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Ethiopia is one of the most incredible places to visit in Africa. Known as the ‘Cradle of Mankind’, it has a long and fascinating history, a rich and diverse culture, breathtaking landscapes, and a jaw-dropping range of wildlife.
Though you may imagine Ethiopia being a hot, dry country that is uncomfortable to visit, this is simply not the case. Though on the fringes the temperatures can go above 86°F (30°C), Ethiopia enjoys a fairly mild climate with average temperatures of around 86°F (20°C), though this varies depending on altitude.
Overall, the best time to travel to Ethiopia is the dry season (between October and June) as the highlands are green, lush, and perfect for hiking. Going during the wetter months is wet and humid but, on the other hand, is the cheapest time to go to Ethiopia. This handy guide will explain the pros and cons of going during the high, shoulder, and low seasons.
The High Season (January to March)
- Season: Summer
- Average temperature (in Addis Ababa): 50-75°F (10 -24°C)
- Average rainfall: 20-80 mm
This is the best season to visit Ethiopia as the weather is warm, sunny, and perfect for seeing wildlife such as ibex, wolves, and giraffes. The average rainfall is at its lowest in many parts of the country including the capital, Addis Ababa.
Some of Ethiopìa’s most vibrant festivals, such as Timkat and Leddet, also fall during this time of year. The only activity you cannot do during these months is hiking in the Simien or Bale mountains.
Shoulder Season (October to December)
- Season: Summer
- Average temperature (in Addis Ababa): 50-70°F (10-20°C)
- Average rainfall: 10-40mm
Another fantastic time to visit Ethiopia for tourism. Though it is cooler than the high season, it is a great time for trekking and there are fewer tourists. There is little rain during this period so visibility is perfect.
This is the ideal time to go hiking in the Simien mountains which are truly stunning. More adventurous visitors can also visit the Danakil Depression and the Great Rift Valley.
The Low Season (April to September)
Average temperature (in Addis Ababa): 55-75°F (12-25°C)
Average rainfall: 55-270 mm
This is the peak rainy season and it is a bad time to visit many parts of the country such as the Simien or Bale mountains. The lowlands can be hot, sticky, and uncomfortable including Addis Ababa.
The major advantage of traveling during the low season is the price. Certain national parks such as the Omo and Mago Valley can be visited after July but many of the most popular national heritage sites and trekking routes are inaccessible.
When is the best time to go to Ethiopia?
So, when is the perfect time to travel to Ethiopia? This depends on where you want to visit. It is best to avoid the rainy season but apart from this, the Ethiopian weather generally makes for an unforgettable adventure.
Here are some recommendations for different regions…
The highlands, north, east, and west: October to April
The south and Danakil: August to mid-October and mid-February to march
If you plan to travel around Ethiopia, take clothing for hot and cooler temperatures they can vary greatly depending on the altitude and time of day.
Many people travel to Ethiopia to explore the vast landscape, ancient culture, and natural wonders and wildlife. In order to travel to Ethiopia, it’s important to check what documents you need to travel to Ethiopia.
Depending on your nationality, it might be necessary to apply for a visa. If this is the case, before applying for a visa, make sure that you check the visa requirements for Ethiopia. This will ensure that your visa application for Ethiopia is smooth and that you are able to provide all the adequate information and documents.
Whether or not you require a visa to travel to Ethiopia, all travelers visiting Ethiopia will be required to present the necessary documentation at border control and entry points.
Read more to learn about the Ethiopian visa application process and the documents you require to travel to Ethiopia.
Visa Requirements and Documents for Ethiopia
Launched to accelerate the visa application process for travelers to Ethiopia, obtaining an Ethiopian visa is simple. When applying online, applicants will be required to provide certain documentation. The same documentation will likely be asked of travelers when entering Ethiopia at border control in Addis Ababa Bole International Airport*.
Documents for the Ethiopian eVisa
When applying for an Ethiopia visa, applicants should provide:
- Passport information (photocopy of the biographical page)
- A passport-style photo in color (taken recently)
- A photocopy of a residency card (if applicable)
*Note: It is prohibited to enter Ethiopia with an eVisa from any other port of entry. The only valid port of entry for the Ethiopian eVisa in Addis Ababa Bole International Airport.
Documents for Traveling to Ethiopia and Entry Requirements
Once you have your Ethiopia eVisa (depending on your citizenship), this should be presented at border control at Addis Ababa Bole International Airport. In conjunction with your eVisa, you will also be required to provide the corresponding passport to the visa. All passports should be valid at the time of entry to Ethiopia and should also be valid for a further 6 months from the date of entry to Ethiopia.
In addition, all passports must have at least 2 blank pages remaining which will allow the immigration department at Addis Ababa Bole International Airport enough room to give any stamps, notes or updates to your passport regarding your entry to Ethiopia.
Summary of the documents required to travel to Ethiopia:
- Printed copy of Ethiopia eVisa (if applicable)
- Photocopy of passport
- Must be valid at the time of entry and be valid for a further 6 months from the date of arrival in Ethiopia
- Must have 2 blank pages remaining
Providing you have all the necessary documents listed above for both applying for a visa and traveling to Ethiopia, security checks and passing through border control should be simple. However, any final decisions regarding entering Ethiopia will be made by the immigration authorities. While they are able to grant you entry to Ethiopia, neither the eVisa nor other documents such as your passport guarantee your entry.
Remember that if you have dual nationality, it is crucial that you provide the correct passport that matches up with your Ethiopia eVisa application.
As mentioned above, applicants must arrive in Ethiopia via Addis Ababa Bole International Airport, as this is the only port of entry in Ethiopia that will accept the eVisa and necessary documents for travelers in Ethiopia.
You will need a visa with a valid travel document to enter Ethiopia.
The Ethiopian authorities have now resumed their eVisa service but the visas-on-arrival service remains temporarily suspended. All visitors must get an eVisa or obtain a visa from the Ethiopian Embassy closest to their place of legal residence before traveling. You will need to show a valid visa before boarding your flight and upon entry. Holders of valid Diplomatic ID, Ethiopian Temporary Residents Permits, or Ethiopian Origin ID (Yellow Cards) will continue to be allowed entry.
The penalty for overstaying your visit visa is USD10 per person per day. If you overstay you will have to pay your fine in full before you are able to leave Ethiopia. Visitors entering Ethiopia without a valid travel document and Ethiopian visa may encounter imprisonment and/or pay six months or more overstay penalty in USD.
To obtain a business visa for Ethiopia you may need prior approval from the Ethiopian Immigration, Nationality, and Vital Events Agency office before submitting your application to the Ethiopian Embassy. You should check the latest instructions with your nearest Ethiopian Embassy
Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry into Ethiopia. Make sure you have two blank pages in your passport on arrival.
Yellow fever certificate requirements
Check whether you need a yellow fever certificate by visiting the National Travel Health Network and Centre’s TravelHealthPro website.
If you’re visiting Ethiopia on a tourist visa, you will be unable to take employment, including voluntary employment. If visitors are caught in breach of their immigration status they may face severe fines or possible imprisonment.
Once you’re in Ethiopia you will not be able to change your immigration status. If you have any concerns about your immigration status in Ethiopia, you should contact the local immigration authorities.
Tourist and business visas are required for travel to Ethiopia. Travelers can also obtain a visa online (e-visa) on the Main Department for Immigration and Nationality Affairs website. A passport with 6 months’ validity is also required to get into the country.
What Do I Need for an Ethiopia Visa Application?
You will need your passport, passport photo, completed visa application form, proof of travel arrangements, letter of invitation, and a business letter to obtain a tourist or business visa.
How Can Passport Health Help Me With the Visa Process?
Passport Health’s travel documents team will walk you through the visa process step-by-step and handle the sometimes difficult communication with embassies and consulates. Contact us today to start your worry-free visa processing.
The tabs below will give you more information about the different types of visas you will need.
Travellers recommend appropriate insurance information if you are travelling to Ethiopia and to ensure that you are properly covered with comprehensive travel insurance.
What sort of protection/coverage does travel insurance cover you? Some of the coverage that you should expect is as below:
- Personal Accident
- Medical Expenses
- Loss of Luggage & Personal Effect
- Loss of Travel Documents
- Baggage Delay
- Travel Delay
- Missed Departure
- Flight Overbooked
- Hijack Inconvenience
- Travel Cancellation
- Loss of Money/ Valuables
….and other types of coverage as well.
Here are other examples that might NOT be covered in travel insurance:
- Declared or undeclared war or any act of war, invasion, the act of a foreign enemy, and other war terms
- Loss or destruction of goods due to radiation
- Suicide/Self-harm/ or any intentional acts by the insured person that provoked homicide or assault personnel or military personnel of any country or international authority, whether full-time service or as a volunteer
- The Insured Person engaging in, practicing for, or taking part in training in any speed contest, any professional competition or sports, and participating in Hazardous adventure
On your travel day, make a list of the things that you need to bring along- luggage, passport and tickets. Also, mark all your bags inside and out with your name and address – both home address and your holiday address. To be on the safe side, weigh your bags to ensure you don’t exceed the baggage requirements of the airline. Travel insurance is becoming a must, so do consider getting one because you do not have to worry if your bags are lost or if your flight has been cancelled or even if your passport and wallet is stolen. It is always best to get yourself and your family covered as mishaps do happen when travelling.
You do know that it is possible to travel with hand-luggage only, rite? Just that you will need to know the airline rules for carrying liquids, otherwise you may have to remove them at the security checkpoint! In order to handle jet lags, stay hydrated by drinking lots of plain water during the flight. Avoid tea and coffee.
Gather required documents before your flight as you are responsible to present as required, documents by the relevant authorities at all entry and exit lanes, health and other documents required by law, regulations, order, demands or requirements of the countries flown from, into or over.
Self-check-in is free, simple & quick! It will save your time at airport! Otherwise, counter check-in opens 3 hours before the scheduled time of departure and closes 1 hour before the scheduled time of departure. Note: Check-in deadlines may vary at different airports and for particular flights. Airport has long queues due to complex security checks. We suggest that you check-in early and proceed immediately to the departure gate or you may risk being left behind in security.
Pre-book your checked baggage to save money and time. Each piece/item of checked baggage has to weigh less than 30kg. Guests may not combine their checked baggage weight with other guests unless travelling in the same booking.
For, baggage drop counter, it opens 3 hours before the scheduled time of departure and closes 45 minutes before the scheduled time of departure. Guests are required to hold a boarding pass to use our baggage drop counters.
Bringing liquids are subject to the prevalent applicable local laws and regulations guests may take liquids on board in their cabin baggage with a maximum volume of 100 ml. The items must be placed in a transparent, re-sealable plastic bag.
For boarding time, guests are required to be at the boarding gate at least 20 minutes before the scheduled time of departure or you will be denied boarding.
- Ensure you have a reliable GPS system and location maps in the car. Sometimes, you can’t rely totally on GPS and the local location maps come in handy.
- Pack enough liquids/water and snacks in the car as some stretches are long and do not have halfway stops.
- Try to reach your destination before dark as most stretches are either forests or farms where street lights are minimal in the countryside.
- Plan some games, pack short story books or sing along rhymes if you travel with kids.
- Umbrellas are great in case there are light drizzles or rain.
- Always ensure your tank is full and refill before it reaches quarter tank as it is not easy to find another petrol station nearby. You never know if you have gotten on the wrong track/trail or got lost.
- Buy insurance coverage for the driver and passengers.
When you are overseas/ holiday destination, do call your close relatives/ friends to let them know you have arrived safely and keep them updated of where you are if you are moving around. Make sure to always keep your luggage locked when leaving them behind in the hotel. Carry your passport with you and ensure you don’t carry excessive cash that might attract attention. If you are taking a self drive holiday, make sure you collect the car from the airport and get a GPS.
When you are abroad and if you want to try something local, make sure it is a recommendation from a trustworthy source. To make life easier, get a local map and identify the tourist info centres. Moreover for safety precautions, avoid walking alone at night or in dark areas and beware of pickpockets whose modus operandi is by distracting you. Also, if you drive, follow the local traffic rules and avoid driving at night.
Before your return flight, do confirm your flight details in case of delays or cancellations. It is best to ensure that you have all travel documents prepared and easily accessible for check in. Always plan your packing and don’t do too much last minute shopping that can’t fit your luggage. Keep track with the luggage requirements of the country you’re visiting in mind.
Do not forget to remind your close relatives/ friends of your return and make arrangements for an airport pick up. Keep track of all your valuables and make sure that they are in your hand- wallet, passport, camera, watch, jewellery.
Last but not least, make sure you are at the airport two hours (or 3-4 hours in some countries) earlier to avoid missing the flight.