Ethiopia: camping in the Danakil

  The Afar settlements where we camp are the most uncomfortable, filthiest places we’ve ever been to. They are set up in the middle of stone fields (which also serve as a common, open air toilets) with ramshackle, dirty huts. It is too hot to sleep inside a hut or under a tent so we(…)

Ethiopia: to the Danakil country

  The Danakil country is one of the most remote, inhospitable part of Africa. At 100m below sea-level, it is also one of the hottest, driest and most geologically active places on the planet. Clearly, only mad dogs or naive schoolboys raised on the adventures of Wilfred Thesiger there in the 1930’s would ever want(…)

Ethiopia: Axum

  Founded 500 years before the Common Era, Abyssinia’s capital until the 10th century, Axum, ruled over one of the ancient world’s great empires encompassing parts of the Arabian peninsula, of the Sudan and Somalia. The Axumite empire traded with the Romans, the Indians, the Persians and the Arabs. Pagans who worshipped the Moon and(…)

Ethiopia: the Paradox of the Dark Ages

  Lalibela, Abyssinia’s capital between the 11th and 13th centuries, is home to the country’s strange and beautiful rock-hewn churches. Carved out of solid rock, the 11 churches built by King Lalibela in the 12th century are wonders of engineering which Ethiopians can’t explain without some divine intervention. Indeed, the King is said to have(…)

Ethiopia: in the Simien Mountains

One of Africa’s largest mountain ranges with at least a dozen peaks topping 4000m, the Simiens look like a playground of the gods, full of broken toys ! Tall cliffs, like gigantic fortress walls overlook plateaux made up of jagged fantastical shapes: broken pyramids, collapsed bridges, fragments of once grand palaces. The Ozymandian aftermath of(…)