What Makes Ethiopia Unique?
Ethiopia is certainly one of the highlights for the riders of the Tour d’Afrique. Unfortunately in 2017 we were forced to skip the country due to security concerns but are pleased to have it return to our route in 2018! Here are 10 reasons why we believe this incredible country is unique:
Ethiopia is the third country on the Tour d’Afrique route. It’s the country with the most climbing on whole tour, at close to 19,000m. The highest point of the tour, at 3100m, is also in Ethiopia. The stage with the most climbing in one day (2500m) on the tour is also in Ethiopia. The capital city, Addis Ababa, is the highest in Africa at 2355m above sea level.
2. Calendar, Time and Alphabet
Ethiopians use a 13 month calendar, have their own alphabet and live by their own time. Crossing the border from Sudan , it seems like you go back in time instantly. Ethiopia recently celebrated the Ethiopian New Year and they are now in the year 2010.
Coffee originated in Ethiopia, in the region called Keffa. Drinking a coffee roasted on the roadside in the traditional manner is an experience not to be missed.
Ethiopia is the most populous country on the Tour d’Afrique route with 99 million people (2015 count) and is second most populated country in Africa. Forty percent of the population is under the age of 15.
Perhaps the world’s most famous early human ancestor, the 3.2-million-year-old ape “Lucy” was the first Australopithecus skeleton ever found in Ethiopia.
6. Ancient Orthodox Christian civilization
The ceremonies and practices of the Ethiopian Orthodox/Coptic Church are the closest the world has today to what Christian religion was like millenia ago. Riding your bike in rural Ethiopia gives the sense that you are cycling in the Bible. For the faithful, Ethiopia is also home to the Ark of the Covenant.
7. National Food
Not for the faint of stomach, Ethiopia’s unique and often fiery cuisine contains such delicious dishes as doro wat (chicken stew), kitfo (steak tartare) served with kojo (from the false banana plant), not to mention the ubiquitous injera, a sour flatbread made from the grain called teff.
8. Beautiful people
Drop dead gorgeous women clothed in traditional cotton gabis and natelas and rugged handsome men.
9. Long distance runners
Led by such famous names as Abebe Bikila and Haile Gebre Selassie, Ethiopia has won 53 Olympic medals, all in long distance running. Their training starts early as any cyclist struggling uphill in the country can attest to.
10. Stunning Landscapes
From gorges and escarpments to 4000+ meter high mountain peaks, Rift Valley lakes, the Blue Nile river, rock hewn churches, and Eucalyptus forests, Ethiopia’s terrain is a feast for the eyes.