The Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia is situated in East Africa. It borders Djibouti, Somalia, Sudan, Eritrea, Kenya, and Somaliland. Ethiopia does not have any access to the sea. The capital city is Addis Ababa.
On the major part of the country the climate is hot equatorial. On the north-east, the climate is desert and tropical. The best time for travelling to Ethiopia is from September to February when the air temperature is optimal.
The official language is Amharic, but the locals also speak dialects, Arabic, and English. Over 30% of the population are the Sunni Muslims, 5% are the Catholics, and another 5% practice the Judaism.
Recently, tours to Ethiopia have been gaining great popularity and it can be explained by the fact that tourism in the country became a state priority. Besides, the Ethiopian natural resources attract the tourists. The travellers can go on excursions or go to mule or jeep safari. The Bale Mountains National Park and the Simien Mountains National Park offer hiking routes. The tourists can choose the duration of their hiking trip from 1 to 10 days.
From September to October, when the wet season ends, the water level in the rivers is high and it attracts the lovers of rafting who usually gather on the Blue Nile river, the Oromo river, and the Awash river.
The Lake Awasa, Shamo, and Abaya are the best places for fishing. In these waters, there are huge Nile perches, catfish, filefish, tilapias, and carps. Anyone can catch a bulltrout or trout in the rivers in the Bale Mountains National Park.
Those who cannot imagine their holidays without a beach should go to Addis Ababa and Awasa. There are also very beautiful lakes and the Lake Langano with brown water is the most beautiful in Ethiopia. On its shores, the tourists can sunbathe, go fishing, water skiing or watch the nesting birds, monkeys, warthogs, and hippopotamus.
If you want to learn more about the history and the culture of the country, visit Addis Ababa where you can visit the National Museum which stores the remnants of an ancient people. In the capital city, there is also the Ethnographic Museum at the Institute of Ethiopian Studies, the National Museum, the Holy Trinity Cathedral Museum, the National Postal Museum, and the Zoological Natural History Museum. The largest market is also here, in the capital city of Ethiopia.
The Rock Cathedrals of Lalibela is called a true miracle. The complex of 11 temples is cut out in the Lalibela Rock.
The former capital, the city of Gender is known for its luxurious churches and palaces. In the monasteries, the believers can touch the relics.
The tourists will find unique architectural monuments in the city of Bahir Dar. The monasteries here preserved some old icons, ritual crosses, and Emperors’ crowns.
There are no direct flights between CIS countries and Ethiopia. Turkish Airlines, Emirates Airline, and EgyptAir offer the best and the most convenient routes.
From Djibouti, the tourists can get to Ethiopia by train. The trains are typically overcrowded, so book the tickets beforehand.
The CIS and EU citizens must obtain a visa to travel to Ethiopia. A visa is issued by the Embassy of Ethiopia or at the airport in Addis Ababa on arrival.
The Embassy issues a visa within 2 days. The visa is valid for 3 months.
There is no online visa application.
The import of the national currency (birr) is limited to 10 birrs. The exception is the border between Ethiopia and Eritrea, there are no restrictions concerning the import and export of currency.
All the imported money must be declared. Keep the declaration form and all the bills confirming exchange transactions until the end of your trip.
It will be difficult to perform the reverse currency exchange. Officially, it is allowed to exchange the currency only in the amount indicated in the bills. The tourists can be refused in this service.
It is prohibited to export the national currency whatever the amount.
The imported jewellery must be declared.
The tourists are not allowed to export ivory, skins of animals and horns of the rhinoceros.
On the declaration form, there is detailed information concerning the export of gold and diamonds.
To export coffee beans, it is necessary to provide the documents confirming their legal purchase.
What is unusual in Ethiopia is that people do not have any cutlery here. Instead, they use injera, a flatbread traditionally made out of teff flour. It replaces spoons and plates.
Many traditional Ethiopian dishes are served with hot sauces. Almost every dish contains garlic, onion, ginger, mustard, red hot pepper, coriander, and cloves.
The local people eat not only beef and mutton, but also the meat of camels, crocodiles, lizards, and snakes.
We also recommend trying beef tibs with hot sauce and Brindo (fresh raw meat with pepper sauce and cabbage).
In the coastal regions, fish dishes are very popular. The Ethiopians like to grill fish and stew it with spices.
A favourite drink in Ethiopia is barley beer Tela and a beverage Gesho. The foodies should also try Mes which is a honey-based beverage.
Ethiopia is thought to be the homeland of coffee and, of course, this is the favourite non-alcoholic drink here.
At the end of the meal, you will be served fruits, puddings and jelly.
The national currency of Ethiopia is Birr.
The tourists can exchange the currency at banks and in hotels. The best exchange rates are for Euro and US dollars.
Credit cards and traveller’s checks are accepted in the offices of international airlines.
The hotels accept the payment in any currency.
We recommend taking US dollars as they are accepted in restaurants and large stores.
Details of interest
Ethiopia is truly considered one of the most mysterious African countries. Before visiting this country, learn more about customs and traditions.
The local people are very religious and honour the ancestral customs.
The Europeans will be especially surprised by the wedding traditions of the Ethiopians and each tribe has its own tradition. In the Surma tribe, for example, six months before the wedding, a bride should pierce her lip and insert a clay disc. With time, a disc with a bigger diameter is inserted. The bigger the disc, the more prosperous the woman. The lower teeth are removed.
Sightseeing in Ethiopia
Planning your trip to Ethiopia, think about the places you are going to visit beforehand.
The main sight in the country is the Lake Tana which is the source of the Blue Nile.
A small town Lalibela is known for its unique complex of 11 temples cut out in the rock. The largest is Bet Medhane Alem with its columns.
The lowest volcano in the world is the Dallol volcano in Ethiopia. It is 45 meters below the sea level. Although the viewing platform offers amazing views, it is not safe to be there because the air is saturated with acid fumes. The volcano is surrounded by the colourful acid pools which were formed when the water combined with volcanic gases.
The tourists also come to the Lava Lake on Erta Ale, which is filled with lava instead of water.
In Ethiopia, the tourists usually buy the following souvenirs:
- unique pictures on the skins of animals;
- woven trays and jewellery boxes;
- traditional Ethiopian woollen rugs with African patterns;
- ritual masks and figurines from the ebony or palm tree.