“Why on earth would anyone want to go to Ethiopia?”
Yes, we know you might have heard over the years about famine, war, and general lawlessness in Ethiopia, right?
Here’s some things for you to consider about all those old, outdated news stories:
Ethiopia is not in a state of famine – in our trip in December 2018, we saw no food shortages of any kind. We had plenty to eat and drink. And we saw a lot of food being serving in local restaurants and sold at local markets.
Ethiopia is not at war – There is a peace treaty w. Eritrea. And you can even see Eritrean cars on the roads. It’s pretty safe to travel all over.
Ethiopia is not dangerous – There is some petty crime in Addis Ababa, although less than in most large American cities, but Ethiopia can be considered quite safe for tourists and violent crime is rare.
In fact, Ethiopia has worked hard to overcome the negative perceptions it has been labeled with over the past decades and it is steadily gaining a reputation as one of the most varied and fascinating destinations to visit in East Africa.
Today there are 54 separate countries on the continent of Africa. Of all these countries, Ethiopia is the only one that was never colonized. This alone makes Ethiopia unique among all the nations of Africa.
But that is not the only thing that makes Ethiopia the most interesting tourist destination in Africa.
7 Great Reasons to Visit Ethiopia
Rock-hewn Churches of Lalibela
Did you know that the Christian faith was established in Ethiopia in the Fourth Century AD?
Today, tourists can easily visit Lalibela’s rock-hewn churches. These the 11 ancient monolithic temples are each carved out of solid piece of stone.
Ancient City of Axum
The city of of Axum is the home of several ancient stelae (columns). Axum is one of Ethiopia’s nine UNESCO World Heritage sites. These world-famous historical sites have been selected as being important to the entire world, not just a single nation or country.
The Blue Nile Falls
In addition, Ethiopia is arguably one the most beautiful countries in East Africa. While much of Africa is not particularly know for their scenic mountains, Ethiopia has some of the dramatic landscapes on the continent. The Blue Nile Falls is a waterfall on the Blue Nile river which eventually travels north to merge with the While Nile to form the famous Nile river.
The Danakil Depression
In addition, there is also the exciting Danakil Depression, a wild and remote area, the junction of three tectonic plates.
The Danakil Depression is one of the hottest and lowest places on Earth and is also the area where the skeleton of ‘Lucy’ was found. ‘Lucy’ is a collection of fossilized bones of a female hominid – an early human ancestor – who lived in Ethiopia 3.2 million years ago.
There are expeditions available to those folks who are fascinated by deserts, volcanoes and archaeological sites.
Hiking in the Simien Mountains
We understand that most people come to Africa to see animals in the wild.
So if you are only interested in catching a glimpse of one of the so-called “Big 5” animals (lions, rhino, elephants, etc.) then you should look at tours elsewhere
If going on a “big game safari” is important to you then Ethiopia is not the place for you.
However there are plenty of wildlife species that can only be seen in Ethiopia.
For example, the Gelada monkey.
The Gelada monkey, also called the “bleeding-heart monkey” or the gelada “baboon” is a species of ancient primate found only in the northern Ethiopian Highlands.
You can get up choose to hundreds of Gelada or “bleeding heart” monkeys in the Simien Mountain National Park.
Bird watching (Birding)
Now hands-down Ethiopia is probably the one of best places in Africa to go bird watching.
There is an overabundance of endemic birds to be found. Often they are very tame, so they are easy to approach, photograph and study.
Ethiopia also has a kaleidoscope of cultures and century old traditions that combine to produce a fascinating and intriguing travel adventure.
Last but not least is the traditional Ethiopian food.
Ethiopian food is very spicy. It is both full of flavor AND heat. This is due to their use of Ethiopian Berbere (pronounced bare-BARE-ee) a unique chili pepper and a spice blend that Ethiopians have used for centuries to give their dishes an extra kick.
Most Ethiopian dishes are based on beans, lentils, greens, Injera (a sourdough flatbread), cheeses, meat and of course coffee!
So if you are interested in
- History and archaeological sites,
- Volcanoes and deserts,
- Photographing stunning scenery and diverse cultures,
- Bird watching and seeing endemic wildlife (found only in Ethiopia),
- Or Camping, hiking, trekking and even fly fishing,
Then Ethiopia is just the right place for you to visit.
The Truth about Traveling in Ethiopia
Ethiopia requires a bit of an effort on the part of the traveler.
While there are some very beautiful hotels and eco-lodges in Ethiopia, not all of the accommodations are what most Westerners would consider to be luxurious.
So if you are not averse to roughing it a little bit then they all are adequate for the weary traveler.
And traveling thru Ethiopia is overland by car or by air. Often a combination of both.
So you will need to travel some distance almost everyday on unpaved roads in order to cover all the parts of Ethiopia that are the most interesting.
You will also need to be able to do at least some walking/hiking at higher altitudes. But we will make sure that your tour is tailored to your abilities in this regard.
But you will be surprised to find that an Ethiopia tour is a lot less expensive than a luxury safari in other parts of Africa.
So as you can see, we believe that a tour of Ethiopia is worth the trouble because it is the most interesting country in East Africa.