Ethiopia Tour

Written by Andrew Muigai

Continued from page 1

In 1937, duringrepparttar Italian occupation,repparttar 146509 monks of Debre Libanos annoyedrepparttar 146510 Fascist overlord who orderedrepparttar 146511 execution of 297 of them. If you are traveling by road, you can pause at Debre Markos, 305 km north of Addis to seerepparttar 146512 church of Markos with its beautiful paintings of Biblical scenes.

Bahar Dar is located onrepparttar 146513 shores of Lake Tana and is 560 km from Addis Ababa. The 3,000 sq km Lake Tana is Ethiopia's biggest and isrepparttar 146514 source ofrepparttar 146515 Blue Nile. Just 30 km after leaving Lake Tana, over a maximum width of 400m,repparttar 146516 Blue Nile drops over 45 m. The result isrepparttar 146517 phenomenon ofrepparttar 146518 Blue Nile Falls, otherwise known to locals as Tississat or "Smoke of Fire". The falls are a spectacular sight andrepparttar 146519 spray mist produces rainbows and rainforest vegetation that forms a habitat to monkeys and many colourful birds.

Lake Tana has 37 islands, some of which harbor churches and monasteries. These buildings carry beautiful murals and paintings, remains of emperors, church crosses, icons, manuscripts, crowns and other articles of historical and cultural significance. Some ofrepparttar 146520 monasteries such as Kebrane Gabriel preserve ancient customs and do not allow entry for women. You can break your historical tour by sailing onrepparttar 146521 Tana. Boats are available for hire at Bahar Dar. The lake is also a delight for bird watchers. Flights are available to Bahar Dar, and some reasonable quality hotels too.

Gondar is 748 km torepparttar 146522 northwest of Addis and rests onrepparttar 146523 foothills ofrepparttar 146524 majestic Simien Mountains. Founded by Emperor Fasilidas, it wasrepparttar 146525 17th century capital of Ethiopia. Noteworthy attractions here arerepparttar 146526 cathedrals, castles, and other imperial buildings that were built by Fasilidas and his succcessors. The architectural style combines Axumite, medieval European and Arabian influences. An Indian architect designedrepparttar 146527 most magnificent of them. For Cathedrals,repparttar 146528 most impressive isrepparttar 146529 hilltop positioned Debre Berhan Selassie (Trinity Church ofrepparttar 146530 Mountain of Light). The city declined after 1855 when Tewodros II removed his capital to Debre Tabor and was subsequently looted inrepparttar 146531 1880's.

Axum, one ofrepparttar 146532 key stops onrepparttar 146533 historical routes, dates back at least 2,000 years. The ancient city is particularly important inrepparttar 146534 history ofrepparttar 146535 Orthodox Church, as it wasrepparttar 146536 seat of King Azena when he converted to Christianity inrepparttar 146537 4th century AD. Every year,repparttar 146538 site known as Queen Sheba's bath isrepparttar 146539 focal point ofrepparttar 146540 ceremony of Epiphany. Archeologist's think thatrepparttar 146541 site and others such as Queen of Sheba Palace were merely named afterrepparttar 146542 famous queen forrepparttar 146543 city had not been founded in her lifetime.

In its heyday, Axum was a vital and sophisticated kingdom that producedrepparttar 146544 written language that survives to this day known as Ge'ez. Though Axum is mostly identified with its trademark monolithic stelae, it has other important ruins such palaces and imperial tombs. The stelae were carved from single blocks of stone as markers ofrepparttar 146545 burial places of kings. These wererepparttar 146546 biggest monolith structures ever made anywhere inrepparttar 146547 world. Out ofrepparttar 146548 11 identifiable large stelae, only one stands today at 24 m. In 1937,repparttar 146549 Italian dictator Mussolini ordered one ofrepparttar 146550 structures to be dismantled and raised again in Rome.

Axum is also known forrepparttar 146551 17th century Cathedral of St Mary of Zion. Legend has it thatrepparttar 146552 original Ark ofrepparttar 146553 Covenant is housed here. The monks jealously guard this treasure and do not allow anybody to view it. This stand has led to much speculation that this object of immeasurable historical and religious value may not actually be inrepparttar 146554 hands ofrepparttar 146555 monks of St Mary of Zion.

Lalibela is renowned for its marvelous 11 rock hewn churches built inrepparttar 146556 12th century AD. The very devout King Lalibela commissioned them, not as monuments, but really as an act of worship. The churches were each carved from a single block of stone. Some are in trenches below ground; while others are built in open quarry caves. Legend has it thatrepparttar 146557 churches were built with great speed because angels continued workingrepparttar 146558 night shift while mortals slept. The result was truly magnificent andrepparttar 146559 very learned people at UNESCO have declared Lalibela a World Heritage Site. The churches are living monuments and are still in use today. Of allrepparttar 146560 historic attractions, Lalibela isrepparttar 146561 one you should not miss.

Harar, unlike other centres onrepparttar 146562 historic route is associated with Islam. The town with its city wall, towers and narrow streets hasrepparttar 146563 feel of Arabian Nights about it. Founded in 1520,repparttar 146564 city is 523 km torepparttar 146565 east of Addis. It is an important centre of Islamic learning and has all of 99 mosques. Indeed it is believed to rank fourth inrepparttar 146566 ranking of holy cities of Islam after Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem. The first Muslims are said to have reached Ethiopia inrepparttar 146567 lifetime of prophet Mohamed. The city is also famous for its handicrafts, colorful woven baskets, and silverware. It was also oncerepparttar 146568 home ofrepparttar 146569 French poet Rimbaud.

Ifrepparttar 146570 evening finds you in Harar, you may witness a most bizarre spectacle courtesy ofrepparttar 146571 so-called Hyena Men. With wild howls, these fearless men summon hyenas fromrepparttar 146572 hills. They then getrepparttar 146573 ruthless scavengers to snatch pieces of meat from their hands or even their mouths!

Inrepparttar 146574 east ofrepparttar 146575 country towardsrepparttar 146576 Dankil Depression and torepparttar 146577 west near Sudan,repparttar 146578 climate is very hot and dry. The central highland region is temperate, and nights can get chilly. Rains come twice a year-repparttar 146579 rather irregular short rains from January to March andrepparttar 146580 long rains from June to September. The best time to visit Addis andrepparttar 146581 highlands region isrepparttar 146582 dry October - June period. The traveler is advised to dress very light inrepparttar 146583 lowlands and desert country. Inrepparttar 146584 highland region, temperatures average 16°C and warmer clothing comes in handy at night and early morning.

Some Addis Ababa hotels are of international standard. A few other towns and locations onrepparttar 146585 Historical Route and other tourist attractions also offer reasonable accommodation. Unlike in other countries that receive many tourists,repparttar 146586 budget traveler will find accommodation rates to be very reasonable.

Copyright © Africa Point

Andrew Muigai is editor of AfricaPoint Insider online newsletter. It is part of the Africa travel website that has helped thousands of travelers discover Africa. You can view more info on Tanzania safari and tours at the website.

Mauritius Vacation Guide

Written by Andrew Muigai

Continued from page 1

The island's maritime zone boasts more than 1,000 species of marine life- fishes, shells and mollusks, in numbers beyond count. The spectacular way to explorerepparttar spectacular underwater world is onboard a submarine. The sub also allows you to see some ship wrecks dating back torepparttar 146508 Dutch period.

You can swim at various places at beaches, lagoons and inlets. Swimming beaches are best torepparttar 146509 north, though there are other good sites torepparttar 146510 southwest and torepparttar 146511 west near Flic en Flac. The west coast offers good sites for surfing at Tamarin, and diving at Flic en Flac. At Grand Bay beach, you get good shopping, nightclubs, bars, and restaurants andrepparttar 146512 chance to interact with locals. In addition,repparttar 146513 swimming, surfing, sailing and angling is good. From here, you can also make a boat excursion ofrepparttar 146514 islands torepparttar 146515 north.

Inrepparttar 146516 islands' interior, there are good opportunities for hiking and trekking. Black River Gorges National Park has excellent walks, and atrepparttar 146517 same time you can see some endemic plants and birds. The Réserve Forrestière Macchabée and Rivière Noire National Park are also good for hiking. In addition, captive breeding to raiserepparttar 146518 numbers of Mauritius endangered endemic birds is underway here. For trekkers, you will do well atrepparttar 146519 plateau at Curepipe and atrepparttar 146520 island of Rodrigues.

The Royal Botanical Gardens of Pamplemousses are very popular with visitors. The gardens date back to 1735, duringrepparttar 146521 French period. Here you will see a large collection of exotic and indigenous plants in excellent surroundings. Amongrepparttar 146522 most peculiar specimens arerepparttar 146523 giant Victoria regia water lilies, whose origins are inrepparttar 146524 Amazon, andrepparttar 146525 talipot palm- known to bloom once every 60 years before dying. Atrepparttar 146526 Casela Bird Park, you can see some of its 140 bird species, includingrepparttar 146527 rare Mauritian pink pigeon. Some of these excursions are included inrepparttar 146528 Mauritius tour packages offered byrepparttar 146529 various vendors.

Mauritius offers some excellent golf courses, and visitors are increasingly aware of it. There are at least three hotels with 18-hole courses and another five with 9-hole courses. The Ile aux Cerfs course, which sits on its own tiny island isrepparttar 146530 most spectacular. For honeymooners,repparttar 146531 island is very welcoming. Almost all hotels offer a special honeymoon package. As a non-resident, you can easily tierepparttar 146532 knot here. But a few formalities must be completed with officialdom; make sure you comply before arrival.

Mauritius is atrepparttar 146533 cultural cross roads of Europe, Africa and Asia. The Dutch, French, Africans, Indians, Chinese and British came under one guise or another and have today influencedrepparttar 146534 character and cultural life ofrepparttar 146535 island. Thoughrepparttar 146536 island is closest to Africa geographically, culturally it is much closer to Asia.

The biggest racial groups are Indo-Mauritians who constitute about two thirds ofrepparttar 146537 nations 1.2 million peoples, followed by Creoles - Afro- Mauritians who are just over a quarter ofrepparttar 146538 population. Franco- Mauritians and peoples of Chinese origin combined make up about 5% ofrepparttar 146539 population. While English isrepparttar 146540 official language, French, Creole, Bhojpuri and Urdu are widely spoken. Religion isrepparttar 146541 other factor definingrepparttar 146542 people ofrepparttar 146543 island, with Hinduism (51%), Christianity (30%) and Islam (17%) leading.

The cuisine ofrepparttar 146544 island reflectsrepparttar 146545 diversity of its people. French, Creole, Chinese and Indian foods - with local variations are all found here. Wherever you stay, you will most likely be able to watch or even dancerepparttar 146546 Sega. This energetic and erotic Creole dance has origins inrepparttar 146547 sugar fields, inrepparttar 146548 days when African labour was captive. You may also be fortunate to encounter any ofrepparttar 146549 various festivals celebrated in this multicultural country. Onlyrepparttar 146550 most widely traveled however, will be prepared forrepparttar 146551 Cavadi. On this Tamil festival, penitents pierce their bodies, tongues, and cheeks while some march on shoes of nails.

Tourism is one ofrepparttar 146552 main pillars ofrepparttar 146553 economy of Mauritius. The bulk of visitors come from South Africa, Germany, France, Australia and UK. Hotels in Mauritius are plenty, and they range from 5-star luxury to those with just basic amenities. Budget stay comes inrepparttar 146554 form of bungalows, guesthouses and self-catering apartments. The period June to September and around Christmas isrepparttar 146555 busy season and if you plan to travel then, you are advised to book your accommodation in advance. Mauritius is still relatively affordable, though there has been talk of turning it into an up market beach destination.

Mauritius is a year-round destination. The best times to visit however, arerepparttar 146556 periods April-June and September- November. These arerepparttar 146557 months when it rains least andrepparttar 146558 temperatures are moderate. January to April is hottest, and daytime temperatures can reach 35°C. Temperatures tend to be lower inland, away fromrepparttar 146559 coast. The main rains come between December and April, though there are light rains year round. November to February is when cyclones are most likely to occur. But do not be deterred; chances of meeting cyclones are not very high, and it is estimated that they hitrepparttar 146560 island about once every 15 years.

If you are keen on water sports, beware that diving is best December to March, and surfing between June and August. For big game fishing, come between October and April. You should be comfortable with light clothing suitable forrepparttar 146561 tropical climate. But you need warmer clothing for evenings andrepparttar 146562 southern winter months between July and September. Whatever time of year you travel, do carry some rainwear. Inrepparttar 146563 summer months between November and April, you are advised to bring along sunglasses, sun hats and sunscreen.

Copyright © Africa Point

Andrew Muigai is editor of AfricaPoint Insider online newsletter. It is part of the Africa travel website that has helped thousands of travelers discover Africa. You can view more info on Tanzania safari and tours at the website.

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