Ethiopia Travel, Transportation and Traffic

By | January 24, 2021

Travel, transportation and traffic

In recent years, Ethiopia has become an increasingly attractive travel destination due to its breathtaking nature, its history that can be experienced through the diverse sights and not least because of its warm people. The capital Addis Ababa was listed by Lonely Planet as one of the ten most attractive city destinations worldwide in 2013.

Horse-drawn carriage on the outskirts of Addis Ababa

Horse-drawn carriage on the outskirts of Addis Ababa

The best way to get to Ethiopia is by plane. There are many international airlines that fly to Addis Ababa. This means that several flight connections to Europe are possible every day. Ethiopian Airlines is one of the most reliable and safest airlines in Africa. The line was founded in 1945. Today it has a modern fleet and offers, among other things, regular flight connections to all parts of the country and to tourist destinations in Ethiopia. Ethiopian Airlines has a codeshare agreement with Lufthansa.

Typical minibus taxi in downtown Addis Ababa

Typical minibus taxi in downtown Addis Ababa

According to a2zgov, Ethiopia is a country located in Eastern Africa. The major highways are mostly well developed. The rule, however, are gravel roads or unpaved roads. Crossing the country by car from north to south can take 5 days. The same applies to a trip from west to east.

The common modes of transport in the cities are buses, minibus taxis, Lada taxis and three-wheeled motor rickshaws (called Bajaj in Ethiopia). In some cities horse-drawn carts are also very common, in Addis Ababa only in some peripheral areas.

For the buses and minibus taxis, fixed prices apply depending on the distance traveled. The fares in Lada taxis, therefore also called contract taxis, are usually negotiated with the driver. Since the beginning of 2009 there have been a few taxis with taximeters in Addis Ababa.

All vehicles have to have an annual MOT. One can, however, get the impression that other standards are applied to the technical examination than in Germany. The number of old and only moderately roadworthy vehicles is slowly declining. At the end of 2010, parliament passed a law that bans the import of obsolete and mostly technically defective used vehicles.

VW Beetle enthusiasts get their money’s worth in Ethiopia: While the last Beetle rolled off the assembly line in Germany around 40 years ago, it is very popular here because of its low cost and robustness.

The railway connection between Addis Ababa and Djibouti, opened in 1917, had only been used in sections for a long time due to the poor condition of the rails and the associated safety risks. For example, there were no longer any trains running between Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa. After a construction phase lasting several years, however, a new route with modern electric trains was put into operation in 2016 . The further expansion of the railway network is being planned.


Security guard

Security guard

In comparison with Africa, Ethiopia is a relatively safe country. Pickpocketing occurs, however, as well as attempts to use tricks to get valuables into cars.

There are parts of the country and areas where robbery gangs or politically motivated attacks and kidnappings occur. It may be necessary to enter these areas only during the day and in groups with several vehicles. When traveling outside of Addis Ababa, it is advisable to consult the German embassy or your own sending organization about current risk assessments in case of doubt.

Stay healthy

A trip to Ethiopia should only be started after receiving medical advice from a tropical medical advice center or, if necessary, the sending employer. On site, you should register as a patient at a clinic in order to receive help without any problems if necessary. Medical care in Addis Ababa is good, but rather limited in other parts of the country.

Telecommunications and internet

Internet is available in Ethiopia, but it is still a minority privilege. It is estimated that only around 15-18% of the population had access to the internet in 2018. Although the rate has risen considerably in recent years, it is still one of the lowest on the African continent.

Most of the internet users are in the big cities, especially in the capital. The majority of users get access to the net in internet caf├ęs. The wireless Internet has improved little in recent years, so that using it with smartphones – albeit almost exclusively among young (and financially better off) people in cities – is now very popular, but is often very frustrating because of the low bandwidth. Many hotels with international guests and also some cafes in Addis Ababa offer their guests the use of a wireless Internet connection.

The speed and availability of the wired Internet connection has improved significantly over the past five years, especially in Addis Ababa and other cities. However, downloading large amounts of data can be a game of patience. Both telephone and internet connections are often overloaded, especially on public holidays or in the evenings.

Telephones have been around for a comparatively long time in Ethiopia. The first telephone connection in 1890 was made between the emperor’s palace and the treasury. Even so, only a fraction of the population has access to a telephone to this day. As in other African countries, mobile communications have improved the coverage of telephones. Different estimates assume that around 40 to over 50% of the Ethiopian population has access to mobile phones.

Many hotels provide travelers with SIM cards relatively easily. There are also shops that rent out SIM cards. Alternatively, SIM cards can be purchased from Ethiopian Telecom. However, this has been associated with considerable waiting times in the past.

Useful addresses

Very few service providers have their own website. You can be reached by phone and almost always by email. But even if they have a website, it is not always up to date. For this reason, too, the Ethiopian Yellow Pages have established themselves.

There are a number of travel guides, maps, etc. for Ethiopia. For example, the Know How Verlag with its Ethiopia offer is recommended. Maps and language courses can also be found there. Using an online Amharic dictionary can be helpful in some situations.

Addis Ababa is culturally very much alive. There are many galleries, restaurants, music pubs, cinemas, fashion shows, jazz bars, readings, classical music concerts and well-stocked bookstores. As a European, you are very welcome with your own artistic contributions.

The German-Ethiopian Association has set itself the goal of cultivating relations between Ethiopia and Germany. The association also offers information on other interesting Ethiopia links and further addresses.

There has been a German school in Addis Ababa since 1955. Since 1964 there is the International School International Community School.

The Goethe Institute in Addis Ababa is close to the university and is a lively and popular place for exchange between Ethiopians and Germans.

Cinema in Kazanchis, Addis Ababa

Cinema in Kazanchis, Addis Ababa