Cradle of humanity, homeland of the first Christians and gateway to the bowels of the earth, this country of the Horn of Africa is of an exceptional human, cultural, and natural wealth.
From its capital, Addis Ababa, heading south means going back a few million years, because it is in the Rift Valley, crossed by the Awash River, that the first hominids, Lucy’s companions, rose. Tirelessly excavated by paleoanthropologists, it is far from having revealed all its secrets. Erected between the 10th and 2nd millennia BC, some one hundred and sixty megalithic sites still intrigue researchers. Going down the axis of the Great African Rift, we reach the Omo Valley, where many ethnic groups try to preserve their age-old traditions, their languages, and their way of life in symbiosis with nature, preserved until the 1960s by the isolation in which they remained.
Let’s leave lakes and fertile hills for the high plateaus of the north, melting pot of a three-millennium-old history, whose founding legend relates that the son of the Queen of Sheba and Solomon, Menelik I, would have transported the Ark of the Covenant in his capital of Aksum… If Ethiopia is today one of the poorest and most damaged countries in the world, where one meets a majority of small farmers and stockbreeders, its past splendor is manifested through its sites classified as UNESCO Heritage, such as the palaces of Gondar and the fabulous churches of Lalibela carved into the rock. Representing the largest Christian site in Africa, it is a place of pilgrimage for Ethiopians, who practice their faith as they adopted it in the 4th century.
Not far away, the Simien Mountains rise to over 4,000 meters, while crossing the Danakil desert, located below sea level, gives access to the extraordinary multicolored acid formations of the Dallol volcano and the lava lake of Erta Ale. The camel caravans exploiting the salt of this Afar depression, now give way to mining…