Ethiopia : Travel Information before you go!
The Addis-Ababa International Airport (Bole airport) is located 5 miles south-east of the capital. It will cost at least £4 to get to Addis-Ababa by taxi and about half of that by bus (regular transfers between the airport and Addis-Ababa).
The generally good safety conditions in Ethiopia make it rather safe for tourists to visit the historical sites in the northern part of the country (Bahar Dar, Gondar, Lalibela, Axoum). However, some of the regions in the country are not recommended for travelling in, such as south of the main road from Addis-Ababa to Harar and the Eritrean border, unless it is absolutely necessary for professional purposes.
There are about 70 languages and 200 dialects spoken in Ethiopia. Amharic, Ethiopia's official language since 1991, Tigrinya in the northern regions, and Orominya are the main languages spoken in Ethiopia. Besides their own language, many Ethiopians speak either English (the language of the higher social class), or Arabic.
Required travel documents for
A tourist visa is required to cross the Ethiopian border, as well as a passport valid for at least 3 months after the return date. The visa is available at the Ethiopian embassy.
45 to 50% of Ethiopians are Muslim (in the east and south). 35 to 40% of the population belong to the Ethiopian Orthodox Church (especially in the north of the country). Others practise African cults such as Animism (about 12%).
The currency is the Ethiopian Birr (ETB). £1 Sterling = 20.33 ETB.
The Dollar is king in Ethiopia, so it's a good idea to take some Dollars in cash or travellers cheques (which are very useful if you want to avoid paying the additional exchange rate fee). Credit cards (MasterCard and Diners Club) are only accepted in the capital's larger hotels (Hilton and Sheraton). Banks are open from 8.00am to 11.00am and from 1.00pm to 3.00pm, Monday to Friday, and from 9:00am to 12:00pm on Saturdays.
Taxis:white and blue taxis rides are usually very inexpensive, £15 to £20 a day. Careful! Rates have to be negotiated before the ride.
By bus: they work all over the country. You will find state buses and private bus companies (more expensive, but safer).
By car: there is the possibility to rent cars in Addis-Ababa from Hertz or Avis car rental agencies. A valid international driving license is required.
By train: only one train line connects Addis-Ababa to Djibouti and serves Awash and Dire Dawa. Unfortunately, the track is being repaired, due to two attacks committed during the last six months.
By plane: Ethiopian Airlines serves more than forty destinations. Since the country is currently at war with Eritrea, some flights have been cancelled (especially towards the north and east).
Vaccine againstyellow fever
is required. Othervaccines
: meningitises A and C, and possibly Y and W135 (Menomun), which could affect people in contact with pilgrims coming back from the Mecca.Adults
: hepatitises A and B, typhoid, update of diphtheria vaccine, tetanus and polio vaccine. Children
: BCG vaccine, hepatitises A and B, measles and typhoid vaccine.
Vaccine against rabies for people exposed to the disease.
Bring medicines to prevent diarrhoeas andmalaria(the country is listed in zone 3). No malaria in Addis Ababa, but big endemic disease below 4,900 feet in the whole country.
It is strongly unadvised to swim in lakes due to the risk of catching bilharziadisease (parasitic infection). Tuberculosis andleprosydiseases reported in the country. AIDS diseaseisendemic.
Water is not drinkable, only drink bottled water with the cap on.
Due to the weakness of hospital structures, it is advised to get insurance covering medical expenses and repatriation.
Balcha Hospital: 51 62 63.
St Gabriel Hospital: 61 36 32.
Hayat Hospital: 61 42 50.
Swedish Clinic: 71 07 68 (excellent services, high costs).
Voltage is 220. Adaptor needed.
Taxes and tips
To call Ethiopia from the UK: dial 00 + 251 + the number you are trying to reach.
From Ethiopia to the UK: dial 00 + 44 + the number you are trying to reach without the initial 0.