Blogs from Ethiopia, Africa


Africa » Ethiopia April 9th 2020

Epic beauty beyond the dusty roads. True riches beyond the hard-hitting poverty. Genuine warmth and welcome beyond the touristic trappings of souvenir shops and birr begging children. Spiritual authenticity beyond the physical structures of chiseled ancient churches. Peace and security beyond the undercurrent of political uneasiness. Ethiopia is a world beyond our western imagination and preconceived notions. 14 days of travel and just a scratch on the surface of the myriad of wonders Ethiopia has to offer. A short flight out of Addis Ababa lands my travel pals and I within an hours’ drive of the imposing Gheralta mountains of the Tigray region. Our first multi-day stop in our exploration of the northern region of the country. Hidden within the mountains are numerous 4th-6th century Orthodox Christian churches hewn out of rocks and caves. Many believe ... read more
No jokes mama
Salt Caravan
Protected in the Simiens

Africa » Ethiopia February 8th 2020

We were up early to go and see some more of the amazing churches in Lalibela cut into the rocks. We had a little trouble finding it as we think all the guides take down the signs so you have to pay them for their services. Anyway we eventually found a way in and it was a great labyrinth of caves. I’m not entirely sure we should have gone down all the tunnels we found, but the lack of any signs worked in our favour and we had a great time exploring 1000 year old tunnels. Eventually we headed back to the truck and drove James to Lalibela airport, which was rather small but did have a café and restaurant to keep James occupied as he waited to fly to Addis and then back home to ... read more
Mucking around in tunnels
Mucking around in tunnels
Dinner at the truck stop

Africa » Ethiopia February 7th 2020

For once a leisurely start (about 0730!) and we made our way to Lalibela. Now there is probably a tarmac road to Lalibela from where we were but we most certainly didn’t find it. Instead we travelled 120km on a track where we saw NO other cars and passed over many mountain passes and drove on ridges cut out of the rock and climbed over 4000m up and down over a mountain range peaking at 3500m. It was without doubt our most spectacular road but about halfway round it dawned on us, what if we get stuck or breakdown? Thankfully we didn’t and the track came to a village in the middle of nowhere but atleast there was some civilisation, which we followed for at least 1km on tarmac before heading back to track. As a ... read more
Sneaking out of a Church in Lalibela
Amazing rock cut Church Lalibela
Alain blessed by a priest

Africa » Ethiopia February 6th 2020

We had to get up at 03:30 to meet our guide in his car to drive us to the Cradle of Humanity, we would pick up our armed guard on the way as the Afar tribe are in dispute with the Ethiopian government so it is mandatory to have armed protection to visit the region. We followed a tarmac road for a surprisingly long way into the middle of nowhere as it got dustier and hotter. Along the way the sun came up and we stopped for breakfast in a very small cluster of huts in the middle of nowhere and at the same time picked up a man with an AK47 rifle that looked a little antique but he would be our guard. With our guard and car in the 4x4 in front we drove ... read more
Roof surfing
120m below sea level
Walking on a salt lake

Africa » Ethiopia February 5th 2020

It was our first cold night and there was also a heavy dew so departure was delayed a little while we tried to dry out the roof tent. The sun soon came up and it was roasting before long and we were on our way into the heart of the Tigray region of monasteries. Our goal was the most inaccessible one up a rock face. We left and remained on good tarmac despite leaving the main road which was a great bonus and much appreciated. However on passing through a town a lorry driver rolled a tyre out of his cab onto the road thankfully narrowly missing us. There would seem a complete lack of awareness of other traffic and people walk out into the road throw things but mostly livestock wonders into the road with ... read more
The rock we climbed to find a monestary

Africa » Ethiopia February 4th 2020

We left Debark early hoping for some great views of the Simian Mountains and we were not disappointed but when you have mountains the roads are certainly more exciting. The road out of Debark remained Tarmac but soon became a dirt track and soon literally drove down the side of a mountain on a road that isn’t quite as bad as the road of “death” in Bolivia but comes a close second. The views were spectacular and the driving certainly exciting albeit rather slow. By the end of the day we would not tire of amazing rock formations, lava and sandstone but perhaps at well over 100 hairpins some straight road would be good. We continued on and got back on to tarmac and started heading close to the Eritrea border, however it is a relatively ... read more

Africa » Ethiopia February 3rd 2020

We were picked up by the Toyota workshop driver unexpectedly in the morning and this gave us a false sense of progress arriving at the workshop. One thing we have come to learn in Ethiopia in the last few days is “local time” which is completely different to time on your watch. It is measured as hours from sunrise which is around 6:30am. So after much initial confusion in recent days as to when the car parts might arrive we learned and realised they were on a completely different clock to us. Bizarre though that their watches and phones and computers display time as we know it but they then work out local time and quote that. A good example of what we’re trying to work with here in trying to get a car fixed in ... read more
Driving into the sunset

Africa » Ethiopia February 2nd 2020

Our man with a car from the Toyota garage arrived on time at 0800, what he arrived in was a Toyota Hilux that had done nearly 700,000KM and looked like it was falling apart. It quickly became clear this car was not able to drive us for 2 hours to Gondar but rather could drive us 30KM to the natural highlight of Ethiopia which is Blue Nile Falls. We had a small argument over our destination but it seemed we must visit the falls and not the town of Gondar. Everyone in Ethiopia seems to say yes but then does what they want, we just had to go with it! The road to the falls turned out to be one of the worst we have seen and at 30km away it was a real testament to ... read more
Blue Nile Falls
Getting to Blue Nile Falls

Africa » Ethiopia February 2nd 2020

We stumbled on a local bar/club/live music venue and not another western face in sight – this was where the locals hung out. We were immediately subject to some Ethiopian singing which to put it politely was not our cup of tea. This then escalated into dancers, women mostly wiggling their boobs and men mostly wiggling their shoulders. Then umbrellas got involved and the range of colours on show certainly showed a broad range. While this was going on we saw locals nearby drinking wine, so we thought we should try some and picked one called Tej. It turns out Tej is a honey mead wine, in short it is like mixing mead with white wine. It is alcoholic for sure, but realistically an acquired taste. After about 2 hours, we decided our cultural limit had ... read more

Africa » Ethiopia February 1st 2020

We headed to the market to buy some supplies ranging from a brush to clean the dust out the car to an adaptor to read SD cards from cameras on our laptop. Bahir Dar is the 3rd largest city in Ethiopia and there are at least 10 shops next door to each other selling exactly the same thing, our challenge was knowing where the relevant clusters of shops were. We then phoned up the Toyota garage to find out annoyingly that the part from Addis had not shipped in time and we would be stuck in Bahir Dar until Monday when it will arrive and will be fitted. At this point it would be fair to say I got a little tiny bit cross, explaining that they broke a bolt without telling us and have left ... read more
Bahir Dir Market
Boat tour (with man with Gun)

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