Ethiopia has one of the most unique and best preserved cultures in the world.
The only country on the African continent to have never been colonized, Ethiopia has maintained much of its traditional food, music, dance, and history. Food-wise, the country is famous for injera, a sourdough flatbread made of teff, a super grain grown in Ethiopia. Served with shiro (powdered chickpea stew) and tibs (fried pieces of meat) along with other delicious stews, Ethiopian cuisine is known around the world.
Once you’ve grabbed your meal, pay a visit to one of Ethiopia’s many tourist destinations. The most popular, Lalibela, is a UNESCO site of underground rock-hewn churches from the 12th century. The site in the northern part of the country is a fascinating place to find out about Ethiopia’s ancient history and observe the reverence of modern Orthodox Christianity.
If outdoor adventures are your thing, head to the Simien Mountains or Bale Mountains National Park for a multi-day trek in the varied Ethiopian landscape. Or visit to the Omo Valley where natural attractions meet the unique culture and way of living of more than 200,000 tribal people.
Finally, capital city Addis Ababa is the centre of the African Union, and home to upscale hotels, restaurants, the continent’s largest outdoor market, and sub-Saharan Africa’s very first light rail system.
While there’s a lot to do in Ethiopia, the country has yet to reach its tourism peak. That means many attractions and cities are still calm and peaceful – a treat to any traveller.
The Public Health Agency (PHA) recommends travellers seek guidance from a travel health clinic at least six weeks prior to departure. The following vaccines are recommended by the PHAC and World Health Organization:
- Typhoid Fever: The vaccination is recommended for travellers to Ethiopia. The illness is caused by consuming food or drink that has come into contact with fecal matter.
- Hepatitis A: This virus spreads to humans through contaminated food and water or contact with an infected person.
- Hepatitis B: Ethiopia has a childhood immunization program against this contagious liver disease. It is contracted through the exchange of bodily fluids or contact with contaminated needles or piercing tools.
- Polio: Despite its elimination from most regions, Ethiopia does remain at risk of transmission for the disease.
- Meningitis: There is a Meningitis belt that extends across Africa, and includes Ethiopia. It is recommended that all travellers to Ethiopia have their meningococcal vaccination.
- Rabies: This vaccine is recommended for those who may be spending a lot of time outdoors, especially those trekking in Ethiopia’s Simien Mountains. In those areas travellers are likely to come in close contact with baboons and other animals that could be infected.
- Yellow Fever: There is a risk of contracting Yellow Fever in Ethiopia, and proof of documentation is needed if you’re coming from or transiting through a country where the disease is present.
Though mosquitos infected with Malaria are found in Ethiopia, many major tourist destinations are safe given their high elevation. An anti-malarial regime is recommended for areas lower than 2,500 metres and in the west of the country. Excluded regions include Afar, Dire Dawa, and Somali.
Health services aren’t the best in Ethiopia, even in the capital city of Addis Ababa. Purchasing travel health insurance is always recommended, especially in case travellers require evacuation from the country in order to receive treatment.
For more details on any of the above vaccinations, visit out detailed vaccination pages or make an appointment with your International Health Passport Specialist. Call +39 392 0056499 or book online to set your appointment today.
Ethiopia’s climate differs dramatically based on the part of the country you’re visiting. Here’s what to expect in a few key destinations:
- Addis Ababa: At 2,355 metres, Ethiopia’s capital is the third-highest in the world. Its elevation means temperatures are quite liveable, though the city can get chilly. During the dry season from October to May, temperatures hover consistently in the 15º Celsius to 19º Celsius range, though the mercury will regularly enter the 20’s in the middle of the day. The summer months are actually colder in Addis Ababa due to the rainy season. Temperatures throughout the year can dip as low as freezing at the night.
- Simien Mountains: The Simien Mountains National Park is the most popular trekking area in Ethiopia. The average daily temperature during the dry season is 18º Celsius, though conditions can get much warmer or colder based on whether it’s a sunny day. Conditions are changeable in the mountains, so ensure you have a rain jacket, hat, and gloves for colder days and evenings. Visiting during June, July, and August is not recommended due to heavy rainfall.
- Lalibela: Lalibela has a temperate climate. The warmest month is June, when temperatures reach around 18º Celsius. November is considered the coldest month, with an average low of 14º Celsius. Like the above destinations, Lalibela is affected by its elevation. During June and July the rainy season can cause flooding in the famous church complexes.
- Arba Minch: This lakeside city in the south of Ethiopia is much warmer than its northern counterparts. March is the warmest month of the year with highs reaching nearly 30º Celsius. The average low is 20º Celsius in July. Unlike the northern part of the country, the rainiest period in Arba Minch is April to May.
The rainy season in most of Ethiopia extends from June until September each year.
Addis Ababa is a relatively safe capital city when compared to others in sub-Saharan Africa. Muggings and armed assaults do happen, though pickpocketing and crimes of opportunity are more likely, especially in neighbourhoods such as the Piazza, Bole, and Merkato, the largest outdoor market in Africa. Travellers should watch their belongings during the day and avoid walking alone at night. In recent years there have been small explosions around Addis Ababa, including in the Bole neighbourhood popular with tourists.
Road travel in Ethiopia is considered safe during the day, though highways between cities may be in poor condition. Beggars frequently approach tourists in cars and on the street. It is illegal to give money to someone who approaches a car stopped during traffic.
The Italian Government has issued a number of advisories for regions of Ethiopia. These include areas within 10 kilometres of the borders with Eritrea, Sudan, South Sudan, Kenya, and Somalia. A popular tourist destination, the Danakil Depression, falls under this advisory.
Here are some essential items you should bring to Ethiopia:
- Wet wipes: While always a handy item to carry when travelling, wet wipes are especially valuable in Ethiopia. Ethiopian food is eaten with your right hand, and there may not always be a sink where you can wash before and after the meal.
- Warm clothes: Despite being close to the equator, many popular destinations in Ethiopia are at altitude, meaning temperatures will be cooler during the day and could become cold at night.
- Iron or protein supplements: The prevalent religion in Ethiopia is Orthodox Christianity, and several months out of the year are deemed fasting days. That means it can be more difficult to find meat or animal products, especially in rural areas. Bring supplements to ensure you have the energy levels needed for your travels.
- Moisturizing lotion: Did you know that during the dry season a huge swath of Ethiopia becomes a desert? The climate in places like Lalibela and Gondar is very dry. Combined with the sun, your skin will be begging for moisture.
- Copies of important documents: Though not always required at immigration, it is suggested that Canadian travellers bring a number of documents if they plan to apply for a visa on arrival. See the entry requirements section for more details.
All Italians visiting Ethiopia should inform the Embassy of Italy in Ethiopia before departure. This will inform the office of your travel plans within the country and will allow them to reach out to you in the case of an emergency or evacuation. If you plan to purchase a local SIM card you can also enter your phone number to receive SMS updates from the office.
The Italian Embassy in Addis Abeba
Kebena’ – P. O. Box 1105
Addis Abeba - ETIOPIA
Tel +251 11 - 1235684 r.a.
Visit the Italian Embassy website prior to your departure.
Italian travellers need a tourist visa to enter Ethiopia. Month-long tourist visas can be gotten on arrival at the Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa, though travellers should carry with them all potential documentation that may be requested by immigration officials. This includes proof of a return or ongoing airline ticket, itinerary while in the country, passport copy, extra passport photos, and a completed visa application form. The visa on arrival costs $50 USD and must be paid in cash. Italian passports must be valid for at least six months.
Always check the expiry date of your visa, as immigration officials are stern about overstays in the country.
If you have any questions about travelling to Ethiopia or are wondering what shots you may need for your trip, call us at book online to schedule an appointment with your international Health Passport Specialist today.or