How to Get to Ethiopia
There is no direct air connection between Russia and Ethiopia, you will have to get there with a transfer. The best fares are from Turkish Airlines with a connection in Istanbul and Emirates flying via Dubai. In any case, you will have to spend at least 10 hours on the road, taking into account the transfer.
A Lufthansa flight with a connection in Frankfurt is more expensive, and the connection is not very convenient. Another option is to get to London, Brussels, Frankfurt, Rome or Paris on the wings of national carriers, and from there fly with Ethiopian Airlines. The advantage of this option is the ability to arrive directly not only in Addis Ababa, but also in a dozen other cities in the country. According to petwithsupplies, Addis Ababa is one of the largest cities in Ethiopia.
To visit Ethiopia, Russian citizens will need a visa, which can be obtained upon arrival at the Addis Ababa Bole airport or in advance at the consular department of the Ethiopian Embassy in Moscow. In addition, you should purchase travel medical insurance in advance, without which traveling around Africa is simply unreasonable.
Ethiopia’s main customs restrictions relate to the import and export of foreign and national currencies. The import and export of no more than 10 ETB is allowed (in fact, only as a souvenir banknote or coin). Cash foreign currency can be imported in any quantity, but it must be declared upon entry. Jewelry made of gold and platinum is also subject to mandatory declaration.
The import of weapons, drugs, pornography is prohibited. Ivory, horns and skins of wild animals, as well as gold, diamonds and coffee beans cannot be exported from Ethiopia without documents confirming the legality of their acquisition.
Lalibela is the ancient capital of Ethiopia, remarkable primarily for its twelve 12th-century rock-cut churches that are still in operation today.
The choice of hotels in Ethiopia is very, very wide, and the lion’s share is represented by cheap and moderately expensive hotels by local standards with a basic set of services. And in general, accommodation prices in the country can hardly be called high: a single room in a decent hotel will cost 50-70 ETB, a double room – 80-100 ETB. You can, however, stay in hotels of international chains “for rich foreigners”, as well as in no less expensive, but superbly decorated private guest houses. The best hotels in Addis Ababa are the Hilton, Sheraton and the state Gion with a European list of services and excellent service.
In hotels outside the capital, it is recommended to bargain fiercely: the price tag for locals and for foreigners there sometimes differs by 20 (!) Times.
The country’s monetary unit is the Ethiopian birr (ETB), in 1 birr there are 100 cents. Current exchange rate: 1 ETB = 1.11 RUB (1 USD = 51.71 ETB, 1 EUR = 54.4 ETB).
The national currency is the Ethiopian birr. You can exchange dollars or euros for local money at banks and hotel receptions, as well as in private shops and on the streets, but the last two options are only applicable to small amounts in case of urgent need. They are more willing to exchange dollars. Credit cards are accepted only in high-level hotels, airline offices and large supermarkets. ATMs are also far from everywhere: outside of Addis Ababa, you need to rely solely on cash.
Official rules state that you can exchange dollars or euros for Ethiopian birrs upon presentation of a customs declaration within 3 months from the date of entry. Receipts for exchanging currency for birr must be kept: a reverse exchange is possible only at the airport before departure upon presentation of this receipt. You can convert the amount minus 30 USD for each day of stay in the country.
We recommend changing the currency in the country as needed, since in practice it is really possible to carry out a reverse exchange in the amount of no more than 100 ETB.
Useful phone numbers
Russian Embassy in Addis Ababa: Yeka Kifle Ketema, Kebele 08, Comoros Street; tel. +251 11 661-20-60, 661-18-28, 661-20-54 (consular department).
Embassy of Ethiopia in Moscow: Orlovo-Davydovsky per., 6; tel. +7 495 680-16-16, 680-16-76.
In general, Ethiopia is a safe country for tourists. In large cities and on popular tourist routes, they are practically not threatened. At the same time, of course, no one canceled the usual precautions: you should not leave things unattended and carry large sums of money with you. But in the eastern regions of the country, bordering on Somalia, it is better not to go: armed attacks by Somali separatists are not uncommon there.
It is recommended to drink bottled water, and in a cafe to order pre-chilled drinks without ice cubes. When visiting churches and monasteries, you must follow the standard Orthodox “dress code”, and take off your shoes when entering an Ethiopian house. People can only be photographed with their permission. It is better for male tourists not to engage in conversation with single women. Finally, young Ethiopians begging for money should be calmly but firmly driven away.
An authentic souvenir from Ethiopia will be a woven straw basket with a pointed lid – it serves both for carrying things and food, and as a table, and as a chest.
The most common form of transport in Ethiopia is buses and minibuses. Buses for short distances depart as soon as all the seats are filled – as a rule, this happens once every half an hour or an hour, so there is no clear schedule. “Truckers” usually start early in the morning – at 6:00-7:00 (or 12:00-13:00 local time). Bus stations usually open at 5:00. Standing on Ethiopian buses is not allowed. The approximate cost of the trip is about 30 ETB for every 100 km.
Private mini-buses also run on popular routes. They are more expensive, but depart more often, and their cabins are more comfortable. In addition, unlike large buses, “mini” go after sunset.
In Ethiopian cities, they travel by minibuses, the trip on which costs 1 ETB, taxis and auto rickshaws “bagage” (2 ETB per person or about 10 ETB if you want to be the only passenger).
The only railway line connects the city of Dire Dawa with the capital of Djibouti (departures 3 times a week). Domestic flights of Ethiopian Airlines connect the major cities of the country. Tickets cost about 60-100 USD, you need to book them in advance. Buying an air ticket on the spot at an airline office or ticket office will be almost three times cheaper than on the Internet.
Rent a Car
Fans of renting a car and driving around the mountains and valleys on their own in Ethiopia are in for a pleasant surprise: an abundance of international and local rental agencies, reasonable prices and a high level of road safety. In addition, most cities of interest to tourists are connected either by high-speed highways or good quality federal roads. It is most convenient to rent a car with a driver – especially since it will cost a little more. Economy car rental with driver will cost 600-900 ETB per day. When making a rental, it will never be superfluous to make sure that the driver has a license to transport tourists and insurance for the car.