Ankober The Highland Extravaganza

Greener town in central Ethiopia, Ankober found in the Semien Shewa of the Amhara regional state. The beautiful town used to be the capital city of the Shewa kingdom during the time of Emperor Menelik. It remained to be the capital city until 1886 before Addis Ababa made the central government sit.

Ankober the eastern fringes of the Ethiopian highlands portray a historical and exceptional landscape that will take your breath away. It was the ancient capital of the Kingdom of Shoa, founded by Merid Azmatch Amha Iyesus, a ruler descended from the Solomonic dynasty king of Jerusalem. His descendents continue to rule Ankober for around a hundred years leaving remarkable legacies.

The stunning hilltop encloses Menelik the second longstanding palace. During the reign of the Emperor, Britain, France and Italy had established diplomatic missions in Ankober that are still standing. Menelik married his queen Itegue Taytu at the famous Ankobers’ Medhane Alem Church, where their golden wedding cloak is still kept at the church for close up view.. The pace has been important political location until Menelik decided to move the capital to its current location, Addis Ababa.

The highlands surrounding Ankober rises 2,500m high offering a magnificent landscape for climbers and birdwatchers enjoying the view of several endemic birds. Ankober Palace hill creates the spectacular scenery of the Rift Valley that stretch from the Red Sea to the plains of Afar Region.

The small town also houses several fascinating and famous religious architectures in the area, Mantiq and Aba Massayas ancient monasteries with Judeo-Christian traditions are few of the most important historical centers.

When to visit

The place is gifted with admirable refreshing weather condition which makes it a visitor’s favorite and open all year round.

What to expect

The public amazing hospitality and politeness will make you feel at home while you explore the small town stunning natures and historical creations.

How to travel within

Visitors can travel freely and without worrying about safety issues. There are local guides who can explain all the history taking you several centuries back.


There are many hotels and guest houses around Debre Birhan. The luxuries and affordable accommodations for backpackers are available on which offers best negotiated price and guaranteed booking.

What to Wear

The place gets cold at night, it’s good to pack closes and shoes that can keep you warm.


South of Ankober, lies Aliyo Amba, once an important trade centre connecting the highlands with the Red Sea port of Zeila. The cobblestones of the famous coffee caravan route which joined the two still remain to be the market place where you can see how the old time trade was conducted.

Fun Fact

The locals love to dance and sing. Meeting the amazing local vocalists who can create exclusive lyrics for everyone will give you a unique experience. Your guide can translate the appreciative poems just made for you.

Country code

+251 – SIM cards (2G, 3G, and 4G ) allow visitors to make local and international calls. The 3G and 4G SIM fast internet connections only work in Addis Ababa however it’s still possible to make calls outside of the capital city.

How to get there

The main road from the capital city to Debre Birhan takes you all the way to Ankober. Big buses or minibuses leave from a new station about 2km east of Megenagna. After Debre Birhan a bus takes you to Ankober.


Foreign currencies are accepted at all hotels and shops, you can calculate exchange rates from

Visa Requirement

US citizens are allowed to have visa upon arrival at Ethiopian airlines. Tourist visa is very easy to process and issued quickly. All visa application and requirements are available at

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By Eden Sahle

Photo credit: MGCCA Tek Tour operation

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