When we visit a country either for educational purposes or leisure, we all expect to find proper transportation that takes us to the various destinations within the country so that getting around the country is easy. The tourism sector in Ethiopia is just on the verge of growing and therefore their transportation sector is not the best but it can get you anywhere you want for as long as you have a tour guide to rake you through.
The different means of transportation that can be used by tourists include road transportation which is widely used, the rail way transportation although this is rarely used by tourists, water transportation and air transportation. In some places like the Danakil, depression you also get to use camels as a means of transport because the camels are used to the heat in the area and can easily carry two people and their luggage.
Below are some of the transports means that are used by the tourist and the rules and regulations that govern some of them. These have been listed down so that you get to know how the country runs when it comes to the transportation sector.
Water transportation in Ethiopia
Water transportation is rarely used in the country but for places that cannot be accessed in the country, this is the best especially islands. One of the tourist destinations that can be accessed by water are the Lake Tana monasteries which are located at the shore of the Lake Tana. You need to use a boat in order to access the monasteries and the surrounding area.
Road transportation in Ethiopia
The road transportation sector in Ethiopia has greatly developed with all the major roads having tar on them. The upbeat roads that are found in the rural areas are still marram although they are passable if you have a four wheel drive. The government is working extremely hard to make sure that most of the roads that lead to the different tourist sites in the country are worked upon so that it eases the travels of tourists. When using the road transportation in the country, there are four major routes which are known as the Ethiopian routes and these include:
The Eastern route
The Eastern route also known as the Bales Mountains route covers the Bales Mountain region, through the fourth Holy city if Harar and in each of these places, you get to see the various tourist attractions as you drive through.
The Western route
The western route goes through the Gambella region where you get to see the Gambella National Park and all it has to offer. As you traverse using this route you will be able to enjoy the beautiful landscape in the area.
The southern route
The southern route is also known as the Rift Valley and cultural symbol route and it passes through the Rift valley where you can see all the features that were formed in the Rift valley like crater Lakes, mountains, canyons and many more others.
The Northern route
The Northern route goes through the Simiens National Park and Simiens Mountain and it cover most of the tourist attraction sites that are located in the Northern part of the country.
The Addis Ababa route
This goes through the capital city of Ethiopia, passes through the monuments, the Mountains, the National museum and many more other tourist attractions that are found within the city Centre.
As you dive through Ethiopia on your travels, there are major road transport means that are normally used and these include:
The Taxis that are used in Ethiopia especially when it comes to tourists also come in different shades the first one being the blue taxis. The blue taxis are old cars that are nit metered and before you use them, you should make sure that you first bargain your way through with the driver so that you are not overcharged after getting to your destination.
Bicycles, these are used by tourists who come to Ethiopia for biking trips and although the roads ate not the best, these can get you anywhere you want including roads that are not accessible by cars. The bicycles are mostly used outside the capital city of Ethiopia Addis Ababa and these help you to avoid the jam that normally happens during the peak season but you need to pack appropriately so that you enjoy your trip in the country.
The shared taxis that is these come in form of mini buses. The mini buses have specific routes that they use and there is always a conductor who collects the fare before the ride starts. The downside about using them is that they are sometimes overcrowded and since the routes are fixed, you can end up getting more than one shared taxi to finally get to your destination.
The yellow taxis that are normally found at the airport and these are always metered but to be on a safe side, you need to still first bargain before using one. And these are better than the blue ones.
Buses or coaches, these are mostly used by tourists who are going to destinations that are far away from the city center and there are two types the public ones which are painted yellow and red and these are cheap but about crowded and therefore it is better to use the privately owned because they are more comfortable and less crowded.
Bajaj and Tuk-tuk are used mainly outside the city center of Addis Ababa and these can take about two to three people but you need to be careful which Bajaj or Tuk-Tuk you get because some of them are not genuine. They are easy transportation and extremely cheap but only good when it is not a rainy season and you need to prepare for a bumpy ride in them.
A car hire service is also available in the country and some of them can be found just outside the Airport. Or if that is hard, you can get a car form the tour company which comes with a personal driver and it can get you anywhere you want to go to for the rest of your stay within the country.
Rules for all those using road transport in Ethiopia
There are several rules and regulations that the Ethiopian government put up to regulate roads and some of these include:
Tourists and other foreigners can drive in Ethiopia using an international permit which is valid for only three months and no cars are allowed to travel at night especially outside the city center of Addis Ababa due to the bad roads and the speed limit for all those that drive is 30km/hour within Addis Ababa and between 19 to 31 kilometers per hour outside Addis Ababa.
When driving through Ethiopia, all motorists need to keep right as you head into the city center. The quality of the roads in Ethiopia are not that bad but during the rainy season some roads are impassable due to the fact that often flood cutting off some tourist destinations in the country. And not forgetting that when in a car, if possible keep your windows and doors closed to prevent your property from being snatched by pickpockets.
Ethiopia has a rail way station that runs through the major parts of the country and it is a fast rail system. This is the first fast rail system in the Sub Saharan part of Africa and it has two major lines that it follows when transporting people. The main announcements as to what time and where the train is heading to are announced in English and Amharic.
The first route goes through the Tor Hailoch to Ayat in the western part of the country and it has about twenty two stops and it is also known as the green line.
The second route also known as the blue line runs from the Menelik II square in the Northern part of the country and goes to the southern part in Kality.
The air transportation in Ethiopia is on the rise as the country has purchased more planes and it has also introduced domestic flights as well. The main airlines of the country which is the Ethiopian airlines has internal flights that run through over twenty cities in the country. The different domestic flights fly to Jimma, Mek’ele, Arba Minch, Bahir Dar, Lalibela, Axum city, Dire Dawa, Shire and many more others.
When using air transport within the country, you need to have an international ticket for the flights that you are planning to take or you will have to pay more than the usual price.
Most tourists who visit Ethiopia end up using road transport because it is a bit cheap and it helps you get to see the various landscapes that are found in the country and you also get to visit other places that people you cannot get to with other transport means.