How to organize a trip to Ethiopia

A trip to Ethiopia is an experience that involves all the senses, it requires a certain prowess and psychological strength and a strong sense of adaptation.
It is not an easy trip and, in this particular case, it is difficult to define this plunge in the land of black Africa as a holiday.
Whether we travel by bus or by private car, the result will most likely be unexpected and pleasantly surprising.

Land of tribes, natural beauty, active volcanoes and depressions, churches built into the rock, Moorish cities and a mix of cultures and traditions, thanks to a rather well organized transportation (in the northern area, things are different in the South in particular the Omo Valley), to the local population generous and good-hearted, to the lack of crime, Ethiopia stands not only as one of the safest countries in Africa but also quite "organized" so as to be proposed, alongside Namibia (which is defined as Africa for Beginners), as a soft introduction to backpacking in Africa .

Io al mercato di Babile

Babile Market

If you are reading, it means that in your head right now there is the opportunity to travel to Ethiopia.

That’s good!

Ethiopia is indeed a country that will surprise you, and no matter how many pictures you've seen, Ethiopia must be lived strongly and what one takes home is not just a thousand beautiful pictures but also the awareness of having lived an intense adventure that makes you understand why a trip to Ethiopia is so worth it ( for my reasons why click here , and I’ll have you convinced once and for all ! ) .
Therefore where to start with the organization of the trip?
I hope that after two months of solo travel in this country what I learned may come in handy for you!


The visa to enter Ethiopia can be done "on arrival", valid for a maximum of 30 days, either at the Ethiopian Embassy in your city.
As for vaccines to do click on vaccines for the trip to Ethiopia.

Flights to l'Etiopia

AirEthiopia flights depart daily from Italy with direct flight straight to Addis Ababa from Rome.
The average rate for the flights is around € 500/650 per person, round trip.
To seek a few solutions for flight to Addis Ababa click here .

N.B. When I was looking for the possible flights, the cheapest would be landing at 00:15, midnight fifteen, as I did not know anithing about the country I decided to opt for a ticket a little more expensive which would allow me to land during daytime. In retrospect, I would now say that if you want to save on the ticket (even up to 100 Euro) landing at midnight you should not worry, most of the hotels organize private transfers at $ 10/15.
Therefore in this case the flight can cost € 450 per person : Flights Rome - Addis Ababa

Air Ethiopia

Air Ethiopia

Getting around in Ethiopia

If you are ready to face a trip by bus and throw yourself into the heart of the country and you have at least 4-5 weeks, although in some parts of the country it is not so easy to move around, the buses and minibuses cover all the routes.
You must get used to how they work, especially the minibus, but in five weeks you’ll have time to see much of the country.
The most logical and common alternative for those traveling in Ethiopia but are not up to to do it in "DIY" mode ( which, I repeat , is tough ! ) and especially for those with limited time, is the private car . With this you are able to move more quickly and smoothly. Travel times are reduced by two-thirds.


Bajaji - Piccola apetta in cui riescono ad entrare anche 8 persone. Provare per credere!



How long to stay

As written above if you want to travel alone and you want to cover much of the territory five weeks seem to be the least.
But if you travel by private car things change, to cover North ( historical circuit and Danakil ) , East ( Harar ) and South ( Rift Valley and the Omo Valley ), the minimum would be three weeks ( with Harar considered as an extension).
In principle two weeks should be enough to cover the historic circuit ( north ) Danakil and Erte Ale excluded , or to cover the southern route and the visit of the Ethiopian tribes and spend a few days near Arba Minch and the Rift Valley , which are along the road.

Tipiche capanne etiopi - Tukul

Tipiche capanne etiopi - Tukul

How to choose the right travel itinerary

It all depends on the time you have available and the interests that you have, Ethiopia has everything, except the sea, for which you should cross the border and go into expensive Djibouti , where you can enjoy anyway beautiful dives and swim with the whale shark.
Generally the East is a possible extension for those who choose to travel north or south.

North Route ( Historical circuit )

This route is ideal for those wishing to discover the cultural and historical roots of Ethiopia but also its impressive and majestic natural beauty.

The itinerary begins in Addis Ababa , passing through Bahar Dar , a delightful town from where you can visit Lake Tana , the Blue Nile Falls , Gondar , famous for having the oldest and most beautiful castles in Ethiopia , Simien Mountains , for a day trekking, Axum , regarded by all Ethiopians as a Holy City where Christianity was born , in the third century . A.D. Lalibela , the eighth wonder of the world for its beautiful churches built in the rock and back to Addis.


******** For those who want a multi-day trek in the mountains Simien it is important to know that you are at an altitude and that it is advisable travelling well equipped for cold nights. Commitment required medium-high .

South route ( Omo Valley and tribes )
This route is ideal instead for those who want a full immersion in the African tribes that still live on strong traditions and as if the time for them has never really moved on. A journey in which you suspend time and , of course , you can do some of the most beautiful collectible photos.
This is a beautiful journey through the Rift Valley lakes and Arba Minch and then, above all , between the tribe Hamar (in Turmi ) , Karo ( from Turmi ) , the nomadic tribes Dasanech ( from Omorate ) , the Mursi , known for body paints and lips rings ( from Jinka ) , the Konso ( from Konso ) .
An ideal route in this part of Ethiopia should coordinate trips in relation to market days, when people coming from all the villages in the area (some even walking 40 km ) gather, allowing you to enter their world directly from the main door!

Evangadi dance, Hamar

How much does it cost to travel in Ethiopia

It doesn’t cost much if you travel on low standards and you are moving by public transport , 8 hours of bus cost about $ 10, a night at the hotel tourist class ( the standards are sooooo low ) about $ 10 on average, eating at local restaurants around $ 8/9 per day .
If you are traveling by private car and you want to be " comfortable " prices rise a lot. So if you always want a private bathroom , impeccable rooms, not basic , the room that costs me $ 10 won’t cost less than $ 80.


A journey of two weeks which includes only Addis, Rift Valley, Omo Valley and Harar, in economy mode, but in the Omo Valley standards are even lower than average, by private car and guides will cost around 2200$ per person ( flights not included ) if organized with local guides and operators.


It is of the utmost importance to understand in full that a trip to Ethiopia will be uncomfortable, you need to be ready for the unexpected but mostly you have to adapt, even when to

What to pack for a trip to Ethiopia

Although the idea of Africa is associated usually to a constant hot temperature, Ethiopia is mainly on a plateau, Addis Ababa is to 2900mt above sea level .
The nights are usually cool, especially in Addis I would say rather cold ( months from October to December ) and the days temperate.


*** In this country, although generally Orthodox with respect to the very traditional culture it is recommended for women to avoid shorts and too tight and low-cut singlets, this is especially valid in the area of Harar and the east where the population is mainly Muslim.


  • Comfortable lightweight trousers for trekking
  • Hiking boots or other comfortable shoes to walk in the soil
  • T-shirts
  • Polar fleece for the evening and a thermal shirt for trekkers
  • Windbreaker
  • Flashlight ( it is not uncommon for electricity cut )
  • External batteries to recharge cell phones or cameras ( in some places the generator is activated only in the evening or you are simply in areas without electricity , i.e. part of Danakil )
  • towel for the shower ( especially for those traveling in economical solution )
  • Flip flops ( you will not want to shower without ! )


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  • Trip interest ( tribes , historical track , hiking , Danakil, etc )

Within 48 hours you will receive an email with a proposed itinerary. Your travel consultant will help you think of a tailor made itinerary to create along with the operators on site with whom we work and of whom we may guarantee the fine work and the excellent quality per rate. In the meantime why don’t you give a look at our travel ideas and discover the benefits of traveling with local operators ?
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Aggiornato il: 1 Dicembre 2015
Scritto da: Giulia Raciti

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Scritto da Giulia Raciti

Esperta di Africa e Latino America sono in viaggio dal 2011. Attualmente a bordo di un van. Ho fatto un giro del mondo in solitaria durato 3 anni. Scrivo delle destinazioni che visito. Mi occupo di realizzazione viaggi personalizzati e su misura in Africa e Sud America sul sito dedicato Kipepeo Experience.

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