Ethiopia

Ethiopia is a land of wonder and enchantment, a country with one of the richest histories on the African continent, a land of contrasts and surprises, of remote and wild places, home to cultured and friendly people who are descended from some of the world’s oldest civilizations.

This is the land of the fabled Queen of Sheba, home of the Ark of the Covenant, the birthplace of coffee. ‘Lucy: the world’s oldest known almost-complete hominid skeleton, more than three million years old, was discovered here.

Ethiopia has so much to offer visitors: the Historic Route, covering the ancient town of Axum, with its amazing carved obelisks, Christian festivals and relics, including the Ark of the Covenant; Gondar, with its castles and palaces; Lalibela, with its remarkable rock-hewn churches; Negash, one of the earliest holy Muslim centres from the Prophet Muhammad Era with the Negash Amedin Mesgid; the walled Muslim city of Harar and Lega Oda, near Dire Dawa where you can see cave paintings considered to be thousands of years old.

What’s on offer in Ethiopia?

Simien Mountains National Park - Ethiopia

Simien Mountains National Park

One of the first UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the Simien Mountains National Park is a spectacular landscape formed millions of years ago. The area is made up of deep valleys and jagged peaks – many of which are over 4000m high – and includes Ras Dashan, Ethiopia’s highest site. Observation points at Gidir Got and Imet Gogo offer panoramic views of the landscape, while trekking through the parks will bring visitors close to some of Africa’s rarest vegetation and wildlife, including the endangered Ethiopian wolf and walia ibex.

Tigray Region

The northern region of Tigray is home to extraordinary historical sites dating back more than three millenniums. These include Yeha Temple, Ethiopia’s oldest monument, and pre-Christian structures such as the Obelisk of Axum. Most intriguing of the area’s attractions are more than 120 rock churches carved into the hillsides. Many of these are used as monasteries and house religious artefacts such as manuscripts, gold and silver crosses, and inscribed stones.

Tana Lake - Ethiopia

Lake Tana

Ethiopia’s largest lake is a place of great natural beauty, as well as great cultural and historical significance. Of its 37 islands, roughly 20 encompass ancient churches and monasteries dating back as far as the 14th century and containing exquisite frescoes and antique treasures. Lake Tana is also an excellent bird-watching site, with many migratory and endemic species inhabiting the area’s wetlands, woodlands and rocky outcrops.

Bale Mountain National Park

Bale Mountain National Park

Bale Mountains National Park contains a spectacularly diverse landscape. The high altitude, afro-montane Sanetti Plateau rises to over 4,000m and includes the highest peak in the southern Ethiopia highlands. This undulating plateau is marked by numerous glacial lakes and swamps and surrounded by higher volcanic ridges and peaks. The southern slopes are covered by the lush and largely unexplored Harenna Forest. Bale Mountains is renowned for being home to the largest populations of the Ethiopian wolf, Mountain Nyala, and the endemic Bale monkey.

Bahir Dar - Nile Falls

Bahir Dar

Bahir Dar is situated on the southern shore of Lake Tana which by some complication is not the source of the Blue Nile. The city, Ethiopia’s third largest grew from a Jesuit settlement, founded in the sixteenth or seventeenth century, and is home to one of Emperor Haile Selassie’s palaces. On the islands in the lake there are some of the world’s oldest churches and monasteries. The main attraction is known locally as Tis Isat – ‘Smoke of Fire’ the Blue Nile Falls is dramatic spectacle on the Blue Nile rivers.

Addis Ababa

Tall office buildings, elegant villas, and fashionable hotels, rise up alongside traditional homes of wattle and daub, surrounded by cattle, sheep, goats, and chickens. There is no designated ‘city centre’ because, until very recently, there was no urban planning. Addis Ababa simply grew in a natural, organic way, and its present appearance reflects this unforced and unstructured evolution.

Our top Ethiopia packages:

Please call: 01227 753187 for a tailor-made Ethiopia itinerary.

Fast Facts

BEST TIME TO VISIT: Ethiopia’s climate is extremely varied and despite being close to the equator doesn’t follow the typical tropical climate patterns. One the driest and hottest places on earth is the Danakil Depression in Northern Ethiopia. The most popular time to visit Ethiopia is between October and January, when the rains are over but the countryside is still quite green.

TIME DIFFERENCE: GMT +3 hours.

VISAS: All visitors to Ethiopia require a visa, though citizens of the USA, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, China, Japan, Korea, Israel, Russia, the UK and all other European Union nations can buy a one-month visa upon arrival at Bole International Airport (Addis Ababa) for US$20–30. Other passport holders will need to arrange a visa in advance – if you live in a country where there is no Ethiopian embassy, and travel with Ethiopian Airways, you can apply for a visa through the airline office.

LANGUAGE: Official language Amharigna (Amharic); Oromifa and English are most widely spoken.

CURRENCY: Birr

FLIGHT INFORMATION: Direct flights to Addis Ababa with Ethiopian Airlines &  British Airways.

FLYING TIME FROM UK: Approx. 7 hours.

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