Ethiopia Travel: 7 Reasons You MUST Go

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It’s no secret that I’m in love with Ethiopia travel. Maybe it’s because it was my first African country I ever visited. Or because I’ve been living here ever since I finished my big backpacking route across Africa. Or perhaps it’s simply because my boyfriend is Ethiopian so I kind of have to like it.

Either way, it’s a really good country for you to visit. Here’s my top reasons you should travel to Ethiopia, but be sure to download (for free if you want) my Ethiopia Travel & Backpacking Guide for all my personal tips, recommendations, and health/safety warnings.

1.Ethiopia is weird.

This beloved country is so quirky. For starters, they have their own calendar system which is 13 months long and 7-8 years behind the rest of the world. So if you’re feeling a little precarious about your age, come to Ethiopia where they’ll celebrate New Years 2009 this September. And of course– if they make up their own dates, it’s no surprise that they also tell time in their own way with the day starting at 7am making every hour after that six hours different than you’d expect (ex: noon is six o’clock).

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It’s not just that, the Ethiopians themselves are quite unique. They are first of all brimming with pride for their country. It’s actually really neat to see, but things get a little humorous when the gloat of being first starts showing up in everyday life inside the country. For example, if you’re hanging out with a bunch of Ethiopians, don’t be surprised when they’ll want to drink coffee at the country’s first cafe and will further choose that cafe’s first location despite the fact that a newer and much nicer branch is located only a few minutes away. This love of being first also translates into everybody claiming to be the first in something even if it has to come with multiple clauses before it in order to make it technically true.

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There are lots more special things about this country including its love for face tattoos and raw meat (despite thinking sushi and runny yolk eggs is beyond inedible).


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My best friend trying raw meat for the first time!

2. It’s National Geographic Worthy

Visiting the remote tribes in Southern Ethiopia is like turning the pages on a National Geographic magazine. The people, who still live the same way they did thousands of years ago, walk around adorned in mouth plates, tribal tattoos, and neck and ear jewelry that is larger than the body part itself. The bare breasted women strut in confidence as proud members of their society. If you’re lucky, you’ll even get to witness a young man enter adulthood by jumping naked over as many bulls as he can in a traditional ceremony.

Many travelers also enjoy visiting the local markets and sleeping in a traditional hut. It’s an experience you can literally never have anywhere else.


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Traditional bull jumping ceremony

3. For the love of coffee.

If you like a good cup of joe, it’s only right that you visit the country that invented it. The story goes that one day a herder named Kaldi noticed his goats would prance around with lots of energy after eating a group of certain red berries. He took the berries to the elders, and the rest is coffee history.

When you come to Ethiopia, not only will you notice cafes everywhere, but you’ll most likely be invited into someone’s home for a traditional coffee ceremony. The ceremonies, while often mentioned in media, really do live up to their hype. Being able to smell the raw beans still green being roasted slowly over an open fire is one of the most intoxicating smells. While brewed strong, the coffee is surprisingly not acidic whatsoever, and is enjoyed with popcorn and incense.

4. Not like other African countries.

I feel a little hypocritical saying this since I often preach how different every African country is from one another (which is actually very true). But, Ethiopia is especially unique among the continent.

This is because Ethiopia was the only country never colonized defeating the Italians twice to remain independent. Visiting other African countries you’ll notice their European influence with the languages they speak, their British tea preferences, and other inarguable remnants left from the days of colonization.

Ethiopia on the other hand was left relatively untouched from the outside world for quite a long time. Geographically it also differs significantly from its neighbors and is dubbed the “roof of Africa” with over 70% of the continent’s mountains belonging to a country only twice the size of Texas.

For that reason and many others, Ethiopians don’t even consider themselves Africans.


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My friend Emily, an Australian backpacker, enjoying the Danikil Depression

5. History making History.

Ethiopia is so historical and famous throughout the world. It’s mentioned over 40 times in the Bible. Ethiopia is one of the few countries to be named in so many books including:- The Bible. The Koran. Homer’s Odyssey, and many other books from the past.

Their lists of accomplishments from previous days include:-

    • Being the birthplace of humanity,
    • Home to Queen of Sheba and
    • The Ark of the Covenant, and
    • The first country to send an athlete to the Olympics barefoot (and he won) continues to evolve today.

What once was a country struggling in poverty now has transformed into one of the fastest growing economies in the world.

Being home to the African Union, it attracts people from all over the world. The country, while landlocked and void of typical “African” safari animals earns its right to be visited simply because of its historical achievements and ever evolving pursuit of development.

6. The people are the best.

Ethiopians are some of the most hospitable people in the world. Whether you’re walking down the street, sitting in a bus, or simply hanging out at your hotel, someone is bound to greet you and welcome you to their country.

Locals are extremely generous and will help you with whatever you need. This makes traveling the country so much easier. I could tell story after story of an Ethiopian giving me a ride across town so I could escape the rain, carrying my groceries home for me, or even giving me their shoes (read by Travel Ethiopia Guide to learn why) all without expecting anything in return.

My favorite is the children though. As soon as they see my pale white face they’ll run up to greet me. Offer me a handshake or kiss on the cheek.


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7. Just becoming trendy.

For years Ethiopia was skipped over as a travel destination. While countries like Kenya and Egypt received all the claim to fame. That’s slowly changing now. Perhaps in part because associations like European Council on Trade and Tourism gave their 2015 award for Ethiopia Tourism.

Since I’ve been off and on in the country for the past six years, I’ve slowly witnessed the influx of travelers. While it’s not as remote as Burundi. It certainly doesn’t get the flood of tourists that Egypt’s pyramids used to receive. It’s like high fashion when something is officially trendy. Because it hit the catwalks in Paris. But won’t be worn by regular people for another year until it hits the racks in Target. Now is the best time to visit Ethiopia. Before the throngs of people start coming making your exotic destination not so exotic.

Ethiopia Travel Tips & Warnings

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While I personally love traveling Ethiopia and even living in it. I noticed a lot of backpackers referring to it as a “snooze country”. Even more get frustrated by the constant haggling and the endless parade of beggars and pick-pocketers.

This can all be avoided though. With a few quick tips. Words of advice. And pointers. On where to go or not go for your next Ethiopia travel.

Download my Ethiopia Travel Guide (for free if you want). Learn how you can safely visit ‘The land of 13 months of sunshine’. Fall in love with it as much as me. Ethiopia travel guide also includes my local number, and trust me– I’m always down for grabbing a St. George or Habesha beer.