At approximately 850mm (34inches), the average annual rainfall for the whole country is considered to be moderate by global standards. In most of the highland areas, rainfall occurs in two distinct seasons: the "small rains" (belg) during February and March and the "big rains" (kremt) from June to September. In the south east lowlands the rainy seasons are from March to May, the longer season (gu), and the short rainy season from October to December (deyr).
There are international airports at Addis Ababa (Bole International Airport), and at Dire Dawa, Bahr Dar, Gondar, Lalibela, Axum, Arba Minch, and Mekelle. The national carrier, Ethiopian Airlines, has an excellent international reputation and currently flies to 81 international destinations in America, Europe, Africa and Asia as well as 18 local flight destinations. It is now taking delivery of the latest Boeing 787 "Dreamliner" aircraft for its long haul flights.
The main entry points by road are at Moyale (from Kenya), Humera and Metema (from Sudan), Dewele (from Djibouti). All have full customs and immigration checks. Until Eritrea invaded Ethiopia in 1998, Humera, Rama, Zalembessa and Bure were entry points from Eritrea; in the absence of any effort by Eritrea to normalize relations, they remain closed.
All visitors to Ethiopia, except citizens of Kenya, require a visa to enter the country. These should be obtained in advance from an Ethiopian Embassy, though single entry, one to three month, tourist visas can be obtained at Bole International Airport, Addis Ababa. For information about business visas or multiply entry tourist visas, contact a local Ethiopian Embassy which will provide the relevant forms. Visas issued by embassies are valid from the day of issue not from the date of arrival in Ethiopia.
Currency and Currency Regulations
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 six different coins: 1, 5, 10, 25, and 50 cents, and 1 birr.
The exchange rate as of 18th February:
1 USD = 21.27 ETB
1 GBP = 30.54 ETB
1 Euro = 23.61 ETB
1 Renminbi – 0.0000ETB
There is no limit to the amount of foreign currency that can be imported into Ethiopia, but it must be declared on arrival, using a currency declaration form. Foreign currency may be changed only at authorized banks and hotels .The currency declaration form will be required by Customs on departure. Visitors may change back any excess birr into foreign currency at the air port before departure, but they are expected to produce receipts for all exchange transactions.
These can be used in some of the larger hotels in Addis Ababa, and major credit cards can be used for flights by Ethiopian Airlines. A number of banks and hotels have ATM machines available and Visa cards can be used at some banks. The US dollar is the best foreign currency to bring into Ethiopia and it can be exchanged at banks and foreign exchange bureaus.
Drivers require a valid International Driving License, which can be obtained by exchanging your own local license at the Transport and Communications office on Haile Gebreselassie Road in Addis Ababa. Visitors can recover their original driving licenses a day or so prior to departure. Those with their own vehicles require a permit from the Ministry of Transport and Communication. Driving is on the right hand side of the road.
Ethiopia uses a 220 Volt and 50 Hz. System. It is sensible to bring a round, two-prong adapter and transformer if necessary.