Ethiopia: Armchair Travel Lecture

Ethiopia: Armchair Travel Lecture


“Ethiopia: Armchair Travel Lecture”
By John Leupold
Fri, Mar 20, 3pm
Sala Quetzal
La Biblioteca, Reloj 50A

By John Leupold

Situated in the Horn of Africa, Ethiopia is an intriguing mix of ancient and modern, and a land of many superlatives. Some of the highest mountains in Africa are located in Ethiopia, as well as one of the lowest places (400 feet below sea level), along with arid deserts, lush forest, surging rivers and waterfalls, diverse ethnic groups, great music and dance, and some of the best food in Africa. The Ethiopian Tourist Board has labeled Ethiopia “The Land of Origins,” which refers to Ethiopia as the home of humanity’s ancestors, the land where coffee originated, and the source of the Nile River.

Ethiopians are wonderful, friendly people, and the Rough Guide travel books have voted Ethiopia as the world’s most welcoming country. Wherever one travels, one is met with smiles. And while in a volatile part of the world, Ethiopia is a peaceful and safe country and its people now imbued with new optimism due to several positive political developments in the past year.

The only African nation never to be colonized, Ethiopia offers a unique and fascinating cultural diversity with its 80 tribes. There are many dazzling sights: the remarkable 800-year-old rock-hewn churches or the 400-year-old castles of Gonder—often referred to as Africa’s Camelot. The nearby Simien Mountains have towering peaks, lovely hiking trails, and thousands of gelada monkeys, the world’s only grass-eating monkey that will graze within inches of humans, allowing for magnificent photo opportunities. Blue Nile Falls is one of the most spectacular waterfalls on the planet. The Danakil Depression, 400 feet below sea level, approaches the earth’s volcanic core, and one sees a surreal and colorful landscape of swirling mineral laden fumaroles, towers of salt and earth, and caravans of thousands of camels, carrying slabs of salt hewn from the dry lake bed. Southern Ethiopia is the site of the Bale Mountains, with dense forest and alpine vegetation depending upon the elevation, intriguing wildlife, and some delicious culinary specialties. Further south, the Omo River Valley is home to several ethnic groups whose clothing and body decorations make them distinctly unique in appearance.

Part-time San Miguel de Allende resident John Leupold has been visiting Africa for the past 20 years and finds Ethiopia to be the most compelling and beautiful of all the nations in Africa. With his travel company, Champaca Journeys, he makes several visits per year to Ethiopia. He finds Ethiopia fascinating and enjoys sharing his insights into this country.