A huge landmass that projects in the far eastern part of Africa, Ethiopia is a country that is confined on land. However, this geographical confinement has only made this vast country into a place of many surprises and discoveries. No better coined than the “Cradle of Humankind,” Ethiopia holds the many secrets of the lineage of the human race. This was the place where the renowned Lucy was excavated. Alongside this mystery, the land has a lot more riddles to reveal. With a diversified mix of ecosystems, ranging from grasslands to deserts to tropical rainforests to a complex system of mountains and a paradox of water bodies that feed the River Nile, the longest river in the world, the majestic land of Ethiopia has more than soil and grass to offer.
The largest lake located in the highlands of Ethiopia in the North-west, Lake Tana is one of the sources of water that flow towards the Nile River and into the Mediterranean Sea. The area of this lake is quite immense that it 37 islands drift on its waters. What’s more striking is that out of these 37 islands, 19 of them contain churches demonstrating the firm hold of religion on this country. This place is just perfect for a nice boat ride in the middle of summer. And if you’re a bird enthusiast, you’ll be amazed with the diversity of birds that are found on the island of Fasiledes, a valuable wetland in Lake Tana.
Sof Omar Caves
Drying off from the huge lake, we move on to the longest recorded caves of Ethiopia found on the south-eastern part of the region, on the village of Bale. If you’re up for an exploration, the many zigzag passages of this cave complex will give you much room to discover. A deeper exploration and you will find the River Gaestro actually passing into the cavern and a place called “Chamber of Columns” where numerous limestone rock formations have formed into pillars giving off an illusion of numerous passageways.
Climb up North and you’ll reach a natural wonder that’s part of the World Heritage Site, the complex mountains of Semien. With its rough terrain of valleys and plateaus and steep mountains, this mountain shelters a lot of wildlife and vegetation. To name some of these are the endemic species found only in Ethiopia such as the Gelada Baboon and the Red Fox. With the landscapes’ breathtaking view and the knowledge of the hidden treasures sheltered in these mountains, the Mountains of Semien is without a doubt a true world heritage.
Load some water because we’re heading out for a quick and hopefully safe visit to one of the hottest places on Earth, the Dallol Depression. Obvious from its name, this region is one of the lowest points in the world and is located in the Dallol Dessert of North-eastern Ethiopia. This part of the desert shows volcanic craters and fissures that were opened by the faulting and movement of the land masses of Africa against adjacent continents. You can actually see bright, yellow sulphur flowing from the fissures and contrasting with the white sand of the dessert. This region is only one of the many staggering sites found in Ethiopia.
Your Ethiopian experience wouldn’t be complete if you don’t head out to a real jungle and not just any jungle; the Bale Mountains is actually the largest alpine ecosystem in Africa. It is found on the south-eastern part of the Ethiopia and like the Semien Mountains, it shelters a high number of endemicity, rare wildlife and vegetation only to be found in this vast country. Alongside this beauty is the opportunity of tourists to try out horse-back riding, mountain trekking and driving across its dense, scenic landscape.