Trip of a lifetime - Ethiopia

  • 14/11/17
  • MAP Travel

Ethiopia is truly unique and this is a true fact — historically, culturally and scenically. The food is great, the wine even better and nowhere else compares with its history. Ethiopians like to think they are different from the rest of Africa and they so are. They are the only country to have successfully fought off colonisation.

Stunning landscapes

Ethiopia is located in the Horn of Africa. It is bordered by Eritrea to the north, Somalia to the east, Sudan to the west and Kenya to the south. In addition to mountainous areas, southwestern Ethiopia has savannas and rainforests with of course the very famous Blue Nile river. There are fertile areas with beautiful lakes and valleys. The flora of Ethiopia is truly breath taking. During the rainy season (July and August) Ethiopia is green, fertile and densely vegetated and in September and October you can find innumerable species of wild flowers. In the highlands of Ethiopia there are still some unique animal species such as the Guereza Monkey and the Simien Fox. Due to the isolated location of Ethiopia, they have not mixed with other species. Also, the parks contain a huge amount of tropical birds.

Simien Mountains National Park

Ethiopian Food

Ethiopian food is one of the most exciting cuisines in the world. Not only is the food unique it is extraordinarily flavorful. The dietary traditions of Ethiopia's varied regions and cultures have created a unique cuisine. Berbere, a spicy, red pepper paste; Niter Kibbeh, a spice-infused butter; and Injera, a soft and spongy bread lightly sour flavor. Ethiopian food is eaten with friends and family and is served on a communal platter and is designed for sharing food with each other. Ethiopians do not eat alone – food is for sharing!

Flavorful dish spiced with Ethiopian Berbere

Religion

Ethiopia’s offers a fascinating mix of religious sites. Most Ethiopians are Christian and the country has one of the oldest Christian histories on earth, though Islam predominates among certain ethnic groups along the Sudanese and Somalian borders, Ethiopia is a predominantly Christian country and the majority of Christians are Orthodox Tewahedo Christians, who belong to the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church. Islam is the second largest religion in Ethiopia with roughly one third of the population as followers. Whilst certain regions are predominantly either Islam or Christian, Muslims generally live peaceably alongside Christians throughout the country. Christianity came to the country at the beginning of the 4th century AD. A boat sailing from Tyre to Ethiopia stopped at a Red Sea port where the locals massacred all the men on board except for two brothers, Fromentius and Edesius. It was to be these two brothers, who were taken to Axum as slaves, and eventually converted the King, Ezena to Christianity. Fromentius took the lead role and became the first Bishop of Ethiopia.

The small town of Lalibela is home to one of the world’s most sacred sites with 11 rock-hewn monolithic churches, each carved from a single block of granite back in the late 12th– or early 13th-century. The structures are noted for their artistic splendour, and each has a distinctive architectural design.


Religious festivals

Festivals in Ethiopia are an important part of daily life. Here are the biggest religious ceremonies held throughout the year: Genna — equivalent to the Ethiopian Christmas, which falls on 7th January, marks the end of a 40-day fast and is celebrated by feasting with the family. Timkat — Ethiopian Epiphany is the second biggest festival and it falls on 19th January. The tablot (replica of Ark of Covenant) is removed from every church in town and paraded around by priests dressed in colourful robes. Pilgrims represent the baptism of Jesus Christ by splashing of water. Meskel — is an annual religious holiday in the Ethiopian Orthodox and Eritrean Orthodox churches, which commemorates the discovery of the True Cross by the Roman Empress Helena (Saint Helena) in the fourth century. This is the country’s most colourful festival, celebrated by massive cross-topped bonfires, and it falls on 27 September.

Meskel — Ethiopia most colourful festival


Must visit sites

  • Gondar – Church & Castles tour
  • Simien Mountains National Park
  • Lalibela – rock hewn churches
  • Addis Ababa city tour
  • National Museum – home to “Lucy”, 3.2 million old skeleton and one of humanity’s oldest ancestors
  • Lake Tana – boat cruise
  • Bahirdar – Blue Nile Falls
  • Axum – birthplace of Ethiopian civilisation


When to travel Ethiopia

Ethiopia can be visited all year round — but the best time to visit is from mid-October to February, when the rains have subsided and the countryside is lush and green. Avoid the rainy season, which falls in the summer months (June to August).

MAP Travel offers a fully escorted 11-day tour of Ethiopia which takes in Addis Ababa city tour, National Museum, Lake Tana – boat Bahirdar, Gondar, Simien Mountains National Park, Axum, Lalibela. We are thrilled at the prospect of showing you this big blue planet of ours — check out our group tour here