Considered by some to be the ‘next big thing’ in African tourism, Ethiopia in the Horn of Africa is an awe-inspiring country of vast landscapes, a rich archaeological and cultural history, nine UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and fascinating indigenous tribes. It is also thought by many to be the ‘Cradle of Humankind’, where homo sapiens first appeared about 200,000 years ago.
Ethiopia: what to see
Forming part of the Ethiopian Highlands, the Simien Mountains National Park is an area of dramatic and astounding natural beauty and home to an array of unique species found nowhere else, including gelada monkeys. In the foothills of the Simien Mountains lies the ancient royal town of Gondar with its six fairytale castles including Fasilida’s Castle.
Other must-sees include Lalibela, a pilgrimage site famed for its ancient 12th/13th century Christian churches cut out of stone cliffs by the finest craftsmen of the time, the walled city of Harar, the sulphur fumaroles of the Danakil Depression and Aksum, the ruins of an ancient city with obelisks, tombs, castles and Our Lady Mary of Zion church.
Ethiopia’s ancient tribes include the Bodi, whose men live on a diet of blood and milk in an attempt to become the region’s fattest man, and the Hamar, whose men and women have intricate designs carved into their skin with thorns, and whose bull-jumping ceremony is a rite of passage for young men of the tribe.