{{ message }}

Admin Page Edit


{{ message }}

Hilton Addis Ababa
Hilton Addis Ababa - dream vacation

Menelik II AvenueAddis Ababa

Radisson Blu Hotel Addis Ababa
Radisson Blu Hotel Addis Ababa - dream vacation

Kirkos Subcity Kebele 17-18 P.O. Box 6933Addis Ababa

Tizeze Hotel
Tizeze Hotel - dream vacation

Bole-Micheal Road, Near Cuba EmbassyAddis Ababa

Harmony Hotel Addis Ababa
Harmony Hotel Addis Ababa - dream vacation

Bole Sub City Kebele 03 House NewAddis Ababa

Monarch Hotel Addis Ababa
Monarch Hotel Addis Ababa - dream vacation

Cameroon street, Near Edna Mall & Bole Medhanialem Addis Ababa

Ethiopia (Amharic: ????? ??ty?p y?) is Africa's third-most populous country (after Nigeria and Egypt), oldest independent country and one of only two (the other Liberia) never to be colonized, save for a short Italian occupation in the 1930s and 1940s.



  • Addis Ababa (Finfinne) — capital of Ethiopia and one of the biggest shopping cities in Africa
  • Adama (formerly also known as Nazret or Nazareth) — popular weekend destination near Addis
  • Axum (Aksum) — home of ancient tombs and stelae fields, in the far north
  • Bahir Dar — monasteries on the islands of Lake Tana and the beautiful Blue Nile Falls nearby
  • Dire Dawa — the second largest city; in the east
  • Gondar — some of East Africa's only castles
  • 7 Harar — ancient walled city near Dire Dawa
  • Lalibela — home to 11 astonishing rock-hewn churches
  • 9 Mekele — a town in the Tigrayan Highlands in the north

Other destinations

Ethiopia is ranked with African countries the likes of Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania and Zambia for preserving and maintaining its national parks as tourist attractions. The southern and south-western parts of the country are home to stunning natural beauty with a huge potential for tourism. The northern parts features cultural and religious attractions.

  • 1 Abijatta Shalla Lakes National Park
  • Awash National Park
  • 3 Mago National Park
  • 4 Omo National Park
  • Rift Valley lakes — seven lakes that are a popular weekend getaway for Addis residents, great for birding, water sports or relaxing at the luxury resorts
  • 5 Simien National Park
  • 6 Sodere — spa town due to hot springs (filwoha)
  • 7 Konso and other Omo Valley tribes
  • 8 Rock-hewn churches of Gheralta mountains (near Hawzien) — tens of churches you can hike to
  • 9 Danakil Depression — a salt desert with several volcanoes including the active Erta Ale and the colorful Dallol
See also: the Ethiopia section of the UNESCO World Heritage List and the list of Ethiopian National Parks.



Ethiopia is one of the oldest independent nations in the world, and one of the world's oldest Christian states (rivalling only Armenia in this regard). It has long been an intersection between the civilizations of North Africa, the Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa. For example, Ethiopia is the place of the first Hijra (615 CE) in Islamic history, when the Christian king of Ethiopia offered refuge to those fleeing from Mecca and sent by the prophet Muhammad. Uniquely among African countries, Ethiopia was never colonized, maintaining its independence throughout the Scramble for Africa onward, except for five years (1936–41) when it was under Italian military occupation. During this period, the Italians occupied only a few key cities and major routes, and faced continuing resistance until they were finally defeated during the Second World War by an Ethiopian-British alliance. Ethiopia has long been a member of international organizations: it became a member of the League of Nations, signed the Declaration by United Nations in 1942, founded the UN headquarters in Africa, was one of the 51 original members of the UN, and is the headquarters for, and one of the founding members of, the former Organisation of African Unity and the current African Union.

Ethiopia was historically called Abyssinia, a word related to Habesha, the native name for the inhabitants. In some countries, Ethiopia is still called by names cognate with "Abyssinia", eg, Turkish Habesistan, meaning land of the Habesha people. The English name "Ethiopia" is thought to be derived from the Greek word ???????? (Aithiopia), from ?????? (Aithiops) "an Ethiopian", derived from Greek terms meaning "of burnt (???-) visage (??)". However, this etymology is disputed, since the Book of Aksum, a Ge'ez chronicle first composed in the 15th century, states that the name is derived from 'Ityopp'is, a son (unmentioned in the Bible) of Cush, son of Ham, who according to legend founded the city of Axum.


Ethiopia's population is highly diverse, consisting of more than 80 ethnic groups. The largest ethnic groups are the Oromo (34% of the population), the Amhara (27%) the Somalis (6%) and the Tigrinyas (6%). The largest religious affiliations are Christian (63% of the population – comprising 44% Ethiopian Orthodox and 19% other denominations) and Muslim (34%).


Much of Ethiopia is a high plateau with central mountain ranges divided by the Great Rift Valley, but there are low-lying lands in the eastern and westernmost parts, with the lowest point being the Danakil Depression, 125 m (410 ft) below sea level. The highest point is Ras Dejen (Ras Dashen) in the Simien Mountains, 4,620m (15,157 ft) above mean sea level. The geologically active Great Rift Valley is susceptible to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

Ethiopia is landlocked – the entire coastline along the Red Sea was lost with the de jure independence of Eritrea on 24 May 1993. The Blue Nile, the chief head stream of the Nile, rises in Lake Tana in north-west Ethiopia. Three major crops are believed to have originated in Ethiopia: coffee, grain sorghum, and castor bean.


The predominant climate type is tropical monsoon, with wide topographic-induced variation. As a highland country, Ethiopia has a climate that is generally considerably cooler than other regions at similar proximity to the Equator. Most of the country's major cities are located at elevations of around 2,000–2,500 m (6,600–8,200 ft) above sea level, including historic capitals such as Gondar and Axum.

Addis Ababa, the modern capital, is situated in the foothills of Mount Entoto at an elevation of around 2,400 m (7,900 ft), and experiences a healthy and pleasant climate year-round. With fairly uniform year-round temperatures, the seasons in Addis Ababa are largely defined by rainfall, with a dry season Oct-Feb, a light rainy season Mar-May, and a heavy rainy season Jun-Sep. The average annual rainfall is around 1,200 mm (47 in). There are 7 hours of sunshine per day on average, 60% of the daytime hours. The dry season is the sunniest time of year, though even at the height of the rainy season in July and August there are usually several hours of bright sunshine a day.

The average annual temperature in Addis Ababa is 16 °C (61 °F), with daily highs averaging 20–25 °C (68–77 °F) throughout the year, and overnight lows averaging 5–10 °C (41–50 °F). A light jacket is recommended for evenings, though many Ethiopians dress conservatively and wear a light jacket even during the day.

Most major cities and tourist sites lie at a similar elevation to Addis Ababa and have comparable climates. In lower lying regions, particularly in the east of the country, the climate can be significantly hotter and drier. The town of Dallol, in the Danakil Depression in the east, has the world's highest average annual temperature of 34 °C (93 °F).


Air quality in cities and along roads can be very poor because of emissions from badly maintained diesel vehicles and dust. Anyone sensitive to this should consider wearing a dust mask as is popular in many Asian countries. Pollution from plastic waste is severe in many areas of the country. Piles of discarded water/soft drink bottles line the sides of most roads and open areas with only the main tourist areas making any effort to keep their areas clean.

Time and calendar

Ethiopia uses the Ethiopian calendar, which dates back to the Coptic calendar 25 BC, and never adopted either the Julian or Gregorian calendar reforms. One Ethiopian year consists of twelve months, each lasting thirty days, plus a thirteenth month of five or six days (hence the "Thirteen Months of Sunshine" tourism slogan). The Ethiopian new year begins around 11 September (in the Gregorian calendar), and has accumulated 7–8 years lag behind the Gregorian calendar: thus, for the first nine months of 2022, the year was 2014 according to the Ethiopian calendar. On 11 Sep 2022, Ethiopia celebrated New Year's Day (Enkutatesh) for the Ethiopian year 2015.

In Ethiopia, the 12-hour clock cycles do not begin at midnight and noon, but instead are offset six hours. Thus, Ethiopians refer to midnight (or noon) as 6 o'clock. Airline timetables are based on the 24-hour clock and use the Gregorian calendar. To avoid confusion, we use the 24-hour format in all our Ethiopian listings.


See also: Amharic phrasebook

Amharic is the first official language and lingua franca of Ethiopia. It is a Semitic language related to Hebrew and Arabic, and if you know either one you'll recognize some cognates. In all parts of the country, everyone speaks Amharic to some extent, no matter what their first language may be. The language is written in the Ge'ez script.

In big cities, many people under 40 speak some English. (English is the primary foreign language taught in schools and both the British Council and the EU have helped in providing textbooks.) In rural areas, find local school children to translate for you for a fee that could be next to nothing. (Ethiopians have a distinct way of speaking English. Because it is heavily accented, it might be a bit difficult to understand it at the beginning. However, when you get used to the way they pronounce some English words, it will become fairly understandable.) Older Ethiopians, especially those from the Tigray region or Eritrea (which was once a state of Ethiopia), may speak Italian, while other elders may speak Russian or Cuban-accented Spanish due to the influence of the former Derg regime.

In the Tigray region of north Ethiopia, Tigrinya, the lingua franca of neighbouring Eritrea, is the primary language, also written in Ge'ez. In the middle highlands regions Oromifa or Afaan, Oromo is widely spoken. Oromo uses a Latin alphabet. In the Ogaden region of Western Ethiopia, located mostly in Somali regional state (near the border with Somalia and Somaliland), Somali is common, and is written in a Latin alphabet; Arabic is also common, with a Yemeni influence. Towards the border with Djibouti, French becomes slightly more common.

Get in

Visa requirements

All visitors must obtain an entry visa, except for nationals from Djibouti and Kenya, and foreigners in transit at Addis Ababa Bole International Airport for 12 hours or less to catch an international connecting flight and who do not leave the airport or pass the Immigration Desk. Visas-on-arrival are also available to citizens of all African Union countries.

E-Visas are available to short-term visitors of all nationalities for tourism and business. The application is straightforward and takes only a few minutes to complete. You need to upload a scanned passport-style photo. Turnaround time might be within hours. You will receive an email welcoming you to Ethiopia. The official website to apply for E-Visa is https://www.evisa.gov.et – do not submit your application to any other similar looking website. E-Visa is only accepted at Addis Ababa Bole International Airport. Upon landing at the airport go to an immigration area and you will see a sign for E-Visa. You may need a printed version of your E-Visa, indicate a place of residence (hotel) and a phone number, which may be foreign.

You must indicate your intended place of residence and contact number to get a visa. Nothing appears to be checked, so in practice any hotel address and phone number should suffice. However, if you're unable to provide some address and phone number, they refuse to process the visa documents.

By plane

Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa is the main hub for Ethiopian Airlines, a member of the Star Alliance and one of the most successful and reputable airlines in Africa, offering superior service on international flights to US carriers like United Airlines. The airport also hosts Lufthansa, Sudan Airways, Kenya Airways, Turkish Airways, Emirates, Qatar Airways, Egypt Air and fly Dubai. There are daily flights from Europe, the United States, Asia, and many African cities including Accra, Bamako, Brazzaville, Cairo, Dakar, Dar es Salaam, Djibouti, Khartoum, Harare, Johannesburg, and Nairobi. From the U.S., there are direct flights from LAX, Newark Liberty, and Washington, D.C., stopping over at either Dublin or Lomé. Bole's international terminal, Terminal 2, is said to be the largest in sub-Saharan Africa. Terminal 1 serves domestic and some regional (Djibouti, Nairobi, Khartoum, etc.) destinations.

Other international airports are in Dire Dawa, Mekele and Bahir Dar.

By car

Although more expensive than public transport, this is a good way to explore Ethiopia. There are few rent-a-car services in Ethiopia outside of Addis Ababa so you may prefer to depend on the services of touring companies that offer cars and 4x4s complete with driver.

Border crossings from neighbouring countries include the border village of Metema to get in from Sudan.

From Kenya the border town is Moyale. The road from Kenya to Ethiopia through the town of Moyale is much better and well maintained. On the Kenyan side of Moyale the road is horrible and is known for banditry so be careful and make sure you have plenty of time, at least 24 hr, to travel from Moyale to Nairobi. However, the road is being rebuilt and paved, with large sections already finished and the remaining sections were expected to be finished around early 2015.

By bus

  • Public transport brings you to the border. With the Sudan or Kenya crossings, you just walk to the other side. If you arrive at the border towns late at night, try not to cross the border in the dark. Wait in the town and do your travelling in the morning.
  • Buses that cover some distance start in early morning. This implies that if you arrive during the day you would be stuck at least until the next morning.
  • From Gedaref (Sudan) catch a bumpy bus or truck (700 Sudanese pounds) to the border. The Sudanese side consists of several small villages and a tiny town. In Ethiopia you could find better, but basic, accommodation. Buses leaving for Gonder dry up by mid-afternoon so you must either arrive early at the border or spend the night in Metema (around 50 birr).
  • From Djibouti you can take a small bus to the border (2-3 hr) where you will find buses to Dire Dawa. This road is a dirt track and the trip takes at least half a day, at nightfall the bus uses to stop and you resume travel the next day. From Ethiopia into Djibouti, a bus leaves supposedly around midnight (buy tickets during the day at the office in the centre of Dire Dawa). This arrives at the Djibouti border in the morning where you change onto a different bus to get to Djibouti City. It is a good idea to take a tuk-tuk to the bus station as hyenas wander the streets of Dire Dawa at night.

By train

A train service between Addis Ababa and Djibouti City serves passenger trains taking roughly 12 hours for the whole trip.

The dilapidated but historical Chemin de Fer train station in downtown Addis Ababa is in the Kazanches neighbourhood near the Sheraton Addis and may be of interest as a relic of the Ethio-Djibouti Railway that began service in 1890 during the reign of Emperor Menelik II. The new line does not serve the historic station.

Get around

By plane

Ethiopian Airlines is reasonably priced and has fairly comprehensive domestic services. Flights are often overbooked, so it is essential to reconfirm your tickets at least a day in advance and show up at the airport on time. If you forget to reconfirm, they may assume you aren't going to show up and give away your seats. Flights are frequently cancelled or rescheduled so allow extra time if transferring to an international flight.

Tip: As at 2020 Ethiopian Airlines has a mobile app that enables you to book and pay by credit card. The app is well designed but its reliability depends on the reliability of the mobile/wifi coverage in your location. If an Ethiopian ticket office is nearby its often easier to go there. If you have booked your international trip to Ethiopia via Ethiopian Airlines you will get a 60% discount on domestic flights. Even if you have arrived on an airline other than Ethiopian, you can still get the discounted prices by having proof of an international reservation with Ethiopian regardless of whether you have flown the flight or not. So you can get the discount by booking a refundable (eco flex) or cheap flight to a neighbouring country for the future and quoting the ticket number when booking domestic flights. You need to have proof of your international ticket or reservation as you are often asked for it.

Chartered flights (both to serviced airfields and "bush flights") are available from Abyssinia Flight Services, on TeleBole road, just down the street from the airport. Helicopter service is available from National Airways, Abyssinia Flight Services, and certain government-owned companies.

Parking at Bole airport costs 5 birr and is payable in cash only to the parking attendants on arrival.

By bus

Ethiopian buses fit into one of the following categories: the ubiquitous minibuses or matatus (typically Toyota Highace vans that room up to 14 people) that operate throughout the region; small to large sized passenger buses called "Higer bus" (named after the manufacturer) that often travel between regions ("1st level" to "3rd level" indicating the class); luxury buses (Korean modern standard buses) going between the main cities, and the large (often double-jointed) red Addis Ababa city buses.

There is a comprehensive network of cheap Higer buses along the major roads, although these are slow and basic. Buses travelling shorter distances generally leave whenever they have filled up with passengers (in practice, these means once an hour or so); nearly all long-distance buses leave at dawn (06:00 or twelve on the Ethiopian clock). Buses do not travel at night; they will stop before sundown in a town or village with accommodation for the passengers, or, between Dire Dawa and Djibouti, just in the plain countryside. Between some cities (e.g., Adama and Addis Ababa), minibuses will run after the larger buses have stopped for the night. Everyone on the bus must have a seat by law – this prevents overcrowding, but often makes it difficult to catch a bus from an intermediate point on a route. If planning to travel by bus, keep in mind that almost all the vehicles are old and very dusty and many secondary roads are bad. The main roads are now at very good standard most places. Ethiopians do not like opening the bus windows, so it gets hot and stuffy inside by afternoon. If you like fresh air, sit as close to the driver or one of the doors as possible, as the driver keeps his window open and the conductor and his assistant often have the door windows open. It can be risky riding the minibuses and Higer, as they are a leading contributor to Ethiopia's position among the most dangerous places in the world to drive. The drivers often do not use mirrors and simply disregard the possibility of oncoming traffic when changing lanes.

The bus stations usually open around 05:00. If you are catching an early morning bus, you should get to the station at 05:00. They are very chaotic first thing in the morning, and many buses will sell out of seats before they leave with the dawn about 06:00. To make things easier and less stressful, you can often buy a ticket in advance. In Addis, find the correct window at the bus station the day before you wish to travel and buy your ticket there. (You will need help finding the window unless you can read Amharic, but there are usually people around who will help if you ask.) The ticket will be in Amharic, but there will be a legible bus number written on it somewhere. Simply find that bus the next morning at the bus station. In smaller cities, you can often buy your ticket from the conductor when the bus arrives from its previous trip the afternoon before you travel. Even if you already have a ticket, arrive early and claim a seat as soon as possible. If you don't have a ticket, you will have to ask people to show you the correct bus (unless you can read Amharic). In this case, don't waste time trying to buy a ticket from the window or from the bus conductor—push your way on board the bus and claim a seat! The conductor will sell you a ticket later. Medium-sized backpacks can usually be squeezed under the seats, but large packs and most luggage will have to go up on the roof. Claim your seat before you worry about your luggage. Luxury buses however have a really professional approach with both numbered seating and dedicated luggage compartments under the bus. Anyone assisting you with your luggage, including the person passing it up to the conductor's assistant on the roof, will expect a small tip (around 2-3 birr).

On several routes (Addis - Dire Dawa, Bahardar - Addis) you may also find informal traveller cars with no fixed departure; when looking around at a bus station you may be approached by somebody who offers you a faster connection by going with a private car; this is more expensive than the normal bus but also much faster. You'll be handed a phone number to call for an appointment. These cars may leave before sundown or travel even at night.

  • Selam Bus

By taxi

Little ride hailing app works in Ethiopia.

By car

A good way to tour Ethiopia is by car. You can take small aircraft to expedite your tour, but you will see more of the scenery if you travel by car. Reasonably priced touring companies include Galaxy Express Services , NTO , and Dinknesh, as well as Ethiopia Safaris and Journeys Abyssinia with Zawdu . They can take you off the beaten track so you can see the beauty and attractions of Ethiopia. Most car rentals mandate that the car comes with an Ethiopian driver, but a few companies rent cars for self-drive, such as NTO and ABC Car Rental. Cars will need to be picked up and dropped off in Addis. Expect to pay around $100/day for a self-drive SUV that is permitted to drive freely around the country. As of 2018, is it no longer necessary to convert to an Ethiopian driver's license, nor is an international driver's permit (IDP) required, as Ethiopia is one of the few countries that is not a signatory to either IDP convention. Driving on your foreign license and on a tourist visa is fine. All cars will be manual transmission, and despite the prices, don't expect a new vehicle.

Nevertheless, hiring a car is quite expensive, although hiring a car with a driver is typically not more expensive than self-drive. Drivers pass on their costs for spare parts and need to increase the price if fuel rises. A driver guide's credentials should be checked such as tourism license, insurance, engine (external and internal). Before accepting a contract, it is also a good idea to quiz the driver-guide about tourism routes. When driving to the "deep south" of Ethiopia also check the license plates, because the authorities in the south check in and log "3" plate tourism cars, take the names of the passengers and passport number. They need a letter from the tour company to show the agent is bona fide on some routes and parks. Petrol costs 21 birr a litre (US$ 0.70, Jan 2020). Make sure to check the pump is zeroed before re-fuelling starts.

There are several highways in Ethiopia, some of these are in good condition:

Road 1: Addis Ababa-Asmara via Dessie and Mekelle

Road 3: Addis Ababa-Axum via Bahir Dar and Gonder

Road 4: Addis Ababa-Djibouti via Nazret (Adama), Awash and Dire Dawa

Road 5: Addis Ababa-Gambela via Alem Zena and Nekemte

Road 6: Addis Ababa-Jimma via Giyon

Road 48: Nekemte-Gambela National Park via Gambela

TAH 4 to the north: Cairo via Khartoum and Bahir Dar

TAH 4 to the south: Cape Town via Gaborone, Lusaka, Dodoma, Nairobi and Awasa

TAH 6 to the east: Djibouti via Dessie

TAH 6 to the west: Ndjamena via Darfur

By bicycle

Road conditions vary considerably around Ethiopia; some roads are smoothly sealed while others consist mostly of large stones. Accommodation is cheap and available in almost every village (although these "hotels" usually double as bars and brothels). Food and drink are also easily available. You will attract considerable attention (it is not uncommon for whole schools to empty out as the children run after you). Be prepared to have stones and sticks thrown at you, especially in the south.

By train

The long unused railway system has been reinvigorated with a new Chinese-built standard gauge line from Addis Ababa to Djibouti City that opened in 2018. While this line is primarily intended for freight transport, it also enables both domestic and international passenger transport.


  • Huge obelisks in Axum
  • Historic routes, churches and mosques  LalibelaAxumGondar, Harar
  • Volcanic lake Danakil Depression and Erta Ale
  • Rift Valley lakes Wonchi crater lake, Langano, Tana
  • National Parks such as Menengesha
  • Churches, including many beautiful ones in Addis Ababa
  • Rock-hewn churches in Lalibela
  • Castles in Gondar


  • Northern historic circuit. A loop from Addis Ababa to Bahir Dar on Lake Tana, to Gondar, then Axum, and Lalibela, and back to Addis. Other stops can be included, such as Simien National Park, Adwa and nearby Yeha, Hawzien and Mekele. The circuit can also be done in the opposite direction. Destinations can be reached affordably by domestic airlines but you may want to consider taking the bus journey from Addis to Bahir Dar to experience the awe-inspiring and switch-backing descent from the highlands deep down into the gorge of the Blue Nile and back up again and for the abundant wildlife you'll see on this stretch of the road. A new paved road is in place and has, in synergy with the Luxury bus companies, turned this gruelling bus trip into a quite a decent trip (March 2015).


  • Tribal region safari in the Lower Omo Valley
  • Trekking in Dodolla, Bale Siemien Mountains National Park
  • Bird watching in Rift Valley lakes
  • See the gelada ("baboons") at Debre Sina near Addis Ababa
  • White water rafting in the Omo River
  • Attend a traditional coffee ceremony.
  • Visit an azmari bet (azmari bar) to listen to azmari musicians and singers.

For where to go to see Ethiopia's wildlife, all images taken by Wikimedia Commons user Charlesjsharp have precise geolocation information [1]

The images can be found in galleries of mammals [2] and birds [3] etc.



Local currency is the Ethiopian birr, denoted by the symbol "Br" or "?? " (ISO currency code: ETB). Wikivoyage articles use birr to denote the currency.

It is one of the more stable African currencies. There are 100 santim to the birr and coins of 1, 5, 10, 25 and 50 santim circulate, together with a one birr coin. Banknotes of Ethiopia come in values of 1-, 5-, 10-, 50-, 100 and 200 birr.

Foreign visitors to Ethiopia are not supposed to import nor export more than 200 birr.

There are ATMs in most towns, even smaller ones. Dashen Bank, Commercial Bank of Ethiopia and Awash Bank are your best bet for finding an ATM that takes Visa, MasterCard and Chinese cards. Don't expect foreign Cirrus or Plus cards to work. The ATMs are not always reliable, so try another and have a back-up plan for cash.

Opportunities to use credit cards (Visa and MasterCard) are increasing in Addis Ababa, but remain rare elsewhere.

Changing cash

Any commercial bank in Ethiopia can exchange cash. The rates are the same everywhere and are set by the central bank daily. There are hundreds of commercial bank branches in Addis Ababa, including in the Sheraton and Hilton hotels, and in the corner of the baggage claim hall at the airport. Most cities and towns that tourists visit will have at least one commercial bank, except for villages in the Omo valley. Many hotels will convert US dollars to birr at the front desk. Because of forgeries in circulation, banks might not accept US dollar notes printed before 2002, or torn or very worn notes. It is illegal to change money on the black market but the rates are better than offered by the banks: when the official rate was 28, the black market rate in Addis Ababa was 30 and in Lalibela 32. Ask anyone and they find someone willing to change hundreds of US dollars.

It is essentially impossible to exchange the birr outside of Ethiopia due to currency controls, and it is illegal to remove more than 200 birr from the country without permission.

US dollars, euros or pounds sterling are the best currencies to carry, in that order. It is best to bring US dollars with you into the country. High denomination notes are preferred ($50 or above) - you will often get a better exchange rate for them. You can only bring in a maximum of US$3000. You may find it best to keep most of your cash in your home currency and take out what you need daily. Additionally, since ATM machines dispense money in birr, it may be easier to simply withdraw money from the ATM as needed. Prices are extremely low in Ethiopia and a US dollar will go a long way.

Banks no longer accept travellers cheques.

US dollar

In cities like Addis Ababa and to a much lesser extent Dire Dawa, the US dollar is mostly accepted. In some shops in Addis Ababa the prices will be written in birr and USD. Some ATMs in Addis Ababa give out both US dollars and birr. Most hotels in Addis Ababa accept US dollars. All airports in Ethiopia accept US dollars.

You cannot obtain US dollars in Ethiopia through legal means unless you have a flight ticket to leave the country. This means that if you need dollars (e.g. to get a Djibouti visa) and don't have a flight ticket to leave Ethiopia you will need to either change money on the black market (not recommended) or ensure that you have enough US dollars on you.


Ethiopia is relatively cheap for tourists, compared to other African countries.

To stay at a 5-star hotel in Addis AbabaDire Dawa, Nazret, Bahir DarGondar and Awasa costs on average 3,000 birr per night (as of 2020). On the other hand, budget double room around the country is 250-1000 birr per night.

Addis Ababa, Dire Dawa and Adama/Nazret have the most expensive prices in the country. Food is also expensive if you buy it in those city's centres.

You need about 1500 birr per day for hotel, food, lodging and transport. In Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa you can need 2500 birr per day (as of 2020).


In Ethiopia tipping is common in hotels, restaurants and bars. One is also expected to tip car park attendants whether hired by institutions or self-assigned. In some restaurants it is customary to tip any dancers, and this is usually done by sticking the paper money on the forehead of the dancer.


Injera is ubiquitous in Ethiopia. It is a spongy, tangy-tasting bread made from the grain teff, which grows in the highlands of Ethiopia. It looks and feels akin to a crepe or pancake. It's eaten with wot (or wat), traditional stews made with spices and meat or legumes. Popular wats are doro (chicken) wat, yebeg (lamb) wat and asa (fish) wat. Pork is rare in Ethiopia as the Ethiopian Church prohibits the consumption of pork by its followers.

The injera sits directly on a large round plate or tray and is covered with wat placed symmetrically around a central item. The various wats are eaten with other pieces of injera, which are served on a side plate. Injera is eaten with the right hand - rip a large piece of injera from the side plate and use it to scoop up one of the flavours of wat on the main platter. Eating with the left hand is considered disrespectful, as it is the hand traditionally used for personal hygiene and is thus considered unclean. Another popular injera dish is firfir: fried, shredded injera. It can be served with or without meat or with all sorts of veggies.

If you prefer vegetarian food, try the shiro wat, which is an oily bean stew served with injera. Shiro is common on Ethiopian "fasting days", in which devout Ethiopians eat an essentially vegetarian diet.

One of Ethiopia's most famous dishes is tibbs or tibs, spicy beef or lamb fried in butter (nitre kibbeh). Tibs comes in several styles, most commonly "chikina tibs", fried in a sauce with berbere spice, onions, bell peppers, and tomato; and zil-zil tibs, a more deep fried breaded version served with tangy sauces. Equally as famous is kitfo, minced meat spiced with chilli. You can have it raw (the locally preferred way, but there's a risk of getting parasites), leb-leb (lightly cooked) or fully cooked. It comes with a local cheese, ayeb, and spinach. In the Harar region, you can find kitfo derivatives including camel meat. Many restaurants that serve kitfo include it in their name (e.g. Sami Kitfo, Mesob Kitfo) but typically serve a wider selection than just raw meat.

For the pickier visitor, almost every place in Ethiopia also serves spaghetti, thanks to its short lived Italian occupation, but not as Italians would know it. Italian restaurants are common, as are so-called "American style pizza and burger" places that have little in common with American pizzas and burgers. There is continued demand for more American-style dining in Ethiopia, not only from expats but from Ethiopians as well. You will find westerners or western-raised Ethiopians everywhere in the capital and can be very helpful.

Common spices include berbere, Ethiopia's national spice which includes fenugreek; mittmitta, another piquant spice; and rosemary, which is used with almost all meat in the country. Most local meats are of poor quality and are stringy and tough even when cooked perfectly. Luxury hotels and restaurants will often import meat from Kenya which is of much higher quality.


Ethiopia is the historical origin of the coffee bean, and its coffee is among the best in the world. Coffee is traditionally served in a formal ceremony that involves drinking a minimum of three cups of coffee and eating popcorn. It is a special honour or mark of respect to be invited into somebody's home for the ceremony. Ethiopians tend to drink their coffee either freshly brewed and black, very strong, with the grounds still inside; or as a macchiato, Ethiopia's popular form of coffee.

In preparation for the ceremony the coffee beans are roasted in a flat pan over charcoal. The beans are then ground using pestle and mortar. The coffee is brewed with water in a clay coffee pot and is considered ready when it starts to boil. Coffee in Ethiopia is served black with sugar; some ethnic groups may add butter or salt to the coffee but will generally not do so with foreigners. Beware, after drinking coffee in Ethiopia, you will find yourself always disappointed with the quality of coffee when you return home. In Ethiopia the coffee is so fresh as it is usually roasted the same day as it is consumed. You will dream about coffee for weeks after leaving Ethiopia.

Tej is a honey wine, similar to mead, that is frequently drunk in bars, in particular, in a tej beit (tej bar). It strongly resembles mead in flavour though it typically has a local leaf added to it during brewing that gives it a strong medicinal flavour that may be off putting. It is considered manly to consume this beverage.

A variety of Ethiopian beers are available, all of which are quite drinkable. Many breweries that were formerly owned by the Ethiopian government are now owned by Western beverage companies like Heineken (Harar beer) and Diageo (Meta beer). The nationally ubiquitous beer is St. George, or "Giorgis" named after the patron saint of Ethiopia, which is a light lager similar to American beers that has been brewed in Addis Ababa since 1922. Ethiopian breweries rival many microbreweries in the west and most beers are sold for under USD1.

Ethiopian wines, both red and white, exist but are generally considered undrinkable by foreigners.


There is a wide range of accommodation in Ethiopia. Staying in tourist areas generally results in a broader range of choices, but watch out for tourist prices. It is acceptable to bargain with the hotel owner, for they usually tend to charge you "faranji" (foreigner) prices at first, which are often twenty times the local rate. You won't be able to bargain down to local prices (close to nothing) but you can bargain down a lot. This is not true at the government run "Ghion" chain, and the fancier private chains as well, where prices for foreigners are fixed. (Bekale Mola, for example).

Guest houses are common in Ethiopia. These vary from large homes with a number of bedrooms to small hotels and essentially operate as a "Bed and Breakfast". Some have shared baths, other have private baths. The best ones have generators available to deal with power outages as well as internet service and satellite TV. The good ones tend to be clean and they treat you like family. They are much cheaper than the brand name hotels and you will get more exposure to the local culture. If you tip well you will be treated like royalty.

In the north, in every city (Axum, LalibelaBahir Dar, Gondar) one can find hotels, from overpriced ones such as the government-run Ghion chain hotels to cheaper ones. Smaller places on the major roads offer cheap places if you do not mind the most basic rooms. A tourist town like Debark that serves for trekking the Simien Mountains also offers a range of rooms, with the most popular being the Simien Park Hotel (25/30 birr), where you could also pitch a tent for 20. It meets the normal standards for food, electricity, water, cleanliness and hygiene.

In the south, all the cities (Shashemane, Wondo Genet, AwasaArba Minch, Jinka...) have decent, cheap hotels. The most basic rooms start at 15 birr for a single and 20 birr for a double. Many of them don't have hot water and electricity all hours of the day, so you should schedule time for a shower in advance. There are also three fairly expensive resort hotels on the shore of Lake Langano. In the smaller villages in and around the Omo valley (Weyto, Turmi, Key Afar, Dimeka, Konso, etc.) there are usually few (very basic) or no hotels, but if you are travelling through the valley to see the tribes, there is always a campground or a restaurant that offers beds. If you camp out at one of these villages, you should hire a guard to watch over your stuff overnight.


Most of the following applied to Ethiopia until the 2021 civil war. Check current conditions after the war ends.

At least until 2021, Ethiopia had one of Africa's strongest economies. Unemployment was low, and with a rapidly growing economy, Ethiopia was becoming more and more interesting as an expat destination.

In the big cities, especially Addis Ababa:

  • There was a high demand for IT professionals.
  • Many start-up companies searched for individuals with computer networking and consulting backgrounds.
  • Addis Ababa has the most NGOs in Africa, and possibly among all third world countries. They are reputed for providing generous salaries to their employees.
  • Many expatriates work in NGOs and small start-up IT companies.
  • Compared with other African cities, Addis Ababa has a high number of big, medium and small sized computer training schools, and governmental and private learning institutions. Many students who attend hope to obtain an IT or consulting job, in the very scarce job market of the city.

Some people have a desire to do some sort of charitable work while in Ethiopia. There are many opportunities to volunteer in and around Addis Ababa. Organizations such as Love Volunteers and Projects Abroad offer a range of volunteer projects including teaching English, caring for children and healthcare. Many non-profit organizations produce goods that they sell to help fund their efforts. Most locals at hotels and guest houses can point you to them. Abebech Gobena Yehetsanat Kebekabena Limat Mahber is a great example. Missionaries of Charity started by Mother Teresa of Calcutta have a centre near Sidest Kilo in Addis Ababa.

Many visitors bring donations to Ethiopia. Although most anything is appreciated, there are things very difficult to get in Ethiopia that make great donations. Soy formula for orphanages is a great example as lactose-intolerant babies need this to thrive and it is hard to find in-country. High quality soccer footballs (what would be considered cheap footballs at USD10-15 in Western countries) are hard to find as well. Deflate a football and you can get over 30 in a large bag. You will be seen as a hero when you give them away at orphanages and schools.

Stay safe

There are many ongoing inter-ethnic conflicts. Borders between ethnic regions tend to be high-risk areas. In addition, many groups are in conflict with the government.

Due to the general security situation, expect a heightened security presence. Be prepared for checkpoints, having your identity and travel documents with you. As anywhere, take care to respect road blocks (even if they appear unattended), remain calm and follow instructions.

Communications and availability of food, water and other necessities can be disrupted. Have a contingency plan.

Landmines are a threat in some regions.

See also War zone safety.

Stay healthy

Don't drink the tap water. It's full of parasites, and hotels generally recommend guests not to drink it, nor to eat salads and uncooked foodstuffs that are usually washed in tap water. This applies to ice as well – unless it is distilled, or you are at a reputable Western hotel like the Sheraton, Radisson Blu, or Hilton. Bottled water for drinking is available almost everywhere in small, medium and big bottles – popular brands are Yes (flat water) and Ambo (sparkling water). Make sure you drink enough, especially when the weather is hot.

Consult a doctor before going to Ethiopia about what vaccinations against infectious diseases you should consider. The risk of malaria is low to non-existent in the capital and the highlands, but high in the lake regions and lowlands. Doxycycline for malaria prevention is cheap in Addis.

If you get sick, go to one of the big private hospitals, e.g., Korean, Hayat, St Gabriels.

A large part of Ethiopia is at a high elevation. In those areas, people unaccustomed to breathing in thinner air may have a hard time moving around at first. It is advised to allow yourself a few days to acclimatize to the air. See altitude sickness.


Ethiopians are very proud of their culture, identity, and country. Avoid criticizing their cultural lifestyle, especially their brand of Christianity (Ethiopian Orthodox). Avoid all contentious religious discussion, or you may risk all good will and hospitality you could have been afforded. Rather than argue about the merits of Orthodoxy or Islam, it's best to ask friends to explain their customs, festivals and beliefs and to listen with respect.

The Ethiopians' relationship with the Westerners is generally free of racial animosity. However, there is considerable suspicion and even xenophobia toward foreigners in the countryside. Ethiopians can be short-fused if they feel they are not treated as equals.

It is a sign of respect for men to avoid eye contact with women. If you are a foreign man, maintaining a formal distance from women will be seen as good manners. If you meet a woman who is with a man, ask the man's permission before talking to her. Likewise, if you're a foreign woman in public with a man, don't be upset if Ethiopian men address all questions to him. They will do this not to slight you but to show respect. This will be the case on public transport and in restaurants.

It is very important to remove your shoes when entering a home.



The country code for calling Ethiopia is 251. The city code for Addis Ababa 011 (or 11 from outside Ethiopia).


Ethiopia's connectivity is among the worst in the world. The mobile telecom network uses GSM (as in Europe/Africa), operated by Ethio Telecom (ETC) and has limited 3G (1x EV-DO service) and 2G (CDMA) service. There is good voice coverage into small cities. Per March 2015 this seems to have improved drasticly and now both calls and roaming works great (at least around urban areas).

For all travellers, having a mobile phone is a must. It is cheap and easily available. Satellite phones and VSAT devices are heavily restricted or illegal without hefty fees and licenses.

There are only a few stores renting SIM cards. However, purchasing a SIM is inexpensive, and can be done anywhere that sells phones. The best spot is to buy it at a Ethio Telecom shop to not get ripped off. On March 2015 a SIM card cost 15 birr. The system requires the seller to take a photo of you and your passport information to activate your SIM. You'll have to sign an agreement that you will not commit any crimes with your phone. All local stores will have calling cards you can purchase to call internationally. For domestic calls, phones are topped up with a prepaid card, available in denominations of 2000, 500, 100, 50 and 25 birr and smaller.

In general calls, SMS' and roaming is quite cheap.


Less than 1 million people in the country have access to internet, and internet service is extremely limited. There are numerous internet cafes in Addis AbabaDire Dawa, Nazret, Bahir Dar, Gonder, Awasa and other cities; however their speeds are often dial-up at best, and some operate illegally. In Addis Ababa, connection speeds are more than adequate for performing tasks such as checking e-mail most of the time. A typical internet cafe will have a dozen computers using one "broadband" (actually 3G mobile internet speeds from 128 kbit/s) connection. ADSL is available, but expensive, and reserved for enterprise customers most of the time. At the Addis Sheraton, the internet connection rivals that of most Western hotels, but costs USD30 for a 24-hour connection. Ethiopia's international connection is unstable: On bad days, even a broadband connection will only deliver dial-up speed, because the whole country's traffic is running via an undersized backup satellite connection. The government has announced plans to roll out 4G LTE service.

To use the Internet costs 0.25-0.35 birr/min in the bigger cities but outside the cities it usually costs more than 1 birr/min. Watch out for computer viruses: most computers or flash disks in use are infected.

Outside of bigger towns, it is harder to find a working Internet connection and the charge per minute is often much higher than in bigger towns.

Ethiopia is deploying an internet filter, to access blocked sites, use a VPN or use the free, open-source TOR Project. Personal use of VoIP services such as Skype is legalized.


Ethiopia has one of the most efficient postal services in Africa. Many attribute this success to the extensive network of Ethiopian Airlines. However, mail does not get delivered to your address. You are required to buy a post office box. Once you get a post office box, the flow of your mail will be consistent.


English language papers include Capital and The Reporter each costing 5 birr.

Exercise a high degree of caution; see also regional advisories.

The decision to travel is your responsibility. You are also responsible for your personal safety abroad. The Government of Canada takes the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provides credible and timely information in its Travel Advice. In the event of a crisis situation that requires evacuation, the Government of Canada’s policy is to provide safe transportation to the closest safe location. The Government of Canada will assist you in leaving a country or a region as a last resort, when all means of commercial or personal transportation have been exhausted. This service is provided on a cost-recovery basis. Onward travel is at your personal expense. Situations vary from one location to another, and there may be constraints on government resources that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide assistance, particularly in countries or regions where the potential for violent conflict or political instability is high.

You are advised to exercise a high degree of caution in the country and to maintain security awareness at all times.

Border with Eritrea, including the Danakil Desert (see Advisory)

You are advised against all travel within 10 km of the Eritrean border in the Tigray and Afar regions. The border between Eritrea and Ethiopia is closed due to recurring military tensions and an unsettled border dispute, as demonstrated on March 15, 2012 when the Ethiopian military attacked targets in Eritrea. Adjacent areas are part of a special and heavily militarized security corridor where armed conflict could erupt. The security situation is particularly unpredictable in the northern regions of Tigray and Afar. Banditry and the threat of kidnapping are also a concern.

There is an ongoing threat of armed assaults and kidnappings against tourists and convoys in the Danakil Desert (northern Afar region). In January 2012, a group of foreign tourists was attacked by gunmen approximately 30 kilometers from the Ethiopian-Eritrean border, near the site of the Erta Ale Volcano. The attack resulted in the death of five people, with others injured and kidnapped. Avoid all travel to the Danakil Desert area, bounded by the Ethio-Eritrean border and the roads between the towns of Dessie and Adigrat and Dessie and the Galafi border crossing with Djibouti.

The presence of landmines poses a serious threat to visitors not travelling with a trusted tour company in the Danakil Desert. Explosions off the beaten path may cause injuries and death.

Somali region (see Advisory)

There is a high risk of kidnapping. Ongoing military operations against armed insurgent groups in the Somali region of Ethiopia and in the Ogaden and Hararge areas, toward the Somali border, have created an extremely volatile and dangerous security situation in which civilians have been killed and injured. Humanitarian missions, foreign aid workers as well as oil company workers and well operators in the Somali region have been subject to attacks and abductions by rebel groups including the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF). The presence of landmines in this region poses an additional threat to safety.

Border with South Sudan and Sudan (see Advisory)

Tribal issues and sporadic incidents of violence have long affected part of the border area with South Sudan. In March 2012, a bus was ambushed by gunmen in the Gambella region, 22 km north of the city of Gambella on the road to Addis Ababa. Nineteen people were killed, and others were wounded or kidnapped. In April 2012, an agricultural site 90 km south of the city of Gambella was attacked by gunmen, killing five and injuring nine. Although foreigners do not appear to be targeted, tensions are high and concerns regarding ethnic clashes and road banditry remain. Tensions remain high in western Oromia as well. Avoid non-essential travel to the city of Gambella where the security situation is generally more stable.

Sporadic clashes have also occurred in the border areas with Sudan, particularly in thenorthwestern Amhara regions within 20km of the border with Sudan.

Border with Kenya (see Advisory)

Intertribal clashes, clan disputes, and banditry are common in this region and are fought by both Ethiopian and Kenyan security forces. This periodically raises tensions and cross-border violence has been reported. Armed groups hostile to the Government of Ethiopia operate in several areas near the border with Kenya.


Regional terror groups, including those associated with al Qaeda and al-Shabaab, continue to threaten Western interests and other potential targets in Ethiopia. The September 21, 2013 attack on an upscale Nairobi mall illustrates the threat of attacks on civilians in East Africa. On October 13, 2013, a bomb exploded in the Bole neighbourhood of Addis Ababa, killing two people.

On November 5, 2013, Ethiopian authorities indicated that they had “found tangible and reliable evidence that shows that the terrorists had plans to carry out attacks in Addis Ababa and in other parts of the country”. Be vigilant in crowded places and monitor local media. In addition, domestic terrorist groups pose threats in certain regions, including in the Somali region, and parts of the Afar, Oromo, and Gambella regions.


There is a moderate level of crime in Ethiopia, including in the capital. Muggings, armed assaults and theft from parked cars happen. Crimes of opportunity, such as pickpocketing and purse snatching, are prevalent in Addis Ababa. Pickpockets and thieves are active throughout the city, but particularly on Bole Road and in the Piazza, the Merkato, and other areas frequented by tourists and foreigners. Crime significantly increases after dark, and foreigners should avoid walking alone after sundown. Similarly, driving outside of Addis Ababa after sundown is not advised due to banditry.

Violent incidents

In the last few years, small bombings and explosions have occurred in Addis Ababa. Targets have included government buildings, public transit, and local restaurants and cafés. If travelling in the capital, you should monitor local developments and remain in regular contact with the Embassy of Canada in Addis Ababa. Be vigilant and aware of your surroundings at all times.


Politically and socially motivated demonstrations occur regularly and are often initiated with little or no advance notice. Some have escalated and turned violent in the past. Exercise caution and avoid public gatherings and demonstrations.

Road travel

Apart from major arteries, roads are generally in poor condition and often unpaved.  However, in recent years, the road network has significantly improved, particularly in and around Addis Ababa.  Excessive speed, local driving habits, pedestrians, roaming animals, and poorly maintained vehicles pose hazards. Outside of Addis Ababa, overland travel should be undertaken during daylight hours only and in convoys if possible. Periodic fuel shortages can disrupt road travel.

It is common for vehicles to be approached by beggars or vendors. It is illegal to give money to, or purchase something from, people who approach vehicles stopped in traffic. If caught, both the beggar/vendor and the vehicle operator may be fined. However, it is common for people, particularly children, to throw rocks at vehicles if their plea for money is ignored.

Beware of individuals who appear to be offering assistance by signaling that there is a problem with your vehicle, as bandits frequently use this tactic to lure drivers out of their vehicles.

Overland travel to the areas bordering Kenya, Somalia, Sudan and South Sudan is generally unsafe as banditry, including armed robbery and carjacking, is common. Landmines remain a hazard, particularly in the conflict zones of northern Ethiopia and near the areas bordering Sudan, South Sudan and Somalia.

Vehicle accidents

Traffic accidents occur regularly in Addis Ababa and throughout Ethiopia.  Drivers should use extra caution as traffic moves unpredictably and rules of the road are not respected.  If an accident occurs, it is illegal to move your vehicle before a police officer arrives.  However, if the driver or passenger feels the situation is unsafe, he or she should leave immediately and report the incident to the nearest police station.  Drivers should always carry a first-aid kit as medical facilities are often undersupplied.

Air travel

Upon entering the Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa, all bags are scanned, without exception, including checked-in luggage.  Suitcases may also be searched manually.  Baggage tags must be retained, as they must be presented upon exit from the airport baggage claim area, without exception.

Consult our Transportation FAQ in order to verify if national airlines meet safety standards.

General safety information

Tourist facilities are limited outside Addis Ababa, and any travel outside the capital, especially in rural areas, should be carefully planned.

Power outages are frequent, particularly during the dry season (November to June). Not all buildings have generators, so outages can result in lack of street lighting, restaurants and supermarkets without adequate refrigeration, and gas stations unable to supply fuel. Carry flashlights and backup supplies.

Carry identification at all times and safely store certified photocopies of passports, visas and other travel documents.

Remain discreet and avoid displaying any signs of affluence in public. Valuables or bags should not be left unattended.

Although coverage can be poor outside urban centres, it is improving and it is still advisable to carry a cellular phone in case of emergency. In an emergency, call 991 for police, fire department or ambulance services.


Related Travel Health Notices
Consult a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic preferably six weeks before you travel.

Routine Vaccines

Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.

Vaccines to Consider

You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread by contaminated food or water. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.


Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or through personal contact with unwashed hands. Get the flu shot.


Measles occurs worldwide but is a common disease in developing countries, particularly in parts of Africa and Asia. Measles is a highly contagious disease. Be sure your vaccination against measles is up-to-date regardless of the travel destination.


This country is in the African Meningitis Belt, an area where there are many cases of meningococcal disease. Meningococcal disease (meningitis) is a serious and sometimes fatal infection of the tissue around the brain and the spinal cord. Travellers who may be at high risk should consider getting vaccinated. High-risk travellers include those living or working with the local population (e.g., health care workers), those travelling to crowded areas or taking part in large gatherings, or those travelling for a longer period of time.


There is a risk of polio in this country. Be sure that your vaccination against polio is up-to-date.


Rabies is a disease that attacks the central nervous system spread to humans through a bite, scratch or lick from a rabid animal. Vaccination should be considered for travellers going to areas where rabies exists and who have a high risk of exposure (i.e., close contact with animals, occupational risk, and children).


Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher among travellers going to rural areas, visiting friends and relatives, or with weakened immune systems. Travellers visiting regions with typhoid risk, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should consider getting vaccinated.

Yellow Fever Vaccination

Yellow fever is a disease caused by the bite of an infected mosquito.

Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.

* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.
  • There is a risk of yellow fever in this country.
Country Entry Requirement*
  • Proof of vaccination is required if you are coming from a country where yellow fever occurs.
  • Vaccination may be recommended depending on your itinerary.
  • Discuss travel plans, activities, and destinations with a health care provider.
  • Protect yourself from mosquito bites.

Food and Water-borne Diseases

Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.

In some areas in East Africa, food and water can also carry diseases like cholera, hepatitis A, schistosomiasis and typhoid. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in East Africa. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!


There have been cases of cholera reported in this country in the last year. Cholera is a bacterial disease that typically causes diarrhea. In severe cases it can lead to dehydration and even death.

Most travellers are generally at low risk. Humanitarian workers and those visiting areas with limited access to safe food and water are at higher risk. Practise safe food and water precautions. Travellers at high risk should get vaccinated.


Schistosomiasis is caused by blood flukes (tiny worms) spread to humans through contaminated water. The eggs of the worms can cause stomach illnesses like diarrhea and cramps or urinary problems. Risk is generally low for most travellers. Avoid swimming in contaminated water. There is no vaccine available for schistosomiasis.

Travellers' diarrhea
  • Travellers' diarrhea is the most common illness affecting travellers. It is spread from eating or drinking contaminated food or water.
  • Risk of developing travellers’ diarrhea increases when travelling in regions with poor sanitation. Practise safe food and water precautions.
  • The most important treatment for travellers' diarrhea is rehydration (drinking lots of fluids). Carry oral rehydration salts when travelling.


Insects and Illness

In some areas in East Africa, certain insects carry and spread diseases like African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness), chikungunya, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, dengue fever, leishmaniasis, lymphatic filariasis, malaria, onchocerciasis (river blindness), Rift Valley feverWest Nile virus and yellow fever.

Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.

Dengue fever
  • Dengue fever occurs in this country. Dengue fever is a viral disease that can cause severe flu-like symptoms. In some cases it leads to dengue haemorrhagic fever, which can be fatal.  
  • Mosquitoes carrying dengue bite during the daytime. They breed in standing water and are often found in urban areas.
  • Protect yourself from mosquito bites. There is no vaccine available for dengue fever.
Leishmaniasis, cutaneous and mucosal

Cutaneous and mucosal leishmaniasis causes skin sores and ulcers. It is caused by a parasite spread through the bite of a female sandfly. Risk is generally low for most travellers. Protect yourself from sandfly bites, which typically occur after sunset in rural and forested areas and in some urban centres. There is no vaccine available for leishmaniasis.

Leishmaniasis, viceral

Visceral leishmaniasis (or kala azar) affects the bone marrow and internal organs. It is caused by a parasite spread through the bite of a female sandfly. It can also be transmitted by blood transfusion or sharing contaminated needles. If left untreated it can cause death. Risk is generally low for most travellers. Protect yourself from sandfly bites, which typically occur after sunset in rural and forested areas and in some urban centres. There is no vaccine available for leishmaniasis.


Onchocerciasis (river blindness) is an eye and skin disease caused by a parasite spread through the bite of an infected female blackfly.  Onchocerciasis often leads to blindness if left untreated. Risk is generally low for most travellers. Protect yourself from blackfly bites, which are most common during the daytime and close to running water. There is no vaccine available for onchocerciasis although drug treatments exist.



  • There is a risk of malaria in certain areas and/or during a certain time of year in this country.
  • Malaria is a serious and occasionally fatal disease that is spread by mosquitoes. There is no vaccine against malaria.
  • Protect yourself from mosquito bites. This includes covering up, using insect repellent and staying in well-screened, air-conditioned accommodations. You may also consider sleeping under an insecticide-treated bed net or pre-treating travel gear with insecticides.
  • Antimalarial medication may be recommended depending on your itinerary and the time of year you are travelling. See a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic, preferably six weeks before you travel to discuss your options.


Animals and Illness

Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, monkeys, snakes, rodents, and bats. Certain infections found in some areas in East Africa, like avian influenza and rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.


Person-to-Person Infections

Crowded conditions can increase your risk of certain illnesses. Remember to wash your hands often and practise proper cough and sneeze etiquette to avoid colds, the flu and other illnesses.

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV are spread through blood and bodily fluids; practise safer sex.


HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus that attacks and impairs the immune system, resulting in a chronic, progressive illness known as AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome). 

Practise safe sex while travelling, and don’t share needles, razors, or other objects which could transmit infection.

Remember that HIV can also be spread through the use of unsterile medical equipment during medical and dental procedures, tattooing, body piercing or acupuncture. Diseases can also be spread though blood transfusions and organ transplantation if the blood or organs are not screened for HIV or other blood-borne pathogens.


Tuberculosis is an infection caused by bacteria and usually affects the lungs.

For most travellers the risk of tuberculosis is low.

Travellers who may be at high risk while travelling in regions with risk of tuberculosis should discuss pre- and post-travel options with a health care provider.

High-risk travellers include those visiting or working in prisons, refugee camps, homeless shelters, or hospitals, or travellers visiting friends and relatives.

Medical services and facilities

Medical services and facilities

Health facilities are very limited in Addis Ababa and completely inadequate outside the capital. Physicians are generally well trained, but hospital resources remain a constant problem. Shortages of medicine occur. Emergency assistance is limited. In the event of a serious illness or accident, medical evacuation would be necessary. Air ambulance services from any airport in Ethiopia, including Addis Ababa, are very expensive and are available through an often lengthy process resulting in delays.

Health tips

The country is mountainous and high altitudes may cause health problems, including shortness of breath, fatigue, nausea, headaches and inability to sleep.

Keep in Mind...

The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.

Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.

You are subject to local laws. Consult our Arrest and Detention page for more information.

Illegal and/or restricted activities

All illicit drugs are illegal except khat, a local stimulant. Khat is illegal in Canada.

Although weaponry is relatively easy to acquire, it is illegal to carry a firearm in Ethiopia.

It is illegal to own any quantity of ivory, including in jewelry.

Homosexual activity is illegal for both genders, and is punishable by up to 15 years imprisonment.

Laptop computers and video equipment other than for personal use must be declared upon arrival and departure. Some recording devices may require special customs permits. If these items are being used for work, you should contact the Consulate of Ethiopia in Toronto for permission to bring them into the country. Each visitor is only permitted to bring one of each device, such as a laptop, cell phone, projector, etc.

It is strictly prohibited to photograph military installations, police and military personnel, industrial facilities, and government buildings and infrastructure, including roads, bridges, dams and airfields. It is extremely dangerous to stop either on foot or in a vehicle near a restricted area, no matter the reason.

Tourist souvenirs are often copies of Ethiopian antiques or religious paraphernalia. It is important to have a proper receipt that clearly indicates that a purchased item is a souvenir and not authentic, as the exportation of real antiques or religious items is not permitted. Receipts should be carried on your person when travelling. It should be noted, however, that even upon presenting such documents, items purchased for exportation may still be confiscated, no matter how small or seemingly trivial they are.

A local driver's licence is required to drive in Ethiopia. Travellers must present their valid Canadian driver's licence or their International Driving Permit (IDP) to obtain one.

Cultural practices

Ethiopia operates within both the Western and the Julian time and calendar systems. Time is usually measured as a 12-hour day starting at 6 a.m. (e.g. 9 a.m. Western time is referred to as 3 a.m. Julian time).

The Ethiopian highlands are predominantly Orthodox Christian. There is fasting in this region each Wednesday and Friday, and during Lent. Primarily vegetarian dishes are available during this period (except in large hotels).

Always obtain permission from religious authorities before visiting churches.



The currency is the birr (ETB). It is illegal to enter or exit Ethiopia while carrying more than 200 birr. It is also illegal to travel in or out of Ethiopia with more than US$3,000 (or its equivalent in any convertible foreign currency) unless also carrying a bank advice certifying the purchase of the foreign currency or a customs declaration form completed upon entry. Even the provision of such documents may not safeguard you against confiscation of the extra funds, imprisonment or fines. You must declare foreign currencies upon arrival and may be required to present this declaration when applying for an exit visa.

Exchange foreign currency at banks or official foreign exchange offices only, as penalties for exchanging money on the black market range from fines to imprisonment. Official exchange rates are close to black-market rates.

Credit cards are not widely accepted except by large hotels, travel agencies, and a few shops and restaurants in Addis Ababa. Take hard-currency cash or traveller's cheques to Ethiopia. Traveller’s cheques can be cashed at the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia or at any privately owned bank.



Due to below-average rainfall over the last five years, many regions of eastern Africa, including Ethiopia, are currently afflicted by severe drought. You may encounter difficulties travelling overland. Local services and the availability of water and basic food may be affected.

Rainy season

The rainy season normally extends from June to September. Some roads may become impassable during this period due to flooding. Keep informed of regional weather forecasts and plan accordingly.


Ethiopia is located in an active seismic zone. You should know the address and telephone number of the Embassy of Canada in Addis Ababa in the event of an emergency, and make sure that your registration with the Registration of Canadians Abroad is as accurate and complete as possible.

Site issues? Contact Us