Getting Around Ethiopia

  • The rivers don't always have bridges
    The rivers don't always have bridges
    by GrumpyDiver
  • Gondar to Axum
    Gondar to Axum
    by lotharscheer
  • Gondar to Axum
    Gondar to Axum
    by lotharscheer

Most Viewed Transportation in Ethiopia

  • GrumpyDiver's Profile Photo

    Driving in Ethiopia

    by GrumpyDiver Written Dec 8, 2013

    Driving in Ethiopia is not a great experience, and while the parts of the country north of Adidis Ababa can be accessed by normal vehicles, including mini-buses, some of the more southern destinations require travel in convoys using a 4x4 (Toyota Land Cruisers are the most comment and best way to do this).

    There are many road hazards, over and above the ubiquious potholes. One shares the road with people, donkey carts, cows, goats, baboons, etc.

    In wet season, roads run through rivers and may be impassible. Even in the dry season, the drive can be challanging and even 4x4s can get stuck. We found that some of the drivers haven't got a clue as to how to drive in these sub-optimal conditions...

    You get to share the road... The rivers don't always have bridges Even dry river beds can be a problem Traveling alone is not a good idea... Dugout canoe instead of the ferry
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    Car Rentals - Nicely said, you can't

    by GrumpyDiver Written Dec 8, 2013

    Ethiopia has not signed any of the UN Conventions on Road Traffic, so it does not recognize the International Driver's Permit (IDP). This means one needs an Ethiopian Driver's Licence to drive and rent a vehicle there.

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    Ethiopian Airlines

    by GrumpyDiver Written Dec 8, 2013

    We just did a trip to Ethiopia and used Ethiopian Airlines for the first time.

    We were very pleased with the service, and were lucky enough to fly on one of their new 787 Dreamliners. The main advantage of flying in this type of aircraft is that they pressurize it to an altitude of 6000 ft, rather than the more usual 8000 ft on all other airliners. The higher cabin pressure means that their is more humidity in the air and more oxygen in your system. This reduces the effects of jet lag.

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    Bus travel durations

    by mickybleck Written Jan 14, 2012

    Examples for travel durations between Ethiopian cities:

    Addis Ababa - Arba Minch: 7-10 hours
    Addis Ababa - Awassa: 4-6 hours
    Addis Ababa - Bahir Dar: roughly one day/ 3/4 day
    Addis Ababa - Harar: night bus (a normal bus)
    Bahir Dar - Gondar: 4 hours by minibus
    Gondar - Lalibela: 2 days in 2008, I do not know if that has changed (I decided that was to long and took a flight)
    Gondar - Debark (Entry to Simien Mountains): ca. 4 hours

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    Tour company

    by beeebeee Written Nov 29, 2011

    We used a company called Senait Ethiopia to travel around northern Ethiopia. Just the two of us and a driver in a minibus...lots of room. Our driver just couldn't have been more helpful and accomodating. It was a bit of an endurance test because of the road surfaces and if you're looking for history, go straight to Lalibella and forget the rest, especially Axom which is miles from anywhere and claims to have the Ark of The Covenant. [Joke]. Would recommend this company if you want to plan a customised itinerary.

    Brihan, our driver and us
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    • Archeology

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  • Elisabcn's Profile Photo

    Ethiopian Airlines

    by Elisabcn Updated Jun 12, 2011

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    Ethiopian Airlines was our best international option because it had direct flights Paris – Adis Abbeba at a very interesting prices. Hélas, when we finally decided to go to Ethiopia these tickets were all sold out.
    Once in Ethiopia and talking to other visitors we found out that Ethiopian Airlines had more advantages than we thought: if you choose Ethiopian Airlines for your international flight then you have 50% of discount on the local flights!

    We flew with Ethiopian Airlines at the end of our trip from Aksum to Addis Abeba. Our time was tight and that avoided us 2 days of bad road for our bottoms and M. K’s bad humour during aaaall the trip. Even if the Aksum airport is not very busy (2-3 flights per day), the take off was delayed. Apart from this the service was good and M. K was happy :-) We booked our flight in the Ethiopian Airlines' office in Aksum, just one day before travelling. During the high season maybe it would be wise to book in advance.

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    Buses

    by Elisabcn Written Jun 12, 2011

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    Big buses cover the longest distances and main destinations. There are not a lot, maybe one or two per day per destination and they leave early in the morning, by 6.00 am, so you need to arrive even earlier to get a place. Buses only leave when they are more or less full (a book with you is a good idea for the waiting) and there are few or no stops during the trip. Although that I found it the best means of transportation around the country and of course the cheapest one.
    Buses are found in big Bus Stations, usually not far from the city centre, so it is easy to find them. More difficult is to find the right bus because they have written the destination only in Ahmaric (no way!). Fortunately many people speak few words of English so they will bring you to the bus that you want.
    Even if roads were quite good (Ethiopia is developing quickly!) when you move from one city to another one consider a half – full day for that, depending on the destination. It was very tiring but unavoidable :-(
    Apart from your ticket usually there is an extra for transporting your bag pack on the roof of the bus. Give a look when they are loading your bag pack to be sure that it is well fixed.

    note: usually bus stations are crowded places, not like the one on the picture in Debark under the storm! :-)))

    Debark's Bus Station

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    Traveling in Ethiopia

    by Abraham.D Updated Apr 4, 2011

    Hi there,

    Please read the information under here hoping that my answers would suffice your travel plan. Before making a choice for air or surface transport from Addis Ababa to Jimma, I want to raise some points which need consideration. They are:Purpose of travel, No. of days staying,Traveling alone or in groups and Quality of Service

    Based on these considerations, these are my proposed options:

    Option 1:Purpose of Travel – If you are travelling for leisure i.e. tour or visiting people, surface transport would give you the opportunity to discover the small towns and the views across the edges of the highway. The question, however, remains whether to use a public transport or hire a private car. I don’t advice on using a public transport because it is very slow, less comfortable, and highly suffocated. A hired car provides greater care, convenience and flexibility. If you are traveling for business i.e. meeting or presentation, air transportation is preferable. Mostly, air transportation saves your time and energy that you need for upcoming duty.

    Option 2: No. of days staying in Jimma - For someone who travels for a short stay in Jimma, it is better to hire a private car since they provide convenience and there is no significant cost difference with the air transport. But if you are staying for more than 2 days, it would be appropriate to fly the round way.

    Option 3: Traveling Alone or in Groups – If you are not alone, I advise you to hire a car (a Land Cruiser or a mid size bus depending on your group size). In terms of cost, you would able to save much as the fee for hiring a car would be shared among group members.

    Option 4: Quality of Service – Ethiopian Air Lines is the only domestic flier in Ethiopia. In recent times, the airline has shown greater improvements in cancellation and delaying flights. I think you do not need to worry on this regard. Be also aware that they have six days flight every week except Saturday.I hope this would help.If you need further information, please let me know.Abraham D.

    Related to:
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    DRIVING YOURSELF

    by DAO Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    If you want to drive yourself in Ethiopia, there are a few things you need to know. First, you have to swap your National (or State) driving licence for an Ethiopian one and pay a fee of about $2. You can get your original licence back when you leave Ethiopia. Go to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Yohanis Street (tel. 0115 506561)to get an official translation and stamp. This will cost you about $30. Then got with Transport and Communication Bureau on Equatorial Guinea Street with a copy of your Passport, 4 passport sized photos and some patience.

    Sound difficult? It is. Many tourists do not do this. I am not advising you either way. I would guess that any fine if you are caught would be as much as the fee for getting it done properly and probably quicker to rectify.

    Very important: Third-party vehicle insurance is required by law, a very good idea and is cheap. As little as $10 for a year for a basic policy. $60-90 for a fully comprehensive cover. "No claim bonus" certificates from insurance companies abroad are recognized in Ethiopia for discounts. Do not let your rental company charge you loads of money for a short period of time. There are many agencies in Addis Ababa like the Ethiopian Insurance Corporation that can provide cover or you can arrange it abroad before you get here.

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    • National/State Park

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    Bajaj

    by elsadran Updated Jul 1, 2010

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    The convenient tricycles, called “bajaj”, can be found anywhere in the cities and towns except for Addis Ababa. They are ridiculously cheap. It is usually 1-2 birr a person and sometimes go up to 5-10 if you carry your luggage. Most of the times they ask for many times more if they see “feretzi”, as they call us, the tourists, but you should explain to them you know the prices and negotiate hard. They always expect that.
    In Addis Ababa and a few other big cities the fastest and cheapest way to go anywhere in the city are the vans that take up to 10-12 people and cost 2.5-3b, which is about 0.40 dollar. The local people usually refer to them as "taxi" which confused me in the beginning.
    Click on photo..

    bajaj in Harar a bajaj a public van
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    Buses

    by elsadran Updated Jun 20, 2010

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    Transportation is not easy yet in Ethiopia. The regular buses take a lot of time for a few kilometers, make a lot of stops and are usually packed with local people and their bulky bundles which can contain anything... They put them anywhere they can find space in the bus even under your legs. The aisles are never free and they all have to jump over bags and boxes to get out or into the bus again. It's really a mess...
    Legs always invade somebody else's space but nobody complains. In many cases I had to stay up all night because they were chewing chat and it was impossible for them to close their eyes and relax. So the best option is to take Sky Bus or Salam Bus if it goes to your destination.

    There are more photos...

    bus in Tigray bus in Fiche bus in Debre Libanos
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    Sky Bus , Salam Bus

    by elsadran Updated Jun 20, 2010

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    Sky bus is the best bus company in Ethiopia. It is considered to be the fastest and this is true. Locals complain that they cause a lot of accidents in the countryside roads where a lot of people walk for long distances. They are the most luxurious in Ethiopia and the most expensive, too. Although they would assure you there is a bathroom in the bus, which is true, it is locked up in the whole journey... so carry a roll of toilet paper and be prepared to get used in using the countryside for your needs...You will be lucky if there are bushes around where the bus stops....
    For the long trips you will pay about 15US dollars.
    Their offices are housed on the groundfloor of Taitu Hotel.
    Tel (251 111)568080/568585

    Salam Bus has softer seats and this is very useful on the bumpy roads of the country...They are 2-3 dollars cheaper than Sky Bus but they do their job very well.
    Their offices are near Mesquel Square.

    They are both preferable to local transport which is both too long and too bumpy and people make a lot of noise, and carry a lot of different things and sometimes animals, which makes the trip really exhausting!

    Sky Bus
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  • DAO's Profile Photo

    KLM

    by DAO Updated May 23, 2009

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness


    FLY KLM TO GET HERE!

    Why I like KLM:
    • Always polite, friendly flight crews that seem to enjoy working with each other
    • Fantastic booking website where you can search for flight 1 month at a glance!
    • Great prices on long haul flights
    • Free drinks! Just ask for more
    • Comfortable planes
    • Excellent in-flight entertainment (pictured)
    • Good food (pictured)

    You can join their Frequent Flyer Programme for free – it’s called Flying Blue. And you get to board the plane first – even if you have an economy ticket!

    Great airline. Give them a Fly!

    PLEASE NOTE: The flight between Amsterdam and Addia Ababa stops in Kartoum, Sudan.

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    Ethiopian Air

    by boltonian Updated Aug 2, 2008

    Ethiopian air is the only choice for dometic flights. Cheaper and much faster than driving, it is silly not to consider taking a flight or two.

    Flights cost around £35 one way. A flight from Addis to Gonder takes just under an hour, saving up to 9 hours if you drive.

    The airline is rated in the top safety bracket by the USA, so feel safe. A mix of jet and prop are used, both were pretty prompt and a smooth ride.

    Lonely Planet suggests that it is cheaper to book with the airline direct, however, I found it up to 60% cheaper and much easier to book through www.opodo.com.

    You can't book domestic flights on the EA website, so e-mail them and compare prices with Opodo before booking.

    Addis to Gondor

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  • choco15_2008's Profile Photo

    Tranveling around Ethiopia

    by choco15_2008 Written May 14, 2008

    1. there is some ways to travel around you could travel by bus,bike,privite taxis,taxis and e.t.c.
    you could also travel around by renting a car.when you rent a van you must get someone drive it for you but i wouldn't rent a vechical unless you are staying in Addis for while.
    2. watch out for taxi driver who takes advantage of you.(charging you more).

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Comments (1)

  • Feb 5, 2013 at 6:44 AM

    Ethiopian Airlines Problems

    It appears that Ethiopian Airlines is having problems with its Dehavilland Dash 8 planes. Lots of mechanical problems and flight cancellations. When Ethiopian Airlines cancelled out flight to Addis from Djibouti last month on the eve of Timket, Tania O’Connor at ABETravel in Addis was able to rearrange our trip at the last minute including juggling the timing of our trek in the Simien Mountains, a trek not to be missed.

Ethiopia Transportation

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