Why travel to Ethiopia?
There is no single answer to this question; we say that there are several answers to this question.
First is a return to the origins of the humanity, according to recent paleontological discoveries, including most notably the discovery in 1974 of the first woman in the world, “Lucy” (3.5 million years) and in 2006 the first hominid child, “Selam” (3.3 million years). Ethiopia is considered as the site of the first settlements of the humanity.
Visit one of the oldest countries in Africa, and by extension the world (approx. 3,000 years) and thus a considerable wealth of history. Origin of one of the greatest kingdoms of the world (the kingdom of Axum), travelers will find an important archaeological and cultural heritage.
Establish contact with the pre-colonial Africa. Ethiopia is the only country in Africa that has not been colonized, so that its people and culture has been developed free from European influence. To all this should join their particular terrain has also kept isolated from its African neighbors.
It is the epitome of a whole continent in one country. It is the perfect definition of diversity. It is the second most populous country in Africa (approximately 85,000,000 people), they speak 82 languages and 200 dialects and profess Christianity, Judaism, Islam and animism.
Visit pure nature. Nature of contrasts: lakes and deserts, volcanoes and rivers, savannah and lush forests. Very diverse flora and fauna: 277 species of mammals (31 endemic), 862 species of birds (16 endemic). + 6,000 species of plants (12% are endemic). It has 10 national parks and several protected natural areas.
Spanish travellers can formalise their entry visa to Ethiopia at Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa. In order to get the visa, it is necessary to fill out a form with your personal data and to pay a $20/18€ fee. The process is performed after the arrival of any international flight and the steps are usually quick and trouble-free. It is mandatory to have a passport with a validity of at least six months. The validity of the tourist visa issued by the Ethiopian authorities is one month, extendable to two months. However, its validity depends on the criteria of the immigration services. The Ethiopian authorities do not issue entry visa at any of the road border points. To obtain this particular visa you must go to the Embassy of Ethiopia in Paris (France).
Address Avenida Charles Floquet, 35 (París)
Postal Code: 75007
Fax: + 33 1 43.06.52.14
Para más información pueden ponerse en contacto con el Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores y de Cooperación o consultar su página web (www.exteriores.gob.es)
Health & Medical
The yellow fever vaccine is mandatory according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,following the recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO). It is highly recommended to follow the malaria prophylaxis, especially if you are travelling to the southern region of the country or to any places below 2000 meters of altitude. Therefore, there is practically no risk in the capital city, Addis Ababa, neither in most places included in the “historical circuit”, comprising Gondar, Axum and Lalibela. On the other hand, tuberculosis, meningitis, measles and typhoid are endemic, but these diseases are affecting the local population especially when they don’t have access to proper hygiene conditions. The most common illness affecting us will be the traveller’s diarrhoea (TD), so we must pay attention to food and water. We must always drink bottled water. Finally it is important to mention that most of Ethiopia is located on a high altitude plateau and that is why some travellers may suffer altitude sickness (acute mountain sickness / AMS) at some point due to insufficient oxygen. The body tends to get used progressively to this change in atmospheric pressure.
The wide variation of the climate is the main feature of the country. High temperatures in Danakil Desert, for example, contrast with the sporadic snowfall on the top of Simien Mountains. According to the model of precipitation, rains in the highlands of northern and central area are important between mid-June and early October. However, the rainy season in the Rift Valley begins and ends a few weeks earlier. It is also different in the South of the Omo region (with rains in March, April and May) or in the northeast of the country, definitely much drier.The rains tend to appear as heavy storms that end as quickly as they begin. According to this, the main problem is the state of some tracks and roads that, at certain times, become impassable.In general, the temperatures at the central uplands are around 16 degrees on average, while in the east and south this figure is multiplied exponentially.
Communications in Ethiopia have undergone a major transformation in recent years. The use of mobile telephones is highly widespread. If you have an unlocked cell phone (not attached to any company) you can use it with a prepaid Ethionet SIM card and you can recharge your credit periodically with just a few Birrs. Top ups can be made easily in local shops all around the Ethiopian geography. Moreover, quite a lot of hotels and restaurants in big cities (especially medium and high level places) are offering free Wi-Fi service to their customers. However, speed and quality are not always the most desirable, as they depend on many external factors such as the climate conditions or the Internet coverage. In major cities you can find Internet cafes. In order to call to Spain you need to dial the code 0034 before the desired number. Regarding to the press, you can only find European newspapers in Addis Ababa. All around the country several Ethiopian newspapers are published in English. It is possible to send packages, letters and postcards through the Ethiopian postal service.
+3 Hours GMT
Tseday (New Year)
The year begins in Ethiopia on September 11. The celebration begins on eve, when the men ignite the Chibó (branches of trees, without the leaves) inside his houses and they extract on the outside to banish the bad luck and to have a good year. The girls gather flowers, called Flower mother, and give them to her mothers. It is a very traditional and familiar holiday with very crowded processions that precede the arrival of the New Year.
Sixteen days after the new year there celebrate the great holiday of the Meskel or holiday of the cross (September 27) that commemorates the finding of the real cross by Holy Elena, mother of the emperor Constantino (4th century). At night the demera is ignited (set of stakes of wood, piled up and finished off by a cross). In the religious holiday there are canticles and prayers to the cross. During the day the canticles and dances happen with the participation of all the presents. The most attractive expression of this festivity is carried out in Gisgen Debre’s monastery Kebre.
It is San Gabriel’s holiday and is celebrated in the church of Kulibi’s, which is an important centre of Christian peregrination, two times a year (July 26 and December 28). The pilgrims pray for his family, his health or his crops. During these celebrations there take place children’s collective baptisms.
The Christmas or Genna is celebrated between January 7 and 8 and commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ. The celebration most typical of the Genna is a mass looked like to the Midnight mass, with the recitation of a few special canticles (besacul) during the midnight from January 7 to January 8. Genna’s name comes from a game looked like the Jockey, in which there compete several equipments dressed in a traditional way and which has turned into the profane excellent celebration.
On January 7, in Lalibela takes place a unique and very colourist procession.
Id-ul-fitr (Fin del Ramadán)
During the ninth month of the Moslem calendar the revelation of the Koran is celebrated to Mohammed, celebration to which the Moslem Ethiopians are not foreign. In the nights of the Ramadan the relatives are in the habit of tasting an exquisite menu, out of the normal thing. For the Muslims it is a month of holiday.
When ends the Ramadan begins the month of Sh’awwal, when the holiday is celebrated the ID-UL-FITR, which is in the habit of being celebrated last nights of Ramadan and commemorating the end of the fasting. It is a question of a great celebration for the Muslims in that the desires of peace, concord and gratitude preside at the conviviality and the relations between the public inspectors.
Id al adha
Also known as holiday of the Sacrifice, it is the most important sacred holiday of the Muslims. It is celebrated the 10th of last month and lasts 3 days. During this day there is commemorated the prophet Abraham by a community prayer and sacrifice of sheeps, goats or even camels of which the celebrators remain with the third part and distribute the rest between the poor people.