Visit Ethiopia, a country in north-east Africa, as part of a study trip! Ethiopia is the tenth largest country in Africa, and is around three times the size of Germany. Most of Ethiopia is occupied by the highlands of Abyssinia; The capital of the country, Addis Ababa, is also located in these vast high mountains. The main attractions of Addis Ababa are Mercato – the largest market square in Africa, the Menelik Mausoleum, St. George’s Cathedral, Mount Entot and the Hager Fikir Theater. Don’t forget the other cities of Ethiopia such as Dire Dawa on the Djibouti railway; Nazret; the city of Bahar Dar with one of the palaces of Haile Selassie, the Tisissat waterfalls of the Blue Nile and the round church; Gonder with the Fasiledas palace or the city of Mek`ele (Mekelle) with one of the largest vehicle manufacturers in Ethiopia, Mesfin. Get to know the unique country of Ethiopia on a round trip!
Sämen National Park
The location and nature of the Sämen National Park
In 1978 the Sämen National Park became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. However, since 1996 it has been on the Red List of Endangered World Heritage, as the number of the Ethiopian Ibex continues to decline and more and more people are settling in the park.
The Sämen National Park covers 179 km² and is located in northern Ethiopia. He was particularly well known for its impressive mountain landscape. There are rugged mountain peaks, deep valleys and numerous steep slopes. The landscape covers heights from 1900 to 4500 meters above sea level. The highest mountain in the park is Ras Daschän (4533 m), it is the highest mountain in the country and at the same time the seventh highest on the continent of Africa.
Wildlife in the Sämen National Park
The park was founded in 1959 primarily to protect various endemic and endangered animal species. They include the arch raven, the Ethiopian ibex and jackal as well as the baboon species Dschelada. In addition, leopards, bushbuck, klipspringer, hyenas or bearded vultures, falcons and buzzards live in the Sämen-Park. A total of 20 species of large mammals and 130 species of birds live in the park. The national park owes this diversity to the great differences in altitude, the topographically diverse landscape and the climatic differences.
A breathtaking mountain landscape opens up for hikers, making the trekking tour an unforgettable experience. About a dozen four-thousand-meter peaks can be discovered. Between hundred meter deep waterfalls and sloping gorges you pass native birds and land animals. The Simien Mountains surprise with an astonishingly green landscape. A trip here is particularly worthwhile between September and October, as the plateaus are fed in lush green during this time.
Rock-hewn churches of Lalibela
What the pyramids are to Egypt, the mysterious, underground rock-cut churches modeled from tufa are to Ethiopia. A cultural monument from the 13th century is located at the foot of Mount Abune Youssef at an altitude of 2600 meters near the village of Lalibela.
“New Jerusalem” since 1979 World Heritage Site
Lalibela’s rock churches were commissioned by King Lalibela during the heyday of the Orthodox Christian faith in Ethiopia. The individual churches differed in size, shape and furnishings. Carefully planned, they were carved out of the tuff from top to bottom and modeled. They represent the largest human-carved monolithic structures in the world. The largest of the churches is over ten meters high. All of them were carved out of the rock with great precision.
Legend has it that the churches were built with the help of angels in just 23 days. In fact, scientists are now assuming a construction time of 120 years. There are few written records.
Visitors experience a special atmosphere because the churches are still in use today. They have always been places of pilgrimage for Orthodox believers.
The old imperial city
Gondar (also “Gonder”) is a city with around 220,000 inhabitants in northwest Ethiopia (Amhara region). It is at an altitude of 2,133 m, so the temperatures here are pleasant all year round. This will please all tourists who go on a study trip through Ethiopia. A trip to Ethiopia would not be complete without a stay in Gondar! As the former capital of the old Ethiopian Empire, Gondar is one of the country’s cultural metropolises.
Emperor Fasilides and his palace
According to legend, Emperor Fasilides, who ruled the country from 1632 to 1667, was looking for a place for a new capital. He followed a buffalo to a watering hole, where he met a hermit who advised him to found his town here. So much for the founding legend of Gondar. The newly founded city served as the capital of Ethiopia from 1636 to 1855. Fasilides had a large palace complex built. This was named ” Fasil Ghebbi”Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979 and is now the greatest tourist attraction in Gondar. The palace complex extends immediately north of the market square of Gondar and is surrounded by a wall with twelve gates. The gates have interesting names such as” Gate of the Judges “or” Gate the musician “. Visitors admire the massive walls and towers of the building. In addition to the Palace of Fasilides, there are also the” Palace of Queen Mentewab “, the Chancellery of Yohannes I (Emperor from 1667 – 1682) and the” Palace of Iyasou “( Joshua I, Emperor from 1682 – 1706) to the ensemble of buildings. The emperors mentioned were Ethiopian Orthodox Christians and also had churches built on the palace area: The churches “Ginjabet Mariyam “and”Asasame Qaddus Mikael “are also worth seeing. In January, when the inhabitants of Gondar celebrate the Festival of Apparitions, large processions take place around the churches.
The church “Debre Berhan Selassie”
This church is one of the most beautiful places of worship in Gondar! It was built in the 17th century under Emperor Iyasou and stands in the middle of a park. A flight of stairs leads to the main entrance (the visitor feels a little reminiscent of a Greek temple when looking at the columns at the front). Inside the church are beautiful murals depicting biblical scenes. The ceiling is also painted: with countless angels!
Ethiopia’s green mountains: the Simien Mountains
The Simien Mountains are a mountain range in the far north of Ethiopia. The most interesting area is the 179 square kilometer Simien National Park (in German often Sämen National Park), which is one of the most beautiful landscapes in Africa and an extremely interesting destination for hiking trips. Part of the mountain range is also on the list of World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.
Spectacular mountains in Ethiopia
The Simien Mountains were formed by volcanic activity around 75 million years ago. The landscape is characterized by the typical high plateaus, which are separated from each other by deep valleys, as well as volcanic cones and towering rock needles. The highest peak of the mountain is the 4,533 meter high Ras Daschän, which is also the highest mountain in Ethiopia. In total there are more than a dozen four-thousand-meter peaks in the region. The Simien Mountains are the main catchment area of the Mayshasha River. Although the area is fertile in itself, the landscape is rather barren due to decades of overgrazing, the plateaus are mostly treeless grasslands. On the other hand, lush forests thrive on the steep slopes and in the gorges.
With an average rainfall of 1550 millimeters, the Simien Mountains are one of the rainiest areas in Africa. Most of the precipitation falls in the two rainy seasons from February to March and July to September. Due to the altitude, it can get quite cold in the mountains: the maximum temperature is only 11 to 18 degrees, frost is not uncommon at night, and snow occasionally falls on the very highest peaks.
Numerous rare animal species are found in the Simien Mountains. Some of them are endemic, such as the Ethiopian ibex or the Ethiopian wolf. Some leopards can also be found in the area of the national park. The best-known animal species in the Simien Mountains – and something of a natural landmark in this unique region – is the Jelada, also known as the blood-breasted baboon. It is the only species of primate living today that feeds almost exclusively on grass. These animals live here in large herds and can be easily observed on the grassy plateaus.
The Simien Mountains are mainly visited for their breathtaking scenery and unique wildlife. But the area also has some cultural attractions to offer: In the city of Gondar, located at the foot of the mountains, there are centuries-old imperial palaces and castles. From there, guided day trips and multi-day hikes into the Simien Mountains are also offered.