The Fascinating Country of Ethiopia

People & Culture

Evening View with Church of St. George in Lalibela, Ethiopia

From the historic north to the cultural south, the fascinating country of Ethiopia offers experiences like nowhere else on earth. With no fewer than seven UNESCO World Heritage sites in the country, and spectacular landscapes ranging from the lush to the unforgiving, Ethiopia is a mecca for the discerning traveller looking to unearth new experiences in intriguing culture, tradition, and natural wonders.

Ethiopia is the oldest country in the African continent, and the second oldest Christian country in the world. Once known as Abyssinia, its treasured culture and traditions date back over 3000 years. From the ancient traditions of indigenous tribes to the history of the first Christians, a journey through incense-scented Ethiopia is a journey through time, that will fascinate, educate, and entertain the inquisitive traveller looking for a truly outstanding Africa tour.

Cradle of African Civilization
In the historic north of Ethiopia, visitors can explore one of the wonders of the world, the famous rock churches of Lalibela. In the 13th century, early Christians began the task of carving churches out of the native red volcanic rock. These amazing monolithic structures are a testament to the determination of the early Christians. Lalibela’s famous pink granite cave churches annually draw Christian pilgrims and devotees, but anyone interested in history and religion will find this a moving and sacred experience.

Church of St George_Lalibela, Ethiopia
Church of St George, Lalibela, Ethiopia

The ancient city of Axum, a UNESCO world heritage site and one of the oldest, continuously-inhabited locations in the continent of Africa, is another must-see location in the historic north. Once known as Abyssinia, its influence was widespread as a religious, military, agricultural, and trading centre. From the mysterious ancient obelisks to the ruins of ancient castles, Axum is a city of fascinating history and wonder. Follow in the footsteps of the Queen of Sheba, the legendary monarch of ancient Ethiopia who once resided in Axum. While exploring the ancient wonders of Axum, visitors will discover the location of the original Ark of the Covenant, one of Christianity’s oldest and most important symbols.

Suggested Itinerary: 
3-Day Ethiopia Stopover

Dome and Bell tower of the New St. Mary of Zion Church, Which Claims to Have Ark of the Covenant, Aksum, Ethiopia
Dome and bell tower of the new St. Mary of Zion Church, which claims to house the Ark of the Covenant

Castles of Kings and Queens
Another fascinating Ethiopian city is Gondar, aptly dubbed, “the Camelot of Africa”. It was once home to the royal kings and queens who led the country from the 12th to the 20th century. Visitors will be transported back to medieval times while visiting the many well-preserved castles in Gondar, such as Fasilides Castle, built in 1640. Gondar is also home to the Debre Birhan Selassie Church, yet another World Heritage Site, set in this dramatically beautiful and fascinating region in the Horn of Africa. Addis Ababa is the diplomatic capital of Ethiopia, a city of contrasts with streets that are paved in gold.

Suggested Itinerary:
8-Day Historic North

Fasilides Castle in Gondar, Ethiopia
Fasilides Castle in Gondar

Mystical Landscapes & National Parks
In addition to timeless history and culture, Ethiopia offers spectacular natural treasures. Visitors will get an opportunity to spot a wide variety of wildlife such as snakes, crocodiles, and hippos. Two national parks, the Omo National Park and the Mago National Park, ensure protection for a wide variety of flora and fauna.

Nature lovers will be astounded by the breathtaking Simien Mountains, where a trek is an opportunity to spot native animals such as the Ethiopian wolf and the waliya ibex. The lush waterfalls of the Blue Nile offer some spectacular opportunities for the photo enthusiast, while the breathtakingly beautiful Omo Valley in the south is one of the most unique places on earth. The area is home to at least eight different indigenous tribes who have lived in the grasslands and forested areas for centuries.

Suggested Itinerary:
8-Day Cultural South

Gelada Baboon Sitting on Top of Cliff in the Semien Mountains, Ethiopia
Gelada baboon in the Semien Mountains

Exotic Costumes and Traditional Makeup
Visitors are able to tour several towns and villages to come in contact with local tribes in their exotic costumes and traditional makeup, witnessing centuries old customs and traditions that are very much alive today. The Mursi tribe is one of the last remaining tribes in Africa to still wear traditional dress and accessories. The Mursi women are famous for their uniquely elaborate head dresses and the clay or wooden plates they wear in their earlobes and lower lips. People of the Mursi tribe continue to decorate their bodies with  traditional body paint and costumes sourced from native plants and wild animals. It’s a fascinating glimpse into a unique, yet sadly fading African lifestyle that most can only hope to see in pictures.

Mursi Tribe Woman, Ethiopia
Mursi Tribe woman with child

The Omo Valley region is also home to several other fascinating traditional cultural groups such as the Dorze, Konso, Hamer, and Karo tribes. Meeting these tribes offers a rare insight into the traditional cultures of Ethiopia. Abounding with historical treasures, and fascinating tribal cultures, Ethiopia tours offer an offbeat yet supremely rewarding travel experience.