northern part of Ethiopia
(Redirected from Tigray)
Africa > East Africa > Ethiopia > Northern Ethiopia

Travel Warning WARNING: As of November 2021, a civil war is ongoing in Northern Ethiopia. Communication outages are frequent, and due to blockade by the federal government, a famine is developing in the region. All belligerents commit war crimes frequently, including extrajudicial killings and sexual violence against civilians. Please refer to war zone safety if you have genuine reasons to travel to Northern Ethiopia.
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(Information last updated Nov 2021)

Northern Ethiopia is the historic heartland of Ethiopia. Administratively, it consists of most of Amhara, all of Tigray, and the northern part of Afar. Historically, it encompassed the old provinces of Gojjam, Begmender, Tigray and Wollo.


Map of Northern Ethiopia
  • 1 Abi Addi   - also spelled Abiy Addi
  • 2 Adigrat - second-largest town, used mainly as a stopover point by travellers
  • 3 Adwa and nearby Yeha with its ancient temple
  • 4 Axum (also spelt Aksum) – capital of the former Kingdom of Axum, famous for its stelae and cathedrals
  • 5 Bahir Dar – on Lake Tana with its island monasteries and churches, where the Blue Nile flows out
  • 6 Debre Marqos   - a stopover point on the way from the capital to Bahir Dar
  • 7 Dessie - a stopover town on the two-day bus ride from Addis Ababa to Lalibela
  • 8 Gondar – Medieval capital with royal castles
  • 9 Hager Selam   — Hager Selam (Degua Tembien)
  • 10 Hawzien – a base for exploring the many rock-hewn churches of north-eastern Tigray
  • 11 Lalibela – rock-cut churches
  • 12 Mekele – capital of Tigray, home to the palace of Emperor Yohannes IV
  • 13 Shire   - also known as Inda Selassie
  • 14 Wukro - another base for exploring the rock-hewn churches of Tigray

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Generally speaking, Northern Ethiopia can be divided into two geographical regions: the highlands to the west, consisting of Amhara and Tigray and containing Ethiopia's highest peak at Ras Dashen, and the Afar lowlands to the east, containing the country's lowest point in the Danakil Depression.

The Ethiopian Highlands are very different from what one might imagine when thinking of East Africa. The landscape, both natural and cultural, is unique to this area, and several endemic species can be found here.


Tigray is the homeland of the Tigray people, who speak the Tigrinya language. In Amhara, Amharic is spoken.

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The highlands were the centre of the Kingdom of Axum in the first millennium AD, and contain many historic sites such as the many rock-hewn churches of Tigray, the stelae of Axum, the castles of Gondar, and Ethiopia's most popular attraction - Lalibela.

  • 1 Blue Nile Falls   - especially impressive during the wet season, can be visited as a day trip from Bahir Dar.




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This region travel guide to Northern Ethiopia is an outline and may need more content. It has a template, but there is not enough information present. If there are Cities and Other destinations listed, they may not all be at usable status or there may not be a valid regional structure and a "Get in" section describing all of the typical ways to get here. Please plunge forward and help it grow!