Ethiopia Frequently Asked Questions (Faqs)

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Do I need a visa to visit Ethiopia?

All passport holders require a visa except nationals of Kenya and Djibouti. However, most nationals can get a visa on arrival but you would need to bring two passport photos and the application fee. Most nationals can apply for the e-visa online here 

We suggest that you check with the Ethiopian embassy or consulate near you about the latest visa requirements.

It is your responsibility to check the entry visa requirements with the individual embassy of each country you intend visiting before departure.


Do I need to get a Yellow Fever Vaccination?

If you are travelling from a country which is known for Yellow Fever you need to produce your yellow fever vaccination certificate upon arrival in Ethiopia. Failure to do so may result in your being denied entry.

For more information please visit your local travel clinic or the CDC website


Do I need to take anti-malaria medication when visiting Ethiopia?

There is a risk of malaria throughout the country, except Addis Ababa and areas above 2500m, especially during January to December. It is recommended that you visit your local doctor or a travel clinic about malaria prophylaxis before travelling to Ethiopia.


When is the best time to visit Ethiopia?

 The answer to this question depends on what you want to see and experience in Ethiopia. Most tourists visit the country between September and February during the dry season. This is the best time of year to visit the northern circuit of Gondar and Lalibela. This is also the period when the biggest festivals take place in the Ethiopian Orthodox Christian calendar with Meskel in September and Timkat in early January.

The best time to enjoy the Simien Mountains is between September – November and there are beautiful wildflowers in the region in bloom during October. The Omo Valley is also good during September and October but should be avoided during the short rains in November when accessibility becomes a problem due to bad roads and the rains. The Omo Valley should be avoided during the wet season from March – July.

The best time to visit the Danakil Depression is between November – March, the rest of the year it can be extremely hot as this is one of the hottest places on Earth.


Can I drink the tap water in Ethiopia?

Water in Ethiopia is safe for bathing and brushing your teeth. Not all water is safe to drink especially in remote areas, so we recommend that you use bottled water during your trip.


What is the weather like in Ethiopia?

Many people think that Ethiopia is a dry country, but in fact, it is mostly very green with high rainfall and a temperate climate. Only some regions such as the Afar region and the Danakil depression are extremely hot and dry due to their low altitude.


Currency and credit cards in Ethiopia

The official currency of Ethiopia is the Ethiopian Birr (ETB). The Ethiopian Birr is subdivided into santim where 100 santim = 1 ETB. US dollars are widely accepted however bills printed in and/or before 2006 are not accepted! High denomination bills ($100 and $50 mainly) can also be a problem so take a stash of ones and fives and tens just to be on the safe side.

Credit Cards:

Visa and Mastercard are accepted in the capital Addis Ababa but not throughout the rest of the country where you will need to rely on cash.

American Express and Diners Club are not widely accepted.

Foreign currency can be exchanged at local banks and Bureaux de Change.

ATM’s are not widely available so it is best to carry cash.


Languages spoken in Ethiopia

Ethiopia has over 86 languages spoken by different groups within its borders. The official languages are Amharic and Oromo. English is the most widely spoken foreign language but in many rural areas such as the Omo Valley, you will need a local guide to act as an interpreter.


Electrical matters

Ethiopian electrical outlets operate on a 220V supply voltage and 50Hz. Plugs are often round 2 pin type C and F or sometimes a 3 pin square plug. Although adaptors are available at most camps, we highly recommend taking your own.

If you are taking electric hair styling tools in any shape or form flatirons, curling irons, hairdryers etc. or any other electrical appliances, you should make sure they are dual voltage and remember to change the voltage.

Many accommodations are very remote and run on generators. They may not allow you to use hair dryers, curling irons etc and may have limited hours of operation. Some accommodations only have charging facilities for batteries and cell phones only in the main reception rooms.


Time Zone

Local time in Ethiopia is GMT +3 which 7 – 8 hours ahead of the Eastern USA depending on daylight saving time.


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