Addis Ababa: A dose of nature, adventure and serenity in one place
It is often difficult to get a destination with a mix of nature, modernity, adventure, serenity and preservation of cultural heritage. Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s commercial and cultural hub offers these and more.
As societies evolve, there have been conscious efforts to move with trends and inculcate some intricacies to appeal to the technology-driven generation whilst paying less attention to nature.
However, one destination that has made conscious and consistent efforts to not only upgrade its tourism attractions but invest in technology innovations and yet not lose touch with nature and its beauty is Addis Ababa.
No doubt, Ethiopia is making consistent efforts to promote its inbound tourism by ensuring ease of travel through its quick-to-process visa on arrival, partnership with its major airline, Ethiopian Airlines to give tourists discounted tickets to encourage more travels into the country, resuscitating its major historic events and promoting its tourists attractions. The country has also opened up its new airport terminal in anticipation for an increased passenger traffic in the near future.
New terminal at Addis Ababa
Ethiopia’s new terminal at Addis Ababa Bole International is the first terminal in the world to be completed since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic with a foresight to process arriving and connecting passengers as countries open up for travels.
Designed, with biosafety and biosecurity in mind, the terminal expansion is one of the pillars of Ethiopian Airlines’ vision 2025 as the new terminal plays a key role in passenger and employee safety as the airport experience becomes contactless.
The new terminal has a check-in hall with sixty check-in counters, thirty self-check-in kiosks, ten self-bag drop/SBD/, sixteen immigration counters with more e-gate provisions, sixteen central security screening areas for departing passengers are the new faces of the airport.
In addition, it has three contact gates for wide-body aircraft along with ten remote contact gates with people mover – travelator, escalator, and panoramic lifts.
It will house thirty-two arrival immigration counters with eight e-gate provisions at the mezzanine floor level.
The airport’s visa-on-arrival counters are open 24 hours, processing a passenger’s visa within three to 10 minutes depending on the queue or number of passengers waiting to process their visas.
To save the hassle of queuing and applying for a visa on arrival, passengers can apply online for an Ethiopian eVisa in advance as almost all nationalities are eligible for the eVisa and the application only takes a few minutes.
After a long flight, most times leading to jet lag, there is no better way to relax, have a good meal and enjoy the serenity of Addis better than what Ethiopian elegant 5* skylight hotel offers.
Located at the heart of Addis Ababa, just five minutes away from Addis Ababa Bole International Airport, the airport meets international standards with outstanding quality of service.
The high rise edifice has a total of 373 stunning rooms with relaxing and superb designs suitable for both corporate and leisure travellers.
Travellers and guests can enjoy spectacular city views in most of the rooms.
Skylight has three luxurious restaurants, an all-day dining restaurant, the biggest Chinese restaurant in East Africa and bars that heighten guests’ hotel experience.
The hotel’s front lobby is spacious enough for social and business meetings with a grand ballroom that can accommodate 2000 guests at a time. The ballroom is ideal for social events, weddings and conferences.
Exciting facilities of the hotel include, outdoor swimming pool, mini-golf courses, spa/massage, gymnasium and health centre.
With the restaurant, located on the lower ground floor of the hotel, guests are offered exquisite foods from a wide range of culinary sources. The hotel welcomes guests to lunch and dinner with a La Carte menu.
After experiencing various dishes at the restaurant, one can tell that the hotel has talented chefs skilled at producing a fine selection of foods, including exotic appetizers, healthy salads, fresh pasta and perfectly cooked grills appealing to people from various countries.
Popularly known as the National Museum of Ethiopia (NME), the building houses Ethiopia’s artistic treasures. Containing many precious local archaeological finds such as the fossilized remains of early hominids, the most famous of which is “Lucy,” and the partial skeleton of a specimen of Australopithecus afarensis, the museum takes one down history lane.
At the basement gallery is a display on Selam, found between 2000 and 2004. This archaic fossil is estimated to date to 3.3 million years ago.
The NME has four main exhibition sections. The basement is dedicated to archaeological and pale anthropological sections. This area shows the previously mentioned hominids. The first floor contains objects from ancient and medieval periods, as well as regalia and memorabilia from former rulers, who include Emperor Haile Selassie.
The second floor shows art work in a chronological order, from traditional to contemporary works. Afewerk Tekle’s massive African Heritage is one of the most notable pieces. Another painting depicts the meeting of Solomon and Sheba. The second floor also contains a collection of secular arts and crafts, including traditional weapons, jewellery, utensils, clothing and musical instruments.
The third floor has an ethnographic display. Here, the museum tries to give an overview of the cultural richness and variety of the peoples of Ethiopia.
At the entrance of the Museum, there are old tortoises moving slowly around the environment.
The guides are available for free and help to bring things alive and assist guests understand some of the objects displayed at the museum.
Trinity Cathedral is also another destination to visit. The Cathedral’s compound is the burial place for those who fought against the Italian occupation, or those who accompanied the Emperor into exile from 1936 to 1941.
Holy Trinity Cathedral is the highest ranking Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo cathedral in Addis Ababa. It was built to honour Ethiopia’s victory over Italian occupation and is the second most important place of worship in Ethiopia, after the Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion in Axum.
The Emperor Haile Selassie and his consort the Empress Menen Asfaw are buried in the north transept of the cathedral. Other members of the Imperial Family are buried in the crypt below the church. The High Altar of the cathedral is dedicated to ‘Agaiste Alem Kidist Selassie’.
The other two altars in the Holy of Holies on either side of the High Altar are dedicated to St. John the Baptist and to ‘Kidane Meheret’ (Our Lady Covenant of Mercy).
In the south transept of the cathedral is a chapel of St. Michael, which houses the Tabot or Ark of St. Michael the Archangel, which was returned to Ethiopia in February 2002 after being discovered in Edinburgh.
Worshippers worship at the cathedral on Sundays while those who feel they are not ‘holy’ enough to enter the auditorium stay outside the auditorium and join in the prayers.
Meskel festival (Finding of the True Cross)
Apart from destinations to visit, Ethiopia also has great historic events which are celebrated with so much vigour, showing some level of patriotism for the country. One of such events is the Meskel festival.
Meskel, also known as ‘Finding of the True Cross,’ is a Christian holiday for the Ethiopian Orthodox and Eritrean Orthodox churches that commemorates the discovery of the True Cross by the Roman Empress Helena in the fourth century.
Held in Meskel Square and celebrated on 26th of September, this year’s festival was presided over by religious and civil leaders, and public figures gave speeches, referencing biblical themes and stories. Many Ethiopians who live in cities return to their villages to celebrate the national event. The event was also attended by guests from various parts of the world.
A brief event leading to this festival is based on the belief that Queen Eleni, as she is known, had a revelation in a dream. She was told that she should make a bonfire and that the smoke would show her where the True Cross was buried.
So she ordered the people of Jerusalem to bring wood and make a huge pile. After adding frankincense to it the bonfire was lit, the smoke rose high up to the sky and returned to the ground, exactly to the spot where the Cross had been buried.
This is why till date, the Meskel celebration includes the burning of a large bonfire, or Demera.
According to local traditions, this Demera-procession takes place in the early evening the day before Meskel or on the day itself. The firewood is decorated with daisies prior to the celebration. Charcoal from the remains of the fire is afterwards collected and used by the faithful to mark their foreheads with the shape of a cross.
Do you crave for a destination where nature meets class and elegance? Kuriftu resorts offer guests these and more.
After a 45-minute drive from Addis Ababa, guests can expect great atmosphere, great weather, peaceful environment and service at its peak.
With achingly perfect views, Kuriftu Bishoftu is where luxury reaches its pinnacle and service is simultaneously warm, genuine and sensational.
The nature themed resort could serve as an ideal gate-away for newlyweds, couples, family or friendly break.
Yonaiel Belete, Operations Director, Kuriftu Resorts, said the resort was built to mainly take care of the local market within the country because Addis
Ababa was not so attractive when the resort was built as it is now.
Belete noted that the location was actually made for people who live inside Ethiopia but over the years, new innovations and additions have been made to cater for visitors from various parts of the world.
“With new packages in Addis Ababa, I see a lot of people combining it with our locations. We are not limited in terms of scope because we have to take care of people’s needs in terms of events and others.
“In future, if everything goes on well especially with the Covid-19 pandemic and with the proper guidelines and if people are comfortable, there is a lot of potential for tourism to grow especially in Addis Ababa,” he explained.
With 140 rooms, Kuriftu is fast becoming the biggest and most popular boutique lodging chain in Ethiopia. There are currently lodges in Bahir Dar, Bishoftu, and Adama, and each have their own design and unique charm. Kuriftu Resorts provide a welcome dose of comfort along any adventure in Ethiopia.
Kuriftu also offers organic spa and gourmet restaurants which are perfect places to relax as guests prepare to continue their getaway experience.
In addition, Kuriftu Water Park which spans over 30,000 square meters, features a wide range of activities, such as small water house, medium water house, fikat circus, slides, boomerang slide, wave pool, food court and gift shop.
Entoto Mountain Natural Park
Another must-visit destination in Addis Ababa is the Entoto Mountain Natural Park. Entoto Natural Park is another nature-themed resort and a unique place to discover the vastest primeval mountain area with streams flowing out from clear springs and waterfall.
Entoto park is a unique natural sight in a mountain area for relaxation and pleasure. Located at the north edge of Addis Ababa, the Park is fully delivering services with many indoor and outdoor adventure and recreational activities. The recreational adventure and tourist attraction sights are also open for visitors. The park is suitable for families or group of visitors to cook by themselves and stay at a tented camp.
Wonderful adventuress at Entoto Natural Park include food and accommodation services; adventure and recreations activities such as park walking,
Maya telescope view
art gallery, horse riding, tented camp, zipline, pedal kart, paintball arena, archery and trampoline amongst others.
Addis becoming top destination in Africa
Addis Ababa is making deliberate and consistent efforts to make the destination a foremost tourism destination in Africa.
Mahlet Kebede, head Ethiopian Holidays said Ethiopian Holidays, a department which handles inbound and outbound packages, and conference market said the department will continue to unveil more packages.
She said the plan is to have more transit passengers come for a day, two, or up to seven days as ET Holidays continues to make different package combinations depending on the interest of the customer.
“For passengers that have decided to travel on Ethiopian Airlines, the only thing we have to do is to convince the passengers to stay for a few days in Addis while transiting.
“Our motto is, ‘One Trip, Two Destinations’. So we would like to make it a pleasant one and we would not be charging any additional fare for the passenger to come and stop here in Addis. With this provision, people will be comfortable to experience seeing Addis and next time they will be full package passengers,” she said.
She further revealed that she is putting structures in place to ensure that by 2035, ET Holidays would achieve its target of having 10 million inbound tourists.