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Exploring Ethiopia

A country in the Horn of Africa

By Rasma RaistersPublished 2 months ago 5 min read

Located on the border between Ethiopia and Eritrea the Danakil Depression is one of the driest and hottest places on Earth. Here you can find active volcanoes, salted basins, hot springs and a lava lake. It sits below sea level and is the lowest point in Africa and second in the world after the Dead Sea. Despite the heat, this is one amazing place to take a closer look at so come prepared and enjoy the beauty.

Lalibela is an amazing medieval settlement designed to be a kind of second Jerusalem. In the middle of the settlement is a broad church complex made up entirely of rock. There are a total of eleven churches built by King Lalibela in the early 12th century. These churches are interesting due to their architectural design and are dug into the ground.

The most famous and lovely of them is St. George's Cathedral. Nearby are several monasteries worth visiting.

Harar was built in the early 16th century. It is a holy, historic and walled city with narrow alleyways. It is the oldest Islamic city in Africa. Once the commercial link between Africa and the Middle East, today it’s an amazing city that seems to be lost in time with impressive walls and century-old buildings. In the city are about 99 mosques. A popular attraction is the nightly ritual of feeding hyenas on the outskirts of the city.

In Harar, you’ll also see Arthur Rimbaud Center also referred to as Rimbaud’s House. This is a museum dedicated to French poet Arthur Rimbaud with a series of illustrated wall panels about his life. The museum has found its home in an impressive Indian merchant house that was built on the site of the earlier house in which Rimbaud lived. There is a wonderful photographic exhibition of turn-of-the-20th-century Harar with several photos taken by Rimbaud. In front, you can see basket weaving and colorful baskets for sale.

Ras Tafari’s House & Sherif Harar City Museum is a house that was built by an Indian trader. Many of its features like the Ganesh carving above the door are Eastern in origin. Haile Selassie spent his honeymoon here so the house bears his pre-coronation name. Today it’s a well-organized museum with a private collection of weaponry, coins, jewelry, household tools, old manuscripts and cultural dress.

St. Mary Catholic Church is one of two churches in Old Harar. This is a French Catholic Mission dating back to 1889, It has a lovely carved wooden door.

It is unfortunate that only about 1,000 elephants remain in Ethiopia. The largest herd can be found in the Babile Elephant Sanctuary. It is a short drive from Harar and is home to gazelles, lions, leopards, cheetahs and lots of exotic birds. The landscape is interesting with rocky outcrops and trees. About 400 elephants live here and visitors enjoy walking safaris.

The Rift Valley has a chain of seven lakes. There are also hot springs and plenty of wildlife. Visitors enjoy exploring the entire valley. There are different bird species and a variety of flora and fauna. The valley was formed about 20 million years ago. It runs through Ethiopia from the Red Sea to the Kenyan border.

The Blue Nile Falls – The Nile River is the longest river in Africa. It has two tributaries The White Nile and The Blue Nile. The Blue Nile begins in Ethiopia and along its course, you’ll come to the Blue Nile Falls. Locally it’s known as Tis Abbay or “great smoke” and the falls are about 43 meters high during the rainy season.

Just downstream you’ll come to Ethiopia’s first stone bridge dating from the 17th century.

Gondar dates from the 18th century. This was where Emperor Fasiladas built his fairy tale castles. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and an impressive museum complex. It showcases the last centuries of the country’s emperors. It is the Camelot of Africa. Visitors enjoy seeing this ancient capital. You can stroll through it from the Italian Piazza in the city center past the tin-roofed stone buildings. There are places for shopping, restaurants and hotels. In nearby Gorgora is an impressive Christian monastery.

Askum is thought to be the home of the Queen of Sheba and the final resting place of the Ark of Covenant. It is one of the oldest cities in Africa.

The ark is kept within the walls of the St. Mary of Zion Church Complex.

In the Northern Stelea Field, you can see the ancient Aksumite Obelisks. Visitors enjoy the mountaintop monasteries and go underground to see the Aksumite Empire tombs.

Mai Shum is a large rock-hewn reservoir that local tribes believe was used for bathing by the Queen of Sheba.

The Simien Mountain range is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has become known as God’s playground. It has some of the most phenomenal vistas in the country.

Here you can see the Gelada bleeding heart baboons. Inside the Simien National Park is a wide variety of wildlife such as the Walia Ibex, a goat that is found nowhere else on Earth.

Bahar Dar is the third largest city and the first stop on the historic circuit in Ethiopia. The town is close to a lake and some monasteries. You can see the amazing tankwa canoe, an unsinkable vessel woven out of papyrus.

Lake Chamo Crocodile Market has no crocodiles or crocodile products for sale. All of the crocs are alive and well at Lake Chamo. Visitors can take a boat ride on the lake and get up close to these amazing creatures. You’ll see entire banks covered with huge Nile crocs, some over six meters long.


About the Creator

Rasma Raisters

My passions are writing and creating poetry. I write for several sites online and have four themed blogs on Wordpress. Please follow me on Twitter.

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