Getting there & away
Border formalities are usually pretty painless. There are two current land routes: one via Dire Dawa and Gelille, and one via Awash and Galafi.
Shirkada Gaadidka Dadweynaha Ee Yaryar Dhexe Iyo Xamuulkaa (0251 118455) buses depart Dire Dawa daily for Djibouti City (Birr120, 11 hours). An unreliable, dilapidated old train is supposed to run this route every second day (Birr80).
Although further, the Awash/Galafi crossing is best for those driving, as it’s entirely sealed.
The most-used crossing is at Moyale, 772km south of Addis Ababa. Daily Ethiopian buses link Addis and Moyale (Birr79, 1½ days), while Kenyan versions connect the border to Marsabit (KSh600, 8½ hours) and Isiolo (KSh1200, 17 hours) along a bone-jarring dirt road. Trucks also serve the Kenyan side. Banditry has been reduced significantly in northern Kenya, though always check the latest.
With a serious 4WD and Kenyan visas acquired in Addis, there’s an adventurous crossing accessing Lake Turkana via the Lower Omo Valley. Get stamped out in Omorate, before attempting the day-long drive to Koobi Fora research base at Kenya’s Sibiloi National Park. There’s no Kenyan border post, so you must wait to get stamped in at Nairobi. Since getting stamped out of Kenya isn’t an option here, this route is only for those travelling south.
Daily buses run between Jijiga and Wajaale at the border (Birr15, 1½ to two hours). After immigration procedures, you’ll find contract taxis (Birr300) and minibuses (Birr40) to Hargeisa, Somaliland’s capital.
The only open Sudan crossing is Metema/Gallabat, 180km west of Gonder. To reach Metema from Gonder, take a new direct bus (Birr31, seven hours) or take the one to Shihedi (Birr23, five to six hours), where pick-up trucks (Birr8) cover the last 40km to Metema. Cross on foot before hopping on a truck in Gallabat to Gedaref (Dinar1500, five to six hours).
British Airways (BA; 0115 505913; www.ba.com; Hilton Hotel, Menelik II Ave) Hub: London.
Lufthansa (LH; 0111 551666; www.lufthansa.com; Gambia St) Hub: Frankfurt.
Yemenia (IY; 0115 526441; www.yememia.com; Ras Desta Damtew St) Hub: Sanaa.