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Travel guide to Ethiopia

Passports
Your passport must be valid for 6 months after your return date and have two blank facing pages. If you do not have this, you will be denied boarding at your departure airport. Soiled, damaged or defaced passports will not be accepted.
Visas
British, European & USA citizens require a visa, but this can be purchased at the airport on arrival (approx $50 pp). 2 passport photos are required.
Health
Malaria tablets are recommended. A yellow fever certificate is also required and must be carried with you, as it may be requested at point of entry. As tsetse fly and dengue fever are present, a good insect repellent and anti-histamine are advised. The mosquito that spreads dengue bites during the day and is more common in urban areas. Tsetse fly lives around cattle. You should be up to date with your primary courses and boosters. Always check with your doctor at least 8 weeks before travel for any other inoculations recommended (eg Hepatitis A+B, Cholera, Diphtheria, Typhoid, Polio, Meningococcal Meningitis, Rabies and TB.
Currency
Ethiopian Birr (ETB) - You can exchange currency at Addis Ababa airport on arrival, but you will not be able to exchange any surplus currency afterwards. Remember to ask for small denominations, which are useful for tipping
Language
Amharic is the official language, but English is widely spoken
Time Zone
GMT + 3hrs
Travel Tips
To ensure that you have the best possible holiday experience, we ask you to read the following information carefully. If you have any questions, please discuss them with us before you depart. 
 
Cash – it is essential to take foreign currency in small denominations, and only exchange the amount you are likely to use, as you will not be able to change any surplus back into hard currency. 
 
Hand Luggage – pack essential items for a day or two in your hand luggage, in case your bags go astray and take a few days to catch up with you, especially if you have any tight connecting flights. 
 
Baggage – if you are flying on a light aircraft, your luggage must be packed in soft sports bags, usually restricted to 15 kg. Rigid suitcases will not fit into the luggage pods and will be left behind. 
 
Documents – take a copy of your travel insurance policy with you, and leave a copy of your passport with a reliable contact at home, in case the originals are lost or stolen. 
 
Electronic Devices – ensure these are all fully charge before travel, as you may be required to switch them on at airport security. Any device that does not switch on cannot be checked in and must be surrendered. 
 
Mobile Phones – make sure they are set up for international calls and turn off data roaming to avoid nasty bills. Some hotels offer free Wi-Fi but be aware that many rural regions may not have cell phone coverage. 
 
Credit Cards – remember to inform your bank when travelling abroad. Credit cards are not widely accepted outside Addis Ababa, so ensure you have cash when travelling in the countryside. 
 
Clothing – pack in layers according to the season. Take a day pack, good walking shoes, T-shirts, shorts, jeans, sunhat, swimming costume, sunglasses, sunscreen & flip flops. Also long sleeved tops or pashmina to cover your shoulders, fleece for higher altitudes & jacket for winter. Rain gear is needed during the wet season. Sanitising hand cleaner/wet wipes and eye drops can be handy, especially if you wear contact lenses & a 'shewee' is invaluable for ladies in the bush. On safari wear lightweight but long sleeved shirts and long trousers to protect against mosquitos (safari clothing is ideal for this). Neutral colours are best – khaki, green & brown. Avoid white & bright colours, as these increase your visibility to the animals, and black which can get very hot. Take a generous supply of insect repellent to spray on your neck, wrists and ankles and avoid using perfume, as this attracts insects.  
 
Accessories – pack your phone (with charger and a spare battery pack), camera (with spare memory cards and batteries – a 200 mm zoom lens is good for wildlife photography), torch and binoculars (large 8x40 is best). If you are a keen birder we suggest one pair per person, as it can be frustrating to share. 
 
Plastic Bags - please note that thin plastic bags, including duty free bags, bin liners & dry cleaning bags, are now banned in Ethiopia for enviromental reasons. You will need to surrender any in your possession on your arrival. Only durable 'bags for life', paper bags, cloth & woven bags are permitted. 
 
Plugs - type C (European 2-prong) and F. 
 
Books – pack a good travel guide, with information on the wildlife and birds of the region. Also a good supply of reading material for quiet evenings and when waiting for flights. 
 
Water – be fastidious and only drink bottled water. Avoid washed salads, local yoghurt, ice cream and ice cubes outside your hotel, as tap water is not safe to drink. Peel all fruit before eating it and remember to brush your teeth with bottled water. Pack diarrhoea tablets and rehydration sachets for emergencies. 
 
Food – Ethiopian food consists of vegetables and spicy meat dishes, often served as a stew. Vegetarians are likely to find the menu rather monotonous outside the main towns. 
 
Taxis – in cities only use regulated taxis, which are best ordered through your hotel. 
 
Self-Drive – driving is on the right, although we do not recommend self-driving in Ethiopia. 
 
Respect Local Customs - most women dress conservatively in long trousers or long skirts, although jeans are worn in the cities. Ensure your shoulders are covered when away from your hotel. 
 
Safety – as this is a third-world country, take all sensible precautions. Leave valuable jewellery/watches at home, wear a money belt and be alert when outside your hotel. In particular, avoid taking out large wads of cash in public view and keep your spare cash in your hotel safe. 
 
Wild Animals – attacks by wild animals are rare, but we cannot guarantee that attacks will not occur so observe all sensible precautions. We cannot be held responsible for injuries caused during an incident with a wild animal. 
 
Indemnities - please be aware it is likely you will be required to sign indemnities for safaris and any other potentially hazardous activities. 
 
Pack for a Purpose - if you have a little space in your suitcase, local schools & communities always appreciate gifts of English reading books, pens & pencils, stationery, deflated footballs etc. Specific requests from communities can be seen on the 'Pack for a Purpose' website. 
 
Tipping – this is voluntary and should depend on the level of service received. We suggest the following USD (or local currency equivalent) per couple/family, but this can be reduced for longer stays: 
- overland driver/guide: $15 per day 
- city guide: $15 per day ($8 for half day) 
- game ranger/tracker: $7/$3 per game drive 
- photographs in local villages: $1 
- tipping box for hotel staff: $5 per day 
- waiters: 10% if not already added to your bill 
- porters: $1 per bag. 
 
Your Safety - consult the UK Foreign Office website for the latest travel advice www.fco.gov.uk.
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