Ethiopia
Land of Origins
Ethiopia
Land of Origins
round
Ethiopia

Why Visit this destination?

Showcasing ancient history, picturesque landscapes, joyful festivals, and much more, Ethiopia has plenty of choices in store for the curious traveler. Its unique calendar, old alphabet, and numerical system are some of the things that set the country apart.

Weather & Climate

Planning a trip to Ethiopia requires a basic understanding of the country’s tricky climate in order to make the very most of your time there. The first rule of Ethiopian weather is that it varies greatly according to elevation. Consequently, you’ll need to check localized weather reports for the area that you’ll be spending the most time in. If you plan on touring around, make sure to pack plenty of layers. In Ethiopia, traveling from one area to another can mean shifting from 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15 degrees Celsius) to 95 degrees Fahrenheit (35 degrees Celsius) in a matter of hours.

Best time to Visit

Overall, the best time to travel to Ethiopia is the dry season (between October and June) as the highlands are green, lush, and perfect for hiking. Going during the wetter months is wet and humid but, on the other hand, is the cheapest time to go to Ethiopia.

Travel Advice

Vaccinations:
Yellow fever certificate required if traveling from a country with risk of yellow fever transmission; recommended for all areas in Ethiopia except Afar and Somali regions.

 

Currency restrictions for Entry
1,000 ETB for all travelers; 1000 USD or other foreign currency equivalent if person resides in Ethiopia; 3,000 USD or other foreign currency equivalent if person is not residing in Ethiopia. Excess currency may be confiscated.

 

Currency restrictions for Exit
1,000 ETB (4,000 ETB if travelling to Djibouti) and 3,000 USD or other foreign currency equivalent.

DESTINATION

Ethiopia


The Top Highlights

Travelers to Ethiopia will not be disappointed with the variety and range of destinations to be seen. Travelers can easily spend up to three weeks or more exploring the country’s main attractions and still feel like they are not repeating any aspect of the trip. The country holds some of the tallest peaks in all of Africa, as well as one of the lowest depressions in the world at 100 m below sea level. A variety of endemic wildlife can be seen in the mountain and wilderness areas, and one of the greatest diversity of tribes an be found in her south Omo Valley region. The historic rock-hewn churches and hominid fossil sites will keep historians and archaeologists alike intrigued, and the stunning trekking will appeal to avid backpackers eager for a new adventure. The opportunities are seemingly endless here. Take a look at a snapshot description of the main sites each region has to offer when planning your Ethiopia tour.

 

Simien Mountains
Known as the “rooftop of Africa” this mountain range is one of the largest in all of Africa and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979. Its dramatic mountain scenery provides habitat for numerous endemic species including the gelada baboon, walia ibex, and Ethiopian fox. More than a dozen peaks over 12,000 ft are found here, and trekkers will marvel at the scenery as they hike along steep and high ridgelines. Come here for some hiking around Sanqaber for a day, or do the multi-day Simiens Trek to Bwahit Peak.

 

Lalibela
This town in northern Ethiopia is a ‘must-see’ stop on any Historic Route or main highlights tour in Ethiopia and is famous for its monolithic rock-hewn churches dating back to as early as the 12th century. The layout of the town is believed to be a symbolic representation of Jerusalem by local clergy and is one of the holiest cities in Ethiopia and a pilgrimage destination for locals.

 

Aksum (or Axum)
Another ‘must-see’ on the historic route, this city is the former capital of the Aksumite Empire, once a large trading power in northern Africa that stretched to Eritrea, Sudan, Egypt, Yemen, and Saudi Arabia up until around the 10th century. The ruins of this great Empire are still able to be seen today, including tall obelisks and stelae erected at gravesites, ruined churches and other structures. It is believed to have once been the seat of power for the Queen of Sheba and is purported to be the resting place for the Ark of the Covenant. Most historic routes or main highlights tours of Ethiopia visit this city for at least a day.

 

Omo Valley
One of the most unique and culturally fascinating places to visit in Africa, this valley is located in the Great Rift Valley. The Omo River is the primary lifeline water source for the region, and it empties into Lake Turkana on the border with Kenya. The valley is believed to have been an important crossroads for trade causing many cultures to mingle and co-exist in this location for thousands of years. It is an important point of interest in archaeology due to the hominid fossils found here. An estimated 200,000 tribal people live in the isolated region, and Omo Valley tours often come in contact with as many as 15 tribes during a short stay. Hippo, crocodile, and snake are some of the wildlife that are likely to be spotted on an Omo Valley tour as well, typically in Omo Valley or Mago National Parks.

 

Danakil Depression
Located in the northern part of the Afar Triangle (or Afar Depression), this is one of the lowest geologic elevation points on earth sitting at 100 m below sea level. This is the hottest place on earth in terms of year-round average temperatures and the region receives very little rainfall. The Awash river dries up here as well, forming a number of salt lakes. Tours to the Danakil Depression often include a stop to see the Dallol hot springs, which is the location for key studies in how life might develop on other planets as well as an important site for archaeologists in search of hominid fossils. Due to security reasons, tours to this area are suspended indefinitely.

 

Bale Mountains
Also known as the Urgoma Mountains, the Bale Mountain range are part of the Ethiopian highlands located southeast of Addis Ababa. It contains the Bale Mountains National Park, and the area contains one of the highest incidence rates of animal endemicity in the world. Travelers to the area often stop to enjoy the wild alpine scenery and possibly spot some of the mammal species and birds that make this region their home. This area is where travelers can find the largest numbers of Ethiopian wolf, as well as nyalas, bushbuck, lions, leopard, and a variety of antelope. A stay at the Bale Mountain Lodge is highly recommended.

 

Bahir Dar
Located along the southern shore of Lake Tana, the source of the Blue Nile River, this tourist destination is Ethiopia’s third largest city and a common stop on most Historic Routes tours. The city is a nicely built and organized one for Africa’s standard, and its colorful market, shops and restaurants make for a welcoming atmosphere for urban touring. Take a drive to the see scenic Blue Nile Falls in the countryside or tour some of the world’s oldest churches and monasteries located on the islands of Lake Tana.

 

Arba Minch
Located at the western side of the Great Rift Valley in the southwestern section of Ethiopia, Arba Minch is the gateway to Nechisar National Park and the Omo Valley. The area is known for its fish farms and variety of fruits. Visitors to the area may spend time in a local village, or go on a crocodile spotting tour on Chamo Lake.

 

Addis Ababa
The country’s capital, it is the largest city in the country with a population of 3.3 million based on a reserved 2007 census estimate. The area has both the status of being a city and a state, and is the headquarters for the African Union. It is often referred to as the ‘political capital’ of Africa, and is comprised of a variety of Ethiopian people groups, with the largest being Amhara. A few cathedrals and museums are worth seeing if you have a day to spend in the city, along with the Mercato market.

 

Gondar
Once the royal capital of Ethiopia, the city is incredibly scenic with the remains of many old castles and churches found therein. Some have referred to it as the Camelot of Africa, and it is now the main base from which treks and trips into the Simien Mountains Treks begin. The picturesque ruins inside of Fassil Ghebbi (the Royal Enclosure) was once the main dwelling of emperors and most of the main buildings lay inside this enclosure, including Fasilides’ Castle.