Why we love Ethiopia
When it comes to planning a holiday to East Africa, Ethiopia can often be overlooked for big-hitters such as Kenya and Tanzania. But this varied country offers an African experience like no other. Not just the source of the Blue Nile, Ethiopia is home to ancient human and cultural history, dramatic landscapes and fascinating endemic wildlife.
In Lalibela, rock-hewn churches and a labyrinth of ancient passageways offer history lessons aplenty. The famous Bete Giyorgis, carved deep into solid bedrock in the shape of a cross, is a UNESCO-listed site and a breath-taking architectural feat. Ethiopia’s cultural significance continues with the unique tribal traditions of the Omo Valley, while in the east you’ll find the Danakil Depression. One of the hottest places on Earth, this stark and unworldly destination should be on every visitor’s list.
The island monasteries of Bahir Dar on Lake Tana are other popular highlights, as are the cliff-faced churches of the Gheralta region. But as our East Africa specialists will tell you, there’s much more to Ethiopia than you might think.
Other reasons to visit Ethiopia
Aside from Ethiopia’s sites of historical and cultural importance, the country’s diverse and beautiful landscapes also surpass expectations. From the rugged Simien Mountains in the north to the Blue Nile Falls near Lake Tana, Ethiopia offers breath-taking scenery at almost every turn.
The Simien Mountains are without doubt some of Africa’s most beautiful peaks, however there’s more than just dramatic scenery there. Take a seat on a rock to gaze at the view and you might find yourself in the company of a congress of gelada baboons. Also known as mountain monkeys, these characterful primates occupy the grasslands and verdant slopes of the region. Just a few minutes in their company will make for a memorable travel moment.
Further south, the Bale Mountains are a true hidden gem. Less visited than the Simien range, the Bale Mountains offer dramatic landscapes not found anywhere else in East Africa. From the sprawling Sanetti Plateau, home to the endemic Ethiopian wolf and giant mole rat, to the lush Harenna Forest, one of the few remaining natural forests in Ethiopia, there are plenty of opportunities for exploration here.
In the Tigray region, in Ethiopia’s extreme north, the ruins of an ancient civilisation at Aksum (also written as Axum) await discovery. Centuries-old Christian churches, towering stone obelisks and UNESCO-protected archaeological sites offer fascinating facts and stories of one of the oldest continuously inhabited places in Africa. A guided tour with a local expert comes highly recommended.
With so much to offer, Ethiopia should be on every intrepid traveller’s wish list.