When you hear of Ethiopia, what images come to your mind? Do you picture wild mountains, great wildlife, and maybe Ethiopian Airlines? But apart from these, not too many know this country holds a lot of gems—from scenic terrains to historical sites humming with deep spirituality. It might be a landlocked country within the Horn of Africa with vast deserted lands and soaring temperature, but Ethiopia destinations boast amazing waterfalls, lakes, and lush vegetation.
And if you still need more convincing to add Ethiopia on your bucket list, perhaps you have 9 more reasons to do so as it is home to 9 UNESCO World Heritage Sites too. Ethiopia promises to be a one-of-a-kind destination definitely worth visiting. Check out these four unique Ethiopia destinations to include in your Ethiopia tour:
1. Blue Nile River/Falls
The great Nile River might have been associated more with Egypt, but this major tributary starts from Lake Tana, winding through mossy forests, before dropping in a breathtaking spectacle that is the Tis-Isat Falls or what is commonly called as Blue Nile Falls. Derived from the local name which means “Smoke of Fire,” this 148-ft high work of nature is truly a sight to behold when it sprinkles droplets of water in the air, forming a smoky, misty enchantment in the wild forest. Sometimes, you might spot a deluge of rainbow colors and it feels like then you just found yourself in a scene straight out of ‘Avatar.’
But it’s not just about water activities here, you could also try some regional cuisines like an organic coffee, before embarking on a hike going to a wonkshet monastery, which then leads to holy springs that are believed to have healing powers. And if you’ve gone tired after all the action but don’t wanna leave the place, you have the option to camp overnight in traditional mud-and-grass huts located right next to the waterfalls. This is one of the best Ethiopia holiday destinations.
2. Danakil Depression
Located on the border between Ethiopia and Eritrea, the Danakil Depression is one of the driest and hottest places on the planet, as well as being the lowest point in Africa at 155 meters below sea level. Visitors are rewarded with views of active volcanoes, hot springs, salted basins, and a lava lake, all coming together to create a surreal scene. Truly unique it draws tourists and is known to be one of the top Ethiopia holiday destinations. Danakil is home to around 40% of Africa’s volcanoes and the temperatures can get so high (above 120 F most time of the year) that hikes are done in the early morning or at night.
This is an expedition like no other so you’ll want to come prepared with trekking supplies like water, sunscreens, first-aid kit, torchlights, and any other necessary supplies. There are hotels and lodges in the nearby towns of Mekele and Wukro from where you can spend the rest of the day resting or preparing for the night excursion.
3. Omo Valley
The Omo region is one of the top Ethiopia destinations for cultural tours. This area is home to some of the most fascinating ethnic groups in the world with their peculiar body adornments, distinctive attires, and cultural practices, all of which are a testament to Ethiopia’s rich history that has stood defiantly through the ages. Similar to the Masai tribe in Kenya, the tribes in the Lower Omo Valley have hardly been influenced by modernization. While here you can see the Mursi’s with their unbelievable lip-plates or witness the bull-jumping ceremony of the Hamar tribe.
Thanks to its impressive contribution to paleontology, the Omo Valley is a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1980. It was in this region that researchers discovered human skeletons that lived over 3 million years ago. A trip here affords you the unique chance to encounter a markedly different way of life, one that will stick with you for a lifetime.
Popularly referred to as “The Cradle of Civilization,” Aksum is believed to be the place where Ethiopia’s history began. And it’s not hard to see why when you come across the many impressive archaeological monuments — castles, royal tombs, monolithic obelisks, and other spectacular historical artifacts found here.
The most popular site in Aksum is undoubtedly the famous Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion, which is believed to be the final resting place of the biblical Ark of The Covenant.
Quick Ethiopia Facts
- Ethiopia is the only country in the world that doesn’t follow the Julian calendar and instead has 13 months in a year.
- Ethiopia measures time differently from the rest of the world — 6 am is considered to be the start of the day.
- Ethiopians celebrate their New Year, known as Enkutatash on September 11
- Coffee was discovered in the Kaffa region of Ethiopia
- Ethiopians have their own alphabet
- Ethiopia is the only African country that was never colonized and even defeated Italy twice when it attempted to invade the country.
Retaining a medieval feel and a mystic ambiance, Ethiopia’s holiday destinations give new meaning to African tourism. It is an inspiration and uplifting experience that you will never forget.
Ready for an adventure of a lifetime? Check out these tours for you!