Visitors may import an unlimited amount of foreign currency; provided that declaration of such currency is made to customs on arrival. Foreign currency may be changed only at authorized banks and hotels. The currency declaration form must be retained, as this will be required by customs on departure. Visitors, however, will be able to change any excess Ethiopian Birr to foreign currency at the bank in the airport before departure.

The unit of currency is birr. Notes are printed in denominations of birr 100, 50, 10, 5 and 1, cent coins are minted in 1, 5, 10, 25, 50 cents. For those of you who have cash the quickest way to exchange money in Addis Ababa are at a foreign exchange bureau. They give you the same rate with less paper work.

You can also exchange money at most branches of the commercial bank of Ethiopia and Private Banks. Banking hours in Addis Ababa are from 8:00 to 17:00 with a lunch break between noon and 1400. Most Banks have ATM machines through out Addis Ababa, a Visa Credit or Debit card is an excellent option for obtaining money. Do note that withdrawals may be limited to the birr equivalent of US 400 to 500 per day

Hotels and Meal

Almost all types of European dishes are available in tourist standard hotels and Restaurants. We recommend Ethiopian National Dish, ‘injera’(pancake) with variety of spiced stew serving cocked meat, vegetables, pulse, at the end of the trip with folkloric dance in one of the typical local restaurants. “Doro Wat” (spiced chicken) with injera is the Ethiopian national food. Ethiopia also has local wines; bear and alcohol available in the hotels and restaurants

Western food: many restaurants serve Pasta (spiggtti or Makarronni topped with a spicy sauce. Many hotels in Addis out of Addis Ababa serve standard western food such as roast chicken, fish kebabs, roast meat and steaks. Ethiopian dishes: A wide variety of different dishes is available in Ethiopia. Most of them are unique to the country, so it is worth familiarizing yourself with their names as soon as you arrive.

The staple source of carbohydrates in Ethiopia is injera, a large, pancake-shaped substance made from tef, a nutty-tasting grain that is unique to Ethiopia and comes in three varieties: white, brown and red. The tef dough is fermented from up to three sour tastes reminiscent of sherbet. Injera is normally served with a bowl of Wat stew. The ritual is to take a piece of injera in your hand and use it to scoop the accompaniment into your mouth. If you dine with Ethiopians, it is normal for everyone to eat off the same plate.

Drinks:

Coffee: Kaffa province is thought to be where coffee originated and the coffee bean accounts for more than half of Ethiopia’s exports. Soft drinks: coca cola, Pepsi, fanta are widely available, carbonated mineral water (Ambo or Babile is also available Still water is also available:

Fruit juice: most common are Banana, Avocado, papaya, orange and guava. If you want to try it ask for a fresh lime to squeeze.

Tej (honey wine):a mead like drink made from honey and priniods served in Tej houses

Health and safety

Ethiopia boasts an impressive array of tropical diseases but with some sensible precautions the chance of catching anything very serious is not great. Most travellers who spend a while in the country will become ill at some point in their trip but this is most likely to be straight forward traveler’s diarrhoea or a cold. There appears to be a great risk of travellers contracting more sanitation related diseases (such as typhoid and Hepatitis A). You can reduce the risk by taking the appropriate immunization before you live home. You should also avoid high risk foods and drink safe water once you are in Ethiopia.

This prevalence of sanitation related diseases has to be balanced against the fact that there is less likely hood of contracting malaria in Ethiopia than inmost other part of Tropical Africa

Ethiopia is generally a very safe country. Casual theft and pick pocketing are fairly commonplace in parts of the country, notably Addis Ababa and to some extent in larger towns such as Dire Dawa, Shashemene, Gonder and Bahir Dar. Fortunately, this sort of thing is almost never accompanied by violence. In Addis Ababa, pickpockets might operate anywhere, but favored areas are the Mercato, and in the vicinity of government hotels in the city centre. Violent crimes aren't a cause for serious concern, but as in any large city one should not wander around at night with a large amount of money or important documents.

In other parts of Ethiopia, the risk of being pick pocketed is more or less confined to bus stations and markets, and even then only in larger towns

Medical Care

Visitors are supposed to be certified for Yellow fever vaccination, and advised to be immunized for Polio, Typhoid, and Hepatitis. For the fact that, most of Ethiopia’s high elevation, Malaria is not as such a problem in most tourist destinations; however, seasonal Malaria occurs in lowland areas especially in Rift valley lakes after the rainy season. Thus, while traveling to those areas, it is advisable to carry first aid packs, mosquito repellent creams. Of course, most Hotels provide mosquito nets and anti-mosquito sprays

Diarrhoea and related illnesses Traveling in Ethiopia carries a fairly high risk of getting a dose of travelers' diarrhea; perhaps half of all visitors will suffer and the newer you are to exotic travel, the more likely you will be to suffer. By taking precautions against travellers' diarrhea you will also avoid typhoid, paratyphoid, cholera, hepatitis, dysentery, worms, etc. Travellers' diarrhea and the other faecal-oral diseases come from getting other people's faeces in your mouth. This most often happens from cooks not washing their hands after a trip to the toilet, but even if the restaurant cook does not understand basic hygiene you will be safe if your food has been properly cooked and arrives piping hot. The most important prevention strategy is to wash your hands before eating anything. You can pick up salmonella and shigella from toilet door handles and possibly bank notes

Transportation

Ethiopian airline offers an extensive and safe domestic flight service to the historic route and Dire Dawa every day; and at least two times a week to Arba Minch, Jinka, Gambella and Jimma. However, delays and cancellations occur very often. Ground transportation also offers a great deal of experience to dramatic Ethiopian topography and rural life. Currently there is an extensive package of up grading the road condition to cop up with the desired standard

Visas

Visa may be obtained at Ethiopian diplomatic mission overseas; however, nationals of Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Kuwait, Luxemburg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russian Federation, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, United kingdom and united States are allowed to receive their visas up on arrival in Addis Ababa, Bole International Airport.