Ethiopia is as colourful as it is diverse. While camels might stroll into town in Dire Dawa, Ethiopian wolves roam the countryside at Bale Mountains national park. Rock-hewn churches at Lalibela, underground tombs at Aksum and well-preserved castles in Gondar give testimony to Ethiopia’s heritage on the aptly named ‘historical circuit”.
When to go to Ethiopia
Ethiopia’s rainy season lasts from mid-June to mid-September. The best trekking weather is the dry season between October and March, with the country turning lush green just after the rains.
Consider coinciding your trip with one of Ethiopia’s colourful festivals such as Timkat (Epiphany, 19 January) or Meskel (the Finding of the True Cross, 27 September).
Travel in Ethiopia: vital statistics
Capital of Ethiopia: Addis Ababa
Population of Ethiopia: 85.2 million
Languages in Ethiopia: Amharic plus 70 other local dialects, but English is the most taught foreign language in schools.
Time in Ethiopia: GMT+3 Note: Ethiopians use the 12-hour clock. Sunrise is at 12 o’clock (6am our time) and an hour later it’s 1 o’clock (7am).
International dialling code for Ethiopia: +251
Voltage in Ethiopia: 220V 50Hz AC
Visas for Ethiopia: Ethiopia visa, visa on arrival is possible for some nationalities.
Money in Ethiopia: Ethiopian birr (ETB). Credit cards are not widely accepted and banks difficult to locate outside of major towns. Take small dollar bills and change these into one birr notes.
Ethiopia travel advice: Foreign & Commonwealth Office
Ethiopia tourist board: Ethiopia Embassy
Locations to visit in Ethiopia:
Visit Aksum with its palace ruins, underground tombs and stelae; the city houses Ethiopia’s holiest shrine
Get trekking in the Simien Mountains national park, which offers routes for casual strolls and weeks-long hiking. The park has a large variety of wildlife, and is the access to Africa’s forth-highest peak Ras Dashen (4620m).
Wander among the 11 churches of Lalibela, which were cut straight from the rock at an altitude of 2630m.
Harar’s walled old town invites travellers to get lost in its maze of 362 alleyways. At night, the last remaining hyena men feed the animals just outside the city walls, and brave visitors can have a go too.
Delve into the Danakil Depression, the lowest place in Africa (-116m) and among the most inhospitable places on earth.
Take a bath in the hot spring pools at Wondo Genet or hike through the forest for a glimpse of the Rift Valley and spotting various bids as well as baboons and hyenas.
Stroll around the city of Gondar, nicknamed 'Africa’s Camelot' with its slightly surreal cluster of African castles and Italian cafés.
Ethiopia offers many small but clean pensions and large mid-range hotels for travelers to stay at. Some hotels also allow camping on their grounds.
Ethiopia food & drink
Ethiopia’s cuisine is generally spicy. Injera (a slightly bitter, pale pancake or wrap) is the base for most meals, and goes well with spicy food. The best known dishes include wat (stew) with either bege (lamb), bure (beef), figal (goat) or doroalicha wat is the slightly milder version. Kifto (lean mince) is a treat in Ethiopia, and comes either warm or cooked with lots of sauce.
Health & safety in Ethiopia
Altitude acclimatization is essential. Travelers are also required to have a yellow fever certificate. The risk of catching malaria is high below 2,000m and HIV/Aids is widespread in Ethiopia. Swimming in Lake Tana is not recommended due to waterborne diseases.
Although Ethiopia is relatively safe, scams and “sob stories” are commonplace.
Sonic Jet can arrange your required flight support and other travel services in Ethiopia, check
www.sonicjet.aero/ethiopia for more info.