Home to ancient rock churches, fairytale castles, and a vast array of stunning landscapes, Ethiopia boasts myriad spectacular sights. Musement takes a look at ten of them.
Combining breathtaking natural beauty with awe-inspiring historical sights and rich cultural heritage, Ethiopia is the complete package. While it may not have epic safaris and beautiful beaches, Ethiopia more than makes up for it with its breathtaking scenery, astounding historical sights, and fascinating cultural heritage. Here are ten of Ethiopia’s must-see sights.
A UNESCO World Heritage site, Lalibela’s eleven astounding monolithic churches are carved deep into the rock, hidden from sight. Dating back to the seventh and 13th centuries, the architecture of the structures is unbelievable–history surrounds you on all sides as you explore the sprawling complex. A delightfully peaceful and picturesque place to visit, Lalibela is one of Africa’s must-see historic sights.
2. Danakil Depression
With its desolate yet colorful landscape, bubbling hot springs, and mesmerizing lava lake, it is perhaps no surprise that the Danakil Depression is the hottest place on Earth. In this remote part of northeast Ethiopia, temperatures regularly rise above 120 degrees Fahrenheit, so visitors really do need to pack appropriately for their visit! The Danakil Depression has an otherworldly look and is well worth visiting for ethereal features that will make you feel like you’re on another planet.
3. Laka Tana Monasteries
Located beside the lovely leafy city of Bahir Dar is the scenic Lake Tana which is the largest in all of Ethiopia. Its tranquil waters are home to some incredible old monasteries hidden on remote islands–a boat trip to gaze upon their stunning frescoes and glittering treasures is the highlight of any visit to the city. Some of the monasteries date nearly a thousand years and the most sacred, Dega Estefanos, is home to the mummified remains of former Ethiopian Emperors.
4. Omo Valley
Located in the southwest, the Omo Valley offers deeper insight into the diversity of Ethiopia’s rich cultural heritage. Its numerous tribes all have their own customs and ways of life for you to experience and it is a singular chance to learn more about different peoples and cultures. Inhabited by humans for millions of years, the Omo Valley also has some beautiful scenery on show such as the Omo River which acts as a life-source for many of the people that live here.
5. Simien Mountains
Often described as ‘the Chess Pieces of God’, the lofty peaks, ridges, and plateaus of the Simien Mountains make for some of Africa’s most incredible scenery. While trekking amidst the beautiful landscape you’ll come across plunging waterfalls, breathtaking panoramas, and hair-raising clifftop walks. Also called ‘the Roof of Africa’, much of the mountain range reaches nearly 10,000 feet above sea level.
The walled city of Harar is fabulous as it is dripping in history–a plethora of mosques and ancient buildings lay within its walls. Getting lost amongst its narrow alleys and tiny streets is a lovely way to get to know the city. Harar is perhaps best known for its tradition-turned-attraction of feeding the hyenas at night outside the city walls.
Nicknamed the ‘Camelot of Africa’, Gondar is home to an amazing complex of castles where Emperor Fasiledes once resided. Built during the 17th century, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of well-preserved palaces and impressive ruins is a must when visiting the city. Gondar itself is a laidback place and there are a number of churches scattered about for you to enjoy as well as a marvelous royal bathhouse.
8. Blue Nile Falls
Located just outside of Bahir Dar, the impressive Blue Nile Falls greets visitors with the tumultuous roar of water pounding down on the rocks below. What many people don’t realize is that the Nile River originates in Ethiopia, so the source of the Blue Nile is actually located very close to the city. The spectacular sight is further enhanced by a smoky haze created by the spray of the waterfalls.
9. Addis Ababa
While most people only spend a short time in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital is an interesting amalgamation of the old and the new. The city’s highlights include strolling Africa’s largest market and perusing the National Museum to see the famous ‘Lucy’. With lots of great restaurants and a multitude of historical sights and cultural landmarks, Addis Ababa is well worth a visit
10. Debre Damo Monastery
Nestled away amidst a barren, uninviting landscape, the remarkable clifftop Debre Damo Monastery is only accessible by rope. While getting there is all part of the experience, the sixth-century monastery itself is a delight. Very much off the beaten path, the monastery boasts lovely architecture and is cloaked in myths and legends