ETHIOPIA TRAVEL : EXPLORE WITH LOCAL TIPS
One of the best ways to travel is to gain insights from a local perspective. We spent some time with Rakeb Sile, cofounder of Addis Fine Art located in Ethiopia, to let us in on some of her favorites, must-sees, and itinerary tips for planning your next trip to see Ethiopia. File these away for when it’s time to hop the jet and sightsee the world again!
Image credit: metropolitanaddis.com
Installation view of Liberty by Adiskidan Ambaye at Addis Fine Art Gallery, 2020. Courtesy of Addis Fine Art.
24-HOURS TO EXPLORE ADDIS ABABA AS A DESIGN AND ART ENTHUSIAST: WHAT SHOULD OUR ITINERARY CONSIST OF?
Start your day off by visiting the newly opened National Palace of Ethiopia. There you will see the spectacular Unity Park and Emperor Menelik II lush 18th Century Palace, which boasts exquisite historical paintings, architecture and beautiful decor. Stop for Lunch at the Hyatt Regency Restaurant where you will be surrounded by the best local art at every turn. Then visit our gallery where you will enjoy some of the most exciting contemporary Ethiopian artists the country has to offer. Swing by Anna Getaneh’s African Mosaique Boutique for a spot of locally made designer clothes and accessories. In the evening, I would suggest a drink and some local food (injera and shiro) at Fendika Cultural Center, which has nightly performances by musicians and poets, and exhibitions of art by exciting emerging Ethiopian artists.
Fashion model Anna Getaneh. Image credit: Fashion model directory
WHAT IS THE NUMBER ONE TRAVEL TIP YOU’D GIVE A FIRST-TIME TRAVELER TO ETHIOPIA?
My number one tip for a first-time traveler to Ethiopia is either get a reputable guide or, if you have contacts in the country who are willing to show you around, even better! Ethiopia is more than four times the size of the UK, and it has lots to see across the entire country. A guide can help you plan your itinerary and suggest the best and safest ways to travel. You are likely to encounter a language barrier in Ethiopia as there are over 80 languages spoken. A person who can accompany you and speaks the local dialect can help you discover so much more about this diverse country
ONE THING YOU MUST SEE BEFORE LEAVING ETHIOPIA?
There are too many to choose from, but if I had to choose just one, it would be the town of Lalibela. Lalibela is home to the magnificent stone-carved churches, which date back over 800 years. If you are lucky enough to visit during Ethiopian Christmas (7th January) you will see the place come to life with thousands of pilgrims dressed mostly in white gathering around the churches. It is one of the most beautiful and unique places in the world.
Image credit: Fendika Cultural Center
2019 Installation of Tesfaye Urgessa, No Country for Young Men, Addis Fine Art Gallery, Addis Ababa
CAN YOU DESCRIBE THE ART SCENE IN ETHIOPIA?
It is an art scene which is finding its voice. It is optimistic, exciting, and emboldened by Ethiopian artists making waves on the international stage. The Addis Ababa University, Alle School of Fine Arts & Design is the engine behind the scene, with many of our painters having studied at the school. Modernist painter Tadesse Mesfin has been an educator at the school for three decades and has taught and inspired generations of artists including many on our roaster, Merikokeb Berhanu, Addis Gezehagn, Tesfaye Urgessa, Ermias Kifleyesus and Tizta Berhanu. Read more about Ethiopia art here.