“Is it Safe to Travel in Ethiopia?”
Many people, especially here in the US are misinformed about Ethiopia.
First, Ethiopia is no longer at war.
President Abiy signed a peace treaty w. Eritrea in 2018 and you can already see Eritrean cars on the roads.
Ethiopia is a relative safe country. Violent crimes are very rare.
It’s pretty safe to travel all over. Still don’t leave your valuables (wallet, coin purse, mobile phone, laptop/tablet, binoculars or camera) sitting out in the open.
Begging is common and an accepted practice in some parts of Ethiopia.
You will find beggars in many places, especially around religious sites. Ethiopians mostly give beggars their loose coins; a one birr note is generous.
We strongly encourage you NOT to give money, candy, pens, water bottles or any other gifts to children, as it fosters a begging ecomomy among the young. You may hear kids yelling out things like, “Ferenji, money money, hungry, hungry!”
Refuse beggars or kids who approach you because you are a ‘ferenji’ (foreigner).
If you wish to donate, we can suggest an appropriate local organization and ensure that your gifts are distributed fairly and properly.
Do not feel obliged (or guilt-tripped) into giving money to opportunistic strangers. When they ask you, a polite but firm rejection is always accepted. The phrase ‘Egziabher yistelegn’, “May god provide for you”, is a polite way to refuse.
Do not contribute to any collection for money by children/ youngsters, no matter how official the letter, list or brochure might look.
Don’t offer to buy them any of the items they are collecting donations for such as computers, uniforms, footballs, sporting gear for the team, etc.
Experience has taught us that these items will mostly likely be exchanged for hard cash immediately after you are gone.
However, giving money or other gifts are truly appreciated by the people you will be dealing with on a day to day basis, namely your tour driver/guide or escort.
Like hospitality staffers here in the States, a good part of their income is made from “gifts” and “tips”. See our tipping guidelines for more details.