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My trip to Ethiopia got off to a good start, or rather, a good flight! I was fortunate enough to fly there on a Boeing 787 Dreamliner, an amazing plane.

travel-story-etiopia

My first stop in Ethiopia was Addis Ababa, the capital of the country; a city with no special appeal, although the National Museum of Ethiopia is worth a visit to meet Lucy, a hominid of the species Australopithecus afarensis, more than 3 million years old.

travel-story-etiopia
travel story ethiopia

From Addis Ababa I travelled to the Danakil Desert, or as some call it, "hell on earth." And it's not a bad name as it perfectly describes the warmest place - and one of the lowest - in the world. A completely remote area where the lowest temperatures never fall below 30°C (in summer, they reach almost 60°C…). It’s a very extreme place, where constant heat-produced fog prevented us from glimpsing at the sky and sun. But believe me, even if it sounds unpleasant, the experience is worth it!

Few sights can compare to the views of the active volcano Erta Ale from the air, as you approach the crater by helicopter. You can only approach it at night, to avoid the hottest hours of the day. In addition, darkness helps us appreciate the beauty of lava and its hypnotic movements. The crater has so much activity that even from the camp where we slept, at the foot of the volcano, we could hear the lava flowing.

travel-story-etiopia
travel-story-etiopia

In the Danakil Desert it’s also possible to observe the caravans of the Afar, a self-governed desert people known for their coarseness. In fact, to enter this area one must be mandatorily escorted by the Ethiopian militia. The Afar take large blocks of salt from the mines and transport them by camel to the road where the trucks await. The journey is very tiresome and lasts a whole day and night, but the view of the caravan in the desert, on the large plates of salt, is spectacularly beautiful.

travel-story-etiopia
travel-story-etiopia

In Danakil we also visited the sulphurous area of Dallol, an incredible place unlike anything I’d seen before in my life. The small puddles and strange yellow and orange formations made me feel as if I were literally on another planet.

travel-story-etiopia

In addition, I was able to enjoy these amazing landscapes completely by myself, without meeting any tourist, which intensified the incredible experience.

travel-story-etiopia
travel-story-etiopia

From Danakil I traveled to the area of Gheralta, to discover its centuries-old stone-carved churches, which are still in use nowadays. There, the weather is more pleasant, the temperatures are lower and you can enjoy nature under the blue sky. One of the places that surprised me the most is the 6th century monastery Debre Damo, located on top of a small plateau. Only men can access it, women are not allowed, and to visit and meet the monks who live there we must climb a 20 meters-high rock, secured with a cowhide harness. Getting up requires a lot of physical strength, and it certainly isn’t suitable for people with vertigo!

travel-story-etiopia

During the last days of the trip I toured the cultural route in chronological order: Axum, Lalibela and Gondar. In Axum I was able to appreciate the 1700 years-old obelisks and the quarry from where the stones were extracted. In fact, after a nice walk around the area I observed an old stone engraving of a lion and the moon, an amazing work of art. Lalibela is the place where we find the famous churches excavated in the stone, constructed approximately in 1200 d.C. It’s impressive to walk between the walls and stone, and discover all the details excavated in these amazing constructions. Finally in Gondar, capital of the old empire, there are several buildings dating from the 17th century, such as the royal enclosure of Fasil Ghebi, which is worth a visit.

travel-story-etiopia
travel-story-etiopia

My last stop in Ethiopia was Bale Mountains National Park, 3,000 meters high, an ideal place for nature lovers and trekkers, where you can find Lake Tana and the highest lodge in Africa.

travel-story-etiopia

Ethiopia is a country of wild nature and contrasts, of infernal desert and green mountains, a surprising and unique country with mindblowing landscapes.

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