20 Luxury African Travel Ideas for Ethiopia in 2020

Sheraton swimming pool

11 Jan 20 Luxury African Travel Ideas for Ethiopia in 2020

Travel connoisseurs looking for a melting pot of luxury and adventure in 2020 will find luxury African travel ideas all in Ethiopia. 

The unspoiled, never colonized, ancient Abyssinia offers more elusive travel experiences than any other African country.

20 Luxury African Travel Ideas for Ethiopia in 2020

1) The Sheraton Addis, a Luxury Collection Hotel

The bustling city of Addis Ababa, with 7 million residents, is a political home to the African Union. People from every country in the world call it home. Escape the busy streets and hustle of the day to day with luxury accommodation at the Sheraton Addis.

Equipped with multiple restaurants, swimming pools, spa, night clubs, and every ounce of comfort you crave, there is no better way to welcome Addis than by choosing this memorable resort.

Sheraton Addis is luxury travel Africa

2) Meet Lucy, your oldest relative 

Lucy is the most famous oldest human skeleton ever discovered. She was found in 1974 by paleontologist Donald C. Johanson in Hadar, Ethiopia. Just like so many great things, the Beatles actually helped inspire her name.  Their song, “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds” was heard multiple times during the celebration party, that the scientists found, “Lucy,” a very fitting name for our ancient ancestor.

Today, Lucy is available in the National Museum in Addis Ababa. Although you will find restaurants, cafes, and shops all named, “Lucy,” in her honor.

3) The Fruit Shops of Addis Ababa

While the hundreds, if not thousands, of fruit shops of Addis Ababa, might not scream luxury African travel, they create an unforgettable sight in your Ethiopian dream trip.

It’s the simple, artistic stacking of naturally organic avocados and oranges that create a charming image of this metropolitan city. Inside they sell juice for $1 and salad for $2. While that may cause some gastric dilemmas for some traveler’s stomachs, buying a kilo of large orange-colored mangos, pink papayas, or cactus fruit (in Amharic, ‘beles’) is considered a safe and delicious snack for later.

luxury african travel fruit shops

4) Unity Park in Addis Ababa

Unity Park is brand new. It’s the brainchild of Ethiopia’s Prime Minister and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Dr. Abiy Ahmed. The 19th-century palace, located at the heart of the century, houses historical buildings and grounds that have seen both imperial and Marxist governments which impacted the lives of millions.

Opened in October 2019, Unity Park was built in 1887 by Emperor Menilek and Empress Taitu who founded Addis Ababa. It is also home to several animal species including the rare, endemic and endangered, black-mane lion.

5) Ethiopian Art

While largely ignored by the world, Ethiopian art is absolutely spectacular. With deep historical and religious contexts, artisans with unique visions and capabilities have painted and sculpted some incredible works of art beyond compare.

For art that you can take home, Addis Fine Art Gallery represents established and emerging artists and is one of the most impressive art galleries on the African continent.

ethiopian art luxury african travel

A boy in a Tigray cave shows the ancient historical paintings

6) Coffee 

As all true coffee connoisseurs know, Ethiopian coffee is some of the world’s best. As the country which discovered and invented everyone’s favorite beverage, the country is absolutely rich in these beloved beans.

There are three ways to enjoy it while traveling. The first is to enjoy local coffee tours. Each region, due largely in part to the changing altitudes, produces a different cup. Some with hints of chocolate flavors, others more citrusy.  Explore the different regions and coffee farms as you travel.

The second is to enjoy a traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony. Get front row seats to this beloved tradition and delight in the fresh beans being roasted in front of you. As you waft in the intoxicating aroma, observe as the beans are manually ground, and then brewed in a special clay pot. It is tradition to enjoy three cups of coffee- each less strong than the first. Popcorn sprinkled with sugar and incense are also mandatory to any authentic ceremony.

Lastly, enjoy a small macchiato which is the capital’s favorite way to consume coffee. Ask for a “fasting macchiato” if you would like a vegan/dairy-free option.

7) Elite Modes of Travel 

While Ethiopian roads have improved considerably, enjoy the luxury of private planes and helicopter rides to enjoy a bird’s eye view of this beautiful country.

8) Ethiopian Food

Ethiopian food, slowly rising in popularity, has remained largely out of mainstream popularity. Although it is gaining recognition making appearances in shows like The Simpsons and Modern Family.

The fermented teff crepe, injera, is topped with different colorful stews is simply beloved food by everyone in the country. Ethiopian food caters well to meat lovers and to vegans.

Locals claim that injera can’t be replicated outside the country. To a large degree, that is true. No one has exactly figured out why, but Ethiopian food outside the country is nothing compared to the authentic experience of eating it while in-country.

luxury african travel ethiopian food

9) Craft Beer and Wine

Ethiopians are famous for their local honey wine called Tej and a homemade beer called Tella. Naturally organic and made with the utmost care, indulge in a glass or two of these sweet and enjoyable alcohols over lunch or dinner.

10) Unspoiled, Ethiopian Scenery

Those traveling to Egyptian pyramids or Kenyan safaris will quickly realize the pain of taking a photo without another tourist in the background. This all changes when you view the highlands of Ethiopia. With 360 degree views, enjoy the most mountainous country in Africa all to yourself.  Capture magnificent photography with only the wandering cows or curious local children at your side.

11) Lalibela’s Rock-Hewn Churches

Much has been said about UNESCO’s Lalibela rock-hewn churches. Nothing surpasses the extraordinary experience of visiting them yourself. Much more of a hike than a typical church-going experience, these magnificent structures of religious art are incredible to behold.

Still to this day, they attract one of the largest pilgrimages during Ethiopian Christmas which is held at the end of the first week in January. Throughout the year, they are an active worship spot and no doubt you will behold authentic Ethiopian Orthodox Christians praying and visiting priests inside the churches.

Lalibela Rock Churches in Ethiopia

12) Gondar’s Castles

While Africa is not famous for its castles like Europe, the ones in Ethiopia have a unique personality, history, and cultural significance that is worth seeing for yourself.

Almost 400 years ago, Gondar was the capital of Ethiopia. The last remembrance of this town’s historical significance is the castles of Fasilides and the palace of Lyasu the Great. They resemble a Portuguese influence but are heavily tied to the empire palaces of Axum and the mosques of South Arabia.

Gondar Castles in Ethiopia

Castles of Gondar. Photo Credit: Dave Court

13) Spas

For those who enjoy some luxury after a day of sightseeing, some of Ethiopia’s high-end resorts offer a wide range of relaxing spa activities. Choose a hot stone massage, hour-long pedicure, or an indulgent facial. Pampering yourself and a little self-care only makes for a more wonderful journey.

14) The Grand Canyon of Africa

Explore a part of the earth that most will never know exists. The Simien Mountains, also known as, “The Grand Canyon of Africa,” offer an immersive experience into Mother Nature’s best scenery.

Unlike traditional hiking destinations in Europe and North America, the Simien Mountains are beyond compare in their raw, unspoiled, natural beauty. There are no signposts, no guard rails, no fast food wrappers. There is only a 360 degree of pure earth that you can have all to yourself.

Simien Mountains in Ethiopia

 

15) Ethiopian hospitality 

For so long, luxury travel meant six-star hotels and expensive European spas only. Now, luxury travel Ethiopia includes authenticity, adventure, and custom experiences.

What has now become famous is unrivaled Ethiopian hospitality. Ethiopians treat foreigners with a reverence. In fact, many believe it is their spiritual duty to welcome foreigners and treat them kindly. As such, they are kind, giving, and unbeatably friendly. They will not hesitate to welcome you into their home or give you a present of which you can never repay.

In a world that increasingly distrusts and fears strangers, Ethiopians remind us of our humble roots where we are all human, in an interlinked community, that most provide and take care of one another.

16) Old World Monkeys

The Geladas, also known as Bleeding Heart Monkeys, resemble baboons but have a much milder, friendly personality to humans. They are the last of the grass-eating Old World Monkeys and exist only in Ethiopia. Because their diet is much more abundant, they thrive in large numbers. Groups as big as 1200 have been observed together. Unlike other primate groups which are small, Geladas regularly meet, “strangers,” that they don’t know. This has developed perhaps the most vocal and evolved communication of any primate in the world.

Spend a day near them and observe their primal yet sophisticated world, and at the end of your trip, find ways to get involved and protect their habitats from being destroyed.

Gelada Monkeys in Simien Mountains Ethiopia

Photo Credit: Dave Court

17) Ethiopian Culture

The Ethiopian culture, which was never colonized, has held remarkably strong to its ancient roots. It’s a quirky country that holds onto the old and is unwelcoming to the new. People with unrivaled pride in their accomplishments. A culture that values people and community over time and efficiency. A place with their own traditional banking system called, “iquib,” which rotates saving and funding. And, “eder” which are society based support groups that help with the chores, financial support, and mourning during funerals.

In a world that expects Africa to catch up with it, the Ethiopian culture reminds us that maybe we could use some of their values in exchange.

18) Omo Valley Tribes

Ethiopia is comprised of over 80 different tribes, each with its own food, language, dancing, and customs. Of course, the most unique tribes are found in the Omo Valley.

The tribes here, which are frequently featured in National Geographic, are home to the topless women with large clay plates in their mouths and the men who participate in a naked bull-jumping ceremony to win the honor of the woman they love.

It’s a place untouched by western civilization. With traditions around childbirth, marriage, love, and life that will blow the average traveler’s understanding of what they thought they knew about the world and humanity.

 

19) Glamping 

While the capital city offers pristine, international resorts, the rest of the country offers something far more unforgettable. This includes luxury experiential lodges, camps, and boutique accommodation that you won’t find anywhere else in the world. It’s posh camping that takes you the heart of the most beautiful spots of Ethiopia while offering a kind of pampering and luxury that is beyond compare.

luxury african travel, resort in afar

20) Bird Watching in Ethiopia

For bird lovers, there is no better place in all of Africa than Ethiopia. There are over 800 unique kinds of bird species, with 29 species endemic to Ethiopia and Eritrea alone. One of the best destinations to view these magnificent creatures is the Bale Mountains. Enjoy a luxurious African lodge located inside the National Park, and the sounds and views of exotic birds all around you.

If you’re lucky, you’ll also see the endangered Ethiopian wolf and black-maned lion during your stay.

To learn more about luxury travel in Ethiopia, contact Kibran Tours today!

 

 

 

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