The Rock-Hewn Churches of Lalibela, Ethiopia

Lalibela is located approximately 370 miles (600 kilometers) north of Addis Ababa in the Amhara Region, situated at an altitude of 8,200 feet (2,500 meters). In its center lies a unique complex of 11 churches cut out of the living rock some 800 years ago. Their construction is attributed to King Lalibela (approximately 1181-1221), of the Zagwe dynasty. The churches are still used for daily worship and special ceremonies, receiving pilgrims and large crowds during holidays such as Christmas and Easter. The churches, inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1978, are sculpted out of solid volcanic rock and are often connected by long underground tunnels and trenches. The main cluster of 11 churches is divided in two groups: a northern group with five churches and an eastern group with another five, while Biet Gyorgis, perhaps the most famous, is an isolated church.

Ethiopia’s Danakil Depression : the hottest place on Earth

The Danakil Depression is the hottest place on Earth in terms of year-round average temperatures. It is also one of the lowest places on the planet at 100 metres (330 ft) below sea level. The Dankil Depresssion is a plain approximately 200 by 50 km (124 by 31 mi), lying in the north of the Afar Region of Ethiopia, near the border with Eritrea. It is about 125 m (410 ft) below sea level and is bordered to the west by the Ethiopian Plateau and to the east by the Danakil Alps, beyond which is the Red Sea. Numerous sulfur springs, volcanoes, geysers, acidic pools, vast salt pans, and colorful mineral-laden lakes dot the area, which formed above the divergence of three tectonic plates. Volcanic activity heats spring water, bringing sulfur and iron to the surface, leaving behind yellow, green, and orange deposits. For centuries, locals have been trekking in with camel caravans to mine the salt by hand, and in recent years, a few have been guiding tourists into the alien-looking landscape.

Simien Mountains National Park

Simien Mountains National Park is one of the national parks of Ethiopia. Located in the Semien (North) Gondar Zone of the Amhara Region, its territory covers the Simien Mountains and includes Ras Dashan, the highest point in Ethiopia. The Simien Mountains were formed prior to the creation of the Rift Valley, from lava outpourings between 40 and 25 million years ago during the Oligocene period. The volcano is believed to have spread over more than 5000 m2  and resulted in a thick sequence of basaltic lava some 3,000-3,500 m thick that was deposited on Precambrian crystalline basement. The major part of the Simien Mountains consists of remnants of a Hawaiian-type shield volcano. The Kidus Yared peak is situated near the middle of the shield volcano. Ras Dejen (4,533 m), Bwahit (4,430 m) and Silki (4,420 m) were formed from the outer core of this ancient volcano. 

The Blue Nile Falls

The Blue Nile Falls, locally known as “Tis Abay” meaning “Great Smoke”, is a beautiful waterfall of the Blue Nile River in Ethiopia. The Blue Nile falls is one of Ethiopia’s best-known tourist attractions situated on the upper course of the river, about 30 kilometres (19 mi) downstream from the town of Bahir Dar and Lake Tana.  The Blue Nile is one of the 2 tributaries which make up the River Nile, Africa’s longest river. As the water crashes down, it creates huge plumes of mist and beautiful rainbows are formed.  The area surrounding the falls is home to a wide range of wildlife, including monkeys and a mirage of brightly colored birds. The path to the falls passes by small villages and hamlets which offer an insight into Ethiopian culture and village life. Surrounded by stunning nature, there are many excellent photographic opportunities along the route.