Sudan border crossing info required
Does anyone have recent information about the state of the Sudanese border crossings with Ethiopia or Eritrea? I have seen some reports in the mainstream press that mentioned there had been recent problems at the Sudanese border because of the current conflict and possible UN sanctions.
I have actually answered my own question from the Lonely Planet website, which I have published below.
BORDER CROSSINGS IN NORTH-EAST AFRICA - as of 2004
ETHIOPIA & SUDAN
The only border crossing currently open for foreigners is the one at Metemma/Gallabat.
Coming from Ethiopa, there are now buses every morning from Gonder to Metema for 25 Birr - the ride takes about 4 hours on very good road through spectacular landscapes.
At Metemma kids will latch onto you to guide you through the border crossings - pick one(!) of them to guide you, as the offices aren't all very obvious.
In Ethiopia you first visit immigration (in a mud hut), then customs before walking over the birdge to Sudan. Across the border in Gallabat, the first stop is Sudanese immigration. They will stamp your passport both for entry and registration - the latter will cost 5000 Sudanese Dinars (if you haven't got any yet, your Metemma kid will take you to a moneychanger). Next stop is customs, who look into bags but are easygoing. Finally a third Sudanese stop at the "intelligence", where you just have to sign in.
Once finished, look for a pick-up to Gedaref. They now seem to charge 1000/1500 SD in the back/front for both locals and foreigners. The road to Gedaref is good and can be covered in 3-5 hours. Unfortunately there are many checkpoints along it, where foreigners are expected to show their passport and sign in - if you can escape attention (by hiding on the back of a big truck, for example) your trip will be much faster!
From Gedaref there are plenty of buses to Khartoum on an excellent asphalted road (1700-4000 SD, 8-10 hrs depending o the bus) but coming from Ethiopia you will probably have to overnight in Gedaref where accomodation seems to be in short supply during the peak of the agricultural season.
Crossing from Sudan into Ethiopia you will have to overnight in Metemma as buses from there to Gonder leave at 6 am. There are two VERY basic hotels in Metemma charging 10 Birr.
ERITREA & SUDAN
Authorities on both sides agree that the border has been officially closed again since Oct 2002, due to deteriorating relations between the two countries. It is no longer possible to cross here legally, though with the rugged border being long and remote, locals keep crossing it illegally all the time. This is certainly NOT recommended for travellers, as once inside Sudan/Eritrea, there are frequent checkpoints on the roads where documents are checked.
There are flights between Khartoum and Asmara with Regional Air and Yemenia for 110-150 USD OW.
ERITREA & ETHIOPIA
The border remains firmly closed and is unlikely to reopen any time soon.
To travel overland between the two countries the only way is via Djibouti.
The cheapest "direct" flights between Addis and Asmara are with Yemenia, costing 350 USD OW!
ERITREA & DJIBOUTI
Visas for either country must be obtained in advance - they are not available on the border!
Crossing this border is not difficult, at least if you go on the right day (the day when the large passenger ferry goes from Djibouti City to Obock, that is Wednesday). The Wednesday ferry leaves Djibouti City at 11.00 am and costs 1000 DFr. Once it arrives in Obock, watck out for Toyota pickups to Moulhoule or "Assab" (the latter also go to Moulhoule only).
A ride on these will cost 2000 DFr and they go in the afternoon once the qat has arrived. It takes about 2 hours from Obock to Moulhoule on a dirt track through the desert - watch out for gazelles!
In Moulhoule passports are checked, but not stamped, by the Djiboutian authorities. Not getting a stamp is no problem if heading for Eritrea, but those coming to Djibouti should insist on getting stamped in, or they will face difficulties when leaving Djibouti via another crossing!
In Moulhoule there will be another Toyota pickup that will go to Assab via the Eritrean border post at Rahaita for 150 Nakfa. At Rahaita there is a small Eritrean immigration post where passports are stamped.
Once in Assab, note that you can't take next mornings bus to Asmara, as you will first have to go to the local authorities to get a travel permit, which is issued for free in 10 minutes or so. This permit will be checked all along the road, so don't leave without it!
Flights between Asmara and Djibouti City cost 145 USD on Regional Air.
ETHIOPIA & DJIBOUTI
The TRAIN is no longer the best way to cross between these two countries! In fact, as the Ethiopian Railway authority is all but bankrupt, services have become erratic and unpredictable. Even on the day it is scheduled to leave (Tu, Th, Sat mornings from Dire Dawa) it is often cancelled, which they will only announce the evening before.
By ROAD there are 2 crossings open!
The first is where the train crosses the border. This is the shorter route if coming from Addis, southern or eastern Ethiopia. There are daily buses on this route between Dire Dawa and Djibouti City. Tickets cost 115 Birr from Ethiopia or 4000 DFr from Djibouti, and involve a change of buses at the border (included in the fare). Buses leave in the early morning from obscure locations, and tickets must be bought the day before as the bus tends to be full. At the border passports are collected from all passengers and stamped on both sides. The trip takes the best part of a day, with the road being a desert track on the Ethiopian side, but an excellent asphalted one in Djibouti.
The second road crossing is at Galafi, and is more practical for those wishing to travel between northern Ethiopia and Djibouti. From Djibouti City buses costing 2000 DFr to Galafi leave after 8 pm, and overnight in Yoboki (sleeping on matrasses in a yard) before proceeding to the Djibouti border in the early morning. After having your passport stamped you must hitch a ride on an Ethiopian truck to the Ethiopian border post, which is 5 kms away. From the Ethiopian immigration post there is no public transport to the first major town, Dichotto, so you will have to ride on a truck again for maybe 20 Birr. From Dichotto there are daily morning buses to Dessie on the northern historical circuit, or else you could keep riding on a truck.
Coming from Ethiopia into Djibouti this way it would be easier (and probably cheaper) to hitch a ride on a truck from Dichotto all the way to Djibouti City, rather than taking the bus from Galafi.
The cheapest way to fly between Ethiopia and Djibouti is with Djibouti Airlines, who charge just 100 USD OW from Addis to Djibouti, or 50 USD OW from Dire Dawa.
DJIBOUTI & SOMALIA (SOMALILAND)
There are direct jeeps between Djibouti City and Hargeisa. They cost 20 USD from Hargeisa, where they can be found in front of the Djibouti Cafeteria near the radio tower. They leave Hargeisa around 4 pm, and travel on unmarked desert tracks avoiding the roads and police checkpoints. There is a lot of wildlife along the way, so you might want to tell the driver beforehand that he should stop for photos if you wish!
The jeeps stop around midnight at a few restaurats about 2 hours before the border where passengers sleep out on mats. Next morning they drive to the border at Loyada. At the Somaliland immigration foreigners pay a 10 USD exit tax (official). Then you walk over to Djibouti immigration to get stamped in there (get a Djibouti visa before coming to Somaliland!). It is recommended to carry your luggage with you, as all luggage left in the Somali jeep is opened and searched thoroughly! Once over the border, wait for the jeep to get through (slower) and take you on to Djibouti City.
If coming from Djibouti City, the jeeps to Hargeisa can be found along a road in the south of the African Quarter (take a taxi there) and they may charge more going that way. A Somaliland visa may perhaps be obtained at the Loyada border for just 20 USD, but it would be safer to get one from the Somaliland Liaison Office in Addis (Ethiopia) before coming to Djibouti.
Daallo Airlines fly between Djibouti and Hargeisa for 80/120 USD OW/RT.
ETHIOPIA & SOMALIA (SOMALILAND)
From Jijiga in Ethiopia there are regular buses every day to the border at Togochalela (2 hours) on a desert track. Ethiopian immigration is handled there now.
Once stamped out, you walk over the border to the Somaliland immigration, where your Somaliland visa from Addis is checked and stamped. Officials here said that a Somali visa is NOT available here!
Once over the border in the bustling Somali town of Wajaale, hunt around for a 4WD to Hargeisa. There is no regular transport, but we paid only 250 Birr for a charter, shared between six passengers. The first part of the road is another desert track, but then it joins the decent asphalted road from Borama to Hargeisa, where there will be several checkpoints.
Both Daalllo and Ethiopian Airlines fly between Addis and Hargeisa for about 160/240 USD OW/RT, with Daallo being cheaper.
[This message has been edited by Matt Roach (edited 11 October 2004).]