Ethiopian Tourist Guides Professional Association

Travel Tips

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Ethiopia is the only independent African country never to lose its independence, The country is as large as France and Spain combined, and has one of the richest histories among the world. 

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Addis Ababa was settled in 1887 and christened by empress Taitu, the wife of Emperor Menelik II. It has an average temperature of 160c. It is a host to the African Unity (AU) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA). Several other international organizations have their head quarters and branch offices in the Capital. Addis Ababa is also the center of commerce and industry.  

The population is estimated to be 7.1 million.  


Ethiopia is strategically located in the Horn of Africa, bordered by the Sudan on the west, Somalia and Djibouti on the East, Eritrea on the North and Kenya on the South. Its proximity to the Middle East and Europe, together with its easy access to the major ports of the region, enhances its international trade. 


Ethiopia is an independent republic operating under the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. The president is the head of state, while the prime minister is the head of government. 



Ethiopia covers an area of 1,133,380 sq km. The heart of the country is a high tableland, known as the Ethiopian plateau that covers more than half the total area of the country. The plateau is split diagonally in a northeastern to southeastern direction by the Great Rift Valley. Although the average elevation of the plateau is about 1,680meter, it is cut by many rivers and deep valleys, some of which are 600meter below the level of the plateau. The area is capped by mountains, the highest of which is Ras Dashen (4,543masl). These heights and indentations occur in northern Ethiopia, in the region surrounding Lake Tana (the Lake in which the Blue Nile rises). Occupations in agriculture support about 83% of all Ethiopians. Most agriculture consists of subsistence farming. The population is concentrated heavily in the central plateau region, where agricultural resources are most developed. The ethnic composition is extremely diverse, as a result of racial and linguistic integration that began in ancient times. 


The population of Ethiopia is estimated to be 107 million, yielding an overall density of 65 persons per km2. The Amhara, and the related Tigreans, both of which are highland peoples of partly Semetic origin, constitute about 36% of the total population. They occupy the north western Ethiopian highlands and the area north of Addis Ababa. The OROMO, a pastoral and agricultural people who live mainly in central and south & north western Ethiopia, constitute about 34% of the population. The omotic people in the western part of the country from the border of Eritrea to Lake Turkana, constitute about 6% of the population. The Somali, who live in the east and southeast, notably in the Ogaden region, are about equal in number to the Omotic people. The Afar inhabits the semi desert plains east of the highlands. The non indeginious population includes YEMENIS, INDIANS, ARMENIANS and GREEEKS

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The climate of Ethiopia varies mainly according to the elevation. The tropical zone below approximately 1,800m has an average annual temperature of 270C and receives less than about 500mm of rain annually. The sub tropical zone, which includes most of the highland plateau and is between about 1,800m and 2,400m in elevation, has an average temperature of about 220C with an annual rainfall ranging from about 500 to 1,500mm. Above approximately 2,400m is a temperate zone with an average temperature of about 160C and an annual rainfall between about 1,300 and 1,800mm. The principal rainy season occurs between mid-June and September, followed by a dry season that may be interrupted in February or March by a short rainy season.  


Bole International Airport, Addis Ababa is the only entry point by Air. Airports to serve as an entry points are Dire Dawa, BaharDar and Mekelle. Domestic airpors include: Gondar, Lalibela, Axum, Arba Minch, Asosa, Jinka, Jimma, Gode and Jijiga. 

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Ethiopia uses the Julian calendar which divides the year in 12 months of 30 days each, with the remaining five (or six days in a leap year) constituting the short 13th month of “pagume” and the word pagume comes from a Greek word meaning “ADDITIONAL“. The Ethiopian New Year commences on the 10th or 11th of September & the difference comes in a leap year. 

Ethiopia is in the GMT + 3time zone. Business hours vary according to the nature of the business. Normally government office and most other office hours are 8:00AM to 12:30PM and 1:30PM to 5:30PM from Monday through Thursday. Working hours on Friday are 8:30Am to 11:30Am and 1:30PM to 5:30PM. 

Banks are open from 8:30AM to 5PM from Monday through Saturday. 


Dewele is only entry point for the rail, on the Dijibouti border and arrivals undergo full customs and immigration checks. The rail way, with day and night trains, runs from Addis Ababa to Dijibouti via Nazaret, Awash Station and Dire Dawa. 

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All visitors (including infants) are required to posses a valid yellow fever vaccination certificate. Vaccination against cholera is also required for any person who has visited or been in transit through a cholera-infected area within six days prior to arrival to Ethiopia. Malaria is endemic throughout the country. Visitors should begin taking a recommended chloroquine-based prophylactic two weeks before their arrival and continue taking them for six weeks after their departure. In addition, medication for chloroquine –resistant malaria is a wise precaution. 


Moyale and Omorate (from Kenya), Humera and Metema (from Sudan),  Dewele and Galafi (from Dijibouti),  Humera, Rama and Bure (from Eritera) and  Toguchale, Teferi-ber, Kebri-beyah & Dolo-odo (from Somalia). All have full customs and immigration checks. 

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Medical facilities are limited and of generally poor standard. Existing facilities are sorely over taxed. Tourists and non-citizen residents should go to private hospitals and clinics. Contact your Embassy for referral to recommended doctor. Air rescue services are available, and you might want to make arrangements with one before your trip.


There are 284 species of mammals of which 31 are endemic and 7 are large mammals- Gelada Baboon, Ethiopian Wolf, Menelik’s Bushbuck, Mountain Nyala, Swaynes Hartbeast, Walia Ibex and Wild Ass.

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  • AWASH NATIONAL PARK, Oromia & Afar region 
  • OMO NATIONAL PARK, Southern Nations Nationalities & People Regional State 
  • GAMBELA NATIONAL PARK, Gambela region 
  • NECHISAR NATIONAL PARK, Southern Nations Nationalities & People Regional State 
  • MAGO NATIONAL PARK, Southern Nations Nationalities & People Regional State 
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Ethiopia’s other important centers of trade and industries are; Hawassa, Dire Dawa, Gondar, Dessie, Nazareth, Jimma, Harrar, BahirDar, Mekele, Debre Markos and Nekemt. All these towns are connected to Addis Ababa by asphalt and gravel roads and most of them have good infrastructure facilities, such as first class hotels and airports. 


There are 861 species of birds of which 16 are endemic to Ethiopia. 


There are 7000 species of plants of which 1,100 are endemic to Ethiopia. 


Addis Ababa has hotels that cater for all pockets, from the  luxurious Sheraton and Hilton hotels to the tourist-class hotels such as the Ghion, The Ethiopia and the  Wabi Shebelle. All tourist resorts offer a choice of Modern hotels. 


There is no limit to the amount of foreign currency imported into Ethiopia, but it must be declared on arrival, using a currency declaration form. Foreign currency may be changed only at authorized banks and hotels. The currency declaration form will be required by Customs on departure. Visitors may change back any excess birr into foreign currency at the airport before departure; but you must, in addition to the currency declaration form ,bring with you all receipts for exchange transactions.


In general between seasons clothes are appropriate. At higher altitudes, woolen clothes or a coat are needed in the evenings. Travelers should take rain coat or other rainwear, particularly when visiting the country during the period from February to October. It is usually possible to have clothes laundered at or near hotels within a short period of time (frequently services are offered 24 hours a day). 


The local currency is the Ethiopian birr, made up of 100 cents. Notes are issued in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 50 and 100 birr. There are six different coins: 1, 5, 10, 25, 50cents and 1Birr. 



Telephone, telex, fax, internet and air mail services connect Addis Ababa to all parts of the world. Services are available at the General Post Office and its many branches, as well as in the main hotels. International direct dialing is available from all major centers in the country. 


Ethiopia uses 220 Volts and 50Hz. It is best to bring your own round, two-prong adapter and transformer if necessary.

Shopping Hours 

Shops are open Monday to Friday 8:00am-12:00pm and 1:00pm-very flexible, often longer opening hours; some shops are also open on Saturday. These days a few supermarkets and beauty salons in the capital are working 24 hours.