Abyssinia and the Blue Nile - View from the Inside

"Ethiopia for me ended up being everything I wanted it to be."

November 2019 • George Abery, Personal Travel Expert

Ethiopia - View from the Inside

Nothing will quite prepare you for Ethiopia’s incredible beauty, remarkable ancient history and sheer diversity of landscapes. Our tour began in the capital - Addis Ababa. From the moment you arrive into Addis, you get the feel for the religion and culture everywhere you look, but especially so when visiting the oldest church in the capital, Entoto Maryam. This historic building, found in the mountains, is full of colour and provides visitors with impressive views over the city. Despite being built in the late 1800’s, it is still used for services today. Whilst on the complex, our guide let us know that we were following in the footsteps of the emperor Haile Selassie and we were visiting his compound. Another gem of Addis Ababa is the Holy Trinity church, which was built back in the 1890’s at the time of the Fascist period. Set within beautiful grounds and with impressive architecture too, this site was a great introduction to the country. 

After leaving the capital not knowing what to expect we arrived into our first town Axum. Here we viewed the ancient pillar stones, which were crafted in the 4th century AD from a single piece of granite rock, and stand as tall as 24 meters. How they managed to create and erect these in their time is beyond imagination!

We then continued our journey out to the scenic countryside. The countryside becomes another level of beauty after visiting the cities and towns, which we realised very quickly during our first spectacular drive to one of the first temples known to man, built in the 6BC, the village of Saba. Whilst here in Saba we were lucky enough to get involved in a local market. On the market days, the locals gather at the village centre with their goods and trade everything from grains to chilli to farm animals. This was a truly authentic experience, unchanged and completely different from how we are used to seeing transactions today.

Lalibela was our next destination for two nights and to get here we travelled by plane. Travelling by plane allowed us to have an incredible aerial view over the endless hills, valleys and farmland, stretching far into the horizon. Farmers have managed to cultivate the land, providing picture-perfect opportunities as you pass over both the lush and baron lands within minutes.  

Lalibela is the most well-known historic town of Ethiopia and is full of charm. Famous for the construction of its church complexes and St. George Church, these buildings are truly incredible. Each has been carved either against the cliff inwards or from the ground downwards, clearing all excess rubble to create a single standalone structure. If you have ever been to Petra in Jordan the concept of the structures is the same, however, Lalibela’s complex is so vast it succumbs this on a bigger and more historic scale.

After visiting the spectacular town of Lalibela we headed to Gondar. Although this is one of the bigger cities in Ethiopia, we had the chance to explore the surrounding area and visit the Simien Mountains National Park. Here we enjoyed a short hike from the village to reach the viewpoint overlooking the vast untouched lands. We also got the chance to witness the native baboons along with their young in their natural habitat.

The end of our Ethiopian journey was in Bahir Dar, the city of the source of the Nile and home to Lake Tana. Upon arrival, it became obvious to us that this place is a natural wonder, with stunning scenery to support. A walkthrough to the waterfalls and a boat ride on the lake over to the monastery was a lovely way to finish the trip.

Ethiopia for me ended up being everything I wanted it to be. From the friendly locals, local dishes, to the diverse history of the country, it was a truly unforgettable journey.

Explore Ethiopia with Jules Verne >>