Last updated: 21 Jun 2019



Ethiopia can claim some of the highest and most stunning places on the African continent, such as the jaggedly carved Simien Mountains, and some of the lowest, such as the Danakil Depression, with its sulphur fumaroles and lunar-like landscape. It is also one of Africa's greatest cultural destinations with no fewer than eight UNESCO World Heritage sites including the mystical rock-hewn churches of Lalibela.

Ethiopia has 14 major wildlife reserves. Safaris are usually in 4-wheel drive vehicles, but walking safaris (with a guide only) or travelling by mule are also possible. Great areas to explore include: the Simien Mountains National Park with its spectacular views and large variety of wildlife; the moorlands of the Bale Plateau; and the countryside around Lalibela.

Lake Langano has a resort offering windsurfing and waterskiing. Natural springs in the Awash National Park and at Sodere Filwoha create pools highly valued for their therapeutic purposes, though they are not fully utilised.

Sailing and organised boat trips are available on Lake Tana, Ethiopia's largest lake, which contains 37 islands complete with numerous monasteries that can be visited. White-water rafting is possible on parts of the Omo River and the Blue Nile.
Capital:  Addis Ababa (ADD)
Currency:  Ethiopian Birr (ETB)
Language:  Amharic. English and Arabic are widely spoken. 
Dialling code from SA:  + 251
Time Zones: UTC / GMT +3 (1 hour ahead of South Africa)
Public Holidays 2019: 

Jan 7, 20; Mar 2; Apr 26, 28; May 1, 5, 28; Jun 5; Aug 12; Sep 12, 27; Nov 10

Side of the Road: Right (Foreign visitors are allowed to drive in Ethiopia using an international driving licence for three months. After that an Ethiopian licence is required.)
Best Time to go: October to January 
Best For: Religious Sites, Archaeological Sites, Natural Attractions
Plugs: 220 volts AC, 50Hz
Drinking Water: All water should be regarded as being potentially contaminated. Milk is unpasteurised.
Health: There are adequate and well-equipped medical facilities in the capital, however visitors are required to pay for these services. Outside of the capital, medical facilities are very limited. Comprehensive health insurance is recommended and it should include emergency air evacuation coverage.  If you require any medication on your travels it is best to bring it with you, in the original packaging, with a signed and dated letter from your doctor detailing exactly what it is and why you need it.
Customs: Respect to traditional and religious customs should be shown. Only the right hand is used for eating or passing things. Some monasteries and churches are only open to male visitors. Shoes must always be removed before entering churches and mosques.
Local Offences / Laws: Photography of airports and military installations is prohibited. 
Travel Tips / Warnings: Credit cards have limited use. Locals may expect a small payment for being photographed. Photography of tourist attractions may carry a small charge. Ethiopia follows the Julian calendar, which con­sists of 12 months of 30 days each and a 13th month of five days (six days on leap year). The calendar is seven years and eight months behind the Western (Gregorian) calendar.
Duty Free: The following goods may be imported into Ethiopia without incurring customs duty:
• 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 250g of tobacco.
• 1L of wine or spirits.
• 500ml of perfume or eau de toilette.
Prohibited Imports: Narcotics, all weapons (firearms, ammunition and explosives), ivory, and pornographic materials. The import of precious metals and semi-precious gems is limited to 100g and precious gems to 30g.
Prohibited Exports: Prohibited exports include ivory (even if already processed into jewellery), precious metals and semi-precious gems over 100g and precious gems over 30g. You can only export religious artifacts, antiques and animal hides with the correct export certificates. Those wishing to take animal skins and hides out of the country must apply for a permit from the Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Authority. For the export of antiques and religious artifacts, you can obtain export certificates at the customs office at Addis Ababa Bole International Airport.

Issuing Authorities

Embassy of Ethiopia
763 Justice Mohammed Street, Bailey’s Muckleneuk,
Brooklyn, Pretoria
P O Box 11469 Hatfield, Pretoria 0028
Tel:+21(0) 12 361 8990 or 346 3542/4067
Mon - Fri: 09h00-12h30 and 13h30 - 15h30 Submission and collection
Telephonic bookings: 09h00-12h00 


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SA Representative

SA Embassy
Nifasilk Lafto, Subcity
Kebele 03, South Africa Avenue
(Old Airport Area)
Addis Ababa
Tel: +251 11 371 1002/1017/7186/0272
Fax: +251 11 371 3035

Travel Health

Compulsory:  Yellow Fever 
Recommended Travel Vaccines:  Hepatitis A & B, Meningitis, Rabies, Typhoid, Tetanus, Polio
  Malaria Risk