Testing, awe-inspiring and heartbreaking - a journey you'll never forget. You don't explore Ethiopia for a relaxing getaway, you venture here to be moved. And moved you shall be.

Wade through incense into a medieval world hewn from stone in Lalibela, and watch the line between past and present blur while taking part in striking Christian ceremonies that haven't changed in 1000 years. Ethiopia's storied and sovereign history has left its wide-ranging and fertile highlands laden with historical treasures, ranging from ancient Aksumite tombs and obelisks to 17th-century castles and burnt-out Russian tanks. Many are more than a peek into the nation's past; they are a giant two-footed leap.

Ethiopia's landscapes are no less dramatic, and range from the Simien and Bale Mountains, which proffer tremendous trekking and innumerable interactions with dozens of animals and birds seen nowhere else on earth, to the Danakil Depression, an enchanting and unforgivingly hostile environment offering extreme adventure. The remote lowlands in the sultry southwest are also home to untold adventures and house some of Africa's most fascinating tribes.

Although it's anything but desert wasteland or a perpetual home of famine and war, Ethiopia is monetarily poor and travel here is tough, both physically and mentally. However, those willing to take some doses of displeasure with Ethiopia's bounty of treasure will be pleasantly rewarded.


Area 1,098,000 sq km

ATMs None that accept foreign cards

Borders Kenya, Sudan, Djibouti,


Budget US$10 to US$50 a day Capital Addis Ababa Languages Amharic, Tigrinya, Oromo Money Birr; US$1 = Birr8.8 Population 74.8 million

Seasons Wet season(mid-March to early October), very hot in lowlands (June to September) Telephone Country code (i?) 251; international access code ®)00 Time GMT/UTC + 3

Visa One-month visa US$20 at airport; Ethiopian embassies charge more

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