Nicknamed ‘The Cradle of Civilization’ Ethiopia is a country with a marvelous past and an extraordinary present. Home to ancient cultures that have left lasting monuments, a rich tribal culture, and the majestic Blue Nile. Stunning green forests with wild animals and waterfalls. Ethiopia is a remarkable country that never fails to impress.
Guide to exploring Ethiopia
Things to do
One of the hottest places on earth, the Danakil Depression is known for its large number of multicolored landscapes that look eerily similar to an alien planet. It’s also home to the magnificent Erta Ale, locally known as the ‘gateway to hell’, an active volcano with a bubbling lava lake.
Blue Nile Falls
Locally known as Tis Isat Falls or ‘Smoke Water’, the Blue Nile Falls is a spectacular waterfall located amongst a lush Eden-like forest. The waterfall cascades into a lake producing a fine mist that looks like smoke rising up which led to the locals naming it Smoke Water.
Simien Mountains National Park
Deep in the highlands of Northern Ethiopia is the stunning ‘Roof of Africa’ Simien Mountain National Park. The jaw-dropping cliffs, deep canyons, and jagged mountains are home to a large number of endangered species like the Gelada baboon, the Simien fox, and the Walia ibex (a species indigenous to Ethiopia).
The fourth holiest city in Islam and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Harar Jugol is home to over 100 mosques and shrines. This ancient walled city is famous for its centuries-old houses and winding alleyways. The city is also known for its hyena feeding site just outside the city wall where citizens feed hundreds of hyenas.
Nestled in the foothills of the Simien Mountains is the ‘Camelot of Africa’, Gondar. A historic city that was once the capital and home to Ethiopia’s royal family. The city houses the well-preserved Royal Enclosure or Fasil Ghebbi, a site known for its large number of palaces built by Ethiopia’s most powerful families.
The ancient city of Aksum was once the stronghold of the powerful Aksumite Kingdom. The city still holds a key to the rich history of Ethiopia. A variety of royal tombs, palace ruins, and the famous Aksum Obelisks lies here.
Sheraton Addis, a Luxury Collection Hotel
Located on a hill overlooking the city of Addis Ababa, Sheraton Addis is a stunning hotel that mixes African culture with modern luxuries. Experience the epitome of luxurious living in Ethiopia with 24/7 service, private pools, gourmet restaurants, and a tranquil spa.
Bale Mountain Lodge
Bale Mountain Lodge is a stunning boutique hotel tucked deep inside a lush national park. Wake up to stunning views and a variety of wildlife at your doorstep. You can choose to stay in the treehouse which provides views of the entire national park.
Getfam Hotel is a peaceful and comfortable hotel in the heart of Addis Ababa. It has over 200 rooms, an indoor pool, a gym, and a spa. The award-winning in-house restaurant serves up delicious local and international cuisine.
Mayleko Lodge is a tranquil resort located in the middle of a field in Africa’s Camelot, Gondar. This resort offers Ethiopian style huts that come fully equipped making it the perfect getaway place.
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Kategna is one of the best restaurants in Addis Ababa. Popular with both locals and tourists alike. It serves a wide variety of authentic Ethiopian cuisine. Some of its most popular dishes include injera, a local flatbread, and the vegetarian beyaynetu, a huge platter of injera topped with a variety of stews and curries.
Yod Abyssinia is a restaurant well known for its dramatic live cultural performances every night. But its food is not to be missed. The restaurant serves over 40 Ethiopian dishes including a delicious mutton curry cooked in spices and seasoned butter and kitfo a traditional minced beef curry.
Grand restaurant is a hidden gem. Though it’s not much to look at from the outside, the interior is cozy and the food is delicious. The restaurant offers amazing injera, shiro wat (a chickpea stew), and salata (a European style salad).
When in Ethiopia one thing you cannot miss is having a taste of Ethiopia’s famous coffee. And what better place to have it other than Tomoca, a popular coffee shop. It serves some of the best coffee in the country. Don’t forget to try the Ethiopian version of a macchiato.
Bahir Dar Market
The Bahir Dar market is one of the busiest markets in Ethiopia. It becomes especially busy on Saturdays when vendors from around the country descend on the market to sell their products. You’ll find a variety of vegetables and spices that can be found only in Africa. The market is also famous for its crafts, clothes, and jewelry.
The biggest outdoor market in Africa, Addis Mercato is an experience in itself. The bustling narrow streets are packed with vendors selling all kinds of things from coffee to special Ethiopian spices to pottery and even cans of petrol.
If handicrafts are what you’re searching for, head to Salem Ethiopia in downtown Addis Ababa. The market has a huge selection of authentic handmade cotton clothes, baskets, pottery, and jewelry made by local craftsmen.
Taxis are one of the best ways to get around. There are two types of taxis: the yellow taxis which are metered and the blue taxis which are unmetered and older. The yellow taxis are preferred by tourists and blue taxis by locals.
Bajaj, similar to the tuk-tuks of Thailand or auto-rickshaws of India, are three-wheeler taxis found in almost every city in Ethiopia. They are a cheap and quick way to get around within the city limits.
Buses are the main form of transport in Ethiopia. There are a large number of buses that run daily from city to city. Skybus and Selam are two of the best bus companies that operate from Addis Ababa to a few other major cities around the country.
Minibus run like taxis and are a cheap and fast way to get around different cities but the routes are often unpredictable.
With so much to see, do, and eat, it is no wonder that Ethiopia is one of the most charming destinations in the world. Pack your bags cause it’s time to fly away and make memories that will last a lifetime.