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Grand Escapades’ Travel Guide To Ethiopia

The Most Diverse African Experience?

Bet Giyorgis Rock-Hewn Church, Lalibela

Bet Giyorgis Rock-Hewn Church, Lalibela

Itinerary And Time Of The Visit

I visited Ethiopia 3 times over the last 5 years and spent approx. 2 months there. Nonetheless, I still have the impression that I haven’t seen it all:

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Grand Escapades’ Budget Guide To Ethiopia

Depending On Where You Go!

Simien Mountains Lodge, Simien Mountains, Ethiopia

Simien Mountains Lodge, Simien Mountains, Ethiopia

Type Of Travel

The types of travel were completely different on those 3 trips, mainly because you cannot travel the different areas of Ethiopia the same way:

  • To visit the Danakil Depression, you must be on a tour, both because you absolutely need one (you have to have two Jeeps, an armed Afar policeman, an Afar scout, a military escort for Dallol, …) and because it is the law…
  • True, you can discover the Lower Omo Valley on your own, but as there are almost no public transports, you have to have your own wheels if you don’t want to spend weeks there. Moreover, communication will be quite tricky if you do not speak Amharic. So a tour seems to be the only viable way…
  • On the other hand, the Northern Historical Route can be easily done independently.

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Ethiopia – The Northern Historical Route: A Selection Of 51 Pictures

Bet Abba Libanos Rock-Hewn Church, Northern Cluster

Ethiopia is a stunning country that offers the largest Cultural Heritage of Sub-Saharan Africa, built over centuries by some of the oldest Jewish, Christian (Orthodox) and Muslim communities on earth, and by Empires which influence spread much further than African boundaries…

The Northern Historical Route (Bahir Dar, Gonder, Lalibela, Aksum, Tigray), in the highlands of Ethiopia, but also Harar in the East, take the visitors through the grandeurs of Ethiopian Christian Orthodox culture, with stunning Rock-Hewn Churches and Monasteries, but also through the vestiges of the various Ethiopian Empires, starting with the legendary Queen of Sheba and ending in the 20th Century. Continue Reading →

Ethiopia – The Danakil Depression: A Selection of 41 Pictures

Sunrise over the Salt Lake (Lake Asal), near Dallol

The 2 expeditions I made in the Danakil Depression (6 days in January 2011 & 5 days in November 2015) both rank amongst the most challenging and most expensive ones I have ever undertaken. But nothing, nothing will ever take away these memories: each day brought a new highlight, each minute something unseen, unique and spectacular!

Nonetheless, the Danakil Depression is no longer at the “End of the World”. It is now much easier and much cheaper to reach, and the number of tourists is increasing exponentially. Changes were already noticeable in less than 5 years… Continue Reading →

Expeditions To The The Danakil Depression

A Travel Guide To The Hottest Place On Earth… But No Longer At The End Of The World!

Crater of the most active volcano in Africa with a permanent lava lake, Erta Ale, Danakil Depression, Ethiopia

Crater of the most active volcano in Africa with a permanent lava lake, Erta Ale

Still “Terra Incognita” in 2010 when I decided to go there (I had actually never heard about it and could actually only find very little information about the area, both in Travel Guides like the Bradt Guide or the Lonely Planet & Online), the Danakil Depression has turned increasingly popular in the last years, and is now easier to reach than ever… and hence changing at high speed! So let me start with a very practical advice: if you ever want to go there, go NOW! Continue Reading →

The Rock-Hewn Churches Of Tigray

Abraha We Atsbeha, Wukro Cluster, Rock-Hewn Church of Tigray, Ethiopia, Africa

Abraha We Atsbeha, Wukro Cluster, Rock-Hewn Church of Tigray, Ethiopia, Africa

With around 120 Rock-Hewn Churches and breathtaking landscape with sharp peaks that rise from the desert highlands of Northern Ethiopia, Tigray has a lot to offer. Nonetheless, the difficulty to travel there makes it still quite Off The Beaten Track, except maybe for the 2-3 most famous churches where you might meet tour groups on their way from Aksum to Mekele or Lalibela. Continue Reading →

Lalibela – Ethiopia’s Jerusalem

Bet Giyorgis Rock-Hewn Church, Lalibela, Ethiopia, Africa

Bet Giyorgis Rock-Hewn Church

Lalibela will most probably instill both a real fascination (especially if you are discovering Ethiopia’s Jerusalem for the first time) and a certain disappointment (especially if you are returning there after a few years)…

Fascination, because the Rock-Hewn Churches of Lalibela probably belong to some of the most magnificent and breathtaking religious monuments you will see in your lifetime, and definitely the most unexpected ones. Fascination also, if you have the privilege to discover Lalibela over (Orthodox) Easter, when pilgrim congregate in Lalibela for a 3 day fasting marathon… A moment of rare devotion and spirituality! Continue Reading →

5 Things To Do In Bahir Dar

 Ancient Monasteries Saying Farewell To The Blue Nile

Religious (Christian Orthodox) Wall Paintings, Azewa Mariam Monastery, Lake Tana, Bahir Dar, Ethiopia

Religious (Christian Orthodox) Wall Paintings, Azewa Mariam Monastery, Lake Tana, Bahir Dar, Ethiopia

The picturesque town of Bahir Dar is the gateway to 37 ancient monasteries that dot the shores and islands of Lake Tana. It is also the source of the Blue Nile, which fascinated ancient Egyptians and modern day explorers alike. Even 21st Century tourists are still drawn in by the romanticizing tales and exotic flair. Continue Reading →

Gonder – Ancient Capital Of Ethiopia

Fasilida's Casstle, Fasil Ghebbi, the Royal Enclosure, Gonder, Ethiopia, Africa

Fasilida’s Casstle, Fasil Ghebbi, the Royal Enclosure, Gonder, Ethiopia, Africa

An approx. 4 hour drive from Bahir Dar, the small town of Gonder offers the most beautiful vestige of a once great Empire which influence reached far beyond Africa’s borders… King Fasilidas made of Gonder the Capital of his Empire in the 17th Century, and did so in the most perfect place: a large valley protected by the surrounding high mountains, on two major trade routes, not far from the shores of Lake Tana, on the sources of the Nile. Continue Reading →