Ethiopia, An Unlikely Adventure Travel Destination, Or Is It?

For adventure travel, Ethiopia is a great travel destination. Are you prepared for bad roads, harsh conditions, and cold nights camping out? Then be prepared for having the time of your life visiting Ethiopia!

When many people think about Ethiopia, it probably is because of yet another famine disaster that hit the region. They envision the images shown on television, of skinny children with big bellies and flies all over their faces. Sad, but this is not the only aspect of this country in the Horn of Africa.

Ethiopia is not a rich country, and the threat of famine always lingers here, especially in the dry southeastern regions. Visitors will be confronted with poor people, dressed in worn clothes and begging for money if they are familiar with tourists.

In fact, Ethiopia has a lot of interesting places, and makes a fantastic destination for adventure travel.

Flying in to Addis Ababa, get set for your first surprise: you can see clearly how the capital of Ethiopia is located on a highland plateau, surrounded by a landscape of canyons and mountains. At 2000 meters, the climate is therefore not as hot as you would expect it to be.

Addis is just another big African city, but as you move away from the city, you will be surrounded by great landscapes and views of the highlands.

Blue Nile Falls

Further north in these highlands lies the origin of the Nile, often searched for by Livingstone and other explorers. The stretch of Nile in Ethiopia is called Blue Nile, and along its way are the beautiful Blue Nile Gorge, the magnificent Blue Nile Falls, and Bahir Dar at Lake Tana, an ideal place to relax on a campsite.

On the islands in Lake Tana, you will find the first signs of the rich Coptic Christian heritage in Ethiopia. Churches with typical Ethiopian Coptic art and relics are hidden in the forests of the islands. And if you think these are interesting, move up north, to the true religious historic treasures of Ethiopia.

Visit the historic town of Aksum, with its stelae and the famous obelisk returned by Italy in 2005. The castle ruins in the old Royal city of Gondar are also worth seeing. But especially wonder at the rock hewn churches of Lalibela.

Lalibela

The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Lalibela features 11 monolithic churches, hewn from the rocks over 500 years ago. The massive structures are only second to the famous structures in Jordan’s Petra. But Lalibela is still a holy site, and the priests, ceremonies and pilgrims here are as interesting as the churches themselves.

Ancient African Tribes

Southwest of Addis Ababa is the descent from the highlands into the Omo Valley. This remote region is difficult to reach, partly the reason why some of the most ancient African tribes are still living their traditional lives here.

The town of Jinka is the center from which to explore and visit the villages of the Dorse, Aari, Bana, Hamer, and Mursi tribes. The primitive Mursi tribe are now familiar with tourists, for which they insert their famous lip plates. But the more you move away from the town, the more chance of meeting individuals who may have never met white people before.

Other Ethiopian adventure travel highlights to enjoy are:

  • the historic muslim city of Harar in the East
  • spotting rare wildlife species in the Simien mountains of the North or one of the other National Parks, and
  • the relaxing lakes in the Great Rift Valley in the South

So if you’re looking for an “out of the ordinary” adventure vacation, travel to Ethiopia!