Why Safari in Ethiopia?
Ethiopia is the perfect haven for those desiring to trek in dramatic mountain scenery and a chance to step into a world where it is still a novelty to be a Westerner.
Located at the north eastern corner of the African continent, in an area known as “the Horn of Africa”, Ethiopia is a land of stunning natural beauty. Its culture is ancient and glamorous, an intriguing mixture of the Middle East and African tribal civilizations.
The population of Ethiopia is estimated at 65 million inhabitants, divided into more than 80 ethnic groups, speaking a similar number of languages and many more dialects. The official language is Amharic, and many Ethiopians also speak English, Italian and Arabic.
Dominated by the central plateaux, rising to 2,000 - 3,000m above sea level, with some mountain peaks rising to 4,000m Ethiopia’s central plateaux are crossed by large numbers of rivers, of which the Blue Nile is the most prominent.
Lalibela, meaning ‘a prayer stone’, is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its extraordinary, rock-hewn subterranean medieval churches. At the end of the 12th and beginning of the 13th centuries. King Lalibela of the Zaghyou dynasty built a series of rock hewn churches - the New Jerusalem as he called it – now rightly acknowledged to be one of the wonders of the world. There are 11 churches in the town named after him, with others in the surrounding countryside and all are still in use today.
Far from being the endless desert of western myth, the southern and western highlands of Ethiopia boast the most extensive indigenous forests to be found anywhere in eastern Africa. In the Simien Mountains many endemic species flourish, including Geleda baboon, walia ibex and Simien fox.
A visit to Ethiopia would not be complete without acknowledging its ancient history and a visit to some of the historical sites is a fascinating way to combine the remote and rugged mountains with the intrigue of old times and traditional festivities.