Ethiopia is packed full of highlights and for the intrepid traveller willing to put up with a little hardship in terms of long driving distances and older style accommodation the rewards are phenomenal and totally unique. The country oozes with history and has an extraordinary array of UNESCO World Heritage sites - Gondar, Axum, Lalibela to name just a few. In terms of wildlife and birding Ethiopia also excells boasting emdemic species such as the Simien Wolf found mostly in the Bale Mountains and the wonderful Gelada Baboon which can easily be seen in the Simien Mountains. Ethiopia has a stunning 800+ species of birds making it a key briding destination in Africa. To combine this level of history, culture, wildlife, birding and simply beautiful scenery all in one country is rare indeed!
Addis Ababa - the starting point and capital city - has world class hotels to start and finnish your journey and a number of attractions well worth seeing.
The National Museum has many archaeological and historical exhibits and a visit to the Ethnological museum showcases the countries historical and cultural heritages. Trinty Cathedral is in baroque style and is unique to both Ethiopia and Arica. Merkato is the largest open air market in East Africa.
The north of Ethiopia is accessible via a good network of local flights. You can visit the monasteries on and around Lake Tana, the Imperial Castle compound of Gondar - a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the 12th centurary rock-hewn churches of Lalibela and visit Axum - the earliest capital of Ethiopia with it's amazing historical sites. Visit the Simian Mountains National Park to see the endemic Gelada baboons and wonderful mountainous scenery.
The south of Ethiopia is equally as stunning. Drive through the Ethiopian part of the Great Rift Valley, visit the many different cultures and tribes of the Omo Valley and enjoy the bird and wildlife of the Bale Mountains - if you are lucky you will see the endangered and endemic Ethiopian Wolf.
Ethiopia is a landlocked country situated just north of Kenya and bordering Eritrea to the north, Sudan and South Sudan to the west and Djbouti and Somalia to the east. The capital is Addis Ababa.
It is the oldest independent country in Africa and the second-oldest official Christian nation in the world after Armenia. Ethiopia is also the place for the first Hijra (615 AD) in Islamic history where the Christan king of Ethiopia accepted Muslim refugees from Mecca sent by the prophet Mohamed.
The country has a wonderful diversity of historic sites and seven of Ethiopia's cultural heritage sights are included in the world cultural heritage list:
The Simien Mountain National Park
The rock-hewn churches of Lalibel
The Castles of Gondar
Awash Lower Valley palaeontological and prehistoric sites
Axum historical and archaeological sites
Valley of the Omo, palaeontological and prehistoric sites
Tiya pre-historical and archaeological sites
Ethiopia, like other African countries, is a multi-ethnic state, inhabited by eighty-three ethnic groups, identified in the main by the number of languages (including about 200 dialects).
Within Ethiopia is a vast highland complex of mountains and dissected plateaus divided by the The Great Rift Valley, which runs southwest to northeast and is surrounded by lowlands, steppe, or semi-desert.
The great diversity of terrain determines wide variations in climate, soils, natural vegetation, and settlement patterns. Lake Tana in the north is the source of the Blue Nile.
Ethiopia has a large number of endemic mammals including the Gelada Baboon, the Walia Ibex and the Ethiopian wolf (or Simien Fox). The wide range of altitude has given the country a variety of ecologically distinct areas - this has helped to encourage the evolution of endemic species in ecological isolation.
With 14 major wildlife reserves, Ethiopia provides a microcosm of the entire sub-Saharan ecosystem. Ethiopia has become one of the main birding destinations in Africa with over 800 species of birds. A remarkable 29 are endemic – including the Spot-breasted Lapwing, Rouget`s Rail, Yellow-fronted Parrot and Black-winged Lovebird.
The Awash National Park
Awash national park is a reserve of arid and semi-arid woodland and savannah, with riverain forests along the Awash river. Forty six species of animals have been identified here, including beisa oryx and Swayne’s heartbeest.
The bird life is prolific especially along the river and in the nearby lake Basaka and there are fine endemic amongst the 392 species recorded. A special attraction is the beautiful clear pools of the Filwoha hot springs.
The Omo National Park
One of the most beautiful national parks in Ethiopia, its 4068 km of wilderness bordered by the Omo river, is home to an amazing range of wildlife. 306 species of birds have been identified here, while large herds of eland, some buffalo, elephants, giraffe, cheetah, lion and leopard, Burchell’s zebra.
The Mago National Park
Covering an area of 2162 km on the banks of the Omo River, the Mago National Park is relatively undeveloped for tourists. The broad grasslands teem with herds of buffalo, giraffe, elephants and kudu, while sometimes it is possible to find lions, leopards and Burchell’s zebra.
The abundant bird life here is typical of dry grasslands and river banks.
The predominant climate type is tropical monsoon and Ethiopa can be visited at any time of the year. The ideal time to visit Ethiopia is between October and April, when the rains are over but the countryside is still green. The rainy season normally runs from June until early October – the scenery is beautifully green in September and early October and the whole country will be a riot of wild flowers.
Tracks Safaris would be delighted to assist you to tailor make your perfect journey to Ethiopia. Take a look at some of our itineraries and call us to start planning your Ethiopian adventure on 01386 830264 or email [email protected]