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    Best Things To Do in Ethiopia: Tourist Attractions

    The things to do in Ethiopia will absolutely astound you!  The country is just emerging from a very rough communist state and is just starting to flourish.  Because the country was so closed off to the rest of the world the people of the country are very open and curious about the outside world.  Ethiopians are literally ingesting everything they can get their hands on from music, dress, and even culture.

    One of the most fascinating things about the country is that it is a very ancient culture.  Their language, Amharic, is one of the oldest written languages in the world (click here for a funny video about how to learn Amharic).  Add on the fact that Ethiopia has tourist attractions like feeding hyenas, the city known as the 2nd Jerusalem, African Safaris, and even a real world Camelot, you have quite a country & culture to experience.  Did I mention it was one of the cheapest places to travel in Africa?

    Welcome to Ethiopia

    My first site of Ethiopia

    Addis Ababa

    Addis Ababa is known as the capital of Africa due to it hosting the headquarters of the African Union, of which all but 1 country in Africa is a part of.  If you need a visa for any country in Eastern Africa, or any country in Africa for that matter, you should come here.  It is home to the largest market in Africa, has gorgeous churches, cathedrals, and mosques to see, and incredible nightlife (there is salsa in Addis Ababa!).

    You can also find the museum that houses the oldest humanoid in the world, Lucy.  Addis Ababa is one of my favorite places to live while living overseas, it has a perfect combination of safety, great people, and cheap living.

    Axum (Aksum)

    Axum happens to be one of the oldest cities in Africa and home of the ancient Aksumite Empire.  There are ruins around the entire city and you can find some of the best relics and artifacts in the center of the city.  Axum also is the supposed location of the Ark of the covenant.  I had the most fun creating the travel guides for Axum because the city has so much history.

    ark of the covenant

    Building Where the ark of the Covenant is “supposedly” housed

    Bahar Dar

    Ethiopia’s 3rd largest city gives you access to Lake Tana which feeds the Nile where you can see some of the countries oldest monasteries (I went, would not recommend it).  One thing you should see is the Blue Nile Falls which are a bit smaller than Niagara Falls, but very scenic.

    Feeding Hyenas in Harar

    One of the most popular tourist attractions in Ethiopia, most people would be absolutely mortified to do this.  At two different locations in the city you are able to feed the Hyenas every single night.  The city of Harar is also extremely interested being the 4th most holy city for Muslims; great museums, food, but not much nightlife.  I would definitely recommend checking out the stories on my travel blog about the city.

    feeding hyenas, hyena feeding, feeing hyena

    Gateway to Somaliland

    There aren’t many people that would be this daring and venture into one of the most dangerous regions in the world.  Even though I joked around about preparing for a kidnapping, there are actually many misconceptions about Somaliland and I ventured into new territory to find out on my own what was going on.  Ethiopia is the only country that has an official location in Somaliland and the easiest way to access the self proclaimed territory as well.

    Gondar (Gonder)

    You thought the things to do in Ethiopia stops with feeding Hyenas with your mouth?  Think Again.  There isn’t any imagination in Ethiopia, Gondar happens to be the real life Camelot of Ethiopia (Africa).  An entire castle complex that includes an entire complex of castles!  There is also a small monastery in a nearby city called Gorgora which is very impressive.

    st georges cathedral, cross church, cross cathedrail

    The famous St. Georges Cathedral in Lalibela

    Lalibela

    If Lalibela is a must see for the attractions in Ethiopia then I don’t know what is.  This is a city designed and built to be the 2nd Jerusalem, many Ethiopians from the city still claim that fact.  It is home to an extremely impressive array of churches that are carved out of stone including the famous St. Georges Cathedral you see above.  There is also a variety of monasteries in the region that you can visit.

    Simien Mountains

    A UNESCO World Heritage site, the Simien Mountains are often called God’s playground because of their unique formations.  There are treks available into the national park where you can find a unique combination of animals and incredible landscapes.

    The Omo Valley

    Much like the Maasai in Kenya, this is one of the only places in the world where you can still find indigenous people that haven’t been influenced by the outside world.  A very unique look at the different cultures in the country and how they live.  The south is also an excellent location for African Safaris, many people are surprised that Ethiopia actually does offer safaris.

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    { 22 comments… read them below or add one }

    mistru kebede December 13, 2012 at 7:34 am

    Honestly Speaking you better promote Ethiopia

    Reply

    Marcello December 22, 2012 at 2:08 am

    I indeed will.. loved the country its very unique

    Reply

    meron January 5, 2013 at 1:00 pm

    enamesginalen(think you)you explain it good way to Ethiopia..

    Reply

    Leielt A April 11, 2013 at 4:20 pm

    This is my culture and the best one. I love Injera, Lalibela, Gondar, etc.. especially it is fun there

    Reply

    Esther May 24, 2013 at 5:53 am

    I want to travel to Ethiopia with my daugther at the end of the summer, could anyone give me some tips on the country safety, activities and sigthseen?

    Reply

    Marcello May 25, 2013 at 12:19 am

    It is not that dangerous in Ethiopia Esther.. dont forget to look for the hottest place on Earth near the border of Eritrea

    Reply

    Markos June 12, 2013 at 1:03 pm

    I,am proud with our Mother country of ETHIOPIA ,beacous she has so many historical place , atractive natural resours,suitable weather condtion to live in it and she tring to bring an economic development to fight (defins) the poverty. so every citizen (person) shoud have an responsiblity to keep the country,s natural resours from any internal and externa infilunce.think very much.

    Reply

    Markos June 30, 2013 at 1:04 pm

    I ,can never forget an Ethiopia until my end life,beacouse,i love she lik my mother. i ,never tired and boring ,when i, write and do about /for/ Ethiopa.sometimes i, cray when i lisene( see) un wanted things on her.generaliy, Ethiopa is one of smart country in afirca. so i.like to advice for foriegn who live out of the country to visit her.

    Reply

    meseret August 12, 2013 at 1:30 am

    am very proud of my home land becouse we are special.i would like to say about the language ethiopia has different language and slung also has own calander .

    Reply

    Christine September 24, 2013 at 9:58 am

    Hi Marcello,
    Thanks for all the information on your blog – it’s very helpful as my husband and I are planning a trip to Africa and are considering Ethiopia as our first stop. I read an interview you gave in July 2012 posted on ytravelblog.com and read how it was cheap to fly around. May I ask what service you used? I have been in contact with a travel agent and they quoted me about $1500/person for a 6 day visit to Ethiopia – including flights and lodging. I think that we should be able to do it for much cheaper. Also, how is the English in Ethiopia? Is it hard to communicate? Do you have any other advice?

    Thanks in advance for your help,
    Christine

    Reply

    Marcello September 25, 2013 at 6:25 pm

    The flight to Ethiopia from outside of the country is expensive but once your in its dirt cheap. I’d recommend just flying into Addis Ababa and then booking your flights seperatley. Very little English outside of the tourist areas but you can find people that do speak English. I learn Amharic rather quickly so communicated that way.

    Reply

    SueH October 4, 2013 at 7:11 am

    Hi Marcello

    We (2 of us) are booked to go to Ethiopia in February 2014, flying to AA. We will go North of the country and then want to go down to the Omo Valley but have been quoted some ridiculous prices – is it possible to do it independently booking into a lodge and then venturing out from there? What would you recommend, for say a 7/8 night visit to Omo Valley? I am well travelled so can cope with my own transportation etc.
    I do hope to hear from you.
    Best, Sue

    Reply

    Marcello October 6, 2013 at 8:49 pm

    Of course you can do it on your own. Once you get to Ethiopia things get a lot cheaper. Check with agencies and on your own when you arrive I’m sure that it will be 50% or more cheaper. I think 7/8 days in Omo Valley is definitely enough. I personally didn’t go to the Omo Valley but know of many people who did. Would definitely recommend it. Once you arrive in Addis start checking prices and you will find they are much much cheaper

    Reply

    Wasihun October 5, 2013 at 4:58 am

    HI, thanks for promoting our country’s culture, heritages and peoples kindness. I can confidently speak that every person who came in Ethiopia will feel as he/she is in his/her home land, this is due to Ethiopia is a cradle of man.

    Reply

    Mitwa October 23, 2013 at 10:05 am

    Hi Marcello,

    Thanks for your input. My family is landing in Addis Ababa for two days over a weekend. What are the things that you think we cannot miss in that time? We would like to see Awash national park – is that possible, and how do you go about going there?

    Mitwa

    Reply

    Marcello December 24, 2013 at 1:07 pm

    Mitwa.. sorry that is the only place that I wasn’t able to get to while in Ethiopia. I would definitely try to go to the Jamaican community just out of Addis Ababa. Very cool place.

    Reply

    Selam November 8, 2013 at 12:07 am

    Hey marcello! im going to ethiopia soon and im going to visit adwa and axum, and i was wondering if im in the risk of malaria and stuff there? My parents are origionally from ethiopia but i live in georgia and ive only been to addis. Oh and also, u and samiya look so so cute lol that video made my heart skip a beat. Especially when u called her princess jasmine hehe i see what u did there.. Such a flirt haha but it was the cutest thing ever

    Reply

    Marcello December 5, 2013 at 12:16 am

    No I dont think so I don’t remember it being that warm there to be honest

    Reply

    Nisa November 10, 2013 at 2:27 am

    Hi Marcello!

    Do we need Visa prior to travel or I can get tourist visa once in the airport? And how sure I am that they would grant me one? I am a Filipino and would love to explore the place, I am just a bit worried of my safety.

    Thank you.

    Reply

    Marcello December 5, 2013 at 12:13 am

    I would double check by calling your local consulate. In 2011 you could get the visa at the airport but that may have changed in the last two years. Double check with an embassy or consulate with your citizenship.

    Reply

    Jacqueline February 14, 2014 at 12:51 am

    Hi Marcello and everyone else! Note that the price of internal flights went up dramatically at the end of 2013, so don’t just plan to book your internal filghts when you arrive. Ethiopian airlines is the only airline here, and you can find out more by talking with them. If your flight into and out of Ethiopia is on Ethiopian airlines, you’ll get approx a 30% discount on internal flights, but this does NOT apply if your flight is a code share with another airlines (such as South African or United). Buses are tough as they take a long time and the nicer buses to tourist attractions (lalibela, bahir dar), etc. out of Addis Ababa sell out about a week in advance. If you’re sturdy, you can take the public buses, but prepare to haggle for a grossly overpriced foreigner price and a long, hot, overcrowded journey with many motion sick passengers.

    If you are already in country and trying to find options, consider the Postal Service buses, we hear that they accept foreigners and are slightly more comfortable than the public buses.

    In general, there is a terribly annoying trend to charge foreigners outrageous prices for everything possible, so prepare your bargaining skills, patience, and wallet!

    Reply

    Million February 22, 2014 at 5:39 pm

    I just wanted to add that I suggest if you are going to Addis Abeba you don’t go in summer as it would be winter there and it can get very wet.

    Reply

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