Simien Mountains

The Simien Mountains lie in northern Ethiopia, North-East of Gondar. They are a World Heritage Site and include the Simien Mountains National Park. The mountains consist of plateaux separated by deep valleys and rising to pinnacles. The tallest peak is Ras Dashen (4,550 m); other notable heights include Ras Bwahit (4,430 m) and Abba Yared (4,460 m).
Because of their geological origins the mountains are almost unique, with only South Africa's Drakensberg having been formed in the same manner and thus appearing similar. Notable animals in the mountains include the Walia Ibex, Gelada Baboon and the Ethiopian wolf. The National Park offers exceptional trekking opportunities from the headquarters at Debark.

Bale Mountains

The Bale Mountains are a range of mountains in the Oromia Region of southeast Ethiopia, south of the Awash River. They include Tullu Demtu (4,377 meters) and Mount Batu (4,307 meters). The Bale National Park covers 2,200 square kilometers of these mountains.
The Bale Mountains are home to many of Ethiopia's endemic animals, notably the Ethiopian Wolf (the largest group of Ethiopian Wolves is found here). The park also contains the Harenna Forest, situated to the south of the mountains which is a largely unexplored area thought to contain many undiscovered species of reptiles as well as lions, leopards and various types of antelopes. Trekking opportunities are offered starting from the park headquarters at Dinsho.

Danakil Depression

The Danakil Depression is a desert basin which lies in the Danakil Desert in North-eastern Ethiopia and southern Eritrea. It is the homeland of the Afar people and lies lower than 100 m below sea level as a result of tectonic activity caused by plate movements. The presence of many volcanoes in the region, including Erta Ale and the Dabbahu Volcano in the middle of the depression, also finds its cause in these plate movements.
Since there were recorded the highest temperatures on Earth, it was named by National Geographic as the “Cruelest Place on Earth”.


Harar is an eastern city in Ethiopia and now the capital of the modern Harari ethno-political division of Ethiopia. The city is located on a hilltop, in the eastern extension of the Ethiopian highlands about five hundred kilometers from Addis Ababa with an elevation of 1885 meters and an estimated total population of 130,000. For centuries, Harar has been a major commercial centre, linked by the trade routes with the rest of Ethiopia, the entire Horn of Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, and, through its ports, the outside world.
Harar Jugol has been included in the World Heritage List by UNESCO in recognition of its cultural heritage. According to UNESCO it is considered the fourth holy city of Islam with 82 mosques, three of which date from the 10th century, and 102 shrines.
Harar is also famous for its distinctive, natural processed coffees which bear the same name.


Lalibela is one of Ethiopia's holiest cities, second only to Axum, and is a center of pilgrimage for much of the country, especially during the Christmas period. It is worldwide known for its 11 monolithic churches built in the 12th century under the reign of Emperor and Saint Lalibela. Unlike Aksum, the population of Lalibela is almost completely Ethiopian Orthodox Christian. The layout and names of the major buildings in Lalibela are widely accepted, especially by the local clergy, to be a symbolic representation of Jerusalem. Though Lalibela’s churches are the most famous ones, they are not the only ones in Ethiopia.


The Ethiopian Orthodox Church claims that the Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion in Axum houses the Biblical Ark of the Covenant containing the Tablets of Law upon which the Ten Commandments were inscribed. The same church was the site where Ethiopian emperors were crowned for centuries until the reign of Fasilides, and then again with the beginning of Yohannes IV’s reign until the end of the empire. Axum is considered to be the holiest city in Ethiopia and is an important destination of pilgrimages. Significant religious festivals are the Timket Festival (known as the Epiphany in western Christianity) on January 7th and the Festival of Maryam Zion in late November. Today many ancient churches, palaces and stelaes can be found in Axum and surroundings.


Gondar was founded by Emperor Fasilides around the year 1635, and grew as an agricultural and market town. Tradition states that a buffalo led the Emperor Fasilides to a pool beside the Angereb, where an “old and venerable hermit” told the Emperor he would locate his capital there. Fasilides had the pool filled in and built his castle on that same site. The Emperor also built a total of seven churches. The five emperors who followed him also built their palaces in the town. The most famous buildings lie in the Royal Enclosure in the center of the city (Fasilides’ castle), but also Fasilides’ bath and several other churches like Debre Birhan Selassie in the surroundings are some of the main attractions of Gondar.

Bahir Dar

Bahir Dar is a city in North-western Ethiopia situated on the southern shore of Lake Tana, the source of the Blue Nile. It is the capital of the Amhara Region and one of the leading tourist destinations in Ethiopia, with a variety of attractions in the nearby Lake Tana with its ancient monasteries on the islands and the Blue Nile river with its water falls. The city is distinctly known for its wide avenues lined with palm trees and a variety of colorful flowers and fruits. It is also considered as one of the most beautiful, well planned, and safest cities by many standards and in 2002 it was awarded UNESCO Cities for Peace Prize for managing to address the challenges of rapid urbanization (based on the 2007 census Bahir Dar has a total population of 221,991, an increase of 130% over the population recorded in the 1994 census).


The Mursi are a small ethnic group that inhabits South-western Ethiopia. They principally reside in the Omo River area in the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People's Region, close to the border with South Sudan. According to the 2007 national census, there are 7,500 Mursi. Surrounded by mountains between the Omo River and its tributary the Mago, the home of the Mursi is one of the most isolated regions of the country. Their religion is classified as Animism, although about 15% are Christians. The Mursi women are famous for wearing plates made of clay in their lower lips.


The Hamer are a tribal people in South-western Ethiopia. They live in Hamer Bena area, a fertile part of the Omo River valley, in the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples Region (SNNPR). They are largely pastoralists, so their culture places a high value on cattle. The Assistant Administrator of Hamer Bena has commented that only six tribal members have ever completed secondary education. The 2007 national census reported 46,532 people in this ethnic group. The vast majority (more than 99%) live in the SNNPR.


Karo is an Omotic language spoken by the Karo people in the Debub (South) Omo Zone of the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People's Region in Ethiopia (SNNPR). Karo is described as being closely related to its neighbors, Hamer and Banna, with a lexical similarity of 81%, and is considered a dialect of Hamer.

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