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May 152014
 

Attractions

Playful Gelda Baboons

Frequently Asked Questions

Fresh local breadFresh local bread

When is the best season to visit Guassa?

Guassa can be visited any time of the year although heavy rain can be expected from July-September.

The annual celebration in the Arbara Medhanalem Church is held on April 5th and Firkuta Kidane Mihret Monastery has its annual celebration on January 26th.

How many days should we stay?

The minimum recommended stay is two days, with one night in either Guassa Community Lodge or Mehal Meda. The Lodge makes an ideal base for day trippers, who want to take short excursions to the magnificent Guassa plateau and the surrounding villages. For hikers and mule riders, we recommend spending at least one night camping in the mountains, at one of our three wilderness camps. If you have enough time, then a four-day trek, staying at a different camp each night, makes for a wonderful adventure!

Do the guides speak foreign languages?

The guides speak reasonable English. As for other languages, they will try to communicate, however a basic knowledge of English is required.

How much experience is needed to ride the mules?

Many of our visitors have never ridden a mule before and return home very pleased with their newly acquired skills. It takes only minutes to learn the essentials!

Is it possible to see wild animals?

The Guassa Area boasts several spectacular flagship species, and sightings of many of these species, including the endemic gelada and the iconic Ethiopian wolf, are virtually guaranteed.

How soon do we have to make bookings?

The facilities and guides are extremely busy during the peak seasons of Christmas and Easter, so you should book as far ahead as possible. At all times booking is required at least a day in advance.

Where can we eat in Mehal Meda town?

There are many local restaurants in Mehal Meda offering the standard range of Ethiopian dishes at a very low price, and delicious fresh bread! Otherwise, come prepared to cook your own food at the Guassa Community Lodge or campsite.

Apart from the mountain trips, what else can we do there?

Day walks or excursions to nearby attractions are easy to arrange around Guassa Lodge itself, or trips into the Sefed Meda Valley where wildlife is abundant and easily seen in the grasslands and Afroalpine habitat. Mountain trekking can be combined with village visits.

Guassa Community Conservation Area

Guassa Community Conservation Area

menz trekking                layful Gelda Baboons

Giant LobeliaGiant Lobelia

Guassa Community Conservation Area is one of Ethiopia’s significant remaining examples of a high altitude Afroalpine ecosystem, and it has been the focus of a community-based natural resource management system known as “quero” for at least 400 years. This natural management system makes it one of the oldest known conservation areas in sub-Saharan Africa.

The Guassa Area covers some 100 km2 and is located 265km from Addis Ababa. It supports important plant species, including Guassa grass (Festuca), giant lobelia, Erica moorland, Helichrsyum and Alchemilla. This diverse habitat supports an apparently stable but threatened population of the Ethiopian wolf. Seven other endemic mammals and 13 endemic birds are found in the area. There are also large populations of geladas and other mammals including duiker, klipspringer, Abyssinian hare, common jackal, leopard, spotted hyena, civet and serval cat.

The Guassa plateau offers an unforgettable wilderness experience and it is the perfect spot for Afroalpine trekking, mule riding, traditional village visits and much more. Guassa is an ideal destination for a week-long trek, or as a one night stopover on the way along Ethiopia’s historic routes.

Menz Guassa trekking

Menz Guassa trekking

Menz Guassa trekking

Menz Guassa trekking Red fox

Menz Guassa trekking

Menz Guassa trekking

Menz Guassa trekking

Menz Guassa trekking

Menz Guassa trekking

Menz Guassa trekking

menz guassa trekking

menz guassa trekking

Guassa Community Conservation Area

Guassa Community Conservation Area

Guassa Community Conservation Area

The traditional Menz village

gcca1Menz Village

A visit to Guassa Community Conservation Area wouldn’t be complete without visiting a traditional Menz village. The village contains many stone compounds typical of the North Shoa region. These are architecturally interesting and very photogenic.

Menz village tours offer unique insights into the way of life of the local people, displaying their history, culture and finest handicrafts, such as wool rugs in natural browns and creams, and the traditional burnous and zietett woolen blankets. The village visit can be organized in combination with trekking activities and scenic drives across the plateau.

i am ethiopian

Guassa Community Conservation Area

Uses of the Ecosystem

Ecosystem service: Water, carbon, grazing (refuge), grass, fuel, medicinal plants

Guassa Grass

The Guassa Area is the source of 26 rivers and springs, which flow to the lower lying areas of Menz and Yifat, The lives of people and livestock as well as irrigation projects depend on these rivers. The Guassa plateau serves as the watershed catchment area for two major rivers: the Awash and the Abbye (Blue Nile).

The traditional management of the Guassa Area provides a highly prized natural resource – Festuca sp grass – to the community. The population of Menz considers the Guassa Area to be important for their livelihoods, and describe it as “Our cloth, bread and butter”. One of the main reasons for protecting the Guassa Area is for harvesting good quality Festuca grass, which is used for various purposes such as thatching, robes, farming and household implements. Another important use of the Festuca grass is its value as a marketable product that increases household income. The grass can be sold in distant markets in Debre Birhan and Addis Ababa. Festuca grass is also valuable as a marketable product for increasing household income. The grass can be sold in distant markets in Debre Birhan and Addis Ababa.

The Menz communities also depend on the Guassa Area as a source of fuel. The bushy vegetation occurring at high altitude is the only plant matter that can be used as fuel. Cherenfi (Euryops piniflius) is the most common shrub used as firewood in Menz. It is usually collected by uprooting it with using a small axe or by pulling it out of the ground by hand. Although it is not good at providing the required amount of energy and it produces lots of smoke, its abundance in the Guassa Area has made it the region’s most important firewood. Erica bush (Erica arboria) is an excellent firewood compared to Cherenfi, but little Erica is left in the Guassa area and those areas remaining are in constant use by the community. Erica is a usually collected in the rainy season as it burns quickly even when wet. Ameja (Hypericum revolutem) is another bush that can be used for fuel. Although it can grow to the height of a small tree, it never has the time to mature in the Guassa Area, so it is always found as a bushy thicket. Ameja is usually collected to make brooms or various household and construction materials, rather than firewood. All the firewood plant species collected in the Guassa area have a low calorific value and do not provide constant heat. Therefore a mixture of livestock dung (Kubet) and bushy vegetation is commonly used in Menz to generate longer lasting heat. This combination of fuels provides energy for cooking and, to a lesser extent, for heating houses in the cold months of the year.

In Menz, the Guassa Area is important grazing land, which provides a refuge for the livestock when private and cultivated fields become devoid of any grazing resource, particularly during drought. Most of the livestock that graze in the Guassa Area originates from the adjacent villages. During prolonged droughts, livestock from more distant villages also stays in the Guassa area in temporary pens to avoid long journeys from the homesteads on a daily basis.

 

Feb 252013
 

Distinctive features of Tigray are its rock-hewn churches. Similar in design to those of Lalibella, but many are considered to be older- perhaps  dating from the sixth century. Designs are partly inspired by classical architecture, they are often located at the top of cliffs or steep hills, for security.  For the adventurous -  Tigray’s ancient Debre Damo monastery is accessible by climbing a rope 25 meters up a sheer cliff.

Feb 252013
 
simein mountain with balehageru trekking

simein mountain with balehagerutrekking

The Simen range consists of several major plateau divided by large river valleys. The western plateau is bounded on the north and east by massive escarpment, many kilometers long and over 1,000 meters high in places and cut along its length by steep gorges. The views from the top of the escarpment look north over the vast plains towards Eritrea. At their foot are the remains of ancient hills now eroded into Three of Ethiopia’ endemic mammals are resident of the Simen mountain. the gelada baboon is the most common of these, with an estimated population of at least 7,000 often to be seen congregating .By contrast the Ethiopian wolf is very rare in the mountains, with a population of no more than 50 individuals concentrated mostly on the afro- alpine moorland on the upper slopes of Bwahit, Ras Dashen and Kidus Yared. The Walia Ibex whose range is now restricted entirely to the Simenes, was poached close to extinction in the 1960’s, when just 150 animals survived. The unique geological feature of semen is described by Rosita Forbes, who traveled there in 1920s. The most marvelous of all Abyssinian landscape opened before us; as we looked across the gorge clouded amethyst… A thousand years ago, when the old gods reigned in Ethiopia, they must have played chess with these stupendous crags, for we saw bishops miters cut in laps lazuli, castles with the ruby of approaching sunset on their turrets, an emerald night where the forest crept upon the rock, and far away a king, crowned with sapphire, and guarded by a row of pains. When the gods exchanged their gets, they turned the pieces of their chess board in to mountains. In Semen they stand enchanted till once again the world is pagan and the titans and the earth gods lean down from the monstrous could banks of wager a star or two on their sport.

Feb 252013
 

The Bale Mountains, with their vast moorlands – the lower reaches covered with St. John’s wort- and their extensive heathland, virgin woodlands, pristine mountain streams and alpine climate remain an untouched and beautiful world. Rising to a height of more than 4,000 meters, the range borders Ethiopia’s southern highlands, whose highest peak, Mount Tullu Deemtu, stands at 4,377 meters. The establishment of the 2,400-square-kilometre Bale Mountains National Park was crucial to the survival of the mountain nyala, Menelik’s bushbuck and the Simien red fox. This fox is one of the most colorful members of the dog family and more abundant here than anywhere else in Ethiopia. All three endemic animals thrive in this environment, the nyala in particular often being seen in large numbers. The Bale Mountains offer some fine high-altitude horse and foot trekking, and the streams of the park – which become important rivers further downstream – are well-stocked with rainbow and brown trout.

Bale-Mountain

Bale-Mountain

 

Dec 092012
 

 

Welcome To  Trekking Ethiopia

Trekking  Ethiopia:-We allow your chapter of the human story to develop as you travel. Sites are never considered in arid isolation. They are seen as part of our greater history. Our journeys are not just a list of famous sites. The journey is created with people who know and understand the past as a Journey.

Trekking Ethiopia is a specialist company with independent status. We provide safe and secure tours and Trekking in Ethiopia. We keep everything on a personal level so you experience the best Trekking and travels in Ethiopia.

This is true for the land called Ethiopia. Ethiopia has enormous diversity with landscapes of lakes and volcanoes, lush rain forests and ruins dating back to the first century. At Trekking Ethiopia, we cater to your specific interest from bird watching to Trekking through the mountains and visiting the indigenous tribes and peoples of the most rural areas.

 We take the time to talk to you. We find out what you really want. Trekking Ethiopia   give you individual attention, suiting your every need.

 Trekking Ethiopia has over  2  years experience in the business. You can rely on us for personal and professional recommendations on everything from hotels to which restaurant to dine in.

 Above all you’ll find our team at Trekking Ethiopia just as enthusiastic as you when planning and booking your ’once in a lifetime’ trip!  We want to get your holiday right professionally and personally! Your Tours and Travels to Ethiopia will never be forgotten!

simain mountains

trek to simain mountains

Argoba shonqea  village 2

trekkingethiopie

Gelada-Reproductive-Unit

menz guassa trekking

menz guassa

 

Menz Guassa trekking

Menz Guassa trekking

Nov 062012
 

It is almost certain that Ethiopia is the cradle of mankind. Modern human being and its hominid ancestors evolved in the eastern zone of the great African Rift Valley. “Lucy”, one of our most distant ancestors, lived around 3.2 million years ago and it was found in the Awash Valley. Recently the discovery of an even older hominid fossil in the Afar desert, 4.4 million years old “Ardi”, has been published.

Ethiopia was known from the dawn of civilisation and has a 3000 years old history. The ancient Egyptians knew that their sacred and vital river Nile originated from a lake on a plateau in the land of “Punt” (“Land of the Gods” in their language) and they knew about a garden existing beyond the desert.

The legendary history of this country starts with the mythical Queen of Sheba who, after paying visit to the biblical King Salomon in Jerusalem, gave birth to his son Menelik I, the latter king of the Sabean or Axumite Empire. He took the Ark of the Covenant from the temple in Jerusalem to Ethiopia, where it is believed to rest until now.

However, also historical sources bear witness to the existence of a rich and powerful kingdom with a high level of civilisation in pre-Christian times. From its capital city in the north-eastern part of the country, not far from the Red Sea the Axumite Empire controlled once a vast territory, including parts of today’s Yemen and Sudan. It was an important crossroads of trading caravans from Europe, Africa and Asia. The empire used its own written language, Ge’ez and its own coins which were employed in trade. With the conversion to Christianity of King Ezana in 340 A.D. Ethiopia can be considered one of the first Christian states. Before, Judaism, introduced most probably by several waves of immigration from Israel, had played a major role in the northern and western centres of the country. From that time on, Christianity has become a major component of Ethiopian culture, up to date. After the decline of the Axumite Empire, 1137 to 1270 A.D., the Zagwe dynasty established its reign over big parts of the country, with the centre of power in Lasta, the area around Lalibela. King Lalibela was the most appreciated king of the Zagwe dynasty and later the town was named after him. It was he who ordered the construction of the sacred town, considered as a “New Jerusalem”. He built 11 rock-hewn churches, all carved out of the red mountain rock. Until today they have been very important places of worship. When the Zagwe dynasty declined, several years of changing rulers and coalitions, conflicts and wars followed, until under Emperor Fasilidas (1632-67) the small village of Gondar in the north was turned into the new capital city and a great religious and artistic centre.

 

In recent history there were other great kings who were able to unify and enlarge the country and oppose foreign invasions and interferences. Kassa Hailu was crowned in 1855 as the “King of Kings” with the crown name of Tewodros II. He ruled the country with strong hands and moved his capital first to Debre Tabor, then to Maqdala, where he built his stronghold in the mountains. There he captured British diplomats, whereupon British troops landed on the Read Sea to liberate them. In 1868 he committed suicide to avoid falling into British hands. The following emperors were Yohannes IV and then Menelik II, who extended the country to its actual size, defeated the Italian invaders in the historical battle of Adwa in 1896, founded the actual capital Addis Ababa and brought modern developments like cars, trains and electricity to Ethiopia.

Haile Selassie, (“Power of Trinity” in Amharic, the official Ethiopian language), the last great emperor crowned in 1930, reigned for half a century until he was overthrown by a socialistic-inspired revolution in 1974. The military committee called the “Derg” under the brutal Leadership of Mengistu Haile Mariam ruled Ethiopia until 1991, when it was overthrown and the first democratic republic was installed.

Many monuments of the ancient and glorious past of this country remain: the monolithic churches of Lalibela, the carved obelisks and churches of Axum, more than 120 monasteries and rock churches in the Tigray region, as well as those scattered here and there along Lake Tana, the source of the Blue Nile. In each of these sacred places ancient paintings, manuscripts and sacred objects are preserved. The diversity of ancient cultures, customs and celebrations are testimonies of the persistent importance of Ethiopia’s history and the Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity with its traditions and ceremonies is still a major part of every day’s life.

 Posted by at 9:33 pm
Nov 062012
 

Ashenda is a unique Tigraian traditional festival which takes place in August to mark the ending of fasting called filseta. This event is mostly for girls and young women, which they await very eagerly every year. It is unique to the people in the state of Tigrai which is in northern Ethiopia. The name of the festival “Ashenda” comes from the name of a tall grass that the girls make in to a skirt and ware it around their waist as a decoration.

 Posted by at 9:32 pm
Oct 302012
 

Itegue Taitu Hotel is located in a quiet hilly area with a cool breeze, thus amazingly tranquil and peaceful. The Hotel, built in 1898(E.C.), is in the middle of the city (Piazza), where tourist guides, and souvenir shops are found at ease. It is 20 minutes drive from Bole International Airport, 5 minutes from Sheraton International Hotel and 7 minutes from UNECA. The hotel provides amenities including a variety of bedrooms, bar and restaurant services, live jazz music every night, internet, left luggage storage, laundry and more. The atmosphere is very charming and friendly.

 Posted by at 6:04 am
Oct 302012
 

Visa and Immigration requirements

Visa applications may be obtained at Ethiopia diplomatic missions located in Abidjan, Accra, Beijing, Bonn, Brussels, Cairo, Dakar, Djibouti, Geneva, Harare, Jeddah, Johannesburg, Khartoum, Lagos, London, Moscow, Nairobi, New Delhi, New York, Ottawa, Paris, Pyongyang, Riyadh, Rome, Sanaa, Seoul, Stockholm, Tehran, Tel Aviv, Tokyo, Tripoli,’yienna, and Washington DC.

Visas are required for all visitors to Ethiopia, with the exception of nationals of Djibouti and Kenya. Visas should be applied for well in advance of any trip as applications can take time to process.

Except in the case of a few nationals, passen­gers in transit in Ethiopia holding confirmed on­ward bookings within 72 hours can obtain transit visas on arrival for a fee of Ethiopian birr 20. However, in this case, passports are held at the airport until departure and a pink-coloured re­ceipt card is issued.

Any visitor intending to take up work or residence in Ethiopia must have a work permit from the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs and a resident permit from the Department of Immigration in the Ministry of the Interior. A visitor on a tourist visa cannot take up work or get a work permit. It is best to have all formalities cleared before you enter Ethiopia and come in on a working visa.

Health requirements
All visitors (including infants) are required to pos­sess a valid yellow fever vaccination certificate. Vaccination against cholera is also required for any person who has visited or transited a cholera­infected area within six days prior to arrival in Ethiopia. Your doctor may also recommend gamma globulin shots or refresher vaccines for typhoid and polio before you go. Hepatitis, typhoid, meningitis, and other communicable diseases do exist in the country, but most tourists will run lit­tle risk of coming in contact with them.

Malaria is endemic throughout the country ­even at altitudes as high as 2,000 metres (6,560 feet). Visitors should begin taking a recommended chloroquine-based prophylactic two weeks before their arrival and continue taking them for six weeks after their departure. Medication for chlo­roquine-resistant malaria is also a wise precaution, especially when in a malarial area.

Bilharzia (schistosomiasis) is common through­out Ethiopia but is easily avoided by drinking treated water – tap water in Addis Ababa is treated and safe to drink – and by not swimming in lakes and rivers, with the exception of lakes Langano and Shalla, which are known to be bilharzia free.

International flights

Ethiopia is served internationally by Ethiopian Airlines, Lufthansa, Alitalia, Egypt Air, Kenya Airways, Puntavia (Air Djibouti), Saudia, Sudan Airways, and Yemenia.

Ethiopia’s major point of entry by air is Addis Ababa’s Bole International Airport, which is modest but does provide full passenger facilities – currency exchange, postal services, banking facilities, telephones, a duty-free shop, gift shops, and a restaurant and bar service.

Taxis and rental cars are available at the airport for transport into Addis Ababa.

Air fares

The usual range of fares is available: first, business, and economy class; excursion fares, bookable any time for stays of between fourteen and forty-five days; an APEX fare, bookable one calendar month in advance, allowing for stays of between nineteen and ninety days. The price of cheaper APEX fares varies according to the season. Stopovers en route are possible when arranged with the airline for all but APEX fares. Reductions are available for children.

Departure tax

As of mid-200l, the airport departure tax was US$ 20, payable in any convertible currency. Travel­ler’s cheques are not acceptable. On local flights, there is a ‘boarding charge’ of 10 birr for residents and non-residents.

Arrival by rail

The sole point of entry into Ethiopia by rail is at Dewele on the Ethiopia-Djibouti border. Arrivals undergo full customs and immigration checks.
Arrival by road

There are six ‘official’ points of entry by road into Ethiopia from the country’s neighbours. Moyale serves as the border post from Kenya, Sudan has border controls to Ethiopia at Humera and Metema, Dewele is the point of entry from Djibouti, and Rama and Zala Anbessa from Eritrea. All have full customs and immigration checks.

Visitors intending on driving their own vehicle into Ethiopia should first obtain the necessary permit by writing to the Ministry of Transporta­tion and Communication, PO Box 1238, Addis Ababa.

Customs

Besides personal effects, a visitor may import duty-free spirits (including liquors) or wine up to one litre, perfume and toilet water up to half a li­tre, and 250 grams (half a pound) of tobacco (up to 200 cigarettes or fifty cigars).

If you are carrying a video camera, laptop computer, or any other pieces of sophisticated electronic equipment, it is usually entered in your passport to ensure that you take it with you when you go and do not sell it while in the country. You do not need to declare still cameras, small shortwave radios, calculators, and similar small electronic devices. Professional journalists and photographers must report to the Ministry of In­formation to get a permit.

Permit is given for temporary import of certain articles – such as trade samples or professional articles – which must be produced on departure or duty will have to be paid.

Visitors may import up to Ethiopia birr 10 and an unlimited amount of foreign currency, provid­ing declaration of such currency (on the appropri­ate blue-coloured form) is made to Customs on ar­rival. This currency declaration form will be re­quired by Customs on departure.

Permit is required for export of antiques and wildlife products from the appropriate authorities.


Domestic air services

Ethiopian Airlines operates a comprehensive net­work of regular daily flights between Addis Ababa and Axum, Bahar Dar, Dessie, Dire Dawa, Gondar, Humera, Jimma, Lalibela, and Makale, as well as several other flights each week to many other towns. The airline flies to forty-three air­fields and an additional twenty-one landing strips within the country. Charter companies also offer flights to all main airports and to many landing fields not served by the national airline.


Road services

There are some 10,000 kilometres (6,200 miles) of gravel and dry-weather roads throughout Ethio­pia, and some 3,600 kilometres (2,232 miles) of as­phalt roads. A good bus network operates to and from the countryside from its terminal in Addis Ababa’s Mercato.


Taxi services

Taxis are immediately available at Bole International Airport. They can also be found outside most hotels in Addis Ababa and at the country’s major centres. There are two types: privately owned blue-and-white vehicles or, in Addis Ababa, Mercedes Benz taxis operated by the National Tour Operation (NTO). The larger blue-and-white taxis have standard routes and pick up and let off passengers along these routes, operating like little buses. There are no meters; there are low standardized prices for the fixed routes, and all prices for special hire should be negotiated in advance to avoid later mis­understandings. NTO taxis can be booked at any of the major hotels. Trips are paid for in advance according to destination; again, the taxis are not metered. These taxis are about ten times more expensive, on average, than the little blue taxis hailed on the street.


Car rental

Several firms operate car hire services in Addis Ababa. Vehicles may be hired with or without driver. For trips outside the city it is possible to hire insured cars appropriate for the trip (a four­wheel-drive vehicle with driver/translator is rec­ommended).


Driving

Drivers require a valid International Driving Li­cence, which can be obtained by exchanging your local licence at the Transport and Communica­tions office on Asmara Road in Addis Ababa.

Visitors can recover their original licences a day or so prior to departure. Vehicle owners will require the necessary permit from the Ministry of Transport and Communications. Driving is on the right.


Rail services

The 778-kilometre (482-mile) Franco-Ethiopian Railway runs from Addis Ababa to Djibouti by way of Nazaret, Awash Station, and Dire Dawa. There are both night and day trains between the capital and Dire Dawa, and the trip takes approxi­mately ten hours. There are first, second, and third classes. The Ethiopian Tourism Commission (ETC) or a travel agent can assist you with sched­ules and making reservations, or you can go di­rectly to the station, which is located near the junction of Churchill and Ras Makonnen avenues.


Climate

Despite its proximity to the equator, Ethiopia’s high altitude, averaging some 2,400 metres (7,800 feet), ensures a temperate, moderate, even cool climate – certainly not tropical. The highest daytime temperatures rarely exceed an average of 21 or 22°C (70 or 71°F) and for much of the year seldom rise above 16 or 18°C (61 or 64°F). Temperatures at night can drop to a chilly lOoC (50°F) or less. There are two rainy seasons: the irregular short rains from late January to early March, and the long rains that stretch from June until mid-September. May is the warmest month and is usually a time of bright sunny days. Daytime temperatures in January run just as high, but the nights are chillier. June, July, and August are grey, wet, and cool.


Currency

The local currency is the Ethiopian birr, made up of 100 cents. Notes are issued in denominations of 1,5, 10, 50, and 100 birr. There are five different coins: 1,5, 10, 25, and 50 cents. In February 2001, 8.33 birr were equivalent to one US dollar.


Currency regulations

There is no limit to the amount of foreign currency imported to Ethiopia, but it must be declared on the currency declaration form obtained on arrival. Up to Ethiopian 10 birr may be legally imported. Foreign currency may be changed only at authorized banks and hotels. The currency declanHion form must be retained as this will be required by Customs on departure.

Visitors may change back any excess Ethiopian birr to foreign currency at the airport before departure. If you do have birr to cash in at the airport, you must, in addition to the currency declaration form, bring with you all receipts for exchange transactions.
Banks

Banks have two sets of hours: cash and business. They are open for cash transactions all day from 08.00 to 15.00 including lunchtime Monday to Friday and Saturday 08.00 to 12.00.

Business hours are from 08.00 to 12.00 and 13.00 to 17.00 Monday through Thursday and 08.00 to 11.00 and 13.00 to 17.00 on Friday. All the major banks offer currency exchange. The two private banks have similar working hours.


Credit cards

Some credit cards are accepted in the major hotels and some of the larger restaurants. American Express is the most widely accepted. The Sheraton and Hilton also accept Visa, MasterCard, Diners Club, Access, and Eurocard.

Government

Ethiopia, a member of the United Nations and the Organization of African Unity, is an inde­pendent republic, operating under the Federal Government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. The president is the head of state, while the prime minister heads the main administrative office for the government. There is a Council of Ministers and Council of Representatives, with permanent secretaries in each ministry. Legislation carried through an elected constitutional council which oversees the application and operation of the constitution.

Local government consists of sixty-five Na­tional/Regional Governments, each comprising a national/regional executive committee, a judicial organ, a public prosecution office, an audit and control office, a police and security office, and a services and development committee. All local officials are elected by the people within each region.


Language

Amharic is the official language of Ethiopia, although English, Italian, French, and Arabic are widely spoken. In areas outside of the larger cities and towns, indigenous languages are likely to be spoken – of which there are eighty-three, with some 200 dialects. The most common of these are Orominya and Tigrinya.

Religion
Nearly half of the population of Ethiopia (45 per cent) subscribes to Christianity in the form of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, while a large 35 per cent are Sunni Muslims. Eleven per cent of Ethiopians, however, still adhere to traditional beliefs. The remainder subscribe to a variety of other faiths, including Judaism. Although most of the Falashas, or Ethiopian Jews, were airlifted out of the country at the time of the civil war, it is believed there is still a small remnant population.

Time
Ethiopia is three hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time. Time remains constant throughout the year. Ethiopians calculate time in a manner similar to that of many equatorial countries – in units of 12 hours. This means that the daytime 06.00, in fact, is midday and, vice-versa, the nigh time 06.00 is midnight.

Daylight

Being relatively close to the Equator, there is an almost constant twelve hours of daylight. In Addis Ababa, the sunrise and sunset start at around 06.30 and 18.45 respectively.

Calendar
Ethiopia follows the Julian calendar, which con­sists of 12 months of 30 days each and a 13th month of five days (six days on leap year). The calendar is seven years and eight months behind the Western (Gregorian) calendar.

Business hours

Governrnent offices remain open from 08.30 to 12.30 and 13.30 to 17.30 Monday through Thursday, and from 08.30 to 11.30 and 13.30 to 17.30 on Friday. Government offices are closed on public holidays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Most shops are open from 09.00 to 18.00 or 20.00 from Monday through Saturday with a lunch break from 13.00 to 15.00. Some shops or businesses close on Saturdays at 13.00. A few small all-purpose shops throughout the city open on Sunday mornings.

 

Security

The same rules apply for Addis Ababa as for almost any city anywhere. Be careful and take the usual precautions to safeguard yourself and your belongings. Street crime exists, such as non­violent pickpocketing or the snatching of hand­bags or gold neck chains and earrings. Avoid walking the streets at night – take a cab.

A void wearing jewellery on the street, and don’t carry too much cash or valuables on your person. Don’t leave valuables in your hotel room; use the hotel safe-deposit box. Items of any great value should be deposited with a bank.


Communications

Internet, telephone, telex, fax, e-mail and airmail services connect Addis Ababa to all parts of the world. Services are available at the General Post Office and its many branches, as well as in the main hotels. International direct dialling is avail­able from all the major centres in the country, which are served by microwave.


Media

There are several foreign-language newspapers published in Ethiopia, including the English daily Ethiopian Hera/d; the English Addis Tribune and Monitor, both weekly; and the Arabic weekly newspaper A/-A/em. The government daily, published in Amharic, is the Addis Zeman. There are other private daily and weekly Amharic newspapers and monthly magazines.

The national news agency is the Ethiopian News Agency, and there are several foreign bureaux operating in Addis Ababa, including the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), Voice of America (VoA), and Reuters.

Ethiopian Television (ETV) broadcasts every evening on weekends, from 13.00 on Saturdays, 12.00 on Sundays and from mid-morning on public holidays. The end of broadcasting varies but is after 23.00. There are programmes in Amharic, Tigrinya, Orominya and English.

Radio service is provided by the Voice of Ethiopia and Radio Fana. The Voice of Ethiopia external service, which broadcasts daily from late afternoon until 23.00 or 24.00, features daily programmes in English, Arabic, French, and Amharic. An internal service broadcasts for a longer period of time, with programmes in many local languages. Radio Fana is an independent service in local languages. Voice of Ethiopia in its FM 97.1, broadcasts for nearly 18hrs a day. The frequency covers Addis Ababa.


Electric Power

Ethiopia uses 220 volts and 50 Hz. It is best to bring your own round, two-prong adapter. American visi­tors should bring a small step-down voltage converter.

Medical services

Medical facilities are limited and generally poor, and overtaxed. Contact your embassy for referral to a recommended doctor. If you fall seriously ill or are gravely hurt, you may want to consider evacuation to nearby Nairobi or to Europe. Air rescue services are available, and you might want to make arrangements with one before your trip.

Medical insurance

Medical insurance should be purchased before you leave and preferably include emergency air evacuation coverage.


Chernis tsl pharmacies

Medical supplies are limited. Visitors should carry an adequate supply of all medicines they may need with them. Those wearing glasses should carry an extra pair – just in case – or, failing that, a prescription. Most chemists and pharmacies maintain regular business hours. Most are open all day on Saturday and there is a system of ‘on-duty’ pharmacists open to 22.30 or 23.00, Sundays and Public Holidays.


Liquor

Ethiopia’s several brands of commercially brewed beers are very tasty and inexpensive, as are the very palatable local wines. Imported spirits, on the other hand, are expensive. Local drinks such as lej, a type of mead or honey wine, or lelia, a local home-brewed beer, are cheaper – but some can be quite potent.


Tipping

Tips up to ten per cent are an accepted practice and appreciated. At night, tipping the guard who is watching your car outside a restaurant, usually with one birr, is common practice. During the day, street parking boys will want a tip for watching your car willie you shop. You are not required to tip them for their unsolicited services, but you may, if you wish to do so. You are not expected to tip a taxi driver on a standard route, just as you would not tip a bus driver. But you can tip the driver of a negotiated trip if the service has been good. In this case, a tip of ten per cent is considered generous. Hope Enterprises sells books of meal tickets (8 for 4 birr) at their shop on Churchill Avenue. This are welcome tips for street boys watching cars.

Clubs

Clubs are a prominent feature of Ethiopian social life, particularly for expatriates. Most are organized around sport, some are philanthropic. Many have excellent facilities and welcome visitors, especially members of international clubs and societies with reciprocal arrangements. Some charge a temporary membership fee.

Sport club activities include angling, bad­minton, basketball, ten-pin bowling, cricket, golf, horse-riding, handball, polo, rugby, soccer, softball, squash, swimming, Tae Kwon Do, and tennis.

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