There are three things to be mindful here, do you have to tip, what amount is considered appropriate, who and when to tip? It is not an easy question honestly. My advice is, you don’t have to tip unless and otherwise you want to. A small amount for a good service is gratefully accepted from a satisfied customer. At the restaurants a 10% tip is not considered too much or too small. And for guides and drivers, especially if they are on full day service, you may want to tip not more than $5 per day service. Remember, for a good service.
Ethiopia enjoys a nice weather which averages 25 degrees Celsius and 13 months of sun shine even in the rainy seasons of July and August. Yes, we have 13 months which 12 of them are comprised of 30 days and the last month is 5 days. The country is consists of different climatic zones from the hottest place on earth Danakil to really cold areas such as the Bale and Simien mountains. In terms of the weather September to February are the best times whilst March to May are the warmest, though they enjoy brief rain and July and August are the rainy seasons. Rainy, but the sun is also guaranteed throughout.
Our new year begins on September 11 and once in a leap year it falls on the 12th. Ethiopian’s calendar is based on the Julian calendar in which the year count is 7 years behind the Gregorian one.
You may also want your Ethiopian trip to coincide with some of the colorful festivals and events.
Getting visa online is very easy. Go to the official website of Ethiopian:https://www.evisa.gov.et/and beware of the fake websites which are of the same looks of the official websites. Also getting the visa on arrival is not that difficult. Only sometimes it might take a while depending on the arrivals and number of passengers in line. Visa fees start from USD $52.
Best is to rely on cash. Remember, “cash is the king”. USD or GBP or Euro notes work best and reliable but you will need to change them to birr (the local currency) at the local banks. Banks are widely available not to worry. So you don’t need to carry piles of cash (I mean Ethiopian birr) with you as you travel around. Change some at Addis Ababa upon arrival. Change at the banks instead of the airport as you get a better rate, also some of the hotels do the bank rate. If you keep the receipts, you can convert it back to your currency upon departure. Payment through credit cards are accepted at few facilities. ATMs are widely available but sometimes and places you may find it difficult. Don’t rely on it 100%.
At the churches while on a visit, women may want to cover their heads. Otherwise a casual dress is okay everywhere.
Yes! a lot and delicious dishes. Ethiopian Orthodox Church followers observe several fasting days and months. Every Wednesdays and Fridays, a month and half before Christmas, two months before Easter, 16 days in August, and several other months and weeks are strictly vegan. So a selection of cuisines are served at every dining place and restaurant.
Ethiopia is one of the safest places in the world where there is a low crime rate and people are very friendly and hospitable. A general precaution against pick pockets on the streets is advised otherwise it is safe for the locals and safe for the tourists. You may also need to be careful of street holes as lots of construction works are taking place in the capital and elsewhere.
You don’t need the yellow fever certificate unless you come from malarial affected areas such as Kenya. Even that is if you are living in Kenya. However, at the immigration they never enforced that and is becoming an old thing. So don’t worry too much about it.
You don’t have to worry about malaria as almost all places that you will visit are not risk areas. However, best advise should be taken of your doctor. In the northern historic circuit almost all places you will visit are 2000 plus meters above sea level where mosquitoes could not survive. In the south too, there is no risk involved. At some places where there are many mosquitoes the hotel rooms are provided with nets.
We don’t advise any traveler to throw money or sweets for the children. That will encourage them to give miss out classes and chase tourists. At the traffic lights giving money for the beggars is even illegal. The best thing to do is to support local charities either in some form of money or in kind contributions. Also donating exercise books or foot balls or volleyballs is something we encourage travelers to do if they are interested.
Generally yes. People don’t mind their pictures taken so long as is done in a courteous manner. Ask for permission if you are taking a picture of someone from a close distance. At the lower Omo valley there is a fee that should be paid up front and you are free to take as many pictures as you want. You still have to ask for permission if you want to take a picture of a particular person and a small tip such as 5 birr that is around 0.10$ for a photo.
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