Ethiopia has many traditions, a diverse culture and a variety of amazing landscapes. This East African nation that does not deserve the image of a poor and desert country is worth discovering. Snow-capped peaks rising to almost 4.300 m from Simien to the depths of the Danakil Depression, 120 meters below sea level, Ethiopia, located in the Horn of Africa, is a land of natural contrasts. The Simien is an imposing rocky massif whose slopes end in vast grazing land. The arid plateaus of the Rift Valley are often swept by swirls of sand. With its yellow, green, white and brown acidic puddles, the Danakil Desert is one of the hottest regions in the world. Near Lake Tana, the waterfalls of the Blue Nile are breath-taking.
A vacation in Ethiopia in the savannah and the many national parks of the country gives the opportunity to observe almost all the animals of the African plain: baboons, leopards, hippos, gazelles, cheetahs, lions, kudu … and nearly 450 bird species. Ethiopia is a paradise for bird watchers. Located at 2,400 m of altitude, the capital Addis Ababa, with its 4 million inhabitants, is a huge, sprawling city. It is in its national museum that remains the remains of “Lucy” our ancestor Australopithecine, discovered in 1974 in the valley of the Awash. The country is also rich of a very ancient history and preserves many traces of this prehistoric past.
You have to take a plane ticket to go to Abyssinia and especially to Aksum in the far north of the country, the cradle of one of the most important civilizations in Ethiopian history. Here are the ruins of King Kaleb’s palace as well as those of Sheba Palace. The Ethiopian religious life is influenced by the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, which is characterized by a strong monastic tradition. Lake Tana is scattered with small islands that are home to monasteries, the most famous, Kidene Mehret, Kebran Gabriel (forbidden to women) and Debre Maryam.
In Lalibela, the eleven churches stone-carved into the rock dating from the twelfth century were built within 100 years. They contain sumptuous decorated crosses, Bibles with rich illuminations and illustrated manuscripts. Located at an altitude of 1,750 m, the city of Harar is an exception in Ethiopia: it is a Muslim city with 87 mosques, some of which can be visited. It is also a traditional city where women’s clothing and the old architecture of the houses always charm the traveler, transported in another time. Ethiopia is a pleasant destination all year round, with average temperatures of 20 ° C in Addis Ababa, whatever the season. Due to heavy rains, June and July are not the best months to fly to Ethiopia. From September to February, it is sunny and the temperature is mild.
Ethiopia is a huge country, very contrasted. In the north, the high volcanic plateaus, summits rising to more than 4,000 meters, abrupt valleys, rock churches and their religious festivals. The Danakil Desert rules on the Rift Valley with breath-taking volcanoes and deserts of sands or lava. In the south, a unique ethnic experience in the Omo valley: extraordinary encounters with the Mursis, the Hamers with body paintings, scars…
Incomparable, Ethiopia presents an unsuspected diversity of landscapes, abundant wildlife and varied and atypical culture in Africa. A remote and wild country, Ethiopia has a culture and ancient traditions remarkably preserved. The country has more than 80 ethnic groups, each with their own language and customs. Religious ceremonies are impressive and unique events. No other country offers the opportunity to make such a spectacular journey through time and space or celebrate so passionately the sacred rituals of an archaic faith.
Ethiopia follows the Julian calendar, which places the country seven years and eight months in “late” on our Gregorian calendar. The year, which begins on the 11th (or 12th) of September, is divided into 12 equal months of 30 days, plus one thirteenth of 5 or 6 days in leap years.
Art and culture
Ethiopian craftsmanship is strongly influenced by religious art. The African headrest or pillow is an important object. The pottery is of a great diversity and a high quality. There are also colorful baskets decorating the interior of some houses. Ethiopian art is also bodily. Women still give great importance to hairdressing today. In the south, in addition to the clay hairstyles of the Nyangatom, we find the wigs of the Oromos. Tattoos are also common. Relatively discreet in rural Christian populations (a cross on the forehead of women), they are much more visible in the Mursis who tattoo a large part of the body
What to visit
Ethiopia abounds in national parks with impressive wildlife and flora. The parks of Balé and Simien can be discovered during trekking for several days. Rafting in the Omo Valley is great adventure in the heart of a virgin nature rich in wildlife.
The injera, is undoubtedly the star food of Ethiopian cuisine. Meat and vegetables are usually cooked in a spicy sauce called wat (kay and alicha). Kaffa province is home to the oldest coffee plantations in the world and coffee beans have been growing in Ethiopia for three millennia. You can enjoy good cappuccini and even macchiati in Addis Ababa. The local drink that you will enjoy at your hotel in Ethiopia or during your walks is the tella (beer made from barley or corn), tej (beverage mixed with honey) or arakie (extremely strong cereal alcohol)