Ethiopia started to gain its popularity in the recent years. People did not use to travel there are often as they do now, but it is an affordable destination. Plus, you get to experience a lot of things, even if the country does not have a significant surface area. Besides, Ethiopia is rather different from other African countries, and I am sure you will find a lot of things there that will catch your eye. You will create a lot of beautiful memories, and people there are very welcoming. Even so, there are probably some things that are best to be known before you actually get there. You will find some of them below.
First things first, only the people from Kenya can travel to Ethiopia without a visa. Even so, getting one should be easy since you can get it online. It is not very expensive, and the process is fairly simple. You can travel both by land and by air. At the same time, you can get a visa on arrival when you arrive at the Addis Ababa Bole Airport.
Leaving documentation aside, there is a ton of other things that you need to know before traveling to Ethiopia. For one thing, you should be aware of the fact that people from Ethiopia are very relaxed. They treasure their rest, which is why you will not find some places open during lunch. So, if you want to use some services, like a bank for example, between 12 and 2 PM, you cannot. That is because most places close down during that time. It is some sort of Spanish siesta. Everyone needs to eat and rest in the middle of the day so that they can continue working until the end of the program.
The weirdest aspect you will encounter in Ethiopia is how people there keep time. They have their own system that may throw you off. Our 6 o'clock is their 12 o'clock, and that is when they start their day. This should be of no importance to you, but when you have something scheduled, you need to ask what time they are referring to. Ethiopian time or international time. It goes the same with the dates. Ethiopia uses the Julian calendar so it will take a while until you get the hang of it.
Many people think that African countries are dangerous, especially when you are traveling alone. While that is true in some cases, it does not apply to Ethiopia. In fact, you can travel alone as a female and still be safe, even in Addis Ababa. You do not have to fear thieves, kidnappers, or anything else of this sort. People there are peaceful, and since the tourism has developed in the last few years, they are welcoming.
If you want to go exploring in Ethiopia, it would be best if you hire a guide. Ethiopia has an interesting history, and some of the facts are less known than others. That is why a guide is necessary. At the same time, you cannot even explore some of the parts of Ethiopia, such as the Danakil Depression, Simien Mountains, and Omo Valley, without a guide. Rest assured that most of the guides speak excellent English, but you should refrain yourself from making the payment before you know that for sure. You do not want to get stuck in the middle of nowhere with someone that does not know how to communicate with you, do you?
While Ethiopia is an affordable destination, I am sure that you think it is incredibly cheap. However, that is not entirely true. In fact, it can get quite costly, mostly because you need guides. Also, accommodation can be a bit pricey. The tourism tax is a common thing, so consider that before you go there. Even so, I am sure you will find cheap are the food and drinks. You will be amazed at how much you can eat and drink at the price of a meal in a western country.
As for the preparations before your trip, it depends on where you come from. For example, if you are a US citizen, you need a European adapter for your devices. In Ethiopia, they use 2-pin plugs.
When it comes to clothing, make sure that you pack some thick clothing for the chilly nights. Ethiopia is located at a pretty high altitude, and it can get pretty cold during the night. Some fluffy socks, sweaters, and long pants should not be missing from your luggage. At the same time, Ethiopia is an excellent place for hiking, which means that you need some hiking gear as well. Do not forget your boots and your pants before you leave.
Among the things you take with you should be toilet paper. You will almost never find any in public restrooms, and sometimes even hotels lack TP. You should probably pack a few rolls so that you do not find yourself without.
Leaving practical things aside, you should know that Ethiopia is a very photogenic country. You should never leave home without your camera. A lot of people choose Ethiopia for its scenery, and you cannot possibly go there without snapping a lot of photos. The view is breathtaking in the mountains, and I am sure you will regret forgetting your camera as long as you live. It may not be so important for some of you, but you will want to go over your trip again and again. A lot of pictures will help you with that. They will keep the memories alive for longer.
Overall, Ethiopia is a lovely place to visit. The people are friendly, the food is good, and you have to taste their coffee. They are actually famous for their coffee. Plus, the scenery is mesmerizing, and you will have goosebumps whenever you take a look at the mountains, valleys, or whatever place you choose to visit. Ethiopia is full of wonders, and you should take advantage of your time there by exploring as much as your time allows you.