For a different kind of adventure, consider Ethiopia. This unique destination offers friendly people and tons of culture and history. Here you can visit remote island monasteries at Lake Tana, explore medieval castles in Gondar, and see huge monolithic pillars called stelae in Axum (the Ark of the Covenant is also reputed to be stored here). Topping things off, the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela are truly amazing—these massive structures were carved directly out of the bedrock by hand, some more than 800 years ago. Legend has it that angels helped carve some of the churches—a visit to this UNESCO World Heritage site may leave you awestruck as well! Our eight-day Historical Ethiopia Tour takes you to all of these highlights.
Another reason to visit Ethiopia is the local cuisine. If you have not tried Ethiopian food you are in for a real treat. Most meals are served on flat, pancake-like bread called injera, made from the highly nutritious local grain, teff. Injera serves as both plate and edible serving utensil for a number of spicy sauces known as wat. Many wats are vegetarian, but some contain meat—doro wat, made with chicken, is especially delicious.
Even if you have tried Ethiopian food in your home country, nothing compares to the real thing. One of my favorite dishes is known as Shiro wat, a spicy vegetarian sauce made from ground chickpeas. This dish is quite labor-intensive—it is hard to find people willing or able to prepare Shiro outside of Ethiopia, but it is readily available within the country.
A final treat worth mentioning is the wonderful fresh-made juices. Pineapple, mango, orange, and guava are usually on the menu, along with more interesting choices such as avocado—my favorite!
If you are interested in experiencing Ethiopian food, but your travel tastes lean more toward nature, then you might enjoy our thirteen-day Trekking Ethiopia tour. This trip combines visits to Gondar and Lalibela with a full week of trekking in the spectacular Simien Mountains. The Simien scenery is nothing short of epic, and you will have the chance to see rare species such as Geleda baboons, Walia Ibex, and the rare Ethiopian Wolf (Simien Fox).
If traditional cultures and visiting remote tribal peoples whets your appetite , then a third option is our twelve-day Ethiopian Epic tour, which takes you to Lake Tana, Gondar, and Lalibela in the north, and then south to the famed Omo Valley where you will visit Hamer, Karo, and Dassanech peoples, amongst others.