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An Ethiopian Vacation
Located in the Northeast of Africa, Ethiopia is mostly located at 2000-2500 metres above sea level, which gives it a considerably cooler climate than it´s neighbouring countries. Contrary to popular belief, most of the region is mountainous, not a flat, arid desert. And the high altitude takes the edge off the heat. In the evening you might feel like putting a sweater on and nights can get quite cold.
The capital of Addis Ababa sits on the foothills of Mount Entoto and in this area you can take a number of beautiful one day hikes. It is also a good starting point for some amazing trips from 7 up to 16 days long.
From here you can also take an hour flight to Gondar to hike the Simien Mountains. You´ll want to spend a few days here, the views are spectacular.
The Simien Mountains are a Unesco World Heritage Site and has the highest peak in Ethiopia. Who doesn´t want a view from the top of the Horn of Africa? Hire a guide and go on a trek up Ras Dashen at 4550 metres.
This area contains a wide range of rare species, flora and fauna. You can run into the Simien wolf, as well as the Walia ibex and the Gelada baboon! If you´re into birdwatching you´ll have a blast here with over 800 species to choose from.
In order to avoid the rainy season in June-August, most tourists visit Ethiopia between late September to January. Weather that time of year is fantastic, with pleasant temperatures and blue skies.
It can be wise to book your trip around that time if you plan a lot of trekking, but the rain in this area actually isn´t that disruptive.
But if you really want something else than moist and chilly mountains, you should check out another famous Ethiopian landmark.
The Danakil Depression is located near the border of Eritrea and at 125 metres below sea level, this is the hottest place on Earth. At least when it comes to average temperatures (34.4 C). It is also one of the lowest places on earth and highly affected by minimal air circulation and drought. There is no rain for most of the year.
Coming here is like visiting another planet. It has lava lakes, multi-colored hot springs and boiling chemical-filled waters.
The Afar people actually live in this hostile environment. By adapting to the harsh climate they survive on far less food and water than visitors. These nomades make their living as salt miners extracting salt from the desert.
If you want to go, November and December are the best time with lower temperatures and almost no rainfall.
Start in the city of Mekele. You´ll have to endure a few hours in a car on bumpy dirt roads, but it is absolutely worth the hassle!