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Visa

Every national except Kenyans need a visa to enter Ethiopia. Single-entry 1 -3 month tourist visas can be issued upon arrival at the Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa for most European, US, Australian and Canadian nationals. You'll need 2 passport size photographs. To get the most current visa information, for business visas and multiple-entry tourist visas, contact your local Ethiopian Embassy.

Proof of an onward or return ticket is frequently asked for upon arrival in Ethiopia. If you are planning to enter Ethiopia by land, you should obtain a tourist visa in advance from your local Ethiopian Embassy. Visas issued by embassies are valid from their date of issue so take this into consideration.

Immunizations

A Yellow Fever vaccination certificate is no longer mandatory in order to enter Ethiopia, but if you've recently traveled to a country where it is present you will need proof of immunization. Several vaccinations are highly recommended when traveling to Ethiopia, they include:

  • Yellow Fever
  • Typhoid
  • Hepatitis A
  • Diphtheria
  • Meningococcal

It is also recommended that you are up to date with your polio and tetanus vaccinations. Make sure you start getting your vaccinations at least 8 weeks before you travel.

Malaria

There's a risk of catching malaria in many parts of Ethiopia especially areas that lie below 2000 meters (6500 feet). So while the Highlands and Addis Ababa are considered low-risk areas for malaria, you still have to be careful and take precautions. Ethiopia is home to the chloroquine-resistant strain of malaria as well as the dangerous falciparum strain. Make sure your doctor or travel clinic knows you are traveling to Ethiopia (don't just say Africa) so s/he can prescribe the right anti-malarial medication.

Safety

For the most part traveling in Ethiopia is safe, but you should take the same precautions as you would travel in any country.

Basic safety rules for travelers to Ethiopia

  • Make a copy of your passport and keep it in your luggage
  • Watch out for pickpockets at the Mercato in Addis Ababa
  • Don't wear jewelry
  • Don't carry too much cash with you
  • Wear a money belt that fits under your clothes
  • When to Go to Ethiopia

The best time to go to Ethiopia depends on what you're planning to do when you get there. The tourist board markets Ethiopia as "the land of 13 months of sunshine" which is a little optimistic since there is a rainy season from June to September. But, depending on your interest, there are many good months to visit Ethiopia:

  • The Historical Circuit (Lalibela, Gondar, Bahir Dar,Axum) – Throughout the year
  • Trekking -- October to March
  • Omo River tribes -- June to September and November to March
  • Ethiopia's major festivals – Timakat/Epiphany (19 January) , Meskel (end of September) and Christmas (January 6)

Currency and Money Matters

Foreign currency is rarely used in Ethiopia; instead you'll be paying for most hotels, tours and food with Ethiopian currency -- Birr. 1 Birr is divided into 100 cents. There are 1, 5, 10, 50 and 100 Birr notes.

Cash, Credit Cards and ATM's

The US Dollar ,Euro and Pound are the best foreign currencies to bring with you to Ethiopia and it can be exchanged at banks and foreign exchange bureaus. US Dollars can be carried in cash or travelers cheques.

Major credit cards can be used to pay for flights with Ethiopian Airlines and most of the hotels in Addis Ababa - but that's about the extent of their usefulness. It's best to bring cash and good old-fashioned traveler cheques.

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