As the elderly gentleman fumbled with a ring of keys and heavy iron lock, moving very slowly and doubled over with age, I shifted my weight restlessly. I was eager to inspect the sights of Axum, Ethiopia, including the famed obelisk and home of what Ethiopians believe to be the Ark of the Covenant, and wasn’t feeling particularly patient as our group waited to get into an ancient, run-down museum.

But as the old man welcomed us in and the lights flickered on, I discovered a room packed with what I later learned to be priceless artifacts and one of the most unique and complete collections of ancient Ethiopian religious art and relics anywhere on earth.

Priceless manuscripts. Ornate crosses. All displayed in cracked glass cases, similar to what you might expect to see watches housed in at a local Wal Mart. Some of the smaller pieces were in Philadelphia Cream Cheese containers.

This dramatic contrast between the significance of this history and culture on display and the modest “packaging” is one of the reasons I fell in love with Ethiopia many years ago.

This year, Ethiopia is a hot destination here at Rothschild Safaris. We have clients combining a first safari in Kenya with a few days in the Northern part of Ethiopia, as well as well-traveled clients spending more time to more slowly explore Ethiopia.

However it works, here’s why you should consider travel to Ethiopia in 2017.

Excellent Value for Money

Many travelers are surprised by how affordable travel is in Ethiopia. While hotels aren’t fancy, they are comfortable and overall the experience offers outstanding value for money.

The historic sites in the northern part of the country are easily accessed by a well-connected domestic air circuit. Admission into historic sites is reasonable as is the use of a private guide, making an immersive trip here very accessible.

Nicest International Airport in East Africa

The Addis Ababa airport is modern and easy to navigate. In fact, this is easily the nicest airport in all of East Africa. Ethiopian Airlines offers a great schedule for travelers coming from the U.S. as well as great rates on business class seats.

Consider traveling via Addis Ababa en route to Kenya or Tanzania, and spend a few days exploring Ethiopia while you’re there!

Lalibela Will Impress

The rock hewn churches of Lalibela are one of the most magnificent, awe-inspiring things I have ever seen during my travels. These churches, dating back to the 12th century, have left historians puzzled as to how they were actually built (some local guides will tell you they were the work of aliens!) Eleven of these churches has been designated as UNESCO World Heritage sites.

If you’d like to learn more about travel to Ethiopia, please contact us and to connect with one of our friendly and knowledgeable travel designers who can answer all your questions.