Ethiopia’s Must-See Travel Gems

 

Ethiopia is becoming a popular tourist destination, thanks to its unique combination of natural beauty and rich culture.

For nature enthusiasts, Ethiopia contains a multitude of unique species of wildlife, including birds and wild animals of all types and colors. For those interested in history and religion, there are many Christian and Muslim sites to visit, such as the ancient churches of Lalibela and the mosques of Harar. Coupled with a backdrop of incredible mountainous scenery and endless sunny weather, this country is a beautiful location for those who wish to see some amazing sights.

Check out the list below to find out about Ethiopia’s must-see travel gems.

Lalibela

Lilabela

St. George’s Church, Lalibela

Source: Flickr

One of Ethiopia’s most famous tourist attractions, Lalibela, is a small town containing beautiful and unique ancient churches hewn directly from pink volcanic rock.  It costs about $50 per adult for an entry ticket to all the churches. Opening hours are from 6:00am until 12:00pm, and then again from 2:00pm until 7:00pm. For an additional$10, you can hire a licensed private tour guide.

To get to Lalibela, you can take a national flight straight to Lalibela airport. It’s also possible to drive from Bahir Dar or Gondar, or take a two-day bus journey from Addis Ababa. Once in the town, there are minibus services for about $5. It’s also possible to walk around by foot. This is much recommended, as the town is located amidst mountains, providing exhilarating views.

There is a weekly market every Saturday in Lalibela. For an extra special experience, consider visiting during the Timkat festivals in the last half of January.

The Ethiopian Rift Valley

Ethiopia's Rift Valley

View of Lake Shala, The Ethiopian Rift Valley
Source: Flickr

The Rift Valley stretches across nearly 10,000 kilometers of Africa, passing through Ethiopia. Seven beautiful lakes are situated along the Ethiopian Rift Valley, each one a vibrant habitat for various species of wildlife. The lakes provide water sports and swimming activities, as well as opportunities for birdwatching and fishing. In particular, Lake Langano is a popular resort with hotels and beaches. Lake Chamo contains the wonderful Nech-Sar National Park where you can see hippos, crocodiles and more. In addition to the lakes, the Rift Valley has hot volcanic springs which are thought to have therapeutic purposes and make a popular destination for those wishing to relax.

If you have just finished visiting the attractions in Uganda, it’s only a short flight to Ethiopia to visit this amazing place.

The Blue Nile Falls

Blue Nile Falls

The Blue Nile Falls

Source: Flickr

The Blue Nile Falls is a spectacular waterfall located on the Ethiopian Blue Nile River, about 35 km from the city of Bahir Dar. It is an impressive 45 meters in height and provides a breath-taking view, especially in the rainy season between September and December thanks to increased water flow.

You can get to Bahir Dar by taking a domestic flight from Addis Ababa or Lalibela, and there are also daily buses and private minibuses available.  Once in Bahir Dar, you can benefit from organized tours to the falls at about$10 per person. Alternatively, take one of the many buses to and from the falls. Entry to the falls costs $5 and guide services are around $9.

Danakil Depression

Danakil Depression

Danakil Depression Landscapes

Source: Flickr

If you’re in search of a real adventure, visit the Danakil Depression, the lowest point in Africa with some of the hottest temperatures on the planet. It features active volcanoes, lava flows, salted basins and lunar landscapes. Visitors to the Danakil Depression will need to travel with their own food and plenty of water, as well as a private jeep, back-up vehicle and a tour guide. This can cost upwards of $500 per day. Be prepared to experience extreme conditions thanks to the fiery, wind and unusual landscape. The best time to visit is between November and February when the temperatures are slightly lower, although still averaging over 100 degrees Fahrenheit (or 38 degrees Celsius).

If you plan on traveling in Kenya, you can do so either before or after Ethiopia, as they share a common border.

Harar

Harar

The Gates of Harar

Source: Flickr

Harar is considered the fourth holiest Islamic city in the world and has a rich, cultural heritage. Its walled center, Harar Jugol, contains over one hundred mosques and shrines, some dating back to the 10th century, each with exquisite interior design.

To get to Harar, you can take a bus from Addis Ababa or Dire Dawa. Once in Harar, there are blue and white minibuses to take you around the city. It’s worth investing in a knowledgeable tour guide to make sure you see all of Harar’s wonderful buildings, including the Medhane Alem Cathedral, Jami Mosque and the French poet, Arthur Rimbaud’s, famed Mansion.

Omo National Park and River

Omo National Park and River

Members of the Mursi Tribe, Omo Valley

Source: Flickr

The Omo National Park is located in Omo Valley, on the west bank of the stunning Omo River. It contains numerous savannahs that are home to countless species of wildlife, including zebras, cheetahs, lions, elephants and more.  It is also home to native inhabitants such as the Dizi, Mursi, Suri, Nyangatom, and Me’en tribes, many of which are on the brink of extinction. In addition, bird watchers can enjoy seeing over 300 different species of birds. As the Omo National Park is in a remote location, a guided safari tour is highly recommended to make the most of your visit.

If you are planning on going on safari in Tanzania, visiting the magical Omo National Park is a great way to compound the experience into one that you will surely never forget.

Ethiopia’s landscape and heritage provides extraordinary natural and man-made beauty, making it an unforgettable travel experience. International flights land directly in Addis Ababa and can be booked easily through Ethiopian Airlines, which flies to 51 cities in Africa, 17 cities in Europe and America, and 25 cities in the Gulf, Middle East and Asia.

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