Ethiopia is a land of contrasts and extraordinary natural beauty, with a rich cultural heritage that spans centuries. From the towering peaks of the Simien Mountains to the ancient rock-hewn churches of Lalibela, there is so much to see and do in this fascinating country. Here are the top 10 things to do in Ethiopia:
1. Visit the ancient rock-hewn churches of Lalibela
Lalibela is home to 11 rock-hewn churches that are considered some of the most remarkable architectural achievements of the medieval world. These churches were carved out of solid rock in the 13th century, and their intricate designs and beautiful frescoes are a testament to the skill and devotion of their builders.
2. Explore the Simien Mountains National Park
The Simien Mountains are one of Ethiopia's most spectacular natural wonders, with towering peaks, deep gorges, and sweeping views. The national park is home to a wide variety of wildlife, including the Ethiopian wolf, the gelada monkey, and the Walia ibex.
3. Discover the history of Aksum
Aksum is an ancient city that was once the capital of the Aksumite Empire, one of the most powerful kingdoms of the ancient world. The city is home to a number of historic sites, including the stelae field, which features a number of massive stone obelisks, and the ruins of the ancient palace and palace of the Queen of Sheba.
4. Visit the Blue Nile Falls
The Blue Nile Falls, also known as Tis Issat, is one of Ethiopia's most spectacular natural wonders. The falls are located on the Blue Nile River, and the water plunges over a height of 45 meters. The falls are particularly beautiful during the rainy season when the water is at its highest.
5. Take a trip to the Danakil Depression
The Danakil Depression is one of the most inhospitable places on earth, and yet it is also one of the most fascinating. This vast desert landscape is characterized by hot springs, geysers, and a range of other volcanic features. It's a place that requires a guide and special permits to visit but it's definitely worth it.
6. Explore the historic city of Harar
Harar is an ancient walled city that is considered one of the most important Islamic cultural centers in Ethiopia. The city is home to a number of historic sites, including the Harar Jugol, which is the old city center, and the house of Rimbaud, the famous French poet who lived in Harar for several years.
7. Visit the Omo Valley
The Omo Valley is home to some of the most remote and traditional communities in Ethiopia. The valley is home to a wide variety of ethnic groups, each with their own unique customs and traditions. Visitors can take a trip down the Omo River, visit a local market, or take a guided tour to one of the many tribal villages.
8. Take a scenic drive through the Bale Mountains National Park
The Bale Mountains National Park is a beautiful mountain range located in the southeast of Ethiopia. The park is home to a wide variety of wildlife, including the Ethiopian wolf and the mountain nyala, as well as a number of beautiful lakes and waterfalls.
9. Visit the Debre Damo Monastery
Debre Damo is an ancient monastery located on top of a flat-topped mountain, accessible only by rope. It is believed to have been founded in the 6th century by one of the nine saints of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, and it's known for its beautiful frescoes and manuscripts.
10. Experience the Timkat festival
Timkat is the Ethiopian Orthodox celebration of Epiphany, and it is one of the most colorful and vibrant festivals in the country. The festival is held on January 19th and it is celebrated with processions, music, and dancing. The highlight of the festival is the reenactment of the baptism of Jesus Christ in the Jordan River, which takes place in a nearby river or pool.