We get a lot of requests for information about things to do in Ethiopia, things to see, how much it costs, what shots to get, where to stay, etc. The information below fills in a few of those blanks, now that you have expressed interest in visiting.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?
We always get the question, how much does it cost to stay in Addis? The short answer is that it depends on what you are looking for. Here are some basic guidelines, though.
Airfare: Ranges from $1200 – $2000 per person (roundtrip) depending on time of year. Many flights originate in Dulles, Washington DC, but you also can find flights from other parts of the US. Carriers flying to Addis Ababa include: Ethiopian, Lufthansa, Turkish Airlines, Saudi Arabian Airlines, Qatar Airways, & Emirates…as well as others.
Accommodations: This totally depends on your comfort level. There are many options. You can expect to pay at least $40 per adult per night or more plus food. Many Guesthouses are now in the $80 per night per room and up range.
There are 2 basic options for transportation around Addis. The one option is to take the line taxis (if you are an adventurous traveler and consider Lonely Planet to be your only usual tour guide). Cost for these taxis is very cheap.
The second option is to hire a driver. Many guest houses have drivers they can recommend. Expect to pay close to $75 per day for a driver. For travel outside the city you can expect to pay $150 – $200 for a van and driver for a day.
Food is relatively inexpensive in and around Addis depending on what you want to eat and where you want to eat it. If you like Ethiopian food, there are plenty of places to eat on less than $4 – $5 for a meal (that easily could feed 2 people). If you would like to stick to a more Ferenj diet and eat at some of the more Foreigner friendly places, expect to pay about $8 – $10 US for a nice meal.
Talk to your local travel clinic, but the typical recommendations for travel to Ethiopia are: Yellow Fever, Typhoid, Polio, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Meningitis and an updated Tetanus shot. We recommend that you consider the full CDC recommendations http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/ethiopia.htm . It is also recommended that you bring Cipro in case you get TD while here. If you are not going to be traveling outside of Addis, then there is no need for Malaria prophylaxis, but you will need it most anywhere outside of Addis since mosquitos do carry Malaria in those places.
If you are just coming to Ethiopia as a tourist for a visit, we recommend a tourist visa, which recently became available online. Visit www.evisa.gov.et for more information. You will need to make sure your passport is good for at least 6 months. Because visas regulations change, we recommend you visit the website of the Ethiopian Embassy in Washington DC at www.ethiopianembassy.org for more up to date information.
If you are coming to volunteer, and not simply visit, we require you to come on a business visa, which must be arranged with much advanced notice in coordination with our staff in Ethiopia. Since the visa situation is changing often, you can get more info on Business visas through the Ethiopian Embassy in Washington DC at www.ethiopianembassy.org.
Because there can be ongoing changes to the security situation as well as what items you are permitted to take from Ethiopia, we advise you to make yourself aware of the current rules as well as any travel advisories that may have been posted by going to www.travel.state.gov and searching for Ethiopia. We also recommend that you register with the US Embassy in Addis Ababa.
If you are going to travel the whole way to Ethiopia, then you should take some time to see some of the richest culture and history that you may have ever seen. You can see everything from tribes in the Omo Valley to an active volcano in the Afar region to the 2,000 year old Stelae of Axum to the 12th Century rock hewn churches of Lalibela to the castles of the 16th century in Gonder to the 14th century monasteries on Lake Tana near Bahir Dar. There also are relaxing glimpses of paradise in places like Bahir Dar or Lake Awassa or Lake Tana or Lake Langano. And, of course there are the beautiful countrysides in any direction out of Addis which can keep you thrilled for days. And, since Addis is a city of 5.5 million, there are a number historical things to take in here in the city, too – especially some of the beautiful Ethiopian Orthodox churches.
You can fly many of these places, but if you are on a budget then there are other options. If you want to go to the Omo Valley, you’ll need a tour guide. However, many of the other destinations can be reached by public transport out of Addis. It is very reasonably priced, but it does leave at inconvenient times like 5 am! Our favorite way to travel is on Selam Bus. They are reasonably priced, but you travel on a bus that is more like a budget Coach bus. They travel to Gonder, Bahir Dar, Axum, Lalibela, Harar, Jimma, and many other places. Their website is www.selambus.com .
Since we have 2 rainy seasons here in Ethiopia, there are times that are better than others to travel here. From late June through early September it can rain most every day. It typically doesn’t rain all day, but especially in the end of August it feels like it rains a lot. This can make things pretty muddy and a bit of a challenge to get to some of the outlying areas. However, most roads remain passable in Addis. One of the best times to travel here is mid September (right after the rainy season) since everything is lush and green and the rivers are full of water. If you time it right you also can take in the Ethiopian New Year on September 11th or Meskel celebrations on September 27th.
We hope to see you in Ethiopia, soon!