Ethiopia is a land of wonder and enchantment, a country with one of the richest histories on the African continent, a land of contrasts and surprises, of remote and wild places, home to cultured and friendly people who are descended from some of the world’s oldest civilizations.
This is a land of fabled queen of Sheba, home of the ark of the convenant, the birth place of coffee. ‘Lucy’, the world’s oldest known almost – complete hominid skeleton, more than three million years old, was discovered here.
Ethiopia has so much to offer visitors; the historic route, covering the ancient town of Axum, with its amazing carved obelisks, Christian festivals and relics, including the ark of the convenant; Gondar, with its castles and palaces; Lalibela, with its remarkable rock hewn churches; and the walled muslim city of Harar. At Dire Dawa you can see cave paintings considered to be thousands of years old.
Lake Tana, source of the blue Nile, is the largest lake with 37 islands, the great rift valley lakes, many with national parks, is a home to a wealth of bird and animal life. The high, rugged, simian mountains in the north and Bale mountains in the south east is also home to unique wildlife and rich flora, and are ideal for trekking, whilst some of ethiopia’s fast flowing rivers are becoming famous for white water rafting.
There are nine national parks and four sanctuaries were 277 species of wild life and more than 850 species of birds can be seen. The simieni mountains national park is registered by UNESCO as a world heritage site and is home to three of endemic mammals, Walia Ibex, Gelada baboon and Simien fox. Ras Dashen, the fourth highest peak in Africa with an altitude of 4,620 metres, is also located within the park.
Other national parks in Ethiopia include Bale mountains and Abijatta-shalla in Oromia, Nech sar, Mago and Omo national parks in the south of Yangudi Rasa in Afar, Gambella national park in Gambella, as well as Awash in both Oromia and Afar regions. Addis Ababa, ethiopia’s friendly and safe capital city, has so much to offer, too, with its first classs hotels and restaurants, museums and palaces, and good shopping, which includes the Mercato – Africa’s largest open air market.
Ethiopia is a mosaic of people with more than 80 languages, different lifestyles, costumes and cultural dances. People’s livelihoods vary from hunter- gatherers, nomads and farmers to factory workers, business people and academics.
Ethiopia has been called ‘the land of a thousand smiles’. Visit us and you can be sure of a great welcome, a memorable holiday, and the experience of a lifetime.
THE PEOPLE AND CULTURE
Ethiopia has been called a rich cultural mosaic due to its eighty different languages and dialects and as many, if not more, cultural variations. In the north and centre of the country different semitic languages, namely Tigre, Tigrinya, Guraginya, and the official language of the country, Amharic are spoken. The ancient Semitic forebear of these languages, Ge’ez, today only survives in church liturgy and literature. To the east and other parts of the south are the Oromos, the Afars and the Somalis who are Cushitic – speaking peoples while the associated Sidama languages are spoken to the south east. To the west and south-west are to be found the Nilotic peoples, each with its own distinctive language and culture?
Elsewhere around the country there are a number of smaller communities whose cultures, languages and traditions are related to different facets of Ethiopia’s long history and, as with all the peoples of the country, to its religions be they Orthodox Christians, Moslems or members of other faiths.
Folk culture is also an important element of today’s Ethiopia. Artists and craftsmen make their own contributions to the country’s cultural and social development. Almost every town has its own cultural troupe made up of singers and dancers, poets and writers, and its own cultural hall in which the troupe re-creates the song and dance of its particular area from a bygone age.
HOTELS AND ACCOMMODATION
Ethiopia has numerous hotels throughout the country which provide an excellent tourism infrastructure for the visitor who wants to spend time exploring this remarkable and beautiful country.
As with everywhere else in the world standards of accommodation vary widely in the cities and most of the towns, in Addis Ababa the hotels range from five to one star. There are good tourist-class hotels along the historic route and other places of interest such as Harar, Dire Dawa, and the northern rift balley lakes area, and in most of the towns in close proximity to the National Parks.
For those with a love of fresh air and open countryside, or an interest in being at one with nature, camping is the way to go about it. In Ethiopia it is almost the only way to visit the most beautiful, undeveloped and un spoilt areas of the country. Should you decide to camp out during your entire stay in the country, some hotels have campsites on their grounds and all the National Parks have areas laid aside for campers.