Petra Tours Ethiopia - About Ethiopia

History

Ethiopia's rich historical heritage is unique in sub-Saharan Africa. The country looks back on a history of more than 3,000 years when the city of Axum became the centre of an empire stretching from the Nile River across the Red Sea to the Yemen. Even today, ruins of palaces and monuments, old inscriptions and underground catacombs demonstrate the city’s ancient magnitude. While the medieval capital of Lalibela is home to a cluster of monolithic rock-hewn churches built in the 12th and 13th century, the imperial city of Gondar is best known for its 17th century castles built by Emperor Fasiladas and his successors and the beautifully decorated church of Debre Birhan Selassie. In the east of the country lies the old walled city of Harar with its numerous mosques and shrines, considered a holy city among Muslims. Or would you like to discover the ancient and secluded island monasteries of Lake Tana, the largest lake in Ethiopia and the source of the Blue Nile? Or be one of the few visitors to Ethiopia’s remote rock-hewn churches, testimonies to the country’s centuries-old Christian legacy?

Culture

Ethiopia is rich in culture and traditions, with strong religious customs from the 5th century BC that continue to play an important part in the people’s daily lives.

Tourists are welcome to share in the greatest of Ethiopian festivals, Timket (Epiphany), along with other the glorious celebrations of Enkutatash (Ethiopian New Year), Meskel (The Finding of the True Cross), Gena (Christmas), and Fasika (Easter). Every region has its own local festivals and ceremonies where visitors are treated like honoured guests.

While checking the dates of these events, do bear in mind that Ethiopia retains the Julian calendar (almost eight years behind the Gregorian) and has 13 months. The Ethiopian New Year falls in early September.

The many different cultures associated with the peoples of Ethiopia can be breathtaking for visitors. These include the lip-plates of the Surma and Mursi, the head-dressing, hair styles, and the body paintings of the Hamer and the Karo, the Guragie enset (false banana) lifestyle, the village and agricultural terracing styles of the Konso, and the shoulder jerking dance of the Amhara.

With us you can witness something of the culture of at least a third of the peoples of Ethiopia. Tours can be arranged to all parts of the country but Paradise Ethiopia Travel specializes in visiting three distinct ethnic groups.

Nature

Apart from its historical sites, Ethiopia offers exceptional natural features and a rich bio-diversity. The country’s scenery varies from high mountain ranges with alpine flora and fauna, like the Simien and Bale Mountains, to deep gorges, wide valleys, volcanic lakes, savannahs, and semitropical forests, to the lowlands of the Omo Valley and the Danakil Depression (Dallol), one of the earth’s hottest places. Connected with Ethiopia’s extraordinary geography are its diverse ecosystems, placing the country among the foremost in the world for its numerous endemic mammals, birds and plants. While the Rift Valley Lakes are famous for bird-watching, the Awash and Nechisar National Parks are fine places for game drives. Not far from its origin in Lake Tana, on the outskirts of the city of Bahirdar, the Blue Nile River turns into the spectacular Blue Nile Falls. A paradise for birds and definitely a must for every ornithologist! Indulge in trekking or horse-back riding in the national parks, marvel at the fascinating endemic animals and revel in the breathtaking scenery!