The 13th African Small Mammal Symposium (ASMS)

September 16-21, 2019

Mekelle University, Mekelle, Tigray, Ethiopia

Travel information

Travel booking advice

Please book your flights (final destination) to Mekelle city (not to Addis Ababa, the capital city of Ethiopia). Ethiopian airlines fly five times a day between Addis Ababa and Mekelle. The cheaper (but longer) version includes the flights to Addis Ababa and bus transport to Mekelle.

Bus transport from Addis to Mekelle

For those who find the local air transport unaffordable, we suggest taking buses from Addis to Mekelle and vice versa. The bus transport is safe and very cheap (~ 20 USD per trip). Please note that the journey is very long (about 12 hours drive). But if you enjoy bus travel, you will have one of your best experiences.

Please consider one of the following bus companies: Selam Bus, Sky Bus, Habesha Bus, Abay Bus, Zemen Bus. They all have daily trips from Addis to Mekelle (and vice versa). All of them have their ticket offices and departures at the Meskel Square (near the national soccer stadium) in Addis Ababa.

It is necessary to buy your ticket at least a day before your travel date. Unfortunately, none of the companies have online ticket service, so you need to go to the ticket office in person. If someone can buy you the ticket in Addis Ababa, it is preferable. If not the ASMS organizers can buy you the ticket from Mekelle ahead and send you scan copies. If you would like the ASMS organizers to buy you the bus tickets, please contact Mrs. Selam Girmay ( by sending scanned copy of your passport. We expect you to reimburse the cost on the date of your arrival to Mekelle.

Bus Service (shuttles) from the Airport/Town to the Conference Venue

There will be a free bus service (shuttles) with the following schedule from Mekelle airport to Mekelle city (»15 minutes). Look for buses with Mekelle University logo at the taxi parking station. Alternatively, from airport to town, you could also take airport taxi (200 birr from airport). Some hotels (see the list) have shuttle services for their customers. From town to the conference venue, you could also take bajaj (three-wheeled small car; around 50 birr). If you are taking bajaj from town, please be sure to ask the driver to take you to “Arid” campus, as there are several MU campuses in town.

From town to conference venue: Bus will be arranged to drive symposium participants from town to the conference venue. Pick–up spots will be announced shortly.

Hotels and Pensions

Hotels and pensions of middle to high level are available in Mekelle and surroundings. See a partial list of hotels and pensions here.

For booking hotel or pension rooms, use telephone calls. We do not recommend emails. Also, note that hotels listed from no. 1 to 6 have complimentary shuttle services. For almost all hotels, payments are made in person up on arrival.

Mekelle University has arranged a modest discount for the participants of ASMS at Axum Hotel. If you are interested, please call the hotel reception and inform that you are an ASMS participant invited by Mekelle University. We will submit the ASMS participants list to the reception for checking names. By doing so, you will get a standard hotel room for just 30-35 USD per night. This is the hotel where the University hosts its guests. Call the hotel reception for booking (Tel. +251 914 300 298).


  1. Each participant is requested to manage his/her hotel reservation. If you need assistance, we may refer you to our colleague Selamawit Girmay (+251 914729898, e-mail:, who can assist you with booking.
  2. The rate is written in terms of USD, but hotels basically accept payment in Ethiopian Birr. US Dollar/Euro/British Pound can be exchanged to Ethiopian Birr in several banks in Mekelle. Some other currencies (AED, CAD, CHF, DJF, DKK, JPY, NOK, SAR, SEK, ZAF) can also be exchanged to Ethiopian Birr at any bank in the town.
  3. Some ATM accepts VISA Cards.
  4. In some of the cheaper hotels, separate fee may be required for breakfast/airport shuttle.
  5. As cheaper hotels may not be experienced in managing reservations well in advance, it is recommended to confirm the reservation with the hotel/pension towards the start of the conference (such as 1-2 weeks before the conference).
  6. Some of the cheaper hotels may not be regularly checking their emails. Thus, if you do not get a response from them, we advise you either to call them or to write to our colleague Selamawit Girmay (see the contact above).

General Travel Guidance


There is a change in how to acquire the Ethiopian visa:

Because of the large number of ASMS participants (and other travellers to Ethiopia in September), the Federal Immigration Department is asking us to inform you to apply for your visa using the eVisa system since this process goes faster (3-5 days) than the Visa on Arrival process.

Please apply using the following link:

From the dropdown list under “Business Visa Type”, please choose “Conference Visa” and continue your application.

** Do not forget to upload your Invitation letter (1 page) and the Immigration letter (3 pages) – we are sending both documents by e-mail to all participants.


Please refer the following requirements for Ethiopian eVISA.

  • e-Visa application fees are not refundable
  • Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months from the date you intend to enter Ethiopia.
  • A passport size photo and scanned copy of passport is required.
  • Currently, we allow travelers with e-Visa to enter Ethiopia via Addis Ababa Bole International Airport. Entry via other ports of entry is not allowed.
  • The validity of Ethiopian e-Visa starts from the date you intend to enter Ethiopia not from date of issue.
  • Please carefully read and comply to the important notices and guidelines stated in each step of the application form.
  • Nationals of African States who can’t make e-Visa payment online can apply online and make the payment on arrival at Addis Ababa Bole International Airport in cash.

See more details about Ethiopian visa here.

Travelling to Mekelle city

Mekelle can be reached from Mekelle Airport (1 hour flight from Addis Ababa) or by bus (1 – 2 days from Addis Ababa depending on the grade). Each participant is expected to make own travel arrangements. Your domestic airfare from Addis Ababa will be substantially discounted if you fly into Ethiopia by Ethiopian Airlines. Also, there is a discount of 15% if you purchase the domestic ticket on-line at Ethiopian airlines website.

Many of the good hotels (see the table) have shuttle services from/to the airport, so please directly inquire the hotel. The contract taxi from the airport to Mekelle town is 200 Birr. As foreign currency exchange is NOT available at Mekelle airport, we recommend you to get Ethiopian birr in Addis Ababa airport.


Yellow Fever vaccination certificate may be checked if you arrive to Ethiopia from “countries with risk of Yellow Fever transmission (more than 12 hours of stay).” For details, please refer to (WHO). Mekelle has an average altitude of around 2000m, and Malaria prevention is generally not needed (but check the location of possible post-conference trips, if you plan to participate).


The weather in Mekelle at the conference time is comfortable. During the daytime, there will be a strong sunshine, and you may feel quite warm (one layer of light long-sleeved clothing would be suitable). On the other hand, during the nighttime, it becomes a bit chilly, and it would be a good idea to bring some jacket or cardigan. Rainfall is usually not expected at this time on the year.

Power plug sockets

The majority of the plug type is “Type F” as listed in (The same ones as the ones usually used in continental Europe.) However, in some of the older buildings, you may also find “Type C” (thinner rods and further distance between the rods than “Type F”. In more expensive hotels, adapters for different plug shapes are generally available. The adapters can also be easily obtained in town, but the quality (such as how well it fits) may vary.

The most common power plug socket type (Type F)


The general security situation is very good in Mekelle or Addis Ababa. In Mekelle, it is safe to walk outside alone or take public transportations during daytime. At nighttime before 9 p.m., it is okay to walk outside alone in busy streets or take public transportations. Generally locals recommend avoiding walking outside alone after 9 p.m. or taking bajaj (three-wheeled small car) alone at nighttime.


Money Matters

Foreign currency exchange

Euro, US Dollar and British Pound can be exchanged into Ethiopian Birr in Addis Ababa airport, many banks in Mekelle, through some ATMs, and in some hotels. There is no currency exchange desk in Mekelle Airport, so you should exchange your money in Addis Ababa airport if your hotel does not have airport shuttle service. Some other currencies (JPY, CHF, SEK, NOK, DKK, DJF, CAD, SAR. AED, ZAF) can also be exchanged in limited branches of Commercial Bank of Ethiopia. (Confirmed as of Sep 2018 for JPY: Airport in Addis Ababa, Main Brach in Addis Ababa, and Main Branch in Mekelle.) Please, also note that it is extremely difficult to change Ethiopian Birr back into foreign currencies. Foreign currencies are only accepted in some of the hotels but generally not in restaurants/shops in Mekelle.

Usage of credit cards

Most shops, restaurants and hotels only accept payments in Ethiopian Birr (cash). Some hotels do accept credit card (VISA) payments (please inquire the hotels). There are several ATMs in Mekelle, where you can withdraw cash using VISA credit cards. Traveller’s Checks are not accepted.