Ethiopia is one of the newest tourist destinations in Africa, only considered a holiday destination since the end of the war in 2001. But the ancient country has a history and landscape that will impress any traveller from the moment they step off the flight to Ethiopia.
Referred to as the “lap of civilisation,” Ethiopia has the longest history of any country on Earth. It was here that the bones of Lucy, the oldest human fossil, were found, dating back more than three million years. Today, the country is home to nearly 100 different tribes and, due to the relative lack of developed tourism, its rich culture can easily be explored by visitors.
The natural scenery is another attraction. Look out of the plane window on the flight to get a sense of the vastness and diversity of the country: its landscape includes the Simien Mountains, lakes, waterfalls, the lunar landscape of the Danakil Depression and huge expanses of desert.
This is a country gradually overthrowing its image as a place of poverty and war; instead travellers are starting to explore all it has to offer. Tours are opening up, from Addis Ababa to the churches of Lalibela. Book a flight to Ethiopia now, before the rest of the world catches on…
The flight from the UK to Ethiopia will take between 11h 10m and 23h 20m depending on your point of origin, the number of stopovers on your route, and your destination within the nation. The most common departure point in the UK is London Heathrow Airport, which is the largest and busiest airport in the UK. There are other options, as well, including London Stanstead, which is smaller and quieter, London Gatwick Airport, which is the second largest airport in the UK, and numerous others. Flying into the nation, you will most likely arrive at Addis Ababa International Airport, which is located not far from the heart of the city. However, there are other airports available, including in Makale, Jijiga, Arba Mintch, and Dire Dawa to name just a few.
Unfortunately, there no direct flights from the UK to Ethiopia at this time. However, there are quite a few options that offer either one or two stopovers. London is the most common departure point, but you can also leave from Birmingham, Glasgow, Newcastle, Exeter, Edinburgh, and many other cities. Some of the most common stopover points along the route include Dubai, Istanbul, and Cairo. For airlines, you can choose between Ethiopian Airlines, Turkish Airlines, and Emirates Airlines.
The best way to get around during a stay in Ethiopia is by air. However, the only airline is Ethiopia Airlines. The prices are at least affordable, though, and you are able to avoid ground travel. If you do not take a plane, the bus system is your next best option. Most of the country’s major cities are connected by bus, but they can be somewhat crowded. Cycling is an interesting way to see the country, at least in and around the major cities. You can also rent a vehicle, but most will be four-wheel drive. You are allowed to drive for up to three months on an international driving license.
During a stay in Ethiopia, you will be able to enjoy a number of attractions and activities. The Church of St. George is one of the more popular choices, as are the Rock-Hewn Churches of Lalibela. The Bale Mountains offer stunning scenery, and the Omo National Park and River are worth exploring. Of course, there is a little bit of everything within Addis Ababa, from shopping and dining to nightlife and museums.
For UK citizens traveling to Ethiopia, a visa and a passport are required. Your passport must be valid for at least six months after your point of entry into the country, and you will need at least a 90-day visa. It is usually easier to apply for an eVisa, but physical visas can also be used.
Ethiopia usually has rain from June to September and no rain from October to May. The temperature ranges with the altitude, with hot and humid conditions in the lowlands and mild, cool temperatures in the highlands.
October through May is the dry season and is most popular with visitors. Though there is never a real stampede of tourists stepping off flights to Ethiopia, the dry season is the time when hotels are more likely to be booked and attractions will be busier.
June to September is when the country receives the most rain, however, this can still be a good time to visit as there is plenty of sunshine.
Ethiopian Airlines has an excellent network, with domestic Ethiopia flights to more than 40 destinations in the country. Prices are reasonable. Ethiopia is a big country and this is by far the quickest way to travel. Be aware that there is a US$10 tax on departure for each flight.
There is a good bus and inexpensive bus system, but services can be very slow and tickets may be sold out a day in advance. Book ahead if possible. Buses are regulated and drivers can’t continue past a certain hour in the evening, so if you haven’t reached your destination on time, you may just get dropped where you are for the night.
Car hire is possible in Addis Ababa. It is necessary to get a 4WD due to the poor conditions of the roads.