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Frequently Asked Questions

Practical Information

Q1: How can one secure a visa? How much does it cost?

We can proceed in two ways:

-      By requesting it at the nearest Embassy of Ethiopia in person or by correspondence. Attention to the deadline! Cost: €17 + 1 passport size photo.

-      Paying it directly on arrival at Addis Ababa International Airport (applicable only for 33 countries). Cost: $18. Right within half an hour.

-      Tourist visa is valid for a period of 3 months and is renewable.

Q2: Should one pay a tax at the airport?

-      No, this is recently cancelled and included in the international flight ticket fares.

Q3: What is the exchange rate of the local currency?

-      The local currency is called “Birr” and its present exchange rate is around 1€ = 23 Birr / 1$ = 18 Birr. If one arrives with a foreign currency, s/he can bring a Euro or a US Dollar as we can easily exchange them locally. 

Q4: Can I withdraw money with my credit card? Use my traveler’s check?

-      Yes, you can use your credit card in major towns in Ethiopia; however, one cannot use traveler’s check. The Ethiopian banking system does not allow such services. Surely, it is preferable to come with liquid money: Birr, Euro or US Dollar.


Travelling and Movement    

Q5: Which airline company can I take from my country of origin to arrive in Ethiopia? What is the price?

-      Many airline companies serve Addis Ababa which is recently equipped with a new ultramodern airport. The most probable companies, Ethiopian Airlines and Lufthansa, offer direct flights (with or without technical stopover at Frankfurt) with around €800 per round trip during low seasons. We can equally take flights of Emirates, Turkish, Yemenia or Egypt Air.  These flights are relatively less costly but the trip is longer since it includes stopovers. The KLM Airline of Netherland is also offering a new service via Amsterdam.

Q6: How can one travel in Ethiopia?

-      The highway infrastructure has improved in the country. Except in southern Ethiopia, one can practically travel in private vehicle. Generally, every part of the territory is accessible by 4WD. There is equally a network of buses, of all type, which covers the large part of the country. The unique railway line which connects Addis Ababa to Djibouti, through Dire Dawa, is on another hand outdated. Finally, the national company Ethiopian Airlines serves the main towns in Ethiopia in various regular flights: it offers a profitable package with a discount for a visit to the northern region, also called “Historical Route”.   

Q7: Can one rent a car and in what conditions?

-      The car rental cost with a driver and/or a guide is variable based on the destinations and the seasons. The tariff and conditions are negotiable. Note that you do NOT have the right to drive a vehicle if your driving license has not been approved by the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (step reserved for residents rather than for tourists).  



Q8: What are the diseases I might be exposed to during my trip in Ethiopia?

-      Like numerous African countries, Ethiopia is in a malaria zone in a lesser measure than some west African countries. It must be that the parasite causing malaria, transmitted by mosquitoes, does not survive above a certain altitude. The Ethiopian high plateaus (Addis Ababa in particular) are therefore completely safe. However, there is a strong communicability below an altitude of 1500m. It must be at the same time stressed that there are risks of yellow, dengue, meningitis, hepatitis and typhoid fever. Take care of bathing largely in lakes since bilharzias is frequented. Finally, HIV/AIDS has relatively spread; it is particularly unwise to have unprotected sexual intercourse.

Q9: Should I have a treatment against malaria?

-      Ethiopia which is a mountainous country is relatively safe of malaria. It is however categorized under Zone 3 by some sanitary bodies; that is, the parasite is particularly virulent in the regions below an altitude of 1500m. According to the chosen destinations, following up a preventive treatment against malaria is indispensable. Anyway, it is advisable to secure a mosquito net and anti-mosquito sprays as well as pesticides!  

 Q10: What type of vaccination should I take?

-      Vaccination against yellow fever is theoretically necessary to enter the African territory. On the contrary in Kenya however it is rarely demanded at travel document checking points on the border. For better security however physicians at the same time advise travelers to get vaccinated against meningitis, hepatitis A & B, typhoid fever and finally to be updated with one’s vaccination against diphtheria, tetanus and polio.  


Q11: What type of medicaments should I take with me?


-      We advise you to bring with you aspirin or paracetamol for headaches and for some people who have known susceptibility to migraine due to high altitude. Do not also forget to bring medicaments for stomachaches and other digestion problems. Finally, plasters and forecast all what you might need in case you undergo certain treatment.  



Q12: Is Ethiopia a dependable country?

As per the general view, Ethiopia in the interior is comfortable and dependable where one travels freely and relatively without any obstacle. Delinquency in Addis Ababa is marginal and completely does not affect foreigners. On the other hand, it is preferable to refrain from taking adventures on borders: Somalia and Somaliland on the East, the Sudan to the West, Kenya on the South and above all Eritrea on the North (this border is closed since the 2002 Armistice and is patrolled by numerous armed personnel).  


Q13: What about the national law with respect to drugs?

Except khat, drug which is very widespread and licitly traded in the Horn of Africa up to Yemen, drug consumption is strictly repressed and vigorously forbidden in Ethiopia.


Accommodation Conditions

Q14: Where can I find accommodation and how much does it cost?

There is a real network of hotels in Ethiopia with affordable prices. In larger towns, in Addis Ababa in particular, the price offer is more important: the most modest bedrooms at the luxurious suite of Sheraton Addis. One can find accommodation in the capital for $30-45 per night. During a trip in the countryside, one has to take a mosquito net for some destinations well known by the operators.       


Q15: What is the best season to visit Ethiopia?

The climate is sunny between October and June. On the Ethiopian high plateaus, the temperature is fresh between October and January, and milder between January and June. Do not forget however that Addis Ababa has a peak altitude of 2400m and is therefore one of the most “highest capitals” in the world. The great rainy season extends from June to September. There is at the same time a brief rainy season in March every year. Even the presence of a strong bad seasonal weather variation cannot undermine this expression: Ethiopia has 13 months of sunshine.   

Daily life in Ethiopia

Q16: What do we eat in Ethiopia?

Ethiopia has a great culinary tradition. The thin flat pancake of teff named injera replaces the role of bread (which they eat here also, ‘dabo’). The traditional Ethiopian meals are rich and varied, spiced or not, made of beef or chicken meat and vegetarian (specially during the fasting period which are numerous in the Ethiopian orthodox tradition). In Addis Ababa, we equally find many foreign restaurants, European or other (Indian, Yemeni, etc) dishes.   

 Q17: What do we drink in Ethiopia?

Besides international drinks, there are various traditional drinks in Ethiopia like tela (close to beer for its bitter tastes), tej (a kind of hydromel) and different locally distilled alcohols. Rich in fruits (mango, ananas, etc), we can drink delicious juice everywhere in Ethiopia. As a homeland of original and best quality coffee, you are not expected to come back from Ethiopia without participating in a traditional coffee ceremony. Finally, take care of pipe water, with high chloride content, which is not advisable for consumption. We can easily find mineral water, gaseous or non.

 Q18: Is there an Ethiopian calendar?

Ethiopia is a country of traditional orthodox Christianity and officially follows the Julian calendar in parallel with the Gregorian or the Western calendar. Do not be surprised if at some places you encounter a calendar lagging eight years behind the system you already know! The working calendar in Ethiopia has 12 months of 30 days each and a thirteenth month of 5 days. 

Q19: And the Ethiopian time?

Ethiopia is closer to the equator. The duration of the night is, almost throughout the year, equivalent to that of the day. As a result, we breakdown the daytime differently since there is roughly 12 hours of daytime and 12 hours of nighttime. Be careful, if you have a rendezvous with the local people: at 3h00 means 9h00 or 21h00 for an Ethiopian!

Q20: Major religious and public holidays

One half of the population of modern Ethiopia is Christian and the other half Muslim. September 11 is an Ethiopian New Year celebrated by all peoples of every faith. Out of those holidays mentioned below, Ethiopians are known for their religious fervour.

Major Christian Holidays:

 September 27: Meskel (“Holiday of the Cross”) | January 7: The Ethiopian Christmas | January 19: Epiphany (Timket) | May 3: The Ethiopian Good Friday | May 5: The Ethiopian Easter (Fasika)

Major Muslim Holidays:

Id Al Fatir (End of Ramadan) | Maulid (Birthday of the Prophet) | Id Al Adaha (Arafa): Attention, as per the Muslim calendar!

Public Holidays:

March 2: Victory of the Battle of Adwa | May 1: International Labour Day| May 5: Ethiopian Patriots’ Victory Day | May 28: Downfall of the Dergue