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Safety in Ethiopia

by Luz Prada | Tue 23 Jul 2019
Fasil Ghebi in the Ethiopian city of Gondar

Is it safe to travel to Ethiopia? Yes, the country is safe to travel. However, when it comes to traveling to unknown countries or to a place that may experience some political or territorial conflict, it is best to seek professional help to make sure you have all the information you could possibly need.

Here’s all you need to know about possible conflicts in Ethiopia but, as we said before, it is considered a safe country, especially for tourists.

Civil disturbances in Ethiopia

Most of Ethiopia is free of problems, but still there are some areas that are best to avoid. These include the Ogaden region, the border regions (which may include the Afar Triangle) and parts of the south. Why should you avoid them? Because you could run into a mixture of rebellious activity and ethnic violence.

It is always a good idea to review the latest security reports that are usually issued by all governments to make sure that you’re traveling through safe places.

Is crime a big problem?

Addis Ababa and other major urban areas are quite safe compared to some other African cities. However, small thefts and robberies do happen, so be alert in case strangers come to offer assistance. It is known that criminal gangs use distraction techniques, such as begging or faking a disease. Be especially careful when visiting crowded public places, especially at night.

Pickpocketing in Ethiopia

It is the biggest safety concern amongst tourists. This happens mainly in Addis Ababa and other large cities, so try to be alert and keep your belongings close to you and monitored. Remember to not bring all your money with you.

What are Shiftas?

Shiftas, or bandits, may be on the prowl in remote areas. For example, in the Ogaden desert in the southeast, near the Kenyan border or the Awash-Mille road at night.

Even though tourists are rarely a target, it can still happen. We stress again the importance of informed travel to have the best experience possible.

Ethiopia road aerial view

Unofficial Travel Guides

High unemployment has generated the proliferation of unofficial guides. Do not trust anyone who comes to ask, especially when leaving bus stations, etc. Unfortunately, there is almost always a hidden motive. Be polite but firm and do not give it more importance!

Try to blend in

This is a simple and extensible piece of advice for all your trips: that you do not look like a tourist. That is, it seems that you know where you are going or where you come from. Thieves and crooks perceive newcomers with great ease.

Stay alert

Do not lose sight of your luggage at any time and be very careful if someone offers to put your bags on the roof of the bus. Also, keep in mind that professional thieves usually operate in the most touristic and crowded places, so you must be vigilant. 

In short, Ethiopia is not a dangerous destination but, as with all trips, information is vital. Respect government warnings about travel tips and stay on top of things should a problem occur. And if you need some ideas, this guide will help you plan your trip to Ethiopia. Find out every requirement you must meet to visit the country.


About the author
Luz Prada

Luz Prada
My name is Luz, of Greek origin, and meaning laurel. Maybe that's why I love Greek mythology. My passion is music, 30 years of piano and singing guarantee it. Traveling is my other passion. I love being imbued with sounds from different parts of the planet. I work traveling from my computer, which, although not the same, makes me enjoy it too. Sometimes I compose songs, sometimes I compose stories ...


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