Choose Ethiopia vacation spots and experience the only African nation that was never colonized and the only African nation that can boast 17 centuries of Christian tradition. A country so rich in history that four destinations in northern Ethiopia have been designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites (nine in total). Ethiopia from the time of King Solomon and Queen of Sheba is a land filled with historical, cultural and natural treasures. Meanwhile, southern Ethiopia is a destination that is most unique where time has stood still. Visit the various tribal villages and nomads and be amazed at their current lifestyle, and social infrastructure that is reminiscent of bygone eras. Above all things, it is a country of great antiquity with a culture and traditions dating back more than 3,000 years. This is Ethiopia.
Vacations and Hot Spots
It’s true that Ethiopia vacations are unlike any other. There is a wildness to this ancient land, a worn feeling in the dirt that’s as fresh as the greenery and the dust that still remain untouched by industrialization. The scenery and wildlife are boundless in rugged wonder, from the Big Five including a few lions and rhinos of the desert plains, to the incredible oasis lands of exotic green foliage emanating with fierce life. Then there are the boundless opportunities for exploring historical and religious sites—sites in some places recorded from ancient texts and still left standing. See the Nile from beginning to end, the longest river in the world. Get a glimpse of the holy sight of Lalibela, a sacred architectural marvel that inspires wonder and awe even from a distance. Enjoy the various history museums, including an exhibit about the oldest human remains which were discovered in Ethiopia, as well as the fabled Lucy skeleton discovered in the Afar Triangle in Ethiopia.
Ethiopia and its history is the story of Africa at its inception. Archeologists and anthropologists commonly count Ethiopia as the origin of man. In 1994, the oldest human remains ever were discovered here. The 4.4 million old bones of Homo Ramidus Afarensis, were found in Ethiopia’s Afar region – the previous record was held by “Lucy” or “Dinkinish” (Amharic for “wonderful”), who, at 3.4 million years, was a relative youngster. Ethiopia vacations provide exposure to extensive historic sites, particularly in the north of the country, where the tourists can view buildings dating from the first millennium BC, the stelae and tombs of the Axumite kings, rock-hewn churches dating from the 4th century, the monasteries of Lake Tana and the 13th century monolithic rock hewn churches of King Lalibela in Wollo. In the east, the 1000-year-old city of Harrar, with its more than 99 mosques, is considered as the fourth holiest place in Islam, after Mecca, Median and Jerusalem. South of Addis Ababa there are a number of Neolithic sites, including the 1.5-1.8-million-year old site at Melka Kunture (Oromia Region) and the 400 stelae at Dilla in Sidamo (Southern Region). Elsewhere in the southern region there are remote, medieval monasteries and in Jimma, in Oromia, there is the recently restored palace of Abba Jiffar, the last independent king of the area.
Ethiopia is a land of great variety, from the high peaks of the Semien Mountain in Amhara to the below sea-level Danakil Depression in the Afar region, tropical forests, lakes, savannah and deserts. One of the Ethiopia Vacation spots to enjoy is Bale National Park in Oromia, home of many endemic mammals and birds, where visitors can see unique alpine fauna and flora, volcanic lakes and trout filled streams. For big game safaris, there are the Omo and Mago National Parks in the Southern Region, with their fascinating Mursi and Hamer villages.
Ethiopia is a land of enormous ethnic diversity, with people of Semitic, Hamitic, Nilotic and Omotic stock. There are more than 80 ethnic groups and as many languages. In terms of religion, Christians and Muslims make up approximately 40% of the population each (Christians being slightly more preponderant), the remaining 20% animists and others. What unites Ethiopia’s many people is primarily their shared independent existence. Ethiopia was never colonized and, though occupied by Mussolini’s Fascists from 1935-1941, its people put up a continuous, spirited and vigorous resistance. While ex-colonies are characterized by their resonance with their former colonial powers, Ethiopia is Ethiopian and this will be obvious to the visitor from the moment of arrival in Addis Ababa. Courtesy and hospitality are prized qualities throughout the country. With its combination of history and culture, ethnic diversity, stunning and varied scenery, wildlife and birdlife (there are more than 850 species recorded, with 29 endemics), Ethiopia is truly unique in Africa, providing an unparalleled experience in an Ethiopia vacation.
Despite its location in the Horn of Africa, Ethiopia is a very safe country to visit, and Addis Ababa is still one of the safest capitals in Africa. There is little incidence of personal crimes such as assault and robbery, and the country’s security forces have taken great measures to prevent terrorists from instigating violence that could harm the safety of residents and visitors and disrupt the business community, which has registered 8 years of significant growth. Visitors should, of course, take the usual precautions – not carry large amounts of money with them and leave particularly valuable items locked away. During your Ethiopia vacations, both men and women should be careful to keep handbags and personal property at hand in crowded places like Mercato. Like everywhere else, pickpockets like to create some kind of diversion before making their move, so visitors should walk purposefully and be cautious about sudden introductions in the street. In Addis Ababa, such incidents as do occur tend to happen in the city center, in a circle linking the Ghion, Ethiopian and Ras Hotels.
No visa is required for citizens of Kenya, Djibouti, and Sudan. Nationals of the following countries can apply for and receive a tourist visa upon arrival at the airport. The cost is $50 for a 30-day, one-time entry.
ARGENTINA, AUSTRALIA, AUSTRIA, BELGIUM, BRAZIL, CANADA, CHINA, DENMARK, FINLAND, FRANCE, GERMANY, GREECE, IRELAND, ISRAEL, ITALY, JAPAN, KOREA REPUBLIC, KUWAIT, LUXEMBOURG, MEXICO, NETHERLANDS, NEW ZEALAND, NORWAY, POLAND, PORTUGAL, RUSSIAN FEDERATION, SOUTH AFRICA, SPAIN, SWEDEN, SWITZERLAND, TAIWAN (PROVINCE OF CHINA), UNITED KINGDOM, UNITED STATES.
Those not included in the list above can apply for a visa at Ethiopian Embassies and consulates in their home countries.
HEALTH & PRECAUTIONS
Ethiopia requires all visitors to have an up-to-date Yellow Fever vaccination certificate, so you’ll need to be prepared for that before your Ethiopia vacation. Generally, for their own protection, visitors should be immunized or have received a booster shot against hepatitis A and B, Tetanus, Typhoid and Polio. In regard to malaria, visitors on the Historic Route (Axum, Gondar, Bahar Dar and Lalibela) need not worry about malaria, but should bring insect repellent cream, gel or spray for mosquitoes.
The area of Ethiopia directly to the south of Addis Ababa is also considered a malaria-free zone. Before your trip, please consult online malaria zone maps which are made available by the US Center for Disease Control and the FitForTravel.com website in the UK. Chloroquine is not effective against malaria in Ethiopia.
For visitors sensitive to insect bites, it is advisable to bring antihistamine cream or tablets. Some old buildings and old churches on the Historic Route are prone to flea infestation. It is worth carrying some antiseptic cream, for minor cuts. Anti-diarrhea tablets (Imodium or Lomatil) should be carried as a precautionary measure – if you do have a stomach upset, it might be some distance to the nearest toilet and either of these tablets is guaranteed to help. (These only address the symptoms rather than what caused them, so for anything more serious than a stomach upset medical advice should be sought – there are government hospitals in most areas of tourist interest.) As you travel to different Ethiopian vacation spots, you’ll want to keep the varied climates in mind. The temperatures in the highlands (on the Historic Route) are moderate, rarely exceeding 30ºC even at the hottest times of the year. However, the sun is strong and visitors coming from cooler climates should get a high protection grade (15) UV barrier cream, particularly for the face. For the arms and legs, a lower protection grade would be sufficient. With the dry weather, lip balms are recommended. For visitors who make the boat trip on Lake Tana, or even some of the longer mule trips around Axum or Lalibela, hats should be worn. All visitors are advised to take out standard holiday insurance covering health emergencies in their country of origin.