The sight of a long-distance Olympic athlete taking long, graceful strides towards the finish line is almost as synonymous with Ethiopia as with Kenya.
The stories go that the success of Ethiopian sprinters is attributed to exposure to ‘mountain air’ and a lightweight frame that makes it easier for their bodies to dissipate heat. Super interesting, isn’t it?
There are loads of other uniquely interesting things about Ethiopia, a country in the eastern region of Africa.
You’d be amazed to find out that Ethiopia is one of the few countries in the world that still makes use of their own calendar system. The Ethiopian calendar system has 13 months with the first month of the year being September (a bit tricky aye?).
You should really take note of this when visiting – it will not be too nice to get lost in time.
Ethiopia is also one of the oldest countries in the world and the oldest in Africa. The weather in Ethiopia is hot most part of the year.
This is an opportunity to bust out that tank top and shorts you’ve never found a suitable occasion for. Items that should be in your packed bags should include comfortable shoes, sandals, slippers, shorts, cotton shirts, sunglasses and hats (whichever you like).
Ethiopia is a relatively safe place, with an extremely low crime rate. The only ‘off-limit’ locations are the country’s border areas with Somalia, Kenya and South Sudan due to the civil unrest happening in these parts.
Addis Ababa, the country’s capital, is a very safe place. It is the country’s largest city and the busiest too.
Ethiopia’s currency is Birr. The US dollar and Euro are the most accepted and easily exchanged foreign currencies. One hundred US dollars ($100) is equivalent to 3,200 Ethiopian Birr. For those of us terrible at maths, the calculation is $1 = 32 Birr.
When visiting Ethiopia, a tour guide is not a must though a guide will surely save you considerable stress due to his/her knowledge of the country.
English is the most spoken foreign language in Ethiopia. The country has 50 airports (yes you read that right) with the Addis Ababa Bole International Airport serving as the main airport.
There are numerous airlines travelling to and from Ethiopia. Turkish Airlines, Lufthansa, Gulf Air, Emirates, Qatar Airways, Kenya Airways, flydubai, Saudi Arabia Airlines are among the many airlines that take trips to Ethiopia.
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital, means ‘New Flower’ in the ancient African language of Amharic. It is the capital of Ethiopia and one of its major cities. The city has many historical buildings, beautiful natural attractions and parks.
Fun places to visit and go sightseeing in Ethiopia include:
i. The European Union Peacock Park
ii. The National Museum of Ethiopia
iii. The Bale Mountains National Park
iv. The Danakil Depression
v. The Erta Ale
vi. The Simien Mountains National Park
vii. The Zoological Natural History Museum
viii. Lion Park
ix. Addis Ababa Museum
x. Sheger Park
xi. The Blue Nile
xii. Sof Omar Caves
xiii. The Rift-Valley Lakes
xiv. Church of Saint George in Lalibela and lots of other places.
The cities in Ethiopia can get crowded and a bit rowdy. It is advisable to keep your belongings really close. Also, be wary of carrying handbags or dangling purses.
A fanny pack or something similar would do. Like in most major cities, pickpockets take advantage of the rowdiness. Keep an eye on your pockets.
Like in any other country, there are several hotels in Ethiopia to cater to travellers’ needs. The rates charged by the hotels vary; anything north of $40.
These are the ten most recommended hotels (from least expensive to most expensive) in Ethiopia.
The rates of the hotels’ cheapest rooms can be seen below. Have it in mind these rates are subject to change.
- Home Town Addis Hotel – $37
- Hotel Lobelia – $48
- Yober Hotel – $50
- Geza Apartment Hotel – $55
- Sidra International Hotel – $61
- Swiss Inn Nexus Hotel – $75
- Ramada by Wyndham – $100
- Mado Hotel – $103
- Radisson Blu Hotel – $167
- Golden Tulip – $183
Like other countries, Ethiopia has a wide range of traditional food that you can indulge in.
The most mouthwatering Ethiopian dishes foreigners can try include Kategna, Ethiopian cuisine, Tibs (sautéed meat chunks), Tej (an alcoholic honey beverage), Injera (Ethiopian bread), Shiro de Kibbe (legume stew) and other delicious food.
You sure would want a second serving when you eat an Ethiopian dish! Ethiopians eat mostly with their hands (the right one). In most African cultures, it is considered unclean and unhygienic to eat with the left hand.
This applies to Ethiopia too and you must remember to always wash your hands before and after each meal. Ethiopia alone produces 3% of the coffee in the world. Ethiopian coffee is one of the finest blends you’ll find around. Remember to buy some and brew a cup.
Your journey to Ethiopia won’t be complete until you get a memento to always remind you of your visit. Small-sized arts and crafts like cowhide carpets and local attires would be nice to go back home with.
Salem’s Ethiopia, Go Addis Tours, Addis Mercato, Ura Kidane, St George Gallery and Lalibela Gemstones and Jewellery are the shops to get locally made arts, crafts and native clothes.
Dehininetu yetet’ebek’e guzowochi! (that’s ‘safe trip’ in Amharic, I’m not joking).