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Location:Eastern Africa, west of Somalia
Area:1,104,300 sq km
Population:110,871,031 (July 2021 est.)
Languages:Oromo (official working language in the State of Oromiya) 33.8%, Amharic (official national language) 29.3%, Somali (official working language of the State of Sumale) 6.2%, Tigrigna (Tigrinya) (official working language of the State of Tigray) 5.9%, Sidamo 4%, Wolaytta 2.2%, Gurage 2%, Afar (official working language of the State of Afar) 1.7%, Hadiyya 1.7%, Gamo 1.5%, Gedeo 1.3%, Opuuo 1.2%, Kafa 1.1%, other 8.1%, English (major foreign language taught in schools), Arabic (2007 est.)
Religion:Ethiopian Orthodox 43.8%, Muslim 31.3%, Protestant 22.8%, Catholic 0.7%, traditional 0.6%, other 0.8% (2016 est.)
Things to Do
1. Explore Lalibela
Visit the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela, a UNESCO World Heritage site known for its magnificent architecture and religious significance. Marvel at the intricate carvings and explore the underground tunnels that connect the churches.
2. Hike the Simien Mountains
Embark on a challenging hike in the Simien Mountains, home to unique wildlife and stunning landscapes. Trek through rugged terrain, encounter endemic species like the Gelada baboon, and enjoy panoramic views of the Ethiopian highlands.
3. Discover the Blue Nile Falls
Witness the power and beauty of the Blue Nile Falls, often referred to as the 'Little Niagara'. Take a boat ride to the base of the falls, admire the cascading water, and enjoy the surrounding lush greenery.
4. Visit the Ancient City of Axum
Step back in time and explore the ancient city of Axum, once the capital of the Aksumite Empire. Discover ancient obelisks, royal tombs, and archaeological sites that hint at the rich history and cultural heritage of Ethiopia.
5. Experience the Danakil Depression
Embark on a unique adventure to the Danakil Depression, one of the hottest places on Earth. Witness sulphur pools, salt flats, and active volcanoes as you explore this otherworldly landscape.
6. Explore the Rock-Hewn Churches of Tigray
Marvel at the rock-hewn churches of Tigray, hidden within the rugged mountains of northern Ethiopia. Climb steep cliffs, navigate narrow passageways, and discover ancient religious treasures.
7. Lake Tana Boat Tour
Embark on a boat tour of Lake Tana, the largest lake in Ethiopia and the source of the Blue Nile. Visit the ancient monasteries and churches on the lake's islands, and admire the natural beauty of the surrounding area.
8. Explore the Omo Valley
Immerse yourself in the rich cultural heritage of the Omo Valley, home to numerous indigenous tribes. Learn about traditional customs, witness colorful ceremonies, and visit tribal villages to gain a deeper understanding of Ethiopia's diverse communities.
9. Visit the Bale Mountains National Park
Discover the natural beauty and abundant wildlife of the Bale Mountains National Park. Go on a trek through lush forests, spot endemic species like the Ethiopian wolf and the Mountain Nyala, and enjoy breathtaking views from the Sanetti Plateau.
10. Explore the Historic Route
Follow the ancient 'Historic Route' of Ethiopia and visit the country's most famous historical sites. Explore the ancient ruins of Aksum, the medieval castles of Gondar, the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela, and the ancient monasteries of Lake Tana.
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Ethiopia has a diverse climate, ranging from tropical to subtropical, depending on the region. The highlands, including the capital city of Addis Ababa, have a temperate climate, with cool nights and warm days. The lowlands, including the Omo Valley, are hot and dry, with temperatures reaching up to 40 degrees Celsius during the day. The rainy season is from June to September, with occasional heavy rains and occasional flooding.
Best time to visit
The best time to visit Ethiopia depends on the region and the type of activities you plan to do.
- For trekking and hiking in the Simien Mountains and the Bale Mountains, the best time to visit is from October to February, when the weather is dry and the views are clear.
- For wildlife viewing in the Omo Valley, the best time to visit is from November to April, when the wildlife is most active and the rivers are full.
- For cultural tours and festivals, the best time to visit is from September to April, when the weather is dry and the festivals are held.
- For bird-watching, the best time to visit is from October to April. Keep in mind that the high tourist season runs from October to April, so it is best to book your accommodation and transport in advance if you plan to visit during these months.
Hotels and Resorts
Ethiopia offers a wide range of accommodation options, including international standard hotels and resorts in major cities and tourist destinations. These accommodations offer amenities such as air-conditioning, swimming pools, and on-site restaurants, as well as internet access and other modern conveniences.
Guesthouses and Lodges
Another popular accommodation option in Ethiopia are guesthouses and lodges, which offer a more authentic and local experience. These accommodations are often family-run and offer basic amenities such as private bathrooms and hot water. They are also typically located in traditional villages or rural areas, which allows visitors to experience the local culture and way of life.
Camping and Tented Camps
For visitors who want to explore Ethiopia's natural beauty, camping and tented camps are a great option. These accommodations are typically located in national parks, wildlife reserves, or other remote areas, and they offer visitors the opportunity to sleep under the stars and experience the wilderness up close. Some camps offer basic amenities such as toilets and showers, while others are more rustic and require visitors to bring their own camping gear.
Home-stay and Community-based Tourism
Home-stay and community-based tourism is another option for travelers looking for a more immersive and authentic experience. This type of accommodation allows visitors to stay in the homes of local families and to learn more about the local culture and way of life. Community-based tourism is an opportunity to experience the local life and culture in a meaningful way, and it also has the potential to contribute to the development of the local communities.
Ethiopian Airlines is the national airline of Ethiopia and operates flights to destinations within the country and internationally. It is the main transportation option for travelers visiting Ethiopia and offers frequent flights to major cities and tourist destinations. Other airlines that operate in Ethiopia include Lufthansa, Turkish Airlines, and Qatar Airways.
Long distance buses are also a popular transportation option in Ethiopia. They are relatively cheap and convenient but the journey can be uncomfortable, as the buses are often overcrowded and not well-maintained. Local buses are also available in most cities, but they can be difficult to navigate for visitors unfamiliar with the local language and destinations.
Car rental is another option for getting around Ethiopia, but it is recommended that you have a valid international driver's license and a good understanding of Ethiopian road conditions. Many companies offer car rental services at airports and in major cities, and they typically provide vehicles with a driver, as driving in Ethiopia can be quite challenging.
Ethiopia has a limited railway system, the train service is only available between Addis Ababa and the town of Dire Dawa. It is not a common transportation option for visitors but it can be a good option for travelers who want to see the country's landscapes and rural areas.
Domestic flights are available between major destinations, and it is a great option for those who want to save time and avoid long, uncomfortable bus journeys. It is important to note that not all destinations have an airport, so it is important to check the availability of flights before planning your trip.
- The currency of Ethiopia is the Ethiopian Birr (ETB).
- Credit cards are not widely accepted, especially outside major cities, so it is best to carry cash in local currency.
Cash And Cards
- It is recommended to carry small denomination bills, as it can be difficult to get change for larger bills.
- ATMs are available in major cities but may be limited in rural areas, so it is advisable to withdraw cash in advance if traveling outside urban areas.
- It is advisable to inform your bank about your travel plans to avoid your card being blocked.
- ATMs are available in major cities.
- It is advisable to withdraw cash in advance if traveling outside urban areas, as ATMs may be limited in rural areas.
- Tipping is not expected in Ethiopia, but it is appreciated for exceptional service.
- In restaurants, a service charge is often included in the bill, so it is not necessary to leave an additional tip unless you wish to.
- When tipping, it is customary to round up the bill or leave a small amount of change.
Cost Of Living
- The cost of living in Ethiopia is relatively low compared to many other countries.
- Prices for food, transportation, and accommodation are generally affordable.
- However, prices in tourist areas and upscale establishments may be higher.
- Bargaining is common in markets and smaller shops, so it is recommended to negotiate for lower prices.
- Beware of scams involving counterfeit money.
- It is advisable to check any large bills you receive for authenticity.
- Be cautious of individuals offering unsolicited assistance or asking for money.
- Use licensed taxis or reputable transportation services to avoid being overcharged or taken to the wrong destination.