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.
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.
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.
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.
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.