Traveling to Ethiopia: How to Make the Best Out of Your Travel.

orthodox church timket celebrations

Traveling to Ethiopia? Or Are you planning Ethiopia travel? You are not alone. Thousands of tourists flock to Ethiopia to get a different experience, possibly a third-world experience that they need to tell their families when they returned. Others prefer traveling to Ethiopia in order to experience a completely new country with a new experience. Ethiopia is the best choice for you in anyways. It is affordable, with many experiences and with good people especially for visitors. You will surely get the experience you desire.

Here are few things to remember while traveling to Ethiopia. Tips and guides, security guides, Getting visa , Tips on where you should eat and drink, where you should stay, where to never move, which areas to avoid and more.

Why Traveling to Ethiopia?

Ethiopia is one of the oldest countries in the world, and the only country on the continent of Africa to have never been colonized. Therefore, Ethiopia has its own history, culture, custom, heritage, and language that is mildly diluted with foreign culture.

Historians believe that Ethiopia may have been home to the beginning of mankind, and among the fossils found were that of the oldest living specimen, known as “Lucy.” Lucy was discovered in 1974 in Africa, at Hadar, a site in the Awash Valley of the Afar Triangle in Ethiopia, by paleoanthropologist Donald Johanson of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.

Lucy then became famous worldwide after the story of its discovery and reconstruction was published in a book by Donald Johanson. Beginning in 2007, the fossil was exhibited publicly in an extended six-year tour of the United States with a theme of ‘Lucy’s Legacy: The Hidden Treasures of Ethiopia.’

After a continuous doubt and discussion of the risks of damage to the unique fossils, since other museums also wanted to display casts of the fossil assembly. The original fossils were returned to Ethiopia in 2013, and subsequent exhibitions have used only casts of the fossils.

Ethiopia is Unique among African countries; the ancient Ethiopian monarchy maintained its freedom from colonial rule with the exception of a short-lived Italian occupation from 1936-41. It was more recently a founding member of the United Nations and is home to the African Union’s headquarters.

Ethiopia is Ancient.

Traveling to Ethiopia is like traveling back in time. Abyssinia was its previous title. It could be the arrival of remote and wild places. A few of the most elevated, and most stunning places on the Africa landmass are found here, Such as the ruggedly-carved steeples and towers of the Simien Mountains, one of UNESCO’s world legacy sites. A few of the least, such as the hot but intriguing Danikal Depression, with its sulfur fumaroles and Lunar like landscape.

orthodox church timket celebrations

Traveling to Ethiopia Visa

Getting a visa to Ethiopia is not a hard process. In fact, the process is as simple as filling a short form and attaching your personal information. YOu will then receive a message on the email of your visa in three days.

Apply to get your visa to Ethiopia in two ways. On arrival application and online application. On arrival, the application is when you apply when you arrive at Bole airport in Addis Ababa. You will approach one of the windows and ask for a visa. Except few, almost all of the countries around the world can request for visa on arrival. This option is best if you are a last-minute traveler. If not, the process is time taking and you need to take long lines with other visitors to get your visa.

The second option is the eVisa, where you fill in personal information, the purpose of visit, passport, and online payment options. You may need three passport size photos. Pay using a card or Paypal. Since the payment is not refundable, you need to be sure of traveling before paying. You will pay 52 USD for 30 days visa and 72 USD for 90 days visa. Your visa will be single entry, which means once you leave the county, you need to reapply for a new visa. Traveling to Ethiopia with a visa is recommended.

Traveling to Ethiopia: What is the Climate Like?

Located just north of the equator, with most towns located on mid to high altitude locations, the climate in Ethiopia is most often temperate. There are three main climates in Ethiopia-a light rainy season from March to May, a heavy rainy season from June to September, and the dry season from October through February.

The dry season is the sunniest time of the year, though even at the height of the rainy season in July and August there are still usually several hours per day of bright sunshine and an average annual temperature of 61 degrees; thus, the tourism motto of “13 months of sunshine…” The new year begins in September, the year is eight years different from the Gregorian calendar (now 2008). Each month has 30 days with the 13th month of five days, six in leap year Ethiopia is really the face of extremes.

Traveling to Ethiopia: What are the tourist places?

1-Gondar Fasil Castle

King Fasilides made Gondar the seat of his empire in 1636 and created a palace that would eventually sprawl into a compound. The site was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979. Guided or self-tours available. For two centuries the walled royal enclosure, Fasil Ghebbi, in Gondar served as the capital of the Ethiopian Empire.

Initiated by the Ethiopian emperor Fasilides around 1635 and expanded by his successors, Fasil Ghebbi, surrounded by a 900-m-long wall, contains Indian and Baroque style palaces, churches and monasteries, the likes unknown anywhere else in Sub-Saharan Africa.

2- Lake Tana and Rift Valley Lakes

Lake Tana is the largest lake in Ethiopia and located at a distance of 560 km from Addis Ababa. As the outgoing river of the Lake is the Blue Nile, the Lake is considered the origin of the Blue Nile, one of the two main tributaries of the Upper Nile. Known to the ancient Egyptians and Greeks, the lake has a long history of exposure to the ancient world, and from a very early age, it has been one of the centers of Christianity.

The lake houses more than 20 churches and monasteries, mostly located on little islands. Read more about Lake Tana. A short distance from the city of Bahir Dar, the Blue Nile falls of a 60m high cliff at the Blue Nile Falls.

The rift valley lakes are a series of lakes formed in the rift valley that cuts the country from southwest to northeast. These lakes have their own characters and yet some of them are identified as tourist destination zones.

3- Axum

The Kingdom of Axum developed enormous stelae, the largest of which are protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The kingdom officially adopted Christianity as the state religion in the fourth century AC. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church claims that the Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion in Axum houses the Biblical Ark of the Covenant, in which lie the Tablets of Law upon which the Ten Commandments are inscribed.

4- Gheralta

The Gheralta region is famous for its rock-hewn churches, most of which are carved out of rock walls of often incredibly unreachable places. While Lalibela has the highest density of rock-hewn churches, the Tigray region has both the largest number of churches as well as the older ones, some of them dating back to the fourth century.

5- Mount Entoto

A historical place where Emperor Menelik II resided and built his palace when he came from Ankober and founded Addis Ababa. It is considered a sacred mountain and has many monasteries. Mount Entoto is also the location of a number of celebrated churches, including Saint Raguel and Saint Mary.

16 important things to do in Addis Ababa

6- National Museum

The museum is among the most important in sub-Saharan Africa, featuring two casts of Lucy, a collection of fossilized bones that once made up the skeleton of a hominid from the Australopithecus afarensis species, who lived 3.2 million years ago.


One of Ethiopia’s holiest cities, Lalibela is located in northern Ethiopia and known for its monolithic rock-cut churches. Debatably the greatest tourist attractions of Ethiopia are the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela.

11 monolithic rock-hewn cave churches from the 13th-century make up the ‘New Jerusalem’ at Lalibela, a small town with circular-shaped two-storied houses. Lalibela is one of the holiest places of the Ethiopian Church, attracting thousands of tourists every year.

8- Simian Mountains National Park

The highest point in Ethiopia, the Similan Mountains are home to such endangered species as the Ethiopian wolf, the Walia ibex, the gelada baboon, and the caracal.

9- Religious celebrations and holidays

Religion in this fascinating nation is interesting as well. Numerous Guests know Ethiopia for its Impressive Rock-hewn churches and colorful ceremonies, typical of the Ethiopian Standard Church. Christianity and Islam are the two primary religions in Ethiopia. Most Christians have a place in the Ethiopian Standard Church.

Whereas going to Churches- Shoes must be expelled sometime recently entering the building. – One ought to never smoke anyplace close to a church. – As it were clerics are permitted to step into the Heavenly of Holies where the ‘TABOT’- reproduction of the Ark of the Contract is kept. As well as around 50 million Ethiopians who are Standard Christians,33% Muslim, and around 18% are Protestant.

afar salt camel landscape ethiopia

Traveling to Ethiopia: Is It Safe to Travel to Ethiopia?

Ethiopia is generally a safe place. Despite recent local clashes and political demonstrations, the country is relatively safe. There are precautions that you need to take as a foreigner in a new country.

There are a few things to keep in mind.

  1. Never go out of a group, if you are traveling to Ethiopia or visiting in a group.
  2. Never confront a local and don’t insult the local culture
  3. Do not involve yourself in a group fight or any other street event unless the local guide told you it is safe to do. Because it might be a trick to rob you
  4. Nightlife in Addis Ababa is very much alive, especially in the central areas. This does not mean the city is perfect. You might come across problems. It is safer to go out in pairs or in groups.
  5. Use bank for a currency change. When you are traveling to Ethiopia, please don’t trust anyone with your money. You are responsible.
  6. Traveling to Ethiopia or any city, don’t leave your stuff around. There might be some vultures waiting around.
  7. Protect your health by drinking responsibly. Diseases in the third world may not be higher than the rest of the world in numbers. But there is obviously a high rate of transmission due to lack of knowledge.
  8. contact local police or your embassy for further information.

Traveling to Ethiopia: Are There Any Good Hotels?

Addis Ababa has hotels that cater for all pockets, from the luxurious Sheraton and Hilton hotels to the tourist class hotels. Outside Addis, mainly in the ‘Historic Route’, good standard hotels are available. However, to visit the remote and the people of the wilderness, Clean Local Hotels and Lodges are available these days.

Traveling to Ethiopia: What are the Food to Eat?


Coffee is synonymous with Ethiopia, as it was first discovered here and the quality is very high. Ethiopia is known for its elaborate coffee ceremony, which involves three rounds of coffee that proceed from strong (Abol) to medium (Tona) to weak (baraka), with the final round considered as bestowing a blessing on the coffee drinker.

Coffee is also ordered from an Italian espresso machine (leftover from the five-year Italian occupation during World War II), with a macchiato (coffee with a small amount of steamed milk) among the most popular. Have a group of local coffee, at home, or even cultural restaurants. Enjoy the moment.

While traveling to Ethiopia, don’t forget to experience the local coffee.


Nourishment and Drinks: The food and drink of Ethiopia reflect the numerous diverse cultural societies. A commonplace dish is Wot, a hot stew of meat or vegetables, prepared with a mix of Berbere (chili powder). It may moreover be made with Doro (chicken), and ordinarily served with Injera, the conventional springy hotcake made from a matured Teff flour batter. Ethiopia presently produces fabulous wine, 7 assortments beneath the brand names Fracture Valley and Acacia. The popular nectar wine or Tej is found all over the nation as is Tela, a nearby lager, and Katikala, distilled alcohol.

Injera, a slightly sour spongy pancake-like flatbread made from fermented Teff (a gluten-free grain indigenous to Ethiopia), is fundamental to every Ethiopian meal. It is what you will use to pick up food from plates in small bites. In traditional Ethiopian meals, circles of injera will be rolled out across the plate and topped with a smattering of spicy stews, cooked vegetables, and salads.

Restaurants will also bring out baskets full of additional napkin-rolled injera rounds. There is no silverware used in Ethiopian meals. Instead, injera is torn off into small bits with your right hand to scoop up bits of the stews and various dishes, forming a bite-sized food parcel. Some common types of foods:

  • Minchet: spicy ground beef stew often served with a boiled egg.
  • Key Wat: spicy beef stew made with meat chunks instead of minced meat. Also served with a boiled egg on top.
  • Tibs: cubes of beef, lamb, or goat stir-fried with onions, peppers, and other vegetables. Quite often, twigs of rosemary or other herbs are added to it.
  • Kitfo: raw lean ground beef blended with spices.
  • Shiro: a vegetarian stew made from chickpea flour mixed with spices.
  • Mesir Wat: rich and spicy red lentil stew
  • Kik Alicha: a non-spicy split pea stew made with turmeric.
  • Gomen: kale or collard greens, onions and spices sautéed and simmered together.
  • FirFir: a combination of shredded injera, spices, onions, sometimes meat.

Foods in Ethiopia: 13 Best Dishes and Drinks

Traveling to Ethiopia: Language

Language Ethiopia is a multi-ethnic state with a great variety of languages spoken in the country, of which there are 83 with 200 dialects. The main three languages are Amharic (the national language of the country), Tigrigna and Oromigna. English is also widely spoken.

Traveling to Ethiopia, language could be a barrier. You may need a guide or a small amharic terms could take you a long way. However, English is also a known language in many urban area.

ethiopian woman wearing habesha kemis

Traveling to Ethiopia: Clothing

Many men wear suits for business situations, although business casual attire is also appropriate. In rural areas, khakis and a collared shirt are usually acceptable. Women often wear business casual attire, but skirts/dresses that might not be suitable. Jeans, shorts, and very revealing clothing are generally not appropriate in business situations.

Clothing differs based on the month you are visiting the country. Unless you went on traveling to Ethiopia from June to October, expect the days to be sunny up to 21 degrees or more in the capital city. Some cities could go much higher or lower. Cloth for the climate.

Traveling to Ethiopia: Currency

Visitors may bring in an unlimited amount of foreign currency, providing a declaration of such currency is made to customs on arrival. Foreign currency may be changed only at authorized banks and hotels. The currency declaration form must be retained, as this will be required by customs on departure. Visitors, however, will be able to change any excess Ethiopian Birr to foreign currency at the bank in the airport (Or anywhere else they choose in other banks) before departure.

Traveling to Ethiopia: How Cheap Is Ethiopia?

A dollar is changed to 32 birr in 2020. This means a good that you buy for a dollar in the US could cost you 32 birr in Ethiopia. It seems the cost is similar since most hotels and services that provide for high spenders and near tourist areas estimate their price based on how high you can pay regardless of the value they give. This is a good opportunity as well. This high price created a variety of places with a variety of prices.

Hotels could be expensive. For westerners, a 100-dollar overnight room cost may not be expensive. For others it is. The good news is you may find a place that you could stay for 10 days for 100 dollars.

Home cooing is the best option to save money. A standard lunch could cost you up to 4 dollars. A high end places a single lunch could go as high as 15 dollars. There are places that you could get a full meal for 2 dollars or even less. You need to experiment, especially if you are staying long in Ethiopia.

Unfortunately, clothes and artifacts could go higher in price for foreigners. People assume visitors afford better than the locals. Go shopping with a local or have general information before shopping.

Traveling to Ethiopia Vaccinations

Do I need vaccines to travel to Ethiopia? The answer is Yes. It is recommended that you get vaccines for the following diseases- hepatitis A, hepatitis B, typhoid, yellow fever, rabies, meningitis, polio, measles, mumps, and rubella, Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis), chickenpox, shingles, pneumonia, and influenza.

After the Covid, Covid-19 vaccination is recommended before traveling to Ethiopia.

Here is why you need the vaccines for the above disease. When you travel to a new destination that you have no prior experience of, it is important to be careful of what you eat or where you stay. For example, diseases such as COvid 19 and Meningitis are transmitted through airborne and direct contact with someone who has the disease.

Hepatitis A, Typhoid, and Polio could be transmitted through food and water. Although some of the cases have not been found in Ethiopia for a long time, it is best to get at least Hepatitis A and B and Yellow fever vaccinations. In fact, a yellow fever vaccination certificate is usually requested from all travelers.

Traveling to Ethiopia shots: necessary

Traveling to Ethiopia: Advice

Many embassies advise the following:

  • Any traveler who comes near the border should do so with care. It is better to avoid areas that have security. Boarders have conflicts especially the north and the west and the east of the country are frequent conflict zones.
  • With the current northern conflict, it is better to avoid the Eritrean border and even the northern region as well.
  • Traveling to Ethiopia, avoid some parts of Oromia have conflicts as well, therefore, don’t travel in these areas unless it is necessary.
  • The Sudan border is another conflict zone in the west. Avoid traveling 10km close to these regions
  • Traveling to Ethiopia, avoid traveling closer to 100kms on to Somalia and Kenya border. Not much security is in these areas
  • Avoid traveling to Besangul Gumz region is another security risk
  • Afar and Somali have high-security risk

Therefore, only cities have the highest security in Ethiopia this time. Avoid travelling away to boarders and where internal tension is reported.

Traveling to Ethiopia from US

  • Passport validity: 6 months.
  • Tourist visa: required. Get your visa online.
  • Vaccination: Yellow fever certificate required if traveling to Ethiopia from a country with risk of yellow fever transmission
  • Currency restrictions for an entree: 1,000 ETB for all travelers; 1000 USD or another foreign currency equivalent if a person resides in Ethiopia; 3,000 USD or another foreign currency equivalent if a person is not residing in Ethiopia. Excess currency may be confiscated.
  • Currency restrictions for exit: 1,000 ETB (4,000 ETB if travelling to Djibouti) and 3,000 USD or other foreign currency equivalent.
  • Requirements for Entry: Passport, Visa, World Health Organization (WHO) card with yellow fever vaccination if coming from a country with risk of yellow fever transmission
  • Avoid carrying extra electronics as it could be subjected to taxation upon entrée
  • Avoid Ivory as a souvenir. If you are found with Ivory you may be fined or detained.
  • Ask for a receipt at the shop for souvenirs that are copies of religious artifacts or antiques
  • The US embassy warns its citizens to avoid these areas: western areas of Oromia, Southern areas of Oromia, Ethiopia’s Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People’s Region (SNNPR), Border with Kenya, Tigray and Border with Eritrea, Gambella and border with South Sudan, Somali region, Afar, Amhara regions.
  • Avoid crime in Addis Ababa including pickpocketing. don’t carry expensive stuff

Find your emabssy here: U.S. Embassy Addis Ababa

Entoto Street
PO Box 1014
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: 011-130-6000
Fax: +251-11-124-2435 and +251-11-124-2419
Email: [email protected]

Final words on Traveling to Ethiopia

Traveling to Ethiopia is a good decision you would make for your vacation or business. Especially, if you love society and culture, you will surely find something new to hang out too. Ethiopia is an ancient civilization, that has lost its power over time. The leftovers of history are all over the place and is still a country worth the visit.

Ethiopia has a place for all. Trekking, relaxing, culture, religion, nightlife. Modern services such as massage and spa are all over the capital city. Food and drinks, you will find at every corner. Traveling in Ethiopia is also easy and more comfortable these days.

If you are traveling to Ethiopia or planning to travel, then you can contact us for more information.

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