Location Guide Ethiopia

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Ethiopia Market  by Ahron de Leeuw on Flickr



Ethiopia has a generally mild climate with average temperatures of around 18ºC although temperatures can reach over 30ºC in the lowlands.Ethiopia is also home to the Denakil Depessions which is one of the hottest places on earth where temperatures can reach a sizzling 54°C.

The heaviest rains tend to fall from June to early October.

Monthly average temperatures Addis Ababa Ethiopia

Visas & Permits

All visitors to Ethiopia require a tourist visa at least and if you plan on filming in Ethiopia you must have a business visa & a film permit.

You have to apply for a business visa at the Ethiopian Embassy and it requires supporting documentation. The fee is US$ 70 for US Nationals and between US$ 20 and US$ 100 for other nationalities. A visa can usually be obtained within a few working days. Check first with your local Ethiopian Embassy.

A film permit is required and is by written application to the Ministry of Information in Addis Ababa. There's quite a lot of supporting documentation needed for this so leave yourself plenty of time.

For more information on Visas & Permits see: http://www.ethioembassy.org.uk/consular_services/journalists_filmcrews.htm


Ethiopia is not a member of the ATA Carnet system but you should consider using a Duplicate List if you are travelling with TV / Film production equipment


Malaria is present in most parts of Ethiopia and medication is advised. You should also be up to date with your vaccinations. Check with your GP or travel service before visiting.


Political situations can change. Check with your Foreign Office or travel advisor for up to date information before you travel.

Logistics / Transport


Local Services

Advice from Zablon Beyene, Fixer, Addis Ababa

My name is Zablon Beyene (Zab), I was born and grew up in Addis Abeba, Ethiopia. When I finish my high school I went to study to the SW of the country where I explored most of the remote parts of the country. Infected with addictions expedition, when I come back to Addis I studied tourism and started to organize specialized tours, expeditions, walking safaris, working with Photogrphers experienced travelers and then location managing for filming all over in Ethiopia.

So I work as a researcher, developing programs, setting up locations, interviews, and arranging film permits etc.

Some of the programs I was involved in the past are Tribe With Bruce Parry (Suri, Hamar, Dassanetch and Nyangatom episodes), Last Man Standing Suri stick fight, Tribal Wives  Hamar and Afar Episodes, Human Journey out of Africa with Dr. Alice Robert, Man On Earth with Anthony Robinson, Human Planet Grassaland and mountains episodes in Ethiopia, Around the world in 80 Faiths, Jonathan Dimbilbi’s Africa, Joanna Lumlie’s Nile, Nile for SC4 ect
I have been doing this well over 13years now, starting1998, and I cover all over Ethiopia and Djibouti.

Many film crews come to Ethiopia to report news/current affairs and travel very little out of Addis. But the last 10years there is an increased interest in filming the tribes, the wildlife and extreme landscape like the mountains and the Denakil Depression.

The filming facilities are very basic in Ethiopia, it is very hard to find things you have not brought or missing or broken/lost on location. No post facility, no European standard crew, basic sound studios. So please come well prepared with gears etc.

The rare and most unusual location in Ethiopia would be the Denakil Depessions, which is the deepest place in Africa and sometimes the hottest place on earth. It has salt and super lakes which is an amazing place where the colors of the landscape changes though out the year. Many people do think Ethiopia of the famine that happened in 1984. But Ethiopia has the most diverse wildlife (seven endemic mammals), most divers bird species (865 species of birds and of which 31 are only found in Ethiopia). Ethiopia has the wide range of landscape in altitude, from 122meters below sea level to 4620mts above sea level. Ethiopia has rich floral genetic diversity next to China. So anyone intested in fliming desert/sand dunes or mountains, Jungle or grassland can find in Ethiopia.
The most difficult location to film in Ethiopia is the Denakil Depression, and it will remain so in the future. Here is why. By 0830 in the morning the temperature is already 43/44 degrees in temperature and by 1100 it will be well into 48/49 and goes up up to 54 at times.

The average one has to drink in a day there is 8/7 litters. But we were drinking an average of 11 Littres a day, and still feeling thirsty. The sulfur lake is a big risk to all camera gear, any jewelry crews wear. So I advise not to leave anything overnight at the sulfur lake/Dallol. For temperature, sulfur lake smoke and high dehydration in the area Denakil will be the difficult area to film, but it is always worth the challenge as it gives you a changing landscape every time you visit there.

I mainly do research and develop and also work as a Location Manager for TV documentaries. Not a lot of feature Film is made in Ethiopia of international level. But recently we did a 3D feature film with the BBC called Enchanted Africa in Simien Mountains and Denakil Depressions. Speaking of commercials I have worked as a location, as a researcher and Locations Manager for Johnny Walker’s Walking with Giants commercial with Haile Gebreselassie.
Recently I was the locations manager for the Incredible Roads program with Renegade Pictures for BBC, From London, presenters were Hugh Dennis and David Baddiel driving from Addis to Axum. The  Director was Ewen Thomson.

Tips for future crews to Ethiopia:

Make sure you have a business visa before you come here.

Make sure you have the necessary film permit in hand and a lot of copies to give out when asked by any local authority during your stay.

Do not attempt to do things other than your intended permit and locations allowed.

Be sure of the locations you plan to film, we have different climate zones and what is right in the Northern part of the country could be totally different in the South, east or South West of the country.

Take the medical cares recommended by your Doctor.  Malaria precautions are very important.

All manners that work in the rest of the world works here too.

Do not look down upon anyone even a street begger as he is only poor but has the pride you won’t except.

Ask for anyone’s permission before filming close-ups, and do not be intrusive at any corner of the country.

Respect is the big principle and you will be respected back big time. When any authority asks for papers and legality of your shoot remember you would be asked the same back home as well. If the customs staff takes a lot of time he is only doing his job, and by being pushy you will only kill your time as he will check your gear in detail than he thought. So remember respect is the trick.

Arrival at Addis Ababa

Main airport of arrival is Addis Ababa Bole International airport. Ethiopian Airlines flies daily from London, and most European Capital cities, BMI, Lufthansa, KLM, Saudia, Emirates, Kenyan Airways, Sudan Airways, Turkish Airways, Egypt Airlines, and Yemenia fly to Ethiopia.

For crews arriving driving surface from Kenya, Sudan or Djibouti all should have the customs paper ready and their business visa stamped for their durations of stay.

When filming permits are processed the customs process has to sorted as well. It is better to have your locations manager wait with a customs clearance paper in hand for the crew’s arrival. If  not the crew will loose at least a day sorting customs clearance.


Most hotels here in Addis are very friendly for crews and give any storage they have for use on the ground floor during the crews stay. For wrap parties a cultural Ethiopain night is nice. Restaurants like Yod Abyssinia, Habesha 2000 are just few of many where Ethiopian food and cultural dances are shown.


All insurance must be issued from country of origin. Local insurance types are limited, many of the transport services are insured but the payment for any damage is very small and the paper work takes ages. Get insurance from your country.


I suggest crews to bring football, and other itmes  by etc if they have spare time to play with locals which will creat a bond to facilitate filming to the maximum. Donations to local school with items like pens, pencils, and excersise books ets is always very much appreciated. Giving away baseball caps and T-shirts only damage the image of the locals.
Zablon Beyene
General Manager
Zab Tours Ethiopia plc
Addis Ababa