Ethiopia is a country of exceptional interest to educational and specialist groups. A tally of nine UNESCO World Heritage Sites, more than any other country in Africa, underlines its remarkable wealth of fascinating and often unique cultural, historical, ethnographic and paleontological sites. Ethiopia also offers rich pickings to natural history students, thanks to the presence of many endemic and near-endemic species including Africa’s only indigenous wolf and goat.
• Historic and cultural circuits incorporate the 3,000-year-old city of Aksum, the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela, and walled Islamic city of Harar.
• Some of the world’s oldest and holiest religious sites, including several churches founded in the 4th to 6th century AD, and the oldest mosque site in Sub-Saharan Africa.
• An ethnographic diversity ranging from the Semitic-speaking Amhara and Tigray people of the northern highlands to the pastoralist Afar of the Danakil and the rich mosaic of traditional beliefs that inhabit South Omo.
• Archaeological sites include ancient palaces and pools associated with the Queen of Sheba, the towering 2,800-year-old temple at Yeha, and the world’s tallest field of stelae (obelisks) in Aksum.
• Ethiopia’s unique wealth of paleontological sites, including fossils dating back more than 5 million years, makes it the leading contender for the Cradle of Humankind.
• The world’s oldest active lava lake, the ancient white salt flats of the Danakil, mysterious crater lakes, Africa’s deepest riverine gorge and the craggy peaks of the upper Simien are among the landscapes and features that make Ethiopia fascinating to geologists.
• Endemic mammals such as the Ethiopian wolf and gelada baboon can be seen alongside a full 18 bird species of bird found nowhere else in the world, and a similar number shared only with Eritrea.