Africa » Ethiopia » Amhara Region » Bahir Dar January 4th 2019

Bahir Dar effectively completes our short circuit of northern Ethiopia. From here it's a direct, but full day by bus back to Addis Ababa. The city is a regional capital so is a sizeable place with a few decent sights so is a fine place to stay for a night or two. The main attraction here is Lake Tana, one of the largest lakes in Africa and the source of the Blue Nile, though the lake is certainly not blue but a disappointing dull muddy colour. On the lake there are quite a few islands some of which have historic monasteries. These are some of the oldest and most important in the country and are known for their impressive murals. As we can't visit all of the monasteries - they are well spread out - we ... read more
Murals in Monastery
Mural of St George
Miriam monastery in Lake Tana

Africa » Ethiopia » Amhara Region » Gondar December 10th 2018

We made it to Gondar – the Camelot of Ethiopia. The trip here wasn’t too bad but ended up being 4 step journey and as expected a long day as buses leave at 5am! It turned out to be a easier than I expected as we didn’t have much waiting time and once we reached Gashena about 2 hours south of Lalibela, the roads were excellent (the road is called the Chinese road – built quite recently by guess who). The only annoying part of the trip was that our bus does not take us all the way into Gondar but drops us about 10km outside meaning we need to take a local bus into the town. The town here is something of a revelation after Lalibela. We are staying in what could loosely be described ... read more
Gondar Royal compound
Church interior Gondar

Africa » Ethiopia » Amhara Region » Lalibela October 8th 2018

Ethiopia is a bit of a weird place. Amongst the things (and there are a few) that make it odd is the calendar. They use a different month system (13 months), but this can normally be ignored if you keep to short timescales as the years are the same length. More surprising is the year. New Year’s Day is September 11thand the calendar is either 7 or 8 years behind that used in the Western world so we are now early in 2011. We first realise this as one brand of beer we drink has a New Year competition (which we don’t win!). Another slightly odd thing is the widespread celebration of St George who even has a beer brand named after him. St George is worshipped in every church we visit here. We decide to ... read more
Typical house on the way up to Mary Monastery
View near Lalibela
View from pass above Lalibela

Africa » Ethiopia » Amhara Region » Lalibela October 7th 2018

The rock hewn churches of Lalibela are considered to be Ethiopia’s number one tourist attraction. They are also on a suitable circuit for us to travel in the relatively short time we have here. Most tourists choose to fly to Lalibela from Addis Ababa as by bus it takes a day and a half. We decide, of course, to go by bus. Lalibela is not much of a town, but for some that’s part of the appeal. The churches are tourist sights but they are also places of active local worship and it you are here at the right time you witness some extraordinary gatherings. Though these are Christian churches, it’s also Orthodox Christianity and is a very different style of worship to what we in the western world are used to. On one of the ... read more
Town of Lalibela looking over to the 1st church complex
Church of St George

Africa » Ethiopia » Addis Ababa Region October 4th 2018

For once it’s obvious which title I should use for my blog entry. Perhaps the standout attraction of Addis Ababa is the Ethiopia National Museum which houses the skeleton of Lucy, a well preserved 3.2m year old fossil, considered to be an early ancestor of man. It was discovered in 1974 in the Afar region of Ethiopia and has been described as simply one of the most important fossils ever discovered. At the team campsite after the skeleton was discovered the lead scientist played a Beatles cassette and the track “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” came on. They already thought that the skeleton was female so the name seemed appropriate and stuck. The real Lucy skeleton is securely locked away in a vault, but if you didn’t know that you wouldn’t realise. There is also ... read more
Lucy in closeup
Status of Emperor Haile Selassie at Ethiopian museum
You might not guess it from the picture but this is Addis Ababa

Africa » Uganda » Western Region » Kibale National Forest September 30th 2018

In Fort Portal the gateway town for the Kibale Park we find the Dutchess restaurant/hotel. Run by a Dutch couple the LP considers this to be one of the best restaurants in the whole of Uganda. Not wishing to miss this opportunity we stop for a light lunch and then are delayed as - no surprise - after lunch the Rav 4 won't start. We call the hire company and within 15 minutes a local mechanic arrives and after some good diagnostics traces the problem to a poor transmission connector. This meant that the electronics dig not detect that the transmission was in Park so disabled the ignition circuit. He easily fixes this, but leaves me a wire so I can short this out just in case we have the same problem again. It turns out ... read more

Africa » Uganda » Western Region » Queen Elizabeth NP September 28th 2018

The drive from Bwindi to Kibale (where we have a permit for Chimp trekking tomorrow) takes us up the western side of Uganda through the Queen Elizabeth National Park. We don’t expect that much from the park, but do want to try to find the tree climbing lions in the south of the park. The lions are actually quite easy to find – there are 6 in one tree but these are the only ones we see. I manage to bog the Rav4 in a boggy part of the trail. My travel companions are a bit worried about out pushing us out as we have just seen lions up the road, but another vehicles comes past soon and it doesn’t take too much effort to push us clear. We drive along the main road through the ... read more

Today is THE reason we have come to Uganda, to track Mountain Gorillas. There are only about 1000 Mountain Gorillas left in the world and about half of these live in the Bwindi Impenetrable forest where we are now. Other places where you can see them are Rwanda and the DRC, different countries but very close to Bwindi. The only way to see them here is to buy a permit from the Ugandan Wildlife Authority (UWA). There are only about 100 permits available each day and as they cost $600 per person it means that this isn’t a trip for everyone. In addition, the official line is that the permits are over-subscribed (ie hard to get), nothing is guaranteed, it's often wet and the trekking to find the gorillas can be tough, so tough in fact ... read more
Volcanos on the way into Bwindi

Africa » Uganda » Eastern Region » Jinja September 22nd 2018

In Uganda we.ve decided to do things a little differently than we did in Tanzania. Here we have hired a car – well an old SUV, it’s a 20 year old Toyota RAV4. The benefit of this is that we can see Uganda without having to take an organised tour. I think it should be more fun and also considerably cheaper. This plan doesn’t get off to the best start as we need to wait until after lunch for our car to arrive at the hotel in Kampala. By then we’re decided that we should spend another night in the city and head on out to Jinja - the source of the White Nile- early the next day. Jinja turns out not to be much of a place, but our hotel overlooks the river, is OK ... read more
View to the Nile from our hotel
War cemetery at Jinja

Africa » Tanzania » North » Serengeti National Park September 19th 2018

This blog entry covers our days in both the Serengeti National Park and the Ngorongoro Crater conservation area. We have 2 full days in the Serengeti and a morning game drive in Ngorongoro. It’s unfair to try to compare the two different parks as both are excellent and quite different from each other, so really it's the combination of the 3 areas (these 2 plus Tarangire) that makes a very good short safari. As with any wildlife activity there is a huge amount of luck as to what you actually see on any given day, but a good guide certainly helps and Pablo our guide and driver is a wise old bird who knows the country well and seems to be able to find almost anything on demand. The Serengeti is a huge area of grassland ... read more
Colourful lizard
Well hidden Cheetah

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