Explore African Great Lakes

Situated in the Horn of Africa, Ethiopia borders numerous countries like Eritrea in the North and North East, Somalia and Djibouti in the East, Sudan and South Sudan in the West, as well as Kenya in the South. The country is one of the rapidly populated land locked countries in the world with about 102 million nationals covering an area of 1,100,000 km2 with Addis Ababa as the capital city.The main religion is Christianity followed by Islam. The country is multi linguistic with many languages spoken by the various inhabitants with four of them being Oromo, Amhara, Somali and Tigrayans. Other languages are also spoken like the Afroasiatic, Cushitic, Semitic, Omotic and the Nilo Saharan languages which are usually spoken by the minority groups/ tribes in the country. The major agriculture product grown in the country are coffee beans which were first grown in Kefa one of the Old Ethiopian 14 provinces. The country consists of numerous highlands which are the vast Mountain ranges in all of Africa as well as the Sof Omar Caves which are the largest in Africa. Addis Ababa acts as the head quarters of the African Union, the Pan African Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, the African Standby Force, and many of the global NGOs focused on Africa.

Geography

With its strategic location in the Horn of Africa, Ethiopia has a high central plateau which elevates to 1,290 to 3,000 m (4,232 to 9,843 ft) ASL with the highest mountain peak at 4,533 m (14,872 ft). The country has the Great Rift Valley which traverses the plateau diagonally with numerous rivers that cross from one point to another. This plateau stretches to the lowlands of Sudan in the West as well as the Somali plains in the East. The Mountainous areas include the Ethiopian Highlands with the Eastern wall of the plateau in Eritrea extending towards the Red Sea Ras Kasar (18° N) to Annesley Bay. It then stretches South into Ethiopia running along a line of 40° E for some 600 km (373 mi) with the Awash River which flows Eastwards. The main range extends South West then South to the Awash Valley which is 1,000 m (3,281 ft) beneath the level of the mountains. The second range runs through a chain of the Ahmar Mountains Eastward towards the Gulf of Aden.

Climate

The country consists of a tropical climate zone since it is located between the Equator as well as the tropical of cancer with other three different climate zones which vary according to elevation. The zones include;

Dega; this is above 2440 meters high with an average annual temperature of 16°C with annual rainfall that falls between 1270 and 1280 mm.

Kolla; this is below 1830 meters high with an average annual temperature of about 27°C and annual rainfall of about 510 mm. About 125 meters lies the Danakil Depression (Danakil Desert) which is the hottest area in the country where temperatures elevate to 50°C .

Woina Dega; this includes highland areas of 1830-2440 meters with an average annual temperature of 22°C and annual rainfall ranging from 510 and 1530 mm. The country has four different seasons and these include; Bega Winter-which runs from December, January and February and is the dry season with frost in the morning, Kiremt or Meher Summer– this happens in the months of June, July and August as well as heavy rains, Belg Autumn– this happens in the months of September, October and November and also known as the harvest season and the Tseday Spring-takes place in the months of March, April and May hence the hottest.

Vegetation

The country is among the tropical land locked countries in Africa with numerous Fauna and Flora including natural vegetation ranging from tropical rain forests, thorny bushes to Mountain grasslands. About 10% of the vegetation is endemic with eight different vegetation types i.e Desert and semi-desert scrub land, Small-leaved, deciduous woodland of Acacia–Commiphora, Lowland semi-evergreen forest, Moist evergreen Montane Rain forest, Broad leaved, deciduous woodland of Combretum–Terminalia and Savannah, Dry evergreen montane forest and grassland complex, Afro-alpine and sub-Afro-alpine vegetation, Riparian and swamp vegetation.

Top Attractions in Ethiopia

Simien Mountains National Park; situated in the Simien North Gondar zone of the Amhara region and is one of the National Parks in the country covering the area around the Simien Mountains as well as the Ras Dashan. There are a number of threatened species including the walia ibex, Ethiopian wolf, wild goat,  Gelada baboon, the caracal, a cat and 50 species of birds inhabiting the numerous vegetation terrain of the region around the Mountain and park i.e bearded vulture, or lammergeier. Close to the park is a cultural district known as Askum and more than 100 hand carved stone pillars and numerous vegetation zones which include alpine forests, wilderness forests, montane Savannah, tree heath, lobelia, yellow primrose, moss etc. There are also wildlife species like the gelada baboon, Ethiopian wolf, walia ibex, hamadryas baboon, colobus monkey, leopard, caracal, wild cat, spotted hyena and jackal and vast herbivores like the bushbuck, common duiker, and klipspringer. Bird species like the lammergeyer, Verreaux’s eagle, kestrels, vultures, lanner falcon (Falco biarmicus), African buzzard (augur buzzard) and thick-billed raven. The main attraction in this park is the biosphere including steep cliffs, cool climate, and this can be enjoyed while hiking to the top of the stunning Mountain.

Lake Tana; this is the largest lake in Ethiopia, the lake was named after the region in the North of the Lake called Dembiya. The Lake is the source of the Blue Nile and is situated in the Amhara region found in the North Western Ethiopian Highlands. The Lake is approximately 84 kms and 66 kms wide with a maximum depth of 15 meters and an elevation of 1,788 meters and is fed by the Lesser Abay, Reb and Gumara rivers with a total surface area of that varies from 3,000 to 3,500 km². The park was recognized as a UNESCO Biosphere site in 2015 after its natural, international and cultural biodiversity. The lake was formed due to volcanic activity and the activities carried out on the lake include; fishing, boat cruising, bird watching, agriculture, national and international tourism as well as sand mining.

Lake Turkana; the lake was once called Lake Rudolf and is situated in the Kenyan Rift Valley found in the North of Kenya with its distant North point traversing into Ethiopia. The lake is among the largest permanent desert lakes and the world’s largest alkaline lakes. It is also the world’s fourth largest salt lake. The water is nice to drink despite the fact that it is not very good with a hot and dry climate. Around the area are rocks which are volcanic with the central island being an active volcano that usually emits vapour with outcrops and rocky shores along the Eastern and Southern regions of the Lake. The activities that can be taken on the lake include fishing, bird watching and you can watch numerous wildlife animals enjoying their habitat and these include; Grevy’s zebra, Burchell’s zebra, the beisa oryx, Grant’s gazelle, the topi and the reticulated giraffe. They are hunted by the lion and the cheetah. Elephants and the black rhinoceroses are no longer seen, although Teleki reported seeing (and shooting) many. Closer to the dust is the cushioned gerbil (Gerbillus pulvinatus).

Blue Nile Falls; this is a waterfall along the beautiful Blue Nile River in Ethiopia and is referred to as the Tis Abay in Amharic meaning “great smoke”. The falls are situated along the upper course of the river approximately 30 km downwards from the town of Bahir Dar and Lake Tana. The falls are between 37 and 45 meters high with four various streams which run from a trickle in the dry season that widens to 400 meters in the rain season. The Lake includes a hydro electric station. The activities taken on here include; bird watching, nature walks, scenic viewing and these are exceptional to all kinds of travelers and visitors that transfer here.