Local Information

Local Information

Useful information

We thank the Ministry of Tourism for facilitating the information provided below.

Location and population

With an area of more than 1.1 million sq.kms, Ethiopia is located in the latitude range 3.5º to 14.3º, and longitude ranging from 34.5º to 42.8º. Its population is currently estimated to be around 102 million, making it the second largest country in Africa.

Time

Ethiopia is three hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time. Time remains constant throughout the year, there is no use of daylight savings. A 12 hour cycle of days and nights is used with the beginning of the day being the morning. This creates a difference of 6 hours with the traditional notation. For example, Ethiopians refer 12pm as 6am.

Calendar

Ethiopia follows the Julian calendar which consists of twelve months of thirty days each and a thirteenth month of five days (six days in leap year). The calendar is seven years and eight days behind the Western (Gregorian) calendar. For example the first announcement of this IAU symposium 20/12/2018, corresponds in Ethiopian calendar to 11/04/2011. New Ethiopian year starts on 01 of Mascarram (11 of September in Gregorian calendar).

Climate

Despite its proximity to the equator, Ethiopia’s high altitude, averaging some 2400m (7800 feet), ensures a moderate, even cool weather which is certainly not tropical. The highest day time temperatures rarely exceed an average of 21º – 22º (70 or 71 F), except in some regions such as Afar, Gambella, or Somali during the summer. Temperatures at night can drop to 10º (50F) or less. There are two rainy seasons: the irregular short rains from late January to early March, and the long rains that stretch from June until mid September. However, this can change from one region to another taking into account the presence of micro-climates. May is the warmest month and is usually a time of bright sunny days. Day time temperatures in January run just as high, but the nights are colder. June, July and August are cloudy, wet and cool.

Religion

The major religions are Christianity (mainly Ortodox) and Islam. Other religions and beliefs are also practised.

Language

Ethiopia has more than 80 local languages, and some two hundred dialects. It is one of the few African countries which conserved its own alphabet. Amharic is the official language of Ethiopia, and Affan Oromo, Tigrigna, and Somali are spoken over a wide range of country. English and Arabic, and occasionally French and Italian are spoken in cities and towns.

Entry points by air

Addis Ababa (including Bole international Airport), Bahir Dar, Mekele and Dire Dawa airports are entry ports. In addition, there are about 20 airports for domestic flights.

Entry points by rail

Dewale on the Djibouti border is the only entry port. Arrivals undergo full customs and immigration checks. The railway with 1 train every second day runs from Addis Ababa to Djibouti via Nazereth, Awash station and Dire Dawa.

Entry points by road

  • Metema and Humera – crossing from Sudan,
  • Dawale and Galafi – crossing from Djibouti,
  • Togochale, Aw Barre, Kebri Beyah and Dulo Odo – crossing from Somalia,
  • Moyale and Omorate – crossing from Kenya.

Note that these are only entry points and no visa services are available. Visa can only be obtained from the Ethiopian Embassies abroad or through the internet official e-visa application.

Visa and Immigration Requirements

Visa applications may be obtained at Ethiopian diplomatic missions abroad or through recently established e-visa system. Number of nationals are also allowed to receive their tourist visa on arrival in Ethiopia at regular charge. For visa on arrival check here, and for electronic visa here. For any additional information please contact the Ethiopian Embassy in your country or region. For letters needed from the ESSTI for your application please contact Mr. Mekbeb Tamrat <mek_atkpan@yahoo.com>. Please do not contact Mr. Mekbeb Tamrat for getting a general information about your visa.

Currency

The local currency is the Ethiopian birr (or ETB) made up of 100 cents. Notes are used in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 50, and 100 birr. There are five different coins: 1, 5, 10, 25, 50 and 100 cents.

Currency regulations

There is no limit to the amount of foreign currency imported into Ethiopia, but it must be declared on arrival using a currency declaration form. Foreign currency may be changed only at the authorized banks and hotels. The currency declaration form will be required by custom on departure. Visitors may change back any excess birr into foreign currency at the airport before departure, but one must bring all receipts for exchange transactions. For exchange rates and allowed currencies check here.

Driving

Drivers require a valid international driving license which can be obtained by exchanging yours by local license at the Transport and Communication Office. Visitors can recover their original license a day or so prior to departure. Those with their own vehicles will get a permit from the Ministry of Transport and Communications. Driving is on the right side of the road. If you are planning to move by the car within Addis and/or outside, for avoiding any problem we strongly encourage that you contract a car with a driver.

Vaccination

The only obligatory vaccine for Ethiopia is yellow fever. Regarding recommended vaccines please check with your public center. Taking into account that Ethiopia is the most mountaineering country on the continent, although present at lower altitudes, malaria is much less present then in other African countries, and absent above 2000m, including Addis Ababa.

 

Accommodation during the symposium

Below are some suggestions regarding accommodation, taking into account different rates and distance from venue. Data from the Ministry of Tourism were used for hotel grade, which not necessarily agree with rate provided by the hotel itself. We will be up-grading this information, and will try to come up in near future with a longer list of more economic hotels. All suggestions have access to hot water and power. Please take into account that the public transport in Ethiopia is very cheap. You will only spend few cents per destination on a public transport within Addis, and few dollars on a contract taxi or Raid (similar to Uber). Therefore, if you find a hotel in Addis bit further from the venue, but that fits your needs, you can still easily reach the venue by using the contract taxi/Raid or public transport. However, taking into account very frequent heavy traffic in Addis, we would not recommend getting the accommodation further then between Kazanchis and the following areas: Stadium/Meskel, Arat Kilo, Sidist Kilo, Urael, Bole, Kebena, and Megenagna.

Hotel name Contact

 

Price range for a standard/single room (in USD

Facilities included

Distance from UNECA

(in miles) and/or transport options

                                                        Five stars hotels

Radisson Blu Hotel

samrawit.molla@radissonblu.com

 Starting from 130 USD

  •   Shuttle service
  • from and to the airportBreakfast
  • Internet
  • Shuttle service from and to the airport
  • Breakfast

 

0.2

 

Elilly International Hotel

info@elillyhotel.com

Starting from 110 USD

  • Shuttle service from and to the airport
  • Breakfast
  •  Internet
  • Steam, sauna, gym and pool

0.2

 

Capital Hotel and Spa

bfikre@capitalhotelandspa.com

Starting from 150 USD

  • Shuttle service From and to airport
  • Breakfast
  • Internet
  • Steam, sauna, gym and pool

0.9

 

Getfam hotel

tedyambachew@getfamhotel.com

Starting from 90 USD

  • Shuttle service from and to the airport
  • Breakfast
  • Internet

1.2

                                                        Four stars hotels

Intercontinental Hotel Addis

reservation@intercontinentaladdis.com or

marketing@intercontinentaladdis.com or

info@intercontinentaladdis.com

95 USD

  • Shuttle service from and to the airport
  • Breakfast
  • Internet

0.2

Jupiter international Hotel

info@jiupiterinternationalhotel.com

90 – 100 USD

  • Shuttle service from and to the airport
  • Breakfast
  • Internet

0.2

Aphrodite International Hotel

reservation@aphroditeaddis.com or marketing@aphroditeaddis.com

Starting from 100 USD

  • Shuttle service from and to the airport
  • Breakfast
  • Internet

0.2

                                                        ≤ Three stars hotels

Holiday Hotel

holidayhotel@ethionet.et or

melakuholidayy@yahoo.com

Starting from 55 USD

  • Shuttle service from and to the airport
  • Breakfast
  • Internet

1.3

Ethiopian hotel

ethhotel@ethionet.et or

www.ethiopiahotel-et.com

Starting from 50 USD

  • Shuttle service from and to the airport
  • Breakfast
  • Internet

0.9

Menarol Guest House

Info@menarolguesthouse.com

35 – 40 USD

  • Shuttle service from and to the airport
  • Breakfast
  • Internet

~ 30min with public transport

Plaza Hotel

Check for now in Trip Advisor, booking, or similar

27 – 35 USD

  • Breakfast
  • Internet

1.2

Awraris hotel

Check for now in Trip Advisor, booking, or similar

30 – 35 USD

  • Breakfast
  • Internet

1.5

Roza Hotel

Check for now in Trip Advisor, booking, or similar

15 – 25 USD

  • Internet

10-15 min with public transport

 

Traveling around Ethiopia

Ethiopia is amazingly diverse and in many aspects unique country. We hope that this symposium will give you an opportunity to discover it. In the following we provide a brief summary of some of the sites that you should not miss, and a list of suggested agencies that you can contact for more information. We thank the F.D.R.E Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the Ethiopian Tourism Organisation, and the National Tourism Organisation for sharing material, and for their help and offered services.

Ethiopia: Land of Origins

            With its fabulous 3000 years of history, diverse ethnic groups with their own languages, cultures, and traditions, Ethiopia offers a magnificent scenery embracing contrasting land features ranging from the tops of rugged Simien Mountains to the depth of the Danakil Depression, which is more than 100m below sea level and one of the lowest dry land point on Earth. The abundance of natural beauty offers an astonishing variety of landscapes: Afro-Alpine highlands soaring to around 4300m, chain of mountains, splendors of the Great Rift Valley, rivers, giant waterfalls, dense and lush jungle, deserts…. Ethiopia is the fourth largest bio-diversity zone in the world and has more unique species of flora and wildlife than any other country in Africa. Among the different species 31 mammals, 17 birds, 14 reptiles, 30 amphibians, 40 fish, and about 1000 plants are endemic to Ethiopia. There are 24 national parks, 2 wildlife sanctuaries, 5 wildlife reserves, and 4 IUCN ecosystems. It has 12 universally important heritages registered under UNESCO.

            It was the cradle of human kind, including our celebrated ancestors Lucy, Selam and Ardi found in Ethiopia. In terms of history, the Axumite kingdom was one of the great civilizations of ancient world and it have left behind the mystery of the giant Axum Stelae. In the late middle ages religious civilization flourished in many parts of the country particularly at Lalibela where churches  made out of massive monolithic rock testify not only to great faith but also great architectural skills. The walled city of Harrar (Jugol) is the 4th holiest city of Islam next to Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem. The 17th century castles found in Gondar speak of the same legacy. Moreover, Ahmed Nejash Mosque which is found in Tigray region makes the country the first in Africa in acceptance of the establishment of Islam.

            Ethiopia has also numerous other features that make it unique and that we will try to raise below.

The Rock-Hewn Churches of Lalibela (UNESCO World Heritage Centre)

Collection of Orthodox Christian Churches carved out of monolithic solid rock with only hammers and chisels, with fascinating internal channels and walls full of religious symbols. The churches indicate the architectural mastery and religious devotion of king Lalibela who is believed to have built them in the late 12th or early 13th century. Beside being an amazing historical site, Lalibela is a monument still full of life. If visiting, do not miss Sunday celebrations. Direct local flights are available with the Ethiopian Airlines from Addis to Lalibela.

The Simien Mountains National Park

Established in 1969 and made to UNESCO World Heritage Site nine years later, the 220km sq Simien Mountains National Park protects the western part of the eponymous mountain range, a serious of incised plateau characterized by sheer 1,000m-high cliffs and rugged pinnacles. The range includes at least a dozen peaks that top the 4000m, among them the 4620m Ras Dashen, the fourth-highest mountain in Africa. The park is best known for stupendous scenery lauded Rosita Forbes as ‘the most marvelous of all Abyssinian landscapes’, but it is also the most important stronghold for the endemic Gelada Baboon, Walia Ibex, and Abyssinian Wolf, as well as a host of one of the world’s densest populations of the spectacular bearded vulture (wammergeyer), which is frequently seen close to the campsites.

Harrar (Jugol), the fortified historic town

The city of Harrar, UNESCO World Heritage Site, is one of the oldest cities in the country, and was founded in the 7th century AD. It was a major trading crossroad and a center of Islamic learning. Fortified against invaders, its provocative five gate wall (Jugol) was built between the 13th and 16th centuries. The town is famous for unique layout of its houses, its intricate basketry, coffee and hyena feeding. The narrow winding streets of Harrar contain over 99 mosques and are considered as the fourth holiest city of Islam, next to Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem.

Danakil Depression and Erta-Ale

The Danakil (or Dallol) Depression is a geological depression that is caused by the Afar Triangle Junction which is part of the Great Rift Valley. It is officially the hottest place on Earth, with an average temperature of 34 – 35° C. Much of this vast and practically unpopulated region lies below sea level, dipping to a frazzled nadir of -116m at Dallol, near Lake Asale, the lowest spot on the African continent. One of the driest and most tectonically active areas on the planet, the Danakil is an area of ​​singular geological fascination: a strange lunar landscape studded with more than 30 active or dormant volcanoes, malodorous sulfur-caked hot springs, solidified black lava flows and vast salt-encrusted basins. Moreover, Erta Ale is a continuously active basaltic shield volcano in the Afar region of northeastern Ethiopia, and the most active volcano in the country.

Bahir Dar surrounding

Bahir Dar is one of the leading tourist destinations in Ethiopia, with a variety of attractions in the nearby Lake Tana and Blue Nile River. The city is known for its wide avenues lined with palm trees and a variety of colourful flowers. It is also considered one of the most beautiful, well-planned, and safest cities. It is situated on the southern shore of Lake Tana, the source of the Blue Nile (locally called Abay). The city is located approximately 578 km north-west of Addis Ababa, and an elevation of 1,840 meters above sea level. It can be reached easily by plane, in approx. 1hr from Addis Ababa, or by bus/car in some 14 – 16 hr. Ethiopian Airlines flights operate few times per day. In Bahir Dar and its surrounding you can enjoy beautiful lake Tana and its islands; traditional way of fishing in papyrus boats and spotting easily hippopotamus; numerous, very unique, and some of the most beautiful painted old orthodox churches from 11, 12, and 13 century, including some of the churches placed at Zege penincula which is full of coffee plantations, indigenous trees, lot of birds and monkeys; authentic hand-craft markets both in the city and Zege; amazing bird watching around the lake; beautiful Blue Nile falls and its surrounding, where crocodiles can be easily spotted; etc…

Gheralta mountains and Rocky Churches of Tigray

Gheralta is a dry plain with steep outcrops of cliffs and Table Mountains with very dramatic landscapes. But for most tourists to Ethiopia, the main reason to come to the Gheralta region is for visiting some of the largest concentration of cliff churches in Ethiopia. While Lalibela may be the place with the highest density of rock-hewn churches, the Tigray region has plenty more, most of them being much older, with more paintings, special architecture at very remote, and often not-easily accessible locations, but with completely breath-taking views and landscapes. Visiting Geralta and ancient Rock-Churches of Tigray is some of the most amazing experiences that you will be able to feel as a tourist.

The Lower Omo Valley

The Lower Valley of Omo is located in South-Western Ethiopia and is one of UNESCO protected sites. The old age segment deposits in the lower Omo Valley are now world renowned for the discovery of many hominid fossils, that have been of fundamental importance in the study of human evolution. Ancient tools and hominid fossils dating between 1 and 3.5 million years ago have been discovered in the region. The area is also home to a huge cultural diversity of people. The Lower Valley of Omo is one of the unique places in the world in that so many various cultures inhabit such a relatively small piece of land, maintaining very unique and special culture and traditions.

More descriptions of different destinations are coming very soon!!

Some of the tour operators recommended by the Ministry of Tourism are: