Enchanting Ethiopia

In the Horn of Africa lies Ethiopia, a landlocked country split by the Great Rift Valley. Unlike anywhere else in the world, Ethiopia’s landscapes, wildlife and people are striking, to say the least.

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Landscapes

The country’s natural beauty is breathtaking. Think majestic mountains 3000 m above sea level contrasting with the lowest point on the African continent, with deserts, highlands, canyons, lakes, savannah and vast plateaus between.

The Ethiopian landscape is formed largely from a high volcanic plateau, with the average height being over 2000 m above sea level. There are more than 20 jutting mountains, and the highlands are dramatically bisected by the Great Rift Valley, which begins at the Red Sea and runs across Africa to end in Mozambique. Savannas, rainforests and lush, fertile regions with beautiful lakes and valleys comprise other areas. The flora is unlike anywhere else in beauty and colour. During the rainy season, the central plateau is green, fertile and densely vegetated, with innumerable species of wild flowes popping up in the highlands in Spring.

Wildlife

Ethiopia is possibly one of the best-kept secrets in terms of wildlife viewing destinations. The obvious game such as lions and elephants can be spotted in various parts of the country, but the main highlight is really the huge variety of small wildlife found in the area. Of the 242 listed mammal species, 28 are, notably, endemic. Of the endemic mammals, the geleda baboon, Walia ibex, Meneli’s bushbuck, mountain nyala, Swayne’s hartebeest and Simien fox are all rare and unique creatures. The diverse and colourful birdlife includes over 800 listed species, 30 of which can’t be seen anywhere outside of Ethiopia.

Culture

The only African country to have escaped European colonialism, Ethiopia has a fascinating history and culture. Ancient civilisations have left behind extraordinary monuments, and the country has retained much of its historical cultural identity. There’s a diverse mix of ethnic and linguistic backgrounds, with over 80 different ethnic groups each with its own language, culture, customs and traditions. The country is marked in its antiquity, with many of its traditions dating back over 3000 years. Visiting the country is like journeying through time to uncover fascinating secrets of the past.

Aksum

A place of great historical and archaeological significance, Aksum is one of Africa’s oldest continuously inhabited sites. Once the capital of the Aksumite Kingdom, it dates back to 100 AD. Today’s, it’s famous for its enormous stone obelisks and the Ark of the Covenant, which rests in the Chapel of the Tablet – the holiest site in Ethiopia.

Bahir dar & lake

Hailed as one of Ethiopia’s most pleasant cities, Bahir Dar is the gateway to Lake Tana. Take a boat tour to the lake’s islands, which are home to ancient churches and monasteries, or stay in the town itself to enjoy the vibrant market, charming cafes and lakeside views.

Blue nile falls

Just 35 km from Bahir Dar, the Blue Nile Falls offers a dramatic spectacle of a waterfall on the famous Nile River. 400 m wide and dropping over a sheer chasm more than 45 m deep, the falls create a misty wonderland of rainbows and lush green vegetation that delights visitors and resident monkeys and birds alike.

Simien Mountains

The jagged peaks and deep gorges of the Simien Mountains National Park are home to some of Ethiopia’s most striking wildlife, including endemic baboons, ibex and vultures. The awe-inspiring landscape is the result of millions of years of erosion, and popular amongst hikers keen to venture into the ‘roof of Africa’.

Bale mountains National Park

While most hikers head to the Simien Mountains, Bale, with its giant heather, jagged rock formations and endemic Ethiopian wolves, is attracting more and more nature fans. Take advantage of the various community initatives that allow visitors to explore the wild landscape with local guides, marvelling at how the majestic mountains plunge 1 500 m from the Sanetti Plateau to the magical Harenna Forest below.

Danakil Depression

Africa’s lowest and hottest point, Danakil is one of the most surreal and harshest places on earth. At 155 m below sea level and with temperatures soaring to over 45°C, it’s a destination worthy of the most adventurous expeditioner. Trek up an active volcano, camp on the crater rim and explore the geysers and rainbow coloured mineral deposits of Dallol, a natural landscape like none you have witnessed before.

Gondar

A relatively ‘new’ city by Ethiopian standards, Gondar dates back to the 17th century. It’s not only a convenient stopover en route to Lake Tana and the Simien Mountains, but also home to the Royal Enclosure, a complex of impressive buildings including churches, palaces, castles, a ceremonial bath and a banqueting hall.

Harar

Covering just a single square kilometre in eastern Ethiopia, Harar is Islam’s fourth holiest city. Over 80 mosques and 360 labyrinth-like alleyways have been constructed within the significant walled citadel, which dates back 1000 years. Striking Islamic architecture, colourful garb and ancient markets harken to a time long ago, and provide for a fascinating cultural immersion. Another main attraction is the feeding of the hyenas, which is done each night to deter the predators from attacking livestock.

Lalibela

A living cultural site, Lalibela is home to 11 churches created entirely from rock with just hammers and chisels in the 13th century. The architectural spectacle includes elaborate windows, columns and roofs. Of the 10 000 residents, 1 000 are priests, and the churches form the focal point for ceremonies, vigils and processions preserved from ancient times.

Omo Valley

The Omo Valley offers a glimpse into ancient ways of life. Some of the world’s oldest human remains were found here, and today more than a dozen tribes live along the banks of the Omo River, largely following ancient ways of life. One of the most striking aspects of culture is the unique body adornments, which include lip plates, scarification and elaborate face paint.

Rift Valley Lakes

The Great Rift Valley cuts through the middle of Ethiopia, creating a giant valley of bubbling lakes and lush forests. Journeys up and down the valley will introduce travellers to a range of fascinating cultures and traditions, and the lakeshores are somewhat of a resort for locals of the landlocked country.

Yabelo Wildlife Sanctuary

This park was set up to protect the endemic Swayne’s hartebeest, which has unfortunately all but vanished. However a number of mammals including zebra, kudu, gazelle and dik-dik can still be spotted. Howeber the real highlight is the birds, with no fewer than 200 species to be found – including ostrish, the endangered Taita falcon and a rare species of turaco.

FAQ on Ethiopia

Feel free to contact us if you have any other questions

When is the best time to go?

Ethiopia’s peak tourist season is from September to Jauary. Popular festivals take place during this time, and the weather is pleasantly temperate, with blue skies and low rainfall in most of the country.

What is the best way to travel around

We will supply you with a personal guide and a 4×4 vehicle to explore the Northern and Souther circuit of Ethiopia.
We can also plan a fly-in Safari for you by helicopter or small airplane.

How to get to Ethiopia?

With the Nr. 1 African Airline, Ethiopian Airlines: www.ethiopianairlines.com