Ancient obilisks and unique culture, Afro-Alpine highlands to one of the lowest and driest places on the planet...
Ethiopia is unique in many ways, not least in its remarkable number and variety of ancient monuments, both Christian and secular. Thanks to its location on the Roman Empire trade route to the south, the civilisation that became Ethiopia was one of the first to adopt Christianity, back in the time of Constantine. Here 12th century rock-hewn churches are in daily use. And 17th century castles are only recent history.
But this isn't a country resting on its past. Ethiopia has a fast-growing economy and is a major hub for flight connections to the rest of Africa. In the north of the country, interesting small hotels are opening and others are being updated. Good domestic flight connections are replacing the potholed road journeys. So if you have held back for lack of infrastructure, this could be the time to act.
Ethiopia is blessed with extensive natural variety and beauty. The Great Rift Valley cuts through Ethiopia and creates a string of lakes towards the south. As you head down into the valley, you get to the depths of the Danakil depression in the Afar. This is actually 125 metres below sea level. This contrasts with the peaks of the Simien Mountains at 4,533m. In the Danakil the temperature can reach 50°C. Whilst elsewhere snow is not uncommon in the Simien or Bale highlands! In between, the weather is mild and sometimes wet. This results in a green and lush landscape through much of the country.
Ethiopia is a very peaceful destination with so much to offer the traveller. An Ethiopia holiday could include the mysterious rock-cut churches of Lalibela, the enigmatic Stele park of Axum or the timeless Lake Monasteries of Lake Tana. You may like to hike in the Simien Mountains. Here you experience the dizzy heights of the Rift Valley Mountains with views of the valley 1500 m below.
Religion is very much part of everyday life in Ethiopia. The Orthodox Church (dating from the 4th century) was established in the north. But in the south some tribes still follow their traditional beliefs. In the west, the Islamic faith is predominant.
Coffee is an important export for Ethiopia. Everywhere you can participate in traditional coffee ceremonies, involving much smoke and incense, performed in restaurants and at the roadside stalls.
If you want to see the natural beauty of Ethiopia and its history, then our Northern Ethiopia History & Scenery offers both. This has the perfect combination of Ethiopia’s varied scenery as well as its famous churches and monasteries.
Gloria DarvallAfrica Travel Specialist
Why you may love it
- Immensely beautiful country, especially in the north.
- 12th century rock-hewn churches of Lalibela
- 17th century stone-built castles and palaces
- Fascinating early Christian history from the 4th century
- Superb Afro-montane scenery in the Simen and Bale Mountains
- Rock-hewn mountain-top monasteries
- Fascinating Southern Ethiopian culture
- Unique wildlife including the Gelada baboon, Walia ibex and Abyssinian wolf.
Where to go in Ethiopia
These are some of the best rated places to visit in Ethiopia based on popularity and experience rating by our travelers
Explore the Ethiopia map
When to visit Ethiopia
November to Mid-March
Dry and sunny
Mid-March to May
Some chance of rain
June to September
October to Mid-November
Dry and sunny
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Stunning Location"Bale Mountain Lodge has a lovely location. Our room, whilst in a good location, needed a little bit of maintenance. The bathroom and the room was very cold in the evening until the fire was lit and again in the morning. So come with warm clothes!" Mr Tim Flesher, UK
We loved Ethiopia!"We loved Ethiopia – great people, scenery, culture, food & wildlife. Immanuel, our guide, was excellent in every way – very friendly, informative, knowledgeable, helpful and went out of his way to try to get us “under the surface” in experiencing Ethiopia, visiting his family for a meal, buying us gifts and introducing us to many Ethiopians. Henok our driver was the best driver we have ever had – safe but quick, very friendly and helpful. The two of them created a great atmosphere over the 23 day trip. We can’t recommend Ethiopia enough, however, as we expected, travel was not always easy and the accommodation was not always of the same standard of other parts of Africa." Mr Tim Flesher, UK
Got to the heart of the celebrations"Being in Gondar for Timkat was incredible and Amanuel and Henok ensured we got right to the heart of the celebrations" Mr Tim Flesher, UK
- DatesEthiopia has its own unique Calendar
- TimeIn Ethiopia, sunrise is 1 o’clock and sunset is 12 o'clock.