Located in the Horn of Africa, Ethiopia is the second most populated country in Africa. Other than the fact that this African country was never colonized by a European power (along with Liberia), Ethiopia is known for its rich culture, delicious coffee, unforgettable landscapes and friendly people. It is also the only African country that has its own alphabet (an alpha-syllabary) which consists of 209 symbols and 25 letter variants. This Ethiopia travel guide will help you plan your next vacation.
Fast Facts about Ethiopia Travel
- Ethiopia power voltage is 220V 50Hz; Plug C, E, F & L
- Ethiopian currency is the Ethiopian birr and is around 20.8 ETB to 1 USD
- Proof of an onward or return ticket is frequently asked for upon arrival in Ethiopia. If you are planning to enter Ethiopia by land, you will need in advance from your local Ethiopian Embassy.
- A yellow fever vaccination is not obligatory in order to enter Ethiopia, but if you have recently traveled to a country where it is present then you will need proof of immunization.
- Avoid travel to the border with Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan and Eritrea due to lack of security and a threat of violence and kidnapping
- Several vaccinations are highly recommended including Yellow Fever, Typhoid, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B and Meningitis.
- If you are planning on staying in Ethiopia for longer than a week, bring a cellphone to confirm flights, book tickets, call taxis etc. Only select stores sell SIM cards but you can buy refill cards almost anywhere!
- The water is not potable; drink only bottled water.
Top Packing Tips
Ethiopia is in the tropical zone lying between the Equator and the Tropic of Cancer. It has three different climate zones according to elevation: tropical, subtropical and cool zone. The dry season is from September through to March, which is the best time to travel to Ethiopia. There are two rainy seasons, the belg (short rains) in April and May and the long rains from July through to the end of September.
- Waterproof bag – the bag has two functions, protecting your stuff from the rain and also from the dust, especially if you're travelling to drier regions.
- Personal Safety products – Addis Ababa is a safe city with little violent crime but lots of petty theft. As Jill from explains, “I'd never experience so many attempts at pickpocketing in such a short amount of time before.” Some tips include being extremely careful when leaving/arriving by bus in Meskal Square while also avoiding the use a backpack with anything valuable in it in Merkato. Before leaving for your trip, make sure to pack some personal safety products, like money belts and locks, so that you can keep your valuables safe on your trip.
- Protection from the elements – pack sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat and bug-spray to prevent getting bitten by a mosquito (that might have malaria!).
- Avoid packing dark colored clothes – tsetse flies are drawn to dark colors, like blue and black clothing, and their bite can give you African Sleeping Sickness. Stick to light, neutral colors but avoid packing white clothes as they will get dirty and dusty pretty quickly.
- Footwear – Pack a pair of lightweight, durable and comfortable shoes that you don't mind getting dirty!
- Layers – pack the basic tropical clothes and make sure to include long pants, long-sleeve tops and some warm clothes for those chilly nights.