Ethiopia Travel, Backpacking & Gap Year Guide
Ethiopia is a really up and coming travel destination with friendly people, spectacular landscapes and lots of amazing places to see. Not many places compare to Ethiopia - expect bustling cities, stunning nature, lakes, mountains and tasty cuisine. View our comprehensive travel and backpacking guide with tips, ideas for the best things to see and do and information about itineraries, costs, how to save money, and more!
Activities & Things to Do in Ethiopia
Travel to Ethiopia
Our destination guide aims to give you all the information you need to have an amazing experience in this amazing country. Find affordable travel and backpacking ideas with advice for amazing things to do and how you can be more than just your average traveller. You can also get recommendations for budget travel tips, where to stay and advice how to stay safe.
Get inspired to visit Ethiopia today!
- Capital - Addis Ababa
- Currency - Birr (ETB)
- Population - 74,778,000 (approx)
- Languages - Amharic (official), Oromo, Tigrinya Guaragigna, Somali, Arabic (official), other local languages
- Country Dialing Code +251
Top Reasons to Visit Ethiopia
There are so many reasons you should travel to Ethiopia including:
- Less touristy than other destinations in Africa meaning you will get a more authentic experience
- Tasty local food
- Some of the most friendly people in the world
- World famous tourist sights
- Learn more about the history of the tribes and country
- Tourism is helping to boost the economy and employ local people
Travelling in Ethiopia
Thinking about going backpacking or travelling in Ethiopia? There are so many incredible places you can visit in Ethiopia including Addis Ababa, Axum, Gondar Castles And Churches, Bahirdar, Gondar-Tekeze Valley, Lalibela-Rock Hewn Churches, Bahar Dar, feeding hyenas in Harar, Gondar (Gonder), the Simien Mountains and the Omo Valley. Travelling in Ethiopia will be one of the most amazing experiences of your life. This is one of the world's most intriguing countries and one our top rated up and coming travel destinations. Don't leave the country before taking a game drive through Bale National Park, a cruise on the waters of Lake Chamo and try to meet the people of the Dorze, Mursi, Hamer and Karo tribes. You can also encounter the tribes of the Omo Valley which is highly recommended.
Ethiopia Gap Year
Looking for an incredible experience? Plan a life changing gap year to Ethiopia. There are lots of worthwhile programs available to book all year round. On a tour or in your spare time from a program you could see the churches at Lalibela and the holy city of Axum - both historic and cultural places of interest are must see destinations.
Ethiopia is a country to visit if you want to feel the warmth of African culture and people - don't let the image of famine and poverty stop you from applying. Ethiopia is a very safe destination and a very peaceful country to experience and most gap year programs are located in Addis Ababa which is the capital of Ethiopia, this is also where most international flights arrive into. This is a city which is great to explore, there is a mix of old and new buildings whilst there is a warm climate almost all year round. You will get an experience like no other in this country and whether you are a student, graduate, career breaker or just looking for gap year opportunities in Ethiopia then our website will appeal to you.
Ethiopian Infrastructure and the country as a whole has improved a lot over the last decade but there is still a for help and assistance form skilled / non skilled international helpers. We have a diverse range of projects in Ethiopia available to join all year round. You could join placements on care and community projects, teaching English, coaching sports, helping at schools or working at an orphanage. If you are looking for work experience then there are journalism, healthcare, medicine and physiotherapy internships and placements. You could also study in Ethiopia by taking a class to learn Amharic.
Most Africa gap year placements are open to people aged 16+ but you will need to be in good health and have a flexible / open attitude. Ethiopia is a very poor country probably unlike anywhere you have ever visited before, don't expect everything to be up to Western standards.
Best Things to See & Do in Ethiopia
Here are some top things to add to your Ethiopia travel itinerary:
- Explore Addis Adaba, Ethiopia's timeworn yet fascinating capital. A visit to the Ethnological Museum is highly recommended, as it provides a valuable background to what you'll be seeing in your trip. You could also head for the bustle of the Mercado Central, the biggest open-air market in Africa,
- Drive out along the ever-changing Ethiopian landscape to Bale Mountains National Park. Try to spot packs of Painted Hunting Dogs and Ethiopian Wolves - some of the rarest canids in the world - on a nature walk in the Havenna Forest. Travel on to Arba Minch, stopping off at small villages en route.
- Set out by boat on Nech Sar National Park's Lake Chamo for the chance to see hippos and crocodiles up close.
- Venture into the hills for a visit to the friendly Dorze people. Learn about the logic underlying the construction of their unique huts and perhaps witness traditional weaving in action. Take a game drive through Mago National Park to meet the Mursi tribe, known for the huge clay lip plates worn by the women.
- Marvel at the distinctive hairstyles and highly imaginative bodily decorations of the Hamer and Karo tribes. If the timing of our visit coincides with a male initiation rite, we may even catch a bull jumping ceremony.
- Learn about development projects designed to improve the livelihoods of the local Konso people.
- Watch local men haul in salt from the bottom of a salt lake.
- Wander among the standing stellae of Tututsi, which reveal something of the ancient customs of the people whose graves they mark.
- Travel to the university town of Awassa and check out its fascinating fish market or pick a restaurant for a final feasting on spicy Ethiopian cuisine.
Ethiopia Budget Travel Tips
Ethiopia is a very cheap travel destination and you can get great value on transport, sightseeing, accommodation and food. Accommodation might not be luxury standard but there are a good level of comfortable hotels and places to stay. Expect conditions in rural areas to be more basic. Public transprt can be unreliable but you can book private transport with local companies througout the country - your accommodation should be able to help with this. One of the easiet ways to get around is with an organised experience.
Health & Safety
Ethiopia is a very poor country but very few foreigners encounter any problems when visiting. If you are female you should dress conservatively. You will need to take Insect repellent, sunscreen, a mosquito net, a medical kit and also rehydration / diarrhoea tablets
View our Africa travel guide.