Ethiopia Travel: Enjoy African Cultural and Adventure Safaris

Ethiopia, located in Eastern Africa, is the oldest independent nation in Sub Sahara Africa. The country has very magnificent landscapes ranging from desert landscapes to mountain forests. The landlocked Ethiopia is bordered by Kenya on the South, Somalia and Djibouti on the East, Eritrea on the Northeast, and Sudan on the West. Ethiopia occupies an area of over 1,000,000 sq km, approximately five times the size of the United Kingdom.

Bole International airport is the main point of entry for international travellers to Ethiopia. Located in Ethiopia’s capital city, Addis Ababa, this airport is the fifth busiest in Africa. The airport is the home of Ethiopian Airlines, Africa’s pioneering airline that currently operates flights between Ethiopia and 48 other travel destinations in the world. Addis Ababa has a population of over 2 million people. The city is nestled at the bottom of the 3000 metres Entoto Mountains, presenting a pleasant landscape of wooded hillsides and gullies occupied by fast flowing streams.

Some of the most amazing scenic sites in Africa are found in Ethiopia. These include the Danakil depression and the jaggedly curved Simien mountains, which are a UNESCO world heritage site. The Danakil depression lies at 120 metres below sea level, making them one of the lowest dry land points on planet earth.

Ethiopia has more than twenty mountains towering more than 4,000 m high, led by Mount Ras Deshen that rises 4,620 m high. Ras Deshen is the fourth tallest mountain in Africa. Ethiopia is often referred to as the ?water tower? of eastern Africa because of the many rivers that pour off its high tableland. Some of the major rivers of Ethiopia include the Blue Nile, Omo River, Baro River and Awash River.

The Blue Nile originates from Lake Tana in Ethiopia and constitutes aprroximately 80% of the water volume of the Great Nile River. The Blue Nile merges with the White Nile (whose origin is Lake Victoria) at Khartoum in Sudan, to form River Nile, the world’s longest river. Along the Blue Nile route, the Blue Nile Falls is one of the most popular tourist destination in Ethiopia. The falls are located 30 km to the east of Bahir Dar, about a 30 minutes walking distance from Tiss Abey.

Located about 560 km from Addis Ababa, Lake Tana is the largest lake in Ethiopia. The lake has 37 islands some of which harbor churches and monasteries. These buildings carry beautiful murals and paintings, remains of emperors, church crosses, icons, manuscripts, crowns and other articles of historical and cultural significance.

Among the activities you can enjoy while on an Ethiopia vacation, mountain trekking is perhaps the most popular. Both Simien and Bale mountains national parks provide good conditions for trekking as well as some excellent spots for mountain climbing. The highland regions to the east and the west of the Omo valley are the other increasingly famous areas for trekkers.

Another popular tourist attraction in Ethiopia is birdwatching. Ethiopia has over 800 bird species, 16 of which are endemic. You can spot a wider variety of bird species in the national parks owing to reduced human interference there. In Bale national park alone, a record 161 species of birds have been observed. The best time for birdwatching falls between early September and February. During this time, especially from November, many migratory birds flock into the region, significantly increasing the bird population and widening the bird species diversity.

Ethiopia was formerly known as Abyssinia. The nation has a rich cultural and traditional heritage, with over 80 ethnic groups each with unique traditional customs, culture and language. Religion is a core part of the Ethiopian culture, especially the many religious festivals and celebrations.

There are plenty of international hotels offering excellent accommodation for visitors, among them the Sheraton, Hilton, Dagim Millennium Hotel, Adot-Tina Hotel and others. Entry to Ethiopia requires a one-month visa going for US$ 20 at airport. Prior to entry, visitors should be in possession of a valid health certificate for yellow fever. Vaccination against cholera is also required for any person who has visited or transited a cholera-infected area within six days prior to arrival in Ethiopia.

Andrew Muigai is the MD of Africapoint.com, a travel agency that provides Ethiopia travel services such as Ethiopian hotel and lodges reservations, Ethiopia vacation packages, plus many others

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