HOME





TRAVEL BLOG
ABOUT US
ENQUIRE
BROCHURE
CONTACT US
PRIVACY & COOKIES
Although we are now working from home, if you are due to travel shortly we will be in touch to support and guide you in either postponing or cancelling your trip, based on Foreign Office advice and your insurance arrangements.
 
When you feel ready to do so, we are here to help you plan your next holiday, knowing availability in many key destinations is already tight for next year. To help you move forward with confidence, our booking conditions have been relaxed in case you are unable to travel due to COVID-19 issues beyond your control (eg a new wave of infections; visa restrictions; mandatory quarantine; or cancellation of your international flight).
 
Thank you for your ongoing kindness & support in these difficult times. And remember that all our holidays are fully financially protected, wherever in the world you live.

Warm regards

Claire Farley, Managing Director

Travel guide to Ethiopia

Passports
Your passports must be valid for at least 6 months after your return date and have two blank facing pages. If you do not have this, you may be denied boarding at your departure airport. Soiled, damaged or defaced passports will not be accepted.
Visas
British, European & USA citizens require a visa ($50 per person). This should be purchased online in advance of travel. A visa can be purchased at the airport on arrival, but the queues are extremely long and will result in severe delays.
Health
There are no compulsory health requirements for travel to Ethiopia, but malaria tablets are recommended for low altitude areas such as Bahir Dar, the Rift Valley lakes & Omo Valley. A yellow fever vaccination is recommended but not compulsory, unless you are arriving from a country with risk of yellow fever (eg Kenya), in which case a valid yellow fever certificate is mandatory & must be presented at the airport to gain entry. Airport transits of < 12-hours are exempt. The vaccination must be done at least 10 days before travel. If you are over 60 years of age and your doctor advises against a yellow fever vaccination, you must carry a letter from your doctor that states this. As tsetse fly and dengue fever are present, a good insect repellent and anti-histamine are advised. The mosquito that spreads dengue bites during the day and is more common in urban areas. Tsetse fly lives around cattle. If you have any medical conditions, you must consult your doctor regarding the suitability of high-altitude travel before booking your holiday. Also take precautions against altitude sickness (e.g. restrict alcohol, walk slowly and drink plenty of water). You should be up to date with your primary courses and boosters. Always check with your doctor at least 8 weeks before travel for any other inoculations recommended (eg Hepatitis A+B, Cholera, Diphtheria, Typhoid, Polio, Meningococcal Meningitis, Rabies and TB.
Currency
Ethiopian Birr (ETB) – you can exchange currency at the airport on arrival, but you will not be able to change back any surplus currency afterwards. Ask for small denominations, as these are useful for tipping. We also suggest travelling with some US dollars dated after 2006, as these can be converted into local currency in many hotels & for tipping if you run out of local currency. Dollars dated before 2006 will not be accepted anywhere in Ethiopia. British pounds & euros can sometimes be used. Cash cards (the type pre-loaded with currency) are of no use in Ethiopia. Credit card usage is very limited outside Addis Ababa.
Language
Amharic is the official language, but English is widely spoken
Time Zone
GMT + 3hrs
Travel Tips
To ensure that you have the best possible holiday experience, we ask you to read the following information carefully. If you have any questions, please discuss them with us before you depart. 
 
Please be aware that you need to be relatively mobile to visit Ethiopia, as quite a lot of walking is involved and climbing to see the various rock-hewn churches - with many uneven surfaces. 
 
Calendar - Ethiopia follows the Julian calendar, which has 12 months of 30 days and a 13th month of five or six days. New Year starts on 11 September. 
 
Hand Luggage – pack essential items for a day or two in your hand luggage, in case your bags go astray and take a few days to catch up with you, especially if you have any tight connecting flights. 
 
Medicines - if you travel with prescription drugs, carry an adequate supply in their original bottles/packaging & keep them in your hand luggage, as if lost they may be difficult to replace. 
 
Documents – take a copy of your travel insurance policy with you, and leave a copy of your passport with a reliable contact at home, in case the originals are lost or stolen. 
 
Electronic Devices – ensure these are all fully charge before travel, as you may be required to switch them on at airport security, as any device that does not switch on cannot be check and may need to be surrendered. 
 
Mobile Phones – be aware that mobile and Internet connections are often intermittent and rural areas may have no coverage at all. Make sure your phones are set up for international calls and if you plan to use travel apps such as Google Translate or Google Maps, ensure you check your data package with your provider in advance. Alternatively turn off date roaming to avoid large phone bills. 
 
Credit Cards – remember to inform your bank when travelling abroad.  
 
Clothing – as you will be walking over rough ground, good walking shoes are essential. Walking/Trekking poles can also be useful. Pack in layers according to the season & be aware that in places such as the Simien Mountains & Bale Mountains it can get extremely cold at night. Take a day pack, shoes that are easy to take off when entering churches (wear socks, as the floors can be dirty), T-shirts, shorts, jeans, sunhat, swimming costume, sunglasses, biodegradable sunscreen & flip flops. Also a headscarf (required when entering churches), long sleeved tops or pashmina to cover your shoulders, fleece for higher altitudes & jacket for winter. Lightweight but long sleeved shirts and long trousers are good to protect against mosquitos in the low-lying malarial areas (safari clothing is ideal for this, but avoid dark blue as this attracts tsetse fly). Take a generous supply of insect repellent to spray on your neck, wrists and ankles and avoid using perfume, as this attracts insects. Rain gear is needed during the wet season. Sanitising hand cleaner and eye drops can be handy, especially if you wear contact lenses & a 'shewee' is invaluable for ladies in the bush. A backpack is always useful. 
 
Accessories – pack your phone (with charger and a spare battery pack), camera (with spare memory cards and batteries – a 200 mm zoom lens is good for wildlife photography), torch and binoculars (large 8x40 is best). We suggest one pair per person, as it can be frustrating to share. 
 
Cameras - only one camera per person is allowed into Ethiopia. A special filming permit is required for professional cameras. Video cameras with HD (high definition), VHD, MINIi DIVI or 3CCD marks are regarded as professional cameras.  
 
Plugs - type C (European 2-prong). Pack a universal adapter as well as a hand basin plug/stopper, as these are not always provided. 
 
Books – pack a good travel guide, with information on the wildlife and birds of the region. Also a good supply of reading material for quiet evenings and when waiting for flights. 
 
Water – be fastidious and only drink bottled water. Avoid washed salads, local yoghurt, ice cream and ice cubes outside your hotel, as tap water is not safe to drink. Peel all fruit before eating it and remember to brush your teeth with bottled water. Pack diarrhoea tablets and rehydration sachets for emergencies. 
 
Food – be aware that Ethiopians like their food spicy, with vegetables and meat often served as a stew. Enjera, the local flat bread, is served with every meal & acts like a plate. Vegetarians are likely to find the menu rather monotonous outside the main towns. It is safe to drink coffee prepared in a traditional coffee ceremony. 
 
Taxis – in cities only use regulated taxis, which are best ordered through your hotel. 
 
Self-Drive – driving is on the right, although we do not recommend self-driving in Ethiopia. 
 
Respect Local Customs - most women dress conservatively in long trousers or long skirts, although jeans are worn in the cities. Ensure your shoulders are covered when away from your hotel. 
 
Omo Valley Photographs - first greet the villagers and show friendship before taking photographs, to avoid being hassled. Ask permission & be aware that you will be expected to pay ($0.30 per photo/$30-50 for video cameras, or as negotiated with your guide). 
 
Safety – take all sensible precautions. Leave valuable jewellery/watches at home, wear a money belt and be alert when outside your hotel. In particular avoid taking out large wads of cash in public view and keep your spare cash, passport and a spare credit card in your hotel safe. 
 
Wild Animals – attacks by wild animals are rare, but we cannot guarantee that attacks will not occur so observe all sensible precautions. We cannot be held responsible for injuries caused during an incident with a wild animal. 
 
Indemnities - please be aware it is likely you will be required to sign indemnities for safaris and any other potentially hazardous activities. 
 
Pack for a Purpose - if you have a little space in your suitcase, local schools & communities always appreciate gifts of English reading books, pens & pencils, stationery, deflated footballs etc. Specific requests from communities can be seen on the 'Pack for a Purpose' website. 
 
Tipping – this is not compulsory, but if you wish to tip because you have received good service, we suggest the following per couple: 
- main guide: B.150 per day (can be reduced for longer stays). 
- main driver: B.75 per day. 
- lesser guides: B.50 per day. 
- waiters: 10% (if not already added to your bill). 
- porters: B.30 per bag. 
It is not necessary to tip drivers doing short tranfers (eg to the airport). 
 
Displays of Affection - please be aware that same sex relationships are illegal and public displays of affection should be avoided at all times, including in your hotel. We advise all our clients, gay and heterosexual, to be sensitive to cultural differences. 
 
FCO Travel Advice - consult the UK Foreign Office website for the latest travel advice www.fco.gov.uk.
Contact us
Order a brochure
Feedback