One of the most distinctive and fascinating nations in Africa is Ethiopia. It has a complex past, many different cultures, and amazing natural features. Ethiopia is a popular safari vacation location because of its stunning scenery and wide plains teeming with wildlife. The Simien Mountains National Park, the Danakil Depression, and the Bale Mountains National Park are some of the most well-known attractions in the nation.
Full-day journeys aren’t unusual in Ethiopia, which is more than four times the area of the UK and has roads that are in varying levels of development and upkeep. Driving should only ever be done in the daylight because accidents are much more likely to occur after dusk due to wild animals, unlit donkey carts, and villagers herding cattle. But, these lengthy trips allow you to fully experience the changes in the landscape. For example, anyone traveling south will pass through the Rift Valley, which is known for its astonishingly lush lakes and breathtaking views of hills, valleys, escarpments, and forests. It also gives an ideal reason for stopping in little towns for a rejuvenating cup of coffee – follow the fragrance of fresh popcorn and frankincense to discover a wayside stand.
Bahir Dar & Lake Tana
Bahir Dar, one of Ethiopia’s friendliest cities, is the entry point to the Blue Nile Falls and Lake Tana, a once-magnificent 40-meter-high waterfall that has wilted recently due to the building of a dam. See the islands of Lake Tana, which are home to historic churches and monasteries, by boat while keeping an eye out for hippos. A busy daily market and quaint cafes with lake views may be found in the town itself.
This location, which dates back to 100 AD, is one of Africa’s oldest continually inhabited settlements. It served as the seat of the Aksumite Kingdom. It’s famous for its stellae, which can reach a height of 33 meters and weigh up to 520 tonnes, the oldest among which dates back at least 1,700 years. In the modest Chapel of the Tablet, the most sacred shrine in Ethiopia, it is also said that Aksum is where the Ark of the Covenant rests.
The Danakil is one of the strangest and harshest places on earth. It’s home to Africa’s lowest point, which is 155 meters beneath sea level, and it also has one of its warmest points, with summertime temperatures exceeding 45 degrees. It’s a great adventure to travel to Danakil, where you can hike up a living volcano, camp on the crater rim, and explore the alien landscapes of Dallol, home to geysers and mineral deposits that are colored in a rainbow of colors.
Bale Mountains National Park
The Simien Mountains are where most hikers go, but Bale, with its brand-new resort, enormous heather, craggy rock formations, and rare Ethiopian wolves, is likely to begin luring nature lovers. The wind-whipped Sanetti Plateau descends 1,500 meters into the twisted, fantastical settings of the Harenna Forest. You may go across this untamed terrain with local guides thanks to amazing community initiatives.
Only one square kilometer in eastern Ethiopia is home to the fourth holiest city in Islam, a fortified fortress with over 80 mosques and 360 winding lanes that date back up to 1,000 years. The ornate Islamic architecture, vibrant costumes, and historic markets appeared to have undergone little change since then. The nightly tradition of feeding the hyenas, which discourages the predators from harming livestock, is one of Harar’s greatest attractions.
Gondar, which was founded in the 17th century, is a relatively “young” town by Ethiopian standards. A collection of spectacular structures known as the Royal Enclosure includes palaces, churches, castles, a ritual bath, and a banqueting hall. Gondar is still a practical stopover today on the route to Lake Tana and the Simien Mountains, and it’s famous for its enormous Timkat celebrations in January.
Due to the more than a dozen tribes that reside along the banks of the Omo River, the Omo Valley has been the site of some of the earliest human remains in the world and continues to offer a look into prehistoric lifestyles. The tribes are well-known for their body adornments, which include lip plates, scarification, and face paint, but tourism has already started to undermine tradition.
The nearest equivalent Ethiopia has to a “significant” tourist destination are these 11 rock-hewn cathedrals, which are up to 13 meters high and date back to the 13th century. Using just hammers and chisels, they were completely removed from the rock, replete with intricate windows, columns, and roofs. One thousand of the town’s ten thousand inhabitants are priests, and the churches serve as the principal gathering places for celebrations, vigils, and processions. Lalibela is still very much a living cultural site.
This mist-covered national park is home to some of Ethiopia’s most impressive animals, including gelada baboons, Walia ibex, and lammergeyer vultures. A mind-blowing landscape recognized by UNESCO was produced by millions of years of erosion. Unreal Afro-Alpine flora clings to the 3,600m-high mountains. Treks lasting one or more days with local guides give visitors a glimpse of life on the “roof of Africa”.
Rift Valley Lakes
Ethiopia’s center is slashed by Africa’s Great Rift Valley, a vast valley where lakes have erupted and trees have sprouted from the earth. Traveling up and down the valley reveals a range of cultures and traditions, and the warmth and humidity are a pleasant change from the arid mountains. The lakeshores are somewhat of a resort for Ethiopians on vacation in this landlocked country.
Yabelo Wildlife Sanctuary
Yabelo is still the habitat of a variety of species including zebra, kudu, gazelle, and dik-dik despite the endemic Swayne’s hartebeest, which this refuge was established to conserve, having almost entirely disappeared from the park. The true draw, though, is the area’s 200 different bird species, which include the ostrich, the endemic Taita falcon, and the rare and beautiful Prince Ruspoli’s turaco.
Southern Rift Valley
Though the Konso and Dorze folk lack the distinctive physical characteristics of the tribes of the Omo Valley, their manner of living is no less intriguing. Life in this breathtaking area of the Rift Valley is largely unaffected by tourists and is centered around market days, customary rituals, farming, and weaving. Unlike the Omo Valley, these warm but little-known cultures may be experienced authentically thanks to community guesthouses and workshops.
Safety Concerns for Tourists in Ethiopia
Although the vast majority of the nation is secure, you should nevertheless stay out of high-risk situations and avoid doing things that aren’t in accordance with local customs. It’s prohibited to take photos close to military zones, of military personnel, and next to the Presidential Palace in Addis Abe; to carry over 3,000 Ethiopian Birr when leaving or entering the country; to take out antiques without an export certificate; to use or carry drugs; women should dress modestly in rural areas; public displays of affection should be avoided as well as homosexual acts (applying to both sexes). It’s strictly prohibited to gamble online on anything except sports for which you can use sportsbooks on platforms at TopCasinoExpert.com.
In Ethiopia, there are no major safety concerns for travelers. There are, however, a few places where travelers should use caution, just like in any other nation. We highly advise against traveling any further east than Harar. Mugging and pickpocketing are frequent in and around large cities. Along the Ethiopia-Somalia border, Somali separatist forces have occasionally launched guerilla attacks.
The majority of outsiders who frequent these areas are US military personnel who are affiliated with the anti-terrorism unit of the Ethiopian army. Ethiopia is a very safe country, with the exception of the sporadic violence that comes with political upheavals. Unfortunately, dishonest politicians frequently inflame the populace over unimportant topics. If you keep an eye on the situation and steer clear of any potential flashpoints for political conflict, you can travel around Ethiopia with safety and assurance.