Ethiopia is a land of cultural diversity reflected in the, religious practice, ritual, costume, body decoration, housing and cuisine. If you want a cultural experience that you will never forget, then plan a trip to the Lower Omo Valley and connect with one of more than a dozen indigenous peoples of the region.
Being the land of one of the oldest Christian traditions on earth, Ethiopia boasts numerous ancient churches and monasteries. The monolithic rock churches of Lalibela are like none other in the world, the most popular is the cruciform Bete Gyorgis. For art lovers Ethiopia offers beautifully painted churches in the Tigray, Gondar and Lake Tana regions.
Ethiopian Orthodox Church’s religious festivals like Timqet (Baptism) and Mesqel (commemoration of the finding of the True Cross) attract thousands of believers and are very moving experiences for a visitor.
Ethiopia is one of the countries where Islam found a home in its early days. The walled city of Harar in eastern Ethiopia claims to be one of the earliest Muslim cities in the world.
The Semien Mountains, in northern Ethiopia, north east of Gondar in Amhara region, are part of the Ethiopian Highlands. They are a World Heritage Site and include the Simien Mountains National Park. The mountains consist of plateaus separated by valleys and rising to pinnacles.
Lalibela Rock Hewn Churches
Lalibela is a town in the Amhara region. It's known for its distinctive rock-cut churches dating from the 12th and 13th centuries, which are pilgrimage sites for Coptic Christians. Carved out of rock, the subterranean monoliths include huge Bete Medhane Alem, and cross-shaped Bete Giyorgis. Many are joined by tunnels and trenches, and some have carved bas-reliefs and colored frescoes inside.
Harar Holy City
Harar is a city in eastern Ethiopia. It’s surrounded by a centuries-old defensive wall that has several large gates, including Duke's Gate. The city is known for its mazelike alleys and traditional houses decorated inside with flat hanging baskets. A replica house features at the Harar Community Centre Museum. A holy Islamic city, Harar has many mosques, including the Grand Jami Mosque with its tall white minarets.
Gondar, or Gonder, is known for the walled Fasil Ghebbi fortress and palace compound, once the seat of Ethiopian emperors. Dominating it is the immense 17th-century castle of Emperor Fasilides, which combines Portuguese, Indian and local architectural styles. Outside the complex is Debre Berhan Selassie church, with an interior of elaborate murals, including a ceiling of faces.
Blue Nile Falls
The Blue Nile Falls is a waterfall on the Blue Nile river. It is known as Tis Abay in Amharic, meaning "great smoke". It is situated on the upper course of the river, about 30 km downstream from the town of Bahir Dar and Lake Tana. The falls are one of Ethiopia's best known tourist attractions.
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s sprawling capital in the highlands bordering the Great Rift Valley, is the country’s commercial and cultural hub. Its National Museum exhibits Ethiopian art, traditional crafts and prehistoric fossils, including replicas of the famous early hominid, "Lucy." The burial place of the 20th-century emperor Haile Selassie, copper-domed Holy Trinity Cathedral, is a neo-baroque architectural landmark.
The city of Aksum known for its tall, carved obelisks, relics of the ancient Kingdom of Aksum. Most are in the northern Stelae Park, including a huge fallen pillar, now in pieces. Centuries-old St. Mary of Zion is a Christian church and pilgrimage site believed to have housed the biblical Ark of the Covenant. The neighboring Chapel of the Tablet is said to contain the Ark today.
Arba Minch is a city and separate woreda in southern Ethiopia; the first common name for this city was Ganta Garo. Located in the Gamo Gofa Zone of the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples Region about 500 kilometers south of Addis Ababa, at an elevation of 1285 meters above sea level.
The Danakil Depression is the northern part of the Afar Triangle or Afar Depression in Ethiopia, a geological depression that has resulted from the divergence of three tectonic plates in the Horn of Africa.
If you want a cultural experience that you will never forget, then plan a trip to the Lower Omo Valley. Here you can connect with one of more than a dozen indigenous peoples that live in the region.
The valley is dependent on the Omo River to live as it feeds the dry savannah that supports the local communities. Each of the villages has their own customs and language and have lived basically the same lifestyle for centuries.
Bale Mountains National Park
This upcoming park is a good choice for wildlife and trekking enthusiasts. This wild landscape is home to endemic Ethiopian wolves.
The high altitude, Sanetti Plateau rises to over 4,000m . This undulating plateau is surrounded by higher volcanic ridges and peaks and features deep gorges, glacial lakes, several waterfalls, lava flows and swamps. We recommend to explore with local guides.
Lake Tana is the largest body of water in Ethiopia and is renowned for its wildlife. Colobus monkeys on the islands hippos in the water. The birdlife is spectacular with chances to see pelicans, kingfishers and fish eagles. Churches and monasteries punctuate the shorelines.
For people who want to try the local cuisine, the staple food in large parts of Ethiopia is known as enjera. This large pancake-like starch is usually made out of teff (a tiny seed mainly consumed in Ethiopia and Eritrea), although it can also be created from other grains such as barley, sorghum and rice. Enjera is so popular that it is even considered the national dish and is a part of almost every meal in Ethiopia. You will find enjera laid on a plate beneath the vegetables that comprise the rest of your lunch or dinner, with additional pieces served in much the same way as how bread is presented in Western restaurants. Enjera is then eaten by wrapping small pieces around your servings of vegetables (this is somewhat similar to how a tortilla or crepe is utilized to enfold other components of a meal). Enset is a plant that looks much like a banana tree but, ironically, produces no fruit (which gave rise to its English name, “false banana”). One eats the stem and root of the enset plant which are pounded into a tasty dish.
As a part of their religious practices, several times a year Ethiopians “fast” (which means they abstain from eating meat and poultry). As a consequence, vegetarian dishes are commonly available (simply say you are “fasting” and you can obtain delicious vegetable dishes). And even during non-fasting periods vegetable soups are often on the menu. In addition, most hotels and restaurants serve salads; these are safe to consume unless you have an extremely sensitive stomach, in which case you might want to avoid raw vegetables.
Ethiopia has 15 or more areas where wildlife is protected. It has an extraordinary variety of smaller and perhaps less dramatic wildlife with 242 listed mammal species, including 28 species that cannot be seen anywhere else on Earth. Set in a backdrop of varied and stunning landscapes.
gelada baboon, the Walia ibex, the Menelik’s bushbuck, the mountain nyala, Swayne’s hartebeest and the Simien fox.
The Simien fox is best spotted is the Bale National Park, rather than the Simien Mountains themselves. Sometimes called the Simien wolf or Abyssinian wolf, it is large by fox standards with long legs.
The Gelada baboon is found in mountainous. Recognised by its heart-shaped red skin on its chest and lion-like mane. It's numbers are falling.
The mountain nyala prefers the high moorlands. It is, more accurately, a kudu and is recognisable by its elegant lyre-shaped horns.
With well over 800 species, Ethiopia is one of the greatest countries in the world for seeing diverse and colourful bird life.