WHAT DO I NEED TO ORGANISE?
You need to organise your flight to Ethiopia, travel insurance, a visa and a yellow fever vaccination.
Do I need travel insurance?
Yes, it is compulsory to have travel insurance for the duration of the tour. We will need to sight your travel insurance on the first day of the tour, without it you will not be able to partake in the tour. Please read the booking conditions for details.
How do I organise my visa?
You can apply for a visa from the Ethiopian Embassy Canberra. You can download the application form from the website and send it back with all the required documentation. It costs $52 for one month or $78 for three months. Please apply for a tourist visa. Although you can get a visa on arrival, it is very expensive and time consuming.
How do I book my international flight? What is the average price for flights?
You can book your flight online or through a travel agency. You can usually find a return flight for around AU $2000.
Do I need any immunisations?
You must have a Yellow Fever immunisation. You will not be permitted to re-enter Australia without it. Hepatitis A and Typhoid fever are also recommended. It is advised that you are up to date with all Australian routine immunisations. There is very low to no risk of Malaria in the areas we travel, as they are above 2500 metres. If you plan to travel in other parts of Ethiopia you will need to check Malaria risk. Please consult your doctor to receive detailed recommendations.
How do I get from the Bole International Airport to my hotel?
The only way is with a taxi or mini van. It should cost about US $22. We can organise your hotel transfer for you.
What is the Ethiopian currency?
The currency is Ethiopian Birr.
What is the exchange rate from AUD?
$1 AUD is 16.5 ETB.
In what form should I bring money?
You will not be able to exchange Australian dollars; you will need to bring US dollars. Many places accept USD as well as Birr. You can use ATMs in Addis, Axum and Lalibela. ATM’s accepting visa cards are more prevalent than MasterCard.
How much money should I bring?
This will depend mostly on whether you wish to purchase souvenirs and other such items. The price of the tour covers the majority of costs. You will need spending money for things like water, drinks and any activities during free time.
WHAT CAN I EXPECT?
Remember you are traveling to a very poor and underdeveloped African country. You cannot expect the same comforts and service as you would at home. But you can expect Ethiopians will be friendly and welcoming, and you will feel safe.
What will the weather be like?
Ethiopia is known to have 13 months of sunshine (the Ethiopian calendar actually has 13 months). In the north (where we travel) it only rains from July to September. Temperatures in Addis Ababa and other towns are remarkably constant from month to month. The average daytime highs are between 17°C and 22°C and the average lows are between 11°C and 14°C. Due to altitude the UV is strong and in the sunshine it feels hotter than the temperature. The altitude also means there is a huge day to night range of temperature, its warm as soon as the sun is up and cold as soon as the sun goes down. It can get as cold as 3°C at night in Addis and even colder at the Hudad. You will need a second layer of clothing for the evenings in town and a very warm clothes for the Hudad.
What do I need to bring?
- Clothes for hot sun with high UV
- A layer for cool evenings
- A hat, sunscreen & lip balm
- A small backpack for day trips
- Comfortable walking or hiking shoes
For the Hudad also:
- Warm coat for mountain nights
- A warm sleeping bag
- A torch
Will there be laundry services available?
We recommend you bring enough clothes for a week without washing – their will be laundry service at some hotels and you will be able wash your own clothes at the Hudad.
What is the accommodation like?
Accommodation is in comfortable but inexpensive hotels and camping. We choose family owned hotels, which offer hot water showers and flush toilets. Those these facilities are not always reliable.
Camping is at the Hudad Eco-lodge. We supply tents, foam mattresses and pillow. You will need to bring a warm sleeping bag. A warm bucket shower is available on request. There will be a fire to stay warm in the evenings. All meals will be provided.
Can I bring my children?
Yes, absolutely. All our trips are family friendly.
Am I fit enough?
This is for you to decide and discuss with your doctor if you have any concerns. The most strenuous part of the tour is the 2-hour walk up to the Hudad, which involves a 600m ascent in altitude over a relatively short distance. The altitude is an issue for some health conditions. The volunteering also involves a degree of physical fitness and strength. If you feel tired at any time on the tour, we encourage you to rest as long as you need to – the group will always try to accommodate everyone’s needs. Please read our booking conditions for details on health requirements.
Is it easy to find Vegetarian, Vegan and Gluten Free food?
Yes, very! Orthodox Christian Ethiopians fast on a vegan diet every Wednesday and Friday and on many other days in the year. This means most dishes are either vegan or meat. ‘Fasting’ food is available everywhere at all times. The staple dish in Ethiopia in Injera – a fermented pancake style bread from a grain called ‘Teff’ which contains no gluten.
What is the altitude? Do I need to acclimatise?
Yes. Addis Ababa and Lalibela are 2600 metres above sea level, Axum is 2100m and the Hudad is 3200m. It is recommended to stay in Addis or Lalibela for 2-3 days to acclimatise to the altitude before ascending to the Hudad. It is normal to experience some shortness of breath and headaches at altitudes above 2500m.
Can I do extra activities within the tour and volunteer time, or before and after the trip?
Yes, please just let us know and we are happy to organise anything. The tour/volunteer time has free time built into it, and we will recommend activities you might enjoy. You may also like to extend the your tour to include a hike or time at the Lalibela eco-lodge, and we can facilitate this.
Who will be my tour guide?
Eyayaw will be with your for the tour time, while Leila will be with you at the Hudad for the volunteering time. If you choose to do optional activities, you may only be with a local guide.
Will I be with the same group the whole time?
Not necessarily. Some of our tours are part of a larger package, so there may be people leaving or joining depending on which package they have chosen.
Is it safe to travel with Ethiopian Air?
Yes, very! Ethiopian air has operated since and has one of the best safety records of any international airline. We chose to use flights rather than overland transport, as we believe it is safer than the roads.
What items can I bring back to Australia?
Ethiopia has a lot of beautiful wooden and leather handcrafts and souvenirs. You will need to declare these and pay for them to be checked, treated and quarantined for a number of weeks. They then deliver them to your house. It is relatively inexpensive.
Is there anything I should or shouldn’t wear?
In the capital Addis Ababa you can wear anything, however the country areas are more conservative. To show respect, we recommend you cover your shoulders and your legs to your knees.
What do I need to know about eating politely?
Injera (the staple food) is eaten with your hands from a share plate. You should use your right hand mostly and wash your hands before eating. Never lick your fingers, and don’t put your serviette on your plate when you are finished – your leftovers will be given to a homeless person.
Is it customary to tip?
This is completely up to you. If you feel you have received good service it’s a good thing to do. Keep in mind that the average Ethiopian earns less than AU$30 a month, so tipping a dollar or two will make a big difference to their lives.
Should I give money and other items to beggars and kids?
There are lots of homeless people in the capital Addis. Its is fine to give money to these people, as this is their only source of income, and the locals also give them money. In the towns and countryside however, children often ask for money, pens and other items. These children are not homeless and have learnt to beg from tourists. We do not recommend you give these children anything, as it encourages an unhealthy culture of begging. You are already supporting these types of children by joining our tour, where a percentage of your tour fee will go towards building the Hudad School.
What languages are spoken in Ethiopia?
Over 80 different languages are spoken in Ethiopia. Amharic is the official language and is widely spoken. Oromo is also widely spoken. In Lalibela and at the Hudad, Amharic is the local language.