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FAQS

How do I book a tour with Inside Ethiopia Tours?

Once you agree on the tour package and price quote offered by Inside Ethiopia Tours, you will receive a tour agreement that will be signed and returned to Inside Ethiopia Tours along with the receipt of deposit payment. Once both the tour agreement and the deposit payment are received, Inside Ethiopia Tours will start managing all the necessary bookings according to the program. For more information, please check our Terms and Conditions.

What if I have to cancel my tour after paying the deposit?

Cancellations will be subject to the loss of the booking deposit depending on the notice time:

  • more than 30 days notice: the customer will receive 90% of the deposit back
  • 15 to 30 days notice: the customer will receive 50% of the deposit back
  • less than 15 days notice: forfeiture of the entire booking deposit

How can I pay for the tour?

Tour packages with Inside Ethiopia Tours can be paid in ETB, USD or EUROS. If the customer decides to pay in a different currency to the one specified in the final agreed quote, Inside Ethiopia Tours will apply the valid exchange rate from the time the invoice was issued.
A deposit of 15% or 35% (if there are flight bookings in the package) of the total tour quote is required at the time of the booking. The deposit payment can be made by the following methods:

  • Bank transfer. The customer will assume all the transfer fees according to the sender’s bank. Inside Ethiopia Tours will not share any transfer fees with the customer.
  • PayPal. Whilst there is no fee to send money through PayPal to buy goods or services, a 4% transaction fee will be added to the invoice as per the conditions imposed by PayPal to companies using this application to receive payments for goods or services.
  • Western Union

If the deposit has not been processed, Inside Ethiopia Tours will not be obliged to provide any services to the customer unless there is a written agreement authorised by the General Manager, Binyam Ayaliew Kassaye.

The remaining amount will be paid on the day of arrival at the office or before starting the tour by using one of the following payment methods:

  • In cash. Payment can be made in ETB, EUROS or USD.
  • Card (Visa or MasterCard). Please note that sometimes due to poor network connection, card transactions are unable to be processed.
  • Personal cheques.
  • PayPal. Whilst there is no fee to send money through PayPal to buy goods or services, a 4% transaction fee will be added to the invoice as per the conditions imposed by PayPal to companies using this application to receive payments for goods or services.

What if I decide to change the itinerary while travelling in Ethiopia?

AtInside Ethiopia Tours we try to be as flexible as possible to suit our customers’ needs. However, we can not guarantee that we will be able to amend the itinerary once the tour has already started. Anyse changes involving extra cost will be covered by the customer.

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 widely known religious festivals (link to religious festival’s section) such as Timkat or Meskel.

If you are planning to visit the Northern Highlands (Historical Northern Route), the best time to visit is from October to March (although it also does not rain very heavily during the rainy season). It is worth noting that the Northern route itinerary can incorporate trekking in the Simien Mountains, which it is advisable to do from September to November when it is dry, green and dust-free. If, on the contrary, you would prefer to experience the lifestyle of more than 50 unique tribes in the Omo River region of South Western Ethiopia, it is advisable to visit 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 best visited between 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. Tourist visas are available in the following link. Please note there are other websites that are not official and may charge extra fee for issuing tourist visas to Ethiopia.

Electronic visas are available for tourists from most of European countries as well as the USA, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Kenya, Japan, Korea, India, China and Russia.

Applications can be made online at www.evisa.gov.et. Please note the following is required:

  • Arrival information
  • Personal details
  • A passport size photo
  • A copy of your scanned passport (passport must be valid for at least 6 months from the date you intend to travel to Ethiopia.)
  • Non-refundable payment fee (MasterCard, Visa and American Express are accepted)

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 traveller’s visa expires before their departure, they will be required to obtain a visa extension at the Immigration Office in Addis Ababa. There is an overstay penalty fee of $5 a day from one to fifteen days and $10 a day after fifteen days. In such cases, the traveller 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 through the country?

Travelling by car is a good choice in order to experience the beautiful Ethiopian landscapes. Even though new paved 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. Inside Ethiopia Tours will advise you on the size and type of vehicle suitable for your trip according to your time, budget and destination. If you do not want to rent a private vehicle, there are bus companies connecting the main cities at 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 60%) if your international ticket to travel to the country has been purchased with Ethiopian Airlines. Please be aware that Ethiopian Airlines requires the traveler’s ticket number in order to make the discount for any domestic flights. For further information please click here.

If you want to immerse yourself into the Eastern Ethiopia landscapes and connect your trip to Ethiopia with the neighbouring country of Djibouti, a good option is the Ethio-Djibouti Railways transportation service, that was launched in 2018. International passenger trains from Lebu (outside Addis Ababa) to Nagad (Djibouti) leave on the 1st, 5th, 9th, 11th, 15th, 19th, 21st, 25th and 29th of every month and do the return trip the next day i.e the 2nd, 6th, 10th, 12th, 16th, 20th, 22nd, 26th and 30th of the month. Trains in both directions leave at 8am, arrive at their final destination at around 11.30pm, and stop enroute at Adama (Nazret), Mieso and Dire Dawa. For more information please visit the Ethio-Djibouti Railway website.

Inside Ethiopia Tours have a fleet of different modes of transport (4×4 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 the most convenient for your tour – according to your budget, destination or availability – in order to offer you a comfortable journey.

What kind of clothes should I wear?

It is important to keep in mind the weather when packing clothes to travel to Ethiopia. Light cotton or linen 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 rain 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 sandals.

Please be aware that trekking in the Simien or Bale Mountains will require you to sleep in campsites or shelters and a warm sleeping bag for the chilly nights will be needed.

What should I pack?

In Ethiopia, there are certain things that are difficult to find, especially if you are travelling through rural areas. Therefore, it is very important to be pack thoroughly. The first thing you should keep in mind when packing your suitcase is including a first-aid kit with the following items:

  • Mosquito repellent and sprays
  • High SPF sunscreen and sunglasses
  • Antihistamine
  • Antiseptic cream for insect bites
  • Plasters
  • Anti diarrhoea pills
  • Saline solutions in case of severe dehydration
  • Contact lens liquid

Besides the first-aid kit mentioned above, it is advisable to include in your bag the following items:

  • Light clothes for the daytime and a good sweater or pullover for the evening
  • Sandals and a good pair of shoes (specially during the rainy season to deal with muddy pathways)
  • A discrete wallet or money belt and a small bag to carry your camera and phone
  • A rainy jacket and umbrella if travelling during the rainy season (June to September)
  • A warm sleeping bag if you are thinking of sleeping in campsites
  • A hat and sunglasses to avoid long sun exposure

If you are thinking of donating your personal stuff we kindly advise to do it at your discretion and avoid uncomfortable situations on the street, especially with children. We recommend you to contact a local NGO in advance so they can relocate your things in a sustainable way.

Is it possible to use my credit card in Ethiopia?

Credit cards are not commonly accepted for payments but you can use ATM machines which are widely spread in Addis Ababa and 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.

Where can I exchange money in Ethiopia?

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 necessary in these circumstances. .

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 in order to avoid embarrassing situations.

What kind of accommodation do you recommend in Ethiopia?

Ethiopia offers a wide range of lodging options. However, the quality of the accommodation may not be reflected on the cleanliness, price or maintenance of the facilities. AtInside Ethiopia Tours, we always try to find the best option according to our customer’s budget and preferences but this is getting quite challenging due to the lack of control on room rates increase and the shortage of rooms in the most demanded lodges or hotels.

Addis Ababa offers an extensive array of hotels to suit all budgets. Nevertheless, it is important to keep in mind the location of accommodation as traffic jams are common in this hectic capital city and sometimes going to the airport can take more time than expected. If you are planning to have an overnight stay in Addis Ababa and are flying the next day, we recommend you to stay in a hotel around the Bole area. In contrast, if you plan to stay in the capital city for business or recreational purposes, there are plenty of other options across the city’s diverse neighbourhoods.

Sometimes it is difficult to classify hotels in Ethiopia as the price of the room may not reflect the standard of the accommodation. We have tried to classify the different accommodation options in Ethiopia as follows:

  • Luxury hotels. 5* hotels are only situated in the capital city of Addis Ababa. The Sheraton Addis, the Marriott, the Hilton and the Hyatt Regency are some examples of this category. Prices are above $200 per night but the facilities, service and catering options are exceptional.
  • High-end hotels. This category of hotels normally offers good facilities,friendly service and comfortable, clean rooms. Prices range between $80 and $150 per room per night but do not expect the same standard as in other developed countries. However, these hotels still offer good value for money.
  • Mid-range Hotels. This category includes what we call “standard” hotels. Prices range from $30 up to $60 per room per night. These facilities are locally owned and offer good service for the price. All mid-ranges included in the packages offered by Inside Ethiopia Tours have their own ensuite bathroom and breakfast included in the price. If you are looking for something clean, comfortable and not fancy, this is the best option. Although sometimes these hotels may run out of water or power, they normally have generators and try to accommodate guests queries.
  • Budget hotels. Perfect for backpackers or people seeking for a good rest without any luxury. The problem of choosing budget hotels (under $20/night) is that you will probably sleep surrounded by bugs and having a shower may be a bit cold or not possible at all.
  • Eco-lodges. This type of lodging includes any hotel built with local resources and located in beautiful natural spaces. Although they offer nice and comfortable rooms, prices are normally high since all the catering and supplies must be transported from cities to the remote area where they are located.
  • Community lodges. If you really want to experience the Ethiopian culture and get to know the lifestyles of the local communities, the best way to do that is to stay in a community lodge. This kind of accommodation contributes directly to the families who open their houses to tourists. You will be able to try local food, interact directly with Ethiopians and learn more about their daily routines. You can find this kind of accommodation in the surroundings of Lalibela and in some parts of the Simien Mountains National Park although it is starting to expand in other remote but unique areas.
  • Camping. This option is normally chosen by our customers when trekking in the Simien or Bale Mountains National Parks. Inside Ethiopia Tours will provide you with all the camping equipment but keep in mind that camping areas normally lack hot water and toilets. A cook is required in some areas due to the lack of access to food. Also, if you choose to include a tour to the Danakil Depression, please note that camping is the only option available at the moment and due to the high temperatures, you will be sleeping under the stars on hand-made wooden beds.

Is it safe to travel around Ethiopia?

This is one of the top questions from our travellers: “is Ethiopia a safe country?” Well, we will say that the same rules apply for Ethiopia as for any country in the World nowadays: there are always risks and though security controls are widely spread, it is always good to take some precautions:

  • Wear your money in a safe place (e.g. in a money belt under your clothes)
  • Have a photocopy of your passport with you
  • Do not carry too much cash or valuable belongings like jewellery
  • Be aware of pickpockets, especially in some areas like Merkato in Addis Ababa or during religious festivals and other crowded events
  • Try to use the safe-deposit boxes at hotels whenever possible
  • Avoid walking alone during the night time in isolated places and always take a taxi especially in Addis Ababa, where crime has increased in recent years.

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