Ethiopia’s roots date back millions of years. Making up the bulk of the Horn of Africa, the country is near the birthplace of modern man and is a popular destination for anyone interested in archaeology. It also has Biblical connections: it was the legendary home of the Queen of Sheba and it’s said that the Lost Tribe of Israel settled here as well. More concretely, you can view its 12th-century rock-hewn Christian churches at Lalibela. The landscape is beautiful and rugged, well suited to an adventurous tour.
Sometimes called the “Roof of Africa,” Ethiopia is famous for its mountains and the Ethiopian plateau. It is also the only part of Africa never to have been colonized.
Visiting the Highlands means seeing a dramatic skyline of fertile flatlands being cut by deep gorges. These undeveloped lands are span the entire Horn of Africa, and are populated with tons of wildlife. Most notably, they are home to the endemic Gelada monkeys, the only grazing monkey remaining on Earth.
Other famous animals include the klipspringer, Ethiopian wolves, and rare birds such as the blue winged goose, golden eagles, and incredible plant life such as the giant lobelias. All of these features make Ethiopia a popular destination for wildlife tours.
Ethiopian highland landscapes are not suited to the typical African safari conducted behind an all-terrain vehicle, nor do you have to worry about the dangers about running into an angry elephant or hippopotamus. For this reason, most wildlife tours of Ethiopia are done on foot. This allows you get even closer to the land, and connect with the landscape.
Ethiopia a vast territory with a large wilderness area, and so treks can be quite extensive, and go on for more than two weeks.
Some things you should expect on your trek through Ethiopia is that it will not be particularly easy. You may be walking up to 12 hours on some days, and prepare to leave in the dark if you are planning to scale any serious peaks for a picturesque sunrise view.
Although the trails in Ethiopia are well known and well tended, making it one of the best places to trek in Africa, this does not mean that the campsites are luxurious. You will be forgoing hot water showers, comfort food, and your own private room for much of your journey. Many campsites include round stone buildings, built for the purpose of housing visitors.
The upside to treks in Ethiopia is that the landscape is completely unspoiled, and your encounters with villagers will be genuine. Trekking is a great way to experience Ethiopian culture. Some tips to keep in mind to make the most of your trek are to drink water and to go slowly especially if you’re feeling ill from altitude sickness (consider bringing altitude sickness medicine just in case!).
Exploring Ethiopia on a private guided tour is a great way to fully immerse yourself in the culture and see all the wonderous sights of the country. A private guided tour is like a guided group tour minus the group. You have a guide all to yourself to learn from, be led by and grow in friendship with over the course of your trip. Each tour whether it be focused on trekking, hiking or cultural will be private and independent.
A private guided trip through Ethiopia will allow you to see the country at your own pace, determined by your personal travel style. Exploring Ethiopia in such an intimate way makes you less obtrusive when exploring local destinations or mingling with locals. It's easier to get to the heart of the country and have richer experiences all around.
Private guided tours are also a great combination with luxury tours. Luxury travel is all about seeing and exploring the world in comfort. With five star hotels and top notche meals and transportation, it's only natural to make the vacation private guided. This continues the level of comfort by giving you full and private access to your guide instead of being part of a group.
Prepare to buy a visa upon arrival, the only country whose citizens do not need a visa is Kenya. Your visa will cost $52 US, unless you are staying for more than 30 days.
Yellow Fever vaccines are no longer mandatory to enter Ethiopia, but they are still highly recommended. You should also consider taking anti-malarial pills, or take a preventative vaccine.
If you are planning to trek the Simien Mountains, or visit some of the higher-altitude points on the Ethiopian plateau, plan ahead that it may take you some time to acclimate, and consider packing some altitude sickness medication. Altitude sickness can make you nauseous and light headed, although you will eventually adjust. If you feel either of these symptoms, stop ascending, and rest for a while. It may help you to descend a little, take a break, and then ascend slowly.
Foreign currency isn’t regularly used in Ethiopia, and outside the major cities there are few opportunities to use your credit cards. For these reasons, you are better off exchanging for Birr, the Ethiopian currency, and always carrying some cash. The Birr is very stable, and there is no substantial difference between the standard and black market rates.
On your tour, most of your transportation is likely to be arranged. However, if you have some free time and want to check out some sites on your own, public transportation is safe for tourists in Ethiopia. Be aware that taxis don’t have fixed fares, and you’ll have to negotiate before getting in. Taking a gari, or a two-wheeled horse carriage, is another cheap option, and a great way to travel around like a true Ethiopian!
Ethiopia’s primary religion is Christianity, and more than half of the population is Ethiopian Orthodox. As a result, Ethiopians celebrate Christian holidays in their own unique way, and often have festivals. If you are interested in observing or even taking part in some of these events, consider going on a festival tour of Ethiopia.
Some of the main festivals in Ethiopia include:
Timkat is the most important day on the Orthodox calendar, and it celebrates the Epiphany in January. The Ethiopians reenact the baptism of Christ in the river Jordan. On the eve of the holiday, crowds gather for a joyous and colorful procession to a spring in the city (Addis Ababa, Gondar, and Lalibela are two popular places to celebrate the Timkat).
The whole way, churchgoers sing and chant. Long parades then carry the tabot (a replica of the tablet containing the 10 commandments), which was left at the spring overnight, home.
This is the celebration of Ethiopian New Year and directly translates into “Gift of Jewels.” The Ethiopian New Year takes place at the end of the long rainy season, and partially celebrates the new harvest. To mark the occasion, families burn torches in front of their home, and girls dressed in their finest clothing go from door to door singing songs. If you are particularly lucky, and Ethiopian family may even invite you into their to take part in a huge feast.
This festival takes place on Christmas. Many pilgrims flock to the city of Lalibela to celebrate this holiday. They take part in mass prayers on Christmas Eve, and then celebrate on Christmas day with family and friends.
When considering you Ethiopia vacation, if you're worried you won't get to see everything then work with a travel planner to create the perfect trip for your travel style and interests. Travel planners help travelers make travel arrangements and customize their trip. They often make reservations for accommodations and activities. What better way to travel the world then have the trip planned by an expert in the industry who has many connections. Working with a travel planner will only get you the best travel options to fit your specific desires and style.
The alternative is joining a pre-planned tour. While this is great for some travelers, others don't like to be stuck with the group and going to sites and attractions that don't interest them. Pre-planned tours are great, but you only can get so close to your dream vacation. With an Ethiopian travel planner, you can make that dream trip a reality.
There is a wide range of experiences offered in Ethiopia which means the prices of the trips can vary. These costs depend on the duration, travel focus and travel style of the trip. A typical trip to Ethiopia costs between $1,000 and $4,000. However, there are some trips that cost between $6,000 and $8,000. These trips tend to be longer duration and guided group tours.
An expected trip length can range anywhere from 10-20 days. However there are some outliers with a few trips being 7 days and other ranging in the 20 and 30 day range. Any trip over the typical 20 days is usually a vacation package with multiple countries included. This means that Ethiopia is included but you may also visit Kenya or Egypt.
Kipling wrote of Burma to the effect that it was like no other country you have seen. Had he visited Ethiopia, and there is no evidence that he did, he might well ...
This was the most amazing holiday. Our guide Gabre was excellent. Scenery was beautiful. We had a very good driver who negotiated some terrible roads with great ca...
Overall it was an excellent trip for those who enjoy exploring history, current culture, scenery and wild life and who are happy to spend at times many hours ridi...
Fascinating trip learning about a culture I didn't know much about. The West has a distinct impression of Ethiopia and is was great to challenge those ideas. I rea...
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