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Traveling to Ethiopia

Important Things to Know Before Traveling to Ethiopia

Ethiopia can seem like an exotic, under-the-radar travel destination, but in reality, there are a lot of reasons you might want to put it on your travel bucket list. So, if you’re planning to take this adventure, there are some things to know before traveling to Ethiopia.


Some Information About Traveling to Ethiopia

Ethiopia is officially known as the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. It’s in the northeastern part of Africa, better known as the Horn of Africa.


Border countries to Ethiopia include Eritrea, Djibouti, Somaliland, and Somalia, as well as Kenya. To the west and northwest are Sedan and South Sedan. 


Ethiopia has a population of more than 100 million, making it the most populated landlocked country in the world. So, from dealing with the Ethiopian visa application form, to what to see when you’re there, the following are the top things to know about traveling to this African country. 

Baboon in Ethiopia
Baboon in Ethiopia

Important Things to Know Before Traveling to Ethiopia

Visas You Will Need to Travel to Ethiopia

If you want to get a visa to Ethiopia, you can do so online. There is a secure-only form that can be processed typically within 24 hours. You don’t have to visit the embassy or consulate to obtain a visa, and in order to do this process, you’ll need a passport, a credit or debit card, and a valid email address. 


To enter Ethiopia, you must have a passport that will be valid for six months from the date you’re planning to enter the country, and visas are required by all nationals aside from people who are nationals of Kenya and Djibouti. 


Visitors from 36 countries can also receive their tourist visa when they arrive at Addis Ababa Bole International Airport, including visitors from the U.S. 


Why Should You Travel to Ethiopia?

There are a lot of reasons to visit Ethiopia. One reason many people decide to go there is that it’s home to 9 UNESCO World Heritage Sites


Traveling to Ethiopia
Ethiopian desert

The capital and also where you’ll fly into is Addis Ababa, and it’s a place you’ll want to make some time for on your trip. Addis Ababa is unique because you can see remnants of the Italian occupation of the city.


For example, in the Piazza, there are cafes where you’ll find Italian coffee being served.


There’s the juxtaposition of this with the Merkato, which is the main market and provides the highlights of African commerce in action. 


The Natural Scenic Beauty Of Ethiopia is Drawing Attention

There is a lot of natural beauty to see in Ethiopia, in addition to the culture and the World Heritage Sites. For example, the county is home to mountains, lakes, and lush green areas, as well as dry plains.


The country is home to 70% of all the mountains found on the continent of Africa including the Semien Mountains. 

Desert Ethiopia
Desert in Ethiopia

Another scenically beautiful must-see in Ethiopia is Blue Nile Files. It’s in the northern part of the country, and it’s one of the most stunning falls in all of Africa. The falls creates smoke where it drops, and the Blue Nile River is a tributary source to the Nile. 


The Food and Drink of Ethiopia

Ethiopia has wonderful food and drink. It’s known as one of the best places in the world for coffee, and much of the culture of the country involves coffee ceremonies. The coffee ceremonies are social gatherings with a long history. 


Ethiopian food is incredibly flavorful, unique, and varied. You’ll find everything from raw meat to many vegetable dishes, and a lot of meals are served on platters with sharing encouraged. 


Safety Measures to Take When Traveling in Ethiopia

Traveling in Ethiopia is considered fairly safe, but some precautions need to be taken as is true with most of the world’s poorer countries. For example, you should avoid border areas, including the areas of Ethiopia that border Kenya, Sudan, and Somalia. 


In major towns including Addis Ababa, it’s best not to walk alone at night, and you shouldn’t carry a lot of cash or wear jewelry, although the same can be said for most areas of the world. 


Getting Around in Ethiopia

Once you’re in the country, there is a domestic airline service on Ethiopian Airlines. You can fly between destinations including Axum and Bahr Dar instead of having to go back to Addis Ababa to get a connection. There are also busses throughout the country that cover main towns.

Young African girl
A girl in Ethiopia

One Ethiopian bus service is operated by the government, so it’s possible to book a seat instead of just hoping to get there first. Once you’re traveling around within cities and towns, there are buses and taxis. 


Finally, Ethiopia is a good destination for an organized tour. You can do tours focused on the history of the country, or you can go with something more adventurous such as rafting and trekking. 


Before you start packing your bags, make sure you take note of these important things to know before traveling to Ethiopia. You can have an incredible adventure if you are prepared, know how to be safe, get around, and have a plan. If you’re looking for more travel tips, be sure to subscribe so you never miss a post!

Christa Thompson

Christa Thompson is the Founder and Chief Editor of The Fairytale Traveler. She started traveling the world in 2003 when she attended a summer abroad study at the University of Cambridge in England. Since then, her wanderlust has been fierce. Her three passions in life are her son, traveling, and being creative. The Fairytale Traveler brand gives Christa the opportunity to do all of these things and to live intentionally every day. "It's never too late to believe in what you love and to pursue your dreams." -Christa Thompson

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