|Ethiopia has an impressive eight National Parks, which are rated up with the best National Parks in Africa.
The Simien (Mountains) National Park has long been recognised for its importance as it was one of the very first UNESCO World Heritage Sites, added to the list in 1978.
The Mago National Park features 81 mammal species, including giraffe, hartebeest, elephant, lion and leopard, whilst the Abijatta-Shalla Lakes National Park is the place to go to see bird-life. The thousands of pink flamingos, for example, create a spectacular image when grouped together in a sea of pink!
About 22 miles (35km) from the city of Bahir-dar in the north of Ethiopia is the Blue Nile Falls. Not as spectacular as they once were because much of the water is now diverted to a dam, though they are still very beautiful and worth the visit. Bahir-dar itself is on the shore of Lake Tana which is the source of the Blue Nile. You can take boat tours on the lake and visit the various islands which house some of the world’s oldest churches and monasteries.
Also in the north, on the border with Eritrea, is the ancient capital Aksum. Here you’ll find various ruins and the famous Northern Stelae Field. It is thought that these markers, created out of solid granite, were associated with the burials of emperors. The largest monolith in the world once stood here and though it has fallen, the pieces still remain. You can still see a 24 metre high monolith at the entrance to the field though.
Gondar, also in the north, is a city with a castle. It is one of the only places in Eastern Africa to have castles. Outside Gondar is the walled city of Fasil Ghebbi which is a UNESCO World Heritage protected site. About 3 hours bus ride out of Gondar are the Simien Mountains where trekking is popular and if you’re interested you can hire a guide from the gateway town, Debark.
Addis Ababa is the capital and largest city of Ethiopia, located in the centre of the country. Here you’ll find palaces, churches and cathedrals, including the second largest cathedral in Africa, and several museums.
To the east of Addis Ababa is the ancient city of Harar, which became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2006 because of its cultural heritage and importance. The city has many mosques and it’s considered to be the 4th holiest city of Islam. Three of the mosques date from the 10th century and there are also other historic and important buildings such as the Medhane Alem Cathedral. One of the most popular places to visit in Harar is the former home of French poet, Arthur Rimbaud. This mansion has now been converted into a museum which you can tour.