Ethiopia has in the past conjured up images of drought, famine and war. It is a very different country today, where good relations with its neighbours and government and international investment have transformed it into one of the fastest growing economies in Africa. This is gradually opening it up to tourists, who can now explore the country thanks to new lodges and hotels, and a reliable domestic airline linking the main towns of Northern Ethiopia.
Despite growing development, Ethiopia boasts many experiences that feel truly timeless. The north is home to an abundance of historical monuments, many of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including the island monasteries of Lake Tana, the obelisks of Axum and the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela. It is fascinating learning about the history of the Queen of Sheba and the Ark of the Covenant in its secret Axum location.
Religion and tradition play an important role in daily life here. Ethiopia is predominantly a Christian country with a 40% Muslim population and the harmony between both religions is evident. Wherever you are, the courtesy and friendliness of the people is overwhelming – be it observing a coffee making ceremony or watching the traditional “injera” bread being made.
While not an obvious choice for a safari, you'll be surprised by the number of rare, endemic species to be seen. You could hike in the Simien Highlands, home to the last population of Walia Ibex and another of Ethiopia’s wildlife treasures, the Ghelada Monkey. Or look out for the Ethiopian Wolf and Bale Monkey in the forests and plains of the Bale Mountains.
Ethiopia has it all. But be warned – you may find that one visit is just not enough.