ETHIOPIA – ORIGIN OF MANKIND
IMPORTANT INFORMATION FOR YOUR TRIP
There are only a few weeks left for our great photography expedition in Ethiopia.
We recommend you to read in detail the following information and follow our advice to make this trip a success. Take notes if necessary or save this page where you can easily access it. As always, we are available to answer any questions you might have, via phone or email.
It is easy to assume that it is not necessary to know many details as there will always be someone telling you everything when you are part of a tour. However, despite having everything covered, including itinerary, locations, transportation, schedules, it is very important to know certain information about the regions or the country you are visiting. The better informed you are, the better your experience may be.
Therefore, read as much as you can about Ethiopia, see videos and buy a travel guidebook if possible.
Do not forget that this is a trip designed 100% with photography in mind and for that reason, we will have to sacrifice some comforts if we want to be in the indicated locations, at the right time to catch the best light.
Some of you have already travelled with us and know what it means to ‘catch the light’. Those minutes of golden light in the morning, blue hour and sunsets are our favourite time of the day for photography. That means getting up early in the morning and often travelling long distances to visit our chosen locations. Surely we will end up exhausted, but very happy to have seen a lot in the days that we will be in Ethiopia.
-Make a list of everything. Every time you remember a detail that you should keep in mind, write it down. Whether it is something that must be packed, a procedure to be carried out, pending calls before travelling, etc.
-Make sure your passport has at least 6 months validity and at least 2 free pages to stamp your visa.
-If you have not yet processed your visa online, we recommend you do so now. The only authorized site to process the visa is this: https://www.evisa.gov.et/
-Print at least 3 copies of your electronic visa. One to produce at immigration at the airport in Addis Abeba and the rest in case you lose your passport.
-If you already have your visa, double check that your personal information and passport number are correct as well as the travelling dates.
– Do you need transit visas for the countries you travel through before arriving in Ethiopia? Be sure to find out and, and apply with plenty of time.
-Take a mobile phone with enough memory. Download photos and files you do not need before you travel. A good phone is useful to record small videos, time-lapses, record audio or those BTS moments. Nothing worse than running out of memory.
-If you do not usually make an automatic backup of your contacts, it is also important that you do it regularly (not only when you travel)
-Please write down in a NOTEPAD or notebook, those telephone numbers you may need, including the hotel in Addis, your family and ours (once we have a local number in Ethiopia we will send it out to the group) A notebook is useful in case your phone runs out of battery or you lose it.
-Delegate tasks in your office and home from now. Who is in charge of paying your bills? Who will take care of your plants, pets?
– Leave a copy of the itinerary as well as the flight schedule, reservation codes and hotel name with a someone you trust.
– Think that you will be disconnected from your routine, outside of your comfort zone. Try to leave everything arranged beforehand.
– Bringing dollars in cash is always a very good option in case of emergency. It is a currency that works in any country. It does not need to be too much, but enough to get you covered in case you need it.
-Please take the time to clean your equipment very well, if you have not used it for a long time, charge the batteries and test them, they fail just like memory cards do. By experience in all trips, there is always someone who does not have enough batteries or memories.
-If music helps you to make long flights or road trips more bearable, download the music you like in advance. If you’re worried about your phone’s battery, bring a music player like this one
-Empty your memory cards before travelling and make sure you have enough capacity on your computer or external hard disk. If you plan to use software such as Photoshop or Lightroom during your trip, download it and make sure it is properly installed.
-Need to clean your camera sensor? This is something that must be done by a professional. Get advice in the area where you live.
-Tell your doctor about your travelling plans. He may recommend special medicines that you can take with you, depending on your health condition and the country you are travelling to.
Do you take a regular medication? Bring enough for the whole expedition, it is difficult to find some medicines in Ethiopia.
A first aid kit is vital. We recommend carrying the following, apart from the basics:
Thermometer, medicine for headache, flu, gastritis, constipation, migraines, analgesics for pain, muscle relaxants, antibiotics, antidiarrheals, antiallergic or antihistamines, rehydrating salt sachets.
Do you suffer from asthma? Don’t forget your inhalers.
WARNING: These are only recommendations, but it is very important that you discuss with your GP what medicines you CAN AND WHAT YOU CAN’T TAKE.
John Quintero, John Quintero Photography or any of its affiliates/work team is not responsible for any health problems caused by your medical condition and/or the medicines you take. For the same reason, we are not able to offer you ANY medicine during the expedition. If medical attention is required, you will be referred to the nearest hospital or health centre.
Routine vaccines that everyone should have:
Measles, mumps, rubella (MMR), diphtheria, tetanus, chicken pox, polio, and your annual flu shot. Make sure you are up to date with the reinforcements for these vaccines.
Vaccines Recommended for Ethiopia
CDC recommends this vaccine because you can get hepatitis A through contaminated food or water in Ethiopia, regardless of where you are eating or staying.
You can get typhoid through contaminated food or water in Ethiopia. CDC recommends this vaccine for most travellers, especially if you are staying with friends or relatives, visiting smaller cities or rural areas, or if you are an adventurous eater. Regarding water, we will offer you bottled water all the time.
CDC recommends this vaccine for adults who are travelling to areas of active cholera transmission. Cholera is assumed to be present in Ethiopia. Cholera is rare in travellers but can be severe.
Talk to your doctor about how to prevent malaria while travelling. You may need to take prescription medications before, during and after your trip to prevent malaria, especially if you are visiting low-altitude areas (like the Omo Valley).
A good repellent is vital. Make sure that between the ingredients you have DEET in at least 30%
Rabies can be found in dogs, bats and other mammals in Ethiopia, so the CDC * recommends this vaccine for travellers who participate in outdoor activities such as camping, walking, biking, adventure trips and caving. Yes, we will do almost all this.
Yellow fever is a risk in certain parts of Ethiopia, so the CDC * recommends the yellow fever vaccine.
* CDC: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Get covered for the whole duration of the expedition and don’t forget to leave a copy of your policy with a relative and also take a copy with you.
PHOTOCOPIES AND PHOTOS OF YOUR EQUIPMENT
Do not forget to take photocopies of your passport, e-visa approval letter and your flight’s itinerary. Put them in your luggage and carry-on bag. It is also advisable to scan or photograph those documents and send it to your own email.
WHAT TO PACK
-Please take only ONE suitcase/backpack with you, apart from the camera bag and a foldable small backpack, in your suitcase, Ideal for 1 or 2 days trips.
-Do you like to buy souvenirs and presents? Remember to make space for them in your suitcase.
-Check your baggage allowance with the airline.
– Pack your suitcase in a way you can access everything easily. Nothing worse than packing in a rush at the airport security check.
-Avoid problems and do not carry in your hand luggage, aerosols, liquids that exceed 100 ml, nail clippers, knives, scissors or lighters.
-Have an easy-access pocket reserved for your tickets, passport and documents you need during your flight. Or better yet, carry a very small bag or waist pack for documents, bank cards, money, a pen, a notebook, a phone charger and your glasses.
The climate in Ethiopia is very varied. We are travelling during the dry season and temperatures will be mild in some areas while in others can become very hot or cold!
Remember that Addis Ababa is the highest capital in Africa, it can be hot during the day and cold at night. The same applies to other areas in the north.
When deciding what to pack, we recommend you to be practical and creative. Wear easy-drying clothes (leave your jeans at home) and remember that we are not going on any business or fashion trip. It’s about being comfortable even if that means constantly repeating the same outfit. Technical clothing is perfect.
-Hat. Those with a neck flap are perfect.
-A headwear or bandana, which also serves to protect you from dust and the sun.
-Lightweight but resistant poncho NO raincoat. A raincoat is tight on your body and you can’t put your camera under. A poncho can protect you and your camera in case you want to take photos under the rain too. This is a garment that should always be in your camera bag.
-For men and women, a shawl or big scarf, preferably white or light colours. They are very common in Ethiopia and I recommend buying them there, they are beautiful and at the same time a great souvenir. This cloth is very light to carry and essential to protect you from the sun, dust and wind or cover your head when visiting the churches. Everyone wear one there.
-A waterproof jacket with a hood. Light but good enough to protect you against the cold, wind, and the rain. Brands such as North Face, Columbia, Quechua, Mammut and many others have very good ones.
-Long sleeve shirts.
-Long sleeve tops.
–Long-sleeved pants or those that can be turned into shorts. Having long pants for men and women is essential for Ethiopia. The dress standards are quite conservative in this country and neither of the sexes wears clothes that don’t cover their knees and shoulders.
Long trousers are also useful for places like Lalibela, a very religious town and for when we go hiking to the churches of Tigray area.
At night, long pants are also ideal to keep you warm and protect you from mosquitoes.
-Technical underwear that dries overnight
-Socks for every day.
-Flip flops or sandals for hotels.
–Walking shoes or boots, that are comfortable. There are many brands, but make sure they are light, waterproof, and ideally, that cover your ankles.
-A pair of lightweight trainers for short walks. New Balance or Under Armor have some very light and comfortable.
–Leggins to wear on cold nights, for both men and women.
A blanket like those you get on long flights can be useful for the nights we will camp.
-Sunblock SPF50 at least
-Lip balm (very important!)
-Shampoo with conditioner
-Hands and face moisturizer cream
-For women, sanitary pads or tampons
-Antibacterial microfiber travel towel. They are not bulky and dry easily.
-Locks for each suitcase/bag. Remember that our luggage will stay at hotels almost all the time. We also have local flights. The locks must be approved by the TSA, otherwise, the airport security may destroy them.
-Good quality tags for your suitcases with your phone number and email written on them.
– A sim-free mobile phone that works with any operator in case you want to buy a SIM card in Ethiopia.
– Protein bars (optional)
– Sun and reading glasses
– Extra contact lenses (if you wear them)
-A pair of extra glasses in your travel bag can save it in case you lose the main
-Sewing kit, like those from the hotels
-Pens in your suitcase and hand luggage
–Flashlight. A headlight is ideal. We recommend Petzl brand. They are light and batteries last for a long time.
-A sleep mask is essential for long flights or for well-lit hotel rooms
-Ziplock bags for clothes. Ideal for dirty or wet clothes. There are some that require a vacuum cleaner and are not recommended, as no one is going to carry a vacuum cleaner in Ethiopia.
–Money belt. Practical to keep your valuables safe.
-Do you want to bring gifts for the children? Pens and pencils are ideal. They can be purchased locally but the quality is very bad. This, of course, is optional and at no time are we asking you to buy them.
-Electricity adaptors. A universal type is perfect for all your trips. Electricity in Ethiopia is 220 volts. The plugs are type C, like the one used in Europe.
The converters in Ethiopia are of very poor quality and are not easily found.
-Carry in separate bags cables, chargers, connectors, etc. So you don’t have to search through the entire suitcase to find a cable. The same applies to underwear and toiletries. A set like this does not take up much space.
Always carry several large black rubbish bags in your camera bag. They serve to block unwanted reflections when taking pictures through windows, protect your equipment, lie on the floor or pack something. Put them in your suitcase also.
Please take only what you think you will need. Carrying heavy equipment is not fun when you are travelling for so many days.
Remember this bag will become your eternal companion every day, so choose one that is comfortable and strong.
The ideal for us is this type of backpack, which have enough space for 2 camera bodies, several lenses and your laptop.
Designate pockets for everything, so you can easily find batteries, memories, earphones, filters, money, pen, etc.
If you do not have a waterproof protector for your camera bag, please try to get one.
They are great to protect your equipment from the elements and pickpocketers. Don’t forget a lock.
Any camera is fine but full frame is ideal, especially to avoid noise in low light conditions.
Not recommended. Ethiopia has strict security policies and drones CAN be confiscated. Not in all cases but you have been warned.
Like a GoPro, if you want to record behind the scenes videos.
Think about what lenses you normally use and do not carry those that rarely come out of your camera bag. Our recommendation is a set of 3 lenses that cover the range of 14mm to 200mm and a 50mm 1.4 for low light conditions.
A wide-angle lens is useful for landscape and especially for astrophotography or in small spaces.
Take enough extra batteries with you. We will not have where to charge while camping. The electricity can also go for days!
-Enough memory cards (Seriously, many!) –
-External hard drive to download your photos every night
– Laptop (optional if you have enough memory cards
-A flash head or LED light with rechargeable battery
-Lightweight travel tripod
– Cleaning kit for the equipment. We recommend disposable wet wipes. The fabric ones get dusty and greasy.
-Be sure to pack all the cables and chargers you need. It will not be easy to get them in Ethiopia.
FOR THOSE WITH ANALOG CAMERAS
-Take plenty of film rolls with you, from ISO 100 to 1600 (the churches are very dark!)
-Buy small stickers to label your films, especially if you have to force the ISO, this will help you during the developing process.
– A black sleeve to reload the film without exposing it to light can be useful in case of an accident when loading the film.
-Use some filters, this link could be helpful.
WHAT NOT TO PACK
-Mini skirts, tank tops, clothing with obscene, religious or political prints, shorts above the knees, high heels.
-We do not recommend jeans or heavy clothes, but we leave this to personal criteria.
-Don’t bring big bottles of shampoo or moisturizer, pack only the essentials that you think you will use. Use only plastic bottles
-Sweets to give to children
-Camping equipment, sleeping bags
-Lighting equipment other than LED light or a pair of flashes with radios (optional) – You don’t want people to ask you to give away your jewellery? Leave it at home.
Taking things ‘just in case’ will only serve to add weight to your luggage. Think about what you really need.
-Check your flight itinerary, the local times you arrive and the waiting time at the connecting airports.
-Use the online check-in service and you won’t waste time at airports. Choose a seat on the aisle if you do not want to disturb anyone or withstand the trips to the bathroom.
-Ask the airline if your checked baggage is going directly to Addis Abeba or if you need to reclaim it at your connecting airport.
– Ask at the airline counter for all your boarding passes if you have connecting flights. If not, consider the time you need to obtain it at the airport where you connect.
-Speed up the security process at the airport and put keys, coins, glasses and documents in your handbag.
– Always carry all your photographic equipment in the cabin, excluding the tripod that can be protected with the clothes in the suitcase.
–Transport of batteries: THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT. For safety reasons, in many countries, batteries should NOT be carried in the checked baggage. These batteries must be carried in your cabin luggage. In some countries, batteries are removed from your luggage and you will only find out when you unpack your suitcase at the hotel. Can you imagine without batteries for your camera in Ethiopia?
OTHER IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT THE TRIP
Ethiopia is one of the safest countries in Africa to visit. For this and for many other reasons we have chosen this destination for our most important photographic expedition of 2018. John Quintero Photography and his team in Africa are constantly informed about public order, political demonstration or violent riots in the country and mainly in the areas we will travel to.
Your safety is always our first priority, and we will do everything possible to provide you with up-to-date information on any eventuality in the country.
Ethiopia is stable and safer than most other African countries, with low levels of violent crime. Like in many countries around the world though, and especially in the larger cities, pick-pocketing can be a problem, so we would advise you to take care of your valuable possessions and not to carry them in plain sight.
The same applies to your photographic equipment. We recommend not to go out alone with your photographic equipment, remember that someone from our team will always be with you.
With regard to how much money you bring to Ethiopia, it all depends on how much you want to spend. We have everything covered and you will surely only have to pay for tips for photos, tips for guides and drinks or meals that are outside the stipulated ones.
Are you planning to buy handicrafts? Surely the things you can get in Ethiopia you will not see anywhere in the world.
We recommend around 1000 Dollars minimum as extra money, although you probably will not spend it all.
The currency of Ethiopia is Ethiopian Birr, and can only be obtained in Ethiopia. You will need Birr at restaurants, coffee shops and markets.
We recommend you exchange dollars for Birr at the airport, the currencies that circulate the most are Dollars and Euros.
In some of the areas we are travelling, there are ATMs, but if you want to buy handicrafts or pay for extra meals or drinks, it is vital that you have local currency.
HOURS AND DATES IN ETHIOPIA
It is important to be aware of the difference in how Ethiopians express their time. In Ethiopia, it is traditional to use a 12-hour clock, with the two 12-hour cycles beginning at dawn (6 am) and the next at the beginning of dusk (6 pm). That is to say that 07:00 AM for Ethiopians is 1:00 AM.
And what would be 7:00, or an hour after sunset, would be 1 o’clock in the afternoon for the Ethiopians.
It is always a good idea to check if the person you are speaking with is referring to Habesha (Ethiopian) or Faranji (foreigner) time. If it is time for Habesha, add 6 hours and check if they refer to day or night. Complicated? After the second day, it will be simple.
Ethiopia is in the Eastern Time Zone of Africa (EAT), three hours before GMT (Greenwich Meridian Time)
The Ethiopian calendar is a solar calendar and has 13 months. It has 12 months of 30 days and a month 13 that consists of 5 days in a normal year and 6 days in a leap year. Do not worry, your itinerary will refer to the Gregorian calendar to which you are accustomed, but it is worthwhile to be aware of this difference.
Ethiopia celebrates its new year on September 11, which is 1 Meskerem in the Ethiopian calendar.
The above is just a guide to what we consider essential for our trip to Ethiopia, however, you are the one who decides what to pack. Remember that the lighter and smaller your luggage, the easier to carry around.
If for some reason you forget something essential like medicine or toiletries, it is better to get them in Addis, but please do not expect the same brands or same quality you can get in your country.
Finally, it is worth remembering that only you are responsible for what you carry and we will not have anyone to help you with your luggage. Therefore carry only what you can carry yourself.
Questions? Do not hesitate to contact us, our duty is to keep you informed.