Welcome to Ethiopia
Ethiopia, the former Abyssinia is one of the oldest nations in the world. Genesis in the Christian bible said that the Garden of Eden is beside the river Gihon in Ethiopia. Ethiopia has unique heritage, with many ethnicities, and is known as the “Africa Jerusalem” in other parts of Africa. It is also the cradle of mankind, and where Lucy, the 3.2 million year old skeleton was discovered in 1974 in the Hadar-Afar Region. Ethiopia is also the land of the Queen of Sheba who visited the biblical king Solomon of Israel to test his wisdom. She lived in what is now called Axum, the origin of modern Ethiopia civilization, and where the heads of royalty were minted upon coins to make trade with other nations. She also gave birth to the longest dynasty in world history; the royal Solomonic dynasty, which ruled Ethiopia from 10 century BC until 1974.
The oldest cave sculpture, stone engraved, and manuscripts which are still used in the Ethiopian Orthodox church, and are registered by UNESCO are also from Axum. Ethiopia is also world’s coffee hotspot and other indigenous medicinal plants. The country benefits from favorable weather conditions and is also called “the water Tower of Africa,” because it is the source of Blue Nile, the longest river in the world, upon whose banks ancient civilizations thrived. The East Africa Great Rift Valley also crosses the country forming lakes with unique types of fish.
The lower valley of the Omo River is the home of different nomadic peoples like, Hammer, Mursi, Ari, Erbore, Dasanach and others. Time spent with these ancient peoples and cultures will always be cherished.
Geographically speaking, Ethiopia is land of extremes: from the breathtaking landscape and scenery of Simien Mountains National Park, which is the highest point in Ethiopia with 4620M above Sea level, to the lowest place on the planet – Danakil depression 120M below Sea Level. This is where the three Tectonic plates merge and form the most beautiful scenery with different colours of minerals. One of the world’s active volcanic eruption is still happening down here.
Through these dynamic geographic location, wildlife are abundant in Ethiopia, the Endemic mammals including the endangered Ethiopian Wolf, Gelada Baboons, Mountain Nyala, Walia Ibex and many more wildlife treasure will definitely surpass your expectations.
The focal point of the famous Great East African Rift Valley creates several Lakes – Home for endemic and migratory Birds. This is a paradise for birdwatchers.
Ethiopian tourism includes historical, cultural, and natural heritage-castles, churches, fauna and anthropology. It is a “must-visit” country for inquiring tourists.
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Important-to-know about Ethiopia
Ethiopian calendar is different from the western counter: we are currently in year 2009. The Ethiopian year has 365 days divided into 12 months having 30 days each and the remaining 5 days stand as the 13th month called Pagume. In Leap year however, Pagume will be 6 days.
September 11: Ethiopian New Year
September 24: Eid al Adha (Sacrifice) Muslim holiday
September 27th: The Finding of the True Cross (Meskel)
January 7: Ethiopian Christmas (Genna)
January 19: Ethiopian Epiphany (Timket)
March 2: Anniversary of the Victory of Adwa (1896)
April 29: Ethiopian Orthodox Good Friday
May 1: Ethiopian Orthodox Easter Sunday
May 1: International Labor Day
May 5: Patriots Victory Day
May 28: Fall of the Dergue Regime
July 18: Eid Al Fitir (Ramadan) Muslim Holiday
The Ethiopian time is 3 Hours ahead of the Greenwich Mean Time (GMT +3)
Ethiopia is otherwise known as mosaic of ethnicity, over 80 different ethnic lives in Ethiopia speaking their own language. Amharic, Tigrigna and Oromiffa are widely spoken across the country; English has become important language and is spoken everywhere.
Ethiopia is highly favored tourist destination in Africa for its climate. The old slogan saying “13 months of sunshine” is the best way to express the overall climatic condition. In the North and central part of Ethiopia, rainy season runs between June and end of September; while in the south the main rainy season starts March to June with small amount in November. The Danakil Depression and Eastern tip up to Somalia is very hot and desert throughout the year.
The most commonly used means of transport to Ethiopia is the airlines and Bole International Airport in the capital Addis Ababa is the main entrance point for who chose to fly. The newly inaugurated Ethio-Djibouti Railway service is an additional means of entry to Ethiopia. For cross-country drivers and adventures, Entry via Moyale near the Kenyan Boarder and Galafi in the Djibouti Boarders are commonly used. Be aware that all forms of entry carry-on a series custom and immigration checks.
Without doubt, Ethiopia is one the safest African country. The political situation has been stable for the last 25 years. The capital Addis Ababa is fast growing city with a very low record of violent crimes. Tourists shall be careful of pickpockets in big events or market days.
Flight & related concern
There are different international airlines flying to Ethiopia including the famous Ethiopian Airlines ranked as the best airlines in Africa by IATA. Ethiopian airlines flies to more than 80 countries across five continents and is planning to increase the number in short period of time.
Visa can be obtained on arrival at the airport but it is a good idea to settle it with the Ethiopian Embassy in your locality.
Regarding Custom, there is very strict custom rule in Ethiopia and we advise clients not to carry electronic materials more than what is allowed. You may contact the nearest Ethiopian Embassy in your country to verify about these regulations.
Clothing and related
As the climate changes in a matter of few minute, we recommend tourist to bring mix of light and warm clothing together with couple of pair shoes. Sunglass, hut, and sun cream are important in all tourist destinations. Trekkers are required to bring warming clothing and trekking shoes.
It is important to dress appropriately (covering body, hair—for women) as much as possible when entering to the different religious spots and taking off your shoes in the gate of every church and mosque.
Telephone, Fax and Postal services are widely available in most part of the country: some big hotels and restaurants have Wi-fi connections. The international dialing code for Ethiopia is +251
Ethiopia uses 220 volts and 50HZ: it is recommended to bring your own Round, tow-prong adapter and transfer for your electrical usage.
Ethiopian currency is “Birr” and has five different notes: One, Five, Ten, Fifty, and Hundred Birr notes. You can exchange your currency at the airport on arrival or in different hotels: ATM machines are available in most part of Ethiopia. Visa and MasterCard can be used in some high standard hotels and Restaurants.
Foods and Drinks
There are plenty of Ethiopian and international restaurants to serve you great deal of Ethiopian national foods and drinks starring Injera—pancake-like round thin bread best made out the endemic grain called Teff; it is served with different stews. Doro wat, the cooked spicy chicken stew is one of the national foods. The false Banana tree is the basic food in the southern Ethiopia—you will see how they use it during your trip in the south.
The local drink called Tej—honey wine has high alcoholic content is normally served with the foods. Last but not least peace of activity you will enjoy is the coffee ceremony, Ethiopian is one the big Coffee exporting nation in the world as the best Coffee is originated here.
Enjoy the different food and Coffee ceremony in the different parts of Ethiopia.
Due to the altitude highness of the nation, Malaria and similar diseases are rare in most part of Ethiopia, but in some lowland areas they might happen after rainy season. We recommend guests to come effectively immunized for different reason, Typhoid, Polio, tetanus and the like. Take with you Malaria tablet, Plasters, antiseptic iodine, Aspirin and whatever medicine you have started to use (if there is any)
It is basically free to take photos in all attractions but it is becoming normal for people to ask for money especially in the southern Ethiopia tour of the different tribes. It is a good idea to take smaller denominations of Birr so you can take as many photos as you wish to have.