At the heart of the attractions of Ethiopia lies its cultural diversity reflected in the diverse way of life, housing, religious practice, ritual, costume, body decoration and cuisine. The Omo Valley stands out as the most diverse and colourful part of Ethiopia. Meeting the people of the Omo Valley and attending the Hamers’ cattle jumping ceremony is a once in a life time experience. The Omo Valley is also the home of the legendary Mursi people where the women decorate themselves with clay lip plates.
Being the land of one of the oldest Christian traditions on earth, Ethiopia boasts numerous ancient churches and monasteries. At the top of the list come the rock churches of Lalibela. In no other part of the world can one see such refined monolithic churches. The largest of them is, in fact, the largest rock hewn church in the world. It is also in Lalibela we get the most photographed church in Ethiopia, the cruciform Bete Gyorgis. For art lovers Ethiopia offers beautifully painted churches in the Tigray, Gondar and Lake Tana regions.
Attending the Ethiopian Orthodox Church’s religious festivals like Timqet (Baptism) and Mesqel (commemoration of the finding of the True Cross) which attract thousands of believers are very moving experiences for a visitor.
Ethiopia is one of the countries where Islam found a home in its early days. The walled city of Harar in eastern Ethiopia claims to be one of the earliest Muslim cities in the world. Walking in the narrow alleyways of the old city of Harar is to walk back in time.
Concerning the natural fauna and flora of the country, it is essential to travel to the Bale and Simen Mountains of Ethiopia to see Ethiopia’s indigenous mammals including the Ethiopian Wolf, Mountain Nyala, Walya Ibex and Gelada Baboon (Mountain Monkey). For the serious bird watcher a tour in Ethiopia is a must as this country boasts more than 900 species of which nearly 20 are indigenous. The Denakil Depression, where we have one of the lowest places on earth and a permanent lava lake, is one of the natural wonders of Ethiopia; this must represent a “once in a life time” experience.