Travelling in Ethiopia

Ethiopia: basic information (The Guardian)

A trip to Ethiopia is in some ways a return home. In the Rift Valley, a volcanic scar that bisects Ethiopia, hominids first walked on two feet. Probably the most famous, Lucy, or Australopithecus afarensis to give her her proper name, sits in the basement of the national museum along with several other dusty, universal relatives. Maybe that’s why Ethiopia is one of those rare countries that has something to offer almost everyone.

Ethiopia: grog and guns hail the new tribal chief Kate Bradlow attends a ceremony in Ethiopia to appoint a new village chief and is impressed when the celebrations kick up a storm.

Harar in Ethiopia

Ethiopia still has to be the most underrated country in the world in which to travel. Come for rough-and-ready bus and truck journeys, vast meals of injera bread with spicy sauces which cost pennies, and a treasure chest of historic wonders. The country has dozens of great journeys, but a trip east from Addis Ababa to Harar is the pick of the bunch.

Ethiopia is now opening its old religious treasures to tourists

The culture shock begins in Addis Ababa, a sprawling modern city that boasts the biggest street market in Africa, and whose museum houses the almost intact skeleton of one of the earliest humans who roamed this region 3.5 million years ago, named Lucy by scientists.

According to my guidebook, Addis is also the place where you are most likely to be pickpocketed in Africa, though how they worked that one out remains a mystery. A few hours to the north lies the village of Bahir Dar where I actually do get pickpocketed. In a field. Not just any field, mind. This one is full of men in white robes with burning torches, one of whom has just set alight a bonfire beneath a huge wooden cross. I’m not making this up.

Queen of Sheba

There are two versions of the legend of the Queen of Sheba – one set in Yemen and the other in Ethiopia…

Today her former capital, Axum, is little more than a village, a sleepy jumble of whitewashed lean-to houses and small, half-built tourist hotels in northern Ethiopia. In one of the numerous roadside bars, armed with a cold, locally brewed beer, there is no shortage of people eager to practise their English and tell me more about the Queen of Sheba.

Ethiopia Travel Information and Travel Guide

Wade through incense into a medieval world hewn from stone in Lalibela, and watch the line between past and present blur while taking part in striking Christian ceremonies that haven’t changed in 1000 years. Ethiopia’s storied and sovereign history has left its wide-ranging and fertile highlands laden with historical treasures, ranging from the ancient tombs and obelisks of Aksum to 17th-century castles and burnt-out Russian tanks.

Ethiopian Tourism Commission. Official site with photos and useful information.

Cultural Traditions and Religions of Ethiopia. Pictures and text.

A good source of further information is Rainbow Tours (020 7226 1004; is one of the best UK-based tour companies and can put together Ethiopian itineraries

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