Ethiopia is truly one of the most fascinating destinations to visit in Africa. Filled with great antiquity treasures from its ancient pre-Axumite kingdom of today’s Axum dating back more than 3,000 years but also with a culture and traditions and is famed for its age old mysterious archeological findings and ancient civilizations. Ethiopia offers endless surprises and delights for the senses. The country is an eclectic mixture of the old and new, the Mountains and Plain fields, the intense and subdued; it is a country that continues to inspire new visitors as well as experienced travelers.
Ethiopia is one of a few African countries where an indigenous alphabet is still used. Ethiopia also has its own time system and unique calendar, seven to eight years behind the Gregorian Calendar. It has the largest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Africa. The country is also famous for its Olympic gold medalists, rock-hewn churches and as the place where the coffee bean originated. Currently, Ethiopia is the top coffee and honey-producing country in Africa, and home to the largest livestock population in Africa.
The traveller in Ethiopia makes a journey through time, transported by beautiful monuments and the ruins of edifices built long centuries ago. Here are some top reasons why you should visit Ethiopia. The country is a land of natural contrasts, with waterfalls and volcanic hot springs. Ethiopia has some of Africa's highest mountains as well as some of the world's lowest points below sea level. The largest cave in Africa is located in Ethiopia at Sof Omar. Ethiopia has one of the largest number of rivers in the world while the country's northernmost area at Dallol, Afar is the hottest place year-round anywhere on Earth.
Ethiopia, a country with 84 different ethnical groups are living together in harmony. The people are justifiably proud of the range of their traditional costumes. The most obvious identification of the different groups is in the jewellery, the hair styles and the embroidery of the dresses. The women of Amhara and Tigray wear dozens of plaits (sheruba), tightly braided to the head and billowing out at the shoulders. The women of Harar part their hair in the middle and make a bun behind each ear. The lower valley of the Omo unlike any other place on Earth has the largest diversity of ethnically different groups in the whole of Ethiopia and possibly in Africa unspoiled wilderness regions. Hamer, Geleb, Bume and Karo men form a ridge of plaited hair and clay to hold their feathered headwear in place. Arsi women have fringes and short, bobbed hair. Bale girls have the same, but cover it with a black headcloth, while young children often have their heads shaved.
The Ethiopian Orthodox Union church, an autonomous Christian Church headed by a patriarch and closely related to the Coptic Church of Egypt, was the state church of Ethiopia until 1974. About 62.8 percent (Orthodox 43.5%, Protestant 18.6% and Catholic 0.7 %) of the people of Ethiopia are Christians, and Christianity is predominant in the north. All the Eastern regions have Muslim majorities, who represent about 33.9 percent of the country's population. The south also contains considerable numbers of animists. Most of the Christian, belonging to the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, whose 4th Century beginnings came long before Europe accepted Christianity. A further small percentage about 2.7% of the population adheres to traditional and 0.6% other beliefs, including Judaism. A sect known as Beta Israel or Falashas, who practice a type of Judaism that probably dates back to contact with early Arabian Jews, were airlifted to Israel in 1991 during Ethiopia's civil war.
The kingdom of Aksum officially adopted Christianity in the 4th century. But it wasn't before the 6th century (and up until the 15th) that Christianity spread, along with the Christian state, to the highlands of central Ethiopia. A remarkable collection of rock-hewn churches dates from this era. They were associated with monks, who were considered on a level with saints and whose lives were often recorded in writing. These monuments and manuscripts are still very important today as the living memory of Ethiopia's Christians.
There is something fascinating about the Orthodox Church ceremonies, that is also an interest to most tourists. The fact that most travel albums on the Internet are include photos from the Orthodox church ceremonies is a testament to that. Ethiopia is a comparatively safe country. Ethiopians are proud of their country, culture, and identity. Remember the calendar is different, and if you wake up at 7 AM, your hotel clock points at 1 AM.
3. Beautiful Landscape
Its colorful landscapes, incredible wildlife encounters and fascinating people are what you look for on Sunside Ethiopia Tours, The landscape of Ethiopia varies between deep depressions and high points. The beautiful Danakil Depression is 125 meters below sea level, while Ras Dejen peak is 4,543 meters above sea level. Danakil Depression had been created by volcanic activity leading to plate movements and several active volcanoes like Erta Ale, etc. is referred to as the most merciless part of the earth. The Blue Nile Falls are four streams ranging in height between 37 meters and 45 meters. You can reach the falls by travelling 30 km from Bahir Dar town and Tana Lake.
4. Historical places
Ethiopian history dates back to pre-Christ times. Lalibela is termed as eighth global wonder, with eleven monolithic churches of rock-hewn remarkable construction. It was built in early thirteenth century during the regime of King Lalibela. Axum, the most ancient town of Ethiopia with numerous monolithic stone obelisks or stelae, Gondar with several medieval palaces built like castles, and the walled and ancient city of Harar are the evidences of the long history of Ethiopia.
5. Archeological Sites and Museums
East Africa, and more specifically the general area of Ethiopia, is widely considered the site of the emergence of early Homo sapiens in the Middle Paleolithic 400,000 years ago. Homo sapiens idaltu, found at site Middle Awash in Ethiopia, lived about 160,000 years ago.
Archeologically Ethiopia is known as one of the oldest sites of human existence known for scientists today, having yielded some of humanity oldest traces. Ethiopia may well deserve the title Cradle of Humankind. Some of the most famous, most iconic hominid fossils have been discovered within the country’s borders. Ethiopia can claim many “firsts” in the hominid record book, including first stone tools and the first Homo sapiens. A famous Lucy’s; Ethiopians prefer to call her Dinquinesh (Thou art Wonderfull), a hominid skeleton dating to roughly 3.2 million years ago is the oldest and famous complete hominid fossil ever found, discovery by paleoanthropologist Don Johanson In 1974 has lied the country on the eyes of International travelers and archeologists.
The southern and south-western regions of Ethiopia contain several national parks of stunning beauty. The most important are Awash National Park, Abijatta Shalla Lakes National Park, Mago National Park, Bale Mountains National Park, Omo National Park, Neshisar National Park, Simien National Park, and Yangudi National Park. These parks, along with the seven lakes in Rift Valley, are home to rare species of animals and birds. The Mountain Nyala, the African antelope, the Walia Ibex, the mountain horned goats, the Ethiopian wolf (also known as Abyssinian wolf), etc. are the main animals that are rare.
7. Geological Patterns
The country is a land of natural contrasts, with waterfalls and volcanic hot springs. Ethiopia has some of Africa's highest mountains as well as some of the world's lowest points below sea level. The largest cave in Africa is located in Ethiopia at Sof Omar. Ethiopia has one of the largest numbers of rivers in the world while the country's northernmost area at Dallol, Afar is the hottest place year-round anywhere on Earth. Erta’Ale Is a continuously active basaltic shield volcanoes A shield volcano is a type of volcano usually built almost entirely of fluid lava flows. They are named for their large size and low profile, resembling a warrior's shield. This is caused by the highly fluid lava they erupt, which travels farther than lava erupted from more explosive volcanoes. This results in the steady accumulation of broad sheets of lava, building up the shield volcano's distinctive form.) in the Afar Region of northeastern Ethiopia, the most active volcano in Ethiopia.
8. ETHIOPIA’S ARTISTIC LEGACY
Ethiopia enjoys well-developed traditions in music and dance, iconography, manuscript illumination, calligraphy, book arts, weaving, embroidery, metal work, wood carving, basketry, and many other art forms. Beautiful and intriguing handmade objects, including icons, abound in tiny shops and are even sold on the street, typically at modest prices. There is no strong distinction between art and craft, or between icons and religious art. The interiors of many surviving historic churches are completely covered with large mural icons. In other churches, icons on canvas (or framed reproductions of Western religious art) hang from the walls. Some church treasuries hold historic illuminated manuscripts. Carved wooden crosses, cylindrical mini-towers, Parchment books, and complex fold-out pieces open out with little doors on string hinges, revealing miniature icons inside. Painted icons adorn metal crosses as well as wooden diptychs and triptychs. Other icons are painted on goat skin, sometimes with strips of fur still on the back. The traditional (and very challenging) medium is distemper, a form of tempera paint based on animal-skin glue rather than egg yolk. This paint can be used on un-gessoed wood, and it adheres well even to metal. Contemporary Ethiopian artists and iconographers often prefer oil or acrylic paint.