Before You Go
This trip is for experienced travelers only. For most activities, a relatively moderate level of exertion is required. You must be able to walk distances of one to three miles, sometimes over uneven surfaces, such as unpaved paths and slippery trails, and climb stairs that may not have handrails, especially when visiting the churches of Lalibela. Please note that the elevation of Addis Ababa is over 7,500 feet and altitude sickness may occur in some individuals. Most of the stops on this expedition will be set at a high elevations and most days will be cool, with chilly nights (mid-50s to low-60s˚F). However, the sun will be quite strong and adequate sun protection is essential.
Away from the main cities, the infrastructure is poorly developed and there may be delays and/or changes to the published itinerary. Some days will require long drives over unpaved, bumpy roads. All accommodations are the best available in the area, but may not be up to Western standards.
Please pay close attention to the following sections: Passport and Visa Requirements, Health Information, and Baggage Allowance.
- Activity Level & Accommodations
- Arrivals & Departures
- Baggage Allowance
- Flight Information
- Health Information
- Internet & Phone
- Local Time
- Packing Suggestions
- Passport & Visa Requirements
- Payments & Cancellations
- Photography Restrictions & Permits
- With Our Compliments
Activity Level & Accommodations
This trip is for experienced travelers only. For most activities, a relatively moderate level of exertion is required. You must be able to walk distances of one to three miles, sometimes over uneven surfaces, such as unpaved paths and slippery trails, and climb stairs that may not have handrails, especially when visiting the churches of Lalibela.
Please note that the elevation of Addis Ababa is over 7,500 feet and some individuals may experience altitude sickness. Most of the stops on this expedition will be at high elevations, and most days will be cool, with chilly nights (mid-50s to low-60s˚F). However, the sun will be quite strong and adequate sun protection is essential.
Away from the main cities, the infrastructure is poorly developed and there may be delays and/or changes to the published itinerary. Some days will require long drives over unpaved, bumpy roads. All accommodations are the best available in the area but may not be up to Western standards.
Arrivals & Departures
Departure / Airport Check-In Procedures
Please arrive at the airport for your international flight three hours prior to departure and have access to your passport and airline E-ticket confirmation. Do not pack your passport or other travel documents in your checked luggage. Be certain that the check-in agent properly tags your bags through to your final destination, if allowed, and that you have all baggage and E-ticket receipts.
Arrival / Departure Transfers
Transfers and assistance between airports and group hotels are arranged for participants arriving and departing on group dates. However, if you are arriving prior to the group arrival day and have booked additional night(s) at our group hotel, a transfer from the airport to the hotel will be provided.
Airlines change flight times frequently and our air department will send you any updates for flights booked through Zegrahm as they are received from the carrier. Still, we recommend reconfirming the departure time of your flights with the airline directly within 24 hours of departure. This can be done easily online and will ensure you arrive at the airport with plenty of time to board your flight.
If you are booking your own flights or accommodation, please forward a copy of your flight itinerary to Zegrahm Expeditions, as well as contact information where you can be reached prior to and after the program.
For your international flights to and from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, please check for luggage weight restrictions with your airline provider or our air department if you are booking your international air arrangements through Zegrahm.
Internal Baggage Restrictions
Due to weight restrictions on flights within Ethiopia, baggage for this program is restricted to 59 lbs. (26 kg.) total, per person—checked luggage (maximum 44 lbs.) and one carry-on (maximum 15 lbs.).
PLEASE NOTE: Most airlines strictly enforce their baggage regulations. Excess baggage charges, which can be substantial, are the personal responsibility of each participant.
We recommend the use of soft-sided luggage as it is easier to store. Your carry-on bag should include anything you may need in transit. We recommend that you carry essential toiletries and prescription medications on board the flight, as well as a change of clothing appropriate for the initial activities of our itinerary, so that you will be more comfortable in the unlikely event that your baggage is delayed in transit or is slow to be delivered to your room upon arrival.
Guests can look forward to warm temperatures. As we travel through East Africa, expect it to be warm, with temperatures ranging from the low 70sºF (21ºC) during the day and dipping into the low 50sºF (10ºC) in the early mornings and evenings. If traveling on the Omo Valley Extension, prepare for warmer weather with temperatures reaching the mid-80sºF (26ºC) during the day.
The following are average high/low temperatures in October for selected locations on our itinerary:
|Addis Ababa||71ºF (21ºC)||50ºF (10ºC)|
|Bahir Dar||76ºF (24ºC)||57ºF (13ºC)|
|Gondar||74ºF (23ºC)||52ºF (11ºC)|
|Lalibela||71ºF (21ºC)||50ºF (10ºC)|
|Omo Valley Extension|
|Jinka||84ºF (32ºC)||64ºF (18ºC)|
|Arba Minch||84ºF (32ºC)||64ºF (18ºC)|
As of May 2019, the exchange rate is as follows:
|$1 U.S. dollar (USD)||28.57 Ethiopian Birr (ETB)|
Currency can be exchanged upon arrival at the airport in Addis Ababa. It is possible to exchange traveler checks in Addis, typically for a 5.5% fee. Please remember to bring bills printed after 2002, as most establishments will not accept bills printed before 2002. If you retain your exchange receipts, you can convert local currency back to your country’s currency upon departure. Most merchants only accept Visa and MasterCard.
As a reminder, itinerary related expenses have been included in the price of your trip. Therefore, we recommend that you carry most of your money in smaller denominations.
You will receive your pre-departure information—including a complete packing list and gear certificate—approximately five months prior to departure. Final documents—including a final itinerary, contact list, and staff biographies—will be sent approximately one month prior to departure.
The electrical current in Ethiopia is:
- 220V/50Hz with electrical outlet types C, F, & G
PLEASE NOTE: Most modern electronics (cell phones, computers, and tablets) are dual voltage and don’t require a converter and adapter. Some appliances, such as video camera battery packs, require heavy-duty converters rather than the normal travel type. Please check your equipment to be sure you bring what is necessary for your personal needs.
International flights are not included in the cost of expedition; however, Zegrahm has a fully-staffed air department that can assist you with flight arrangements. You will need to purchase airfare from your home city/Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and Addis Ababa/home city. For more detailed information, please contact our in-house air department for fare quotes, reservations, or other air-related questions.
Ethiopia only requires proof of yellow fever vaccination if you are traveling from a country with risk of yellow fever. Please consult with your physician before receiving the yellow fever vaccination, and refer to the following World Health Organization link for more information on yellow fever requirements: https://www.who.int/ith/en/
The yellow fever vaccination, providing lifelong protection, must be given at official centers designated by your state’s health departments. The International Certificate of Vaccination must be validated by the center that administers the vaccine and carried with you on your trip.
There is risk of malaria in Ethiopia in areas below 2.500 m (8,202 ft), except in the city of Addis Ababa. We recommend consulting with your doctor before you departure, and refer to the following CDC link for more information on malaria risk in Ethiopia: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/yellowbook/2018/infectious-diseases-related-to-travel/yellow-fever-malaria-information-by-country/ethiopia#seldyfm879
Be sure to bring a sufficient amount of your personal medications, as we will not have access to pharmacies while in the remote areas of this expedition.
Altitude sickness can be an issue for travelers in Ethiopia (Addis Ababa is more than 7,000 ft. above sea level, and the Simien Mountains are 10,000 ft. above sea level), particularly those who suffer from respiratory or heart conditions. Travelers may experience shortness of breath, fatigue, nausea, headaches, and sleep problems. Please advise Zegrahm if you have any medical conditions that could be affected by high altitudes.
We suggest that you contact your physician or local health center for current and other information concerning health precautions, immunizations, and prescriptions based on your physical condition and medical history. Your doctor may recommend a flu shot, Hepatitis A, Tetanus, and other routine vaccinations. This will vary by guest and can only be advised by a medical professional.
Primarily on the Omo Valley extension, the presence of flies can be prevalent. We recommend that you bring a mosquito hat or head net. Insect bites can also be a problem, so we urge you to bring an adequate supply of both insect repellent and bite relief products.
Drink plenty of fluids whenever you can, not just when you are thirsty. By preventing dehydration, you may prevent a range of medical problems associated with traveling. Take precautions to avoid overexposure to the sun. Bring a sun hat with a wide brim or scarf, polarized sunglasses, and a high-SPF sunscreen.
Please note that tap water is not safe to drink in Ethiopia. We will provide bottled water throughout the program. Make sure to your wash hands with hot water and soap and use bottled water to brush your teeth. Please also bring hand sanitizer or wet wipes to clean your hands before meals.
In case of serious injury or illness while traveling, it is important to understand that satisfactory medical facilities may not exist nearby. Should you require emergency medical care, it may be necessary to depart the country by international medical evacuation services. The cost of our expedition includes $100,000 of emergency evacuation cover and $25,000 cover for medical expenses. If you would like request more information about this policy, please contact our office at 206. 285.4000, or you can review the pamphlet given in your final documents package.
The information herein is a guideline and is subject to change without notice. Contact your physician or local health center for current and other information concerning health precautions, immunizations, and prescriptions based on your physical condition and medical history.
Internet & Phone
Your final documentation will include contact information for our hotels. Wi-Fi is available at some of the hotels; however, please note that due to the remote locations we will be visiting, it will be intermittent at best and will have very low bandwidth. It is best not to rely on Wi-Fi availability. It is also highly unlikely you will have cell service during this expedition. Iridium phones have been known to work on occasion but are not a reliable means of communication.
Following are local times that apply to this expedition when it is 7:00 a.m. on the North American west coast:
|7:00 a.m.||Seattle, WA (PST)|
|10:00 a.m.||New York, NY (EST)|
|5:00 p.m.||Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (EAT)|
Meals are very simple and table d’hôte in Ethiopia. Limited à la carte dining will be available outside of Addis Ababa. Ethiopian cuisine typically consists of vegetables and often very spicy meats. These dishes are commonly served in the form of thick stew served on top a large, flat piece of injera (sourdough).
Should you have any particular dietary needs, or life-threatening allergies, please let us know on your Personal Information Form, and we will do our best to prepare for them. Unfortunately, kosher meals cannot be accommodated.
It is essential to maximize the versatility of your travel wardrobe by packing clothing that can be layered. Wash-and-wear, lightweight fabrics are recommended. As you pack, consider your own internal thermostat and adjust accordingly.
Please note that laundry service will be extremely limited during this program due to the remote locations of our lodges.
Rugged, lightweight, comfortable, and casual clothing that can be layered is most suitable. Bring light materials (denim is discouraged). Cotton, synthetic, or knit fabrics are of benefit to the traveler as they require minimal attention and are comfortable. A lightweight jacket and warm hat will be needed for cooler mornings and evenings.
Please keep in mind that dress is more conservative in Ethiopia than in the West. For pants, it may be convenient to bring a pair with zip-off legs. Shorts or revealing clothing should not be worn when visiting temples and religious sites. Visitors are requested to remove footwear when entering the precincts of religious monuments.
Wear hats and use sun block as we will be out for extended periods of time. Keep in mind that insects can be a nuisance in the evenings, so you may wish to wear long trousers and long-sleeved shirts on occasion to protect against them and the sun. Also, bring insect repellent with a high percentage of DEET as it is the most effective prevention of bites.
Excursions will involve a moderate amount of walking over uneven ground. Sturdy walking shoes with thick soles or light hiking boots are recommended for walking on the often-rough terrain. Make sure your shoes or boots are well broken-in before your trip.
Passport & Visa Requirements
A valid passport is required for participation in this program. It must be valid for at least six (6) months after you return home, through April 22, 2020. If you do not have a passport, or if it is not valid for the correct length of time, you should apply for one as soon as possible. You need to have a minimum of one (1) blank page available for entry/exit stamps in your passport. If your passport is nearly full, and you have insufficient pages for this expedition, then a new passport must be obtained. We suggest that you carry extra passport photos and a photocopy of your passport’s information page when you travel.
A visa is required for this journey. An e-visa can be purchased online for $52 USD at: https://www.evisa.gov.et/#/home. We highly recommend purchasing your visa prior to your arrival in Ethiopia to expedite your customs processing. It is the responsibility of the traveler to obtain the required visa. Upon arrival, please make sure immigration officials stamp your documents.
PLEASE NOTE: Citizens of countries other than the U.S. should check with the nearest consulates for specific visa and entry requirements for their entire itinerary, including both the group arrangements and any travel prior to or after the program.
Payments & Cancellations
A deposit totaling 25% of the expedition fare will reserve a place for you on this Zegrahm program. The balance of the expedition fare is due 120 days prior to departure. Air fare is due at the time tickets are issued. All prices are quoted in US dollars and must be paid in US dollars.
Cancellation & Refund Policy
Notification of cancellation must be received in writing by Zegrahm. At the time we receive your written cancellation, the following penalties will apply:
- 180 days or more prior to departure: $750 per person
- 120 through 179 days prior to departure: 25% of expedition fare
- 1 through 119 days prior to departure: 100% of expedition fare
Please note, fees associated with cancelled airline tickets are in addition to this and will be clearly outlined for you on your flight itinerary.
Trip Cancellation & Interruption Insurance
We strongly advise that all travelers purchase trip cancellation and interruption insurance to protect themselves from an unforeseen emergency that may force you to cancel or leave an expedition while it is in progress. Information describing coverage will be sent to you upon receipt of your deposit for the expedition. Unfortunately, we are unable to offer insurance to guests residing outside the United States.
Photography Restrictions & Permits
Video cameras MUST be declared on arrival and departure. Certain government and state buildings, including military institutions and personnel, should NOT be photographed. It is essential that you inquire with your local guide before taking any videos or photographs.
Each tourist is only allowed to bring one camera into Ethiopia. Ethiopian customs authorities will not allow tourists to bring professional cameras or videos. If travelers plan to take professional cameras, a special filming permit is required. Video cameras that are HD (high definition), VHD, MINI DIVI, and/or 3CCD are generally categorized as professional cameras. Please contact your Expedition Advisor if you believe you will need this special permit.
Photography in the Omo Valley is based on a fee, which is about $0.30 USD per photo. There is no photo fee in the northern, historic route. There is special charge for video cameras both in the Omo Valley and northern historical sites. This roughly amounts to $30-50 USD per video camera at each site/village.
With Our Compliments
We are pleased to offer complimentary amenities to our explorers, so they can be fully prepared before departing on one of our expeditions. A gift certificate to our Zegrahm Store will offer you the opportunity to purchase essential trip gear from our store. The certificate will be emailed to you approximately five months prior to departure. Please refer to the gift certificate for more details.