Untouched by the modern conveniences of everyday life, Ethiopia is one of the few places in the world that has preserved its ancient culture. A diverse country in the Horn of Africa that’s packed with history, exquisite cuisine, and beautiful scenery, it’s no wonder tourism to this landlocked country continues to rise year after year. If you needed a few reasons to a book a trip to Ethiopia, here are 14 of them.
1. The Scenery
Everywhere you turn, you’ll catch sight of some of the country’s most breathtaking scenery. From the Simien Mountains in the north to the colorful buildings in the sprawling capital of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia has one of the most beautiful landscapes on the globe. With more than 70% of the continent’s mountain ranges found within the country, the rugged landscape is full of natural beauty.
2. The People
You’ll feel safe and welcomed the second you enter the country thanks to the friendliness of the natives. The diverse makeup of its inhabitants includes more than 80 ethnic groups with as few as 10,000 members and 200 dialects, although most of the people will greet you in Semitic or Cushitic language. Each unique group of people has its own traditions and rituals, and many of the far-off villages are more than happy to allow tourists in, including the Mursi in the Debub Omo Zone.
3. Their Religions
With such a diverse ethnic makeup, it’s not a surprise that Ethiopia is also home to various religions, including Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. The mixture of these religions living in harmony means you’ll stumble upon various worship sites, from mosques to historical churches carved from rocks that date back to the 12th century. Be sure to venture out to the city of Lalibela where you’ll see the most sacred sites, including the structures that were built into the ground.
4. Ancient History
Visiting this ancient country is the equivalent of stepping back into time. Many parts of Ethiopia are undeveloped in terms of modern amenities, and the natives in various villages still live life the way their ancestors did. In the ancient city of Axum, tour guides can take you through the stone obelisks and ancient palaces. And get this – Ethiopia has nine Unesco World Heritage sites – the most on the entire continent. A few of them include the ancient city of the Kingdom of Aksum, the stone churches of Lalibela, and the Fasil Ghebbi medieval fortress in Gondar.
5. Enjoy a Simpler Way of Life
You’ll quickly get used to living the “old fashioned way” during your stay. Don’t be too surprised when you see a cart being pulled by a donkey or a horse-drawn buggy making its way down a dirt road. The people also dress in traditional attire. To get the feel of a sprawling and bustling city, all you have to do is head to the capital of Addis Ababa to see glass buildings and streets lined with an array of shops.
6. The Food
You can’t visit Ethiopia without enjoying some of the country’s delicious cuisine. The most popular dishes are shiro wat and injera. The latter is a spongy bread that comes with spicy meat and veggies. A favorite restaurant among tourists and locals is YOD Abyssinia in the capital city where you can feast on the best traditional food to your heart’s content.
7. The Coffee Ceremony
Visiting Ethiopia means you’ll be in the heart of the country that first discovered coffee. In the 11th century, the coffee plant was first boiled in water to create the hot beverage that was initially used for medicinal purposes. Today, the coffee ceremony still takes place. It occurs in the morning, again at noon, and in the late evening in each community as a social event.
8. The Weather
With an average yearly temperature of 60.7 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s never a bad time to visit this beautiful African nation. Ethiopians live by the Coptic calendar – meaning they have 13 months in their year. Which other country can say they enjoy 13 months of sunshine? None!
There’s no shortage of waterfalls, including the falls in the Blue Nile River, the breathtaking Hot Springs, and the stunning falls of Fentale Volcano. When you step outside, you’ll be surrounded by sweeping valleys and too many hiking trails to count, including Asheten Maryam near Roha and Visite Jinka near Bako.
10. The Festivals
No matter when you plan to visit, you’ll most likely be able to experience one of the country’s many festivals. All year long, colorful gatherings to pay homage to their culture and history fill the streets of Addis Ababa. Music, dancing, food, and art are always on hand. There’s also the yearly Ethiopian Film and Music Festival that celebrates the artistic musical talents of the country’s natives.
11. The Location
It’s quite easy to board a flight from any part of the world and fly directly into Addis Ababa Bole International Airport. If you want to explore other regions in Africa during your stay, Kenya and Tanzania are also just a short flight away.
12. The Wildlife
Most people visit Africa to go on an exotic safari, and there’s no better place to check out the continent’s wildlife than Ethiopia. Home to unique species, such as the Ethiopian wolf and the Gelada baboon, you can get up close and personal to animals you won’t find in any other part of the world. There are also 850 bird species, and you’ll also see more common wildlife, including elephants, antelopes, and goats.
13. The Museums
The bones of the oldest and most famous human ancestor, 3.2 million-year-old Australopithecus afarensis “Lucy,” can be viewed at The National Museum of Ethiopia. This state-of the-art facility has fossils from around the country, cultural artifacts, and oil paintings from 20th century artists.
14. The Tribal Culture
Head out to the Omo Valley and experience a variety of cultures in one setting. You’ll have to make the treacherous drive down bumpy, dirt roads, so hiring a tour guide might be your best bet. You’ll be assisted as you travel within the diverse cultures, partake in traditional ceremonies, and see what’s it like during their typical, everyday life. With many tours lasting up to 8 days, you’ll sleep underneath the stars and marvel at the splendid culture of this robust nation.