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All roads in the winding anthropological road lead back to Ethiopia – the place where it all started for hominids walking on two feet. This is also where Australopithecus afarensis, affectionately known as Lucy, resides in the National Museum. Much more recent history produced twelfth-century churches hollowed from red sandstone, ruins attributed to the Queen of Sheba, frescoed island monasteries, 1500 year old 25-metre obelisks and 17th-century castles – cultural gems in the largely Christian north. The Great Rift Valley divides the eastern and western highlands and their impressive peaks. Sharing a border with Kenya also means that big game mammals are numerous, including lions, elephants, giraffes and leopards in the southern reserves. To cap it all off, 800 bird species have been recorded in Ethiopia, of which several are endemics to this spell-binding country.

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