Ethiopia is Africa's oldest independent country and it is the second largest in terms of population. It is also known as "The Land of Thirteen Months" because a year lasts 13 months instead of 12. It is a mystical country with deep spiritual roots and a fascinating history involving religion. The beauty of wild mountains is only surpassed by the awe-inspiring religious architecture that draws visitors to this amazing country. It’s where legends of the Ark of the Covenant live side by side and in harmony with ancient Islamic mosques. From thundering waterfalls to its vibrant and modern capital city, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia is a place you have to see to believe. Here are 5 of the best and most incredible places to visit.
THE BLUE NILE FALLS
The magnificent Blue Nile Falls is located close to Bahir Dar. It is the most impressive sight on either the Blue or White Nile, and the locals refer to it as Tis-Isat Falls (which translates as "Smoke of Fire"). During the flood season, the falls are a quarter-mile wide and plunge into a gorge that is more than 150 feet deep. Because the falls produce an endless mist that drenches onlookers from half a mile away, it is easy to see how they got their name. A perpetual rainforest of lush, verdant foliage is created by the breathtaking rainbows that are produced. In this paradise, tourists won't feel alone because numerous monkey species and colorful birds call the forest home.
THE DANAKIL DEPRESSION
This is home to the nomadic Afar, It’s officially one of driest and hottest places on Earth. With temperatures that often reach 50+ degrees, it’s easy to see why. This is a surreal piece of real estate that’s strewn with active volcanoes, salted basins, hot springs, and a lava lake, all of which combine to create a very lunar-like landscape. Sitting below sea level, it’s the lowest point in Africa and second in the world after the dead sea.
This location blows the mind of everyone who visits. This medieval settlement was designed to be a kind of second Jerusalem and modern day inhabitants remain proud of this distinction. Lalibela is perched in the middle of a broad church complex made entire of rock. There are 11 churches in the settlement, monolithic and grand, all built by King Lalibela as early as the 12th century. Remarkable because of the architectural design, the churches are actually dug into the ground. The most famous, and most beautiful, is St George’s Cathedral. An awe-inspiring sight.
THE OMO VALLEY
This is a wonderfully unique look into the tribal people of Ethiopia. Similar to the Maasai in Kenya, the villages in the Lower Omo Valley haven’t been influenced by the outside world. Here you’ll interact with people whose culture is dramatically different from your own. It's also worth noting that when visiting the Omo Valley, there are dozens of tribes you can choose from.
This fascinating town was the centre of the Axumite Empire, one of the most important and technologically advanced civilisations of its time and a major force in world trade between the 1st and 7th centuries AD. A further twist in the town's long history is speculation that it could have held the court of the Queen of Sheba and also that it is the final resting place of the Ark of the Covenant. Whatever the truth of these matters it is undoubtedly the holiest city of the Ethiopian Orthodox church and there is a startling wealth of antiquities both to be seen and as yet still undiscovered.