What to See in Ethiopia

By | July 18, 2022

Addis Ababa is the capital of Ethiopia, the largest city in the country, its economic and cultural center. Addis Ababa is located in the center of Ethiopia at an altitude of 2440 m. It is one of the highest mountain capitals in the world. The city was founded in 1886 by Emperor Menelik II. In 1889, the emperor moved the capital of Ethiopia here. The main square of the city is Meskel Square, where the religious holiday of Meskel, the Finding of the Life-Giving Cross, is celebrated on September 27 of each year. The square also serves as a venue for various concerts and parades. On Menelik II Square you can see the equestrian statue of Menelik II and the Orthodox Cathedral of St. George. The cathedral was built in 1896 after the victory of the Ethiopian army over the Italian invaders near the city of Adua. Here is a small museum that houses the throne on which Emperor Haile Selassie was crowned, and a collection of weapons used in the late 19th century in the fight against the Italians. To commemorate another victory over the Italians – the liberation of the country from Italian occupation in 1941 – the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity was erected in the eastern part of Addis Ababa. Emperor Haile Selassie, members of his family and the military who fought against the Italians are buried in the cathedral.

Not far from the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity is the business part of the city. Here you can see the buildings of the second half of the 20th century: the Parliament building, Municipality, State Bank and Africa Palace, decorated with a huge stained glass window of 150 square meters. m, which was completed by Aferverk Tekle. Be sure to visit the largest market not only of the city, but of the entire continent – “Merkato”, located nearby the largest mosque in Ethiopia – Anwar, the Royal Palace of Menelik II in 1894, where the country’s government now sits, Jubilee Palace, built in 1955 for the 25th anniversary reign of Haile Selassie, a monument to A.S. Pushkin, whose great-grandfather was from Africa, and the National Museum, where a plaster copy of the remains of the most ancient person – Australopithecus Lucy, which were found in the valley of the Awash River, is kept.

In the vicinity of Addis Ababa, on the slopes of Mount Entoto, there is Entoto Park with eucalyptus forests, which were planted under Menelik II. Also from Addis Ababa you can go to the Menagesh Reserve Forest with a variety of flora, waterfalls and picnic areas and lakes Zugala and Vonchi, which are located in the craters of extinct volcanoes.

According to Top-mba-universities, Ethiopia.200 km east of Addis Ababa, on the banks of the Awash River, in the valley of which many remains of ancient people were discovered, the city of Awash stands above a deep canyon. . It was formed in 1917 at a railway station built on Ethiopia ‘s only railway line, which connected the country with Djibouti (now this road is abandoned and does not operate). Near the city is the Awash National Park, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The park was founded in 1966 on the slopes of the extinct volcano Fentale (2007 m). Its territory is occupied by arid flat areas with steppe communities – acacia savannahs. 46 species of animals, about 350 species of birds live here, and crocodiles and hippos are found in the waters of the Awash River. North of the Awash National Park along the Awash River near the borders with the arid desert Danakil is another national park – Yangudi-Rasa. The name of the park was given by the Yangudi mountains stretching here and the Rasa plain. The area of the park is 4730 sq. km. The park was created to protect a rare animal species – the wild donkey.

North of the Yangudi-Ras Park to the border with Eritrea, the Danakil Desert extends – one of the hottest and driest deserts on the planet, where the lowest point of the continent (116 m below sea level) is located. The Danakil Desert is known for its lunar-like landscapes: lava fields extend here, among which cone-shaped and shield volcanoes rise, and salt lakes. On the territory of the desert are the most active volcano in Ethiopia, Erta Ale (near the village of Dodom) and the volcano Dalol, covered with a salt dome (near the village of Khamedela).

In the west, the Danakil Desert abruptly passes into the Ethiopian Highlands. In this natural border region, at an altitude of 2500 m, one of the largest cities in Ethiopia, Desse , is located . The city was founded in the late 19th century by Emperor Johannes IV. In Dess itself, of the attractions, only the city museum is interesting, which contains artillery pieces used in the 90s of the 19th century under Emperor Menelik II, but the surroundings of the city are full of interesting objects. Northwest of Desse is Mount Amba Geshen, where from the time of the Aksumite kingdom until the 16th century there was a prison for all male imperial relatives. Men of the royal family were kept in captivity to prevent intra-dynastic wars. It is also worth visiting a historical place – Mount Amba Alagi, where fierce battles took place between the armies of Ethiopia and Italy in 1895 and 1841. In addition, in the vicinity of Desse, there are lake Ashengi, which was formed during the Holocene period, and the picturesque mountain ranges of Abue Med and Bada.

100 km northwest of Desse of interest is the ancient religious center and place of pilgrimage for Orthodox Ethiopians – the city of Lalibela. Lalibela is known for its temples, which were carved from the red volcanic tuff between the 12th and 13th centuries. There are 13 churches in total. Churches were erected after the Egyptians captured Jerusalem in 1187. King Lalibela wanted to turn the city into New Jerusalem, so many churches are similar to those in Jerusalem. The local temples were carved either on the surface or in the rocks underground, all the churches are connected by underground passages and labyrinths. It will take several hours to see all the churches. It is best to go to Lalibela during the celebration of the Epiphany (Timket), which is celebrated on January 6th.

In the eastern part of the country, 560 km from Addis Ababa at an altitude of 1885 m, there is an ancient trading city and one of the most important centers of Muslims – Harer . According to various hypotheses, Harer was founded between the 7th and 11th centuries AD. It was a major trading center on the way between the Arabian Peninsula and the Somali Peninsula. In the 16th century, Harer was chosen as the capital of the vast Muslim sultanate – Adal, from which numerous military campaigns against the Christian Ethiopian empire were undertaken. Harar is considered the fourth most important holy city of Muslims after Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem and is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. The main attraction of Harar – Old city. It is surrounded by ancient fortress walls of the 16th century, which have survived to this day. There are about 90 mosques inside the fortress walls. Every day at 19:00, wild hyenas come to the city gates of Fallan, fed by local residents since the 60s of the 20th century. Tourists are also offered to feed the hyenas.

Not far from Harar is the Babil reserve, which was created to protect the gradually disappearing herd of elephants. Now the herd has about 300 elephants, in addition, in the reserve you can see the black-maned lion. East of Harar, you can go to the city of Jijiga, where the Somalis live, and to Mount Kulibi, which is a place of pilgrimage for Orthodox Ethiopians, because here is the tomb of the bearer of the good news – the Archangel Gabriel.

Be sure to go to one of the most picturesque corners of the country – to the northwestern part of Ethiopia, where the majestic Blue Nile River flows and the state’s largest lake – Tana is located. Lake Tana is located at an altitude of 1830 m. It has an area of 2156 square meters. km. The maximum depth of the lake reaches 14 m. The largest river of the country, the Blue Nile, flows out of the lake, which is called Abbay within the Ethiopian highlands. The main attraction of the lake are its islands, of which there are 37. Orthodox monasteries were built on 20 islands in the period from the 11th to the 17th centuries. It is worth noting that most monasteries for women are closed. The most famous islands are Birgida Mariam, Dega Istifanous, Dek, Narga, Tana Cherkos, Metsele Fasilides, Kebran and Debre Mariam. The monasteries of the islands are interesting because several Ethiopian kings and emperors are buried here. In addition, Lake Tana is a great place for bird watching. You can visit the island’s monasteries and watch birds by going on a cruise on the lake. Bahir Dar , which is located on the southern shore of the lake. In addition to Lake Tana, in Bahir Dar, the Wayoto tribes are interesting, who make reed boats and offer to ride on them on the lake, and the Bezawit Palace, built under Emperor Haile Selassie in the 20th century. There is a ferry from Bahr Dar to the northern coast to the city of Gorgora. The city of Gorgora in the 16-17 centuries before the founding of Gondar was the capital of the Ethiopian Empire. The remains of a Jesuit church and the palace of Emperor Suceños I, as well as the early 17th century Debre Sina church and the Portuguese cathedral, have survived to this day. 35 km from Bahir Dar on the Blue Nile River is the majestic Tees Isat waterfalls.. The width of the waterfalls reaches 400 m, and the height is 45 m. The falling water forms huge columns of spray, where you can often see a rainbow. The waterfalls are most full-flowing during the rainy season – from June to September. These places are truly picturesque – they are surrounded by humid forests, where monkeys and various bird species live.

30 km from the northern coast of Lake Tana is the city of Gondar , which from 1638 to 1885 was the capital of the Ethiopian Empire. Gondar is known as the “African Camelot” because in 1640, under Emperor Fasilidas, an impregnable fortress was built here. The fortress was surrounded by a 900-meter wall with 12 towers. In 1979, Gondar ‘s citadel was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. The Fasilidas Palace, the Iyasu II Palace, the Dauit Hall and the Gothic building of the library of Emperor Yohannis are the best preserved of the buildings of the fortress. There are also several interesting places in the vicinity of Gondar. South of Gonder, in the valley of the Kakha River, are the baths of Fasilidas. Every year on January 6, on the Orthodox feast of the Epiphany (Timket), the baths are filled with water. Northwest of Gondar, on the hills of Kuskom, the temple of the Virgin Mary has been preserved, and the church of Deberham Selassie is located northeast of the city. Both temples are decorated with frescoes.

100 km northeast of Gondar the Simien Mountains stretched out. Here is the highest point of the country – Mount Ras Dashen (4623 m). Ras Dashen is surrounded by the Simien National Park. The park was founded in 1969. Ten years later, it was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. Here you can see pointed peaks that were formed as a result of the destruction of lava deposits, mountain valleys covered with various vegetation, gorges, canyons, waterfalls and rare animals such as Ethiopian wolves, Gelada baboons and mountain goats “walia”. About 50 species of birds live in the park, including a huge bird of prey – a bearded vulture, whose wingspan reaches 3 m.

In the very north of the country, near the border with Eritrea, in the Adua mountains, at an altitude of 2130 m, the sacred city of Aksum is located. Aksum – the capital of the first powerful state of the Ethiopian highlands – the Aksumite kingdom. The city was founded by Menelik I, who, according to legend, was the son of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. It was in Aksum in the 4th century AD. Christianity was declared the state religion. Aksum is considered the location of the main shrine of the Jewish people – the Ark of the Covenant. It is believed that Menelik I took it out of Jerusalem and placed it under the Aksumite church of the Virgin Mary. For its historical heritage, Aksum was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1980. Today Aksum is the most visited historical site in Ethiopia.. The best preserved from the buildings of the Aksumite kingdom are stelae – huge pillars made of granite monoliths. It is believed that steles in ancient times were erected on the graves of members of the royal family.

Northeast of Aksum is the oldest city in Ethiopia – Yeha. It was built in 800 BC. and is now a fine example of the architecture of pre-Aksumite Ethiopia. In Yeha, the ruins of the Temple of the Moon from the 5th century BC have been preserved. Debre Damo Monastery is located in the mountains 76 km from Aksum, whose main temple is the oldest in Ethiopia.. According to legend, the monastery was built in the 6th century AD by the Syrian monk Abyun Aregawi, who came to these parts in order to preach Christianity. Since its founding, Debre Damo has become one of three places in the Ethiopian highlands where men of imperial blood were kept, who were taken into custody to avoid intra-dynastic struggle for the throne. Women are not allowed to visit Debre Damo. In order to get to the monastery, you need to climb a steep 20-meter cliff on a rope. A monk, standing on top of a cliff, lowers a rope to the tourists, which must be wrapped around their waist, and helps the tourists climb up.

It is also worth visiting the capital of this region – the city of Mek’ele.. It was founded by Emperor Yohannes IV at the end of the 19th century. During the reign of Yohannes, many temples were erected here: the church of St. Teklehaymanot, Medhane Aleyem and Kidane Mehret, as well as a huge imperial palace, which now houses a museum. In addition, Mekele is known as a stopping point on the caravan route from the Danakil desert, from where salt is transported.

Other attractions in the northern part of the country include the village of Negash, where the first Muslim settlement in Africa was founded, the city of Vukro, which is surrounded by rock churches similar to the churches of Lalibela, the city of Adwa, which at the end of the 19th century had a decisive battle between the Ethiopian and Italian armies, and villages where tribes live Tigray people.

The region extending south of Addis Ababa is very picturesque. Here, within the East African Rift Zone, there are volcanic peaks, thermal springs, small lakes inhabited by a variety of waterfowl.

100 km south of Addis Ababa, the archaeological zone of the city of Tiya is interesting, where dozens of huge stone monoliths were discovered. It is believed that they belong to the ancient Ethiopian culture. Most of the local monoliths are covered with inscriptions that have not yet been fully deciphered by scientists. The largest of the Thiya monoliths is 3.7 m high.

Not far from here, the lakes of the rift zone stretch in a chain from north to south. The most popular among tourists and the most suitable lake for recreation in this region is Lake Langano. This is the only lake in Ethiopia where you can swim without fear of contracting bilharzia. The water of Lake Langano is brown. The surrounding area is home to hippos, monkeys, the African warthog and many birds. Mostly tourists go here not to watch animals or birds, but to relax on the sandy beaches of the lake or do water sports. Here you can practice water skiing, boating, swimming or just sunbathing.

West of Lake Langano within the vast Abayata Shalla National Park there are lakes Abayata and Shalla. Abayata Shalla National Park is designed to protect the colonies of numerous birds, among which flamingos and pelicans stand out. There are so many flamingos and pelicans living on the lakes that from a height the lakes are a mixture of orange and white.

It is best to go to the Abayat Shalla National Park from the city of Awasalocated a little to the south. The city stands on the shores of the lake of the same name, about 300 km south of Addis Ababa. Fishing, boating or birdwatching is possible on Lake Awasa.

A little east of Awas is the Wondo Genet thermal spa ., which is famous for its hot springs and its surrounding forests. Wondo Genet in the 20th century was a favorite vacation spot of the imperial family. In 1964, a hotel was built here with 40 rooms, a restaurant, a bar, a swimming pool and equipped thermal areas. The area of the resort complex is 54.4 hectares.

From Awasa you can go west to the largest city in the southwestern part of the country – Jimma. Jimma from the 14th to the 19th centuries was the center of the Oromo kingdom and a major trading center on the way from the Sabaean kingdom to the kingdom of Kaffa (the supposed birthplace of coffee). To this day, the city has preserved the royal palace, which was built by the last ruler of the Oromo kingdom – Abba Jifar. There is also a museum and markets that have been known since ancient times. In the vicinity of Jimma are Lake Boye and the swamp of Coffee. The Coffee Swamp is home to scalloped crane, fluffy chamois, and a variety of wagtails. Hippos can be seen on Lake Boye.

East of Awasa are the mountains of Bale. On their slopes in the vicinity of the city of Goba lies the Bale National Park.. The park was created in 1970 on an area of ​​2400 sq. km. Here is the second highest point of the country – Mount Tullu Demtu (4377 m), as well as Mount Batu (4307 m). The park is home to the largest population of the rarest Ethiopian wolf (red jackal) and a rare species of mountain antelope – nyala. The administrative center of the park is located in the village of Dingsho.

Southwest of Awasa are lakes Abaya and Chamo. They are perfect for fishing, in addition, Lake Chamo is home to several thousand Nile crocodiles. On the eastern shores of the Abaya and Chamo lakes lies the Nechisar National Park. The park is occupied by savannas inhabited by zebras, gazelles, monkeys, antelopes, including the rarest species of cow antelope, as well as about 200 species of birds.

The southernmost in the chain of Ethiopian lakes of the East African Rift Zone are Lake Chow Bahr, which is also known as Istifanos, and Lake Turkana (Lake Rudolf). They are located on the border with Kenya. Lake Chow Bahr is known for its flamingo population, while Lake Turkana is home to many crocodiles and migratory birds.

One of the largest rivers in Ethiopia, the Omo, flows into Lake Turkana.. In 1980, the lower course of the Omo River was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List, as the oldest remains of the first people of the genus “Homo” were found here, about 1.95 million years old. For such a long stay of a person in these places, many ethnic groups have formed, each of which has a unique culture and way of life. The Bame, Konso, Gelebe, Bodi, Mursi, Surma, Arbor, Karo, Hamer and many others tribes live in the Omo Valley. The main occupations of the locals are agriculture and fishing. The most popular tribes among tourists are Mursi, Surma and Hamer. Representatives of these tribes paint their bodies with clay and vegetable juice, and also decorate their bodies with scarring. Women of the Mursi and Surma tribes, with the onset of puberty, cut their lower lip and hang a load on it, then clay plates are inserted into the lip, and the diameter of the plates increases every year. Of interest are the annual ritual fights “donga”, which are arranged by the Mursi and Surma tribes. Fights take place on long wooden spears between residents of different villages. The Hamer tribes are known for their marriage ceremonies.

In addition, the Omo River is a great place for safari and rafting. Safaris are arranged in two national parks, which are located on both banks of the Omo River. Mago National Park covers an area of 2162 sq. km on the east coast of Omo, Omo National Park – an area of ​​4068 sq. km on the west bank of the Omo. Savannahs, giraffes, elephants, kudu and a variety of birds live here. Sometimes there are lions, leopards and desert zebras.

In the western part of Ethiopia, near the border with Sudan, in the valley of the Baro River near the city of Gambala , the Gambala National Park is located.. The area of ​​the park is 5060 sq. km. These places are occupied by meadows and wetlands. It was for the protection of vast wetlands and their inhabitants that Gambela Park was created. It is worth noting that Gambala National Park is the most unpopular among tourists, as there is a risk of malaria infection and the park is one of the least developed in the country.

What to See in Ethiopia