Famous for its rock-hewn churches and ancient monasteries Ethiopia is still relatively undiscovered – even at its most iconic sights you see few tourists.
It offers the option to combine cultural and historical sightseeing with excellent wildlife viewing in unspoilt national parks.
Forget about the Ethiopia of 30 years ago, this is a country keen to dispel its image of famine. It’s a nation with a strong sense of self and pride – and it’s continually developing.
Much of Ethiopia, the ‘Roof of Africa’, is fertile and well-watered, with breathtaking scenery dominated by highlands 2,000 metres above sea level. Twenty peaks in the central mountainous plateau rise to 4,000 metres or more whereas the Danakil Depression is the lowest and hottest inhabited point on the African continent.
The Rift Valley Lakes stretch south to Lake Turkana on the border with Kenya and the Blue Nile Falls near Lake Tana are the continent’s second most impressive waterfalls.
Home to nearly 92 million people, making up over 80 ethnic groups, Amharic is the first language of Ethiopia but English is widely spoken.
The breathtaking historic sites, mostly found in the north of the country, have attracted travellers to Ethiopia for centuries. The Solomonic dynasty is said to have originated with the Queen of Sheba’s visit to King Solomon in the 10th century BC. Among the most famous historical sites are the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela, the obelisks at Axum and the ancient monasteries of Bahir Dar.
Ethiopia is also an interesting wildlife destination, with a number of endemic mammals – the Simien wolf and the Gelada baboon, and for birders, Ruspoli’s turacou and Harwood’s francolin – to be seen in its beautiful national parks.
Throughout any bespoke trip to Ethiopia you’ll be in the capable hands of knowledgeable local guides and drivers who speak good English. The accommodation is less sophisticated than in more traditional Africa safari destinations but perfectly comfortable and extremely reasonable in price.
the smokesignal (BLOG)
March 31, 2016: "Coffee, Christianity with a hot pinch of salt"
ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW
- Ethiopia is one of the only countries that has never been occupied by foreign powers. Italy tried twice but was defeated by the Ethiopians.
- The Ethiopian calendar has a 13th month consisting of only five to six days.
- Coffee originates from Ethiopia. It is one of the largest growers and global exporters of coffee.
- Lalibela (1181-1221) was an Ethiopian king and saint.
- 100 metres below sea level the Danakil Depression, yields over 1.3 million tons of salt annually.
- The Afar, who mine the salt, work in temperatures that can reach 58 degrees.