11 reasons to travel Ethiopia

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Ethiopia is on one hand one of the best countries to travel and on the other hand at least for those who want to get off the beaten path one of the more difficult ones.

First why you would want to visit Ethiopia:

1)      It is SUPER cheap. 30-50 cents for a large beer even in the fancy places, 15-30 cents for the most amazing coffee prepared right in front of you, less than a dollar for an amazing meal, shared taxis across town less than 10 cents and hotel rooms for less than $10 and all of this without another tourist in sight.

2)      The food- not only is it super cheap but it is so amazing, varied and delicious. Forgot about the daily rice and beans of Central and South America the Ethiopian cuisine for the price is on par with our favorite foods of South East Asia and India. There is so much variety from vegetarians to meat lovers you can find something to excite your palate. Each meal you can try something different and never get bored. Also, we loved feeling like we were getting so much healthy nutrition with each meal as there was such a variety of vegetables and legumes. When you want meat it is taken off the goat, lamb or chicken in the entry of the restaurant (I guess to prove its freshness) and cooked directly in front of you or in some instances put in a stone bowl on the table with herbs and spices. 

3)      The coffee. I do not care where you've had coffee in the world, but you haven't experienced coffee until you've had true Ethiopian coffee. It is the best coffee in the world that we've tried from the famous Sumatran coffee, to the Honduran coffee, Vietnamese coffee, Lebanese, Turkish, Italian, nothing compares. The green coffee bean is roasted fresh each time they make a cup of coffee. It's roasted in a special pan until the beans become perfectly roasted with a coat of oil. They are then hand ground and then prepared with a special coffee urn and hot water. Oh and the macchiatos- the super strong coffee with a touch of milk are also perfection. And all this at a few pennies. Also, each time the traditional coffee is made incense is burned at the same time and popcorn popped fresh because popcorn and coffee honestly two of my favorite things why not enjoy them together? 

4)      Beer- Do you like beer? We LOVE beer. The beer here is not only mega cheap from 15 to 50 cents even in a fancy place but decent too and with a range of selection from their quite delicious lager to a nice dark beer. Also, people are always out drinking with their families, little ones, and friends so we enjoyed being able to go out for a beer feeling comfortable and not getting the “’Oh, you bad parents’ stink eye”. And unlike in many Asian countries the women drank as much as men often going out just women which was a bonus for me.

5) The fresh juice and smoothies! Fruits are plentiful here and for less than 50 cents you can get a huge glass of fresh juice. Papaya, mango, avocado and more! 

6)      Wherever we go as obvious foreigners there are people who try to rip us off, charge us a bit more and as super frugal backpackers our main goal is to avoid it at all costs. In Ethiopia NO ONE (except one random lady at a coffee stand who charged us 15 cents instead of 7 cents) tried to rip us off. Hotels, transportation, restaurants, shops event though we did not speak the language or look like a local we were always charged the same as locals and no one even assumed it would be otherwise. Now we visited the southern less touristy part of the country so we will have to return and explore the touristy north to see if the same holds true there.

7)      The history! Ethiopia has such a unique history with being the cradle of civilization, the connection between the Arab and African world, and having such a tolerance and mix of religions and peoples. This can all be seen and easily discovered while exploring this unique country.

8)      The people- friendly, lively, and interesting. We were never hassled or hustled. When we went out we were not given so much attention as in Asia. People pretty much ignored us or were just super friendly. We were left at peace in public places without the usual gawkers, not that we have a problem with that it was just a nice change especially when we were in places that obviously weren't used to tourists we were still treated equally. They are also so beautiful and unique in appearance with subtle but amazing differences between regions.

9)      Unique culture: As the only African country not colonized by European powers (minus a brief 5-year stint with Italy- thanks for the Macchiatos?) their culture remains their own. The languages, the writing, even the way of thought is more Ethiopian than influenced by the outside world.

10)      Safety- probably one of the safest country in Africa.

11)  Transportation- Cheap, easy, and effective.

Though for the most part Ethiopia is one of the best places to visit there are some things making it difficult, especially for budget travelers. As off the beaten track travelers there is not much to see or do without a guide or a lot of money and the tourist infrastructure just isn't there. Also, tourist sites are few and crazy expensive considering the prices of the county. As a side note, we didn't visit the more touristy north so there it may be a bit different.

We do highly recommend visiting Ethiopia and think no one would be diappointed!

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