Ethiopia – Land of Surprises

ethiopia The long and fascinating history of mankind had begun in Ethiopia. The evidence of oldest human ancestors was found first in this sub-Saharan country, previously called Abyssinia. The world’s most ancient and almost complete three million years old human skeleton was dug out from the soil of this antique land and anthropologists affectionately named her ‘Lucy’.

Ethiopia is a land of extreme contrasts. It has the tallest mountains in Africa where it sometimes snows; to the lowest, as in the hot and hellish Dankil Depression, 380 feet below sea level. Sulfurous fire comes out of the porous volcanic land and the barren depressing landscape where nothing grows. Ethiopia is a big country with many tourist attractions. You may skip this hostile region from your itinerary.

Its glorious history attracts travelers to this land of pleasant surprises and amazing varieties. There are wonderful Christian monuments and places of worship in the north of the country. The south is gorgeously endowed with exotic tribal culture. The great lakes are sanctuaries for beautiful birds and the Simien Mountains are the trekkers’ paradise.

Ethiopia was ruled by emperors from Biblical times. They left evidences of what they were good at – building palaces, castles and places of worship – and as the state religion was a Coptic version of Christianity, known as Ethiopian Orthodox Church, they built a lot of these.

Axum is an ancient town with wonderful carved monuments, tombs and relics that include the Ark of the Covenant which Emperor Menelik I, son of the Ethiopian Queen of Sheba and the legendary King Solomon of Israel, had brought from Jerusalem and established the longest monarchical dynasty until Haile Selassie was ousted in 1974.

Lalibela is another interesting place where you can see churches cut out from massive monolithic rocks, displaying not only the devotion of the faithful but also their superb architectural skills.

Gondar, a former Ethiopian capital, is now a tourist attraction for its 16th century castles and palaces located inside the Royal Enclosure from which the Emperors once ruled the country.

The capital city Addis Ababa was founded in the 19th century. Its tree-line boulevards, fine architecture, lively cultural events with exhibitions, concerts, vocal music and dance, and pleasant mountain air make it a good place to visit. It has quality hotels, good restaurants and Africa’s largest open-air market.

Ethiopia’s natural beauty is bountiful and dramatic. It has several lakes in the Rift Valley. Lake Tana is the source of the River Nile. The high mountainous regions in the north and south with their vast forest lands and water bodies, offer excellent opportunities to watch varieties of animals and birds not to be seen elsewhere.