Visa’s are required for any foreign visitors to Ethiopia except Kenya and Djibouti. This can be secured from Ethiopian Diplomatic and consular missions abroad. In addition, visitors from the countries listed below can obtain visa on arrival at Bole International Airport (Addis Ababa) the cost is US$20. The countries are: Australia, UK, US, Canada, Brazil, South Africa and Spain.
Ethiopia is in the GMT + 3 hours time zone. While this is the official line, the Ethiopians run on their own time. They figure most people get up in the morning at around 7am our time. So that should be the first hour of the day and thus it is 1 o’clock. This all get very confusing as lunch time is at 6 o’clock and dinner is at 12 o’clock. .
The local currency is the Ethiopian Birr made up of 100 cents. Visitors may import an unlimited amount of foreign currency, providing declaration of such currency is made to customs on arrival. Foreign currency may be changed only at authorized banks and hotels. The currency declaration form must be retained, as this will be required by customs on departure. Visitors, however, will be able to change any excess Ethiopian Birr to foreign currency at the bank in the airport before departure.
This depends on the service of the trekking team. As a rule of thumb the Guide US$40-50 Cook US$20-30 and Porters US$15. This is not mandatory.
Ethiopian cuisine involves a wide selection of fresh herbs and spice mixtures that give the dishes flavorsome and rich tastes. Cuisines are composed of various vegetable, grain and meat dishes, mostly accompanied by “injera”, a flat and circle like pancake with a much bigger radius, made of fermented grain powder called ‘teff’. It comes with different dishes where the most common ones are sauces similar to stews or broths called ‘wot’.
Different kinds of lip smacking, finger licking stews (wots) can be prepared depending on the content and ingredients used.
You normally eat using your fingers which is an ideal choice and the way to get a bursting taste of every flavor. Although nowadays people eat on separate plates, the traditional way is for the whole family or group to eat from one giant round plate (tray) creating a much more social environment for family or friends to interact.
Generally speaking Ethiopians love to eat meat to the extent that many eat it raw. During holidays it is common to see many people at the cows, sheep, and chicken market. You can not think of a feast with out meat.
Tibs (fried meat) is what is favored by most though. It can be prepared and served in different style. Tibs is one of Ethiopian cuisines you love to try if you will be there. Most Ethiopian restaurants are experts of a good tibs of lamb, goat, or beef. You can have a custom made style of each tibs by asking the chef or person at your service.
Perhaps the most delicious meals eaten with injera is Doro wet, a most sophisticated and considered to be the national dish of Ethiopians and sometimes expensive. Doro means chicken and wet is stew. So Doro wet is a chicken stew, the one that Ethiopians crave for at the ends of the main fasting seasons.
If you are a vegan or vegetarian, then Ethiopia is the right place to be. In Ethiopia, veganism is a natural thing not only for its health benefits but also as a spiritual experience tied to the Ethiopian Orthodox and Catholic Churches. Every week Wednesdays and Fridays are considered as fasting days with few exceptions. All in all more than seven months of the year are strictly vegan as it is a period of reflection, where one would distance from things that he/she has become accustomed to.
Shiro is a stew made from chickpea or beans and great choice for vegans. It is something one can easily fall in love with. It is Ethiopians’ favorite meal something they can easily access and eat most. But the most colorful of all vegetarian dishes is ‘Beyaynetu’, is a combination of all sorts of vegan menus served on injera. Just try that.
No Ethiopian meal is complete with out taking part in the coffee ceremony. It will take you a little patience but I tell you it worth it and will be a great complement. If you really want to treat yourself with an exotic experience of Ethiopia, you should not miss the coffee ceremony. For the visitor a real and exotic experience will be to take part in this traditional coffee ceremony accompanied by freshly cut grass being scattered on the ground, burning incense and roasting coffee beans in a pan. As the smoke rises you’ll be offered the delicious aroma to draw toward you and inhale.
Adequate travel insurance is mandatory for everyone who participates in a Pioneer expedition. Please bring a copy of your insurance policy and contact numbers to give to your expedition leader in case of illness or accident.
We have a social, cultural and environmental conscience! It is vitally important that travel has a positive impact on the social, cultural and environmental aspects of the places we visit. We ensure that when you visit places with us, your presence will help those that live there, that their culture will be respected and that the environment at the very least will not be harmed.
All societies have their own rules, borne out of generations of cultural development. We are not here to change these directly, but to witness them and appreciate them as another form of human existence. While on expedition, we will respect local cultures, those developed out of religion or social norms. We ask you to respect these to, as they are no better or worse than our own.
Environmental Policy – There are many aspects to the issue of the environmental impact of travel. Flying to the destination, accommodation, food preparation and human waste control. Each of these is covered either directly by our own environmental policy or we ask you to assist by for example, offsetting your carbon emissions to get to your destination. We try to use eco friendly accommodation where possible. Food is bought and prepared locally. We try to use fresh produce as much as possible. All expeditions are accompanied by rubbish bags. These bags are used by our local staff to remove non biodegradable stuff from the mountain. When at high altitudes, where food does not decompose well, we also return food scraps to Addis to be disposed of. We encourage our trekkers to participate in this process too. We strongly believe in the motto ‘take nothing but photos, leave nothing but footprints’. Our guides and porters are always careful to leave as little trace as possible of our presence when we visit remote locations, we never leave any rubbish. Remember, the less rubbish you create the better, as many countries don’t have adequate rubbish collection infrastructures in place, let alone recycling facilities.
We also inform the trekkers how to treat nature along the way, where they can go to the bathroom. how close they can get to wildlife etc. We teach our local staff the dos and don’ts in relation to how to treat the environment. We discourage hunting and deforestation for burning wood as well as keeping camp sites clean and clear of waste.
A key feature of our green tourism policy is that we make sure we boil all drinking water when on location, rather than relying on bottled water. This makes a huge difference to the local environment, as bottles take tens of thousands of years to biodegrade. Be aware of the environmental impact washing in streams and other natural water sources could have – many shampoos, soaps et cetera contain harmful chemicals which are then deposited into the ecosystem. Eco-friendly soaps are available to buy.
Services of a local guide – Our company employs local guides and porters, thus ensuring that economic benefits remain in local hands. We also encourage craftsmen at various destinations to produce local and traditional crafts keeping tradition alive for their children. We advise them to sell their wares for reasonable prices so that tourists do not go away with either nothing or feel they have been taken for a ride.