Ethiopia is a land of wonder and enchantment, a country with one of the richest histories on the African continent, a land of contrasts and surprises, of remote and wild places, home to cultured and friendly people who are descended from some of the world's oldest civilizations.
Few countries in the world posses such a wealth and variety of ancient legends and fascinating attraction as Ethiopia. Ethiopia is truly a land of contrasts and extremes; a land of remote and wild places. Some of the highest and most stunning places on the African continent are found here, such as the jaggedly carved Simien Mountains, one of UNESCO's World Heritage Sites - and some of the lowest, such as the hot but fascinating Danakil Depression, with its sulphur fumaroles and lunar-like landscape. Ethiopia is old; old beyond all imaginations. As Abyssinia, its culture and traditions date back over 3,000 years.
Ethiopia has a proud and long history extending to the known beginnings of humankind. The Axumite kingdom was one of the great civilizations of the ancient world and has left behind the mystery of the great Stellae found at Axum. In the late middle Ages great religious civilizations flourished in many parts of the country, particularly at Lalibela where churches hewn out of massive monolithic rock testify not only to great faith but also to great architectural skills.
And in the former capital of Gondar many significant castles speak of the same legacy. All these would be enough to make Ethiopia a fascinating place to visit and travel through, but Ethiopia has so much more to offer.
A journey into the southwestern portion of Ethiopia is as much a 'pilgrimage' to naturalists as a trip to the north is to historians. Beautiful scenery, a chain of sparkling lakes, abundant wildlife and bird life, and a kaleidoscope of colorful cultures all combine to make this part of the country unique.
With 861 bird species, out of which 16 are endemic, Ethiopia is a must for every bird enthusiast. Many of the National Parks provide areas less affected by human activities where a broader range of bird species can usually be seen.
The Ethiopian Rift Valley, which is part of the famous East African Rift Valley, comprises numerous hot springs, beautiful lakes and a variety of bird life. The valley is the result of two parallel faults in the earth's surface between which, in distant geological time, the crust was weakened, and the land subsided.
Nowhere, is it more spectacular than where it thunders over the Tis Isat Falls literally "smoke of fire" - near Bahir Dar. Millions of gallons of water cascade over the cliff face and into a gorge, creating spectacular rainbows. It is one of the most awe-inspiring displays in Africa.
Ethiopia is a land of natural contrasts, from the tops of the rugged Simien Mountains to the depths of the Danakil Depression, at 120 meters below sea level one of the lowest dry land points on earth.
Ethiopia's many national parks enable the visitor to enjoy the country's scenery and its wildlife, conserved in natural habitats, and offer opportunities for travel adventure unparalleled in Africa.
A Land of Discovery
Ethiopia is the earliest known home of humankind. A skeleton of an older human ancestor Australopithecus Afarensis was discovered in 1974 in the Afar region.
Anthropologists have established that the skeleton covering 40% of the human body had belonged to a twenty-years-old female that lived 3.5 million years ago. Registered by the United Nations Education, Science, and Culture Organization (UNESCO) as a World Heritage, the site of the discovery is called Hadar - situated 160 kilometers northeast of Addis Ababa.
In addition, the earliest known hominid, 4.4 million years old Ardipithecus Ramidus was discovered in the Middle Awash in 1992. The recent discoveries include Australopithecus Garhi, 2.5 million-years-old hominid.