Ethiopia’s currency is the birr and there are one, five, 10, 50 and 100 birr notes. The Birrone note is slowly being replaced by the Birr one coin. The birr is divided into 100 cents and there are 5, 10, 25 and 50 cent coins. In December 2020 exchange rates were roughly US$1=birr 38.3238,€1=birr 45.9155 and £1=birr 0.520455
As with many African countries the US dollar is the preferred foreign currency in Ethiopia although the euro is also very easy to exchange.
You can change money in either at banks or hotels, and you will also find an ever-growing network of ATMs in larger towns, your guide can assist you with this.
Mastercard and Visa are direct payment is generally limited to upmarket hotels and restaurants.
Visa’s regulations can change so we recommend that you check with the Embassy of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. At present all visitors to Ethiopia require visas. You can secure your tourist visa either online at https://www.evisa.gov.et/client or on arrival at Bole International Airport.
Electricity in Ethiopia is 220V, with a frequency of 50hz. Plug standards varymost common types are the Type C (European 2-pin) below or Type L (Italian 3-pin).
Some 70 languages are spoken in Ethiopia, however Amharinga (Amharic) is the country’s official language. Oromifa and English are most widely spoken.
The main religions are Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity, Islam and Protestant Christianity.
Ethiopia’s climate varies widely from the peaks of the Bale Mountains, with its periodic snowfall, to the Danakil Desert with regular day time temperature of over 50°C.
High Season (Jan–Mar)
- Expect sunny skies and warm days.
- Good for wildlife watching and Ethiopia’s most colourful festivals, including Timkat and Leddet.
Shoulder Season (Oct–Dec)
- The country is green, skies are sunny, trekking is great and there are fewer visitors.
- Wildflowers bloom in October and birds arrive en masse in November.
- December is excellent for the Danakil Depression.
Low Season (Apr–Sep)
- The rainy season in southern Ethiopia with scorching hot temperatures in the lowlands.
- Visibility is often poor with overcast conditions and seeing wildlife is a challenge.
- Elsewhere it’s uncomfortable rather than impossible to get around.
Health & Vaccinations
The World Health Organization (www.who.int) recommends that all travellers are covered for diphtheria, tetanus, measles, mumps, rubella and polio, as well as for hepatitis B, regardless of their destination. Proof of yellow-fever vaccination is mandatory for travel to Ethiopia. Depending on where you’re travelling from, a cholera vaccination may also be required.
It’s also a good idea to consult your government’s travel health website before departure, if one is available.
Other websites of general interest:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (www.cdc.gov)
Fit for Travel (www.fitfortravel.scot.nhs.uk) Up-to-date information about outbreaks and is very user-friendly for travellers on the road.
MD Travel Health (www.mdtravelhealth.com) Provides complete travel health recommendations for every country, updated daily, at no cost.