Ethiopia is one of the friendliest countries in Africa, and here I am sharing some the most important things that you should know before you travel to Ethiopia.
Ethiopia, a country that is rich in traditions, has a wonderful collection of incredible things to do when you are there. Though at least a few among the travelers doubt Ethiopia’s reputation as a destination due to its troubled past, the increasing population of returning travelers tells us that the tourism industry in the country is booming once again. After living in the country for more than two years, I have a list of undiluted experiences from Ethiopia to share with you.
Why visit Ethiopia?
Ethiopia is a country that is rich in traditions. Being one of the most ancient civilizations in the world today, Ethiopia has a good collection of history and culture. Among the top in my list of things to do in Ethiopia are the ancient religious sites and the beguiling tribes. Traveling across Ethiopia is also a wonderful experience to discover the captivating landscapes of the country.
Before you travel to Ethiopia, you need to know that this landlocked nation is comparatively cheap to travel. Unique and different from the other East African countries, Ethiopia is one of the oldest christian nations.
Ethiopia is a country that is safe to visit with almost zero crime. You can also experience some food delicacies which are purely domestic to Ethiopia. And if you are a coffee lover, Ethiopia is a paradise for you.
What to see and do in Ethiopia?
Although a good idea to start exploring Ethiopia is by discovering the sprawling capital, there are more to do in Ethiopia, outside Addis Ababa. One of the major activities to do in Ethiopia is an expedition through the historical circuit of Ethiopia. When there are several historical places that you can accommodate into your Ethiopia visit itinerary, I suggest you to learn about a few historical sites before you travel to Ethiopia.
Historical destinations in Ethiopia
Aksum: Go discover the ruins of the ancient city of Aksum (Axum). The ancient Aksum was spread between the present day Eritrea and the Tigray region of Ethiopia.
Fasil Ghebbi: The fortress-city of Fasil Ghebbi (in current Gondar Region) was the seat of the Ethiopian emperor Fasilides and his followers during 16th and 17th century.
Harar Jugol: A Plataea with stunning gorges enveloped by savannah and deserts is the present Harar and the famous historic town of Ethiopia – Harar.
Lalibela: Learning about the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela before you travel to Ethiopia will help you understand the history of this 13th century Ethiopian Orthodox Churches there.
Awash Valley: The valley holds one of the most significant groupings of palaeontological sites on the entire continent of Africa. In addition to the historical importance, Awash can be seen as a river that has its complete course engulfed within the boundaries of Ethiopia. The river that doesn’t reach any of the oceans or seas empties into a chain of interconnected lakes.
Omo Valley: A prehistoric site close to Turkana Lake has gained the attention of tourists and researchers across the globe with discovery of several fossils there. More over a tribal tour to Ethiopia cannot exclude the tribes of Omo Valley with distinct culture and traditions.
While you are busy exploring the historical places in Ethiopia, please do not miss,
- Lake Tana for an expedition to the source of Blue Nile
- Bahir Dar to enjoy the Nile city of Ethiopia
- Addis Ababa for a thrilling experience in the capital city, and
- Hawassa (Awasa) to discover the Great Rift Valley
Things To Know Before You Travel to Ethiopia
While there are several things to do and experience in Ethiopia, there are a few things that you should know before traveling to this East African country. The country that is bordered with Somalia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Kenya, South Sudan and Sudan has itchy relationships with Eritrea. Once the part of Ethiopia, Eritrea is now an independent country on the coast of Red Sea.
Health and safety
Though A Yellow Fever vaccination is not mandatory to enter Ethiopia, I suggest you to take a few vaccinations before you travel to Ethiopia, including Yellow Fever…
- Hepatitis A
Make sure that you are up to date with your tetanus and polio vaccines. I suggest you to start getting the vaccinations at least 8 weeks prior to your travel.
Traveling through and within Ethiopia is comparatively cheap, but you need to be cautious about the hygiene factors. Carry a hand sanitizer and use when you feel it is needed.
Though the highlands of Ethiopia and the capital city are considered low-risk areas for Malaria, there is a high risk for catching malaria in the lowlands of the country. Make sure to discuss with your medical consultant and explain your travel details (tell him that you are traveling to Ethiopia) and take the right anti-malarial medications.
The highlands of Ethiopia are on higher altitudes. This can cause health issues such as fatigue, nausea, dizziness, shortness of breath and headache.
Ethiopia is very safe to travel. However, pickpockets and robbers are common in the major cities. You need to follow the basic travel safety precautions in Ethiopia too.
What amazed me about Ethiopians is their willingness to help others. Without expecting any return, they will help you if they realize that you are in a need.
A few more things that you must know before you travel to Ethiopia
The Capital City: As we have mentioned it before, the capital of Ethiopia is Addis Ababa. Traveling from Addis Ababa to other parts of Ethiopia, or traveling within Addis Ababa is convenient. Addis Ababa has some interesting places to visit too.
Currency: Ethiopian Birr is the currency of Ethiopia. Unlike some other countries in Africa, Ethiopian government doesn’t allow the use of US dollar or other currencies in the country, except for exchanging to Ethiopian Birr from the National Bank.
Date & Time: Ethiopians follow a calendar that is much similar to the Julian calendar. While we are running on July 2017, Ethiopia is on 2009.
They also measure time differently. Most Ethiopians count time from the rising of sun (6:00 in the morning is 0:00 of Ethiopia).
Food & drinks: The most favorite cuisine of Ethiopia is Injera. Injera is sour and you will have to eat a lot of it when you travel in Ethiopia. Non-vegetarian food dishes are plenty while vegan’s and vegetarians have narrow options, especially in the countryside.
Ethiopians use their fingers to break and eat Injera. So, be prepared to follow the Ethiopian style.
Ethiopian coffee is strong. Coffee ceremony in Ethiopia is something that you must take part and enjoy.
A bit more…
The rainy season in the country is messy. Ethiopian soil is slippery and muddy. During rainy season (June till August) the highlands can be wet and moist.
Rastafarians are common in Jamaica, but the community was founded after the late Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie. You will find Rastafarians in many places through Ethiopia. Do not miss your chance to interact and learn about their lifestyle.
Ethiopia can get cold during winter season (October till February). Make sure that you carry your winter cloths while visiting Ethiopia during winter.
Wish you a happy and safe journey to the land of wonders!
Author: E Jey
Just a passionate traveler who loves scribbling his expeditions @ www.jauntmonkey.com, www.outonroads.com, and www.blogthatall.com