FOLLOW US

World Travel Guide > Guides > Africa > Ethiopia

Ethiopia travel guide

About Ethiopia

Putting its turbulent history behind, Ethiopia has been busy transforming its economy and making remarkable progress in infrastructure development over the past two decades. Today tourists are returning to the country in increasing numbers, keen to discover its wondrous landscapes, ancient religious sites and fascinating indigenous tribes.

Billed as 'The Land of Origins' by the Ethiopian Tourism Organisation, this amazing country is where the Blue Nile begins and home of the 3.2-million-year-old hominid fossil 'Lucy', whose discovery has put Ethiopia on the map as the cradle of humanity. One of the oldest Christian nations in the world, Ethiopia is a multi-ethnic and multifaceted destination where the art of hospitality is alive and well. Visitors are typically greeted with a steaming cup of coffee, which is said to be first discovered in the region of Kaffa in southeast Ethiopia.

Most visitors start their Ethiopian odyssey in the capital Addis Ababa, a lively city nestling in the lofty Entoto Mountains. Founded in 1886 by Emperor Menelik II after his wife Empress Taytu chose the site for its hot mineral springs, Addis Ababa has enjoyed a fascinating transformation over a relatively short period of time. The city is now a hub of international missions and embassies, including the headquarters of the African Union and the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA).

Few linger long in the Ethiopian capital, choosing instead to head north to Lalibela, a pilgrimage site famed for its ancient churches which have quite literally been hewn out of a cliff. Lalibela is one of nine UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Ethiopia. Other notables include the ancient Kingdom of Aksum (or Axum), the fairytale castle of Gondar, the walled city of Harar, the Konso cultural landscape, the prehistoric sites of Awash and Omo valleys, the mysterious stelae of Tiya and the spectacular Simien National Park where the indigenous Gelada baboon and Walia Ibex thrive.

Ultimately, it is Ethiopia's epic landscapes that truly capture the imagination of many travellers. From the cloud-shrouded peak of Ras Dashen (the highest mountain in Ethiopia) to the sulphur fumaroles of the Danakil Depression (which is also the lowest point in Ethiopia at 125m/410ft below sea level), the scenery could inspire paintings, provoke poetry.

These wild environments sustain ancient tribes such as the Bodi, whose men live on a diet of blood and milk in a bid to become the region's fattest man of the year, and the Hamer, famous for their dangerous bull-jumping ceremony which is considered a rite of passage for young men.

Ethiopia has come a long way since the famine of 1983-85 which prompted Bob Geldof to write the fundraising hit Do They Know It's Christmas? (by a curious twist of fate, he now owns a stake in a wine company in Ethiopia). This country, long misunderstood by many, is now enjoying a booming economy, posting a strong and sustainable 8% to 11% growth rate since the turn of the 21st-century.

With Ethiopian Airlines boasting a wide network of air routes radiating from Addis Ababa, travelling to and around the country is getting easier, and for those who ride it out, the rewards are immense.

Key facts

Area:

1,104,300 sq km (426,372 sq miles).

Population:

107.53 million (2018)

Population density:

102 per sq km

Capital:

Addis Ababa

Government:

Federal Democratic Republic

Head of state:

President Sahle-Work Zewde since 2018.

Head of government:

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed since 2018.

Travel Advice

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) provides advice about risks of travel to help British nationals make informed decisions. Find out more about FCDO travel advice.

Areas where FCDO advises against travel

Your travel insurance could be invalidated if you travel against FCDO advice. Consular support may be limited where FCDO advises against travel.

International border areas 

FCDO advises against all travel within:  

  • 20km of the border with Sudan 
  • 10km of the border with South Sudan 
  • 100km of the Ethiopian border with Somalia and Kenya in Ethiopia’s Somali region, and within 30km of the Ethiopian border with Somalia in Fafan zone, except the border town and crossing at Wajale, and the principal road between Jijiga and Wajale 
  • 10km of the border with Kenya, except for principal roads and towns 
  • 10km of the border with Eritrea 

Tigray region 

FCDO advises against all travel to the Tigray region west of the Tekeze river and within 10km of the internal border with Amhara region.

FCDO advises against all but essential travel to the remainder of the Tigray region except the towns and connecting roads of Mekelle:

  • southward to Maychew
  • northwards to Adigrat
  • west and north-westward to Abiy Addi, Adwa and Shire
  • eastward to Abala on the Tigray-Afar border

Amhara region 

FCDO advises against all travel to Amhara region. 

Afar region 

FCDO advises against all travel to areas of Afar region within:  

  • 10km of the border with Eritrea 

Gambella region 

FCDO advises against all travel to Gambella region. 

Oromia region 

FCDO advises against all travel to these areas of Oromia region:  

  • within 10km of the border with Kenya, except for principal roads and towns 
  • north of (but not including) the A4 road in West Shewa zone 
  • south and west of (but not including) the A3 road in North Shewa zone  
  • West Wollega zone (including the main Addis Ababa to Gambella road), East Wollega zone, Kellem Wollega and Horo Gudru Wollega  

FCDO advises against all but essential travel to:

  • all of East Shewa zone except the Addis to Adama Expressway and 10km either side of the expressway between Addis Ababa and Bishoftu.
  • the A4 road between Addis Ababa and Cheliya, except for the section in in the Finfine special zone.
  • all of North Shewa Zone
  • West Guji and Guji zones

Somali Regional State 

FCDO advises against all travel to within: 

  • 100km of the Ethiopian border with Somalia and Kenya in Ethiopia’s Somali region  
  • 30km of the Ethiopian border with Somalia in Fafan zone, except the border town and crossing at Wajale, and the principal road between Jijiga and Wajale 

FCDO advises against all but essential travel to:  

  • the Siti zone 
  • the Nogob (previously Fik) 
  • Jarar (previously Degehabur) 
  • Shabelle (previously Gode) 
  • Korahe and Dollo (previously Warder) 
  • areas of Liben and Afder zones more than 100km from the Somalia and Kenya borders 

Central, Southern, Sidama and South West regions (formerly SNNPR) 

FCDO advises against all travel: 

  • within 10km of the borders with South Sudan and Kenya 

Benishangul-Gumuz region 

FCDO advises against all travel to these areas of Benishangul-Gumuz region: 

  • within 20km of the border with Sudan 
  • the Metekel zone and Maokomo special zone 

FCDO advises against all but essential travel to the rest of Benishangul-Gumuz region. 

Find out more about why FCDO advises against travel to these regions.

Temporary suspension of in-person consular services

Due to ongoing construction work outside the British Embassy Addis Ababa, in-person consular appointments have been suspended until further notice. Normal service is expected to resume in coming days. In the meantime, consular section will continue to offer 24/7 assistance via telephone and online channels. British Nationals in need of urgent assistance should call +251 (0)11 617 0100.

Before you travel 

No travel can be guaranteed safe. Read all the advice in this guide as well as support for British nationals abroad which includes:  

  • general advice on preparing for travel abroad and reducing risks 
  • information for women, LGBT+ and disabled travellers 

Follow and contact FCDO travel on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. You can also sign up to get email notifications when this travel advice is updated.

Travel insurance 

If you choose to travel, research your destinations and get appropriate travel insurance. Insurance should cover your itinerary, planned activities and expenses in an emergency.  

This advice reflects the UK government’s understanding of current rules for people travelling on a full ‘British citizen’ passport from the UK, for the most common types of travel. 

The authorities in Ethiopia set and enforce entry rules. If you’re not sure how Ethiopia’s entry requirements apply to you, contact the Ethiopian Embassy in the UK

COVID-19 rules

There are no COVID-19 testing or vaccination requirements for passengers entering Ethiopia. 

Passport validity requirements 

Your passport must be: 

  • valid for at least 6 months from the date you arrive in Ethiopia 
  • machine-readable 

Visa requirements 

You need a visa and a valid travel document to enter Ethiopia, including a passport or emergency travel document (ETD). Visitors without valid documents can be detained and fined. 

You do not need a visa if you have a valid Ethiopian Diplomatic ID Card, Ethiopian Temporary Residents Permit or Ethiopian Origin ID (Yellow Cards).

Leave the country before your visa expires or get an official extension if needed. The penalty for overstaying is 10 US dollars a day. You will not be allowed to leave until you pay in full.  

Available visa lengths are 30 days or 90 days, with extensions available for an additional 30 or 90 days. 

Applying for a visa  

Get a visa from the official Ethiopian e-visa platform.   

If you visit Ethiopia on a tourist visa, you cannot take employment, including voluntary employment. If you break the rules, you can get heavy fines or be imprisoned. 

Vaccination requirements  

At least 8 weeks before your trip, check the vaccinations and vaccination certificates you may need in TravelHealthPro’s Ethiopia guide. You may need a yellow fever certificate.  

Customs rules 

There are strict rules about goods that can be brought into and taken out of Ethiopia.

If you plan to take in specialist equipment, the Ethiopian Embassy in London advises you check with your tour operator or local contact before you travel as special customs regulations may apply.  

Contact the Press Office for more information and advice.

Taking money into Ethiopia 

You can carry up to 3,000 Ethiopian birr when entering or leaving Ethiopia. An exception is when travelling to Djibouti from Ethiopia, in which case you can carry up to 10,000 birr. Your cash can be seized and you could get a prison sentence if you go over the limits. 

When you enter or leave Ethiopia, you must declare any cash over 10,000 US dollars (or equivalent in other currencies). Residents of Ethiopia, including resident British nationals, must declare any cash over 4,000 US dollars.

If you leave Ethiopia by airplane with cash above these amounts, you must show the customs declaration form you got when you entered Ethiopia, or the bank advice note if you purchased currency locally.  

If leaving by land with amounts over the stipulated limits, you must show the customs documents given when you arrived in the country. 

If entering Ethiopia through a land border you must declare cash over 500 US dollars (or equivalent). 

Keep your receipt if you change currency into birr. Without a receipt you are unlikely to be able to change leftover money back at the end of your trip.  

Terrorism  

There is a high threat of terrorist attack globally affecting UK interests and British nationals, including from groups and individuals who view the UK and British nationals as targets. You should remain vigilant at all times. 

UK Counter Terrorism Policing has information and advice on staying safe abroad and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack. Find out how to reduce your risk from terrorism while abroad

Terrorism in Ethiopia

Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Ethiopia.

Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreigners, such as: 

  • restaurants, hotels, bars and markets 
  • stations and airports 
  • places of worship and tourist attractions 
  • festivals and sports venues  

Large crowds are common on key national and religious dates, including: 

  • Ethiopian Christmas on 7 January  
  • Epiphany or ’Timket’ in January  
  • Victory of Adawa on 2 March 
  • Ethiopian Patriots’ Victory Day on 5 May 
  • Downfall of the Derg Regime on 28 May  
  • Ethiopian New Year from 11 to 12 September  
  • Birthday of the Prophet Mohammed on 27 September  
  • Finding of the True Cross or ‘Meskel’ on 28 September 
  • Ethiopian (Orthodox) Easter  
  • Eid Al Fitr  
  • Eid Al Arafa 

Parts of the country also have local festivals (often celebrating saints’ days) which can lead to large gatherings. 

Terrorist group Al-Shabaab, based in Somalia, poses a threat across East Africa. The group threatens all countries who have military forces in Somalia, including Ethiopia. In 2022, Al-Shabaab attacked the Somali towns of Aato, Yeed and Washaaqo, near the border with Ethiopia. Al-Shabaab has said it intends to commit further attacks in the area.

Political situation 

Conflict and violence  

Between November 2020 and November 2022, conflict took place in the northern regions of Ethiopia, in particular in Tigray but also in Amhara and Afar.

The Government of Ethiopia and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front signed a peace agreement to cease hostilities in Tigray in November 2022. Disarmament and reconstruction measures have begun. The situation in Tigray is still fragile and there may still be isolated armed incidents. 

In August 2023, a state of emergency was imposed after conflict started between Amhara militia groups (Fano) and the Ethiopian National Defence Force. Conflict continues in Amhara region.  

There have been increased tensions and violence between armed groups and the security forces across Oromia region. 

Unrest can occur with no notice. There are ongoing armed clashes between ethnic groups. Foreigners have not been targeted. However you should: 

  • monitor local media 
  • follow the advice of local authorities and your tour operator 
  • reconsider travel to affected areas 

Avoid large gatherings and demonstrations. Comply with the law, including in relation to carrying ID cards, and possession of foreign currency and weapons. Avoid confrontation and follow the instructions of the authorities. 

Strikes and protests

Because of frequent civil unrest, including protests and strikes, there is frequently:

  • temporary closure of roads, internet and mobile networks
  • disruption to local businesses and transport

In the past some protests have escalated into serious violence. 

The Oromo Liberation Army have announced calls for a market strike and transportation blockade in Oromia, including on the roads leading to Addis Ababa, that began on 13 April. Following this announcement, there may be disruption to travel and operation of businesses and services in the Oromia region. 

Kidnap 

Kidnapping is widespread in parts of Ethiopia, with incidents in Oromia, Somali region and on the southern border with Kenya.

There have been a number of recent kidnappings in Oromia, and especially within the Adama special Zone south of Addis Ababa, and western areas of Oromia region, particularly West Wollega, East Wollega and Qellem Wollega zones.

Possible targets for kidnap include people engaged in humanitarian aid work, journalism or business sectors.

When arranging meetings, use a secure location. Avoid regular patterns of travel and aim to only travel during daylight hours.

Detention of British nationals 

There have been a small number of cases of arbitrary detention of British nationals in Ethiopia. The risk may increase if tensions are heightened around major events, or in locations that are sensitive for security reasons. Carry photocopies of your passport and contact details of the British Embassy Addis Ababa in case you are questioned or detained. Your physical passport is not necessary.

Ethiopian authorities do not always notify embassies when foreign nationals are detained. Even if requested, adequate consular access is not always provided. If authorities do not inform the embassy, ask family or friends to contact the British Embassy.

Crime

Foreign nationals can be targeted by groups of youths through pickpocketing and scams. 

Theft and mugging is on the rise. There has been a smaller number of more serious incidents, including sexual harassment of women. Violent robberies can occur in parks and walking sites in Addis Ababa. 

Protecting your belongings 

Take care of your belongings when visiting crowded public places, especially at night. Be vigilant if strangers approach you. Criminal gangs use distraction techniques including begging, spitting, spilling food and drink, and feigning illness.  

There is a risk of pickpocketing, bag and jewellery snatching, including from vehicles at traffic lights. 

When travelling in vehicles, you should: 

  • keep belongings with you 
  • keep valuables out of sight 
  • keep vehicle doors locked 
  • park in well-lit and guarded areas such as hotels, government and tourist locations, which all have security at their entrances 
  • consider fitting anti-shatter film to all windows (we do not recommend short term visitors modify their hire vehicles) 

If threatened, hand over valuables without resistance. 

Laws and cultural differences 

Health and safety 

Health and safety precautions like life jackets in boats or protective railings at historical sites are rarely in place in Ethiopia. 

Date and time 

Traditionally Ethiopia has a different calendar and way of expressing time than are widely used internationally.  

Most hotels and larger organisations’ documents, including airline tickets, use the international calendar and clock. However: 

  • official documents are often dated using the Ethiopian calendar 
  • individuals and smaller organisations might use the Ethiopian clock 

Money 

Ethiopia is a cash-based society. Banking facilities, including card payments and ATMs are limited, especially outside of cities. It is not normally possible to get a cash advance. Make sure you have enough cash before leaving cities. 

Illegal drugs and prison sentences 

Drug offences are treated seriously in Ethiopia. Possession of drugs can lead to prison sentences of 5 to 10 years and potentially large fines.  

Khat is legal in Ethiopia but it is illegal to take it out of the country. Bags are regularly searched at Addis Ababa Bole Airport. Anyone found with khat is likely to be prosecuted.

Alcohol

There are no restrictions on buying or possessing alcohol. This includes the predominantly Muslim regions although it may be more difficult to obtain.   

Religious customs 

Ethiopia is religiously diverse and largely tolerant. However, many people are devout in their faith. Take care to not offend local traditions, customs, laws and religions. Dress conservatively and observe local customs. Take particular care if travelling: 

  • during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan 
  • to religious sites of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church 
  • outside Addis Ababa, particularly in rural areas 

Ramadan is individually observed but there are no official regulations imposed. 

Women travellers 

Women are expected to dress conservatively, especially when visiting religious sites. 

LGBT+ travellers 

Same-sex acts (applying to both sexes) are illegal and carry penalties of between 1 and 15 years imprisonment. It is reported that the local authorities are intimidating owners and clients of hotels, bars and restaurants in Addis Ababa where same-sex activity is alleged to take place.

The public are not generally accepting of same-sex relationships. Some religious leaders have called for violence against the LGBT+ community. Be aware of local laws and customs. Showing affection in public may receive unwanted attention.  

Read more advice for LGBT+ travellers

Imports and exports 

You need an export certificate to take antiques out of the country. Without one your items are likely to be confiscated and you could be prosecuted. 

Owning ivory is illegal. British nationals have had ivory jewellery confiscated and been fined up to 25,000 Ethiopian birr. 

Using cameras in secure areas 

It is illegal to take photos: 

  • near military zones or of military personnel 
  • near the Presidential Palace in Addis Ababa 
  • where signs prohibit photography 

Satellite phones and binoculars 

Satellite phones and binoculars cannot be imported or exported to or from Ethiopia without prior approval from the Customs and Information Network and Security Agency. Get advice from your travel provider on permissions required.

Unapproved items can be confiscated by authorities, with the possibility of being able to collect them on departure from Ethiopia, but this is not guaranteed. 

Drones 

The importation and use of drones within Ethiopia is subject to permission by the Ethiopian Civil Aviation Authority and Information Network and Security Agency. Without written clearance drones can be subject to confiscation at airports or borders. 

Transport risks

Rural areas  

When travelling outside Addis Ababa, avoid driving after dark. Vehicles often have no lights and livestock may roam on roads.  

There have been instances where buses from one region have been attacked when passing through another.  

Medical facilities outside the capital are extremely limited so carry a comprehensive medical pack. 

While mobile telephone services are increasingly widespread, connectivity cannot be guaranteed. Mobile internet can be closed down with no notice. 

You might want to consider travelling in a group and leaving details of your travel itinerary with a reliable person. 

Cars and motorbikes  

Driving standards and vehicle maintenance are often poor and traffic accidents happen regularly, especially in Addis Ababa and on the Addis Ababa-Djibouti road.  

Drivers involved in car accidents can face severe punishments, including custodial sentences and fines. If you’re involved in a traffic accident, stay in your vehicle and call the local police. Avoid confrontation and wait for police to arrive to deal with any issues. 

Localised demonstrations have led to temporary road closures or the targeting of public transport. However, not all social media reports of such disruptions are accurate. If unsure, contact local authorities or reputable tour operators in the areas you’re travelling to. 

If you meet a roadblock, follow advice of local authorities if they are present. If you encounter an unattended roadblock, turn around and do not attempt to pass it. 

This section has safety advice for regions of Ethiopia. It only covers regions where FCDO has specific advice.

You should also read FCDO’s overall travel advice and safety and security advice for Ethiopia.

Addis Ababa

Travellers may face increased scrutiny, particularly those of Amhara, Tigrayan or Oromo ethnicity, including at the airport and through direct police operations such as check points and door-to-door checks. There are reports of ethnic Tigrayans being prevented from boarding flights at Bole International Airport.

Comply with the law, including in relation to carrying ID cards, and possession of foreign currency and weapons. Avoid confrontation and follow the instructions of the authorities.  A security exercise is ongoing in Addis Ababa involving property searches.  If security officials request access to your property, check the credentials of the officials and then comply with their request to search the property.

There is petty theft around Bole International Airport, particularly pickpockets and bag snatchers.

Only use buses or taxis from the airport that have been organised by your hotel or travel company, or choose yellow or app-based taxis rather than the blue and white ones.

There has been an increase in reported crime against expats and Ethiopian nationals in these areas of Addis Ababa:

  • Bole Medhanealem
  • Bole Atlas
  • Meskel Square
  • Yeka Hills
  • Entoto

Attacks have included knifepoint robberies and the choking unconscious of victims. Do not travel alone in these areas if possible. Be cautious if travelling on foot. Consider using road transport where possible, especially after dark.

International border areas

FCDO advises against all travel within:

  • 20km of the border with Sudan
  • 10km of the border with South Sudan
  • 100km of the Ethiopian border with Somalia and Kenya in Ethiopia’s Somali region, and within 30km of the Ethiopian border with Somalia in Fafan zone, except the border town and crossing at Wajale, and the principal road between Jijiga and Wajale
  • 10km of the border with Kenya, except for principal roads and towns
  • 10km of the border with Eritrea

Tigray region

FCDO advises against all travel to the Tigray region west of the Tekeze river and within 10km of the internal border with Amhara region.

FCDO advises against all but essential travel to the remainder of the Tigray region except the towns and connecting roads of Mekelle:

  • southward to Maychew
  • northwards to Adigrat
  • west and north-westward to Abiy Addi, Adwa and Shire
  • eastward to Abala on the Tigray-Afar border

In November 2022, the Government of Ethiopia and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front signed a peace agreement to cease hostilities in Tigray. Disarmament and reconstruction measures have begun. The situation in Tigray is still fragile and there may still be isolated armed incidents. There may be restrictions on travel between towns and cities in Tigray, and on travel outside of Tigray.

There is also a risk of unexploded weapons remaining in Tigray region.

Amhara region

FCDO advises against all travel to all of Amhara regional state.

There have been violent protests and clashes between security forces in Amhara since April 2023, resulting in an unknown number of deaths including of 2 NGO workers.

Violence has increased due to conflict between a local militia group (Fano) and the Ethiopian National Defence Force (ENDF). In August 2023, a state of emergency was imposed with fighting taking place across all of Amhara region. Violence could emerge without warning. Travellers are at risk of being caught in crossfire. There have been reports of airstrikes being used in Amhara region.

The Ethiopian government announced a nightly curfew in the cities of Bahir Dar, Debre Markos, Debre Birhan, Lalibela, Gondar and Shewa Robit until 23 August. There is also a ban on 3-wheeled (Bajaj) and motorcycle transport in those cities.

There have been reports of incidents along the Addis Ababa to Bahir Dar (A3) road, including armed men attacking vehicles. Attacks usually take place in the early hours when visibility is poor. Be highly cautious and avoid travelling when visibility is poor. The A3 road can be subject to increased checkpoints and closure by the ENDF.

Some flights across northern Ethiopia could be suspended or cancelled at short notice. Domestic and international land borders may be closed. Mobile networks and internet connections may be disrupted. You should monitor local media for further information and comply with local authority instructions.

There have been sporadic, violent clashes between armed groups in Amhara and in areas bordering Oromia region, including in urban centres. As these are not contained to specific areas, be cautious when travelling throughout Amhara. Situations can escalate quickly.

Political disputes in the districts (‘woredas’) of Tsegede, Mirab Armacho and Tach Armacho have previously turned violent. Clashes have occurred around Chilga Woreda and Central Gondar zone, with reports of fatalities including civilians. While attacks are mostly related to inter-ethnic disputes and foreigners have not been targeted, attacks can occur at any time with significant risk of being caught up in violence. If you’re travelling in the area, monitor local media and follow the advice of local authorities and your tour operator.

There has been an increase in roadblocks across Amhara region.

Afar region

FCDO advises against all travel to areas of Afar region within:

  • 10km of the border with Eritrea

There are irregular armed clashes between ethnic groups in Hanruka, Gela’alo, Gewane, and Adaytu woredas of Afar and the bordering areas of Somali Regional State and Dire Dawa. There are reports of road closures and roadblocks in the area, including on the main Addis Ababa to Djibouti road.

Danakil desert

If you plan to visit the Danakil desert area, be aware of the risk of excessive heat and difficult terrain in some areas, including around the Erta Ale volcano. Facilities are basic, with no running water and limited medical options.

Tourism in the area has been targeted by armed groups in 2007, 2012 and 2017. Only travel to this area with a recognised tour company. When booking, check that your group will be supported by an armed police or military escort.

Gambella region

FCDO advises against all travel to the Gambella region.

Large-scale violence, inter-communal clashes and armed attacks occur regularly. While foreigners have not been targeted, there’s a significant risk of being caught up in violence.

Oromia region

FCDO advises against all travel to these areas of Oromia region:

  • within 10km of the border with Kenya, except for principal roads and towns
  • north of (but not including) the A4 road in West Shewa zone
  • south and west of (but not including) the A3 road in North Shewa zone

West Wollega zone (including the main Addis Ababa to Gambella road), East Wollega zone, Kellem Wollega and Horo Gudru Wollega

FCDO advises against all but essential travel to:

  • all of East Shewa zone except the road and 10km either side of the road between Addis Ababa and Bishoftu.
  • the A5 road and 10km either side of the road between Addis Ababa and Welkite.
  • 10km south of the A4 road between Addis Ababa and Cheliya.
  • West Guji and Guji zones

Increased tensions and armed groups

The Oromo Liberation Army have announced calls for a market strike and transportation blockade in Oromia, including on the roads leading to Addis Ababa, that began on 13 April. Following this announcement, there may be disruption to travel and operation of businesses and services in the Oromia region.

In West and North Shewa zone there have been reports of attacks on vehicles travelling on the A1 road, between Adama and Awash, though not targeting international travellers.

There were reports in October 2023 of air strikes against armed groups in West Shewa. These could take place in a range of locations without notice. You should be extremely cautious when travelling in the West Shewa zone, particularly in rural areas.

There have been repeated and serious instances of violence in West Wollega, East Wollega, Kellem Wollega and Horo Gudru Wollega. This has included clashes between armed groups and security forces, violent crime and roadside attacks.

There are increased tensions and violence between armed groups and the security forces across Oromia region, particularly Shewa, Haraghe and Guji zones. Avoid military, police and security installations. Be extremely cautious and follow advice of local authorities.

Since late 2022, there has been an increase in incidents between armed groups in Oromia. These have mainly been reported in rural areas and areas bordering Amhara region. Incidents are not contained to specific areas. Be cautious when travelling, particularly between urban centres. The situation can escalate quickly.

Some protests have turned violent and resulted in casualties. There has also been severe disruption to road travel including major roads to and from Addis Ababa.

Protests and demonstrations occur periodically in towns across the Oromia region. Towns in the Wollega and Shewa zones, and West Arsi zone, including Ambo, Wolissa, Nekemte and Shashemene, have been particularly affected. Demonstrations have also taken place elsewhere including in the Bale zone to the south-east.

In some instances, international investors have been threatened, although the British Embassy is not aware of foreign tourists having been targeted.

Ethiopian Somali Region

FCDO advises against all travel to within:

  • 100km of the Ethiopian border with Somalia and Kenya in the Afder and Liben zones of Ethiopia’s Somali region
  • 30km of the Ethiopian border with Somalia in Fafan zone, except the border town and crossing at Wajale, and the principal road between Jijiga and Wajale

FCDO advises against all but essential travel to:

  • the Siti zone
  • the Nogob (previously Fik)
  • Jarar (previously Degehabur)
  • Shabelle (previously Gode)
  • Korahe and Dollo (previously Warder)
  • the Fafan zone
  • areas of Liben and Afder zones more than 100km from the Somalia and Kenya borders

There are irregular armed clashes between ethnic groups in Hanruka, Gela’alo, Gewane, and Adaytu woredas of Afar region and the bordering areas of Somali Regional State and Dire Dawa.

There is local instability, lawlessness, military activity and a general risk of banditry in the Somali Region. Insurgent groups, some affiliated with terrorist organisations, have clashed with government forces. Foreigners have been caught up in the violence or targeted. There have also been attacks on staff working for international non-governmental organisations.

Central, Southern, Sidama and South West regions (formerly SNNPR)

FCDO advises against all travel:

  • within 10km of the borders with South Sudan and Kenya

Due to recent regional cluster changes, there have been instances of civil unrest as zones increasingly demand their own regional statehood. There has been civil unrest in Gurage zone in the newly formed Central region. A number of incidents have turned violent.

Benishangul-Gumuz region

FCDO advises against all travel to these areas of the Benishangul-Gumuz region:

  • within 20km of the border with Sudan
  • the Metekel zone and Maokomo special zone

FCDO advises against all but essential travel to the rest of Benishangul-Gumuz region.

There is risk of armed clashes at near the border with Sudan.

Local tensions have led to frequent and unpredictable violent clashes, including reported abductions and deaths. There have been instances of civil unrest in and around Assosa.

Before you travel check that: 

  • your destination can provide the healthcare you may need 
  • you have appropriate travel insurance for local treatment or unexpected medical evacuation 

This is particularly important if you have a health condition or are pregnant. 

Emergency medical number 

Dial 907 and ask for an ambulance. 

Contact your insurance company promptly if you’re referred to a medical facility for treatment. 

Vaccinations and health risks 

At least 8 weeks before your trip check: 

Altitude sickness is a risk in parts of Ethiopia, including Addis Ababa. TravelHealthPro’s altitude sickness guidance has more information. 

Other health risks 

UK health authorities have classified Ethiopia as having a risk of Zika virus transmission.  

Malaria is common in areas of the country below 2,000 metres above sea level. Addis Ababa sits at 2,400 metres but a number of sites popular with tourists are below 2,000. 

Bilharzia is present in the vast majority of lakes in Ethiopia – check before swimming. 

Water-borne diseases are common. Drink or use only boiled or bottled water and avoid ice in drinks. 

There is an ongoing outbreak of cholera in the south of Ethiopia, and new cases have been reported in the north west of the country.  

For more information and advice on health risks in Ethiopia, visit the National Travel Health Network and Centre.

Medication 

The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or bought in the UK can be different in other countries. 

Read best practice when travelling with medicines on TravelHealthPro

The NHS has information on whether you can take your medicine abroad

Healthcare facilities in Ethiopia 

Only private hospitals in Addis Ababa offer a reasonable standard of basic care for minor health problems. Dentistry is especially scarce. Ambulance services are also limited. Outside the capital, medical facilities are extremely poor. Carry a comprehensive medical pack when travelling out of Addis Ababa.  

FCDO has a list of English-speaking doctors in Ethiopia.  

COVID-19 healthcare in Ethiopia 

There are private healthcare facilities used by the international community with the capability to respond to COVID-19, but capacity is limited.  

Travel and mental health 

Read FCDO guidance on travel and mental health. There is also mental health guidance on TravelHealthPro

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) cannot provide tailored advice for individual trips. Read this travel advice and carry out your own research before deciding whether to travel. 

Emergency services in Ethiopia 

Police and emergency: 911 

Ambulance (Addis Ababa): 907 

Contact your travel provider and insurer 

Contact your travel provider and your insurer if you are involved in a serious incident or emergency abroad. They will tell you if they can help and what you need to do. 

Refunds and changes to travel 

For refunds or changes to travel, contact your travel provider. You may also be able to make a claim through insurance. However, insurers usually require you to talk to your travel provider first. 

Find out more about changing or cancelling travel plans, including: 

  • where to get advice if you are in a dispute with a provider 
  • how to access previous versions of travel advice to support a claim 

Support from FCDO  

FCDO has guidance on staying safe and what to do if you need help or support abroad, including:  

Contacting FCDO 

Follow and contact FCDO travel on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. You can also sign up to get email notifications when this travel advice is updated. 

Help abroad in an emergency 

If you are abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the British Embassy Addis Ababa

The current political and security situation means the consular support the British Embassy in Addis Ababa can provide may be limited.  

You can also contact FCDO online

FCDO in London  

You can call FCDO in London if you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad. 

Telephone: 020 7008 5000 (24 hours) 

Find out about call charges 

Risk information for British companies 

The Overseas Business Risk service offers information and advice for British companies operating overseas on how to manage political, economic, and business security-related risks. 

A digital image at https://illuminoto.com

Related Articles

Undiscovered Ethiopia: Abuna Yemata Guh in Tigray

Tigray, the northernmost region of Ethiopia, boasts over 100 ancient rock churches and a climb to Abuna Yemata Guh is a test of faith, writes Vivien Yap

Book a Hotel