Annular Eclipse Tour Destination: Ethiopia
Many of us first discovered the rich culture and haunting landscapes of Ethiopia long ago, through the pages of National Geographic magazine, when it remained a uniquely mysterious corner of the modern world. Even today, this vast land in northeast Africa is the only nation on the continent never colonized by Europeans and is still largely unexplored by travelers.
A Rare Opportunity
In an era when the farthest reaches of the globe are readily accessible to travelers, Ethiopia is the exception. Few destinations offer such a remarkable range of natural phenomena and cultural experiences that most of us only know through the work of intrepid writers, photographers and documentary filmmakers.
TravelQuest has worked out the logistics for this 17-day itinerary through what was once the heart of the Abyssinian Empire. From the headwaters of the Blue Nile to coffee farms growing the country’s best-known export, and historic lakeside monasteries to remote villages of the Hamer and Konso peoples, we will show you the Ethiopia that you’d have difficulty finding on your own. And then, of course, there’s our astronomical centerpiece – viewing the one-minute annular eclipse from a carefully chosen site in Ethiopia’s Lalibela region.
Annular eclipse viewing prospects at Lalibela, Ethiopia
by Jay Anderson, TravelQuest Eclipse Meteorologist
The 2020 annular solar eclipse is special: a one-minute event so close to total (99.2% to be exact) that it will be possible to capture prominences, the chromosphere and some corona with a camera, while viewers with eye protection will see a profusion of beads rotating around the lunar limb. The path of the eclipse stretches from Central Africa to Guam – a significant swathe of the Earth, but one plagued by oppressive humidity, searing heat, hazy and dusty skies, and the thin air of high-altitude plateaus. Only one location stands out for a comfortable, convenient eclipse view: the Ethiopian Highlands and, in particular, the city of Lalibela.
Ideally situated on the central line of the eclipse path, Lalibela has an elevation of 2,590 m (8,500 ft), well above the heat and humidity of the tropics. And while sunshine is not as abundant on the Ethiopian Highlands plateau as it is over the deserts of Arabia and Pakistan, it is nonetheless generous. Most clouds are convective in nature and tend to dissipate as the temperature falls ahead of the eclipse; but because the eclipse comes during the morning hours, around 8:00 am local time, the clouds will be in the early stages of their growth. Satellite photos from the past 18 years show that such an eclipse would have been visible in 14 of them.
An Incredible Journey
If you’ve joined us on comparable adventures – eastern Turkey in 1999, Libya in 2006, China’s Silk Road in 2008, Mangaia in the Cook Islands in 2010, Kenya in 2013 – you know that taking the road less traveled can have its challenges. But, as with all of our successful past adventures, the incredible experiences and unexpected moments of your Ethiopian journey will yield memories you’ll reflect on for years to come.
If you’ve ever dreamed of visiting this intriguing country, now is the time. Contact us here!Show less