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Ethiopia has been independent for three million years; she has survived dynamic historic changes and is the birthplace of great endogenous civilizations.
Today's Ethiopia was once in control over the entire East African territory. At that time it was a world-famous influential powerhouse with absolute control over the Red Sea, Indian Ocean trade routes and South Arabian countries.
Ethiopia is a country of variety, extremes, uniqueness, freedom, colorful culture, religions, legends, natural beauty and much more. On the map of East Africa, Ethiopia is easily found in the area called the horn of Africa. Covering a total area of 1,235,000 sq. km., Ethiopia shares boundaries with Kenya, Sudan, Somalia, Djibouti and Eritrea.
Ethiopia ranks second in Africa for population size. With over 96 million people before the 2016 census takes place, Ethiopia hosts over 80 different ethnic groups, all of which speak different languages and have their own cultural codes and ways of life.

She is now the seat of African Union where a number of international and crucial meetings take place and the hub of many international flights.
The cultural difference, which is a result of immense tribal differences, can be seen among the individual tribes. Rich in culture and a variety of dialects, Ethiopia prides itself on being the only nation in Africa to have its own language (Amharic) and alphabet (Ge'ez) and National Dish, “Injera” that has been found to be gluten free with no protein.
Ethiopia was the first country to build a Christian church on African soil. Christianity crossed the border in the 4th Century AD during the time of the Axumite kingdom. Even now this church is believed to shelter the original Ark of the Covenant brought from Israel by King Menelik I of Ethiopia. It is found in the town of Axum in northern Ethiopia. In addition it is here that the famous pre-Axumite obelisks stand. It is believed that the erection of these obelisks dates back to 300-200 BC. The tallest (33m) has fallen down; the second (27m) was stolen but the third (23m) still stands. These structures are the tallest on earth to be carved out of a single rock. Most of Ethiopia's Muslims are Sunnis, members of the largest sect of Islam. Islam arrived early in Ethiopia. The Prophet himself instructed his followers to respect and protect Ethiopians when they introduced the faith. In 615, Muhammad’s wife and cousin sought refuge at Axum (Aksum) with a number of their followers. This group was fleeing from Mecca's leading tribe, the reactionary Kuraysh, who sent emissaries to bring them back to Arabia, but the Negus Negashi protected them. In the 7th century Islamism had been introduced in Ethiopia. 
An influx of immigrants and traders from Oman and Yemen during the following centuries increased the number of Muslims in Somalia, Eritrea and what is now Ethiopia. In the coastal areas, Islamic law gradually took root, and by the fourteenth century it was the basis for the official juridical code of some regions. This reflected political realities; most of the inhabitants of these eastern regions were now Muslims. Their coexistence with Christianity was not always an easy one, and the sultans who ruled over parts of Ethiopian territory sometimes came into open conflict with the Christian kings.

Ethiopia is considered to be the original home of humankind. The 1974 discovery of Lucy, locally called Dinkinesh (meaning “you are special”), claims this as true.
The 12th-century town of Lalibela, located in north-west Ethiopia, has been home to the extraordinarily carved rock-hewn churches since the reign of King Lalibela (1181-1221 AD). These eleven rock-hewn churches are sometimes referred to as the eighth wonder of the world.
Gondar, the town of castles and the 17th century Ethiopian capital, has great historical importance. It was here that King Fasiladas relocated the former capital. The best example of a medieval-period church is that of Debre Berhan Selassie, which adds to Gondar's beauty.
Southwards, the Rift Valley system is another wonderful region where many other attractions are situated. The six or seven Rift Valley crater lakes are home to a large number of bird and marine life. They are also a paradise for nature, bird and water lovers. National parks with their exotic birds, animals and plant life add to the beauty of the Rift Valley region. Beautiful landscapes and natural features are the most enjoyable components of the system. Such as the Salt lakes, active volcano sites and caravan routes still number among Ethiopia's great attractions in the Rift Valley.
Further south is the Omo Valley with its popular ethnic treasures. This is where about 50% of Ethiopia's ethnic groups live: the Konso with their terraced agriculture and rituals; the Mursi with their clay lip plates and barbarian life style; the Hamer with their bull-jumping ceremony, which young men must experience in order to qualify for adulthood; and the Karo with their body painting and adornment. Here unusual traditions such as dance, music and rituals from birth to marriage and burial are still observed in their genuine and original form.

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Simien Mountains National Park

North-West

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The Simien Mountains are one of the prominent highlands of Africa rising to the highest point of Ethiopia - Ras Dashen (4530m), which is believed to be the fourth highest peak in Africa. Though the Simien Mountains are not far from the equator, snow and ice might appear on the highest point and temperatures sometimes drop to zero or below.
The national park has three main botanical regions: the higher lands are mountain grass lands with fescue grass as well as heather trees, splendid red hot pokers (only seen from August to the end of September) and Giant Lobelia.
The park was primarily established to rescue the Walia Ibex, a species of wild goat. Some 1000 of them are said to be still living in the park and their population size is growing thanks to appropriate conservation. They are the only ones in the world and Simien Mountains NP is the only place where you could find them. Also in the park you could see a number of unique Gelada Baboons with a “bleeding heart” on the chest; and the rare simian fox can also be seen there. Over 50 species of birds have been found in the Simien Mountains.
People settled many years ago in the park and they still live there doing many different activities such as farming, animal breading and mixed farming. It is believed that they settled there in the 16th century and their origin is in the South Arabia.The traditional and cultural way of living of the local people is one of the attractions of the national park. Both Christians and Muslims live peacefully in the park and they share everything they have during public holidays as well as wedding and funeral ceremonies. This is the way they express their mutual understanding and co-existence.

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As confirmed by most of our clients, the park is a wonderful place for those committed to do real trek. Apart from the wildlife experience, the Simien Mountains provide some of the most breathtaking scenery in the world. That is probably the reason UNESCO considers it a world heritage site. It is easily accessible from the historic towns of Gondar and Axum. You can also see a number of bird species, even though it is not as rich as in the south of the country.

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Awash National Park

Central

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Awash National Park is geographically situated in the main Rift Valley system. Dominated by savannah vegetation, it is a home to various mammal and bird species.
Mammals that can be seen in the park include the lion, leopard, water buck, Anibus baboon and Colobus monkey. The Awash River crosses the park and is a home to the hippopotamus and crocodile. In the park, there can be seen a number of lowland birds such as the kingfisher, emerald spotted wood dove, secretary bird, fish eagle and tawny eagle, francolin and about 300 other species of birds.
With the main highway dissecting the northern and southern parts, Awash National Park has extra treasures to offer. The hot springs near Fentale Mountain in the northern section make an enjoyable half-day trip. The Awash River falls into the southern section of the park and is a perfectly refreshing addition to an interesting game drive through the 756sq. km. area. The Afar and Kereyu nomadic tribes are an additional sight in the park.

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Bale Mountains National Park

Central

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This park is a home to the endemic mammal species of the mountains: Nyala, Ethiopian wolf (simien fox), Menelik's bushbuck, lion, Bhor reedbuck, greater and lesser kudu, leopard, warthog, etc.
Hygiene Abyssinica and juniper trees dominate the park giving a suitable environment for birds such as thick-billed raven (endemic), Roget's rail (endemic), wattled ibis (endemic), etc. Mount Tuludimtu, the second highest peak in Ethiopia (4373m), adds to the beauty of the landscape. The mountain is surrounded by forests and escarpments, which are ideal spots for trekkers.

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Abyata-Shala Lakes National Park

Central

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This park is located about 200km south of Addis. Situated in the main Rift Valley, it has two beautiful lakes, Abyata and Shalla. The park is a home to a few mammal species and many birds. The two lakes in the park are found side by side, yet have different features. Lake Shalla is the deepest lake in the Rift Valley (260m) and Lake Abyata is the shallowest (13m). Lake Abyata is a home to enormous numbers of big game as well as nesting birds, whereas Lake Shalla is not rich in bird species. An ostrich farm is another charm in this national park and it is the only park where ostriches can be seen in large numbers.

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Nechisar National Park

South

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This park is found near the southern end of the Rift Valley system. Bordering on two beautiful Rift Valley lakes, Abaya and Chamo, it possesses extraordinary landscapes as well as exotic flora and fauna. The endemic mammal Swayne's hartebeest is found in this park. The lion, zebra, leopard, gazelle, baboon and other mammals are common there. The two lakes in the park abound in exotic marine life. Hippos and crocodiles live there in colonies.

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Omo and Mago National Park

South-West

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Located at the southernmost part of Ethiopia, Omo National Park extends along the banks of the Omo River. Unlike the other national parks, this park has a rich wild animal reserve of big game such as the elephant, buffalo, lion, cheetah, leopard, giraffe, etc. This park is also a home to the Mursi people, who are regarded as the most interesting aspect of the Omo Valley. This tribe settled by the banks of the Omo River and is famous for wearing clay lip plates. The park offers wildlife and virgin culture in one package.
Mago National Park is situated in the same corner as Omo National Park and the two are separated by the Omo River, which drains into Kenya. This park features the same wildlife as Omo National Park. However, Mago National Park is not inhabited by Omotic tribes as the Omo National Park. The two adjacent parks can be seen in the same tour package and are considered two East African treasures.

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The Rift Valley

Central

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The Rift Valley system is the only natural site that can be seen from space. Here varied plant and wildlife is scenically interspersed with glamorous bodies of water and diversified marine and bird life.
The Ethiopian Rift Valley divides Ethiopia into two almost equal parts. The Rift itself extends from Syria to Mozambique and in Ethiopia it stretches 30000km and runs from the south-eastern to the north-western tip of Ethiopia. It encompasses unique bio-diversity. The lowest point is situated in the north-east (the Danakil Depression is 116m below sea level); Ethiopia's second highest peak (Mount Tuludimtu at 4373m above sea level) is located in the south-east. Four national parks, more than six crater lakes, and rivers with breathtaking marine and bird life are found at either end. The Rift Valley is also rich in various land forms such as gorges, rolling plains, cliffs, and escarpments.
The valley is considered the cradle of humankind since it is a homeland of Lucy, a hominid fossil 3.5 million years old and the oldest hominid fossil ever found on Earth. The valley is an ideal place for those interested in culture and ethnicity. The most colorful cultures and peoples, which account for more than 50% of the total number of tribes, are found in this part of the country. Different peoples, the Mursi, Hamer, Karo, Konso, Erbore and others inhabit this area and have maintained their original culture and way of life.

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Yeha

Ethiopia's first capital

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Yeha is situated in the northern mountainous parts of the Tigray region. Although today this small settlement survives as a shanty town, it was once a site of great pre-Axumite civilization. It is believed to be Ethiopia's first capital. Yeha was first uncovered in a complex archeological excavation around a courtyard at the beginning of the 20th century. The first settlers in the area, the Sabeans, were the founders of the Axumite kingdom.
The temple of Yeha, with the wall in ruins on one side, is otherwise still unchanged and testifies to the advanced level of the people of those times. There is no trace of mortar being used to build the temple and its walls are believed to have been paved with gold on the inside.
The archeological excavations made in 1909, 1947 and 1973 reveal that this beautiful temple was destroyed by fire. Treasures such as gold rings, golden lions, stone-engraved inscriptions written in Sabean, stone-carved animals like the Walya Ibex (one of Ethiopia's endemic mammals), pottery works and others were uncovered. Some of these findings are displayed in the 4th-century church museum found in the same compound as the temple while others are displayed at the National Museum in Addis Ababa. The twelve underground formations and four other very deep cave structures (which seem towards lead to Yemen, Lalibela, Jerusalem and Axum), increase the area's importance both in terms of archeological research as well as tourism.

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Axum

Ethiopia's oldest city

imageAxum, which lies about 1,000 kilometers north of Addis Ababa, was the second capital city of Ethiopia. This prominent Christian attraction is simply an open-air exhibition of Ethiopia's pre- and post-Axumite civilization i.e. from the 3rd century BC to the 10th century AD. This ideal site has been visited frequently for the last two millennia.
The Axumite kingdom was founded on the northern tip of Ethiopia at a place called Aksum by the native Sabean people. The creation of this kingdom was an indication of a power shift from the capital at Yeha to the fertile lands of Axum. Due to its proximity to the Red Sea in the North-East and the Indian Ocean coastal trade routes to the South, trade prospered in the kingdom. Axum grew into a prominent commercial center in the first century AD. Trade with the Arabs, Indians, Turks, Greeks, Persians, Romans and others strengthened Ethiopia's connection with the rest of the world.
The Axumite empire came into existence thanks to its hard working people. It witnessed tremendous growth between the first and sixth centuries AD. With a perfect continuation of successful governance, Axum became a real empire. Three languages were used as a communication medium. Greek was the language of the royal court, Sabean was used by the common people and Ge'ez, a later-developed language with its roots in the Sabean scripts, became a church language. As a result of strong economic dominance, coin mintage developed at this time and helped the Axumites to maintain and enhance trade. Gold, silver and bronze coins, which began to be minted around the 4th century, are still found exposed on the plains of Axum.
The introduction of Christianity in the early 4th century AD was one of the greatest achievements of the Axumite rule. It was during the time of King Ezana in 337 AD that Christianity was brought to Axum. Since it was the king who was the first to convert, Christianity easily reached the people under his rule. Since then, Ethiopia has remained a strong Christian state. The coins of King Ezana and his successors depict a cross, clearly indicating that the kings were Christian. On the other hand, the coins of kings before King Ezana in the pre-Christian era depict motifs such as moons, indicating paganism.
Axum reached its peak in terms of economic, political and social development in the fifth and sixth centuries. By then Christian Axumite kings had increased their influence by expanding their territory across the Red Sea. The whole horn of Africa, including Yemen, became a part of the Axumite empire. It was at this period that Axum became known as one of the four great empires of that time. Then in the 7th century Islam was brought to Axum by Muslim followers who sought exile there to escape from severe executions in the Middle East.

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Lalibela

Eight wonder of the world

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Located in the north-east of Ethiopia, Lalibela is another renowned historical destination. Placed third in historic sequence, its site hosts the “eighth wonder of the world”, the Lalibela rock-hewn churches. UNESCO has recorded this site as one of the world wonders. It is also a holy land for Ethiopia's Orthodox Christians.
Today the town of Lalibela boasts eleven rock-hewn churches and all, apart from their historic significance, are renowned for their excellent and unique rock-carvings. The art displayed on the rocks dates to the twelfth century yet it is still intact and in great shape. An active pilgrim site, the town is extensively visited and is a source of admiration for architects and tourists alike.
Founded at the center of the Lasta mountain chain, Lalibela was originally called Roha and was a site of the Zagwe dynasty of the Agew people. The decline of the Axumite dynasty gave rise to the Zagwe dynasty and, as a result, power shifted southward from Axum. After an interruption of the Solomonic line for almost 12 years, King Lalibela III, the last king of the Zagwe dynasty, managed to have these rock-hewn churches carved.
It took King Lalibela his entire reign and more than 60,000 men to finish the work. According to local accounts, the work was assisted by angels. Other cave churches built during this period are found within a short distance from the town.

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Gondar

The city of castles

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Gondar is the 17th-century capital of Ethiopia and the closest town to Sudan. Located on the northern shore of Lake Tana, it is one of the most prominent historical areas in Ethiopia.
Officially founded by King Fasiladas in 1632, the Gondarine period is considered to be the third major dynasty after the Axumite and Zagwe dynasties. The dynasty is historically important for the renaissance king's mobile camp and the introduction of a permanent capital. The attempt by King Fasiladas to end the Zagwe dynasty was successful and established Gondar as Ethiopia's capital from 1632 to 1868.
Gondar's 17th century castles reflect the strength of the dynasty and the power of its progressive rulers. The biggest and most magnificent castle of all, King Fasiladas' castle, which is still intact, was the first to be built. Seven of the dynasty's kings had their own castles built to show their power and independent, efficient ruling styles. What is special about the castles is that they demonstrate the progress in Ethiopian building styles and follow from the rock-building traditions of the Axumite and Zagwe kings.
Additionally, Gondar was and still is noted as an active religious center. Among all the churches in the town, Debre Berhan Selassie is especially famous for its typical Gondarine style and its ceiling.

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Bahir Dar

By the lake Tana

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The town of Bahir Dar is located 180km south of Gondar on the shores of Lake Tana in the north of Ethiopia. It came into prominence in the 18th century as a commercial destination for trade caravans to and from Gondar and the surrounding area. Today, it is one of the most attractive towns in Ethiopia and serves as a celebrated tourist destination. It is well-known for the fabled Blue Nile waterfalls, the beautiful highland Lake Tana and 14th-century island monastic churches. since last year, lake Tana and the monastery have been given a recognition by UNESCO as world heritage site. 

 

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Harar

Popular islamic city

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Harar is one of the most impressive Ethiopia’s historic destinations. A walled city, which stands on the eastern wall of the Great Rift Valley, is the provincial capital of Ethiopia's largest administrative region, Hararge. The city's location gives wonderful views of the surrounding country - the vast Danakil desert to the north, the fertile Harar mountains to the west, and the cattle-rich Ogaden plains to the south.
Harar was a strongly religious city and was closed to visitors until 1887 when Menelik restored central rule. With its 99 mosques, including the 16th century Grand Mosque, it is considered to be the fourth holiest city in Islam after Mecca, Medina and the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem.
Medhane Alem church, built at the end of the 19th century, is in the town centre and contains excellent examples of traditional regional art.
The Community Museum, also in the town centre, has displays related to the way of life in earlier times.
The 16th century Grand Mosque, with its beautiful twin towers and a slender minaret, lies on the road to the Erer Gate. Women are not permitted inside the mosque.
The vibrant market place is regarded as one of the most colourful in Ethiopia.
Off the road from the Sauga Gate to the main market lies Ras Mekonin's house where Haile Selasssie spent most of his childhood.
The Ahmar Mountains around Harar produce some of the best coffee in Ethiopia.
The Hyena Men of Harar collect offal and bones to feed wild hyenas usually about 100 meters outside the Fallana Gate of the old city walls. Hyenas appear just after sunset to take food from their hands. There is a fee charged for watching. Harar has gained fame for its silversmiths, and there are beautiful necklaces, bracelets and chains to be found in the market. The basketry is also impressive. There are two colourful markets in Harar, the Christian and the Muslim, which are separated from one another.

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Al-Negash

Negash, some 10 km after Wokro lies on a plateau commanding a magnificent view of the surrounding area. Negasi got its name from Tigrigna word, the local language means” king. Negashi is an Arabic zed of the world.

The history of Negash begins from the 7th c AD if not before. Although Negashi is as old as the faith of Islam itself, it is the country’s best unknown place of Islamic warship. History has it that the early followers of Prophet Mohammed (S.A.W) were denied the fundamental rights to pursue the religion they preferred and were harshly persecuted by the Qurush tribe, The mercantile ruler of Mecca. In order to maintain the very survival of his religion, the prophet had to seek a safe hide out for his followers.

Yonder, a country where in no one is wronged: a land of righteousness, deport thither: and remain until it pleased the lord to open your way before you” said the prophet pointing to the kingdom of Abyssinia. The then ruler of Ethiopia or Negash granted asylum to the first refugee, eleven men and four wives who entered his territory in the 7th C month of the year of Mohammed’s mission (615). The second hijra (flight) consisted of 101 Muslims. The Qurush are said to have asked the Ethiopian ruler to hand over the exiles to them, but the king reported to have declared “if you were to offer me a mountain of gold, I would not hand over these people who have taken refugee with me”.  The notable among the refugee were the prophet’s daughter, Requya, his future wife Umma Habibia and Umma Salama or Hindi and his cousin, the leader of the religious exile, Ja’afer  Ibn Abu Talib. Many of these Muslims stayed in the country until they died and were buried at the scared town of Negash.

The negashi of the habeshat as the king is known in the Arab world that died in 630 who also was buried in the same place.

Stuart Murno-Hay in his book “Axum, an African civilization of late antiquity, states that the Negashi was buried in Wukro”. A fact which taddess Tamerat corroborates in his book” church and state in Ethiopia” in fact wukro and Negashi 10 km apart.

The prophet is said to have remembered the Negashi with affection and pronounced some prayers for him when he heard the news of the death of the compassionate Ethiopian ruler, this has apparently created to reason Taddess “the tradition that the king was in face the converted to the new religion and he tradition has in the end led to his being considered as a Muslim saint. The Ethiopian Muslim tradition and not very few Arab writers audaciously assert that the then Negasi of the Habeshat was evevtually converted to Islam, making him the first Ethiopian and even the first non-Saudi Muslim in the world.

The prophet and the Negashi had a very good contact according to the British researcher.

Murno-Hay, it was the Negash himself who contracted the marriage of Umma Habibia to Muhammed (S.AW) when she returned to her country in 628. Hancock and Pan Hurst in their book “under Ethiopian skies” confirm this fact and the king has given Umma Habbia a dowry of 400 dinar of gold at the time of the marriage. Moreover, the prophet had established a diplomatic lies with the king and had sent him a letter a content of which according to Murno-Hay was reported and published by Dunlop in 1940, Ethiopia to whom the entire Muslim world owes a great debt for the gracious hospitality and secure shelter her king and people offered is said to have been exempted by the prophet from Jihad (the holy war). Source: different Ethiopian and foreign scholars

These days, Ethiopia has been chosen as one of the best tourist destinations by European Union Tourism Commission!

 

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