Our Responsible Travel Tips are drafted to guide you during your visit to Ethiopia to make on one side your visit more enjoyable and memorable but on the other side also to minimize the negative impacts of your visit on the environment and people of Ethiopia. If you respect these tips you can even have a positive impact on the people, economy and environment.
So Mark Land Eco Tours asks you for a help to reduce the negative impacts of tourism. 

Environmental issues

– Please don’t litter, even if your surrounding seems to show different, also not your organic waste
– From time to time pick up litter, it encourages others (locals) to do the same
– Don’t crush empty water bottles, because they will be recycled afterwards
– Don’t give empty water bottles to children, it has become a habit to risk their lives and run with cars yelling to get them
– Take your empty batteries and other chemical waste back to your home country
– When using a ‘bush toilet’ cover the result and the toilet paper with sand or stones
– Use water and electricity conscientious: Turn off the lights, take a short shower, don’t leave the tap unnecessary running and minimize having your towel / bed linen changed
– Never buy crafts or products made from protected or endangered species
– Obey the rules and regulations of parks and protected sites: Follow designated trails where possible, keep noise to an appropriate level
– Do not walk outside of the path and normal rules
– Do not disturb animals, plants or their natural habitat
– Do not pick flowers or damage other plants
– Do not feed any animals (especially monkeys): They get used to it, become a nuisance and have to be killed
– At the campsites follow the instructions of our guide for waste disposal, shower and toilet facilities, use of campfire, etc.
– Exporting stones and minerals from Ethiopia is strictly forbidden, so don’t put them in your luggage when leaving the country 

Economic issues

– Enrich your experience and support the local economy
– Buy in local shops and markets
– Purchase local products instead of imported alternatives
– Eat and drink in local restaurants and enjoy the atmosphere
– Support local craftsmen by buying locally produced handicrafts
– If possible buy these souvenirs and handicrafts only in licensed shops
– Trading and bargaining is common, but still pay a fair price
– Hire local guides if we did not already include them in your program 

Social Issues

Good to know

– Be a considerate guest
– Respect privacy and dignity of others, ask for permission before entering homes, villages, sacred places and private land
– Respect cultural differences
– Discover the enrichment of a different way of live
– Don’t judge without understanding the customs
– Don’t show your affection or anger open in public
– Politeness, respect and greeting are very important in Ethiopia, you can try to learn some basic greetings
– Elderly people and professionals are treated with special deference
– Homosexuality is illegal, so don’t show it in public
– Men often show their friendship by extraordinary affection, e.g. holding hands
– Use your common sense. Treat people the way you would like to be treated and appreciate the diversity of different cultures 

Videos / Photos

– Ask for permission and talk to people before taking a close up photo/video
– Respect if someone says no
– Show interest, interaction brings understanding for both sides
– Show them your taken photos if they are interested
– In the south it is custom to ‘pay per click’
– Although we encourage a system where an all-inclusive payment applies, respect the requested payment (5-10 Birr; 0.17-0.35 USD). Make sure the requested payment is clear, especially when photographing a group 

Dress code

– Dress modestly and reasonably in public places
– Cover at least your knees and shoulders
– Don’t wear shirts that are too revealing
– In the South people wear very little clothing and you can dress a bit more revealing 

Eating customs

– When eating without cutlery use your right hand only, especially if you’re eating together with Ethiopians
– Also, always wash your hands before eating without cutlery
– The left hand can be used for little assistance, but never to put food in your mouth
– If you are left-handed, you are allowed to switch hands, but then stick to this hand
– Licking your fingers is considered impolite
– Your host may feed you a small bite, which is a special honour and sign of respect and friendship and should always be accepted
– It is appreciated when you return the favor 


– Begging seems to be quite common in Ethiopia, but beware of organized beggars
– It is common to give loose coins
– Don’t feel obliged to give gifts to strangers, a polite rejection is always accepted
– Do not give money or any other utensils (even no pens) to children, because it fosters a begging economy
– If children ‘earn’ with begging they prefer (or are obliged from home) to do that instead of going to school
– If you like to donate we can suggest an appropriate organization and ensure the gifts are distributed fairly and properly 


– When in Ethiopian Orthodox churches and monasteries cover your legs and at least your shoulders, women can also wear a scarf
– Don’t drink, eat, chew gum or smoke when you are in and sometimes even around a church
– Behave quietly
– Take off your shoes and caps before entering the church
– Only stay in places where you are allowed to go
– Don’t touch paintings, old manuscripts and other artefacts
– Be sensitive where and when taking photos and using flash (ask before if flash light is allowed) 


– Be aware when it is appropriate to tip, people rely on their tips
– Foreigner Restaurants (Ferenji Restaurants): about 10% if service charge is not already included
– Local restaurants: rounding up the bill, 5% is fine
– Drivers and guides: very personal, because you are spending a lot of time with them. As suggestion could be: For half a day 60-150 Birr; 2.12-5 USD and for a whole day 150-200 Birr; 5-7 USD
– For the trekking tours also the other personnel (cooks, assistants, scouts, mule-men) expects some tipping