Geography

Safety

Ethiopia is a politically stable country. Its popular tourist destinations are safe and secure. Ethiopia is one of the safest places in Africa. Violent crimes are very rare. Tourist should be aware of pickpockets though in crowded places like markets, and it is better not to show off valuables and money. In some overland regions, it is recommended not to drive after dawn. In some remote areas, separatist movements have been active in the last years. We do not send tourists to such regions, unlesyou specifically ask us to. Official authorization might be necessary to travel to those regions.

Customs

Due to strict custom regulations, it may cause problems at the airport to carry more than the usual basic electronic devices, especially if they are new. Import tax payment may be required. Souvenirs imitating historic artifacts have to be approved as such by the National Museum in Addis Ababa, otherwise they can be confiscated at the airport customs before leaving Ethiopia. Receipts have to be kept. You may want to consult your local Ethiopian Embassy if you want to bring high standard electronic equipment. In many places, small fees are charged for photos taken of people, especially in the southern areas of Ethiopia. Video fees can be very high in National Parks and other guarded places.

Best Time To Travel

This depends on the region you are traveling to. In the main highlands, the main rainy season lasts from June to the end of September, with a short rain period in March. In the Southern Omo Valley, the seasons are different with the main rains from March to June, and shorter rains in November.

Flights to Ethiopia

Various airlines fly to Ethiopia. Kibran Tours recommends traveling with Ethiopian Airlines, as it is Ethiopia’s national carrier and the fastest growing and most profitable airline in Africa as well as one of the safest airlines of the world.

 

In 2014, IATA ranked Ethiopian Airlines as the largest airline in Africa in revenue and profit. In its operations in the past seven decades, Ethiopian has been a pioneer of African aviation as an aircraft technology leader, providing the first jet service on the continent in 1962, flying the first African B767 in 1984, the first African B777-200LR in 2010, and the first African (and second only to Japan) B787 Dreamliner in 2012.

 

Ethiopian commands the lion share of the pan-African passenger and cargo network, operating the youngest and most modern fleet to more than 83 international destinations across five continents. The Ethiopian fleet includes ultra-modern and environmentally friendly aircraft such as the Boeing 787, Boeing 777-300ER, Boeing 777-200LR, Boeing 777-200LR Freighter and Bombardier Q-400 with double cabin. In fact, Ethiopian is the first airline in Africa to own and operate these aircrafts.

 

Ethiopian is currently implementing a 15-year strategic plan, called Vision 2025, that will see it become the leading airline group in Africa with seven strategic business units: Ethiopian International Passenger Service, Ethiopian Regional Service, Ethiopian Cargo, Ethiopian MRO; Ethiopian Aviation Academy, Ethiopian In-flight Catering Service, and Ethiopian Ground Service. Ethiopian has won multiple awards, including SKYTRAX and Passenger Choice Awards in 2013, and has been enjoying an average growth of 25% per annum in the past seven years.

Climate

There are two seasons: dry season from October to May and rainy season from mid of June to mid of September. In Addis Ababa, the climate is almost the same along the year and the temperatures are around 70 degrees Fahrenheit/around 22 Celsius. In the Southern Omo Valley, the main rains are from March to June and shorter rains in November. The Somali region and the Danakil lowlands in the Afar region have a hot, dry climate producing semi-desert conditions.

Clothing

We highly recommend to bring sunglasses and a hat for all areas of Ethiopia. Pack light clothes for the day  time and a jacket or sweater for the chilly highland evenings and a good pair of walking shoes. Trekkers in the Simien and Bale Mountains will need jackets, warm clothes, thermals, waterproofs, and binoculars for viewing different animals. When entering the churches, the clothes have to be “respectful”, covering enough the body. Shoes must always be removed before entering churches and mosques – for travelling around sites like Lalibela with its many churches, airline socks are very useful.

Visa

You can get your visa from the Ethiopian Embassy or a tourist visa upon arrival  at the Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa. (National of a few countries are allowed to receive their tourist visas on arrival) To get the most current visa information for business visa or multiple entry tourist visa, contact your local Ethiopian Embassy. If you enter Ethiopia by land, you should obtain your visa in advance from your local embassy.

Money

Money can be exchanged  in the airport, in hotels and banks. Exchange requires a passport and the receipts should be kept, as re-exchanging back into foreign currency is difficult otherwise. The Ethiopian currency is the Birr (“Silver” in Amharic). VISA and MASTERCARD are accepted at the major hotels. There are many ATM’s available in throughout Addis Ababa.

Time

The time difference is +3 hours from Greenwich Mean Time (GMT)

Calendar

We are currently in year 2007 in Ethiopia.

 

The year of the Ethiopian calendar contains 365 days to which is added every fourth year an extra day. Each year in this four-year period is dedicated to one of the four Evangelists who come in the following order: Mathew, Mark, Luke and John. The year of Luke is the Ethiopian Leap year and is the year which precedes the western leap year.

 

Each year is divided into 12 months of 30 days. The extra 5 days are placed at the end of the year and known as Pagumen. In the leap year the extra day is added to these five days making the Pagumen of this year a period of 6 days.

 

Names of months are as follows:

 

(1) Meskerem (September-October)
(2) Teqemt (October- November)
(3) Hedar (November- December)
(4) Tahsas (December- January)
(5) Ter (January- February)
(6) Yekatit (February- March)
(7) Megabit (March- April)
(8) Miyazia (April – May)
(9) Ginbot (May – June)
(10) Sene (June – July)
(11) Hamle (July-August)
(12) Nehase (August- September)

Language

Ethiopia is a multi-ethnic state with a variety of over 80 different languages spoken in the country, with 200 dialects. The main three languages are Amharic, Tigrigna and Oromigna. English is also widely spoken.

Food

The Ethiopian national food is a communal dish of Injera with stews of meat and vegetables. Injera is a spongy flatbread made of fermented Teff grain. Meat dishes mainly consist of lamb, chicken and beef. There are a number of vegetarian options in traditional Ethiopian cuisine. Pork is rarely consumed in Ethiopia as both the Orthodox and Muslim religion forbid it. Addis Ababa and many other cities boast of a wide variety of international restaurants.

 

After enjoying a traditional Ethiopian meal, it is customary to participate in a traditional coffee ceremony. Enjoy the unique flavor of Ethiopian organic coffee.

Medical Information

The possession of a valid Yellow Fever vaccination certificate is not mandatory. Immunization for Hepatitis A and B, Tetanus, Typhoid Diphtheria, Meningococcal, and Polio is recommended.

 

Malaria: in most of the sites malaria is not a problem because of the high elevation, e.g. Addis Ababa, Axum, Gondar and Lalibela. But it may occur in Bahir Dar at the end of the rainy season and after unseasonable rains. Lowland areas along the Awash River, the Omo Valley, Rift Valley and Gambella are subject to malaria outbreaks. Chloroquine resistant strains have been identified in most areas so you should consult your doctor about the prophylaxis.

 

Visitors should take a simple first aid kit, band aids, antiseptic cream, anti-histamine cream and/or tablets for insect bites, sunscreen (while temperatures are moderate, the sun is strong), anti-diarrhea tablets, mosquito repellent, broad spectrum antibiotics, and anti bacterial spray /cream.

Photography & Money

Professional or high standard video equipment is difficult to be brought to Ethiopia. An official permission letter can be expensive. You may want to consult your local Ethiopian Embassy if you are bringing high standard equipment.

In many places, small fees are charged for photos taken of people, especially in the southern tribal areas of Ethiopia. Video fees can be very high in national parks and other guarded places.

Public Holidays

January 7: Ethiopian Christmas (Gena)

 

January 19: Ethiopian Epiphany (Timket)

 

March 2: Anniversary of the Victory of Adwa (1896)

 

April 29: Ethiopian Orthodox Good Friday

 

May 1: Ethiopian Orthodox Easter Sunday

 

May 1: International Labor Day

 

May 5: Patriots Victory Day

 

May 28: Fall of the Dergue Regime

 

July 18: Eid Al Fitir (Ramadan)*

 

September 11: Ethiopian New Year

 

September 24: Eid al Adha (Sacrifice)*

 

September 27th: The Finding of the True Cross (Meskel)

 

*These holidays are subject to the lunar calendar

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