Northern Ethiopia

Lake Tana

Origin of the Blue Nile centerpiece of UNESCO’S newly proclaimed 5000km2 Lake Tana biosphere reserve, Ethiopian largest lake is a perennially popular tourist destination blessed with a balmy tropical climate, fabulous bird life and excellent amenities focused on the city of Bahirdar. The lake’s forested islands, 37 in total and peninsulas are studded with atmospheric and beautifully painted monasteries, most of which were founded between 13th and 19th centuries, easily visited from Bahir Dar, the Blue Nile falls were described by the Scottish traveller James Bruce as a “magnificent sight that ages added to the greatest length of human life, would not efface or eradicate from my memory”.

 

 Axum

Steeped in legend mystery, the town of Axum was founded more than 3000 years ago. When the Queen of Sheba ruled over the Host trade empire from her Palace there, it later served as a capital of the Axumite kingdom, the only sub-Saharan African empire. That co-existed with Greece and Rome and was known to the literati of the classical World. The great Axumite rulers including king Balthazar, who according to some legends was one of the three wise men who visited the baby Jesus. As well as king Ezana Who established the Ethiopian Orthodox Church in 341 A.D. now a UNESCO world heritage site, Axum is replete with ancient art facts dating back to its glory days, ranging from towering Stele reaching to 33.5 meters to vast ruined Palaces, Zion Mariam, the Church founded by Ezana, remains the spiritual home of Ethiopian Christianity while its associated temple of the tablet is believed to be the last resting place of the biblical ark of the Covenant.

 

 Negash

The hill top village of Negash, the first Muslim settlement granted in Ethiopia from Mecca more than 183 early Islamic refugees ( including Muhammed’s (P.B.U.H) daughter Rukiya and his future wives Uma Habiba and Uma Salama) by the Axumite Emperor Asihama in A.D. 615. the tombs of 15 original settlers body protected in a new mosque.

 

 Gheralta

The 120 odd rock hewn Churches that grace Tigray, most of them in active use and with their own oral traditions, were described by academic Ivy Pearce as “the greatest of the historical- cultural heritages of the Ethiopian people”. Thoughtless well known than their counter parts at Lalibela, the Tigray Churches mostly predate them, and some might even date back to the 4th century. Of the 30 Churches concentrated along the sandstone Gheralta escarpment. Abune Abraham and Debra Tsion are an atmospherically cathederalesque 6th century excavation while Yohannes Maikudi and Debre Mariam Korkor are decorated with fine 17th Century murals. But the undisputed Jewel of Gheralta is Abune Yemata Guh, a Small but beautifully painted Church carved into a tall perpendicular sandstone pinnacle and accessed by a Cliff face suited only to those with a head for heights. The churches are found from Gheralta to Hawzien and from Tembien to Tsaeda Imba and Atsibi. And some of them are accessible by vehicle.

 

 Gondar

Capital of Ethiopia from 1632 until 1850, the “Camelot of Africa” is at once a thriving modern town and an ancient Christian citadel whose fortified Stone castles and lavishly painted churches evoke a medieval fairytale. The City center is dominated by Fasil Ghibbi, a Stonewall royal Compound with several Castles and ancillary buildings including the three Story Original Castle built by Gondar’s founder Emperor Fasiledas in the 1630’S. The Fasil Ghibbi, UNESCO recorded world heritage site also incorporates the Churches of Debre Birhan Selassie with its Wealth of vivid ecclesiastic paintings attributed to the 17th Century master Artist Haile Meskel, as Well as Fasiledas bath, a pool used during  Ethiopian Epiphany (Timket festival).

 

 Semien Mountains National Park

Evening view from the Semien plateau

Ethiopian premier hiking destination on the 412 km2 Semien mountains national park protects the ‘roof of Africa’. An awesome afro alpine landscape of grassy meadows and ericaceous moorlands that rises to 4543 meter at Ras Dashen (Dejen). Upon inscribing it as a natural world heritage Site in 1979. UNESCO lauded the Semien Mountains as one of the world’s most Spectacular landscapes with jagged mountains peaks, deep valleys and sharp Precipices dropping some 1500m. This scenic landscape best explored on foot but also crossed by an all Weather 4X4 road supports wealth Of Ethiopian endemics, and is the   largest global Stronghold for the walia Ibex, an imperious goat like cliff dweller supporting magnificent curved horns.