Welcome to Ethiopia
Whatever your mind’s-eye image of Ethiopia is, expand it. This blessed country will wow you with its ancient history, variety of landscapes and incredible people.
Feel Ethiopia’s soul as you follow its story, from the heights of the Simien Mountains to the depths of the Danakil Depression, and everywhere in between. The wildlife may not be quite as abundant as in other African countries, but don’t count out Ethiopia when it comes to animal sightings. Look for gelda monkeys, horned ibexes, hyenas and elephants – plus, the birdwatching is some of the best on the continent.
Culture reigns supreme here, with festivals and traditions from the Surmi, Afar, Mursi, Karo and Hamer (and more!) people. Join them for rites-of-passage celebrations and passionate village festivities. From famous “Lucy,” at the National Museum in Addis Ababa to the 12th- and 13th-century, rock-hewn Churches of Lalibela, you will find extraordinary markers of our world’s very beginnings throughout this remarkable country.
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Need To Know
- Ethiopia’s rich culture means there are more than 80 different ethnic groups in the country, with just as many languages and over 200 dialects spoken.
- There are nine UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Ethiopia, more than in any other country on the continent. Among the top attractions are the Churches of Lalibela and Simien National Park.
- Drink up – coffee was discovered in Ethiopia, in the region of Kaffa.
- Throw away your calendar and enjoy your visit – the Ethiopian calendar has 13 months. New Year starts on September 11th each year.
- It is said the Biblical Art of the Covenant, holding the Ten Commandments, is housed within St. Mary of Tsion, known as the “Mother Church of Ethiopia.” However, no one knows for sure because even the specially chosen guard is not allowed to look.
Ethiopia’s official language is Amharic.
When To Go
The best time to go to Ethiopia is during the dry season, between October and June. With all those mountains and elevation, it can be chilly year-round, so bring an extra layer where you go. Wildlife viewing is consistent throughout the year.
Addis Ababa Bole International Airport
Passport must be valid at time of entry for six months beyond arrival date.
Visa Required By US Citizen?
The CDC recommends the following vaccines for most travelers when visiting Ethiopia: Hepatitis A and Typhoid. Depending on where you are traveling, you may also need Hepatitis B, Cholera, Malaria, Meningitis, Rabies and Yellow Fever vaccines.
Power plugs and sockets: types C, E , F and L. Standard voltage: 220V. Frequency: 50Hz.
Official local currency: Birr
Self-driving is not recommended due to regularly occurring traffic accidents, excessive speed, inadequately marked and poorly lit roads, erratic driving, pedestrians and stray animals. There is an additional threat of roadside bandits.
Public transportation in Ethiopia is unsafe and unregulated. Hire private transportation or use hotel-provided transportation.
Taxi service does not meet US safety standards. The green and yellow metered taxis in Addis Ababa are newer and in better condition than others.
Foreign visitors must obtain a temporary Ethiopian driver’s license.
US Embassy Info
U.S. Embassy Addis Ababa
PO Box 1014
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: 011-130-6000
Fax: +251-11-124-2435 and +251-11-124-2419
Local Visitor Info
Tourist Information Center
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Local Emergency Phone Numbers
Safety and Security
Due to sporadic and spontaneous civil unrest, it is recommended that travelers avoid demonstrations and public gatherings, as they can potentially turn violent. Keep in mind that should such an episode occur, it is likely that the government will curtail or limit mobile telecommunications, internet access and social media.
Petty crime, including pickpocketing, purse snatching and theft from vehicles, is common in Addis Ababa. Passport theft is common at the Bole International Airport. Violent robbers occasionally occur on Bole Road, in the Piazza and in the Merkato.
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