Africa… when you think of Africa, destinations or experiences that come to mind are Capetown, Safaris, Wine Regions, Kilimanjaro, Gorillas in the Mist!
For Exodus travellers you have probably adventured in some or all of above, but what about Ethiopia?
Having never been to Africa my reaction to being invited on a trip to Ethiopia was very mixed. I'll be honest and say I only knew Ethiopia from Live Aid in 1984. How wrong was I... we started our 6 day visit on the comfortable Dreamliner Ethiopian Airways aircraft, from London to Addis Ababa.
Day 1: Travelling to Addis Ababba
First day in Addis brought us on a city tour to see Holy Trinity Cathedral and the National Museum which houses the 3.2million year old fossils of Lucy, the first early hominoid fossil. Driving around the Merkato (market) area was fascinating, with all types of street life, from street cooking, recycling, shoe shining, tending to livestock, and even a man carrying 25 mattresses on his head, I have the photo to prove it!!.
Day 2: The Castles of Gondor
2 days in Gonder followed, home to the stunning Gonder castles and The Debre Birhan Selassie Church famed for its Ethiopian church art. The stories of Emperors, Kings, Queens, Brothers, Sisters, Wives, Invaders and poisonings are fascinating. From Gonder a four hour drive with a stop in Debark for coffee and permit took us to the Simien Mountains for a 2 hour trek through stunning mountain scenery. We also came up close to Big Black Beaked Falcons, Vultures and the very tame Gelada monkeys.
At the end of our trek we were greeted by lovely mountain children selling their basket weaving crafts.
Day 3: The Churches of Lalibela
Lalibela was our next stop to experience the 11 rock-cut churches commissioned in the 12th century. In 1978 these structures became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Also in Lalibela, the Ashketon Maryam church is situated on top of the mountain which is a 2 hour trek with the help of a mule. This was one of the highlights of the trip however not for the faint hearted! With approximately 20 minutes to go to reach the top, my vertigo kicked in! I stopped on a little plateau and sat with a family on the side of the mountain. I had a pack of playing cards in my bag and with 5 little children, we played snap for 1 hour. This was a magical hour and when the rest of the group came down we had coffee made for us by the beautiful 15 year old daughter of this family. To end this long day with tired limbs, we had a meal in a local restaurant viewing a mesmerising sunset over Lalibela and some entertaining Ethiopian dancing.
Throughout the trip we had lovely meals. The local dish “Injera” is an acquired taste, however there are plenty of options to choose from. There were so many other experiences on this trip, too many to mention.
Ethiopia is an amazing country, lush, green, vibrant, beautiful people. There are early starts and early nights in comfortable hotels on this trip. Every night you you are excited to see what the next day will bring.
Ethiopia may not be a 5* holiday, but it is definitely a 5* experience.
If you are interested in a trip to Ethiopia have a look at our Discover Ethiopia
tour or our Wildlife and Wilderness of Ethiopia tour or give Kathryn a call on 01 804 7188.