Ethiopia offers plenty by way of adventure. From deserts and volcanoes to high mountains and jungles... from trekking with camels and sleeping out under the stars to remote mountain camps and close wildlife encounters. Whatever your idea of adventure, Ethiopia is sure to have something to excite your imagination. Ethiopia boasts a wealth of both natural and historical treasures. This tour starts with a trip to Bahir Dar, where you'll visit the Blue Nile Falls and take a cruise on Lake Tana. From Bahir Dar, the tour continues Gondar, where you can explore the Royal Enclosure, and the ruined fairy-tale castles which have earned it the name 'African Camelot'. Heading north-east, you'll then visit the Simien Mountains National Park, famous for far-reaching views and rare wildlife species. The Simien Mountains National Park, designated as a UNESCO world heritage site, contains many summits over 4000m and is known for its stunning scenery. Erosion of basalt lavas has created the dramatic escarpments and freestanding pinnacles that are characteristic of the Simien Mountains range and which are comparable in terms of spectacle to the Grand Canyon.The journey will take you through a scenic land of natural wonders and rare wildlife, including the Ethiopian wolf, the strikingly-maned Gelada baboon and the majestic lammergeier or bearded vulture. Trekking through several villages, notable for their carefully tended farmland and friendly people, the walk reaches its climax at the summit of Ras Deshen (4543m), where the views extend northwards to Eritrea.
The name "Ethiopia" derives from the Greek ethio , meaning "burned" and pia , meaning "face": the land of burned-faced peoples. Aeschylus described Ethiopia as a "land far off, a nation of black men." Homer depicted Ethiopians as pious and favored by the gods. These conceptions of Ethiopia were geographically vague.
In the late nineteenth century, Emperor Menelik II expanded the country's borders to their present configuration. In March 1896, Italian troops attempted to enter Ethiopia forcibly and were routed by Emperor Menelik and his army. The battle of Adwa was the only victory of an African army over a European army during the partitioning of Africa which preserved the country's independence. Ethiopia is the only African country never to have been colonized, although an Italian occupation occurred from 1936 to 1941.
The culture of Ethiopia is diverse and generally structured along ethnolinguistic lines. The country's Afro-Asiatic-speaking majority adhere to an amalgamation of traditions that were developed independently and through interaction with neighbouring and far away civilizations, including other parts of Northeast Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, India, Indonesia, Italy and Malaysia. By contrast, the nation's Nilotic communities and other ethnolinguistic minorities tend to practice customs more closely linked with South Sudan and/or the African Great Lakes region.
Ethiopia represents a remarkable mosaic of humanity. The latest census lists 94 different ethnic groups, speaking over 70 languages between them, with representatives of the Semitic, Cushtic, Omotic and Nilo-Saharan language families.
The largest diversity of ethnic groups is in the south, particularly in the Lower Rift Valley and the South Omo Valley. Here, in these isolated regions, the tribes had little contact, even with the rest of Ethiopia, until the past few decades. The groups have maintained unique traditions, seen today in their rituals, dances, crafts, foods, and adornments.
Ethiopia is a country of exceptional interest to educational and specialist groups. A tally of nine UNESCO World Heritage Sites, more than any other country in Africa, underlines its remarkable wealth of fascinating and often unique cultural, historical, ethnographic and palaeontological sites. Ethiopia also offers rich pickings to natural history students, thanks to the presence of many endemic and near-endemic species including Africa’s only indigenous wolf and goat.
Historic and cultural circuits incorporate the 3,000-year-old city of Aksum, the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela, and walled Islamic city of Harar.
Some of the world’s oldest and holiest religious sites, including several churches founded in the 4th to 6th century AD, and the oldest mosque site in Sub-Saharan Africa.
An ethnographic diversity ranging from the Semitic-speaking Amhara and Tigray people of the northern highlands to the pastoralist Afar of the Danakil and the rich mosaic of traditional beliefs that inhabit South Omo.
Archaeological sites include ancient palaces and pools associated with the Queen of Sheba, the towering 2,800-year-old temple at Yeha, and the world’s tallest field of stelae (obelisks) in Aksum.
Ethiopia’s unique wealth of palaeontological sites, including fossils dating back more than 5 million years, makes it the leading contender for the Cradle of Humankind.
The world’s oldest active lava lake, the ancient white salt flats of the Danakil, mysterious crater lakes, Africa’s deepest riverine gorge and the craggy peaks of the upper Simien are among the landscapes and features that make Ethiopia fascinating to geologists.
Endemic mammals such as the Ethiopian wolf and gelada baboon can be seen alongside a full 18 bird species of bird found nowhere else in the world, and a similar number shared only with Eritrea.
The western highlands of Ethiopia are the original home of coffee, which still grows wild in the forest undergrowth.
An ancient tradition of hand-woven cotton and other textiles is exemplified by the skilled Dorze weavers of the southern highlands
Ranging from contemporary Ethio-jazz and funky Ethio-pop to the time-honoured blues performed by traditional azmari, Ethiopia has one of the most unique and liveliest music scenes in Africa.