What kind of food will I get in Ethiopia?

In Addis Ababa you can get pretty much any type of food in the world. There are Italian, Indian, Chinese and a host of other ethic food restaurants to choose from. Of course there is also plenty of Ethiopian food options as well! The main stable of Ethiopia is pancake style bread called Injera. It is made from a grain called ‘Teff’ and is very healty.  Injera is eaten with your hands and usually comes with a sauce and a meat or vegtable depending on the day of the week and time of year. In Ethiopia, people ‘fast’ regular. What this means is that they won’t eat meat or dairy products on ‘fasting’ days.  The vegetarian options on these days are delicious and a lot of foreigners prefer these dishes to the meat ones. Lamb, beef and goat are the main meats that are eaten.

What language is spoken in Ethiopia?

They say Ethiopia has over 80 different languages. Most of these exist in the southern tribal regions of the country. The official and working language of Ethiopia is Amharic. This comes from the Amhara region of the country. Other widely spoken languages include Oromiffa and Tigrinya.

How tough is the trekking in the highlands?

Most of the short treks can be done by people with a general level of fitness. If you wanted to do a trek for more than 4 or 5 days then we would advise it only for people who are used to long distance trekking. The altitude in the highlands can reach above 4000 meters so it’s important to try and acclimatise yourself for a few days before beginning the trek.

What currency is used in Ethiopia?

Ethiopia uses the Birr. On average 1 US dollar gets you around 20 Birr. Nowadays there are three or four banks that allow foreigners to withdraw Birr from ATM’s with a Visa or Mastercard.  The max amount of Birr that you can withdraw per go is usually 4,000 but some banks allow more to be taken in one go if you use the in-bank POS machine.  It is a good idea to bring some US dollars as well as this can be used to pay for tour and trekking.

Do I need a visa for travel to Ethiopia?

Most countries are able to get a visa on arrival that costs $50 USD for a month long stay. If you want to save time queuing at the airport on arrival you can also apply in your local Ethiopian embassy. In you plan to come for longer than a month, it’s also a good idea to apply at your local Ethiopian embassy beforehand.

What’s the best way to travel around Ethiopia?

The fastest way is by plane. Ethiopian Airlines has a great network of internal flights to all the major tourist destinations. If you fly into the country on Ethiopian Airlines, you then qualify for a discount on the price.

There are two main bus companies (Selam Bus and Sky Bus) that also service most of the main cities. This can be a great way to see the countryside and the changing landscapes.

If you are going off the beaten path, there won’t be many public transport options so hiring a private vehicle is really the only way to go.

Is there much Malaria in Ethiopia?

Malaria exists in some but not all parts of Ethiopia. In places where the altitude is very high it is uncommon whereas in the lowlands and tropical areas it is common. Any tourist coming for a short time should err on the side of caution and take the necessary precautions. Please consult your local travel clinic for advice on vaccinations and anti-malarias before travelling.

What’s the weather like in Ethiopia?

Ethiopia has a saying that there are “13 months of Sunshine”. This is somewhat factual but in reality there are two rainy seasons and the rest of the year is dry. The ‘small rains’ usually come during February whereas the ‘big rains’ run from July to early October. The extent of the rain differs depending where you are in Ethiopia. In Addis Ababa, the large rains can bring cool temperatures’ and long periods of heavy rain during the day. In other parts, it might only rain heavy for one hour during the day and then it’s back to normal.

Temperatures can also vary a lot depending on where you are in Ethiopia and the altitude of that place. In the desert region of Afar the average temperature is above 40 degrees. In Addis Ababa it’s usually mid 20’s.  The temperatures in the Simien Mountains plummet during the night time.  During the day it will be in the 20’s whereas at night time it can drop below freezing.

Alex is a great human being , very passionate about Ethiopian history and patrimony. He has an extended knowledge of Ethiopia and has long time connections in every part of the country to organize visits. I cannot wait to use his services again.

Thomas Vesinet