Exterior of Ras Makkonen Selassie Church in Harar, Ethiopia

Getty Images/iStockphoto

Eastern Ethiopia

Most of eastern Ethiopia is a stark landscape of dust-stained acacia scrub and forgettable towns. But scattered around this cloak of the commonplace are gems of genuine adventure. Undoubtedly, the east’s pièce de résistance is the walled city of Harar. There’s still a patina of myth about this ancient town, handed down from the days when its markets served as the Horn’s commercial hub and attracted powerful merchants and Islamic scholars. The colonial-rural melange that is the modern city of Dire Dawa delights in its own odd way, while nature lovers can get their kicks at Babille Elephant Sanctuary and Awash National Park, where the volcanic landscape takes top billing over the wildlife. The truly intrepid can follow the seemingly endless ribbon of asphalt north to the desolate southern Danakil Desert, territory that remains virtually unexplored since colonial adventurer Wilfred Thesiger first regaled tales of the Afar.


Must-see attractions for your itinerary


Purchase our award-winning guidebooks

Get to the heart of Eastern Ethiopia with one of our in-depth, award-winning guidebooks, covering maps, itineraries, and expert guidance.

Go Beyond

Eastern Ethiopia and beyond