WHAT IS THE BEST TIME TO TRAVEL TO ETHIOPIA?
The best time to travel to Ethiopia is during the dry season (mid October to May). Depending on your budget, you may prefer to visit Ethiopia in the low season. Nevertheless, it is also nice to experience some wide known religious festivals such as Timkat or Meskel.
If you are planning to visit the Northern highlands, the best time will be from October to March although it does not rain very heavily during the rainy season. Also in the northern route can be including a trekking in the Simien Mountains, which it is advisable to do it from September to November when it is dry, green and dust free. If, on the contrary, you prefer to experience the lifestyle of more than 50 unique tribes in the Omo River region of South Western Ethiopia, you will have to come from August to October. Finally, the expedition to the Danakil Depression, as one of the hottest places on earth reaching temperatures of 50ºC (122ºF), is better to be visited from November to early January.
DO I NEED A VISA?
Yes, you do need a visa to travel to Ethiopia. Tourist visas (available for one or three months, single entry) are available upon arrival at Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa.
The fee is payable in US dollars and EURO. Current visa fees are $50 for one month and $70 for three months. It is also possible to obtain a business visa of up to three months validity upon arrival with the prior arrangements made by the sponsoring organisation in Ethiopia. The visa extension fees are currently $100 for a one month extension (first time), $150 for a fifteen days extension (second time) and $200 for a 10 days extension (third time). If the traveler’s visa expires before the departure, it is required to obtain a visa extension at the Immigration Office in Addis Ababa. There is a overstay penalty fee of $5 a day from one up to fifteen days and $10 a day after fifteen days. In such cases, the traveler may also be required to pay a penalty of up to 4,000 ETB ($300) before being allowed to leave Ethiopia.
WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO TRAVEL THROUGHOUT THE COUNTRY?
Travelling by car is a good choice in order to experience the beautiful Ethiopian landscapes. Even though new pave roads are under construction throughout the country, the road conditions sometimes are not very good and the topography may cause longer and uncomfortable journeys. In addition, it is not advisable to travel by car during the night due to the lack of public electricity. If you do not want to rent a private vehicle, there are bus companies connecting the main cities and with a reasonable price, such as Sky Bus or Selam Bus.
Another option is travelling by plane. Ethiopian Airlines, the only national carrier, offers a network of internal flights connecting the main Ethiopian cities. 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 requires the tour companies the ticket number in order to make the discount for any domestic flights. For further information please click here.
Please note that a rail network is currently under construction between Addis Ababa and Djibouti and it will be operating soon to speed up the delivery of goods from the eastern port.
Inside Ethiopia Tours have a fleet of different means of transport (4x4 cars, coasters, minibuses, etc.) available to meet the different needs of groups and individuals. Inside Ethiopia Tours will always advise you what kind of transportation is more convenient for your tour according to your budget, destination or availability in order to offer you a nice and comfortable journey.
WHAT KIND OF CLOTHES IS IT ADVISABLE TO WEAR?
It is important to keep in mind the weather when packing clothes. Light clothes are advisable during daytime but you will need a sweater or pullover for the evening. During the rainy season (June to October) it is recommended to wear a rainy jacket and a good pair of shoes to deal with muddy and slippery pathways. If you are visiting churches or religious places, please note that shoes must be removed before entering worship places. A pair of socks can be useful if you decide to wear sandal shoes.
IS IT POSSIBLE TO USE MY CREDIT CARD?
Credit cards are not commonly accepted for payments but you can use ATM machines since they are widely spread in Addis Ababa and they are also becoming common in other main cities. Please check the transaction fees of your bank before using an ATM and note that 4,000 ETB is normally the maximum amount that can be withdrawn per day.
CAN I EXCHANGE MONEY IN ANY BANK?
It is easy to exchange US dollars or Euros into Ethiopian birr (ETB) at the airport or any Ethiopian bank upon arrival. Nevertheless, note that Ethiopian banks will ask you for a receipt proving your foreign currency exchange in case you want to change ETB back to your foreign currency before leaving. Bank opening hours are usually from 8am to 5pm (Monday to Saturday).
DO I NEED TO TIP?
Tipping in Ethiopia is part of the culture and it is normal to give 10% if the service charge is not included in some restaurants. During your trip, there will be different situations in which people expect a tip. For instance, drivers and guides will appreciate a tip after working hard to make your stay as pleasant as possible. On the other hand, tipping is not necessary when buying something or using a taxi. However, bargaining the price is a must in these cases.
It is also important to ask for permission before taking a picture because some Ethiopians may feel uncomfortable and will ask you for a tip. It is good to ask in advance and explain the reason why you want to photograph or record in order to avoid embarrassing situations.