Addis Ababa

Museums

Food

Nightlife

Museums

From your great-great- (repeat endlessly) aunt Lucy in the National Museum to the cultural insights of the Ethnological Museum or the bold and distinctive art of the capital’s numerous art galleries, Addis is home to a collection of museums with few peers in sub-Saharan Africa.

Food

Arriving in Addis Ababa is like stepping into one giant food feast. Superb Italian restaurants dishing up perfect thin-crust pizzas, Indian-run eating houses serving spicy delights from southern Asia and a stash of old-fashioned cafes brewing up what some might say is the best coffee in the world. But good as all that is, it pales compared to the opportunity to dip your fingers into some seriously delicious Ethiopian dishes.

Nightlife

This is one of the most underrated nightlife capitals of Africa. Sure, there are bars and clubs like those at home by the dozen, but Ethiopia is nothing if not exotic so why not try a night out with a difference? A tej bet, a bar serving tej (honey wine), is a good place to begin. When you’re done, catch some live music (and a deeply Ethiopian cultural immersion) at an azmari bet (bar). Whatever you opt for, Addis will have you up half the night.

Northern Ethiopia

History

Landscapes

Trekking

History

They don’t call it the Historical Circuit for nothing! Lake Tana, Gonder, Aksum, Yeha and Lalibela are legendary among historians, while even lesser known sites, such as Debre Libanos, Gorgora and Mekele, offer plenty of ancient intrigue.

Landscapes

Staring down a massive cavern in the Simien Mountains, up one of the soaring pinnacles of Tigray, or out across the volcanic creations in the Danakil Depression – Northern Ethiopia’s scenery will live long in the memory.

Trekking

It’s not just the scenery that makes the trekking in Northern Ethiopia world-class, it’s also the variety. There are high-alpine landscapes in the Simien Mountains and little-known Menz-Guassa Community Conservation Area, and treks through farms and villages around Lalibela and Tigray.

Southern Ethiopia

Culture

Trekking

Lakes

Culture

The Omo Valley isn’t just the most fascinating cultural melange in Ethiopia, it could just be tops for the entire continent. Most of its multitude of ethnic groups haven’t strayed noticeably far from their past, and the opportunity to meet them is truly special.

Trekking

Though the Simien Mountains in the north get all the attention, most trekkers consider the Bale Mountains more satisfying due to better facilities, fewer people and near-guaranteed sightings of Ethiopian wolves. Lephis, Dorze, Konso and the Omo Valley also offer the chance to get out and walk.

Lakes

The Rift Valley runs the length of this region and along its path are various lakes; home to crocodiles (Chamo), hippos (Awasa), flamingos (Abiata and Chitu) and luxury resorts.

Eastern Ethiopia

History

Exploration

Wildlife

History

Eastern Ethiopia wouldn’t be a historical destination if it weren’t for World Heritage–listed Harar. Its old walled city centre, full of crooked cobblestone alleys and symbolically designed stone homes, is captivating.

Exploration

Relatively few travellers venture east, and those who do rarely get off the Addis–Harar Hwy. This leaves places like Asaita and the caves and villages around Harar and Dire Dawa to the truly intrepid.

Wildlife

There’s a very good chance of meeting the elephants of Babille Elephant Sanctuary, although you’ll probably have to bushwhack to do it. And though it’s of more interest for its geology than wildlife, a game drive in Awash National Park will take you past oryx and gazelle; plus the birding is excellent. And, of course, don’t forget the urban hyenas of Harar.

Western Ethiopia

Cultures

Adventure

Wildlife

Cultures

Western Ethiopia is populated by an impressive mix of ethnic groups. The Nuer and Anuak people are around Gambela, and the Gurage people are near Jimma. For the ultimate adventure, journey to the wild land of the Surmi people in southwest Omo.

Adventure

Even a country as little known as Ethiopia has to have its last frontier and that title goes to the west. With so few tourists venturing here, any journey is a guaranteed trailblazing adventure that will reward you a hundred times over.

Wildlife

Ethiopia lacks the stellar reputation of Kenya when it comes to big animals, but that’s only because people don’t know what’s hiding in the bush out west! Gambela National Park is witness to a migration of white-eared kob and Nile lechwe up to a million strong, and the birdlife everywhere is out of this world.