Ethiopia is located at the eastern tip of the African Continent. Eritrea, Djibouti, Somalia, Sudan and Kenya are the neighboring countries. With land area of 1,1298,00 Sq. Km., Ethiopia is as large as France and Spain combined or five times the size of Britain or about twice the size of Texas. Ethiopia has variety of topographical features from the peaks of the Semien Mountains in north Gondar to the Danakil Depression in the Rift Valley Afar Region, vast central plateau, tropical forests, savanna deserts, lakes and rivers. Addis Ababa with a population about 5 million people is the capital city of the country.
There are two major seasons: the dry season prevails from October through May; the wet season from June to September. January and February are hotter and much driver. The landscape is likely to be more aired than in November, which can still be quite lush after the rains. In the highlands (most of the historic route) the daytime is temperature is moderate not exceeding, 300 C even at the hottest time of the year and nights are generally moderate to cold in all months of the year. The Southern rift valley is classified as moderate to hot, but the eastern lowlands and is the farthest southern part of the country hot and dry. The western lowlands are hot and humid are the most tropical area of Ethiopia.
The population is estimated at 96 million. Ethiopia is a land of enormous ethnic diversity, with people of Semitic, Cushitic, Nilotic and Omotic stock. In terms of religion Orthodox Christians make up about 40%, Muslims 35% and 25% being animists and others. What unites Ethiopian’s many people is primary their shared independent existence. Ethiopia was never colonized; many ancient customs and traditions remain intact Ethiopia is Ethiopian and this will be obvious to the visitor from the moment of arrival in Addis Ababa. Courtesy and hospitality are prized qualities throughout the country.
A variety of language is spoken in the multi – ethnic state of Ethiopia. The main three Languages are Amharigna, Tigrigna and Oromigna. The officcial language is Amharic. English and French are also widely spoken.
Agriculture is the backbone of the National economy where about 85% of the population earns their living mainly as subsistence farmers. The principal exports from this sector are coffee, oil seeds, pulses, flowers, vegetables, sugar and foodstuffs for animals. There is also a thriving livestock sector, exporting cattle on the hoof and hides and skins.
Ethiopia is the GMT +3 hours’ time zone. The day is calculated in a manner similar to many equatorial countries, where day and nights have the same length. Counting starts when the sun rises, at 1:00 o’clock when it is 7:00 AM for Europeans and stops when the sunsets at 12:00 o’clock when it is 6:00 PM for Europeans.
Ethiopia follows the Julian calendar, which consists of 12 months of 30 days each and a thirteen month of five or six days (in leap year). The Ethiopian Calendar is either eight years (January -August) or seven years (September – December) behind the Gregorian calendar. When the rest of the world celebrated the millennium, it was 1992 in Ethiopia. The Ethiopian fiscal year begins on 8 July, the Ethiopian New year is on 11 September and Christmas is on 7 January.
Ethiopia uses 220 volts, 50 cycles AC.
HOTELS AND RESTAURANTS
Addis Ababa has hotels and restaurants that cater for all pockets.
The following are some of tourist standard hotels to list:
* First class hotels: Sheraton Addis and Hilton Addis
* Four stars: Gion, Global, Imperial, Central Venue, Hotel De Leoplle, etc.
* Three stars: Ethiopia, Lalibela, Axum, Jerusalem, Queen of Shebs, Debre Damo, Semen, Gedera, Crown, Central Shewa, Holiday, Extreme, National Hotel, etc
* Two stars: Finfine Hotel, Awraris Hotel, and others like Taitu, Baro, etc are available.
Regarding restaurants in Addis Ababa there are Greek, Chinese, Armenian, Indian, Arabic, French and Italian restaurants. Most tourists also enjoy Ethiopian restaurants for the spicy Ethiopian dishes. Outside Addis Ababa, in other towns, manly in the historic route tourist Standard hotels and restaurants are available. The hotels to be used for our clients are tourist standard, with a very good quality of services. But this can only be practical upon availability as prior bookings have to be made.
To visit the cultural sites in the south and to discover the extra ordinary wilderness, camping will be made on selected camping sites. Our camping materials are of high standard and comfortable for camping. Camping materials like tent, sleeping mattress, tables, chairs, camping light, etc. will be supplied.
An international certificate of vaccination against yellow fever is required and you may need to produce this of obtain your visa. We also advise that in addition to the statutory requirements you ensure you are vaccinated against typhoid, Polio, Meningitis and hepatitis.
Vaccination against cholera is also required for any person who has visited or transited a cholera-infected area within six days prior to arrival to Ethiopia.
The currency is the Birr, the rate of which is fixed against the US dollar every two weeks following a foreign currency auction. Mostly the rate has fluctuated between 21 and 21.50 Birr to US$1.00. There is no limit to amount of foreign currency that can be brought into Ethiopia, but visitors must declare all currency in their possession on arrival, and change foreign currency in banks or authorized foreign exchange dealers. On leaving the country, visitors will be asked to surrender to customs officials the currency declaration filled in on arrival.
At Bole Airport, and in all major cities and many towns, there will be branches of national banks.
Most of the arts and artifacts in Addis Ababa (and certainly along the historic route – Axum, Lalibela, Gondar and Bahir Dar) reflect the Orthodox Christian tradition: silver crosses, icons, paintings on animal skin, and woven garments – items with a Christian motif. A well-stocked shop will also be able to offer Harari silver and basketwork, and wooden carvings from the south and southwest.
Other things visitors might like to bring back are filigree work in silver and gold, woven carpets, amber and of course coffee – the very name comes from Kaffa in southwestern Ethiopia. If you are looking for larger mementoes, you can by Ethiopia stools, chairs and other furniture from private shops and from the state sector Ethiopian Tourist Trading Corporation, next to the airport. Like many countries, Ethiopia is facing a problem with the theft and illegal purchase of national treasures. Visitors should only buy what appears to be antiques from authorized shops, ask for a stamped receipt, and if in doubt, check with the National Museum in Addis Ababa whether the item may be exported or not.
Duty-free imports are permitted for up to:
· 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or ½ lb of tobacco.
· 1 liter of alcoholic beverage.
· 1/2 liter or two bottles of perfume.
TRAVEL TO AND IN ETHIOPIA
Air: Addis Ababa is a major hub for international airlines. Ethiopian Airlines, the national airline of Ethiopia, provides excellent links with East, West and South Africa, Europe and the Middle East, with connections to America and the Far East. The national airline also offers domestic services to the major towns in Ethiopia, as well as most regional centers.
The international flight constitutes on average around 30% of the cost of a holiday, and so that Ethiopia can maximize the benefits from the development of its tourist industry, AAT likes to encourage its clients to fly the national carrier, Ethiopian Airlines (EAL), which recently celebrated its 60th birthday, generally provides excellent service and has an excellent safety record. Travelers to Ethiopia should also be aware of another reason for flying EAL- on the domestic circuit; priority is given to those who use EAL for their international flight.
The cheapest and quickest way to get around Ethiopia’s historic sites in the north is by air. Most of Ethiopia’s major towns and sites of tourist interest are accessible by air, and fares are still cheap by international standards.
Other airlines serving Ethiopia include: Kenyan Airways, Air Djibouti, Egyptian, Alitalia, KLM, Air Turkish, Sudanese Airways, Lufthansa, Saudi, Aeroflot, Yemeni Airways, British Airways, Emirates and Djibouti Airways.
All international services arrive at Bole International Airport, Addis Ababa.
Road: The best way to experience the variety of scenery the Ethiopia has to offer is travel by road. But road conditions in Ethiopia are poor and given the nature of the terrain a road journey to Axum for example takes three days, while the flight from Addis Ababa takes two hours. The scenery by road is of course incomparable, but many travelers lack the time. The toll exact by poor roads (and the 100% customs duty) makes vehicle hire relatively expensive, when compared to some other countries. There are cheap, but generally uncomfortable, public and private buses running between most towns.
Rail: A 778 kilometer long railway that links Addis Ababa with Djibouti has deteriorated over the last couple of decades due to lack of investment and while Ethiopia has recently secured renovation grants; rail enthusiasts should be prepared for delays.
Travel to neighboring countries
Many tourists like to combine visits to Ethiopia with Kenya, Sudan or Djibouti. For visitors who are interested we can arrange and provide Extension program on request. Separate visas are required for all countries. There are reasonable road links between these countries and flights between Addis Ababa, Nairobi, Khartoum and Djibouti.
Telephone, Tele fax, Internet, and postal facilities are available in cities and most towns. The International dialing code for Ethiopia is 00251.Most towns have mobile telephone service.
Ethiopia drives in the right; a valid international license is required to derive.
Taxis are available in town for either contracts or Normal fares.
Filming a foreigner wishing to shoot documentary or feature films in Ethiopia shall obtain a permit from the Ministry of Information and Culture.
Guide Books Lonely Plane, the Bradt Guide to Ethiopia and the Spectrum Guide to Ethiopia are available in a revised edition.
We are a responsible tour operator and for us the safety of our clients and staff is of paramount importance. We would not run any holiday that we did not consider reasonably safe. Should the foreign and commonwealth Office advice against travel for any reason, we will contact anyone who is booked to travel to discuss alternatives.