Hand-feeding hyenas. Visiting subterranean churches hewn out of rock. Wolf-spotting on one of Africa’s highest mountains. Even for the most plugged-in travelers, it may come as a surprise that the land-locked country of Ethiopia offers such diverse and unique draws.
Ethiopia is racing toward a bright, modern future. It’s one of the world’s fastest-growing economies; the capital, Addis Ababa, is expanding at breakneck pace; and the ruling party recently put the continent’s youngest leader in power.
But for travelers, the country’s robust cultural history is what makes it such an appealing destination.
For one thing, it’s the indigenous home to coffee: Arabica has been grown here since at least the 10th century. Then there’s the patchwork of ethnic groups—more than 80 in total—that live by the rhythms of a unique Ge’ez calendar and whose ancestry in Ethiopia spans at least 3,000 years. And there’s the country’s moniker, “the cradle of humankind,” which it earned after the 3.5 million-year-old fossil of a hominid known as Lucy was discovered in its eastern region.
Luckily for those eager to explore its fertile valleys and wildlife-rich national parks—home to the Walia ibex, mountain nyala, Gelada baboon, and endemic species of birds—Ethiopia is opening up to luxury travel.
“A visit to this incredible land is akin to stepping into the pages of the Old Testament,” said Nicola Shepherd, director of the Explorations Co., who has been welcoming discerning travelers to the country for over a quarter of a century. “It’s unlike anywhere else in Africa.”
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