From visiting the most epic Christian sites to meeting ancient tribes with animistic beliefs, and from roaming around the thickest jungle to crossing the most inhospitable desert; traveling in Ethiopia is the most diverse African experience and this travel guide contains everything you need to know about it

I seriously thought that Ethiopia was a touristic, well-known country in the West but, when I came back from my trip, I was surprised to find out that many people had absolutely no clue about it, like they didn’t even know about its geographical location.

The truth is that traveling can be extremely subjective and, while Ethiopia may be a relatively touristic country as per Against the Compass standards – meaning that this is one of the most visited countries I talk about in this blog – compared to other average destinations, it is a real off the beaten track destination.


Little is known about this African country and, when people ask me what it is like to travel in Ethiopia, I always begin the conversation with the following:

The main reason to visit Ethiopia is that it is an exceptionally diverse experience.

On the one hand, the cultural diversity is huge. In Ethiopia alone, you have 80 distinct ethnic groups who speak more than 80 languages and practice different religions, from different branches of Christianity to Islam and animistic beliefs.

On the other hand, this is a historically rich country and the one with the most impressive historical and archeological sites in sub-Saharan Africa, once the capital of the Aksumite Empire – one of the most powerful ancient empires in the continent that ruled for more than 800 years – and home to endless jaw-dropping millennial rock-hewn churches and European-like medieval castles.

Furthermore, contrary to any Western cliché, Ethiopia is also a land of natural contrasts, composed of fertile tropical forests in the south and vast flat deserts in the east, the Danakil Depression being home to lava pools and the hottest settlement in the world. In the north, Lake Tana is the source of the Blue Nile and Simien Mountains is one of the very few places in Africa with regular snowfall, the highest peak being at 4500m.

And by the way, the scenery in Ethiopia is unconditionally hair-raising, a real blessing to your eyeballs.

And if that wasn’t enough, Ethiopia was recently rebranded the Land of Origins by the Ministry of Tourism because these lands are the origin of humankind – where the oldest hominid was found – the first place to ever produce coffee and they practice one of the rawest and most ancient ways of Christianity.

Trust me, after traveling to so many countries, I am rarely impressed but still, Ethiopia definitely wowed me.

This guide contains everything you need to know to travel to Ethiopia (literally, everything), from how to get a visa to getting in, top experiences, cultural facts, budget and loads of personal travel tips.