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.
These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Eastern Ethiopia.
Whether it’s a guided tour of a historic landmark, private tasting of local delicacies, or an off-road adventure — explore the best experiences in Eastern Ethiopia.