Although most of the countries in Africa are less than a century old in their modern form, Ethiopia is different. It has been independent since ancient times and is, in fact, one of the world's oldest countries. For most of its long history, Ethiopia has been a monarchy, with the roots of its dynasty dating back to the tenth century BC. Along with being an ancient nation, it is also one of the oldest places known of human existence, having produced some of homo sapiens's most ancient traces. Scientists believe that Ethiopia might well be where our ancient Homo Sapiens ancestors first came from and lived, setting out from there to what is now the Middle East and places beyond. Ethiopia was also one of just two African countries that wasn't colonized by Europe during the period of colonization.
Many people tend to think of Ethiopia as a land of desperate famine and continual war. However, those travelers willing to see beyond the hardships and open their eyes to the true beauty of Ethiopia's treasures won't be disappointed.
Take the town of Gonder for example in northern Ethiopia. Replete with classical 17th century stone castles and ornate palaces, no wonder Gonder is known as 'Africa's Camelot'. From here, you can journey into the Simien Mountains.
The remote town of Lalibela is a World Heritage Site. This ancient site contains eleven medieval churches, underground secret passageways, grottos, and hidden crypts, all carved into volcanic red rock by long-gone workers of the Zagwe Dynasty one thousand years ago. That ancient world is still here to explore, frozen in time and stone.
Aksum needs at least three days to see it properly and one of those days should be with a vehicle. Dusty, rural and sprawling, some may not believe at first that Aksum was once the site of great civilization. Full of gigantic crumbling palaces, huge teetering stelae (ancient pillar-like tombstones), underground tombs and mysterious inscriptions carved into stone walls, Aksum has been called the last of the great civilizations of antiquity. One of Africa's most significant archeological sites, it's truly spectacular. Pilgrims journey here to this day, believing that this is where the Ark of the Covenant is located.
It should be noted that any travel near the border of Eritrea is dangerous, with the border being closed permanently. The Kenyan, Sudanese and Somali borders also are dangerous. Check for government warnings before heading off to Ethiopia for recent updates on safety.
For an insight into Ethiopia, read "Bless Ethiopia" by Kazuyoshi Nomachi.