Travel Tips

1. Safety: Ethiopia is a safe destination.
Nevertheless, when travelling in any developing country, common sense is a
traveler’s best friend. Safety is one of the main factors that are considered
while Simien Summit Tours organizes its trips.

2. Most Popular Sites: Ethiopia offers several
untouched historical and natural sites.

Every site has got its uniqueness depending upon the interest of the tourist.
However, the most famous sight is perhaps Lalibela, an ancient rock-hewn church
and Axum steles.

Other famous areas include: Lake Tana in Bahr Dar, the ancient cities of Gondar
and Axum, as well as the southeastern area of the peoples of the Omo valley.

The Jimma area is interesting for those who wish to know the origin of Coffee.

3. Visas: Foreign visitors must have entry visas. Entry visas can be
obtained from Ethiopian Diplomatic and consular missions abroad. Arrangements
can be made in advance for a visa to be available at the airport.

4. Health Requirement: Visitors must have vaccination certificates
against Yellow Fever. Any person who visited or transited cholera-infected
countries within six days before arrival, is required to have a vaccination
certificate against Cholera. Malaria occurs in most parts of the country,
especially the lowland. Visitors should take preventive dose against malaria,
before, during and after the tour.

5. Calendar and Time: Ethiopia follows the Julian calendar. This
calendar has 12 months of 30 days, and a 13th month of five or six days. New
Year starts on September 11. The Ethiopian calendar is behind the Gregorian
calendar by 7 years and 8 months.

Ethiopia is in the GMT+3 time zone. Days begin at sunrise.

12am = dawn, 6pm = noon, 12pm = dusk, (in Ethiopian time).

6. Currency: The local currency is Birr. The amount of foreign currency;
a visitor can bring into the country is unlimited. Nevertheless, the amount
should be declared. Exchanges may be done at authorized banks and hotels. The
currency declaration form will be required on departure.

7. Clothing: Visitors should take light, summer clothes for the day time
and something warm for the evenings, like a sweater or jacket. The temperature
drops quite rapidly towards sunset. Simien or Bale Mountains trekkers should
bring warm clothes and water proofs for un seasonal rains. Shoes must always be
removed before entering churches and mosques.

8. Food: The national dish for most Ethiopians is injera, a flat, sour
dough pancake make from a special grain called teff, which is served with
either meat of vegetable sauces. When eating national food Ethiopians eat
together, off one large circular plate. Visitors and guests will have choice
morsels and pieces of meat placed in front of them, and when eating doro wot,
chicken stew, the pieces of meat are eaten last, after one has filled up on
injera and sauce.

Vegetarians should try “fasting food”, what Orthodox Christians eat during lent
and other fasting periods, and which is free of meat and animal products. For
those who find Ethiopian food too spicy, in Addis Ababa there are how Greek,
Chinese, Armenian, Indian, Hong Kong, Arabic, French and Italian restaurants.
Outside Addis Ababa, European style food, particularly spaghetti (pasta), is
available in all the large hotels.

9. Drink: Tella, a traditional beer brewed from barely or corn and hops,
is a local drink generally unavailable in modern hotels and restaurants.
Fermented sorghum known as borde is a dual-purpose food- drink among Ethiopia’s
lowland peoples and pastoralists. In Addition, there are bottled Ethiopian
beers, local wine and mineral water that most find to their liking.

10. Photography: In the smaller towns the locals may expect a small
payment in return for being photographed. Video photography in famous tourist
attractions occasionally carries a small charge. Photography may be prohibited
on the bridge and near military camps.

11. Tipping: In most hotels and restaurants, a 10 per cent service
charge is added to the bill. Tipping is a fairly frequent custom, but amounts
are small.

12. Land: Ethiopia, as large as France and Spain combined, has an area
of 1,112,000 square kilometers. About 65 percent is presently cultivated.

Cities: Capital–Addis Ababa (pop. 5 million). Other cities–Dire Dawa
(237,000), Nazareth (189,000), Gondar (163,000), Dessie (142,000), Mekele
(141,000), Bahir Dar (140,000), Jimma (132,000), Awassa (104,000).

Terrain: High plateau, mountains, dry lowland plains.

13. Climate: Throughout most of the country there are two seasons: the
dry season prevails from October through May; the wet season runs from June to
September. Temperate in the highlands; hot in the lowlands.

14. Topography: Ethiopia has an elevated central plateau varying in
height between 2,000 and 3,000 meters. In the north and center of the country
there are some mountains whose peaks rise over 4,000 meters. The most famous
Ethiopian river is the Blue Nile (or Abbay), which runs a distance of 1,450
kilometers from its source in Lake Tana, to join the White Nile at Khartoum.

15. Economy: About 85 percent of the populations earn their living from
the land, mainly as subsistence farmers. Agriculture is the backbone of the
national economy and the principal exports from the sector are coffee, chat,
oil seeds, pulses, flowers, vegetables, sugar and foodstuffs for animals. There
is also thriving livestock sector, exporting cattle on the hoof and hides of

16. People: Ethiopia’s population is estimated around 100 million.
Ethiopia is composed of about 83 ethnic groups. Based on the language they
speak, they can be divided into Semitic, Cushitic, Nilotic and Omotic stocks.

Annual growth rate: 2.7%.

Ethnic groups (est.): Oromo 40%, Amhara 25%, Tigre 7%, Somali 6%, Sidama 9%,
Gurage 2%, Wolaita 4%, Afar 4%, other nationalities 3%.

17. Education: Years compulsory–none. Attendance (elementary) 57%.

18. Health: Infant mortality rate–97/1,000 live births.

19. Work force: Agriculture–80%. Industry and commerce–20%.

20. Language: Amharic with its unique alphabet is the official language
of Ethiopia; however English, Italian, French and Arabic are widely spoken.
There are over 83 Languages with its 200 dialects throughout Ethiopia. In areas
outside of the larger cities and towns, indigenous Languages are likely to be

21. Religion: Three of the world’s major religions Judaism, Christianity
and Islam have had their followers here since they were founded and thus have
grown with indigenous expressions and protected in Ethiopia before anywhere

Religions (est.): Ethiopian Orthodox Christian 40%, Sunni Muslim 45-50%,
Protestant 5%, remainder indigenous beliefs.

Today, almost 99 % of Ethiopians are adherents of one of these three main
religions with the rest followers of animist traditional sprit or ancestral
worship of one kind or another.

22. Communication: Telephone, Tele fax, Internet, e-mail and postal
facilities are available in the country. Internet services are available in
major cities and towns only. The international dialing code for Ethiopia is

23. Airport: The main Airport is Bole International Airport in Addis
Ababa. It has various international connections. Domestic flights are also
available to various regions of the country. The Historic route has daily
flights from Addis Ababa, in the sites as Bahir Dar, Gondar, Lalibela, Axum and
Dire Dawa South (Arbaminch South-west some cities are also connected (Jimma,
and Gambella).

24. Cameras: Ethiopian customs authority does not allow tourists to come
with professional cameras. Special filming permit is required for professional

Video Cameras with mark HD (high definition), VHD, MINI DIVI, 3CCD, are
generally categorized as professional cameras.

Each tourist is allowed to come with only one Photo camera.