Parks and Places

Ethiopia is a very big country and very well known for its historical Christian sites - ancient tribal lifestyles and adornments. Apart from these the country has incredible geography and ecosystems. Unfortunately in all of their National Parks people have infiltrated and settled so they are not like your other wildlife areas of Africa but you can see some beautiful scenery and endemic species.

Addis Ababa

This is the capital city of this ancient country, which is a sprawling city with over 5million citizens. Most people would only see it for one or two nights in between the various destinations or as an overnight in transit. This is a city that appears to be built randomly with shopping malls, restaurants, churches, hotels, slums, parks and wealthy residential areas all blended together. There are many of the International Hotel Chains that you would recognize here and a big range of other establishments as well. If you do have time here it is worth visiting the National Archaeological Museum and the National Anthropological Museum as well, also you should ask around for some local info on a nice Ethiopian Restaurant and preferably one that has a local dance floor show adds to the whole experience.


This incredible historical site was developed between the 12th and 13th Centuries by King Lalibela. Called the New Jerusalem and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. King Lalibela who had spent time in Jerusalem wanted to recreate Jerusalem with symbolic churches after its capture by the Muslims at the end of the 12th century. He did this by having churches carved into the granite and some are 3 stories high – The church Biete Medhane Alem is the largest monolithic / rock hewn church in the world. To get the best atmosphere of these churches is to try and time your visit to a Sunday when they are being used by the local congregants and priests in their white robes.

Simien Mountains National Park

This beautiful and ancient mountain range in the North of the country is today one of the more dramatic mountain sceneries that you will see anywhere in Africa. Amongst it’s peaks, is Africa’s fourth highest peak Ras Dashen at 4620m. The Simien Mountains are home to the Gelada Baboons that move in huge groups in the high grasslands and also the Walia Ibex and Simien Wolf – these wolves are very few in number here so they are not often seen but it does happen but it is better to go to Bale Mountains for this species. Most people visiting here would include this after visiting some of the historic sites in the North of the country like Lalibela and Axum.


All part of the amazing religious and historical sites of Northern Ethiopia – Axum was one of the four greatest powers of the ancient world along with China, Persia and Rome. The Aksumite Empire was at its peak during the 4th Century but dates back many centuries before that, it then started to implode as Arabs started to control it’s trade routes through the red sea and it became more and more isolated. Highlights here are the incredible stone obelisk’s and you can see the World’s largest of these here. There is also the Axum Museum and the Church of our Lady of Mary of Zion which is believed by Ethiopian Orthodox Christians to be the house of the Ark of the Covenant. There are many other characters from history associated with this town like the Queen of Sheba.

Danakil Depression

This is certainly a place that if you enjoy geography and some incredible human endeavour you will find this place fascinating. It is the hottest and lowest place of earth at 125m below sea level. The area is tectonically very active as a result of the three tectonic plates that meet here, being pushed around by the constant separation of Asia from Africa. Highlights here would be the active Volcano Erta Ale, although currently the viewing of this is very difficult as the lava lake has descended a lot so it is mostly a sulphurous cloud sitting in the crater that you see. There is also the Dallol Sulphur Springs with their beautiful colours and the Awash Salt Lakes, where humans have mined salt for thousands of years and transported by camel trains and still do to this day in the most inhospitable work environment you can imagine.

Bale Mountains National Park

One of Ethiopia’s most well known National Parks as it has the highest recorded level of endemic species of animals, birds and plants and the last real stronghold of the critically endangered Simien Wolves. The Park has many different habitats with forests, grasslands, Afro-Montane moor land, volcanic crags and lakes. Much of this created by lava outflows from before the Great Rift Valley was formed and then repeated Glaciation the last of which thawed 2000years ago. Species to look for here are Mennelik’s Bush Buck, Simien Wolf, Mountain Nyala – The Blue-Winged Goose, Spot Breasted Lapwing, Abyssinian Catbird, and Yellow fronted parrot.

The Ome River and Delta

This has become one of the most sought after destinations in Ethiopia for people wanting to see the culturally pure and vanishing tribes of Africa. Unfortunately this has put a pressure on these tribes as tourism has become a source of income for them, so visiting these people and seeing their culture in many cases has become a show versus a genuine experience – It is however still a fascinating look into the lives of these people that they still basically lead. If you are prepared to go further away from the main tourist routes it is still possible to have a more genuine interaction with these tribes.