Ethiopia is a landlocked country on the Horn of Africa, in the east of the continent. It is bordered by Djibouti, Eritrea, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, and Somaliland (Somalia).
Unique cultures, natural beauty, amazing history makes Ethiopia a film location to be seriously considered by International film producers.
Hidden for centuries in the remote highlands, about 700 kilometers north of Addis Ababa, the magnificent rock-hewn churches of Lalibela are not to be missed by today’s visitor. This group of eleven monolithic and semi-monolithic structures was carved directly into the stone of the mountainside at least 800 years ago. With the largest monolithic church in the world; a maze of passageways and tunnels; intricately carved reliefs; and fabulous examples of icon paintings; the Lalibela churches were built by carving a massive rectangular trench around a solid stone block. This solid block was then hollowed out, leaving interior columns, windows, reliefs, etc. Other churches were carved in a similar fashion but leaving either one side or the roof attached to the surrounding stone. Not only the craftsmanship but also the sheer size of the churches is stunning.
Gondar- The Historic Route
In 1632, King Fasilidas proclaimed that Gondar, a previously obscure village, would become the site of the Empire’s new capital. The population consequently swelled to over 60,000 and for the next 250 years, the Kings of Ethiopia ruled from Gondar. Beginning with Fasilidas, a succession of Ethiopian kings built the castles that still occupy the heart of modern day Gondar. Known collectively as the Royal Enclosure or “Fasil Ghebbi”, the castles have survived several wars, including air raids during World War Two. The site is easily accessible and recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage site.
The Omo River Valley in southern Ethiopia is undoubtedly one of the most unique regions in the world. Within this small geographic area reside at least 30 distinct ethno-linguistic groups, whose lifestyles, until very recently, did not vary much from those of their ancestors. Elaborate body painting, scarification, women with clay lip plates, elaborate headdresses of clay and feathers help distinguish one tribe from one another. This part of Ethiopia, extending into northern Kenya, is incredible for both its cultural diversity and the isolation of its inhabitants for centuries past.
Harar, with its 16th century walled “old city” of Jugal, is quite distinct from Ethiopia’s other historical sites with their strong connections to Orthodox Christianity. While Christianity was introduced and accepted by the nation of Ethiopia very early, Islam also arrived at the outskirts of the Ethiopian Empire not long after Mohammed began spreading his faith on the nearby Arabian Peninsula.
Ethiopia’s National Parks
With a landscape that ranges from rainforests, to grassy savannas, mountains, and deserts, Ethiopia boasts scenery that is as diverse and fascinating as its people. Splitting the country in two, the Great Rift Valley provides breath-taking views that rival those of the Grand Canyon. At 4,620 meters, Ras Dashen is the fourth highest peak in Africa while the Danakil Depression is the lowest point on the continent. Near Lake Tana, the Blue Nile begins its voyage to Egypt and a string of Rift Valley lakes and rivers belie Ethiopia’s image as dry and parched land. Deserts are an important part of Ethiopia’s ecosystem, but so are the indigenous forests which are the most extensive in all of east Africa. This variety of habitat has resulted in an impressive array of wildlife including over 850 species of birds, many extremely beautiful and exotic.
With more than 30 active and dormant volcanoes, the Danakil Depression is one of the most unique geological regions on earth. A strange and mysterious landscape – scattered with noxious hot springs, frozen black-lava flows, and massive salt basins left over from ancient lakes – it is one of the most tectonically active places on the planet In stark contrast to the cool, temperate Ethiopian highlands, it is also one of the lowest, driest, and hottest places on earth. The lowest point (155m/509 ft below sea level) on the African continent, the Danakil is where the famous 32 million year old fossil hominid “Lucy” was discovered in 1974.
The local film location scouts can elaborate on many other choice film locations. Ethiopia is a film destination well worth considering for your next film production.