Spanning the border of Kenya and Ethiopia in South West Ethiopia lies Omo Vally, where eight different tribes with a population of over 200,000 have lived for centuries. Famed for their body adornments which include lip plates, scarification and face paint, the tribes are a huge attraction. The lifestyle of the local people strictly follows that of their ancestors, with the tribes all extremely proud of their traditions and ancient cultures. Some of the most popular tribes to visit, all with their own unique dress and rituals are the Hamer people, Banna people, Konso people, and the Karo people who are renowned for their incredible body paint work.
Rising up to 4,000 metres above sea level as the highest peak in Southeastern Ethiopia, Bale Mountains National Park is the home of Ethiopia’s endemic species such as the Mountain Nyala, Giant mole-rats, Menelik’s bushbuck and Ethiopian wolf. The beautiful Ethiopian wolf is a particularly popular attraction, due to its status as the world’s rarest species of canid. A guided trek through the mountains is the best way to explore and can be done by people of all fitness levels. The trek can be arranged for 1 day or multi-day treks taking between 2-12 days to complete can also be arranged. Another exhilarating way to travel across the mountains is by horseback, which can be arranged with a guide.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the 11 rock churches of Lalibela are an important place of worship for the nation’s Orthodox Christians. Reaching up to 13 metres high, these fascinating structures were freed from the rocks entirely by hand using just hammers and chisels. From a distance they look like mere stone carvings, but as you approach, you’ll see how intricately the have been formed, with all featuring their own unique elaborate windows, columns and roofs. The most famous and beautiful of the churches is the church of St George, an extremely impressive piece of craftsmanship which is carved in the shape of a cross. Lalibela is still a very important cultural living site, over 1,000 of its 10,000 residents are priests.
Another of Ethiopia’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the Simiens Mountains National Park is made up of lush meadows, deep gorges and high mountains and is best known for its dramatic scenery and excellent hiking opportunities. The park can be explored over the course of a day, or you can arrange a multi-day hike and truly take in the beauty of the mountains. One of the highlights of a visit to the park is the chance to see the Gelada monkeys, which are endemic to the Ethiopian highlands and will easily be spotted on your journey through the park.
Aksum is one of Africa’s oldest continuously inhabited sites and historically was the capital of the Aksumite Kingdom dating back to 100AD. The city is perhaps most famous for its huge stone obelisks, which stand up to 33 metres tall and weigh up to 520 tonnes, with the oldest dating back as far as 1,700 years. It is widely believed amongst Ethiopian Christians that the church is the final resting place of the famous Ark of the Covenant, which is kept in the Chapel of the Tablet, the holiest site in Ethiopia.
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