ETHIOPIA

A fabled land

Where the diverse meets the divine

An overview

Luxury Ethiopia holidays and Ethiopia safari tours are for people seeking something different, memorable and truly rewarding.

With no fewer than nine UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Ethiopia is steeped in culture and impressive history. It practically sags under the weight of its cultural treasures, including the UNESCO World Heritage site, Lalibela, with its incredible rock-hewn churches; the city of Axum, one of the oldest continuously inhabited places in Africa; and the unchanged tribes of the Omo River region in the deep south. Ethiopia was one of the first countries to officially adopt Christianity as its religion back in the 4th century, and it’s awash with fascinating religious history and Orthodox Christian churches.

It’s also full of natural wonders. Ethiopia’s diverse landscapes will take you by surprise, from deep river gorges, vertiginous canyons and waterfalls to volcanic depressions, forests, arid deserts and even the source of the Blue Nile. This is a country where you can trek more than 3,000m above sea level, in the Simien and Bale mountains, or visit one of the lowest – and hottest – places on Earth, the Danakil Depression. There’s also incredibly underrated wildlife, including rare and endemic species such as the Ethiopian wolf, the gelada monkey and the walia ibex, plus some of the best birdwatching in Africa.

This vast country is rife with ancient culture and legends – the Queen of Sheba and the Ark of the Covenant to name but two. It’s known for its outstanding coffee, and as a haven for vegetarians thanks to delicious and healthy home-grown cuisine. Ethiopia is also the birthplace of the Rastafarian movement – nope, it wasn’t Jamaica! Rastas regard Ethiopia as their homeland and accord central importance to Emperor Haile Selassie 1, the country’s leader from 1930 to 1974. In the Amharic language, “Ras” is a title, such as chief, and “Tafari” was his first name. Still not convinced? Take a look at the colours on the Ethiopian flag!

Historically fascinating, culturally diverse and naturally spectacular, an Ethiopia holiday might not be the first place you think about when considering a holiday to Africa, but it’s an experience you’ll treasure forever.

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About Ethiopia

Ethiopia is a landlocked country on the Horn of Africa, in the east of the continent. Bordered by Djibouti, Eritrea, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, and Somaliland (Somalia), it covers an area about twice the size of France. This is Africa’s most populous landlocked country and Africa’s second-most populous nation, second only to Nigeria.

The history of the country is one of Africa’s most fascinating. From its time as a rich and powerful kingdom called Abyssinia to being one of the first countries to adopt Christianity, according to legend it’s been home to both the Queen of Sheba and the Ark of the Covenant. It’s the only African country to have escaped European colonialism, thereby retaining much of its cultural identity. There are more than 80 languages spoken in Ethiopia: the official one is Amharic. As tourism is still in its infancy in this intriguing country, expect holidays to be exciting and adventure-filled; comfortable but not OTT in the luxury stakes.

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An Ethiopia safari holiday can be enjoyed throughout the year, the most popular months being October through to January. The climate varies wildly due to the vast geographic differences. Bale mountain peaks receive snowfall while the Danakil Desert can have daytime temperatures of 50C and higher. The main impact of weather on travel is South Omo during rainy season, when it’s almost inaccessible. Rains usually fall in April and May, with shorter rains in October.

Ethiopia travel information

Australian tourists need a visa in order to enter Ethiopia and can apply for a single-entry tourist visa for either 30 or 90 days. Australians can apply online for a visa, and are also eligible to request a visa on arrival. However, this is only possible if you’re entering the country at Bole International Airport, and travellers are encouraged to submit an Ethiopia visa application online ahead of their journey to ensure they’re authorised to enter the country. Travellers who intend to travel to Ethiopia with an eVisa are only allowed entry via Addis Ababa Bole International Airport. It isn’t possible to enter Ethiopia with the eVisa through any other ports. You’ll also need a valid passport with two blank pages and six months’ validity from the date you arrive in Ethiopia. The local currency is the Ethiopian Birr (ETB), which is divided into 100 cents. As with many African countries the US dollar is the preferred foreign currency in Ethiopia although the euro is also very easy to exchange. Try to bring US dollar notes (especially US$100) that date from 2006; earlier notes may not be accepted at banks. You’ll only find ATMs in major towns and not many places accept credit cards, so be sure to bring US dollars in cash and have multiple ways to access money.

A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required for anyone travelling to Ethiopia. You may be denied entry into Ethiopia if you don’t have this proof of vaccination, so please carry your certificate with you and present to immigration. Depending on where you’ve travelled from, cholera vaccination may also be required. Consult your GP or a travel doctor at least six weeks before you travel regarding health precautions and immunisations for travel in Ethiopia, and to check all your other vaccinations are up to date. Parts of Ethiopia are at high altitudes. Altitude sickness can affect anyone, even healthy people. If you get severe altitude sickness, get to lower ground as soon as possible. Please also note that parts of Ethiopia use different calendars and time measurements (the uniquely Ethiopian calendar has 13 months in the year). To avoid confusion, always check bookings and appointments. For more inspiration about where to go and what to see when you’re visiting this incredible country, click on the buttons on the adjacent map.

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