Ethiopia Safari Tours & holidays

Sitting landlocked on the Horn of Africa, Ethiopia is blessed with incredible natural beauty and abundant rare wildlife. It has also nurtured its own diverse cultures and protected its tribal heritage.

All of this means this beautiful country is packed with opportunities to make lifelong memories and enjoy experiences that will take your breath away.

The climate is conducive to exploration and adventures any month of the year, though keep in mind that in the summer the North Eastern area of Ethiopia is officially the hottest place on the planet! Daytime temperatures can reach a mighty 50 degrees C.

One of the joys of holidays on ‘the road less travelled’ is the chance to immerse yourself in all that your destination has to offer. This is certainly true when visiting Ethiopia, where the colourful environment and warm local welcome make this ‘once in a lifetime trip’ something you will yearn to repeat.

In the most remote and awe-inspiring places, it’s easy to understand why legend suggests the Ark of the Covenant is hidden somewhere in its unforgettable landscape.

How to get to Ethiopia

Ethiopia’s national airline, Ethiopian Airlines, is one of the best and largest airlines in Africa. The fleet of planes is modern and their safety record excellent and it’s definitely worth investigating flying with them from Europe. Other major airlines flying to the county include Turkish Airlines, Emirates, Kenya Airways, KLM and Lufthansa. We would recommend booking your flights online in order to get the best rates. If you need any help or advice on this, please let us know.

Flights in August and over Easter, Christmas and New Year should be booked well in advance. Ethiopians living abroad visit their families during this time, and tour groups often try to coincide with the major festivals. Ticket prices are substantially higher during this time.

Passport, Visa and Entry requirements for Ethiopia

Before applying for an Ethiopia Visa, applicants should revise the Ethiopia visa requirements prior to applying online. Failure to comply with the requirements of the Ethiopian visa could lead to visa application forms being delayed or rejected. It is also imperative that visa applicants double-check the information given in the Ethiopia visa application form, as errors can also cause the application form to be delayed or even denied.

After filling out the application form, it will be necessary to provide your passport details and make a payment for the visa using a credit or debit card. The following supporting documentation can be provided later on:

The approved eVisa can be used to gain entry into Ethiopia at Addis Ababa Bole International Airport. Applicants must meet the Ethiopia entry requirements by presenting a printed copy of the passport, along with the corresponding passport (which must have at least six (6) months remaining from the date of arrival and have at least two (2) blank pages left inside).

The health sector of Ethiopia

Three-quarters of the population lack access to clean water and four persons out of five live without proper sanitation. The main health concerns in Ethiopia include maternal mortality, malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS compounded by acute malnutrition and lack of access to clean water and sanitation.

In the main capital Addis Ababa, you may get quality private health facilities however while on safari in the remote parts of Ethiopia there are no proper medical services so travellers must make sure they purchase travel and medical insurance from their home country before travelling to Ethiopia

Malaria and yellow fever vaccination

Ethiopia also requires a yellow fever vaccination certificate for travellers aged 9 months or older arriving from countries with risk of yellow fever transmission and for travellers having transited for more than 12 hours through an airport of a country with risk of yellow fever transmission.

There is currently no vaccine for malaria. Antimalarials can be taken if you are going to a place with high risk.

Currency of Ethiopia

The official currency of Ethiopia is the Ethiopian Birr (ETB). The Ethiopian Birr is subdivided into santim; 100 santim = 1 ETB. Br is the symbol used for the Birr. The Nigerian Naira is rated the most-used currency in Africa, the Birr is rated second.

The official language of Ethiopia

Under the constitution, all Ethiopian languages enjoy official state recognition. However, Amharic is the “working language” of the federal government; together with Oromo, it is one of the two most widely spoken languages in the country.

Though in tourist sites some of the staff will speak English and that can make communication easy for travellers.

Best time to travel to Ethiopia

Peak tourist season in Ethiopia is from late September to January when temperatures are pleasant, skies clear and rainfall low in most parts of the country.

The rainy season lasts from June to September but won’t cause too much disruption to your plans. During this time you will see fewer tourists and greener landscapes. June and July are the wettest months, especially in the north – so avoid this time of year if you want to hike in the Simien Mountains.

As the country is situated on a high plateau, temperatures at higher altitudes are typically lower than at sea level. In Ethiopia’s lower-lying regions, temperatures are warmer

What to wear in Ethiopia

When making an Ethiopia packing list, international travellers should choose clothing that is appropriate both for the weather and for what is culturally acceptable in the country.

One of the important things to know about Ethiopian culture is that people are expected to dress a certain way, including foreign visitors. While not as conservative as in some countries, Ethiopian dress generally involves covering shoulders and knees.

In a hot country, this might not seem an easy task; however, knowing what to expect, it is more than possible. This guide outlines the key items of clothing to pack for Ethiopia to balance staying cool with keeping up an appropriate appearance.

Women are advised to keep their shoulders and knees covered, particularly in Muslim areas. Sleeveless tops and shorts are not considered acceptable in Ethiopia.

Men must also keep their shoulders covered and should not go shirtless. They might be able to get away with wearing t-shirts in more tourist-friendly areas, but as a rule, shirts and long trousers are advised.

What to pack while travelling to Ethiopia

  • Loose layers – long-sleeve shirts, trousers etc.
  • A light scarf or sarong to cover up if required.
  • A warm fleece or jumper.
  • A lightweight waterproof jacket.
  • Comfortable but sturdy shoes
  • Socks (for wearing in temples & churches).
  • Flip-flops.
  • Swimming costume (Bathing suit)
  • A hat or baseball cap
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen – a must!
  • Toiletries – most camps will provide shampoo, shower gel and soap but if you can, bring a small supply.
  • A small torch
  • Spare batteries, plug adaptors and charging equipment
  • A good pair of Binoculars (8×40/8×42 is recommended)
  • Books or a fully loaded Kindle / iPod.

Car Hire and Driving in Ethiopia

Private vehicles offer greater flexibility when it comes to planning an Ethiopian sightseeing itinerary, with no need to plan the trip around public transport timetables.

Given that an Ethiopian driving permit is required to hire a self-drive vehicle, the majority of tourists without their own car or motorcycle generally opt for a car with a driver. There are many advantages to contracting an expert chauffeur, as explained below.

For those sightseers who are getting behind the wheel in Ethiopia, it is important to be aware of Ethiopian motoring regulations and safety considerations. As rules and road conditions may be different to those found back home, it is essential that tourists are prepared.

Local food of Ethiopia

The country’s main staple is injera and ubiquitous pancake that is eaten all over Ethiopia. It is spread out on a large flat basket and simply topped with mounds of spicy meat stews, and colourful vegetable curries. The injera is akin to bread in Europe or rice in Asia and found at every meal.

Originally made from tef (indigenous Ethiopian cereal), injera may taste tangy, bitter and even slightly sour for the first-time taster. Give it another few mouthfuls (or dip it in piquant red berbere powder), and it might grow on you.

Tipping while travelling in Ethiopia

Tipping is more common in Ethiopia than in other East African countries, but there aren’t any hard rules for how much you are supposed to tip.  The amount you tip depends on the quality of the service and on how much money you have.

Since most Ethiopians only earn about two dollars a day on average, even a small amount of money is a big deal for them.  Many Ethiopians do not know much about Western cultural practices.  This is partly because there aren’t a lot of foreigners in Ethiopia, but also because most Ethiopians don’t speak English and aren’t always connected to the internet.

Further information about Ethiopia

Ethiopia is a religious and highly cultural country so travellers must respect the cultural norms of the Ethiopian people while on safari

Safety of Ethiopia

Compared with many African countries, Ethiopia is remarkably safe – most of the time. Serious or violent crime is rare; against travellers, it’s extremely rare. Outside the capital, the risk of petty crime drops still further.

Though the Ethiopian border areas may be a place to avoid as the country borders some insecure countries.

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