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Local transport

Local Transport

  • In many of the larger towns, a minibus service provides a quick, convenient and cheap way of hopping about town (from around Birr2 for short journeys). ‘Conductors’ generally shout out the destination of the bus; if in doubt, ask.
  • Taxis operate in many of the larger towns, including Addis Ababa. Prices are reasonable, but foreigners as well as well-heeled Ethiopians are always charged more for ‘contract services’. Ask your hotel for a fare estimate.
  • Bajajs (motorised rickshaws) are common in many towns; a seat in a shared bajaj across town shouldn’t cost more than Birr5. Hiring the vehicle for you alone will cost about Birr15 to Birr20 for the same trip.

Minibuses & Isuzu Trucks

  • Minibuses are commonly used between towns connected by sealed roads or to cover short distances. Legally they are not allowed to operate over a distance greater than 150km but plenty of drivers flout this rule. Some of these travel at night to reduce the chances of a brush with the police – or, during daylight hours, the driver merely swaps his papers halfway through the journey so as to confuse the police. Minibuses cost slightly more than buses, but they leave more often and cover the distances more quickly. A ride in one is also more likely to kill you! Avoid those travelling at night. You’ll usually find them at bus stations.
  • Some foreigners used to travel around remote regions in the back of goods trucks. The Lower Omo Valley was a popular place to do this. It’s now illegal and, contrary to travellers’ rumours that it’s in order to make tourists pay for organised tours, it’s actually for safety reasons – though yes, the rule only seems to be enforced on foreigners!

Travellers’ Lore

Once there was a dog, a goat and a donkey. They wanted to go on a journey together, and decided to take a bus. The donkey paid and got out, the dog paid, got out but never got his change, and the goat got out but never paid.

To this day, and whenever a vehicle passes, the dog still chases his change, the goat still scatters at the first approach, and the donkey just plods tranquilly on.

Ethiopian folk tale