Ethiopian climate varies according to the different topographical regions. However most of the country’s landscape sits in the highlands, between 1900 – 2800m. This keeps the climate temperate, with warm sunny days and cool nights. In the south the weather is particularly warmer, but the nights may still be cool. The mean minimum during the coldest season is 8 degree Celsius while the mean maximum rarely exceeds 28 degree Celsius. The Danakil Depression is hot year-round, with temperatures often exceeding 50 degree Celsius.
In most of the country, the main rainy season runs from June to the mid of September with short rains in March. Rainy season in the south of Ethiopia (the Omo Valley) is from April – June and October. However the changing global weather patterns it is no longer possible to be absolutely definitive about the rains particularly in the Omo Valley. Being relatively close to the Equator, there is an almost constant twelve hours of daylights in Ethiopia.
It is recommended to bring warm clothes for cool evenings, long-sleeve shirts and trousers (for protection against mosquitoes), sturdy walking shoes, insect repellant, sun block, first-aid kit, rain gear (if coming during rainy season), flashlight or headlamp (for power outages), water filter or purification tablets (if not drinking bottled water).
HEALTH AND MEDICAL SERVICES
With proper precautions, visitors to Ethiopia can enjoy a healthy stay. Visitors in general should take out standard holiday insurance in their home country. Extraordinary Ethiopia Tours is here to serve you under the presumption that you have current polices. The question of getting medical facilities in Ethiopia is no longer a problem. In most major cities, medical treatment is available at private and government hospitals. There are also private clinics in most towns and pharmacies are considerably better stocked than in the past.
Regarding health requirements, vaccination against yellow fever before arrival is highly recommended from all visitors. It is required from visitors coming from countries where yellow fever has been reported. Additionally immunization for hepatitis A and B, Tetanus, Typhoid, polio and other communicable disease is recommended.
Malaria is endemic in some parts of low land areas; therefore proper precautions should be taken. There is no malaria in Addis Ababa and most highland locations in the northern part of Ethiopia. This is true particularly in Axum, Lalibela and Gonder but can occur in Bahir Dar at the end of the rainy season. It is advisable for visitors to take a simple first aid pack and always drink bottled water while in Ethiopia. Please avoid eating or be cautious when eating raw vegetables or salads that may have been washed in local water.
Internet Services mostly dial up are available at every City in the Internet Cafes. Broadband network and Wifi internet access are becoming more widespread in most of the larger, small towns and respective major hotels. However, Connection speed and quality may vary from place to place and internet access is not mostly available down to the south Omo valley. Ethiopia’s postal service is reliable becoming faster than before.
The other aspect of communication is transportation. Both international and domestic air services are genuinely available in Ethiopia with the usual range of fares. Ethiopia’s major point of entry by air is Addis Ababa’s Bole International Airport. The national carrier, Ethiopian Airlines, has an excellent international reputation and currently flies to more than 100 international destinations in America, Europe, Africa and Asia as well as 22 local flight destinations.
The Ethiopian Airlines operates domestically a comprehensive network of regular daily flights between Addis Ababa and Axum, Lalibela, Bahar Dar, Gondar, Makelle, Dire Dawa, Arba Minch and Jimma as well as several other flights each week to many other towns. Ethiopian airlines and currently two private companies offer charter services. If your time in Ethiopia is limited, flying is the most efficient way to get around the historic route since the best connection of Ethiopian airlines emerges on the historic north.
Road services are also fairly existed in Ethiopia. There are some 10,000 kilometers (6,200 miles) of gravel and dry-weather roads throughout Ethiopia, and some but more than 3,600 kilometers (2,232 miles) of asphalt roads. But massive road renovation and construction program is implemented in Ethiopia therefore many areas are becoming accessible by good asphalt roads. Travelling by road allows visitors to experience Ethiopia’s wonderful scenery. Driving is on the right hand side of the road.
Many new Rail way services are under construction and the oldest Franco-Ethiopian rail way which run from Addis Ababa to Djibouti (778 kilometers or 482 miles) is also under renovation. This railway, with day and night trains, used to pass Nazaret, Awash Station, and Dire Dawa.
FOOD AND DRINKS
Ethiopian food is deliciously spicy and you can eat virtually anywhere in the country. Food is easy to find and is generously served contrary to many people’s expectations because of the past stereotype. Most part of Ethiopia is fertile and produces a range of agricultural products with surplus for export.
The injera, which is the staple food of every Ethiopian, is a flat, circular pancake of fermented bread made from a grain seed called Teff. It lay on a large platter on top of which are served different kinds of cooked meats, vegetables, spicy stews and pulses.
A variety of international cuisines are widely available in Addis Ababa which can invite you to dine out as in every continent of the world. However less wide spread the European style food is still available outside of Addis at many hotels around the tourist sites. Both vegetarian and non-vegetarian standard western foods are served with limited verities under their menus. But if you are traveling to remote areas such as Omo valley it is advisable to stock up with some packet foods.
A range of local Ethiopian beers are available including some locally-made wines. The local alcoholic beverages include Tella, a local beer made from various grains, Tej, local wine made from honey, and Areki, hard liquor made from maize. Gassy and mineral waters along with soft drinks are widely available through the country. Acceptable bottled beers are sold in Ethiopia with several brands.
There is nothing like having amazing coffee in its birthplace. Ethiopian’s maintain an age-old coffee ceremony tradition. The host, sitting on a stool next to a small charcoal stove, lights fragrant incense and starts roasting the washed beans. The roasted beans are ground with pestle, and then boiled in water. Next the coffee is transferred to a clay pot and served, often with popcorn. Invitations to a coffee ceremony are coveted signs of friendship and respect.
Visas are required for all visitors to Ethiopia, with the exception of nationals of Djibouti and Kenya. Tourist visa, can be issued for three months on arrival at Bole International Airport for nationals and residents of the following countries: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Democratic people’s Republic of Korea (northern Korea), Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea (south Korea), the Russian Federation, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States of American and many others.
Visitors from other country should obtain Visas from the Ethiopian Embassy in their country of residence and if not available, from the nearest country with an Ethiopian embassy. Please be informed that you are required to present a passport valued at least for six months before it is expired, one recent passport size photograph and a service fee of not less than $ 20 US.
MONEY MATTERS AND BANKS
ATMs are available in the cities and small towns in a few locations outside of the capital some establishments accept credit cards, and where they do, it will be visa or MasterCard only. A number of banks and hotels have ATM machines available and Visa cards can be used at some banks. The US dollar is the best foreign currency to bring into Ethiopia but EURO and British POUND are also acceptable. They can be exchanged at banks and foreign exchange bureaus. Traveler’s checks can be changed in banks, but travelers should bring the receipt of purchase with them. Please don’t rely on obtaining cash from ATMs while outside of the capital since machines may often get out of order or money.
There is no limit to the amount of foreign currency that can be imported into Ethiopia, but it must be declared on arrival, using a currency declaration form. Foreign currency may be changed at authorized banks and hotels. Visitors may change back any excess birr into foreign currency at the air port before departure, but they are expected to produce receipts for all exchange transactions.
When travelling to Ethiopia, it is important to know that domestic fares are considerably reduced (by more than 40%) if your international ticket to travel to the country has been purchased with Ethiopian Airlines. Please be aware that Ethiopian Airlines, as the only domestic carrier, requires the tour companies the ticket number in order to make the discount for any domestic flights.