Ethiopia is one of Africa’s hidden backpacking gems – this place propelled itself to one of my top 5 countries to visit. It’s nothing short of amazing. It has a magnificent cultural heritage, seven sites of which are included in the UNESCO world heritage list. The rocky mountains, lakes, rivers and diverse grassland ecosystem account for Ethiopia’s uniqueness. Ethiopia’s historic sites and tourist attractions are wide ranging from natural stunning beauty to some of the most awesome man-made religious sights imaginable.
This place is cheap as chips, can keep you occupied for weeks, the food is delicious, the people friendly and the climate is tip-top – what’s not to love?! Check out the top 5 sights not to miss in this captivating country:
Top 5 must sees in Ethiopia:
1) Danakil Depression: The Danakil depression shares the Eritrean border on the east of the Tigrian highlands in the North East of Ethiopia. It has been officially listed as one of the hottest and driest area on earth having an average temperature of 35+ degree Celsius. It is an impressive area of geological fascination, a place dotted with active volcanoes, hot springs, lava lake, salted basins and above all lunar landscapes. It is a vast unpopulated region that lies below the sea level, it’s the lowest point in all of Africa and the second lowest in the world (second to the Dead Sea in Jordan/Israel. Visiting here is no walk in the park, you need to book a separate tour or drive yourself and thanks to the harshness of it’s atmosphere, people have actually died here when coming unprepared – makes me wanna go even more!
2) Lalibela: UNBELIEVABLE! Why this is not one of the new wonders of the world, I’ll never know but it should be. It is a medieval settlement that lies perched in the midst of an extensive rock church complex. There are 11 incredible rock-hewn monolithic churches which were built by King Lalibela way back in the late 12th or early 13th century. The structures are noted for their artistic splendor and each of the buildings has distinctive architectural designs. The curches are actually dug into the ground, and St George’s cross has become its most famous of all sites – truly, truly breathtaking. This needs to feature on everybody’s bucket list, it’s that good.
3) Harar: It is an ancient holy city which dates back to about 1520., and the oldest Islamic city in the Continent. The city is famed for its ancient buildings and impressive city walls. Harar has approximately 99 mosques and it oozes old school islamic culture. A real highlight in Harar are the ‘wild’ hyenas though. At dusk you can see the local men attracting wild hyenas in the city. For generations these hyenas have scavanged within the city walls at night, through this they have become ‘friendly’ with a group of men who feed them and allow you to feed them, a very scary experience but one that will keep Ethiopia in your memory for a long time to come.
4) The Rift Valley: The Rift Valley is endowed with numerous hot springs, beautiful lakes, and a plethora of crazy, African wildlife. The passage has a chain of seven lakes and each of the seven lakes has unique feature of its own. For animal loves, the Rift valley is paradise – the place is crawlign with African wildlife. The hot springs here are highly recognized for their therapeutic purposes, and people come from all over the country to bathe in them – make sure you join them at some point throughout your time here!
5) The Blue Nile Falls: Another place not to be missed place in Ethiopia is the Blue Nile, the longest river in Africa. It is locally known as Tis Isat, is 400m wide and 45m deep. When the water falls into a gorge, it creates the most spectacular view, a sight to rival Niagara falls even – the Blue Nile Falls. From Bahar Dar, the Blue Nile falls takes around 90 minutes to reach – you can take a local bus and then trek another 30 mins or so, but it’s well worth the effort. This place is very cool.
This is just scratcing the surface of what Ethiopia has on offer, but with these 5 sights ticked off your list then you’ll be leaving Ethiopia with the same opinion as me! Get yourself there quick, before the tourist hordes hear about it! Happy Travels.
For a further insight into backpacking in Ethiopia, regarding costs etc, check this out on my other Ethiopian article.