Blog Archives

Welcome to the Land of Beauty

Ethiopia is a land of wonder and enchantment, a country with one of the richest histories on the African continent, a land of contrasts and surprises, of remote and wild places, home to cultured and friendly people who are descended from some of the world’s oldest civilizations.

 

This is the land of the fabled Queen of Sheba, home of the Ark of the Covenant, the birthplace of coffee. ‘Lucy: the world’s oldest known almost-complete hominid skeleton, more than three million years old, was discovered here.

 

Ethiopia has so much to offer visitors: the Historic Route, covering the ancient town of Axum, with its amazing carved obelisks, Christian festivals and relics, including the Ark of the Covenant; Gondar, with its castles and palaces; Lalibela, with its remarkable rock-hewn churches; Negash, one of the earliest holy Muslim centres from the Prophet Muhammad Era with the Negash Amedin Mesgid; the walled Muslim city of Harar and Lega Oda, near Dire Dawa where you can see cave paintings considered to be thousands of years old.

 

Lake Tana, source of the Blue Nile, is the largest lake with 37 islands and the Monasteries like Kibran Gebriel and Kidanemhiret dating back to 14th century. The Great Rift Valley lakes, many with national parks, is home to a wealth of bird and animal life. The high, rugged, Simien Mountains in the north and the Bale mountains in the southeast are also home to some unique wildlife and rich flora, and are ideal for trekking, whilst some of Ethiopia’s fast-flowmg rivers are becoming famous for white-water rafting.

There are eleven national parks and four sanctuaries where 277 species of wildlife and more than 850 species of birds can be seen. The Simien Mountains National Park is registered by UNESCO as a world heritage site and is home to three of the endemic mammals, Walia Ibex, Gelada Baboon and Abyssinian Wolf. Ras Dashen, the fourth highest peak in Africa with an altitude of 4,620 metres, is also located within the National Park.

Other National Parks include Bale Mountains and Abijatta-Shalla in Oromia, Nech Sar, Mago and Omo National Parks in the south and Yangudi Rasa in Afar, Gambella National park in Gambella, as well as Awash in both Oromia and Afar Regions.

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s friendly and safe capital city, has so much to offer, too, with its first-class hotels and restaurants, museums and palaces, and good shopping, which includes the Mercato – Africa’s largest open-air market.

 

Ethiopia is a mosaic of people with more than 80 languages, different lifestyles, costumes and cultural dances. People’s livelihoods vary from pastoralists and farmers to factory workers, business people and academics.

Ethiopia has been called ‘the land of a thousand smiles’. Visit us and you can be sure of a great welcome, a memorable holiday, and the experience of a lifetime.

 

Do you Know?

  • Ethiopia is the cradle of human kind
  • Coffee is Ethiopia’s gift to the rest of the world
  • Ethiopia has its own Alphabet, Numeric and Calendar
  • Ethiopia has never colonized
  • Ethiopia is the second country to accept Christianity as official religion
  • Ethiopia has 9 UNESCO registered world heritage sites
  • Ethiopia is mentioned many times both in the holy Bible and holy Qur’an
  • Ethiopia is the land of the great long distance runners
  • Ethiopians are the pioneers to use a tool before 2.8 million years ago
  • Ethiopia is the fourth largest biodiversity zone in the world
  • Where the original Ark of the Covenant is found
  • More than 70% of Africa’s maintains found in Ethiopia
  • The source of the great blue Nile river which contribute 85% of the Nile river
  • Preserves the piece of true cross on which Jesus Christ is believed to have been crucified
  • The Great Rift Valley which is the only geographical feature of planet earth visible from the moon, cuts Ethiopia in to two crossing the country from top to bottom
  • The single tallest monument ever erected by humanity in the BC is found (Axum)
  • Ert’ale is one of the few places on planet earth where one can see active, live, continued and dramatic volcanic eruption  
  • Has more unique species of flora than any other country in Africa
  • The sun dictates the Ethiopian time, when you get up early in the morning you start by counting one and you end up at twelve when the day ends, and start counting again from one when the night begins and end at twelve o’clock just before the sun rises in the morning. The Ethiopian midday and midnight is six o’clock.
  • Is the only country in the world that prophet Mohamed declared to be free from jihad

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Natural Beauty in East Africa

East Africa is a land of amazement, and the combination of stunning scenery and several of the most majestic and fascinating animals on earth makes this area a mecca for nature lovers. Many of the visitors coming to the region do so for the opportunity to enjoy a safari and to spot animals like lions, elephants and rhinos, but there are also several other great sites worth visiting too. The coastal areas and the islands of East Africa offer a very different natural experience, but they also have plenty of places worth visiting.

The Historical Importance Of East Africa

In many ways, the challenging geography and natural barriers such as jungles and deserts helped much of East Africa to resist colonial influences for a period, but eventually the majority of the area became colonized by one of the European nations. The fertile soils were excellent for growing tea and coffee, while spices and mineral resources were also exploited.

This colonial influence has reduced dramatically during the twentieth century, with the majority of East Africa now made up of independent nations. While there is still significant strife and conflict in some areas, those places that do have important tourist locations tend to try and attract visitors and try and make themselves a peaceful and welcoming place for visitors, because of the wealth and foreign currency that tourism can bring into these countries.

Security And Safety When Visiting East Africa

The majority of tourist areas in East Africa are generally peaceful and safe places to visit, and while there are some areas that are known for petty crime such as pickpocketing, the danger to tourists is minimal. Some countries such as Somalia, Eritrea, Sudan and South Sudan are off the beaten track for visitors, and should be visited with caution. Most of the countries in East Africa are religious and quite conservative, so it is important to check up on local customs before traveling to these countries.

Dinder National Park, park, southeastern Sudan. The park lies in the clayish floodplain of the Dinder and Rahad rivers, at an elevation of 2,300 to 2,600 feet (700 to 800 metres). Established in 1935, it covers an area of 2,750 square mi (7,123 square km). Vegetation in the park consists of thornbush savanna in the north and woodland in the south; along the riverbanks there are palm or gallery forests and swampy areas. Wildlife includes giraffe, hartebeest, reedbuck, roan antelope, bushbuck, oribi, waterbuck, greater kudu, gazelle, dik-dik, buffalo, lion, and ostrich. Black rhinoceros, leopard, cheetah, elephant, hyena, and jackal are also occasionally found. The park can be reached by road fromKhartoum, a distance of 290 miles (470 km). Its headquarters are at Khartoum.

The annual rainfall in the Park ranges between 600-800mm and there are three major ecosystems: the riverine (Hyphaena thebaica, Acacia nilotica), the woodland (Acacia seyal, Balanites aegyptiaca), and the mayas and depressions. The mayas are oxbow lakes along the meandering rivers. They are subject to floods and contain green fodderand water up to the end of the dry season. The Park supports 27 large mammal species, bats and small mammals, more than 160 species of birds, 32 fish species, reptiles and amphibians. In addition there are about 58 species of shrubs and trees (Higher Council for Environment and Natural Resources, 2001).

Dinder is mainly and extensively made of Savannah grassland, woodland and riverine forests; with a few hills and highlands located along and near the Ethiopian border. The park has three ecosystems, each with its own plant and animal communities. The northern part is dominated by acacia seyal and balanites aegyptiaca savannah which merges with anogeissus – combretum woodlot. Along the Dinder river doom palm (hyphaena thebaica) are dominant. Palm trees have an important economic value in the cottage industry as they are used in the making of mats, baskets, brooms; and are also used for construction. Other trees abundantly found in Dinder include: acacia siberana and tamorindus indica. Along the banks of the river, reeds and tall wild sorghum grass grow.

Talking Issues: Industry of Tourism

by : Mohammed Abdullah
Email: moabd31@yahoo.com

Sudan was gifted by all types of tourism factors such as long beaches, beautiful landscapes, good nature and archeological sites in different parts of the country.
Tourism has become an important industry nowadays and it contributes and brings a huge amount of money to increase the public revenue of countries. The problem that faces tourism in Sudan is the absence of a set plan, tourists’ needs in, how to attract them and types of laws that should be made?
Tourism will bring hard currency and open Sudan to the world.
The plan must address foreigners; this mean that we need to deal with different cultures, traditions and habits.
Archeologists have to convey ancient areas and to inform tourists about Sudan, its history, food and all interesting aspects related to tourism.
The Minister of Investment in Sudan has prepared an investment plan which targeted all states and each of them submitted a proposal about the type of tourism it will present. On behalf of the country, the ministry of investment will present to the market of tourism laws to regulate tourism investment.
The country needs to facilitate the mission of investors and encourage them through flexible legislations.
It is not difficult to create a good atmosphere and offer tourism services based on international criteria. However, this dream has been translated into action by Al-Saraf Tourism Complex, a national company managed to penetrate the world of tourism through a Sudanese restaurant called Al-Housh. This complex was designed to receive ambassadors, international organizations and all foreigners from different parts of the world. The restaurant has an international staff, which is well trained to serve people of multi-cultures.
Those who stand behind the idea managed to create an attractive, breath taking Nile beach in Omdurman.
The Sudanese government appreciated the idea and promised to encourage national investors and to host guests to establish businesses in Sudan.

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by : Mohammed Abdullah
Email: moabd31@yahoo.com

Desert camping in an ancient kingdom

Every now and then you have an unforgettable experience that helps remind you why you made the decisions you did.
I had one of those moments recently while camping in the desert just next door to Sudan’s ancient pyramids.
Six of us set off walking about 11pm from Bagrawiyah villagewhere we stayed with Rami’s family during the Muslim holiday Eid.

At the time, it seemed both reckless and exciting to be walking through the quiet village streets into the darkness beyond.

Guiding our way is intrepid fellow volunteer Robert, who is an experienced traveller and has already camped at the Meroëpyramids on previous trips to Sudan.

We navigate by the moonlight and the shadowy outline of the pyramids in front, walking parallel to the road so as not to be seen by passing cars.

Behind us the green minaret of the Bagrawiyah mosque becomes smaller and smaller.

The Meroë pyramids were constructed about 800 years after their Egyptian counterparts.

 
Good morning!!

The area is the final resting place of more than 40 kings and queens from the Merotic Kingdom, also known as the Kingdom of Kush.

There were once more than 200 pyramids scattered across the desert sands at Meroë, but today that number stands at about 20.

While some remain well-preserved, others are crumbling or slowly being reclaimed by the desert sands.

One of the first stories locals will tell you is that of Italian explorer Giuseppe Ferlini, who infamously smashed the tops off 40 pyramids in 1834 in search of treasure.

While Ferlini hit the jackpot inside the first pyramid he plundered, the 39 he subsequently destroyed yielded nothing.

 
Desert campsite

Once back in Europe, he struggled to find a buyer for his treasure trove, as no-one believed that such exquisite jewels could come from black Africa, with collectors assuming Ferlini was an imposter trying to pass off fakes.

Since then, the pyramids have been virtually plundered of all their wealth and many historical treasures and artifacts relating to the period are now housed in British and German museums.

Still, there is something sacred about Meroë, and not simply for the fact it is an ancient burial ground, but also because it remains virtually undiscovered by modern tourism.

Technically tourists are not allowed to camp at the pyramids; however guards tend to tolerate the practice if done discreetly.

After an hour-and-a-half walking we arrive at the edge of the dunes and climb to the top to scope out a good spot to pitch our tents.

 
Our desert sunrise

The wind has picked up and setting up our tents in near darkness proves challenging, particularly when we discover mid-way through that the pegs are missing.

 
An ancient kingdom

Imagine how ridiculous we felt in the  morning when we discover the bag of pegs in the sand nearby.

In the end we anchor them down with our backpacks and set off for a moonlight stroll amongst the pyramids.

The silence of the desert and the ghostly shadows   of the ancient pyramids and the surrounding dunes  makes for an eerie experience.

We talk in hushed tones and keep in the shadows, which to me is more out of reverence for the ancient crumbling kingdom we are walking amongst, than staying out of the way of any patrolling guards that may be in the area.

It’s just after six when we wake in the morning. As we step out of our tents the sun is just rising and a pale pink sky highlights the desert horizon.

I have to say, it’s a pretty special moment…

We climb to a nearby vantage point and watch as the light changes, illuminating the sands in various golden shades.

 
Young souvenir sellers

As we return to our camp to pack our tents away, a solitary man on a donkey waves at us across the desert and promptly sets up a small makeshift stall with small trinkets and pyramid replicas carved from the region’s distinctive sandstone.

This sets off a retail chain reaction and we are soon totally surrounded by a group of small children waving various replica pyramids at more and more reduced prices.

Something in their eyes and the desperation in their pleas makes me wish that I could do more for them than simply buy a dusty souvenir.

We set off on a hike later and quite by accident stumble across a series of mountains, housing a network of small caves. The rolling orange dunes give way to a rocky barren moonscape and the view from the top provides an impressive scale for the endless expanse of desert stretching out across the horizon.

It’s true that the Meroë pyramids may lack the grandness and scale of their Egyptian counterparts, but here you can have them almost to yourself – and that’s pretty hard to beat.

 
The intrepids 🙂

 

Ecotourism vs. Sustainable Tourism

Areas of Expertise, Economic Growth, Environment & NRM by kgenereux

Photo credit: Sustainable Futures

980 million people traveled internationally in 2010, a 4% increase over the previous year, and forecasts expect 1.6 billion tourists by the year 2020. Travel & Tourism as a sector accounts for 258 million jobs globally, and provides crucial opportunities for investment, economic growth, and fostering cultural awareness.  Tourism can also be a powerful tool for tackling major challenges such as conservation and poverty alleviation.

But how do environmentally and socially conscious travelers navigate the complex differences between ecotourism, sustainable tourism, socially responsible tourism and the other myriad forms of traveling responsibly?

Ecotourism vs Sustainable Tourism

Industry consensus agrees ecotourism is more focused on ecological conservation and educating travelers on local environments and natural surroundings, whereas sustainable tourism focuses on travel that has minimal impact on the environment and local communities. Ecotourism is a form of tourism, or a category of vacation similar to beach, adventure, health, or cultural, while the concept of sustainability can be applied to all types of tourism.

As established by The International Ecotourism Society (TIES) in 1990, ecotourism is “Responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people.” Another widely cited definition of ecotourism is “purposeful travel to natural areas to understand the culture and natural history of the environment; taking care not to alter the integrity of the ecosystem; producing economic opportunities that make the conservation of natural resources beneficial to local people.”

The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) is a global initiative dedicated to promoting sustainable tourism practices around the world. GSTC and its global members of UN agencies, global travel companies, hotels, tourism boards and tour operators follow the Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria. The 23 criteria focus on best practices to sustain natural and cultural resources, maximize social and economic benefits for the local community, and minimize negative impacts to the environment.

Currently there is no internationally accredited body charged with overseeing the standards, monitoring and assessment, or certification for the ecotourism or sustainable tourism industries. Without an established standard it is easy to be confused by organizations that greenwash services and offerings as “environmentally friendly.” Others argue that ecotourism is an oxymoron, as travel implicitly entails activities that are detrimental to the environment. Planes, trains and automobiles use harmful fossil fuels that emit CO2, and forestland is often cleared for roads and railways.

Ecotourism and Sustainable Tourism in Action

Photo Credit: Visit Costa Rica

Costa Rica was a pioneer in ecotourism and exemplifies how tourism can be a key pillar of economic development policy. Costa Rica is now the premiere destination for ecotourism, and in 2010 tourism contributed 5.5% of the country’s GDP. Jordan serves as another model of successfully integrating conservation and socio-economic development. Ecotourism generated $2.1 million in 2010, and Jordan’s Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature has received several global awards for its success in alleviating poverty and creating employment for local communities, in combination with integrating nature conservation.

Myriad sites offer options for tours and hotels that cater to a more environmentally friendly and sustainable type of traveling experience. The New York Times travel section allows viewers to search potential destinations using ecotourism as a criteria, and Condé Nast Traveler highlights Ecotourism and Sustainable Travel under Expert Travel Tips.

The Earthwatch Institute, organizes trips where travelers work alongside scientists and explorers on field expeditions and Sierra Club’s travel arm Sierra Club Outing allows environmentalist to learn something on vacation and inflict minimal harm on the surrounding environment.

At the industry level, hotels and resorts are taking on sustainability commitments that focus on recycling, decreasing water and energy usage, reducing greenhouse gas emissions,and environmentally friendly design. Many in the industry show a commitment to a holistic approach to sustainability which includes  the construction of Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) certified buildings, providing eco-friendly and organic food and wine selections, and rewarding guests who make “green choices.” Marriott, which boasts 2,800 hotels worldwide, offers guests hotel points or vouchers for the hotel restaurant should they choose to not having linens and towels washed daily.

Understanding the difference between sustainable tourism and ecotourism educates travelers on the significant impact their travel decisions have on the environment, economy and local communities they visit. Participating in sustainable tourism, or more specifically ecotourism vacations, means travelers can contribute to development and conservation efforts, while enjoying themselves on vacation.

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Industry of Tourism ” Sudan”

Sudan was gifted by all types of tourism factors such as long beaches, beautiful landscapes, good nature and archeological sites in different parts of the country.
Tourism has become an important industry nowadays and it contributes and brings a huge amount of money to increase the public revenue of countries. The problem that faces tourism in Sudan is the absence of a set plan, tourists’ needs in, how to attract them and types of laws that should be made?
Tourism will bring hard currency and open Sudan to the world.
The plan must address foreigners; this mean that we need to deal with different cultures, traditions and habits.
Archeologists have to convey ancient areas and to inform tourists about Sudan, its history, food and all interesting aspects related to tourism.
The Minister of Investment in Sudan has prepared an investment plan which targeted all states and each of them submitted a proposal about the type of tourism it will present. On behalf of the country, the ministry of investment will present to the market of tourism laws to regulate tourism investment.
The country needs to facilitate the mission of investors and encourage them through flexible legislations.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

It is not difficult to create a good atmosphere and offer tourism services based on international criteria. However, this dream has been translated into action by Al-Saraf Tourism Complex, a national company managed to penetrate the world of tourism through a Sudanese restaurant called Al-Housh. This complex was designed to receive ambassadors, international organizations and all foreigners from different parts of the world. The restaurant has an international staff, which is well trained to serve people of multi-cultures.

Those who stand behind the idea managed to create an attractive, breath taking Nile beach in Omdurman.
The Sudanese government appreciated the idea and promised to encourage national investors and to host guests to establish businesses in Sudan.