Travel Africa – Travel to Ethiopia

Travel to Ethiopia

If you travel to Ethiopia have a look at the frequently asked questions:

1 What part of Africa is Ethiopia in?

Ethiopia is a landlocked country on the Horn of Africa, in the east of the continent. It is bordered by Djibouti, Eritrea, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, and Somaliland (Somalia).

2. What is the history of Ethiopia?

On March 1, 1896, Ethiopia’s conflict with the Italians, the First Italo–Ethiopian War, was resolved by the complete defeat of the Italian armed forces at the Battle of Adowa. A provisional treaty of peace was concluded at Addis Ababa on October 26, 1896, which acknowledged the independence of Ethiopia.

3. Who founded Ethiopia?

Herodotus, the Greek historian of the fifth century B.C., describes ancient Ethiopia in his writings. The Old Testament of the Bible records the Queen of Sheba’s visit to Jerusalem. According to legend, Menelik I, the son of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, founded the Ethiopian Empire.

4. How tall are the Ethiopian highlands?

The Ethiopian Highlands is a rugged mass of mountains in Ethiopia, situated in the Horn region in Northeast Africa. It forms the largest continuous area of its altitude in the continent, with little of its surface falling below 1500 m (4,921 ft), while the summits reach heights of up to 4550 m (14,928 ft).

5. What is Addis Ababa like?

Sometimes referred to as the capital of Africa, Addis Ababa is a buzzing hub of economic, social and political activity and home to such notable offices as the African Union and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa.

6. What are the major landforms in Ethiopia?

Its topography ranges from deserts along its eastern border, the Choke and Mandebo mountains ranges in its central core, and tropical forests in the southern reaches.

7. What is the ancient name of Ethiopia?

In modern geography the name Ethiopia is confined to the country known as Abyssinia, an extensive territory in East Africa. In ancient times Ethiopia extended over vast domains in both Africa and Asia.

8. What is the culture of Ethiopia?

The Ethiopian Orthodox Church is proud of its origins. The country embraced Christianity in the 4th century, long before Europe. The feast of the Epiphany (“Timkat”) is the largest festival of the year. The Orthodox Church dominates the political, cultural, and social life of the population.

9. Why does Ethiopia have 13 months?

The Ethiopian calendar has 13 months: 12 months of 30 days and a short month of 5 or 6 days, depending whether it’s a leap year. Ethiopian New Year is on September 11th, except in leap years, when it is on September 12th. It is on the first of the Ethiopian month of Maskaram.

10. What is the lowest point in Ethiopia?

Lowest Point: The lowest point in Ethiopia is Danakil Depression, at 125 m below sea level; it is located in northeastern Ethiopia (near the Eritrean border).

Travel to Ethiopia – Climate

The typical climate type is tropical monsoon with topographical variations. As a highland country, Ethiopia  is  considerably cooler than other countries at similar distance from the Equator. Most of the country’s cities are located at around 2000 to 2500 metres or 6,600 to 8,200 feet above sea level, including cities such as Gondar and Axum.

Average annual temperature in the capital Addis Ababa is 16°C or 61°F, with daily maximum average of 20 to 25°C or 68 to 77°F all the year and lows on average between 5 and 10°C or 41-50°F.  Light jackets or sweater are recommended for evenings, many Ethiopians dress conservatively and wear a jacket even during day time.

Travel to Ethiopia – Getting there and around

Almost all visitors travel to Ethiopia require a visa. Nationals of Djibouti enter visa-free up to 3 months, and nationals of Kenya may enter visa-free for up to one year.

Fees for single entry visa-upon-arrival is USD 50 for one month or USD 70 for 3 months, regardless of the kind of visa, either tourist, business or transit visa.

By plane:  Ethiopian Airlines is the only domestic airline and one of the most successful and reputable  in Africa , servicing the USA and Europe with direct flight connections.

Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa is the main hub for Ethiopian Airlines with connections to most major cities in Africa. An extremely attractive deal for passengers of Ethiopian Airlines on their way to other East African destinations is to be able to interrupt the trip for a week stop-over in Ethiopia at no costs to visit the famous  historical sites before flying on to the final destination.

Arriving in the country without  Euros or US dollars is not recommended, especially if one has to pay for a visa at the airport. Cash can be exchanged at the airport and there are several ATMs at Terminal 2 accepting VISA cards, but they’re not very reliable.

Ethiopian Airlines is the only flight operator and has a fairly comprehensive domestic services and network. Flights are frequently overbooked and schedules are changed frequently, so you should show up at the airport on time! As of 2017 no need to reconfirm but you have to present your mobile number.

By car:  One way to get there, coming from Sudan is via the border in Metema. One way to get in from Kenya is via Moyale. The road from Kenya to Ethiopia through the town of Moyale is much better and well maintained. On the Kenyan side of Moyale the road is newly tared all the way (finished since 2016) from Nairobi to Moyale but still at least 9 hrs hours to travel from Moyale to Nairobi. Not advisable for foreigners, bush taxis often ferry people between Hargeisa and Jijiga, though it will be necessary to change busses at the border between Somaliland and Ethiopia.

By bus:  Public transportation gets you to the border. To and from Sudan or Kenya you just walk to the other side and continue there with another available bus. If you arrive at the border towns late at night, do not cross the border in the dark, but stay in town overnight and continue travelling in the morning.

From Djibouti you can take a mini bus to the border (2-3 hours) where you will find a bus to Dire Dawa. The road is a dirt road and the tour takes a minimum of half a day, at nightfall the bus stops and you go on the next day. From Ethiopia into Djibouti, a bus leaves around midnight but buy tickets during the day at the office in the centre of Dire Dawa. It arrives at the Djibouti border in the early morning where you can immediately change onto a different mini bus to get to Djibouti City.

From Khartoum there is a comfortable route possible by public bus. Take a mini bus from any of the Khartoum bus stations to Mina Bahri (N15.527495, E32.543703). Pay 3 SDG entry to the terminal, walk inside and ask for Gadaref at one of the ticket windows. Once you have your ticket 100 SDG confirm the bay number and departure time. The ticket seller will then direct you to a office where you must hand over a copy of the data page (photo) of your passport and visa pages and pay 20 SDG to have your ticket stamped to have permission to travel. But the  permit to travel is not required on this route.

Inside the country there is a comprehensive network of cheap buses, although these are slow and basic. Buses that travel short distances generally leave whenever they have filled up with passengers which usually is quick as everybody travels public,  nearly all long-distance buses leave at dawn (beware of the different time, Ethiopia counts the hours a day completely different to the rest of the world, e.g. 6 + 12 and so on). Buses never travel at night; they  stop before sundown in a town or village with available accommodation for the passengers, or, between Dire Dawa and Djibouti just by the roadside. Between some cities like Adama and Addis Ababa, minibuses will run after the larger buses have stopped for the night.
On several routes as Addis – Dire Dawa, Bahardar – Addis you may find private cars with no fixed departure; when looking around at a bus station you will be approached by a guy who offers you a faster connection via private car; this is more expensive than the normal bus but also much faster. Be careful and negotiate the price. Often they are so called shared taxi and wait until 5 passengers are in the car.

By train: Ethiopia is undergoing a modernisation of its railways, with Chinese, Turkish and Brazilian investment. A new electric railway has been built from Addis Ababa to Djibouti recently with limited freight operations in 2015. The line fully opened in October 2016,and started passenger service in January 2017. The line includes stops at Adama, Awash, Dire Dawa and Ali Sabieh, among others.

Travel to Ethiopia – Sights

Addis Ababa: Walking along the street from Meskel Sqare to Sidest Kilo is safe and entertaining.  You will see the Africa Hall, the palaces and the Parliament building, the Hilton Hotel, the marvelous architectural adventure of a building hosting the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Sheraton Hotel, the first school which Menelik II built in the 1880s, the Trinity Orthodox Cathedral, the National Museum, and the Addis Ababa University.  Arat Kilo Avenue is marked by a statue built in commemoration of the Ethiopian V-day during the Second World War, while Sidest Kilo Avenue is marked by a statue commemorating the 39,000 residents of Addis Ababa killed by Italian fascist troops.

Simien Mountains: The Simien Mountains in Northern Ethiopia is an scenic setting with unique wildlife and breath-taking views on a landscape shaped by nature and traditional agriculture. The natural beauties of this region have always filled visitors from Ethiopia and abroad with awe.

Gondar: Gondar is the Royal and ancient historical city of Ethiopia. It was the home of many Emperors and Princess from the 12th century to the last decade of the 20th century.

Axum: The ruins of the ancient city of Aksum are situated close to Ethiopia’s northern border. They were the centre of ancient Ethiopia, when the Kingdom of Aksum was the most powerful state between the Eastern Roman Empire and Persia. The massive ruins include monolithic obelisks, giant stelae, tombs and the ruins of ancient castles.

Lalibela:  11 medieval monolithic cave churches of this 13th-century  are situated in a hilly region near a traditional village with circular-shaped dwellings. Lalibela is the centre of Ethiopian Christianity, still today a place of pilmigrage and devotion.

Lake Tana: Lake Tana’s beauty is formed by a lush shoreline and rich birdlife. But even the lake’s natural beauty is second to its centuries-old monasteries, full of paintings and treasures.

Omo Valley: Omo Valley is undoubtedly the most unique place In Ethiopia because of the wide variety of people and animals that inhabit it. Located in Africa’s Great Rift Valley, the region is known for its culture and diversity. The tribes that live here, are believed to be among the most fascinating on the continent of Africa and around the world.

travel to Ethiopia
Guns are in daily life
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Ethiopian Highlands
travel to Ethiopia
Water has to be brought from far
travel to Ethiopia
Amharic Girls
travel to Ethiopia
Lalibela
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Papyrus boats Lake Tana
travel to Ethiopia
farming
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Hippo in Nechesar NP
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Indigenous people - Mursi Woman
travel to Ethiopia
indigenous people - Hamer woman

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