African Petra Tour & Travel - Ethiopia's Main Attractions
Ethiopia has a number of tourist attractions that are as diverse as its people, thier culture and its landscape. African Petra Tour and Travel offers tour programms to Cultural, Historical and other Scenic attractions.
The Historic Route
Ethiopia's rich historical heritage is unique in sub-Saharan Africa. The country looks back on a history of more than 3,000 years when the city of Axum became the centre of an empire stretching from the Nile River across the Red Sea to the Yemen. Even today, ruins of palaces and monuments, old inscriptions and underground catacombs demonstrate the city’s ancient magnitude. While the medieval capital of Lalibela is home to a cluster of monolithic rock-hewn churches built in the 12th and 13th century, the imperial city of Gondar is best known for its 17th century castles built by Emperor Fasiladas and his successors and the beautifully decorated church of Debre Birhan Selassie. In the east of the country lies the old walled city of Harar with its numerous mosques and shrines, considered a holy city among Muslims. Or would you like to discover the ancient and secluded island monasteries of Lake Tana, the largest lake in Ethiopia and the source of the Blue Nile? Or be one of the few visitors to Ethiopia’s remote rock-hewn churches, testimonies to the country’s centuries-old Christian legacy?
African Petra Tour & Travel - Axum
Axum became the royal capital of Ethiopia more than 3,000 years ago and the wealth of the empire was used to build one of the greatest ancient cities of Africa. Its five-storey palaces, intricate water system, gold and silver coinage, its mysterious and extraordinary stelae and subterranean catacombs were a marvel for merchants, ambassadors, and travellers who came to the city.
Today, visitors can admire the stelae field where a single-piece granite obelisk stands 23 metres high, another, believed to have fallen soon after, or even during construction, is nearly 34 metres long, weighing over 500 tonnes. A third, which was returned to Ethiopia from Rome in 2005, will soon resume its 26 metres’ height.
Ethiopia’s most ancient city has an archaeological museum, the bath and palace of the Queen of Sheba, the tomb of King Caleb and his son Gebre Meskel. Other sites worth looking at are the historical Ezana Park, and within walking distance, the 17th century structure and the newer church of St Mary of Zion, and the sanctuary chapel of the Ark of the Covenant.
From Axum, breathtaking excursions can be arranged through dramatic scenery to the country’s oldest temple at Yeha, the Axumite styled and beautifully decorated monastery at Debra Damo, and the battlefield of Adwa, where Menelik’s army defeated the Italians in 1896 to keep Ethiopia as the only African country to successfully resist 19th century European colonization.
African Petra Tour & Travel - Lalibella
In the remote, almost inaccessible mountains of Wollo, a near 3,000 metre high town has a unique array of churches that have been cut out of solid rock. Lalibela, after whom the town is named, carved the monolithic churches out of the natural volcanic rock from the outside-in during the 12th century.
The building method used, carving out each of the unique churches below ground, left the 11 main churches separated from the surrounding rock by a trench which is now the courtyard of each of the buildings.
Now a World Heritage Site these monolithic and semi-monolithic churches are complete with carved doors, windows, arches, rooms and interior decoration. The effect is stunningly dramatic. They are the outcome of a major sculpturing exercise.
Ruth Plant, architect, said, “The craftsmen who formed them were as inventive as those who built Europe’s medieval cathedrals. The rock-hewn churches were cut from the roof down – they could not afford mistakes. Not one!”
Indeed, the elaborately shaped, intricately designed buildings are a delight to both tourists and archaeologists and a visit here during one of the special religious festivals can only add to the very unique experience that Lalibela offers.
African Petra Tour & Travel - Harara
The ancient walled city of Harar was established from 1520, although it was a major commercial centre in the east of Ethiopia for many centuries.
Founded by one of Harar’s most notable rulers, Abu Bekr Mohammed, it became a prestigious trading centre through contact with the interior, Gulf of Aden ports, and many eastern lands. Its 3.4 kilometre wall, constructed in the 1560s by Nur Ibn al-Wazir, contains about 90 mosques and the 48 hectare town is considered to be the fourth holiest city of Islam, having a heritage that is almost entirely Muslim and Oriental. Wars affected the city economically and then Emir Ali idn Daud revived the city in 1647 and initiated a ruling dynasty.
Harar is renowned for its handicrafts, notably its fine weaving, and beautifully bound manuscripts, which are rated as virtually unequalled in the Islamic world. The coffee from this area is also highly esteemed. Wandering around the network of narrow cobbled alleys, the unique housing, colourful dress of the inhabitants, the ancient five gated walls and the harmony of Muslim and Christians together, leave an impression of being in another world. There are also two museums, colourful markets and, at night, thepopular attraction of the daring ‘hyena man’ on the outskirts of the town, which add to a momentous tour.
African Petra Tour & Travel - Gondar
During the 17th century, Emperor Fasiledas and his dynasty constructed some of the most remarkable structures in Africa, and Gondar became an imperial walled capital with a number of towers and castles. Today, they continue to crown Gondar in a 70,000 sqm enclosure, like priceless diadems, reminders of its past power and grandeur.
The numerous castles, built between 1640 and 1769 by various emperors, are unlike any in Africa and display the rich architectural Axumite tradition and the influence of Arabia. Their historic value has been recognized in that the Royal Enclosure is included on the World Heritage list.
A wealth of other castles, churches and historical buildings are scattered around Gondar. Probably the most charming of these is the bathing pool of Emperor Fasiledas which is used for the colourful annual Timket (Ethiopian Epiphany) celebrations in January. Nearby, is a small domed mausoleum said to have been built for the Emperor’s favourite horse, and ruins of the palace for the redoubtable and beautiful 18th century Empress Mentewab at Kuskuam, which offers visitors an extraordinarily impressive sight and a wonderful view of the town.
Within easy reach is the rectangular and stunningly decorated Debre Birhan Selassie Church – one of the most amazing displays of religious art in Ethiopia. Eighty wide-eyed angels look down upon mesmerized visitors and other frescoes depict Christian scenes. Then, just three kilometres from Gondar is, Woleka, the former Felasha (Ethiopian Jewish) village with its highly decorated pottery, which, with all the other sights, offers the visitor an inspiring experience.
As an excursion from Gondar, or even en route to Axum, one can combine fascinating historic beauty with natural rugged scenes by visiting either Kosoye, with its panoramic views of the Simien Mountains or actually heading into the mountains themselves and gaining the comparison to the Gondarine architecture.
African Petra Tour & Travel - Bahir Dar
The tropical-like town of Bahir Dar with its palm-lined avenues and colourful markets stands on the southern edge of Ethiopia’s largest lake, Lake Tana. Local fisherman still use (tankwa) papyrus canoes and the lake’s peninsulas and islands are home to more than 20 monastic churches.
The spectacular 45 metre high Blue Nile Falls is only 32 kilometres away. The fall’s local name, Tis Isat, reflects the awe-inspiring image of the ‘smoking water’ as the river crashes into the gorge below.
Lake Tana has attracted mystics and religious people for centuries and most of the islands’ monasteries, house invaluable historical documents, relics, beautifully painted walls, and the tombs of mediaeval Ethiopian kings. Daga Istafanos, with its priceless collection of icons, Kibran Gebriel, with many ancient books, and the impressive and beautiful Ura Kidane Mirhet and its intriguing frescoes, are among the many that may be visited.
A day of visits to these wonderful sights can be concluded with a spectacular sunset view, from Bezawit Hill, across Lake Tana and the town, while overlooking hippopotami in the river below.
African Petra Tour & Travel - Debre Damo
Some 76 Kilometers from Axum is the monastery of Debre Damo ( closed to Women), which is said to have the oldest existing intact church in Ethiopia. Local tradition says that Abune Aregawi, one of the nine Saints, built the church in the 16th Century. The Monastery of Debre Damo can only be reached by rope pulley.
African Petra Tour & Travel - Rock Hewn Churches of Tigray
Many of the Tigray rock hewn churches lie along the main road between Adigrat and Mekele, or can be visited from it. Four main clusters are covered in this chapter, of which the churches that lie along the main road between Sinkata and Wukro are the most accessible to those without private transport or limited time. The pick of these churches is undoubtedly Adi Kasho Medhane Alem, part of the highly accessible Teka Tesfai cluster 10km south sinkata. A second rather loose cluster consists of Wukros Chirkos – the most accessible of all the Tigrayan churches, as it lies 500m from the main road in the town of Wukro – and the magnificent Abreha we Atsbeha church along the Hawzen road. The most extensive cluster is found in the Gheralta region, which lies to the south of Hawzen and includes some the most stunningly situated churches anywhere in Ethiopia. Gheralta can easily be explored out of Hawzen with a vehicle, or over a few days of hiking, bearing in mind that the region’s finest churches are reached by long, steep walks that require a fair level of fitness. A fourth and more dispersed cluster lies in the Atsbi area, to the east of Wukro. With one exception, the Atsbi churches can be explored only with a vehicle.
African Petra Tour & Travel - The Cultural Route
Ethiopia is rich in culture and traditions, with strong religious customs from the 5th century BC that continue to play an important part in the people’s daily lives.
Tourists are welcome to share in the greatest of Ethiopian festivals, Timket (Epiphany), along with other the glorious celebrations of Enkutatash (Ethiopian New Year), Meskel (The Finding of the True Cross), Gena (Christmas), and Fasika (Easter). Every region has its own local festivals and ceremonies where visitors are treated like honoured guests.
While checking the dates of these events, do bear in mind that Ethiopia retains the Julian calendar (almost eight years behind the Gregorian) and has 13 months. The Ethiopian New Year falls in early September.
The many different cultures associated with the peoples of Ethiopia can be breathtaking for visitors. These include the lip-plates of the Surma and Mursi, the head-dressing, hair styles, and the body paintings of the Hamer and the Karo, the Guragie enset (false banana) lifestyle, the village and agricultural terracing styles of the Konso, and the shoulder jerking dance of the Amhara.
With us you can witness something of the culture of at least a third of the peoples of Ethiopia. Tours can be arranged to all parts of the country but Paradise Ethiopia Travel specialises in visiting three distinct ethnic groups.
African Petra Tour & Travel - The People of Ethiopia
Like all countries with a broad mixture of people, their day-to-day lifestyle is influenced as much by their surroundings as by their heritage. Many peopled are traditional herdsmen-Ethiopia has the largest herds in Africa-and 90% of our population are engaged in agriculture.
The Anuak of the south-west, the Borena who live on the border with Kenya, and the people of Ogaden live a nomadic and pastoral life. In the central highlands, where the land has been farmed for generations, the people are more sedentary, living on lnds they hve cultivated with cereals, pulses and vegedtables. With so many lakes and rivers in Ethiopia, It is no wonder that fishing is important to certain groups, such as the Gambella who live along the banks of the Baro, and the Mursi, Karo and Galeb along the River Omo. The costumes of the pople are as varied as their lifestyles, and provide a fascinating glimpse into their love of ornamentation, often reflected in both modern and traditional styles.
Timeless symbols such as the lion’s mane and cross have long been used as decoration, and jewelers is an integral part of any traditional dress. The basic costume of highland Ethiopia is the shamma, a loose fitting garment worn over skirts or trousers. Also worn is the netela, a light cotton shawl, or kutta, a slightly heavier version. The gabi, a warm blanked-like cloth is worn in colder regions, while the kemis is a full length embroidered dress worn by women.
African Petra Tour & Travel - Omo Valley People
The Tsemai, the dominant people of Weito village on the Konso-Jinka road, are regarded to be among the least known ethnic groups of Ethiopia. Estimated to be a total of some 5000 people, their territory extends along the western bank of the Weito River, known in Tsemai as the Dulaika River. They are mixed subsistence farmers who practice flood cultivation, with the major crops being sorghum and maize. They also rear livestock, especially cattle, and keep beehives for honey. The Tsemai speak an Omotic language with an influence of Eastern Cushitic language that is closely related to the one spoken in Konso, which, according to oral tradition, is from where their founding chief Asasa originated. The present chief, who lives at the long-standing Tsemai capital of Ganda Bogolkila, is claimed to be the ninth in line after Asasa, suggesting that this migration might have happened between 150 and 250 years ago.
Although their appearance and dress style is similar to that of the Omotic Ari people, the Tsemai share closer political and spiritual affiliations with the Erbore, who speak a similar language, and whose territory lies adjacent to the Tsemai chief’s village. The Tsemai also frequently and openly intermarry with the Hammer, whose territory lies immediately west of theirs. In common with many other people of southern Ethiopia, society is structured around and age set system. Four fixed age sets are recognized, with every set graduating in seniority once a decade, when a new generation of boys between the ages of about 11 and 22 is initiated.
Although relatively large, Erbore is far more rustic and unaffected than many similarly sized towns in South Omo, with the police station on its outskirts more-or -less the only building that isn’t constructed along traditional lines.
In common with their linguistically and culturally affiliated Tsemai neighbors, the Erbore migrated to their present homeland from Konso perhaps two centuries ago. Because they have ancestral and cultural links to Konso and the pastoralists of the surrounding lowlands, the Erbore traditionally played an important role as middlemen in trade between the Omo River and the Konso Highlands.
The town of Erbore lies in and area where several tribal boundaries converge, and because the Erbore people routinely intermarry with other ethnic groups like the Guji and Borena Oromo, The Hammer and the Tsemai. It is also inhabited by a substantial number of Hammer and even Borena women – adding a cosmopolitan feel to the worthwhile Saturday market.
The Dasenech, alternatively known as the Geleb or Galeba, Marille and Reshiat, live just north of Lake Turkana, the region where Ethiopia borders Kenya and Sudan. These names all concern the same people, in total 24.000 souls. The Dasenech are neighbored by Turkana and Bume and are Ethiopia's most southern people.
The Dasenech can however be divided in eight clans. These are the Elele (ca. 6,000 people), Inkabelo (8,000), Inkoria (3,000), Koro (700), Naritch (3,000), Oro (1,000), Randal (1,000), and Ri'ele (600). Two of them (Inkabelo and Inkoria) come forth from the same ancestors: the Nyupe tribe in West-Kenya, also called the Pokot. These have more or less assimilated the Naritch (probably a splinter group of the Murle of Western Ethiopia) and the Oro. The Oro historically probably have had the dominating language and are solely responsible for the Kushite language now spoken by all Dasenech. The river people Ri'ele seem to have Borena background but have been Dasenech as time went by. The Randal are connected historically with the Rendille of Northern Kenya, whereas the Koro are related to the Maasai of Lake Turkana's west coast. Having contemplated this information it will not be hard to understand that the Dasenech aren't a united people, but more like a cluster of small groups with shared language, land, and rituals.
All clans have a more or less defined territory, except for the Koro and Oro, who are semi-nomadic. The Inkabelo are the wealthiest Dasenech and occupy the best land (Oro and Koro actually travel around in Inkabelo land). One other thing worth mentioning is that all Dasenech seem to have natural antipathy against fish. Eating fish is really a last resort in times of crises. The most important ritual of the Dasenech is the so-called dime. Taking part in the dime ritual are those men who have daughters that have already reached puberty. After the ceremony, which takes six weeks, the participants are upgraded to 'great men', or those that may engage in politics. The dime ritual is directly connected to the upcoming marriage of the daughters and consists for the larger part of slaughtering large quantities of cattle (per participant: 10 cows, 30 sheep and/or goats). By the end of the ceremony the participants are extremely well-dressed, with ostrich feathers in their clay hair, oxtails around their arms, leopard skin over their shoulders, as well as the same skirt they wore during their circumcision many years earlier. In their hands they will carry wooden shields and a stick with a fallus symbol.
The nomadic roots of the Dasenech are most clearly seen today in their traditional villages, comprised as they are of small, flimsy, domed huts strongly reminiscent of the impermanent structures built by other African desert pastoralists, from the Tuareg of the Sahara to the Nama of the Kalahari. One such village lies on the west bank of the Omo, practically opposite Omorate, and can be reached by utilizing the flat-bottomed boat that serves as a ferry across the river (police escort mandatory) Another similar village lies about 20 minutes’ walk south of the town center on the east bank of the river.
The Bume are also known as the Nyangatom. the Bume live west of the Dasenech people, south- west of the Karo people, south of the Surma people and North of the Ethio- Kenyan boundary.
They occasionally migrate into the lower regions of the Omo national park when water or grazing is scarce.
Numbering around 6,000 in population, the Bume speak one of the Omotic group languages - Nyangatom. They are agro- pastoralists, relying on cattle herding and flood-retreat agriculture (consisting mainly of sorghum harvesting on the Omo and Kibish Rivers). In other words, they are semi-nomadic hunters and cattle-herders by custom, measuring their wealth in terms of the size of their herd, though flood agriculture now plays and increasingly important role in their subsistence. They tend to indulge in honey and frequently smoke out beehives to get the honey inside the nests.
The Bume are known to be great warriors and, quite frequently, active warmongers. Although they are peaceful and welcoming, they conflict with the neighboring tribes including the Hammer, the Karo and the Surma.
Kangate is the get way for accessing the habitation of the Bume from the east of Omo River. The crossing of the Omo river, although need to have time to do that) to the west enables one to see their small hat villages well.
The Mursi number about 5,000 and are primarily pastoralists categorized in the Nilo-Saharan language family. The Mursi are Known for their lip plate tradition; an unmarried woman's lower lip will be pierced and then progressively stretched over the period of a year. A clay disc indented like a pulley wheel is squeezed into the hole in the lip. As it stretches, ever-larger discs are forced in until the lip, now a loop, is so long it can sometimes be pulled right over the owner's head. The size of the lip plate determines the bride price, with a large one bringing in fifty head of cattle. The women make the lip plates from clay, color them with ochre and charcoal, and bake them in a fire. Stick fighting or "donga": At a fight, each contestant is armed with a hardwood pole about six feet long with a weight of just less than two pounds. In the attacking position, this pole is gripped at its base with both hands - the left above the right, in order to give maximum swing and leverage. Each player beats his opponent with his stick as many times as possible with the intention of knocking him down and eliminating him from the game. Players are usually unmarried men. The winner is carried away on a platform of poles to a group of girls waiting at the side of the arena, who decide among themselves which of them will ask for his hand in marriage. Taking part in a stick fight is considered to be more important than winning it. The men paint their bodies with a mixture of chalk and water before the fight.
A tribe living on the east banks of the Omo, the Karo number about 1000. Tourists enjoy watching the Karo preparing themselves for a celebration or traditional dance when they decorate their bodies with chalk paint, often imitating the spotted plumage of Guinea Fowl. The Karo excel in face and torso paintings. Elaborate facemasks are created using locally found white chalk, yellow mineral rock, pulverized iron ore and black charcoal. Karo women scarify their chests to beautify themselves and become more appealing to their men. The scarification of a man's chest is made when he has killed an enemy or a dangerous animal. The scars are cut with a knife or razor blade, and ash is then rubbed in to produce a raised welt. Like the Hamar, the wearing of a gray and ochre clay hair bun with ostrich feathers indicates a man's bravery.
Broadly speaking, the Benna belong to the Hamar-Bashada cultural group. Numbering about 35,000 they are primarily settled farmers living in the highlands to the east of the Mago National Park. They enter the Park to hunt during the dry season; if they manage to kill a buffalo they adorn them with clay and have a celebration.
Dorze is a tribe of skillful cotton weavers and potters who live in the mountains just outside Arba Minch. Their houses, standing up to 6 m tall and built in a shape of elephant's head, are the most unique traditional structures in Africa. Staple food of the Dorze tribe is enset or false banana. The Dorze dwellings are entirely organic: they are built using bamboo, grass, and false banana leaves. A visit to the Dorze house is a pleasant and memorable experience for the tourists.
Hamer is a tribe which occupies the large territory of South Omo. They speak a language which belongs to the Omotic group of languages and display an elaborate and unique style of body decorations and clothes. Women wear leather skirts decorated with cowri shells. Their braided hair is painted with ochre, and their arms are decorated with 15 or more copper bracelets. The most important event in the Hamer society is the Bull Jumping Ceremony, the rite which marks a passage of men from one age group to another. This ceremony can be attended by tourists visiting the Hamer territory. Two principal settlements of Hamer are Dimeka and Turmi, especially colorful and interesting to visit on the market days.
Karo is a small tribe of perhaps 1000 people or less. They live in the area of two small villages - Kolcho and Dus. Karo are best known for their elaborate body paintings, special for important ceremonies. Colorful face masks are prepared using chalk, charcoal, iron ore, and yellow rock. Hairstyle of both men and women is also very unusual. Foreign tourists are always welcome to attend Karo traditional ceremonies if they are lucky to visit their villages at such times.
Konso is a tribe which inhabits the area of basalt hills about 85 km to the south from Arba Minch. They speak a Cushitic language. Konso live in villages usually located on a top of a hill and surrounded by a 2 m stone wall. Konso are famous all over Ethiopia for their advanced methods of land cultivation, ehich include irrigation and building of terraces. Also very famous are the Konso's waqa - carved wooden monuments erected on the graves.
African Petra Tour & Travel - The Scenic Route
Apart from its historical sites, Ethiopia offers exceptional natural features and a rich bio-diversity. The country’s scenery varies from high mountain ranges with alpine flora and fauna, like the Simien and Bale Mountains, to deep gorges, wide valleys, volcanic lakes, savannahs, and semitropical forests, to the lowlands of the Omo Valley and the Danakil Depression (Dallol), one of the earth’s hottest places. Connected with Ethiopia’s extraordinary geography are its diverse ecosystems, placing the country among the foremost in the world for its numerous endemic mammals, birds and plants. While the Rift Valley Lakes are famous for bird-watching, the Awash and Nechisar National Parks are fine places for game drives. Not far from its origin in Lake Tana, on the outskirts of the city of Bahirdar, the Blue Nile River turns into the spectacular Blue Nile Falls. A paradise for birds and definitely a must for every ornithologist! Indulge in trekking or horse-back riding in the national parks, marvel at the fascinating endemic animals and revel in the breathtaking scenery!
African Petra Tour & Travel - Sof Omar Cave
120km east from Goba is one of the most spectacular extensive cave system in the world. Created by the Web River in the limestone rock, the caves are an extraordinary natural phenomenon and a place of breathtaking beauty. Great caverns have been carved out of the rock creating soaring underground chambers. The caves, now an important Islamic shrine, can be visited with local guides.
African Petra Tour & Travel - The Blue Nile River
It is this spectacular flood of the Blue Nile that sets it apart from many other great river systems of the world. Each year during the heavy rains, the Blue Nile swells to over 50 times its dry season size and carries with it a staggering 140 million tonnes of rich, fertile silt as it rages, thick and brown, towards the Mediterranean sea.
The Blue Nile from the highlands of Ethiopia, and the White Nile from Lake Victoria meet in Khartoum, and merge in what Arab poets call 'the longest kiss in history', to form the Nile river.
For most of the year, the Blue Nile provides little water compared to the White Nile, but in summer it is very much the dominant tributary.
The Nile River is 6,700km long, and hence is the longest river in the world. Despite the fact that the Nile flows through one of the harshest deserts, and travels the last 2,400km without a single tributary, it never runs dry.
The Nile river is said to be the life of the Egyptians. There is an old saying that 'Egypt is the gift of Nile'. The entire long history of Egypt, even as far back as the days of the Pharoes and the Pyramids, is closely linked to the Nile river. This is still true even to the present day, as the Blue Nile is vital to the livelihood of Egypt. Almost 60% of the water that reaches Egypt originates from the Blue Nile branch of the great river.
The river is also an important resource for Sudan, where dams produce 80% of the country's power as well as irrigation for the Gezira Plain, a project delivering water to over 2 million acres. The Gezira Plain is most famous for the production of its high quality cotton. It also produces wheat, but animal feed crops dominate the production of this vast and rich farmland
It is ironical that although the Blue Nile has such a big economic impact for Sudan and Egypt, Ethiopia as yet has not benefited from the Blue Nile. This is more eloquently put in an Ethiopian saying, "Ye Abayin lij wuha temat", which means "the daughter of Blue Nile is thirsty".
Besides the natural features of the Nile river, the fact that so many peoples and countries have vested interest in the river, makes it an extremely interesting geopolitical issue.
African Petra Tour & Travel - The Blue Nile Falls
Besides the natural features of the Nile River, the fact that so many peoples and countries have vested interest in the river makes it an extremely interesting geopolitical issue.
The power of the Blue Nile may best be appreciated just thirty kilometers downstream from the point where the river first leaves Lake Tana. There, a rumble of sound fills the air and the green fields and low hills on either bank tremble to the Blue Nile Falls. It is one of the most dramatic spectacles on either the White or Blue Niles, a vision of natural strength and grandeur.
Four hundred meters wide in flood, the Blue Nile plunges forty-five meters down a sheer chasm to throw up a continuous mist that drenches the countryside up to a kilometer away. In turn, this gentle deluge produces rainbows that shimmer across the gorge under the changing arc of the sun - and a perennial rainforest. The pillar of cloud in the sky above, seen from afar, explains the local name for the falls, 'Tissisat', water that smokes.
The Blue-Nile Falls is the second largest of its kind in Africa, and is one of the best sceneries in the entire continent.
African Petra Tour & Travel - Omo River
The Omo River tumbles its way 350 kilometers through a steep inaccessible valley before slowing its pace as it nears the lowlands and then meanders through flat, semi-desert bush, eventually running into Lake Turkana. Since 1973, the river has proved to be a major attraction for white-water rafters.
African Petra Tour & Travel - Rift Valley
The Ethiopian Rift Valley, which is part of the famous East African Rift Valley, comprises numerous hot springs, beautiful lakes and a variety of bird life. The valley is the result of two parallel faults in the earth's surface between which, in distant geological time, the crust was weakened, and the land subsided.
African Petra Tour & Travel - Dallo Depression
The Afar area where the Ethiopian Rift Valley meets the Red Sea is one of the most inhospitable parts of the earth. Much of this area was flooded by the Red Sea, a flood that was subsequently stemmed by fresh volcanic activity that raised barriers of basaltic lava. Behind these barriers, the trapped inland sea that had formed began to evaporate under the fierce heat of the tropical sun - a process that is almost complete today.
African Petra Tour & Travel - Abaya and Chamo
Arba Minch meaning ‘forty springs’ is situated at an elevation of around 1300m in the foot hills of the Rift Valley and amid a country with abundant water, on a high, cool ridge overlooking two of the southern Rift’s most beautiful lakes Chamo and Abaya. The town is directly opposite Nechisar National Park entrance. ‘Nech’ means white and ‘Sar’ means grass- and the combination ‘white grass’ clearly describing the broad plains area of Nechisar National Park supporting a good number of mammals including, the large greater kudu, with spectacular spiral horns and white-striped flanks, the tiny Guenther’s dik-dik, usually seen in pairs, herds of Burch ell’s zebra, which mingle with Grant’s gazelle and an occasional Swayne’s hartebeest – an endemic subspecies.
The two lakes are divided by a hilly ridge with the delightful name of the ‘Bridge of Heaven’. . Many small rivers empty into both lakes. Crocodiles and hippos abound and hippo hunters from the local Ganjule and Guji tribes carry on a lucrative trade in those parts of the lakes not inside the national park. There is also a crocodile market at the mouth of the small Kulfo River which flows into Lake Chamo. Further north on the shores of Lake Abaya is a crocodile farm, also outside the park boundary.
The birds of this area are many and varied, reflecting the different habitats within the park. Hornbills are particularly striking; the fish eagle is ever-present; kingfishers are numerous along the Kulfo River, and rollers can be seen in the bushes. The shores and islands of Abaya and Chamo are populated by farming peoples such as the Ganjule and Guji, both of whom also have ancient traditions of hippo hunting.