On most maps, Ethiopia is definitely part of Africa – but not to Ethiopians. Perhaps because of their unique culture and history, the people of this East African country see themselves as quite distinct from their neighbors. The truth is, though, that Ethiopia is different, and you’ll begin to notice this the moment you arrive: the language, writing, food, and calendar are all very different from anywhere else.
Ethiopia is full of wonders, from the tribal cultures of the Omo Valley to the rare and unusual animals in the Semien Mountains. It is, however, Ethiopia’s cultural sites that are likely to make the biggest impression on you. Religion is an important driving force in Ethiopian society and has inspired some of their greatest achievements. Ethiopia is Africa as you’ve never seen it, and richly rewards explorers.
Due to its extreme landscapes, Ethiopia has a varied climate very different from what is expected from a country so close to the equator.
The highlands rarely rise above 68°F (20°C) and have been known to see snow whereas the Danakil Depression is one of the hottest, driest places on the planet. This said, the country enjoys a mild climate with two distinct seasons defined by the rains. October through June coincides with the dry season and is generally considered the best time to visit the country. For those interested in attending a festival, Ethiopia hosts a variety of jubilant celebrations – from the Timkat festival in January, celebrated by orthodox Christians to the Hidar Tsion; a pilgrimage to Axum by Ethiopians from all over the country.
Spot rare and unusual animals in the Semien Mountains, including the Ethiopian Wolf (Africa’s rarest carnivore) and the incredibly sure-footed Walia Ibex.
Explore the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela, a remarkable destination, and one that has to be seen to be believed.
Visit the Omo Valley to witness the lifestyles of their indigenous peoples.
Descend upon Danakil Depression, an otherworldly landscape composed of salt lakes and hot springs with vivid shades of yellow and green.
If you happen to be in Addis Ababa in late September, the smoke and fires of the Meskel Festival are unmissable.
Visit the ancient church's
Incredible landscape photography
There are direct flights into Addis Ababa from North America on Ethiopian Airlines as well as connections via most European and Middle Eastern hubs.
We recommend at least 7 days each for the historical circuit of the north and the cultural circuit of the southern Omo Valley. If you want to combine the two, we recommend at least 12 – 14 days.
Ethiopia is an excellent destination for all travelers who are seeking history, culture and adventure. It is also recommended for those who have been to Africa several times for wildlife focused trips and are looking for something different.
Visas are required for most international visitors and can be obtained upon arrival in Addis Ababa. We advise visiting a travel health clinic to ensure your inoculations are up to date.
There are regional flights allowing for convenient connections between Addis Ababa and the cities in the north. By contrast the south relies predominantly on road or river transfers unless you are willing to private charter a helicopter from place to place.
Amharic is the official language of Ethiopia however English is widely spoken throughout the tourism industry and amongst the youth.
Guides are very knowledgeable and are often required to access various destinations such as the Simien Mountains or Omo Valley. Most speak excellent English.
Ethiopian food is very flavorsome and mostly consists of injera (local flat sour bread) combined with a variety of curries and sauces. Many dishes are suitable for vegans and vegetarians. Ethiopia also has excellent coffee which is served the country over.
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