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Ethiopia Travel Guide

Ishwari Pamu Dec 3, 2019
Ethiopia, a place where the Blue Nile is born and where modern meets traditional, a place blessed with an embarrassment of riches when it comes to culture, history and heritage, and a place with the most soulful people in Africa.

Places to Visit in Ethiopia

  • Addis Ababa: The capital of Ethiopia, it is strewn with wonderful mosques, churches and museums. It’s a place where modern meets traditional.
  • The Omo Valley: You’ll get to interact with people whose culture and lifestyles are dramatically different from yours. Try not to stare at their lip-plates.

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  • The Blue Nile Falls: The Blue Nile river, a tributary of the Nile River, begins in Ethiopia.
  • Babile Elephant Sanctuary: Around 400 elephants live here along with lions, cheetahs, gazelles, exotic birds and leopards.

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  • Danakil Depression: Peppered with active volcanoes, lava lakes, salt basins, etc., it is officially the hottest place in the world.
The temperatures reach 50+ degrees. Dallol is a must-visit (that is if you can withstand extreme hot temperatures).
  • Simien Mountains: Trekking these mountains can offer spectacular views of the country. You’ll definitely see the Gelada, bleeding heart baboons while you’re here.

Historical Wonders

  • Lalibela: 11 monolithic rock-hewn churches of the late 12th century ‘New Jerusalem’ are one of the 9 UNESCO World Heritage sites in Ethiopia.
  • Harar: It's a 16th century Islamic city, characterised by a maze of narrow alleys. The natives feed hyenas at night, a ritual that takes place on the outskirts of the city.

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  • Gondar: This UNESCO World Heritage Site is also known as the ‘Camelot of Africa’. The 17th century castle of Emperor Fasiladas, Fasil Ghebbi, is a must-visit.
  • Aksum: It is the oldest city in Africa and is believed to be the home of Queen of Sheba.
  • Bahir Dar: This historic city is the third-largest in the country. The atmosphere is laid-back and relaxed, the lake and the monasteries only add to the personality of the city.


It is the birthplace of Arabica coffee. Coffee is a treasured part of their daily life. Every morning, families have a coffee ceremony, an ancient tradition where coffee is roasted, grinded, brewed and then served. Ethiopians still make their coffee using the ancient dry method. The coffee is infused with fruity and floral notes.

When to Go to Ethiopia

Though their tourism slogan is “Thirteen Months of Sunshine”, there are tremendous and extreme weather changes throughout the country. Plan your trip according to your interest.
The monsoons are from June to September during which you can visit the Omo River tribes. For trekking and visiting the historical sites, October to March is the best time. Ethiopia’s major festivals – Timkat is on 19 January and Meskel starts around late September or early October.


For most countries, 30-day single entry visas can be issued upon arrival at the Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa, confirm with your local foreign embassy if your country is on the list.
If not, it’s strongly recommended that you get your visa beforehand. Carry 2 passport size photographs with you. If you are getting there by land, you’ll need to get a tourist visa from your local Ethiopian Embassy in advance.


Highly recommended vaccinations before leaving for Ethiopia are:
  • Yellow Fever
  • Hepatitis A
  • Typhoid
  • Meningococcal Meningitis
  • Malaria
  • Diphtheria
  • Rabies
A few vaccines are administered in intervals over the course of several weeks while others are given two weeks before departure, thus, it is advisable that you discuss the plan with your doctor prior to booking your ticket.

Safety Tips

The traveling part in Ethiopia is quite safe but here are some precautionary measures you should consider:
  • Don’t carry too much cash on you.
  • Keep a photocopy of your passport in your luggage.
  • Avoid all the border areas as there is still quite a lot of political unrest.
  • Be extra careful while traveling at night. Avoid traveling alone at night.
  • Don’t carry a lot of camera equipment in major cities.
  • Don’t carry/wear too much jewelry.
  • Beware of pick-pocketing and jewelry snatching.