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30 Pictures That Will Make You Want to Visit Ethiopia

I spent several days of my trip to Ethiopia wishing I was somewhere else. This started about 24 hours after touching down in the country, when I arrived in the dusty city of Bahir Dar. Touts there hustled me so relentlessly that by the time I reached each of the places I wanted to see, be they mighty waterfalls or ancient lakeside monasteries, I was so spent I couldn’t even enjoy them.

Although my tumultuous ride north to a place called Gondar heightened this anxiety, my experience in the town itself briefly reversed it. Gondar, and especially Fasilides Castles—aptly-dubbed the “Ethiopian Camelot”—saw me, for the first time on my trip, truly impressed by Ethiopia.

I expected this feeling to height in Lalibela, home to St. George’s Church, which is probably the most famous structure in East Africa. But the town greatly disappointed me—and not just because I got food poisoning there. Even with its impressive churches it felt hollow, like if Siem Reap was nothing more than Angkor Wat, or Cusco only Machu Picchu.

Axum was more interesting to me—until I got robbed by an elementary school student during a hike, that is. Likewise, while I found myself taken aback by the rock-hewn cliff churches I visited en route to the city of Mekele, the resurgence of the hustling that had kicked off my trip—both my driver and my guide asked me for large sums of money, even though my tour operator said she’d paid them—soured my mood.

“No,” the British traveler resting inside the chapel of Abuna Yemata Guh reassured me when I ranted to him, “you’re not crazy. Ethiopia’s a hard country—a really fucking hard country.”

This allowed me both to breathe easier during the final chapter of my trip—my excursion to the Danakil Depression—and to feel more accomplished once it was all over. Accomplished and, I’m not shy to admit, relieved.

Would I recommend Ethiopia? If you’re willing to work, to persevere and to laugh as the country flushes out your emotions, your ego and your digestive tract over and over again, then absolutely. But if you’re looking for someplace easy or more than occasionally enjoyable, peeking at my pictures is a better choice for you than actually making the trek—trust me on this one.

Need help planning your trip to Ethiopia? Hire me as your Travel Coach!

About The Author

is the author of 1088 posts on Leave Your Daily Hell. Robert founded Leave Your Daily Hell in 2010 so that other travelers would have an entertaining, reliable source of information, advice and inspiration at their fingertips. Want to travel more often? Subscribe to email updates today!


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jgrif96229 May 9, 2016 at 9:46 am

You need to place Nigeria on your radar screen so you can collect your inheritance. Ha ha! I thought all the Pirates lived in Sumatra but obviously not.

Lana May 9, 2016 at 2:13 pm

Really enjoyed your pictures.

Bethaney May 9, 2016 at 6:19 pm

I’m thankful for your honesty Robert. It’s important for people to know that some destinations just aren’t easy, even for experienced travellers. I appreciate that you didn’t gloss over the shitty parts of your trip but still managed to produce some excellent photos.

Robert Schrader May 10, 2016 at 1:28 pm

You know I keep it real! 😀

Robert Schrader May 10, 2016 at 1:28 pm

Thanks Lana 🙂

Robert Schrader May 10, 2016 at 1:28 pm


thatsofarah May 18, 2016 at 12:12 am

The next time someone told me India is difficult, I should tell them it’s nothing like Ethiopia. I’m planning for a solo travel in Ethiopia in 6 months time. Looks like I have to prep myself for emotional roller coaster.

Nellie Huang June 16, 2016 at 3:50 am

This is awesome – great writing as always Rob! I felt the same about West Africa – it was so hard, with the harsh weather, real lack of infrastructure, and isolation. But I felt accomplished after the trip. I love this sentence you wrote, “If you’re willing to work, to persevere and to laugh as the country flushes out your emotions, your ego and your digestive tract over and over again, then absolutely.” I’m booking my flight to Ethiopia right now!

Giulia Raciti June 17, 2016 at 2:17 am

Ethiopia is an hard country to travel, that’s true. And I totally understand how you felt when your trip was done.
On the other hand, I think 2 weeks are needed for understanding the country and how the people live and behave over there.

I spent 2 months in Ethiopia, traveling from North to South and east. I have been living with the tribes in the Omo Vally and with local people in Harar and Addis Ababa and some villages somewhere in the south.
The first 2 weeks I thought I wanted to run away from there and, not shy either to say it, I was crying like a baby keep on saying I wasn’t actually ready for this Country. Not on my own. Not for so long.

Then, 2 weeks later something changed and today, after 10 months traveling solo in Africa, Ethiopia is definitely my favourite Country and can’t wait to go back.
Africa is general is hard. Ethiopia, somehow a bit more than other countries, but, my humble opinion, is also unique and special. You just need to know how to deal with them.

Robert Schrader June 20, 2016 at 8:24 am

Thanks for your insightful comment! I really appreciate hearing your perspective.

Robert Schrader June 20, 2016 at 8:25 am

Aw, nice to hear from you Nellie! I hope you enjoy Ethiopia.

Miles of Happiness July 30, 2016 at 9:59 pm

It looks different from any place I’ve explored so far. So unique. And beautiful!

Robert Schrader August 3, 2016 at 8:18 am

Yes, stressful too, but very unique.

Miles of Happiness August 11, 2016 at 3:18 am

Yes I guess so…

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