Ethiopia

A fascinating country, Ethiopia has one of the richest histories on the African continent. Considered the birthplace of coffee, Ethiopia’s sovereign history has left it loaded with historical treasures. Visitors to Ethiopia are spoiled for choice; from the ancient tombs and obelisks of Axum to grand castles and rundown tanks. With nine UNESCO World Heritage sites, 11 national parks and four sanctuaries, Ethiopia is fast becoming a must-see destination.

When to Visit

The best time to travel to East Africa is during the dry season. East Africa has two dry seasons - December to Feruary/March and June to October. The annual migration of wildebeest and zebra herds takes place year round between the Serengeti (approx. November to June) and the Masai Mara (approx. July to October).

Highlights

LALIBELA Ethiopia is a land of wonder and enchantment with one of the richest histories on the African continent. The eleven rock hewn churches at Lalibela date back to the 12th century.

GONDAR From 1665 to 1864 Gondar served as the capital of the Ethiopian Empire. Visit the Royal Enclosure, with its Portuguese architecture combined with Indian influences, the Bath of Emperor Fasiladas and the church of Debre Birhan Sillassie, famous for its wall and ceiling frescoes.

AXUM The ancient city of Axum is one of Ethiopia’s most intriguing sites. The Axumite Kingdom grew to be a great trading power in the first century and thrived for over one thousand years

LAKE TANA Lake Tana is the source of the Blue Nile and the largest lake in the country with 37 islands. Orthodox Church monasteries, dotted throughout the islands, which date back over 500 years.

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Useful Information

Health

The following information is intended as a guide only and in no way should it be used as a substitute for professional medical advice relative to a travellers individual needs and vaccination history. No guarantee is made as to its accuracy or thoroughness. For further information, please contact The Travel Doctor on (+64) 9 373 3531. Vaccination against hepatitis A is recommended for travellers to Ethiopia. Frequent or long stay travellers should consider vaccination against hepatitis B. Vaccination against rabies (particularly if working with animals) and typhoid (particularly when travelling to areas with poor sanitation and hygiene) should be considered by travellers to Ethiopia. Cholera is reported in Ethiopia but vaccination is generally not recommended. Care with food and beverage selection is far more important. There is a high risk of malaria in Ethiopia and dengue fever also occurs, thus insect avoidance measures and anti malarial medication may be necessary depending on your itinerary. Do not swim in fresh water to avoid exposure to diseases such as schistosomiasis (bilharzia). Yellow fever vaccination is usually required. Please consult a medical practitioner or contact The Travel Doctor for your specific risk to these preventable diseases and the appropriate avoidance measures.

Electricity

Electrical Plug type: Europe Voltage: 220-240 volts Modem: Italy|USA Source: Korjo Travel Products. To purchase electrical/modem adapters, or for further information on this matter, please view the Korjo adapter guide at www.korjo.com.au.

Communications

Country Code for Ethiopia: +251 Official Travel Advice: Visit www.safetravel.govt.nz Emergency Services: 997 Emergency in Addis Abeba: 991 The emergency services may not always have English speaking staff. In this case, you should have a local call on your behalf or contact the New Zealand High Commission

Shopping

Top of your shopping list is likely to be a pack of Ethiopian coffee beans, preferably vacuum sealed to preserve their freshness. Decorative metalwork, in the form of crosses, and painted religious artworks on carved wooden boards are also popular. Filigreed silver and gold jewellery is also a great buy.Other good buys are woven blankets and cloth, 17th century silver Marie Therese Thaler coins, and items bearing the image of Haile Selassie and the distinctive Rastafarian colours.

Tipping

During your visit, there will be many situations in which people expect a tip. Some Ethiopians may indicate that they want one, or even ask for it. In many situations, tipping is not necessary, but there are a few in which it is appropriate.  For drivers and guides a tip is expected, especially if you are hiring them for the whole day or longer.

Getting around

In general the roads in Ethiopia aren't great and bus journeys are bumpy and long. If you don't have a lot of time on your hands, a few domestic flights can really make a difference. If you have less than 2 weeks, certainly take some flights, or you'll be spending the entire time on the road in a bus.

Language

Amharic (official), Oromo, Tigrinya Guaragigna, Somali, Arabic (official), other local languages.

Visa's

Official travel advice regarding visas is available by calling 04 439 8000 or visiting their website www.safetravel.govt.nz

Customs

Greeting takes the form of multiple kisses on both cheeks and a plethora of exchanged pleasantries. Any hint of superiority is treated with contempt. Age is a factor in social behavior, and the elderly are treated with the utmost respect. When an elderly person or guest enters a room, it is customary to stand until that person is seated. Dining etiquette is also important. One must always wash the hands before a meal, since all food is eaten with the hands from a communal dish. It is customary for the guest to initiate eating. During a meal, it is proper form to pull injera only from the space directly in front of oneself. Depleted portions are replaced quickly. During meals, participation in conversation is considered polite; complete attention to the meal is thought to be impolite.

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