Last impressions of Ethiopia

Right then. Where do I start? The last month of the trip has been incredible. It has been full of amazing historical sights, fantastic scenery, wonderful food and some of the friendliest people in Africa. Here is a brief description of some of the highlights.

After leaving Addis I headed to Bahir Dar where I met up with an Aussie guy called Marc and we toured some of the monasteries around Lake Tana and went to see the majestic Blue Nile falls. After a couple of days there I decided to fly to Lalibella in order to catch sight of the ancient Meskal festival. Lalibella is home to a number of huge churches that have been carved straight out of the rockface and should be up there with the likes of the Pyramids and Machu Pichu as one of the great man made wonders of the world. It’s scandalous that hardly anyone has heard of this place.

After Lalibella I headed to Gondar to see some more castles and to spend a couple of nights out in some of the seediest bars I have ever seen. After Gondar I took the local bus to Debark and joined up with some Dutch and Israeli travelers for a wonderful 6 day trek into the Simien Park. We decided not to go for the all inclusive trip and instead hired our own scout (with compulsory Kalashnikov), a cook, 3 mules and off we went. It was very green, very cold and very good fun. We saw a BBC film crew following some of the endemic Gelada Monkeys (note to self to look out for Enchanted Kingdom when it arrives on screen)

After Simien I hitched a lift to Axum with some crazy Italians, took a look at the ancient Stelae fields and got blind drunk with some Russian girls. Two hours after falling asleep I was woken by the police and questioned about my Italian friends who may or may not have been using counterfeit Euros earlier in their trip.

After Axum I took the bus to Hawzein and stayed at the truly amazing Gheralta Lodge which is probably the best place I’ve stayed at in Africa. At 50 dollars per night it was about 10 times the cost of anywhere else, but as it was the end of the trip I felt like treating myself. I stayed there for four nights, met Charlotte from France and headed off into the Danakil Desert for the finale of my trip. I couldn’t have picked a better place to finish. It is one of the strangest and most beautiful places I have seen.

The Danakil Depression is officially the hottest place on the earth and is inaccessible for much of the year. When we were there the temperature was a relatively ‘cool’ 42 degrees. We drove for two days and hiked for 3hrs until we were standing at the very edge of one of the worlds only active bubbling volcanoes. Afterwards we went to see sulphur fields, a camal caravan taking salt back to town and slept out under the stars. It’s a magical lunar-like place.

I am now back in Addis and waiting for my flight home! What a trip it has been. I’m looking forward to boring you all senseless when I’m back. See you very soon 🙂

P.S It’s just occurred to me that this is the very first time in my life that I don’t know what I will be doing next week. Or the week after. Or the week after that… It’s a nice feeling!

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