Ethiopia, the oldest independent nation in Africa, is a land of stunning natural beauty, covering an area twice the size of Kenya, France or Texas. A rich diversity of culture and geography that will captivate the visitor.
The welcome that comes from the mosaic of a people with over 80 different languages and as many cultures is warm and spontaneous. Ethiopia is a land of plenty with a long and noble history giving rise to ethnic, linguistic and cultural diversity. It is the only African country never to have been colonised. It has more than 80 unique rich ethnic, cultural and linguistic groups.
The attractions of Ethiopia are of world renown, and the development of the Country as the foremost tourist destination in North East Africa has opened up Ethiopia to a new generation of tourists, to whom a visit to the land of the Queen of Sheba, the birthplace of the Blue Nile and the 'cradle of mankind' was previously just a dream.
That Ethiopia has a heritage from the beginnings of mankind was underlined when the remains of 'Lucy', dated from 3.5 million years ago, and the 4.4 million year old Homo ramidus afarensis, man's oldest anthropoid ancestor, were uncovered. Traders from Greece, Rome, Persia and Egypt knew of the riches of what is now Ethiopia, and by the first century AD, Axum was the capital of an great empire.This realm became one of the first Christian lands of Africa. Late in the 10th century Axum declined and a new Zagwe dynasty, centered in what is now Lalibela, ruled the land. Axum, Lalibella and Gondar now provide our greatest historical legacy. It was in the 16th century that the son of the great explorer Vasco da Gama came to Ethiopia, but then found a land of many kingdoms and provinces beset feuds and wars.
In the l9th century the great Emperor Menelik led us towards the modern state of Ethiopia, and the Country's passage to modernization began.
The natural beauty of Ethiopia amazes the first-time visitor. Ethiopia is a land of rugged mountains (some 25 are over 4,000 meters high), broad savannah, lakes and rivers.
The unique Rift Valley is a remarkable region of volcanic lakes, with their famous collections of bird life, great escarpments and stunning vistas. Tissisat, the Blue Nile Falls, must rank as one of the greatest natural spectacles in Africa today.
With 14 major wildlife reserves, Ethiopia provides a microcosm of the entire sub-Saharan ecosystem. Bird life abounds, and indigenous animals from the rare Walia ibex to the shy wild ass, roam free just as nature intended. Ethiopia, after the rains, is a land decked with flowers and with many more native plants than most countries in Africa.
With over 80 different peoples, the cultures of our communities are prominent in our lifestyle. With traditions going back to the days of Axum, and a strong religious setting, celebrations and festivals play an important part in our daily lives.
Our greatest festival is Timket (Epiphany), where tourists are welcome to celebrate with us. But other festivals such as Enkutatash (the Ethiopian New Year, in September after the rains), Maskal, Gena (Christmas), Id and Easter are all glorious celebrations.
In every region you will discover local festivals and ceremonies where you will be welcomed as an honored guest. Remember, when checking any dates, that Ethiopia still retains the Julian calendar, and we are unique in having thirteen months. Our traditional calendar remains almost eight years behind the Gregorian Calendar of the West
Ethiopia is the host of many cultures and the land of different eye catching sights . Several of Ethiopia's more remote areas are excellent for walking safaris, which are offered by several good tour operators in the country. Walking tours, best planned for the dry season, offer the traveler the opportunity for awe-inspiring vantage points from which to view many of Ethiopia's natural wonders, cultural riches and architectural heritage. In Gondar, there are fairytale castles dating back to the 17th century. In Harar, the visitor can enjoy the incense-flavored mysteries of narrow alleyways and towering minarets.