Africa and in particular Ethiopia may not cross many minds as being a number one choice for a family holiday. What you should know is that with 8 world heritage sites, some stunning scenery, and many opportunities to inspire and educate the children, Ethiopia may well be a fantastic destination for a family holiday. Ethiopia was a highly developed society many hundreds of years before the birth of Christ, and this is reflected in what you see around you. Here we take a look at five ideas to make a visit to this amazing country even more special.
Bahirdar (or Bahir Dar) is probably one of the most attractive towns in Ethiopia and would make a fantastic base for any holiday there. The totally unexpected ambience created by the wide boulevards skirted by palm trees set against the colonial architecture of the buildings, is the first thing that will make you realise that you are in for a holiday treat. Known as the gateway to the Blue Nile Falls, this area has more than enough potential to keep you occupied for the duration of your visit.
The Blue Nile Falls
For one of the most stunning and spectacular sights in Africa; a visit to the Blue Nile Falls is a must. At around half a mile wide and falling for over 150 feet, millions of tons of water gush down into the canyon and create a swirling mist known as a Tisisat (smoking fire). Explorer James Bruce is said to be the first person to discover the falls and probably while he was searching for the Ark of the Covenant. These Indiana Jones type impressions do convey the atmosphere that the area creates when you visit.
Lake Tana and the Island Monasteries
Another fantastic cultural experience in the area is a boat trip out onto Lake Tana and a visit to the island monasteries. There are 37 islands on Lake Tana with about 20 of them featuring monasteries and churches of significant cultural and historical importance. In the past, the fact that they were so isolated made them ideal places to store important paintings and national treasurers. The best known of them is Ura Kidanemihret on the Zege peninsula with its beautifully painted temples. Unfortunately, women are not permitted at some of these places On Zeghne Peninsula in the church of Ura Kidane Mehret, and Narga Sellassie, women are permitted.
Simien Mountains National Park
This Unesco World Heritage site is a fantastic place for some trekking and camping amid stunning mountain scenery and abundant wildlife. These Simien Mountains are one of the principal African mountain ranges with some peaks above 4000m presenting challenges for the fittest of visitors. Wildlife that you may see include ibex, baboons, walia and Ethiopian wolves.
For an educational and informative experience the amazing ruins at Yeha are well worth a detour. Thought to be the first known capital of Ethiopia, this now peaceful and not often visited spot is said to be the birthplace of Ethiopian civilisation and with ruins that have been dated as far back as the 5th century BC the idea appears to be backed by scientific evidence. On the nearby flat topped mountain you will also find what is recognised as the first monastery in Ethiopia, Debre Damo which may well date back to the 6th Century.
For endless blue skies, a stunning natural environment and a culture that can be traced back a lot further than our own, Ethiopia would make a fantastic place to take the children and introduce them to something completely different.