Ethiopia

Location:
Ethiopia is a ruggedly mountainous country covering 1,098,000 sq kms and surrounded by Kenya, Eritrea, Somalia, Sudan and Djibouti.

Climate:

Ethiopia has two main seasons, a dry season from October through May and a rainy season from June through September. Temperatures vary according to altitude, but are commonly on the mild side.
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Location:
Ethiopia is a ruggedly mountainous country covering 1,098,000 sq kms and surrounded by Kenya, Eritrea, Somalia, Sudan and Djibouti.

Climate:

Ethiopia has two main seasons, a dry season from October through May and a rainy season from June through September. Temperatures vary according to altitude, but are commonly on the mild side.
Main Rains in Rift Valley occur from March – June and light rains from October – December.

Time:
Ethiopia is in the GMT + 3 hrs time zone and follows the Julian calendar which consists of 12 months of 30 days each plus a 13th month of 5 or 6 days.

Communications:
Telephone, fax and email are available in most main towns but are most reliable in Addis. The IDD code for Ethiopia is +251.

Electricity

Electric supply is 220 volts, 50 cycles AC. The wall socket accepts two circular-shaped prongs, so an adapter is required. Video camera batteries may be recharged at hotels along the route.

Photos
Photographs should not be taken of military or strategic buildings or airports. Ask permission to take photos of any person or home. Sometimes money is requested for photos.

Religion
There is mostly Orthodox Christianity and Islam through most parts of Ethiopia. Traditional African beliefs such as animism and totemism in the Rift Valley Southern Region.

Language
Amharic is the official language, although over 80 local languages are spoken throughout Ethiopia. English is understood by most educated young people. About 45 languages spoken in Rift Valley Southern region.

Begging
Beggars are common especially in Addis Ababa and larger towns. Children will often crowd around asking for money or other items. Tour guides will inform you on ways to deal with beggars. Have pens for kids, basic medicine for locals in the Simien Mountains. Giving to one person where there is a group usually ends in a scramble.

Customs at Arrival
Cameras, computers and major electrical items may need to be declared on arrival.
Spending Money
Every traveller is different and therefore spending money requirements will vary. Some travellers may drink more than others while other travellers like to purchase more souvenirs than most. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, shopping and tipping. Please also remember the following specific recommendations when planning your trip.
Money Exchange
American Dollars that are series 2006 or earlier are not accepted and very difficult to change in Southern and Eastern Africa, as there are a lot of forgeries. As a result, these notes CANNOT be accepted as Local Payment.

Credit cards are useful for cash advances in Addis Ababa, but you must remember to bring your PIN number (be aware that many ATM machines only accept 4-digit PINs). Advanced cost a 12USD fee locally for transactions under $200 and a 5.5% commission for any transaction over $200.

International debit cards do not generally work in Ethiopia.

While ATMs are available in Addis Ababa, there are no guarantees that your credit or debit cards will actually work in Africa. Check with your bank, but you are encouraged to bring cash. Large denominations, such as $50 and $100 notes are most easily exchanged. We do not recommend bringing traveller's cheques.

Do not rely on credit or debit cards as your only source of money. A combination of US dollar cash and cards is best. Always take more rather than less, as you don't want to spoil the trip by constantly feeling short of funds.

If you have extra Ethiopian Birr at the end of your trip that you wish to change back to a major foreign currency (USD, Euro), this can be done at banks of the Hilton, Sheraton and Ghion hotels or at the bank in the airport.

As currency exchange rates can fluctuate often we ask that you refer to the following website for daily exchange rates: www.xe.com.


Emergency Fund
Please also make sure you have access to at least an additional USD $200 (or equivalent) as an 'emergency' fund, to be used when circumstances outside our control (ex. a natural disaster) require a change to our planned route. This is a rare occurrence!


Departure Tax
USD20, usually included in most international air tickets.


About our Transportation
For this tour we use a combination of flights, minivans, minibus and boats. We use a 12-seater minivan when the group is 7 passengers or less. For larger groups, we will upgrade to a 23-seater coaster bus with cushioned seats, and sliding windows. This style of transportation is a comfortable way to travel through the region. No matter the size of the group there will be extra space to benefit the group. Many of the roads in Ethiopia are under construction. Though at times the quality can be quite good, much of the time we will need to slow our traveling speed, and accept the bumps and dust along the way.
Solo Travellers
We believe single travellers should not have to pay more to travel so our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and do not involve a single supplement. Single travellers joining group trips are paired in twin or multi-share accommodation with someone of the same sex for the duration of the trip. Some of our Independent trips are designed differently and single travellers on these itineraries must pay the single trip price.


About Accommodation
Accommodation in Ethiopia is not to the standard of the west or other parts of Africa where tourism is more developed. Hotels don't always have much character, as they are made more functional than decorative and the choice is limited due to both lack of local and foreign demand. As such customer service standards are lower, due to lack of a large tourism industry and lack of exposure to western service standards. Plumbing can be simple and not always reliable and water pressure is weak, especially in dry season. Safety, location, and cleanliness are our top criteria when choosing hotels. We choose the best one that meets our criteria, and constantly evaluate the options that are out there.


Joining Hotel

Bole Ambassador Hotel
Millennium Apartment Hotel Road, which is off the better known Airport Rd .
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
+251 11 618 8284


Joining Instructions

An arrival transfer is included with all Classic-Comfort style tours when you arrive on Day 1, or when you arrive up to three days prior to the tour, provided that you have booked your pre-accommodation through Africa Esapades Ltd in our joining hotel. Due to customer experience and quality considerations, all services related to the tour must be continuous.

If you are obtaining your visa upon arrival at the Bole International airport, the queue is just before you go through immigration check point. After completing immigration procedures and claiming your luggage in the airport, exit to the large arrivals hall. Turn right at the meet/greet area and look for the Ambassador Hotel booth. It is the first one in the far right corner of the hall. The Ambassador Hotel staff at the booth will show you to the shuttle bus that will take you to the hotel. There is a Dashen bank that you can change your US dollars into Birr there. It gives the current bank rate.


Arrival Complications
We don't expect any problems, and nor should you, but if for any reason you are unable to commence your trip as scheduled, as soon as possible please contact your starting point hotel, requesting that you speak to or leave a message for your DRIVER OR LOCAL  GUIDE (if you are not on a group tour please refer to the emergency contact details provided in this dossier). If you are unable to get in touch with your leader, please refer to our emergency contact details. If you have a pre-booked airport transfer and have not made contact with our representative within 30 minutes of clearing customs and immigration, we recommend that you make your own way to the Starting Point hotel, following the Joining Instructions. Please apply to your travel agent on your return for a refund of the transfer cost if this occurs.


Emergency Contact
Should you need to contact Africa Esapades Ltd during a situation of dire need, it is best to first call our local Africa Esapades Ltd operator - EthioGuzo Tour and Travel. If for any reason you do not receive an immediate answer, please leave a detailed message and contact information, so they may return your call and assist you as soon as possible.

Africa Esapades Ltd Operator - EthioGuzo Tour and Travel (Ethiopia)
Open 5 days a week, 9am to 6pm local time (GMT +3).
Tel: Int. Dialing Code +251-11-6299863 (during office hours) (EthioGuzo staff)

After hours emergency numbers: Steven or Eyerusalem +251911478058


What to Take

You will be on the move a lot, so our advice is to pack as lightly as possible. Your baggage should be clearly labeled and restricted to one large waterproof duffle bag or backpack, maximum 15kg, plus a daypack. Luggage limits on airlines are strictly enforced and space on vehicles is limited. Porters are not available, so be prepared to carry your own bags.

It is important to pack clothes for warm days and cool evenings, a warm jacket is recommended. In the Simien Mountains, you will be trekking in at high altitudes, and you will be passing through a number of different climate zones, and should pack to prepare for a number of extremes – hot and sunny, cool, cloudy, and misty, fog, rain, wind, and lastly cold. You may experience one or all of these conditions in the same day on your trek. The use of lightweight, breathable, easily removable layers of clothes works best to allow you to adapt to the local conditions. We recommend breathable, moisture-wicking fabrics made of wool or synthetic fibers. Cotton is not recommended for hiking as it does not allow for heat or moisture to enter or escape, and it will not dry once wet. Please note that it gets cold at high altitude, and for this, in addition to several warm layers and good boots, you will need warm protection for your hands and head. Lastly, though only a few degrees north of the equator, and at altitude, the sun’s effects are heightened. Use a hat, sunglasses, sun screen, and wear proper clothing to protect yourself from the sun, to reduce the risk of sunstroke A set of smart casual clothes is also advisable.

It is suggested to bring a few items to give to locals in the community. Clothing and toiletries are very much appreciated. One suggestion is it to bring along quality old clothes for your own use in the Simiem Mountains, and then give them away afterwards to the local guides, scouts, cooks, and drivers.


Checklist

Suggested Items:
- Warm Fleece or wool jumper/jacket
- 4 shirts/t-shirts, cool and breathable
- 1 Long-sleeved shirt
- 1 pair of shorts, mid-thigh or longer
- 2 pairs of long hiking trousers, lightweight, breathable
- 1 pairs of long trousers
- Waterproof Hiking Boots, or very sturdy shoes
- Tennis shoes or sandals for lounging in the evening
- Comfortable, breathable socks (wool or synthetic fibers recommended)
- Winter hat/Warm hat,
- Warm gloves/mittens
- Day pack, for you to carry
- Water bottle, and water purification tablets or purifier (bottled water is also available for purchase) - Sun hat, Bandana (many uses - head protection, handkerchief, wrap injuries)
- Sunglasses
- Headlamp / torch / flashlight (with extra batteries and bulbs)
- Camera and extra memory card/film
- Extra batteries (recommended)
- Pocket knife / Utility knife
- Electricity Plug Adapter
- Personal First Aid kit (should contain Lip balm with sunscreen, Aspirin, Ibuprofen , Malaria pills, band aids/plasters, adhesive tape, anti-histamine, Antiseptic cream, Imodium or similar tablets for mild cases of diarrhea, re-hydration powder (salt and sugar mix), throat lozenges, insect repellent, extra prescription drugs you may be taking)
- Toiletries (soap, toothpaste, toothbrush, razors, etc)
- Hand sanitizer gel/Sanitizer wipes
- Toilet paper - can be purchased in Addis Ababa and other larger towns along the way.
- Candles, matches - can be purchased in Addis Ababa and other larger towns along the way.
- Plastic bags for packing (rain protection)

Optional Items: Hiking poles, Hiking Gators (protective covers) for your hiking boots, reading/writing material, binoculars, cover for backpacks, Playing cards, games, frisbee, notebook, pens/pencils

For donation in the local communities: clothing, notebooks, pens, pencils, pins, flags, pictures, postcards from your country for local villagers or children.

Documents:
- Passport (with photocopies)
- Travel insurance (with photocopies)
- Yellow fever certificate
- Airline tickets (with photocopies)
- USD cash
- Credit or debit card (see personal spending money)
- Africa Esapades Ltd vouchers, pre-departure information and Trip Details document
- Any entry visas or vaccination certificates required
Laundry
Hand washing of clothes can be done at most of the hotels where we stay. We recommend you bring a non polluting/biodegradable soap, as well as a roll of simple string to act as a drying line for your clothes. If you arrive in the late afternoon, or if there is poor weather, it may not be possible for your clothes to completely dry. Your start/end hotel may also have laundry service for a fee.
Visas
All countries require travellers to have a valid passport (with a minimum of 6 months validity). Please note that upon arrival by air to Addis Ababa, nationals of some countries can obtain a visa for approximately US$20. There is often a queue for this. Please do your research before travelling. This information is accurate at the time of writing. Though as fees and policies can change, we highly recommend that you contact your local embassy or consulate for the most up-to-date visa requirements, or see your travel agent. It is your responsibility to have the correct travel documentation.
Important  Trip Notes
American Dollars that are series 2000 or earlier are not accepted and very difficult to change in Southern and Eastern Africa, because of past forgeries.


Tipping
Tipping is an expected - though not compulsory - component of your tour program and an expression of satisfaction with the persons who have assisted you on your tour. It is one of the most direct ways that you can have a positive economic impact within the East African community. Although it may not be customary for you, it is of considerable significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, as an important source of income for those in the tourism industry.

Giving a tip should be a seen as a formal 'thank you', and the action should in no way be awkward. The best method of tipping someone that has served the whole group is to plan in advance, and not rush when it comes to saying goodbye. A suggestion would be for each group member to contribute anonymously by putting their tip into an envelope. This often works the best and the group as a whole should gather to present the gift to the recipient(s), offering their thanks and showing their appreciation. This method brings the action out into the open, allowing for a friendly and appreciative interaction between the group and the recipient(s).

You may use the following as a guideline, all given in a per client format: Restaurant/Café servers: 10% of cost of bill, especially when in a large group (no envelope required); Tour Driver US$3 (full day); Local Guides (ex. forest, village walks) Trek assistants US$1 per day; DRIVER OR LOCAL  GUIDE: $20 per week. These amounts vary depending on the number of people in your group.


Optional Activities
Optional activity prices are subject to change and can fluctuate in relation to the high/low season and the number of people on a specific excursion. Not all excursions listed here may be available, due to season, or weather conditions. As generally not a lot of time is spent in start/end cities, you may want to arrange to arrive early, or stay longer after the trip in order to allow sufficient time to participate in optional activities there.

All prices are in US dollar amounts, per person.

Tour of Addis Ababa: 1 pax = US$ 100, 2 pax = US$ 65, 3 pax = $50, 4 or more pax = US$35
Bahir Dar market (self-guided) FREE
Lake Tana papyrus boat weavers (self-guided) $5
Bezawit palace of Haile Selassie (self-guided) FREE
(entry not allowed but good views of the surrounding landscapes and lake Tana if it’s not hazy)

All prices are per person (unless stated otherwise), and are subject to change as services are provided by third party  party operators.


Health
Please note inoculations may be required for the country visited. It is your responsibility to consult with your travel doctor for up to date medical travel information well before departure.      Disclaimer  Disclaimmation in this trip details document has been compiled with care and is provided in good faith. However it is subject to change, and does not form part of the contract between the client and the operator. The itinerary featured is correct at time of printing. It may differ slightly to the one in the brochure. Occasionally our itineraries change as we make improvements that stem from past travellers, comments and our own research. Sometimes it can be a small change like adding an extra meal along the itinerary. Sometimes the change may result in us altering the tour for the coming year. Ultimately, our goal is to provide you with the most rewarding experience. Please note that our brochure is usually released in November each year. If you have booked from the previous brochure you may find there have been some changes to the itinerary.

VERY IMPORTANT:
Please ensure that you print a final copy of your Trip Details to review a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans.
Itinerary Disclaimer
While it is our intention to adhere to the route described below, there is a certain amount of flexibility built into the itinerary and on occasion it may be necessary, or desirable to make alterations. The itinerary is brief, as we never know exactly where our journey will take us. Due to our style of travel and the regions we visit, travel can be unpredictable. The Trip Details document is a general guide to the tour and region and any mention of specific destinations or wildlife is by no means a guarantee that they will be visited or encountered. Aboard expedition trips visits to research stations depend on final permission.

Additionally, any travel times listed are approximations only and subject to vary due to local circumstances.

The information in this trip details document has been compiled with care and is provided in good faith. However it is subject to change, and does not form part of the contract between the client and the operator. The itinerary featured is correct at time of printing. It may differ slightly to the one in the brochure. Occasionally our itineraries change as we make improvements that stem from past travellers, comments and our own research. Sometimes it can be a small change like adding an extra meal along the itinerary. Sometimes the change may result in us altering the tour for the coming year. Ultimately, our goal is to provide you with the most rewarding experience. Please note that our brochure is usually released in November each year. If you have booked from the previous brochure you may find there have been some changes to the itinerary.

VERY IMPORTANT
: Please ensure that you print a final copy of your Trip Details to review a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans.


Itinerary Disclaimer
While it is our intention to adhere to the route described below, there is a certain amount of flexibility built into the itinerary and on occasion it may be necessary, or desirable to make alterations. The itinerary is brief, as we never know exactly where our journey will take us. Due to our style of travel and the regions we visit, travel can be unpredictable. The Trip Details document is a general guide to the tour and region and any mention of specific destinations or wildlife is by no means a guarantee that they will be visited or encountered. Aboard expedition trips visits to research stations depend on final permission.

Additionally, any travel times listed are approximations only and subject to vary due to local circumstances.
    

We recommend you contact your family physician, or your local travel clinic for the most up-to-date health information at least one month before departure.

Please ensure you have all the inoculations recommended by your doctor for travel in Ethiopia. Immunization against Hepatitis A & B, Tetanus & Typhoid is recommended. Be aware that Ethiopia has regions where malaria is present, including Bahir Dahr. We thus recommend that you take malaria medication; your doctor should be able to recommend the necessary prophylactics. Travellers should also carry a basic travel first-aid kit, hand sanitizers / antibacterial wipes as medical facilities are basic throughout these countries. An important item to include is a liquid or gel hand sanitizer and/or alcoholic/sanitary wipes, as they will aid in personal cleanliness and hygiene throughout the trip. The local tap water should not be consumed, so any water treatment tablets (ex. iodine), drops, etc, would help. If you have any pre-existing medical condition, you must inform Africa Esapades Ltd prior to the purchase of the tour, and upon arrival, to the DRIVER OR LOCAL  GUIDE so he/she can be prepared to help you.

Sand flies and Mosquitoes

Are found in the areas visited. Mosquitoes are more prevalent in areas that receive more rainfall, and sand flies, though generally found on the coast, can also be found in dry & dusty conditions inland. Both tend to come out in the early evening and early mornings. Protective clothing, and insect repellent are highly recommended during these times.

Malaria
This infectious disease is transmitted by mosquitoes carrying the parasite. These mosquitoes are found at altitudes of under 1,800m, and thus can be found in a couple of the towns visited. You must have prophylactics which you can obtain from your local doctor at or health clinic.

Sun

It is very important that you wear sun block, even on a cloudy day, or at high altitudes when it feels cool, as we are near the equator and the sun is very strong. A sunburn can turn a pleasant trip into a painful trip.

Hydration
Even when days are cool please be sure to drink a minimum of two litres of water and refrain from drinking to many diuretics, as while when travelling outdoors the breeze can dehydrate you quickly as well as the heat.

Diarrhea:
It is normal for people travelling overseas to get an upset stomach due to a change of climate and food. Please make sure that you wash your hands and stay away from street food.

Physical Fitness

Although our trek is not a technical one, you will have to be in moderate to good physical condition. Regular hikes are one of the best ways to prepare. All aerobic exercises such as cycling, running, swimming and funnily enough aerobics are good for strengthening the cardiovascular system. Generally, any exercise that increases the heart rate for 20 minutes is helpful but don’t over do it just before the climb.

Altitude and Acclimatization

Altitudes are generally defined as follows:
• High altitude 2,400m – 4,200m
• Very high altitude 4,200m – 5,400m
• Extreme altitude above 5,400m

We stick almost entirely just to “high altitude” zones, and it is likely that you will experience at least some form of mild altitude sickness. It is caused by the failure of the body to adapt quickly enough to the reduced level of oxygen in the air at an increased altitude. There are many different symptoms but the most common are headaches, light-headedness, nausea, loss of appetite, tingling in the extremities (toes, fingers) and a mild swell of ankles and fingers.

These mild forms are not serious and will normally disappear within 48 hours. But if the situation gets worse, medical attention should be sought.


Safety and Security

Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure. We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe keeping of your passport, air tickets, travellers' cheques, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of the hotels we use have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage. When travelling on a group trip, please note that your DRIVER OR LOCAL  GUIDE has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it is deemed necessary due to safety concerns. Your DRIVER OR LOCAL  GUIDE will accompany you on all included activities. During your trip you will have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. While your DRIVER OR LOCAL  GUIDE will assist you with options available in a given location please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your itinerary, and we offer no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgment when selecting an activity in your free time. Although the cities visited on tour are generally safe during the day, there can be risks to wandering throughout any major city at night. It is our recommendation to stay in small groups and to take taxis to and from restaurants, or during night time excursions.

Protests and Demonstrations-
Protests and demonstrations, even those that are well intended, have the potential to turn violent with no warning. Counter protests can also turn violent. Action by security forces to disperse demonstrators and protesters may occur at any time. If you are in an area where demonstrators or protesters are gathering, avoid the temptation of staying for a good photo opportunity and leave the area immediately.

Water based activities have an element of danger and excitement built into them. We recommend only participating in water based activities when accompanied by a guide(s). We make every reasonable effort to ensure the fun and adventurous element of any water based activities (in countries with varying degrees of operating standards) have a balanced approach to safety. It is our policy not to allow our DRIVER OR LOCAL  GUIDEs to make arrangements on your behalf for water based activities that are not accompanied by guide(s).

Swimming, including snorkeling, is always at your own risk.

We take all prudent measures in relation to your safety.

 

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Ethiopia 

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