Travel by air, road and rail
Ethiopian Airlines (star alliance member) operates a safe, extensive and generally efficient and reliable domestic air service, but cancellations and delays can occur, particularly at peak times, in December and January, or during the rainy season, from June to September. Ethiopian Airlines and currently two private companies offer charter services. Travelling by road allows visitors to experience Ethiopia’s wonderful scenery, but in some areas road conditions are poor, and the mountainous topography in the north will cut speed. The one hour flight to Lalibela for example takes nearly two days by road. Railway enthusiasts who wish to travel by train from Addis Ababa to Dire Dawa or on to Djibouti will have to wait until the planned renovation is implemented – passenger service is currently suspended.
Ethiopia has embarked on a massive road renovation and construction programme, and many areas are now accessible by good asphalt roads. Given the size of the country, however, it will take quite some time to upgrade the road network on a country wide basis.
Unless one is carrying very large sums, it is no longer obligatory for visitors to declare currency in their possession on arrival, but should visitors wish to change money back on departure, it will be necessary to produce receipts from banks and authorised foreign exchange dealers. The Ethiopian currency is the birr, the rate of which against the US dollar is fixed essentially by market demand. Currently 1USD is equivalent to 19.5
ATMs for Visa and other cards can now be found in some banks, and in some of the main hotels in Addis Ababa, and this service has recently been extended to other main urban centres.
Despite its location in the Horn of Africa, Ethiopia is a very safe country to visit, and Addis Ababa is still one of the safest capitals in Africa. There is little incidence of personal crimes such as assault and robbery, and the country’s security forces have taken great measures to prevent terrorists from instigating violence that could arm the safety of residents and visitors and disrupt the business community, which has registered 10 years of significant growth. Visitors should, of course, take the usual precautions – not carry large amounts of money with them and leave particularly valuable items locked away.
Both men and women should be careful to keep handbags and personal property at hand in crowded places like Mercato.Like everywhere else, pickpockets like to create some kind of diversion before making their move, so visitors should walk purposefully and be cautious about sudden introductions in the street.