Frequently asked questions about Ethiopia

  1. Should I bring a mosquito net?
  2. Should I bring a sleeping bag and mat?
  3. What about my passport?
  4. What clothing should i pack?
  5. What is the best time to travel?
  6. What is the time difference?
  7. What other items are handy to take along?
  8. Can I pre-book transfers and extra nights?
  9. Can I withdraw money in Ethiopia?
  10. Do I need a visa?
  11. Do I need vaccinations or malaria tablets?
  12. How is accommodation arranged if I book alone?
  13. How is transportation arranged?
  14. Are there guidelines for interactions with tribes?

1. Should I bring a mosquito net?

A mosquito net is not necessary. The north is generally above 1800 meters so there are hardly any mosquitoes. The south is much lower. During your overnights you will be camping in tents and do not need mosquito nets.

2. Should I bring a sleeping bag and mat?

In the south of the country we camp. The facilities at the camp are very simple. We use double tents arranged by our local agent. We also provide the other camping equipment. However, you must bring your own sleeping bag. There is a mat provided, but  you shouldn't expect too much. If you prefer, you can take an inflatable matress.

3. What about my passport?
You need a passport that is valid for at least 6 months from the date of your departure. You are responsible for having a valid passport and visa when you travel.
4. What clothing should i pack?

As the temperature changes are quite substantial, the easiest thing to do is take various layers. Generally, you should take 2 long pairs of pants and 2 sweaters. A simple rain jacket or windbreaker is recommended as well as the usual t-shirts, underwear and swimwear.

5. What is the best time to travel?

The northern part of Ethiopia has a different climate than the south, making it somewhat difficult to provide a "best time". The north has a rainy season during our summer months. Although there is substantial rain fall it is still possible to make nice trips to the north at this time (July and August).

The best time to visit Ethiopia though is probably from October - March (the dry season). South-Ethiopia (Omo Valley) has a short rainy season in November and again in late March and early April but apart from that, this is a nice period to travel. During the rains the roads in the south can be severely affected, thus it may be necessary to adjust the route.

6. What is the time difference?

Please check the world clock in order to find out the exact time difference 

7. What other items are handy to take along?

A good anti-mosquito lotion with a high DEET factor sunscreen (including for the lips), a first aid kit, toiletries, binoculars, camera and accessories (eg battery sufficient to bridge 3 days). For the camping nights: a (main) lamp, a sleeping bag, travel plug and some ointment for wound/bite relief.

8. Can I pre-book transfers and extra nights?

Yes you can pre book transfers (arrival only) and extra nights with Shoestring.You can add this on your booking form.

9. Can I withdraw money in Ethiopia?

Very occasionally you can PIN in Ethiopia but the ATMs are ABSOLUTELY UNRELIABLE! We therefore ask everyone to bring cash to exchange instead. Euros and Dollars, you can easily change, as long as you do not use crumpled or torn notes. Currency exchange is time consuming, so it helps to change up the necessary amount at the start of your trip. As long as you bring the receipt of the exchange transaction it is no problem to switch money back, if there is anything left. Try also to save as much small change as possible because it will be handy, especially in southern Ethiopia.

10. Do I need a visa?

You are responsible for having a valid passport and visa when you travel. UK/EU passport holders currently require a visa for Ethiopia but please click here to find out if unsure. Please then check your nearest Ethiopian embassy if you do need a visa. Make sure you inquire at least a month before departure if you need a visa so you do not run into time problems.

11. Do I need vaccinations or malaria tablets?

Please click here for questions regarding vaccinations and malaria tablets for this country and then contact your GP or a specialised health clinic to make an appointment to get your injections and pills. Please make sure that you arrange this at least six weeks before departure so you have time to complete a full program of injections. Two weeks should suffice for people who already have had a few vaccinations. You are responsible for having the right protection when going on tour.

12. How is accommodation arranged if I book alone?

If you book alone you will share your room with a fellow traveller ( from the same sex when possible ) unless you have booked a single room.

13. How is transportation arranged?

The northern route is travelled by bus. In the south we use land cruisers. The land cruisers can accommodate 4 to 5 persons.

14. Are there guidelines for interactions with tribes?
Many tribes live in remote areas and have little contact with Western travellers. If you are going to visit such an "exotic" region, prepare yourself well. This will be beneficial both for yourself and for the people you will meet. Here are some do's & don'ts that you can use as a guideline.

• Read up beforehand about the traditions and customs of the tribe(s) you will visit. Then you know what to expect when you are there. Your tour leader can often provide you with information as well.
• First make contact with the chief of the tribe and do not instantly begin photographing. You are dealing with people, not with objects.
• Always ask permission first if you want to take a picture of someone. Put yourself in the position of the person you want to photograph. How would you feel if a person unknown to you suddenly started taking photos of you? In some cases, the tour leader or local guide will ask for permission for you.
• Involve the local people in what you are doing. Make time for a conversation (with hands and feet) and show the photo that you have taken. You may like to bring a few photos from home, and then you can show how things are where you come from.
• Do not hand out things like candy (there are often few/no accessible dentists), balloons (plastic contaminates the area), money or Western trinkets. These types of donations can lead to disagreement, jealousy or quarrels between the various tribes-people.
• Do not purchase authentic, irreplaceable items (and do not accept them when given as a gift). Some examples include jewellery that belonged to ancestors, tools for work such as a sickle or hammer or weapons like a bow and arrow. The tribesmen often only realise afterwards, once the tourists are gone, that they have lost their irreplaceable object(s).