Ethiopia

Ethiopia: What to Expect / Highlights



Axum

A city which is the mythic capital of the Queen of Sheba's ancient kingdom and purported home to the Ark of the Covenant. Many artifacts, including carved monolithic obelisks, attest to the highly advanced civilization that flourished in the city over 2000 years ago.

Lalibela

A city in the middle of the Ethiopian highlands with an extraordinary assemblage of thirteenth century monolithic rock-hewn churches widely considered the Eighth Wonder of the World. UNESCO named the churches to its World Heritage List in 1978.

Gondar

The capital of Ethiopia from the rise of Fasilades to the fall of Tewodros (1855-68) which is reflected in the many medieval castles, churches and palaces in the city.

Simien Mountain National Park

Massive erosion over the years on the Ethiopian plateau has created one of the most spectacular landscapes in the world, with jagged mountain peaks, deep valleys and sharp precipices. The mountains are home to Ethiopia's magnificent Gelada baboon, rare Walia ibex and Simien fox. UNESCO named this National Park to its World Heritage List in 1978.

Bahir Dar

Situated on the shores of Lake Tana (Ethiopia's largest lake), Bahir Dar is the gateway to the Blue Nile Falls and the Zeghe Peninsula. There are 37 small islands on the lake, and most of them shelter monasteries and churches, some dating back to the 13th century.

Omo Valley in the South

A bushy savanna where a fascinating mix of nomadic and seminomadic tribes live (from the Mursi and Karo to the Bena and Hamar), co-existing in a harsh land that is all but forgotten by the rest of the world. The Mursi people live on the northern part of Mago National Park and are famous for their wearing clay lip plates for women and stick fighting for men. The Hammers are a large group of ago-pastoralist with a population of more than 30,000 people. Hammers enjoy body decoration and wear colorful beads and are also famous for their "jumping of the bull" that must be done for a boy to pass into early adulthood. Hammer men wear clay hair buns if they have killed an enemy or dangerous animals. The Hammer are the most friendly people among the nomads.

Home to "Lucy"

Lucy was a female hominoid that lived in what is now called the Awash Valley in Hadar some 3.2 million years ago. When her skeleton was discovered in 1974, Ethiopia then claimed that it was the first dwelling of mankind. Lucy probably did not live more than 20 years and weighed around 60 pounds and stood three and a half feet. Her skeleton is housed in the National Museum in Addis Ababa.