Ethiopia is the home to nine UNESCO World Heritage sites, and an exciting country to visit. When you are a tourist, however, there are some things that you will want to avoid doing in this country. Some are just a waste of time while others may end up getting you hurt or even killed.
1. Don’t Try to Speak the Language
It is a good thing that in most areas of the country, English is widely spoken. The official language of Ethiopia is Amharic, with its own alphabet. But there are over 83 different languages and regional variations spoken across the country. So…
2. Don’t Assume Noon is Noon
If you have a meeting at a certain time, be sure to check if that is on international time or Ethiopian time. Since Ethiopia sits almost on the equator, their days stay the same length throughout the year. Therefore, sunrise is at one, and the count begins for two 12-hour cycles. It can be noon on international time and 6PM on Ethiopian time, so be sure to clarify what time you’re following.
3. Don’t Be Your Own Tour Guide
In many countries, you can travel around without a local guide, but Ethiopia is not one of those places. You will need a guide to reach many areas, and even some of the most famous things to do, like visiting Danakil, can be dangerous to do on your own. At the same time, make sure that your guide speaks English and that you get the all-inclusive price, so that extra fees are not tacked on at the end.
4. Don’t Forget Lunch
Everything grinds to a halt in Ethiopia for at least an hour at lunchtime with everything closing. Take advantage of this time to eat a good lunchtime meal. One thing you will want to try in Ethiopia is their fasting meals on Wednesdays and Fridays when no meat, fish or dairy products are eaten, so they make delicious vegan-friendly dishes.
5. Don’t Leave Your Winter Clothes at Home
Since this country sits near the equator, you would expect it to be warm all the time, but that is not true because many of the places that you will want to visit sit at a higher altitude and can get chilly in the evening. For example, in Simien National Park, temperatures can drop to 28 degrees Fahrenheit at night, so you need to dress in layers. At the same time, there are many places in the country where it can get scorching hot, like the Danakil Depression, where one of only four living lava lakes in the world is found, and has recorded temperatures of 125 degrees Fahrenheit.
6. Don’t Give Children Gifts
This may make you feel uncomfortable, but in most locations, you will encounter lots of begging children. Do not interact with them in any way, or it will encourage them to keep bugging you until you give them money. This practice needs to stop so that the children go to school and get an education.
There are many beautiful places to visit in Ethiopia. Keeping these negative things in mind will actually help you have a more positive vacation in this great country.