Step into little explored Ethiopia and you’ll be rewarded with a wealth of heritage sites, beautiful rugged mountains and lunar-like landscapes. See breathtaking rock-hewn churches in Lalibela, watch Christian ceremonies that haven’t changed in a thousand years and visit the ancient tombs and obelisks of Aksum. Testing, awe-inspiring and moving – a journey to Ethiopia will be one you’ll never forget.
See the eleven rock hewn churches believed to be carved after divine instruction to the legendary King Lalibela. Each church has a unique architectural style and all are superbly carved. There are 11 rock-cut churches of which the most impressive is Bet Giorgis. It is carved in the form of a Greek cross and exceptionally well preserved.
The ancient capital of Axum is a dusty town with much to see. Remarkable, pre-Christian stellae/obelisks stand in the ‘obelisk park. with the tallest one standing at over 21 meters high. Axum is also the origin of Christianity in Ethiopia and believed to be the resting place of the Ark of the Covenant.
One of Ethiopia’s largest and most impressive cities, with its walled Royal Enclosure with the extremely well preserved Fasalidas’ Castle in the royal compound. It is also the access town to the Simien Mountains.
One of Africa’s largest mountain ranges with a unique ecosystem and home to some of the highest peaks in the continent. Highlights include looking for the endemic Gelada baboons and enjoying various viewpoints in the National Park offer excellent photo opportunities. Not to be missed!
The Dalloll Depression
Numerous sulphur springs, volcanoes, geysers, acidic pools, vast salt pans and colourful mineral laden lakes dot this incredible landscape. A fabulous spot for photographers!
Due to its unique geography, Ethiopia experiences a diverse climate. The very best time to go is from October through February for lovely clear skies.
Travelling around Ethiopia by road is an experience in itself, through farms and villages, witnessing daily life and sharing the roads with cows and goats! One of the most memorable meals was at a roadside restaurant run by four sisters who fed us local delicacies and of course the world’s best coffee, roasted right in front of us.
The castles of Gondar were a revelation, dating back to 1630. The Royal Enclosure features a steam room, a concert hall and a weekend house complete with a swimming pool! Who would have thought – castles in Africa?!
Lalibela was an absolute highlight. Capital of Ethiopia in the 12th century, King Lalibela built a series of 11 churches here, each carved out of a single solid rock! Starting with what would eventually be the roof, they carved down and then inside. Incredibly, these churches are still in daily use, and life continues fairly much as it did 900 years ago.
As always, it was the people who greatly enriched the experience. Our guide Kibrom was a gem, as was our driver who claimed to not understand English but giggled during our many debates on world politics. Kibrom was a graduate of the country’s first University degree course in tourism and was deeply knowledgeable and passionate about his country. Happy to discuss any aspect of Ethiopia, we learned about their unique languages, an alphabet of 231 characters; their 13-month calendar, and their daily clock which starts at sunrise (6am), so our 10am is their 4am!
Hand on heart, exploring Ethiopia was one of the best experiences of my travelling life, and, not to boast, but that’s saying a lot!
Brett Barclay, Director
Currency Ethiopian birr
Language Amharic is the official language, and similar to Arabic and Hebrew. English is widely spoken as English is taught in schools.
Why we love it Ethiopia is not your typical holiday destination but it should be! Ethiopia is truly a land of contrasts and extremes, like the ruggedly carved steeples and spires of the Simien Mountains; the Danakil Depression with its lunar-like landscapes and one of the country’s most striking geographical features, the Great Rift Valley. Ethiopia is a truly enchanting and perfect for those looking for something out of the ordinary.
Weather Weather is pleasant in most parts of the country throughout the year, though Ethiopia does see a longer wet season. The dry season lasts from October through February, while light rain comes March to May and heavy rains pour between June and September. The country has around seven hours of sunlight each day, making it perfect for outdoor adventures and enjoying this rich wildlife destination. Average temperatures range from 20 – 25 degrees Celsius throughout the year, but nighttime can drop to 5 – 10 degrees Celsius.
Festivals and events The year is filled with festive events that celebrate the country’s rich traditions. Many cultural affairs and sporting events occur throughout the year. The biggest and most popular is the Ethiopian games, held every four years in March to celebrate athletes from all over the country. The competition lasts a week, enhanced by all kinds of cultural and traditional performances. Another interesting event is Enkutatash. Ethiopians still use the Julian calendar, which is why their New Year falls on September 11. This day overlaps with the end of the rainy season and is celebrated with merriment, gift exchanges, flowers, and cards.
Health* Please contact your General Practitioner for advice regarding the recommended vaccination programme for travellers to this region. The only compulsory health requirement is a Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate if coming from, or travelling through, an infected area.
Notes *Please be aware that Health information is subject to change at any time and you should always double check these requirements at the time of booking and before travel.