Useful country information

Train operators :

Chemin de fer Djibouti Ethiopien (CFDE), www.erc.gov.et.

 

 

Time zone & dialling code:

 

GMT+3 all year. 

Dialling code:

 

Ethiopia dialling code +251, Djibouti +253.

Currency:

 

£1 = 32 Ethiopian Birr, 262 Djibouti Francs.  $1 = 19 Birr, 160 DJF.  Currency converter

Tourist information:

 

www.tourismethiopia.gov.et

Visas:

 

You need a visa to enter Ethiopia, see www.ethioembassy.org.uk/consular_services/visa.htm.  To enter Djibouti you must pick up a visa at the Djibouti embassy in Addis, as visas cannot be issued at the frontier or in Dire Daoua. 

Page last updated:

3 November 2015


Train travel in Ethiopia & Djibouti...

Addis Ababa - Diré Dawa - Djibouti train service...

A new Chinese-built standard gauge line formally opened between Addis Abeba in October 2016, which passenger services due to start a few months later.  Details will be posted here when known.  The new line replaces the old colonial metre-gauge line which ran until 2010.

 Addis Ababa Diré Dawa Djibouti

 

 Djibouti  ► Diré Dawa ► Addis Ababa

 

 

 Addis Abeba

depart

-

 Djibouti 

depart

-

 Diré Dawa

arrive

-

 Diré Dawa

depart

-

 Diré Dawa

depart

-

 Diré Dawa

arr/dep

-

 Djibouti

arrive

-

 Addis Abeba

arrive

-

Dire Dawa to Djibouti via the old line was 311km.  Dire Dawa to Addis Abeba was 473km.

Fares & tickets...

Fares for the new line aren't yet known.

Travellers' reports from the old metre-gauge line...

Traveller Richard Gennis reports (2009):  "If you are thinking of travelling in on this train you should check at the station the day before, because when I was there the Dire Dawa departure on Saturday was cancelled and it ran on Sunday departing at 10.30am!  I was also told that there’s about one derailment every week!  You will notice that its a lot more expensive to travel from Djibouti to Dire Dawa!  3rd class means travelling in a goods wagon, but the only real difference between 1st and 2nd Class is the small padding to the seats.  The trains are busy so expect to stay in your seat for many hours or loose it! 

Security wise, there are armed guards on the train as it departs Dire Dawa but these are mainly to stop young children jumping on the train and trying to escape to Djibouti. I saw many young children mainly boys jump on, and then the train would stop while the armed guards beat them until they got off.  Sometimes the guards would chase some of the lads on the ground to make sure they got there quite brutal beating before the train would continue!  The normal things would apply if travelling on the train in this part of the world as thieves would be around and valuables should be well out of site as you do attract a lot of attention. 

There are two border points, one departing Ethiopia and the other one at Guelile 600 metres further down the line to enter Djibouti.  You can expect to be at these two stops for around three hours in total as everyone has to get off the train at both stops and move across to a small building and wait in the compound where you will wait until called by the border police, and then re-board the train.  You can get food and drink at the Ethiopian border check point although pretty basic, hot coffee, tea, cold drinks, biscuits and of course the local food Injera.

Most of the guide books have the info’ on the train completely wrong, most of them still saying the train departs Addis Ababa but this has not happened for over two years. They also say the train does not operate at night because of the chances of attacks, but this is also wrong as the train I caught on Sunday 20-12-2009 departed at 10.30am (over a day late) and arrived Djibouti at 05.30am the next. I spent over 18 hours in the cab!!!!

 

Train travel in Ethiopia & Djibouti...  Photos courtesy of Richard Gennis

 

Djibouti station.  Photo courtesy of Richard Gennis

 

Dire Dawa station. Photo courtesy of Richard Gennis


Find hotels in Ethiopia & Djibouti...

 

◄◄ Hotel search & price comparison.

www.hotelscombined.com checks all the main hotel booking sites at once to find the widest choice of hotels & the cheapest seller.  It was named as the World's Leading Hotel Comparison Site at the World Travel Awards 2013 and I highly recommend it, both to find hotels in even the smallest places and to check that another retailer isn't selling your hotel for less!

www.booking.com is my favourite booking site.  It's really clear and you can usually book with free cancellation and so confirm your accommodation at no risk months before train booking opens.


Travel insurance & health card...

 

 

Columbus direct travel insurance

Take out decent travel insurance, it's essential...

Never travel overseas without travel insurance from a reliable insurer, with at least £1m or preferably £5m medical cover.  It should also cover cancellation and loss of cash and belongings, up to a sensible limit.  An annual multi-trip policy is usually cheaper than several single-trip policies even for just 2 or 3 trips a year, I have an annual policy myself.  Here are some suggested insurers.  Seat61 gets a small commission if you buy through these links.

In the UK, try Columbus Direct or use Confused.com to compare prices & policies from many different insurers.

If you have a pre-existing medical condition or are over 65, see www.JustTravelCover.com - 10% discount with code seat61.

        If you live in Australia, New Zealand, Ireland or the EU, try Columbus Direct's other websites.

  If you live in the USA try Travel Guard USA.

Get a spare credit card, designed for travel with no currency exchange loading & low or no ATM fees...

It costs nothing to take out an extra credit card.  If you keep it in a different part of your luggage so you're not left stranded if your wallet gets stolen, this is a form of extra travel insurance in itself.  In addition, some credit cards are significantly better for overseas travel than others.  Martin Lewis's www.moneysavingexpert.com/travel/cheap-travel-money explains which UK credit cards have the lowest currency exchange commission loadings when you buy something overseas, and the lowest cash withdrawal fees when you use an ATM abroad.  Taking this advice can save you quite a lot on each trip compared to using your normal high-street bank credit card!

 


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