TIPS FOR STARTING YOUR TRIP IN ETHIOPIA
- •GO TO THE BATHROOM BEFORE YOU GET OFF THE PLANE!Most of the jumbo jets from North America and Europe all arrive at the same time in the morning. You will likely wait in line for almost 2 hours to get your visa and baggage. Hence, I strongly recommend you go to the bathroom towards the end of your flight. And bring a good book for the visa line.
- •ETHIOPIA IS ON A TOTALLY DIFFERENT CALENDAR THAN THE REST OF THE WORLDYes, you heard that right. The Ethiopian calendar is 7-8 years behind the rest of the world. So today July 26, 2015 is November 19, 2007 on the Ethiopian calendar. However, most Ethiopians are able to flip back and forth between that and the Gregorian calendar (and all hotels go by the Gregorian calendar). Also – note for Americans – they do DD-MM-YY here, so they would say it is 26 July 2015. Learn more about it here: http://bit.ly/1SILPIa
- •DON’T WORRY IF YOU HAVE CONSTANT HEADACHES FOR THE FIRST FEW DAYSAddis Ababa is the third highest capital in the world at 2500 meters/8300 feet. Bring Ibuprofen, drinks lots of water, and try not to push yourself too hard for the first few days until you adjust (or at least be gentle with yourself). Also, the altitude will likely make you feel winded after climbing a few flights of stairs.
- •EXCHANGE RATES ARE STANDARD AND SET BY THE ETHIOPIAN GOVERNMENTThis makes exchanging money very easy. You don’t have to shop around for the best price. You can go to any bank, Forex bureau, or your hotel and get the same exchange rate between Ethiopian Birr and USD. This also holds true for the British Pound and the Euro.
- •BRING A COPY OF YOUR PASSPORT AND A PASSPORT PHOTO IF YOU WANT TO GET AN ETHIOPIAN SIM CARDIt is always good to have a couple of printed copies of your passport and extra passport photos when you travel regardless. If you want a SIM card from Ethio Telecom (the only provider), you will need to fill out a simple sheet and attach a copy of your passport and a passport photo to it (I think this is for terrorism reasons, but I am not positive).
- •BRING $50 IN USD FOR YOUR VISAIt costs $50 for a single entry 1 month tourist visa or $75 for a 3 month tourist visa (single entry – meaning you cannot leave Ethiopia and come back in on the same visa – if you leave and come back in, you have to buy a new visa) at the airport. If you are a US National, you can also send your visa to the Ethiopian Embassy in Washington, D.C. for a 2 year tourist visa.