popular tours - ethiopia

The Kingdom of Aksum, also known as the Kingdom of Axum or the Aksumite Empire, was an ancient kingdom centered in what is now Eritrea and the Tigray Region of northern Ethiopia.

Research shows that Aksum was a major naval and trading power from the 1st to the 7th centuries C.E. Covering parts of what is now northern Ethiopia and southern and eastern Eritrea, Aksum was deeply involved in the trade network between India and the Mediterranean (Rome, later Byzantium), exporting ivory, tortoise shell, gold and emeralds and importing silk and spices. According to tradition, the Ark of the Covenant was brought here from Jerusalem. The rulers of Aksum moved their capital to a hard-to-reach area, in present-day northern Ethiopia in order to avoid invaders.

Lalibela is a small town in the Amhara region of northern Ethiopia, a mountainous region some 645 km from Addis Ababa.

Here, eleven medieval monolithic churches were carved out of rock. Their building is attributed to King Lalibela who set out to construct in the 12th century a ‘New Jerusalem’, after Muslim conquests halted Christian pilgrimages to the holy Land. Many are joined by tunnels and trenches and some have carved bas-reliefs and colored frescoes inside. It is one of Ethiopia’s holiest cities and a center of pilgrimage

The Semien Mountains in northern Ethiopia, north east of Gondar in Amhara region are part of the Ethiopian Highlands.

The mountains consist of plateaus separated by valleys and rising to pinnacles. The main attraction of the Simien Mountains National Park is its biosphere: the steep cliffs and the cool climate have created conditions that are appropriate for the survival of an ibex species endemic to the Simien Mountains. Despite the severe restriction of their habitat over the last centuries, several hundred animals have survived up to the present like the Walya ibex, the endemic Simien fox/Ethiopian wolf, several birds of prey, the endemic Gelada baboon, the Klippspringer and the bush buck. The rareness of these species formed the backbone of the concept for conservation of the area, which led to the establishment of the Simien Mountains National Park in 1969 and its listing as a World Heritage Site in 1918. In some places, the escarpment forms small elevations that offer splendid natal lookout points. The spectacular views from the observation points at Gidir Got and lmet Gogo in the center of the Park offer unparalleled panoramas along the high plateau and down to the lowland areas. Given the right meteorological conditions, views reaching up to a hundred kilometers over the valleys and the terraces of the Tekeze lowland basin are no exception. The human population living in the area adds to the distinctiveness of this special natural environment. The traditional lifestyle of the rural population and their survival in a rather harsh climate and with scarce natural resources make for the most striking impressions a visitor will have when trekking in the Park and its surrounding rural area.

The Blue Nile Falls is a waterfall located in the northwest of Ethiopia about 30 km downstream from the town of Bahir Dar and Lake Tana.

Situated on the upper course of the river, the Blue Nile falls known in Amharic as Tis Abay (the Great Smoke), is one of the country’s top natural attractions and the most dramatic event on the Blue Nile’s journey from its source at nearby Lake Tana to its confluence with the White Nile in Khartoum, Sudan. Historically the falls could reach up to 1,300 feet (400 meters) in width but today, hydroelectric projects further upstream have curtailed much of its natural energy. Nevertheless, at 138 feet (42 meters) in height, the three-pronged waterfall is still an impressive sight, especially during the rainy season. The Blue Nile is so called because floods during the summer monsoon erode a vast amount of fertile soil from the Ethiopian Highlands and carry it downstream as silt, turning the water dark brown or almost black. Visitors to the Blue Nile Falls can reach the waterfall via two different hiking routes. The first takes you through fertile countryside and down into a gorge spanned by a 17th-century bridge. Built by Portuguese explorers, this bridge is historically important for two reasons — it was the first stone bridge ever built in Ethiopia and the first to cross the Blue Nile. After pausing to admire the structure, which is still in use today, the pathway climbs up again through a series of small hamlets to the main waterfall viewpoints. Because the viewpoints are located on the opposite side of the river, this is the best option for photographers.  Those that want to avoid the steep inclines of the first route can opt to cross the river via motorboat and take a flatter, 20-minute walk to the base of the waterfall. During the dry season, this route gives you the opportunity to walk behind the curtain of falling water and even to swim in the pool at the bottom. Many visitors choose to combine the routes to create a circuit. The full circuit is approximately 5 kilometers (3 miles) in length and takes around 2.5 hours to complete with plenty of time allocated for taking photos and admiring the views.

Lake Tana is the source of the Blue Nile and is the largest lake in Ethiopia.

L ocated in Amhara Region in the north-western Ethiopian Highlands, the lake is approximately 84 kilometres long and 66 kilometres wide, with a maximum depth of 15 metres. It’s known for its natural beauty, rich birdlife and historic island monasteries. The lake holds 50% of the country’s fresh water and contributes up to 60% of the Nile’s water. Not only is the lake important as a water source for over 123 million people in the Nile Basin, it is also a source of food in the form of fish. Rivalling the attraction of the Blue Nile Falls are the Lake Tana thirty-seven islands, scattered about on the 3,000-square-kilometer surface of Ethiopia’s largest body of water. Some twenty of these islands shelter churches and monasteries of significant historical and cultural interest. They are decorated with beautiful paintings and are the repository of innumerable treasures. The islands and peninsulas of Lake Tana can most conveniently be approached by boat from the port of Bahir Dar.

A cultural center and capital of the Amhara region in northern Ethiopia, Bahir Dar has wide, palm-lined avenues and breathtaking lake views that make it one of the prettiest cities in the country.

Administratively, Bahir Dar is a Special Zone and a leading tourist destinations in Ethiopia. In 2002 it was awarded the UNESCO Cities for Peace Prize for addressing the challenges of rapid urbanization. The city offers a small daily market and a very extensive weekly market. There are some music clubs in the city. At the town of Bahir Dar there are 155,428 inhabitants. The rest of urban population is living at Meshenti, Tis Abay and Zege towns which are part of Bahir Dar Special Zone

A number of animals in the Bale Mountains are found nowhere else in the world e.g the Bale monkeys, the Mountain nyala and the endangered Ethiopian wolves commonly found at the summit of Tulu Dimtu – the fourth-highest point in Ethiopia located in the Sanetti Plateau

Ethiopian wolves are considered one of the rarest and most threatened large mammals in the world. Fewer than 500 individuals are thought to exist in the wild, in fragmented populations. Despite their rarity, the wolves are actually quite easy to spot on the open plateau. Iconic species such as lions, leopards and African wild dogs are also at home in the Bale Mountains.

Join a guided tour of the Ethiopian capital and meet ‘Lucy’ in the National Museum, one of the oldest hominid skeletons ever found. Other city highlights include the colourful city market, St George’s Cathedral, the Menelik Mausoleum and the National Museum.

Located in the small town of Ziway, Lake Ziway entices visitors with sights of hippos lazing on the banks of the lake. Opt for a boat cruise to the historic island of Tulu Godo to visit the ancient monastery and admire some of the old religious manuscripts. The monastery was reportedly once the home of the Ark of the Covenant.

The UNESCO-listed Harar city is an ancient walled trading city.

The vibrant market and some of the many mosques and shrines awaits exploration. Along the narrow winding streets of this ancient trading city, visit the Hyena Men just outside the city who have formed a close bond with Hyenas. Spotted hyenas unfairly have a bad reputation but these intelligent creatures have been a normal part of life in Harar for hundreds of years. They keep the city clean by feeding on its waste and the local farmers keep them well fed to stop them feasting on their precious livestock. The hyenas in turn recognise the Harar residents as friends and become as docile as domestic dogs, even responding to names that the Hyena men have assigned them. This closeness between man and hyena can only be found in Harar and it’s an incredible sight to see.

Arba Minch overlooks Lake Chamo and there’s an optional boat trip on the lake to visit the ‘crocodile market’

Unlike other markets, the animals here are alive and well – the crocodile market earned it’s nickname due to the sheer numbers of gigantic Nile crocodiles, which can be seen lazing on the banks of the lake. Hippos can also be spotted during the boat cruise. Perhaps hire bicycles to explore the area surrounding the city.

Unwind in the hot springs of Wendo Genet and opt for a leisurely hike through the forest to see the three-tiered waterfall

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