With intoxicating names such as the Queen of Sheba and the King of Lalibela; a land full of timeless legends; ancient medieval castles; the source of the Blue Nile and breath-taking scenery ... it is impossible not to fall under the spell of Ethiopia.
Ethiopia is in a league of its own, so utterly contrasting to its neighbouring countries, it is almost of another world. Remaining the only country in Africa to have resisted colonisation, it has maintained its own sense of identity, adding to its allure.
Ethiopia’s uniqueness comes from its history and culture. Formally known as Abyssinia, it boasts one of the richest histories on the African continent, dating back some 3000 years, and is one of the oldest locations of human life known to scientists. Its landscape is a treasure trove filled with plenty of visual reminders of this ancient civilisation. From the Rock hewn churches of Lalibela, the island monasteries on Lake Tana filled with religious art, and the palaces of Gondar, many of which carry the
UNESCO world heritage stamp. When all linked together help to create a fascinating historical tour and with over 80 different tribes it adds a wonderful cultural diversity to your travels.
Ethiopia also offers some breath-taking landscapes and scenery and for those interested in stretching the legs there are fabulous hiking and trekking opportunities. Known as the 'Chess board of Africa', the Simian Mountains in the north works well as an add-on to a historical tour. By no means a wildlife destination, there are however a few endemic species to the area, that all help to enrich your experience, such as the gelada baboons and the Ethiopian wolf. A truly distinctive country in Africa.
Time difference: + 3 hrs GMT
British and North American passport holders will require a visa to enter. This can easily be purchased on arrival or prior to departure from your nearest embassy.
HealthYou are advised to take anti-malaria pills for your trip if you are visiting areas below 2000m. Addis Ababa and parts of the north are in the highlands and therefore the risk is very low. No specific shots are required to enter. But we do recommend you visit a travel health clinic prior to departure to make sure your standard travel vaccinations are up to date.
LanguageThere are over 90 languages spoken, however the official language is Amharic. English is widely spoken in all the tourist areas.
How to get aroundWe usually incorporate a mixture of scheduled flights and road transfers where appropriate. It is also possible to do helicopter safaris, allowing you to access very remote areas. We do not recommend self driving.
How to get thereThere are direct flights to Addis Ababa from London Heathrow. Alternatively, you can fly via Nairobi (one of Africa’s major hubs) and then onto Addis Ababa.
Who does it suit?Ethiopia is not a safari destination. It is very much a cultural tour rather than a relaxing getaway. Accommodation is still fairly basic, so it can be quite a challenging country to visit and not necessarily for the first time visitor to Africa.
When to go
Ethiopia is best enjoyed in the 'dry months' between September - March, with trekking in the Simien Mountains being particular good in October. For those wanting to incorporate some of the south, then we would recommend from November onwards.
Good to combine with
Ethiopia is a great destination on its own. For those looking to add some R&R at the end, then it combines well with the Kenyan coast, Zanzibar or the Seychelles.