Ethiopia is home to the hottest place on Earth: Dallol, in the Danakil Depression, which sits 410 below sea level. It’s a wonderland of lava lakes and volcanoes, where the average daily high is 106 degrees. Locals call it the Gateway to Hell. Though it’s certainly the most unique place you’ll find in this North African country, it’s far from the only thing to do, as the warm people and fantastic food make it an exceptionally inviting destination.

Though famines have sometimes made this country synonymous with hunger, it has some of the best food in the world for vegetarians, boasting a spice-and-vegetable-rich cuisine that uses meat as an afterthought. Once you’ve enjoyed the food, tour the rock churches of Lalibela, and feed wild hyenas by hand and live to tell the tale. You’ll also find stunning hikes throughout Simien Mountains National Park and visit tribes living like they have for centuries in the Omo Delta near the Kenyan border. Ethiopia offers some of the most diverse experiences in North Africa, but, seriously, you’ve got to start with the food.