One of the newest airports in Ethiopia, Bole International Airport, is just seven kilometres from the city centre and has international links to most parts of the World. Most tourist sites can be reached by domestic flights.
The airport tax is included in the flight ticket price.
A valid passport (with at least 6 months remaining validity) is required for all foreign visitors, except Kenyan and Djibouti citizens. It is recommended that visa applications be made at the nearest Ethiopian diplomatic mission but they may also be made upon arrival at Bole International Airport for European, North America and some Asian and African countries, with payment in US dollars.
Personal effects are admitted free, and a duty-free allowance of one litre of alcohol, 200 cigarettes and a liter of perfume is permitted. Cars are admitted free of duty for a period of four months.
The beauty and range of scenery in Ethiopia makes it a photographer’s paradise. It is courteous to ask permission before photographing any person, religious festival or rural homestead. Photographs should not be taken of military or strategic buildings, including airports and bridges. Commercial photographers are required to get a permit from the Ministry of Information. Certain tourist sites charge for video photography and some locations do not permit flash photography.
Vaccination against cholera is required for any person who has visited or transited a cholera-infected area within 6 days prior to arrival in Ethiopia. A certificate of vaccination for yellow fever is no longer mandatory but vaccinations against hepatitis and cholera are advisable. It is advisable to consult a medically qualified person or a travel health clinic about immunizations you may need at least 2 months before travelling. A rough guide for immunizations is as follows:
- Hepatitis A and B
- Typhoid (a full course requires two injections at an interval of four-six weeks)
Anti malarial precautions should be taken before visiting the lowlands and an insect repellent is a useful prevention against mosquitoes. Rabies pre-exposure vaccination may be advised by your medical advisor.
Electrical supply is generally 220 volts, 50 cycles AC. Plugs are the thin two point Italian style.
Ethiopia is three hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). Ethiopia reckons the day in two 12 hour cycles starting first at 0600, so midday and midnight are 6 o’clock. A morning appointment at 0900 is called three o’clock. Visitors should ensure that any arrangements for appointments are clearly agreed.
The Ethiopian calendar has 12 months of 30 days each and a 13th month, called Pagume, of five days. When the following Gregorian year is a leap year, a sixth day is added to Pagume. The new year, Meskerem 1, falls on September 11 or 12 when it follows an Ethiopian leap year. As the Ethiopian leap year precedes the Gregorian leap year, National holidays may fall one day later than their usual dates. The calendar is seven years and eight months behind the Western (Gregorian) calendar.
In the streets of Addis Ababa and the highland towns, shorts are not the norm. A jumper or jacket is certainly needed in the evenings from around 1800 hours. In the lowlands and at resorts and hotels shorts may me more comfortable and acceptable and sun-cream highly advisable. During the rainy season a waterproof jacket and/or umbrella is essential, especially in August as the cloud cover causes lower temperatures. The sunlight at higher altitudes is very bright so sunglasses and a hat are useful. Footwear for walking expeditions, visiting historic sites and Addis pavements, needs to be light but strong. Sandals are mainly useful for hotel interiors and lake beaches.
A handshake greeting is normal, with a pleasant discussion on personal matters before getting down to business. The offer of tea or coffee is normal. Smoking is not popular among traditional people, or in front of priests. Shoes are usually taken off on entering a church and always on entering a mosque.
Most hotels and restaurants have a service charge. Depending on the size of the bill, visitors may wish to leave a small tip. In Ethiopia, tipping of drivers, guides and cooks is considered a sign of satisfaction and is highly appreciated by staff.
What to bring
We advise to carry the following items on your visit to Ethiopia:
- Comfortable cotton clothing
- Warm clothing
- Rain jacket/umbrella
- Hiking shoes
- Sunglasses, sun cream, hat
- Personal medication
- Basic first aid kit
- Personal documents and copies
- A list of (emergency) phone numbers
- Chargers of electric equipment and spare batteries
- Insect repellent
- Binoculars for wildlife and bird spotting expeditions