Ethiopia Holidays

Until recently, Ethiopia has appeared a mysterious country, labelled as a no-go zone because of famine and poverty. Look behind preconceptions, however, and you’ll find a verdant nation of dramatic flat-topped mountains, lazy rivers, waterfalls, lakes and shy yet friendly, religious locals.

From the rugged peaks of the Simien mountains to Lalibela’s extraordinary rock-hewn churches containing stunning frescoes in the north, this is a country of unique, breathtaking scenery and hidden cultural markers.

Resting on a plateau at 2500 metres, nestled between Somalia, Kenya and Sudan, the views throughout Ethiopia are outstanding. Journeys may be long, but they are incredibly scenic: no-where else in the world can compare. Here you can travel by mule to a church at 4000 metres altitude, visit the sacred palace of the Queen of Sheba and explore magnificent granite tombs hidden underground.

Far away from the wild long-haired baboons with vampire-like teeth living in the mountains, one place to really watch local life go by is the Addis Ababa’s Merkato – the largest market in Eastern Africa.

Visitors to Ethiopia will arrive looking for a new adventure, and will leave feeling like they have discovered another world.

Please note that all our group tours are scheduled to be led by our award-winning guide Dario Ghirlanda who won the Bronze Award in the prestigious 2013 Wanderlust Guide Awards.

Ethiopia in 60 seconds!


Ethiopia reviews

Quotation Mark

The cultural diversity and stunning scenery of Ethiopia make it a great place to visit......

John Ibbotson


Talk to us about Ethiopia
Nigel

Wear slip on shoes - you're not allowed to wear them in the churches so you'll be taking them off a lot.

Jonny
Jonny

When visiting the Simien Mountains, take binoculars - they're great for spotting Ibex and Gelada baboons.

Lulu
Lulu

The cuisine of Ethiopia is underrated, but the coffee as most people know is out of this world.

Peter

Limalimo Lodge is a wonderful property in the Simien Mountains with outstanding views.

Speak to one of our team on +44 (0)20 8741 7390 or use the simple online form below

A member of the team will be in touch shortly.

Travel Tips

• Take a torch to Lalibela - you'll need it for the churches.

• Wear slip on shoes - as you're not allowed to wear them in the churches you'll be taking them off a lot.

• If you like a bit of nightlife, check out one of the jazz bars in Addis.

• When visiting the Simien Mountains, take binoculars - they're great for spotting Ibex and Gelada baboons.

• And in the Omo Valley take plenty of small change - locals charge to have their picture taken.

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Practical Info

Time: The Julian calendar is used in Ethiopia and their current year is 7 years behind us. Christmas is celebrated on 7th January and New Year on 11th September. Some Ethiopians set their clocks from dawn to dusk and there is a six-hour difference between Ethiopian time and Western time.

Ethiopia is 3 hours ahead of GMT. A useful website to check the time zone differences is [http://www.worldtimezone.com | www.worldtimezone.com]

Food and Alcohol: The Ethiopian Highlands are predominantly Orthodox Christian with ‘fasting’ each Wednesday, Friday and during Lent when only vegetarian dishes are available. The main hotels do not worry about this and therefore it should not be something that affects you.

As far as alcohol is concerned everything is available but the quality is sometimes questionable. For a decent spirits it’s probably best to buy duty free. Beer is very good and wine – of a reasonable quality – is available, but will need to be carried in the vehicle.

Electricity: Those bringing video & digital cameras that require battery chargers should also bring a 3 pin (round), ‘Swiss’ style adapter. In the Ethiopia they use 220v. In most hotels you can charge from the mains using a travel adaptor plug, but electricity supplies can be erratic.

Money: In Ethiopia the official unit of currency is the Birr.
To check out the latest exchange rate for the places that you are visiting you can go to [http://www.oanda.com | www.oanda.com]

A few points to help you plan: • Only the few large hotels and banks accept credit cards and Travellers Cheques so they are basically useless. • It is strongly recommended you travel with US dollars, Euros or Sterling in cash.
• It is useful to bring lots of small denomination notes. • By keeping the receipt you get when you change money in Addis you can change back any spare currency prior to departure.

Language & Religion: Ethiopia has 83 different languages with up to 200 different dialects spoken. The largest ethnic and linguistic groups are the Oromos, Amharas and Tigrayans. Amharic is the official national language of Ethiopia. English, Arabic, Italian and French are widely spoken by many Ethiopians.

The main religions in Ethiopia are Christianity, Islam, Judaism and Paganism. Ethiopia is a predominantly Christian country and the majority of Christians are Orthodox Tewahedo Christians.

Cultural Sensitivity: At Wild Frontiers we are very aware of the ethical impact tourism can have on ancient cultures. We realise that taking a group of tourists through such a region can have a negative impact on the lives of those who live there and on all our tours we go to great lengths to minimise the negative and accentuate the positive…after all, there are also many good things that the tourist can bring.

To help this process we ask that our clients do not hand out pens or sweets to children. As one sign in Egypt emphatically put it, ‘Please don't make beggars out of our children!' No matter how well intentioned, in our opinion the dolling out of free gifts fosters a ‘beggar mentality' that is ultimately extremely destructive to a society. In addition we do not condone giving out money to beggars or ‘students'.

However, we also realise that we are exceptionally privileged to be travelling in areas where most of the people have far less than us and that the desire to ‘help' can be very powerful. As a result we ask that you refer to the Wild Frontiers Foundation which supports specific projects in the areas where we travel.

Photography: Please remember, we are guests in Ethiopia and we may sometimes inadvertently cause offence by taking photographs without first asking permission. Many countries have very strict rules about taking photos of army, police or any official personnel; restrictions apply at borders, bridges and any government building. Please exercise care in this regard as the penalty is often confiscation.

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When To Go

The weather in Ethiopia, at least in terms of the heat, is fairly consistent all year round. The only real change is in rainfall and as all our trips go between the end of the long rains (September) and the beginning of the short ones (April) this should not be a problem. During the day the temperature hovers around the mid 20’s, falling to an overnight low of 6-8 degrees (and perhaps even colder in the mountains).

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Flight Information

The flight time from London Heathrow to Addis Ababa is 7:45hrs direct with either Ethiopian Airlines and BMI.

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