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Ethiopia Travel Guide
Last Updated: May 2020
As the birthplace of humanity, Ethiopia is teeming with ancient history, culture, and beauty that leave its visitors in awe. From the astonishing landscapes in the Simien Mountains National Park, to the impressive rock-hewn churches of Lalibela, and the ancient civilization of Axum, Ethiopia has no shortage of extraordinary places to visit. In fact, Ethiopia is home to the most UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Africa. If you're ready to embark on an unforgettable adventure, then check out our travel tips for Ethiopia.
History of Ethiopia
Archaeological remains date back to more than 4 million years old, placing the emergence of Homo Sapiens here in Ethiopia. Lucy, the most famous hominid, was discovered in the Awash Valley of Ethiopia.
In 100 AD, the Ethiopian monarchy was founded by the Queen of Sheba and her son, Menelik I. This royal family ruled until 1974 with the deposition of Haile Selassie I.
In 301 AD, Ethiopia became the second country in the world to officially adopt Christianity. Ancient rock-hewn churches dating back several centuries can still be found throughout the country.
Addis Ababa is the capital of Ethiopia. Visit the National Museum of Ethiopia where the Lucy skeleton is located, along with many other fossils and archaeological finds. Take part in a traditional coffee ceremony, explore the bustling Addis Mercato, and dine at one of the incredible restaurants.
Lalibela is home to the exceptional rock-hewn churches dating back to the 12th and 13th centuries. These stunning temples were carved directly from the rock and are still an active religious site. Amble through the gorgeous structures, gaze at the marvelous architecture, and watch the holy men perform their daily rituals.
Further north, visit the ancient city of Aksum, the original capital of the Ethiopian empire. Aksum is the oldest, continuously inhabited, city in Africa dating back to the first century AD. Explore the enormous obelisks, massive stelae, and underground royal tombs that still remain there to this day. According to tradition, the Ark of the Covenant is said to be preserved in a church in Aksum.
For more ideas, check out our Best Places to Visit in Ethiopia list for our full list of favorite places!
How to Discover Ethiopia
The best time to visit Ethiopia is generally from October to February, when the climate is dry and sunny. However, nighttime temperatures can drop quickly, so it’s important to pack layers. The wet season lasts from June to September, so it is best to avoid this time. One of the best ways to see Ethiopia is by taking a road trip to the many different parts of the country. You can hire a tour or a guide to take you around. There is so much to see in just one trip!
Before You Start Planning
Traveling to Ethiopia is such an exciting adventure. However, before you start planning you need to do your research about important matters, such as visa and vaccination requirements. For vaccinations, make sure you are up to date on routine vaccinations as well as Hepatitis, Yellow Fever, and Typhoid; these diseases are quite rare in Ethiopia but can be very dangerous if contracted. You can make an appointment at a travel clinic and they will have all the information you need to know. As for the visa requirements, your passport needs to be for at least 6 months from the date you will enter Ethiopia and you will need a tourist visa. The process is quite simple and can be done online. The cost is around $50 for 30 days. Some countries are allowed to receive a visa on-arrival, but you will need to show a valid residence document. Visit the Ethiopian government website for more information.
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