December 2018 
A land of huge landscapes, massive rock formations, fertile valleys and areas of desert. A fusion of African and Asian cultures. A journey back in history.
Several years ago I read a book "In search of King Solomon's mines" by Tahir Shar. I was captivated, intrigued and resolved to visit the country. In 2018 my sister and I arranged a three week holiday there, first heading south to the lakes of the Rift Valley and the beautiful Bale mountains, and then flying north to see the amazing churches in Lalibela, the Simien mountains and the historic towns of Aksum and Gonder. 

Lying in the Horn of Africa, Ethiopia is a only few hundred miles north of the Equator. The landscape is magnificent and varied. The high plateaus of the Bale and Simeon mountains rise over 4000 m above sea level, and are now National Parks and home to a huge variety of rare indigenous plant and animal species. In contrast the Rift Valley which cuts through much of the country is a fertile area producing much of the food for the countries population of 105 million people. Over 98 tribes populate the country - producing a fascinating mixture of culture, art and customs. 

Remains of some of man's oldest ancestors have been found in Ethiopia, and it is believed that some of the first Christians arrived in the 4th Century AD. Islam was probably introduced around 600 AD. Today around half the population are Orthodox Christians while about a third, mostly in the south and east, are Muslim. 

Ethiopians are proud that their country has never been colonised, apart from a five year occupation (1936-1941) by the Italians. This is arguably one of the reasons why the country has suffered from a lack of development. Cars - apart from tourist and NGO 4 by 4's - are uncommon and the main traffic on the roads is still donkeys and mule carts. Tractors and combine harvesters are a rare sight. 

Until recently border disputes with neighbouring Eritrea and Somalia, as well as internal tribal disputes has to some extent kept Ethiopia off the main tourist map. However a new Prime Minister has made peace in the north, and now is a perfect time to explore this fascinating country. 

The South
Arba Minch, The Rift Valley, Bale Mountains

The North
Lalibela, Aksum, The Simien Mountains, Gonder

Addis Ababa

The Team

A huge thankyou to our wonderful Guides - in particular  Abe who acted as fixer, interpreter and friend throughtout the trip. And our drivers, Effe and Hyme who kept us safe and put up with frequent shouts from the back for "photo stops"!
January 2019