Why Visit Ethiopia? 12 Reasons to Go Now!
It was our first trip to Ethiopia. We were astounded by the diversity of this country, its dramatic landscapes, colorful festivals, and the hospitality of its people representing over 80 ethnic groups.
This country is called the “cradle of mankind” since fossils were discovered in the Rift Valley that date back to the beginning of our hominid ancestors. Today, Ethiopia is the most populated country in Africa with 85% of its population in agriculture production. Technology speeds ahead in Addis Ababa where there is a new modern airport, yet in the countryside you see donkey carts, wooden plows and yokes on oxen, and villagers walking long distances to wells for their daily water.
It’s a country with a rich Christian and Islam history, 17th-century castles, a Coptic-style calendar offering 13 months of sunshine, the Blue Nile, wildlife, national parks, and delicious cuisine with some of the best coffee in the world.
Our tour company Grand Holidays Ethiopia Travel & Tours, named one of the Best Adventure Companies on Earth by National Geographic Adventure Magazine, met us at the Addis Ababa Airport. Both our guide, Kebi, and driver, Mula, greeted us with a smile and we were off on our Ethiopian Adventures!
They shared the following 12 reasons to visit Ethiopia. We think there are many more reasons and can’t wait to return to explore more of this fascinating country. We highly recommend adding Ethiopia to your bucket list.
12 Reasons to Go to Ethiopia
12 Reasons to Visit Ethiopia
Lalibela’s Rock-Hewn Churches: Visiting the remarkable rock-hewn monolithic churches of Lalibela from 1200 AD, often referred by many as the living wonders of the world – there are 11 churches, each carved from a single block of granite, connected by a network of passageways and tunnels.
Dating back to the 4th century, Ethiopian Orthodox Church is one of the oldest in the world. In fact, there are 30,000 churches in Ethiopia! Both Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity and Islam religions are practiced in Ethiopia.
Axum & the Ark of the Covenant: Visit the 3000 years ancient city of Axum with obelisks, the palace ruins in the land of Queen of Sheba and the last resting place of the Ark of the covenant. Ethiopians believe the Ark is not lost, but the tablets are hidden in a well-guarded church in Axum. There is a replica of the Tabot (the Ten Commandments) in each of the Orthodox Churches of Ethiopia.
Tribes and The Omo Valley: Explore an amazing mix of tribal ethnic groups in the unique wilderness, The Omo Valley.
There are over 80 ethnic groups in Ethiopia including dozens of tribes. The Hamer, Karo, Mursi, Dorzo are a few of the tribes we visited who continue to live as they have for thousands of years. Because Ethiopia was never colonized, the Ethiopian people managed to protect their unique identities, customs and traditions.
Hiker’s Paradise: Trek on the Roof of Africa in Northern Ethiopia, the Simien Mountains, a UNESCO World Heritage site, one of the most spectacular 14,400 ft. towering mountain ranges in Africa. There are expansive vistas with rocky mountains and deep gorges. Discover many & exciting endemic wildlife such as the Gelada baboon, Walia Ibex and the rare seen Ethiopian wolf and bird watching with 850 bird species including the Turaco, blue-winged Goose or the Rouget’s Rail. Best time to visit the Simien Mountains? October – January.
Scenic Landscapes: Discover a landscape of an alien planet. The Denakil Depression, one of the lowest and hottest places on earth and a lava trek to Ertale Lava Lake. From arid plains, lakes, forests, and a country with 63% of all the mountains in Africa!
National Parks & Lakes: Discover some of the beautiful national parks and chains of lakes in the Great Ethiopian Rift Valley, the only geological feature visible from space.
Ethiopia has 7 lakes in the Rift Valley and there are several National Parks where you can hike and/or see wildlife – Mago, Abijatta Shalla, Awash, Omo, Neshisar, Bale Mountains and Yangudi.
Blue Nile Falls & Lake Tana: Embark on a boat cruise to Lake Tana to visit some of the ancient island monasteries and the source of the mighty Blue Nile River, the second longest river in the world. Interesting Fact: The Blue Nile River supplies 86% of the water to the Nile River.
Gonder’s Castle: Marvel at the fairytale castles of Gonder!
Harar: Get lost in the walled and colorful medieval Islamic city of Harar with 99 mosques.
Lucy, our Ancient Ancestor: Last, but not least , meet with your ancient ancestors with a visit to Lucy, 3.4 Million Years Hominoid Skeleton at the National Museum in Addis. After all, this is a journey to the land where all begun.
Festivals: There are festivals and religious celebrations throughout the year including Timkat, Genna and Meskel and Adwa.
We were in Ethiopia during the Timkat Feast, a three-day festival celebrating the baptism of Jesus Christ, with colorful parades throughout the town while priests hold replicas of the tablets of the Ten Commandments. Each year, this festival takes place on January 19.
Ethiopian Cuisine: Most of our meals were shared from a common platter lined with Injera, the traditional country staple. The Injera is a spongy-like sour pancake with a variety of vegetables and meats served on top of it.
When you share a platter, you use your fingers to break off a portion of the injera and scoop up the items sitting on top of it like chickpeas with garlic and onions, or spicy meats. Don’t Miss! Enjoy some of the world’s best coffee in Ethiopia.
Day 1: January 14:Arrive Addis Ababa-Fly to Arbaminch
Arrive Addis Ababa and take the flight to Arbaminch. In the afternoon, visit the Dorze village.
Overnight: Haile Gebrselassie’s Hotel in Arbaminch – Haile Hotel
Day 2: Jan. 15: Arbminch-Konso-Turmi
In the morning, drive to Trumi through Konso. Afternoon, visit the Hamer Village and checkout some cultural activities.
Overnight: Evangai Lodge-Turmi.
Day 3: Jan. 16: Desanech-Turmi-Jinka
In the morning, drive to Jinka en-route visitng the Bena Village. At Key Afer we will attend the weekly Key Afer Tribal market.
In the afternoon, visit Ari Village around Jinka.
Overnight: Eco-Omo Lodge-Jinak.
Day 4: Jan. 17: Mursi Village-Addis Ababa
In the morning, drive through Mago National Park to Mursi Village to visit Mursi Village.
In the afternoon, take a flight to Addis Ababa. Possible afternoon city tour.
Overnight: Jupiter Hotel.
Day 5: Jan. 18: Addis Ababa-Lalibela
In the morning, take a flight to Lalibela. In the morning, visit the first group of rock-hewn churches including St. George.
In the afternoon, attend Timket Eve festival.
Overnight: Old Abyssinia Lodge Lalibela – We loved staying at this lodge in our tukul-style room with stunning mountain views. Both Churches Bet Abba Libanos and Bet Giyorgis are within a mile away.
Don’t Miss: watching the sunset from the beautiful restaurant terrace at Old Abyssinia Lodge!
And be sure to stop at the “Obama Shop” – our favorite store in Lalibela with a variety of souvenirs.
Day 6: Jan. 19: Timket Festival-Addis Ababa
Early in the morning, attend the Timket Festival at Lalibela. Around mid-day take a flight to Addis Ababa. The rest of the day, attend Timket in Addis Ababa and city tour of Addis Ababa.
Overnight: Jupiter Hotel.
Day 7: Jan. 20: Addis Ababa-Rwanda
In the morning, transfer to Addis Ababa airport. End of tour.
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How to Get to Ethiopia?
We had a great experience flying direct from Dubai to Ethiopia on Ethiopian Airlines.
We were impressed with Ethiopian Airlines and realized there are several flights operated by this airline throughout the country. They have an amazing fleet of aircraft. Their main hub is the Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa.
Getting a Visa:
Global Adventuress would like to thank Grand Holidays Ethiopia for hosting our fabulous tour.