Ethiopia Gelada monkey Theropithecus gelada sitting in the meadow in Simien mountains
Ethiopia Erta Ale volcano crater melting lava Danakil depression
Ethiopia Fasilides Castle Fasil Ghebbi UNESCO Gondar

Ethiopia is epic. The only African country to have escaped European colonisation (apart from a five-year occupation by Mussolini’s Italy), Ethiopia has a unique cultural identity and history, much of which has been preserved. Tribal communities are plentiful, with individual customs and traditions that have remained unchanged for centuries. Staying among these communities is a chance to experience a forgotten world.

This is also one of the world’s oldest Christian nations, where rock-hewn churches and Orthodox chanting sit side-by-side with mosques and the Islamic call to prayer.

But Ethiopia isn’t just about its varied people. This is one of Africa’s most beautiful countries, with deep canyons, barren deserts, vast lakes and everything in between. It is home to 3,000m high mountain ranges and also the Danakil Depression, the lowest place in Africa. Here, simmering volcanoes bubble in the background as camels cross lakes of salt peppered with lava – all in 50C heat. Inhospitable it may be, but this is pure wilderness for the adventurous. Elsewhere, there is excellent bird-watching in the green Rift Valley, wolf sightings in the Semien Mountains and monkeys in the northern regions.

It’s impossible to travel to Ethiopia without acknowledging the country’s problems. Ethiopia has done much to move on from the spectre of the 1983-1985 famine when more than 1 million people died. However, the country still faces political instability and people displacement, brought on in part by a dispute with Eritrea that only concluded in 2018.

Despite these problems, Ethiopians are rightly frustrated that many ignore the positives of their extraordinary country for images of poverty and famine. Ethiopia is full of history, culture and natural beauty. It’s time to share it with the world.

  • Tanzania

    Tanzania

    Mountains, safaris and spice islands
    Tanzania is your quintessential African destination...
  • Kenya

    Kenya

    More than just safaris
    Think of Kenya and you might think of a 4x4 safari vehicle chasing a big cat on the prowl for its next catch or a herd of elephants peacefully grazing...
  • Rwanda

    Rwanda

    Everything in one perfect package
    One of Africa's last-known tourist destinations, tiny Rwanda gets a fraction of the visitors of neighbouring Kenya and Tanzania -- but not for long...
  • Uganda

    Uganda

    Unforgettable encounters
    Uganda is a gem...

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Where to go in East Africa

Our recommended places

Tanzania

Tanzania

Tanzania is your quintessential African destination. From endless savannahs playing host to hordes of wildebeest migrating, the majesty of the Serengeti and the snow-capped peaks of Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania offers adventures for everybody.

But it's not just about the wildlife. Tanzania has more than 500 miles of sublime coastline and a rich history as a spice route, while the legendary Maasai warriors still stand proud.

Kenya

Kenya

Think of Kenya and you might think of a 4x4 safari vehicle chasing a big cat on the prowl for its next catch or a herd of elephants peacefully grazing. But for a relatively small country, the variety in Kenya’s natural landscapes, cultural heritage (there are over 40 tribes and spoken languages in the country) and cities is impressive — so much so that many visitors return time and again.

You can race camels in the desert, hike snow-capped mountains, watch migrating humpback whales and have a drink on a rooftop overlooking Africa’s Silicon Valley, all in one week if you have time.

That’s not to say that the safari experience is overrated. There are new lodges and hotels to experience, a growing conservation culture and most importantly, people who are proud of their land and all its gifts. But look a little deeper, and Kenya will offer you an experience beyond your expectations.

Rwanda

Rwanda

One of Africa's last-known tourist destinations, tiny Rwanda gets a fraction of the visitors of neighbouring Kenya and Tanzania -- but not for long. Tucked just below Uganda, it sits on the Albertine Rift which divides the Congo and Nile water catchment areas. This makes it one of Africa's most biodiverse regions. And unlike many other African countries, you can drive across it in a matter of hours. The result? A host of exceptional wildlife experiences within very close proximity.

Many people know about mountain gorillas, and Rwanda is one of the best places to see them. But there's also the Akagera National Park, home to all the big five. And Nyungwe Forest, a unique ecosystem where you can spot chimps, trek to waterfalls and cross a 70-metre high walking suspension bridge. Once you've had your fill of adventure, you can relax on the shores of spectacular Lake Kivu. It's one of Africa's most picturesque lakes with hardly a tourist around. For now.

Uganda

Uganda

Uganda is a gem. Known as the ‘Pearl of Africa’ — an attribution it got from Winston Churchill in his 1908 book My African Journey — over a century later, this East African country still tickles tourists with its splendour.

Home to tropical weather, warm and inviting people, diverse cultures among some 53 tribes and 54% of the world’s mountain gorillas, Uganda packs a lot into a small country. Look beyond the obvious and you’ll find a country teeming with culture and wildlife.

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