Ethiopia Tour

Written by Andrew Muigai

Ethiopia is an enchanting country whose delights are unknown to most travelers. And yet this is a truly unique destination with such attractions as can be found nowhere else inrepparttar world. The biggest draw isrepparttar 146509 rich Orthodox Christian heritage. Ethiopia was one ofrepparttar 146510 very first nations to embrace Christianity, way back inrepparttar 146511 4th century AD. The wonderful churches, monasteries, icons and relics to be found here is a reminder ofrepparttar 146512 central rolerepparttar 146513 Church has played inrepparttar 146514 history ofrepparttar 146515 country. The painstaking effort summoned to produce some of these tokens of mans faith in God is very impressive, especially for non-believers.

Ethiopia is a very worthy destination and many connoisseurs consider it to be Africa's best-kept secret. Since so few outsiders come here,repparttar 146516 tourist infrastructure is not well developed. But onrepparttar 146517 plus side, there are no crowds of visitors, unlike at other historical destinations such as Egypt. The Christian heritage aside, Ethiopia is blessed with an astonishing contrast of nature's gifts. This ranges fromrepparttar 146518 heights ofrepparttar 146519 jagged peaks ofrepparttar 146520 Simien mountains- a UNESCO World Heritage Site,repparttar 146521 bird filled rift valley lakes, torepparttar 146522 under sea level lunarscape ofrepparttar 146523 Danakil Depression.

Travelers have plenty of opportunities to enjoy mountain treks, caving, camping, sailing and white water rafting adventures. Though not as abundant as elsewhere in east Africa, there is plenty of wildlife, and 31 rare species are only found in Ethiopia. This is also one of Africa's great birding destinations and 861 species have been recorded of which 16 are endemic. Due torepparttar 146524 relatively undeveloped tourist infrastructure,repparttar 146525 best way to seerepparttar 146526 country is by buying a packaged Ethiopia tour.

Most overseas visitors will start off from Addis Ababa. Addis, asrepparttar 146527 city is popularly known isrepparttar 146528 capital city and home to Bole International Airport. The city rests atrepparttar 146529 foot ofrepparttar 146530 Entoto Mountains. By Ethiopian standards, it is a new settlement and came into being in 1887. Addis Ababa means New Flower and its foundation is credited to Queen Taitu - consort to Menelik II. In Addis, make sure to visitrepparttar 146531 Ethnographic Museum andrepparttar 146532 National Museum. The Giorgis Cathedral, which was built in 1896 to commemorate victory over Italian invaders, is also worth a visit.

The Simien Mountains National Park is much favored by trekkers. The park has some ofrepparttar 146533 scenic sights inrepparttar 146534 country. The mastiff reaches to 4620m,repparttar 146535 highest point inrepparttar 146536 country. The park was created to protectrepparttar 146537 Walia Ibex, which is found only in Ethiopia. Other endemic animal species inrepparttar 146538 park are Gelada Baboon and Simen Fox. Bale Mountains inrepparttar 146539 southeast, though less accessible, has trekking opportunities and some wildlife including a few endemic species.

Awash National park is one ofrepparttar 146540 finest and most accessible reserves inrepparttar 146541 country. The Awash River stridesrepparttar 146542 park before heading torepparttar 146543 Dankil depression where it vanishes, never to reachrepparttar 146544 sea. Some special attractions inrepparttar 146545 park includerepparttar 146546 Awash Falls,repparttar 146547 dormant Fantale volcano and some thermal springs. Forty-six species of wildlife have been identified here andrepparttar 146548 bird life is prolific. The park is located just 211 km torepparttar 146549 east of Addis.

You will obtain best value for your Ethiopia trip if you have at least an interest inrepparttar 146550 unique history ofrepparttar 146551 country. The country claims a history going back 5,000 years, and there are Bible episodes mentioning Ethiopia that are dated at least 3,000 years ago. The colorful history is a blend of fact, legend, and tradition. Some incidents dearest to Ethiopians and which they use to affirm unique their place inrepparttar 146552 world, on close examination appear to be apocryphal. The legend thatrepparttar 146553 Ark ofrepparttar 146554 Covenant is housed in Axum is certainly controversial. But most ofrepparttar 146555 history is almost certainly correct and remains unchallenged.

Despite earlier contact withrepparttar 146556 outside world, Ethiopia developed in relative isolation and was actually once known asrepparttar 146557 "Hidden Empire". As a result, some ofrepparttar 146558 living culture is unique torepparttar 146559 country and has origins dating back hundreds of years. The Ge'ez language used in most modern day church services derives fromrepparttar 146560 Kingdom of Axum. Ge'ez alphabet has an amazing 231 letters. The country still usesrepparttar 146561 Julian calendar, which has 12 months of 30 days each and an additional month of 5 days, with 6 days in a leap year. Relative torepparttar 146562 Gregorian calendar used inrepparttar 146563 west, Ethiopia is 7 years behind between 11th September and 8th January and 8 years forrepparttar 146564 rest ofrepparttar 146565 year.

Festivals ofrepparttar 146566 Orthodox Church are an ingrained part of popular culture. Timket, feast of Epiphany, is a colorful 3-day festival commemoratingrepparttar 146567 baptism of Jesus by Johnrepparttar 146568 Baptist inrepparttar 146569 Jordan River. Meskal, celebratesrepparttar 146570 "finding ofrepparttar 146571 true cross" upon which Jesus was crucified, by Empress Helana -mother to Constantinerepparttar 146572 Great. It is believed that a fragment ofrepparttar 146573 True Cross is to be found in a monastery in Gishen Mariam. Meskal has been celebrated inrepparttar 146574 country for over 1600 years. Other Orthodox festivals includerepparttar 146575 Ethiopian New Year (Enkutatash) and Christmas (Lidet).

Though a friendly people, Ethiopians are fiercely independent and even today appear to distrust outsiders a little bit. This may appear justified when you consider that foreigners such asrepparttar 146576 British and Italians are guilty of looting historical relics. The Italians carried off to Rome a 150-tonne granite obelisk from Axum, when they occupiedrepparttar 146577 country between 1936-41. Mussolini had sought a rematch ofrepparttar 146578 1896 defeat by Ethiopia that had greatly humiliated Italian patriots. The British had earlier in 1868 stolen priceless illuminated manuscripts, crowns, crosses, and other treasure. Ethiopia has been waging a campaign to haverepparttar 146579 artifacts returned.

Most ofrepparttar 146580 historical treasures date from time King Azena of Axum converted to Christianity inrepparttar 146581 4th century AD. The highlights ofrepparttar 146582 "Historic Route" are Debre Libanos, Debre Markos, Bahar Dar, Gondar, Axum, Lalibela and Harar. You can reach these sites by air or car, or a combination of both. The route starts at Debre Libanos, 110 km from Addis Ababa. Here inrepparttar 146583 13th century, Saint Tekle Haymanot performed a fantastic feat- he stood on one leg for 7 years! A cathedral marksrepparttar 146584 spot where this happened.

Mauritius Vacation Guide

Written by Andrew Muigai

Mauritius has successfully managed to position itself as an exotic beach destination. With beach destinations so plentiful, this has been sustained not by mere hype, but byrepparttar substance there is to this claim. Visitors are drawn to Mauritius by repparttar 146508 reputation of its 140 km of white sand beaches, andrepparttar 146509 superb opportunities for water sports. Swimming, beach combing, sailing, surfing, kayaking, diving and deep-sea fishing - there is a sport for almost everyone.

Arab traders discoveredrepparttar 146510 then uninhabited island inrepparttar 146511 10th century. But they were not charmed sufficiently to consider permanent settlement. The Portuguese early inrepparttar 146512 sixteenth century landed, but they too passed overrepparttar 146513 chance to lay claim for their king. But in 1598repparttar 146514 Dutch finally seizedrepparttar 146515 opportunity. The island was grabbed for and named after Maurice, Prince of Orange and Count of Nassau -then ruler ofrepparttar 146516 Netherlands.

Inrepparttar 146517 century that followed,repparttar 146518 Dutch established settlements and devised means to live offrepparttar 146519 land. They introduced sugar and tobacco, which they farmed using African slave labour. Sugar is today still an important part ofrepparttar 146520 economy. The Dutch were insensitive torepparttar 146521 extremely fragile ecosystem that makes up an isolated island such as Mauritius. On their watch, most ofrepparttar 146522 islands' indigenous forests were felled, and lost. The bird known as dodo was also shot to extinction. Thus didrepparttar 146523 trigger-happy Dutch give life torepparttar 146524 expression "as dead as a dodo".

The Dutch courage that had made them pioneers was however not to last. They were subjected to many trials byrepparttar 146525 forces of nature - cyclones, droughts and floods. And also byrepparttar 146526 forces of man, for pirates were a constant headache. In 1710, they fled torepparttar 146527 more hospitable Cape of Good Hope, at Africa's southern tip. A short five years afterrepparttar 146528 Dutch left,repparttar 146529 French claimedrepparttar 146530 island, and renamed it Isle de France.

The French were much more successful thanrepparttar 146531 Dutch in harnessingrepparttar 146532 potential ofrepparttar 146533 island. They maintained law and order and laidrepparttar 146534 foundations for administration of society. Underrepparttar 146535 celebrated French Governor, Mahé de Labourdonnais, real nation building began. The French brought in more African slaves and expanded further sugar farming. They also laid out some social and economic infrastructure to supportrepparttar 146536 settlers. Port Louis, named after King Louis XV, and todayrepparttar 146537 capital of Mauritius, dates back to this period.

Thoughrepparttar 146538 French had introduced systems of law and order, Port Louis turned out to be a favourite of corsairs. Corsairs were mercenary marine who specialised inrepparttar 146539 plunder of ships on behalf of a client country. The British, a great sea power atrepparttar 146540 time, had a vested interest in terminatingrepparttar 146541 power of these mercenaries. And that is how Mauritius, so far away from Europe, got involved inrepparttar 146542 Napoleonic wars. In 1810,repparttar 146543 British backed by superior force of arms, persuadedrepparttar 146544 French to leaverepparttar 146545 island.

Inrepparttar 146546 1814 Treaty of Paris,repparttar 146547 British - magnanimous victors indeed, allowedrepparttar 146548 French settlers to remain in Mauritius. They too were allowed to retain their property, language, religion and legal system. The British reverted torepparttar 146549 namerepparttar 146550 Dutch had givenrepparttar 146551 island, but Port Louis retained its name. But inrepparttar 146552 century and a half thatrepparttar 146553 British ruled, they were never really as grounded asrepparttar 146554 French had been.

Franco-Mauritians prospered on an agrarian economy based on slave labour. But in 1835, they feltrepparttar 146555 capricious hand of a great power when slavery was abolished. This is perhapsrepparttar 146556 single most important measure carried out under British rule, andrepparttar 146557 consequences had a far-reaching effect onrepparttar 146558 evolving demographics ofrepparttar 146559 nation. India, a British colony greatly abundant in human resources wasrepparttar 146560 answer torepparttar 146561 labour problem that arose. Inrepparttar 146562 years that followed,repparttar 146563 descendants ofrepparttar 146564 Indian labourers who came to workrepparttar 146565 sugar fields greatly multiplied. The Chinese also came -as labourers and traders.

Today, Indo-Mauritians constitute close to 70% ofrepparttar 146566 population. As in other colonies in that historic period, and uptorepparttar 146567 1930's in Mauritius, non-whites had very limited say inrepparttar 146568 running ofrepparttar 146569 country. And that is why Gandhi - that great liberator of men's minds, came to Mauritius in 1901, in particular to give heart to Indo-Mauritians. After years of protracted concessions to democratic rule,repparttar 146570 British finally bowed out in 1968, when finally granted independence.

The events we talk about above are however very recent. About eight million years ago,repparttar 146571 island emerged fromrepparttar 146572 depths ofrepparttar 146573 sea as result of volcanic activity. Occupying 1860 sq km, it is situated just aboverepparttar 146574 Tropic of Capricorn, 890 km torepparttar 146575 east of Madagascar. Rising fromrepparttar 146576 sea,repparttar 146577 central plateau formation is about 400 m above sea level. There are mountains scattered inrepparttar 146578 island, and a few peaks,repparttar 146579 highest of which reaches 820 m.

As a country, Mauritius includesrepparttar 146580 islands of Rodrigues and Agalega,repparttar 146581 Cargados Carajos Shoals and a few smaller mostly uninhabited islands. Mauritius is almost wholly ringed by a coral reef that is reputed to berepparttar 146582 worlds third largest. Bothrepparttar 146583 Dutch andrepparttar 146584 French were extremely reckless in allowingrepparttar 146585 uncontrolled invasion of indigenous forests. Today, less than 2% of these forests remain. Many ofrepparttar 146586 nearly 700 species of indigenous plants are threatened with extinction. Starting fromrepparttar 146587 late 1970's, a belated but systematic effort has been underway to conserverepparttar 146588 unique flora ofrepparttar 146589 island.

The wildlife faces similar dangers. Inrepparttar 146590 first place, animal migration to this isolated island was by air or sea only, greatly limitingrepparttar 146591 diversity of species. The animalsrepparttar 146592 Dutch found included out-of-size reptiles and flightless birds. But except for bats, there were no mammals and no amphibians at all. The animals brought aboard ships by man include monkeys and rats - thanks torepparttar 146593 Portuguese, whilerepparttar 146594 Dutch take credit for deer and wild boar. Some of these animals threaten to chokerepparttar 146595 life out of indigenous species - they eat their eggs, and even their young.

Mauritius is not all bad news for nature lovers' -there are plenty of birds and marine life is abundant. However, some ofrepparttar 146596 endemic bird species, such as Mauritius kestrel, echo parakeet and pink pigeon number not more than a few hundred. Such are now under some form of captive breeding program, withrepparttar 146597 hope of raising their numbers.

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