Ethiopia can be visited at any time of the year as Lalibela and the historic route is accessible all year round. Generally, though the following times are considered to be the best options to avoid rainy seasons.
The North and North East highlands September to May
The Rift Valley and Lakes End of September to April
The West October to April
The South Omo September to mid-March (avoiding short rains in October)
How to book your tour
1. Complete the booking form attached to your tailor-made tour quotation and return via email or post (see Booking Conditions) 2. Send the arrangement fee as detailed in your personalized quotation. You can pay with Debit/Credit card via PayPal. If you hold a UK bank account, you can pay via Internet Banking or by cheque. Sharyem Tours will send confirm of booking with full details upon receipt of cleared funds. 3. On arrival in Addis Ababa at the office of Sharyem Tours pay the balance as detailed in your personalised quotation. Sharyem Tours in Addis Ababa can accept VISA or CASH (Euros, USD, GBP). Facilities for cashing Travellers Cheques and changing currency are plentiful in Addis Ababa.
Do I need a passport and visa?
Yes. A valid passport with more than six months before expiry is essential. Visas can be arranged with the Ethiopian Embassy in London for those travelling from the UK. If you are a citizen of the UK, you can get a three-month tourist visa upon arrival at Bole International Airport for around US$30. If required, it is possible to get extensions to visas in Addis Ababa at a cost of US$20. They take 24 hours to be processed. For further information go to: www.ethioembassy.org.uk/consular/consular.htm
Why do you need my passport number and nationality?
At Sharyem Tours the safety of our customers whilst touring with us is paramount. In the event of any unforeseen incidents or emergencies that require us to contact the relevant organisation/country representative, we would have the necessary information to hand for them to put any plan in to action quickly and effectively.
What about taking money?
There is no limit to the amount of hard currency you can take into the country and it is advisable to take what you think you will need to cover you comfortably and so you don’t have to go through the complications of getting money sent to you if you run out! US dollars have been the major favourite but the Euro is also very strong now. Outside of the largest towns and in more remote areas US dollars are the best bet for exchange. Whilst it is favourable to have hard currency, travellers’ cheques are still the safest way to take money to Ethiopia.
What injections do I need?
It is advisable to talk to your GP, practice nurse or travel health clinic about any immunisations you may need at least two months before travelling. Immunisation against the following is recommended: Hepatitis A and B, Tetanus, Typhoid and Polio. Remember to discuss Malaria precautions if visiting the South or South-West. Visitors from the UK can find out more information by visiting the immunisation website at www.immunisation.nhs.uk and The National Travel Health Network and Centre website at www.nathnac.org. You may prefer to use homeopathic remedies, if you chose this route, we strongly recommend seeing an experienced, qualified and registered homeopath. Make sure you provide all the information on what conventional medical immunisations have been recommended by your GP, practice nurse or travel health clinic.
What other health precautions do I need to take note of?
Washing your hands thoroughly is important, particularly as local meals are eaten with the hands. There are several products on the market that claim anti-bacterial ‘no water needed’ protection, however, our recommendation is always Hibiscrub, which is available from any pharmacy and is used in hospitals. It is absolutely crucial to take the necessary precautions in the event of planned or unplanned sexual activity. The HIV virus and venereal diseases are widespread in Ethiopia. Condoms and Femidoms offer a high level of protection; spermicides and spermicidal pessaries reduce the risk of transmission. It is advisable to take some needles if you are visiting an extremely remote region where medical supplies are limited. The BA Travel Clinic in Regent Street, London do an emergency malaria kit complete with hypodermic needles. Sun block and insect repellent are vital. These are essentials that you must take with you. There is very little outside of Addis Ababa and what is there is limited and not guaranteed to be available.
What if I get sick?
It is very important to take out suitable travel insurance. The Bradt Guide recommends the ISIS policy, available in Britain through STA Travel. In more general terms, assuming the sickness/injury is not on a ‘fly me home now’ level, then the standard of medical care in the town clinics is high as most of them are private. The cost of medication and tests is far lower than the equivalent treatment in the UK would cost if going private. Most pharmacists in Ethiopia speak good English and can diagnose, negating the need for a doctor or clinic. Should there be a need, the pharmacist will certainly know where the nearest/best clinics are.
Can I drive in Ethiopia?
Yes, as long as you hold an international driving licence, either obtained in the UK prior to departure or by exchanging your local licence at the Transport and Communications office in Addis Ababa. The original licence can be recovered prior to departure. Drivers from the UK should note that the roads in Ethiopia are right-hand traffic, therefore, please remember to drive on the right.
What about charging my electrical goods or camera batteries?
Ethiopia uses 220 volts and 50Hz, therefore it is only necessary to use a two-prong adapter. It is worth remembering too that there are places where electricity is unavailable 24hrs, particularly in the South Omo where private generators are run.
What about taking photographs?
In the more remote regions like the Afar and Omo Valley, you are expected to pay a little money to take photographs of people. In any case, it is is best practise to always ask permission when taking photographs of people. The churches allow photography but are now beginning to insist, and quite rightly so, that flash photography is not used to prevent further damage to artefacts. So, a tripod or monopod is essential in these situations (and worth it as atmospherically the low level lighting is fantastic). Photographs around airports, military camps, bridges and certain government buildings both in Addis Ababa and around the whole country are prohibited altogether and it is not worth taking the risk of losing your camera, film or a day’s travelling, for the sake of a sneaky photograph. These are the possible consequences of ignoring the rules.
Geographically Ethiopia is stunning. The landscape is dominated by the dramatic Ethiopian Highlands with peaks of 4000m or higher. The country is bisected by the Rift Valley, which starts at the Red Sea, to the North East, and continues south to Mozambique in southern Africa.