Travel Notes: Ethopia

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Ethiopia is best visited after the end of the rains in September, when the flowers are spectacular. The only time to avoid is the rainy season from June to August. The climate in the highlands is otherwise delightful. The most colourful of the many religious festivals is the Timkat (Feast of the Epiphany) on 19 January. The Ethiopian Christmas is on 7 January.

GETTING THERE: Ethiopian Airlines flies daily to Addis Ababa and operates an excellent and inexpensive internal service. Book through Admas Travel (081-343 8693), which offers return flights from London to Addis Ababa for £590 in the high season (December, July and August), £490 low season. Campus Travel (071-730 8111) has flights for £536 return.

ORGANISED TOURS: More and more specialist tour operators are including Ethiopia on their itineraries. Exodus Expeditions (081-675 5550) offers a 17- day Ethiopian Discovery trip, with prices starting at £1,990 including flights, accommodation and meals (except for time spent in the capital); travel is mainly by minibus. Experience Ethiopian Travel (071-738 3197) will provide you with information on Ethiopian travel, and will organise tours to accommodate your individual requirements. Explore Worldwide (0252 319448) runs a 17-day Ethiopia trip, which includes the wildlife of the Rift Valley. Prices start at £1,890 including flights, travel and B&B hotel accommodation.

READING LIST: The best basic introduction to the country is Under Ethiopian Skies by Graham Hancock; The African Ark by Angela Fisher is the one to choose for inspiring photography. For an enjoyable romp through the legend of the Ark of the Covenant, tryThe Sign and the Seal, also by Graham Hancock. Dervla Murphy's tale In Ethiopia with a Mule documents a journey through the country in the time of emperor Haile Selassie. A History of Modern Ethiopia 1855-1974, by Bahru Zewde, is just that. Daunt Books at 83 Marylebone High Street, London W1M 3DE (071-224 2295) has, in addition to these, a number of out-of-print books in stock.