After Addis Ababa is the second largest city in Ethiopia is Dire Dawa, with an estimated population of 330,000. Gondar is the third largest town, with a population of some 150,000 people.
Land Mass: 1,119,683 sq km
Covered by Water: 7,444 sq km
Lowest point: Danakil Depression -125 m
Highest point: Ras Dashen 4,620 m
Getting to Ethiopia
Arriving by air you should make your way through the formalities without complication, provided that you have a return or onward ticket, and an at least for 6 more months valid passport (as well as a visa if you belong to a nationality that is required to obtain one in advance). Arriving overland the most common entry point is Moyale on the Kenyan border. This has a reputation as a very relaxed crossing. The major complication at this border is, that the Ethiopian Embassy in Nairobi sometimes only issues visas on production of an air ticket to Addis Ababa.
Money, Credit Cards, ATMs
The local currency is the Ethiopian Birr, which is made up of 100 cents. Notes are issued in five denominations – 1, 5, 10, 50 and 100 birr and there are five different coins of 1, 5, 10, 25,50 cents and 1birr. One US Dollar is about 17 Ethiopian Birr. Credit cards are NOT widely used in Ethiopia and Travelers Cheques have limited acceptance outside Addis Ababa. Unless you are making a big purchase $200 in cash per person per week would cover the cost of beverages, mineral water, cokes, teas etc and a few presents bought during a typical stay. If though you like to take with a credit card, Visa is rather accepted than Master Card. If you are thinking about buying antique gifts or animal skins you will need an export certificate to legally take them out of the country. Souvenirs for export should not exceed a value of 500 Birr.
Weather and appropriate clothing
Compared with other equatorial nations, Ethiopia’s climate is very mild. Average daily temperatures on the highlands are below 20 °C. Only in the lowlands in the east, south and west, daytime temperature can soar past 30°C. The western lowlands are moist and hot whereas the far south and the eastern regions are rather dry and hot. Daytime temperatures in the Danakil Desert reaches over 50°C. The majority of rains fall between June and October in the central and western highlands. The east and north receive rainfalls in July and August whereas the south receives its most rain in April, May and October. Rain tends to fall in dramatic storms that end as suddenly as they start. Travelling through Ethiopia it is best to have cloth made of light fabric such as cotton. A minimum guideline might be two pairs of trousers, one pair of shorts, four shirts and a couple of sweaters, a light waterproof windbreaker, enough socks and underwear one pair of sandals or flip-flops and a solid pair of shoes or boots preferably made of leather and with good ankle support for walking. There is a massive used clothing industry in Ethiopia and worn items can be easily and cheaply replaced. Getting cloth made from local fabrics is also relatively inexpensive. Most Ethiopians are very religious and modest dressers and due to a significant Muslim population especially in the East, you should select your cloth keeping this in mind.
It is recommended that travellers arrange necessary vaccination prior to departure. Vaccinations should include covering for diphtheria, tetanus, measles, mumps, rubella and polio, as well as for hepatitis A and B regardless of their destination. For Africa vaccinations should further include rabies, meningococcal, meningitis and typhoid. Furthermore proof of yellow-fever vaccination is mandatory for travelling to Ethiopia. Depending on the area you will be travelling, cholera vaccination and malaria prophylactics may be required. Be aware that some vaccines take several doses over a period of up to six weeks. In case you are wearing lenses it is wise to organise spare contact lenses before your departure. Since health care in remote areas is poor get your own medical kit together and carry it with you while travelling outside of Addis Ababa. If you carry medication with you, carry them in their original containers, clearly labelled. Medical insurance is crucial. Check that it includes all activities that you want to do in case you like to do extreme sport or trekking. Ensure that your travel insurance will cover the emergency transport required to get you to a hospital in a major city or all the way home by air.
New Years Day (Julian Calendar) 1January
Genna – Ethiopian Christmas: birth of Christ) 7 January
Timkat – Ethiopian Epiphany: baptism of Christ) 19 January
Adwa Day (commemorates the victory by Menelik II over Italy in 1896) 2 March
Patriots’ Day (celebrates end of Italian occupation in 1941) 6 April
International Labor Day on the 1st of May
Ethiopian Good Friday is always in May but variable
Fasika (Ethiopian Easter Sunday) as the Good Friday in May but variable
Idd al Fitr is in the end of month of fasting for Ramadan in May (variable)
Idd al Adha August (variable)
Buhe always on the 21st of August
Enkutatash (Ethiopian New Year) 11 September
RasRobben Tours is only cooperating with local guides and small-scale, local owned companies and hotels to ensure your expenditures will be going directly to local people and communities. Supporting sustainable tourism, the team of RasRobeenTours would like to make you aware of some further guidelines, when travelling in Ethiopia:
– Do not drop litter anywhere especially not in National Parks and rural areas.
– Do not feed wildlife as it changes the animals’ natural behaviour.
– Do not encourage begging because it might spoil the tourism experience for future tourists.
– Be aware that parts of Ethiopia suffer from water shortage. Try not to waste water by letting taps and shower run unnecessarily and keep the shower short.
– Dress respectably. Ethiopia is a conservative country and especially in Muslim communities or when entering a church or mosque you should cover your legs, shoulders and midriffs.
– Value and respect the local society, culture, and religious values.
– Show interest by learning some basic words of the local language.
– Choose community tours where the local residents are active participants of the tourism development. Sustainable tourism should empower the communities and involve cultural exchanges.