Ethiopia is yet another African jewel that requires some effort and discomfort before the traveler's heart finally takes to it. It is surely not a destination to pamper with luxurious lodging and seduce with glossy brochure pitch. Much of its beauty is to be worked out by the visitors themselves, worked out on dusty trails, arid wasteland and sun-drenched deserts. Not a very encouraging landscape at first sight, what's more, often haunted with civil strife and border conflicts - Ethiopia doses its pleasures at a languid African pace.
Not infrequently they call it the Cradle of Humanity and the research says it may well be here, in the second populous African country perched on the Horn of Africa, where the beginnings of mankind are. The world-famed fossils of "Lucy", a hominid estimated to have lived 3.2 million years ago, were discovered in the Awash Valley of Ethiopia's Afar Depression. Moving to more modern times, Ethiopia is, in fact, the only country to have avoided a complete colonization (excluding a five-year-long occupation by Mussolini's Italy). Its long and undisturbed history, own script and language (Amharic) is a tasty treat for scientists to explore civilization and culture-related issues.
For a mere traveler Ethiopia is not less fascinating, though. All you need to do is to take a peek under the poverty-ridden, drought and famine-hunted scaffolding to discover an edifice of majestic proportions and breathtaking ornaments. The country is a feet-sweeper with its 13th-century rock-hewn churches of Lalibela, the dramatic Simien Mountains National Park with the fourth highest peak on the continent and unparalleled trekking opportunities, as well as the Danakil Depression - one of the world's most mesmerizing areas with the highest of temperatures and lunar-like landscape. The Tana Lake and its intriguing monasteries, the impressive Blue Nile Falls, ancient tombs and obelisks of Aksum and centuries-old stone castles and palaces of Gonder, are all certain to make your Ethiopian adventure one of a kind.