VISA and PASSPORT
-Visa can be bought for $50 /45 Euro, 24 hrs. per day on arrival at Bole Airport in the room were passport-check takes place. It is a quick and easy process. IMPORTANT!!!! Since December 2009 you can only buy a visa for 30 days. If you want to travel longer it cost you appr. 3 days in Addis to extend your visa, so it is advicable to buy a visa for more than 30 days in the Ethiopian Embassy in your country.
-Passports should be valid for 6 months after day of arrival in Ethiopia.
LUGGAGE ON DOMESTIC FLIGHTS
-If one or more domestic flights are included in your tour, your luggage limit on this flights is 20 kg. + 8 kg. hand luggage per person.
-Exchange of money (USD, Euro) is possible on Bole Airport by the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia and Dashen Bank with 24 hrs. Service.
Specially when you are going to visit the tribes of Omo Valley or Surma area, ask for a packet of 1 birr banknotes for payment of photographing. (Some tribes such as Mursi only accept new banknotes!).
Also 5- and 10- birr banknotes are important since small shops may not be able to give you change from 100 birr banknotes.
-You can find the Commercial Bank and privat banks to Change USD and mostly als Euro in Addis Abeba and bigger towns such as Bahir Dar, Gondar, Axum, Adigrat and Mekelle in Northern Ethiopia (but NOT in Lalibela) and in Arba Minch, Jinka, Yabelo, Moyale, Awassa and Harar in South and East Ethiopia. Mind that the Commercial Bank is already closed at 15.00 h. and privat banks at 17.00 h.
-Traveller cheques can be cashed by Commercial Bank and by some privat banks. American express are the most popular.
-Credit Cards are accepted only by some bigger hotels and by banks (VISA and MASTER cards are preferable).
-In the bigger cities there are more and more ATM’s by different banks and in hotels.
-See for current exchange rates the website of Commercial Bank of Ethiopiawww.combanketh.com
-At the moment there is a shortage of foreign currency in Ethiopia and it is not possible to change your birr back to USD or Euro. So try to count as accurate as possible how much money you need during your Tour. Better to change several times during the Tour than one time at the beginning.
TIP: If you have Birr left at the end of the Tour, you can eventually donate it to a development project. On our website you can find some links to trustworthy small scale projects. Give the birr to the driver in a closed envelope and write on it: “Gift for………” Inform us after your arrival home by email how much money you have left behind as a gift and for what project you want to donate it.
CLIMATE AND CLOTH
Generally the climate is pleasant –between 17 and 300 - and not extremely hot, in areas above 1500 m. It also depends on the season except in Danakil area, Omo valley (special in Dec.and Jan.) and Gambela and surroundings where it can be rather hot.
-On altitudes above 2000 m. (also Addis Abeba) it might be rather cool in early morning and evening, special in the rainy season (around 150 and sometimes lower) and in the mountain areas the temperatures in the sunny seasons with clear skies will even drop below zero at night.
-In North-, West-, part of South and Central Ethiopia the rainy season is in July and August with strong showers several times a day (but not the whole day). Also in March and April there are showers. In far South- and Southwest the rainy season is in April-May with a short rain time in October.
-Generally light cotton cloth and comfortable shoes are the best but also a sweater and/or jacket are necessary for the higher altitudes and chill evenings or in the rainy seasons. Trekkers in Mountain Areas must take warm- and waterproof cloth.
-It is advisable to visit your local health-centre for current information about necessary vaccinations for Ethiopia.
A vaccination for yellow fever is only obliged if you have visited a yellow fever country 7 days before you enter Ethiopia. A DTP vaccination and a vaccination against Hepatitis A are adviced. And you need a cholera stamp.
Malaria is a danger in all areas below 2000 m. so for most roundtrips in Ethiopia it is necessary to use a prophylactic medicine. Currently most health centres will describe Malarone.
-In all medium size and bigger towns in Ethiopia there are (privat) poli-clinics where a medical doctor is available and simple laboratory tests can be done such as blood-, urine-, and stool tests in case of infection, diarrhoea or malaria. Also X-ray and ultra sound can be done in the bigger poly-clinics. Nowadays all poly-clinics are using newj, safe syringes instead of old sterilized ones.
-In these towns you will also find pharmacies where plenty of drugs can be bought, even without prescription.
-In bigger towns you will also find hospitals, however the quality is very poor. For more serious problems it is better to go back to Addis where more and more better privat hospitals can be found from which are recommended: Hayat hospital, Swedish Clinic, Brass hospital for mother- and child care. The best privat hospital at the moment is the Christian Medical Centre (also called Korean hospital)..
-Take your own medical/first aid kit, insect repellant and a good sun protection.
-Wash your hands before using food.
-Use only purified water or bottled springwater (available everywhere in Ethiopia in 0.5-, 1 or 2 litre bottles)
-Don’t eat salads, food, which is not freshly, prepared (cold and old), unwashed or unpeeled fruits, snacks along the roadside or ice cream (except packed ice-cream in supermarkets). If old and cold food is served in a restaurant, feel free to ask for freshly cooked (hot) food.
FOOD AND DRINK
-For appr. $ 25,- or 23 Euro per day you can eat good meals, including coffee, tea and soft drinks.
-Alcoholic beverages which are produced in Ethiopia (beer, wine) are of a reasonable quality and cheap.
-In bigger towns you will find enough restaurants and hotels who serve western food. Even in small towns you can find simple restaurants where pasta and bread with eggs is served, accompanied with excellent tea- or coffee. You can buy good quality bread, biscuits, fruits, bottled spring water and soft drinks nearly everywhere in Ethiopia.
-The Ethiopian national dish is engerra, a big sponge-like pancake made of Teff, a unique Ethiopian grain species. It is served with different hot and mild meat-, fish-, vegetable-, and bean stews. These stews are also very tasty to eat with bread if you don’t like the slightly sour taste of the engerra. The mild stews (without the red pepper) are called “alicha”.
For vegetarians there is enough choice in fasting-stews (ask for “yetsom migib”)
-Compared with other African countries, Ethiopia is a safe country to travel. From their cultural background people respect guests. Backpackers will meet helpful people everywhere. Naturally you have to take the normal safety measures and beware for pickpockets, special on crowded places such as bus stations and market places. Children use sometimes tricks such as starting a fight before your feet and when you are concentrated on the fighting, one of their friends robs your wallet.
-In Addis Abeba a well known trick is that of a “student” who introduces himself somewhere on the street to you for being your guide and he offers you a “cultural evening”. He brings you to a private house, gives you some drinks and a “dance group” gives a short performance. Finally they charge you a huge amount of money.
Since there are enough cultural restaurants with excellent performances of cultural dance- and music groups, you can refuse these kind of offers. Some good cultural restaurants in Addis are “Habesha” and “Fasika” near Bole road, the cultural restaurant of Ghion Hotel and Yod Abyssinia next to Dessalegn hotel
BEHAVIOUR OF CHILDREN AND YOUTH
You will experience sometimes annoying behaviour of children and youth, walking behind you and shouting at you “ferengi” (= foreigner), or “you, you” or “money, money”. To get angry makes them even more eager to follow you. The best is to try to get a normal contact with them by introducing yourself or make some jokes so they don’t consider you as a “walking money bag” anymore.
-Beggars are quite common in Ethiopia, special in the bigger towns. Although the older people in Ethiopia are still proud and independent and consider it as a shame to beg, for the younger ones it has unfortunately become normal, specially by foreigners. Most of the time it is not recommended to give money to begging youth and children, since they might use the money to buy chewing gum, candies, alcohol or chat. Don’t give pens, candies etc. to children as well. It is much better to donate money to a small scale development project (see on our website) or to give pens and exercise books to a school who can distribute them to the poorest children
-In Addis Abeba there are many groups of begging women with small children. We advice you strongly not to respond on their begging, they are mostly rather obtrusive and have made it their habit to beg and teach their children to do so although they could have another kind of income.
-Specially boys (and sometimes guides) try to make friendship with you and than they ask you to be their sponsor to pay for their school or study. If you cannot verify their background it is not advicable to give money. Some of them have got already many “sponsors”! It is better to sponsor children via a local organization who can screen and follow the children.
-Handicapped or old people sometimes have no other possibility than begging
TIPS AND PAYMENT
-For small service in restaurants and hotels, children who wash or watch your car etc. you can pay 10 birr or more (depending on the service).
-Most guests pay their privat guide and /or driver some extra at the end of the Tour. (800 birr or more)
-In every place with historical sites, you can find official guides via a Tourist office or hotel. Common payment is 200-400 birr for a full day guiding. However there are also young boys (secondary school students) who offer you guiding service. If you want to make use of this, agree a payment beforehand in order to avoid disagreement afterwards. This might be from 50 birr for several hours up to 150 birr for a full day.
PHOTO AND VIDEO
Ask always first permission to make close up photo’s or film of people and/or their houses. Sometimes people might react aggressive when you make a photo of them without first asking.
-In Omo valley, Surma area and sometimes on markets you pay 2-3 birr p.p. for photographing people. Mursi even ask 5 birr per photo.
-On historical sites you have to pay $15,- - 20,- for the use of a video camera.
For the tours which include camping, we provide camping and kitchen equipment. You only have to take your own (for mountain trekkings frost resisting) sleeping bag and eventually (inflatable) pillow.