10 things to plan before visiting Ethiopia

4th of Yekatit, the 6th month of 2010

“Travel to Ethiopia and be seven years younger” the advertising says.

Actually, with a flight time of 36 hours to reach Addis Ababa, I would need these seven years in order to pull my brain together and do anything other than sleep.  Just attempting to figure out what day it is in Ethiopia can be a challenge. I was warned to watch the time as well. Ethiopians use a 12-hour clock which cycles from dawn to dusk and starts over dusk to dawn. Being so close to the Equator, dusk and dawn never vary by much. (more…)

Shenkele Wildlife Sanctuary and Hawassa

3-4 February 2018

Today I ride in the last car of a five car caravan. This is important.

This morning we retrace our journey north following Highway 9 to Sodo and 41 to Alaba Qulito leading up the Rift Valley toward Addis Ababa. We pass fertile farmland planted with bananas, grains and tobacco. The savannah is quite beautiful. The soil is rich and dark; food and cash crops are in abundance. Various fruits, from huge mangos and avocados to small pineapples, are sold along the roadside. Almost the entire road is paved. But the real show is the road traffic and its sideshows.


Omo Bend and the Omotic Tribal People

1-2 February 2018

Termite mound

Playing Ethiopian dodgeball with the goats, ruts, rocks, swales and riverbeds of the road, for two hours we bounce our way to the village of Gorcho. This is a new landscape of flat land, huge dry washes, red soil and towering red ‘chimneys’ of termite mounds. I definitely would not want to be in this area when the rains fall. There is much evidence of massive flooding and fast, dangerous rivers of water. Today it is hot and bone dry.

As Bette Davis warned in All About Eve –

Fasten your seat belts. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.


Ari Tribe of Jinka

31 January 2018

First the rooster crows, impatient for daybreak. A mass can be heard from somewhere to the south. The Call to Prayer echoes to the east. A hungry mosquito can be heard attempting to breach my netting. The familiar ping of “I’ve got mail” tells me the internet has been turned on. Ravens leave in mass, calling to all their friends that the early bird will get the best pickings. A donkey brays his complaint that his workday is about to begin. My tent walls are thin and the morning noises tell me it’s time to rise. The only thing missing is the sun which is still an hour below the horizon.

Today, I will visit the Ari tribe. (more…)

The Mursi of the Omo Valley

30 January 2018

It is a morning of rutted roads and clouds of dust. It reminds me of childhood when faced with that long Thanksgiving drive to a meal with obnoxious relatives. You dread being around the bully cousin or the picky grandmother. I have heard so many horror stories about the Mursi tribe that I wonder “why go?” We have been given clear instructions about our visit, just like mama used to warn the kids to “behave, or else!”


The Omo Valley – Meeting the Konso

29 January 2018

I was forewarned!  “Omo Valley Adventure – In order to fully experience and explore this incredibly diverse, yet sometimes isolated UNESCO area, we really get “off-the-beaten-track”. Sometimes the road is in rough condition, you should be prepared for some bumpy drives. Accommodation in small towns is modest. A certain spirit of adventure is required for this journey and any travel hardship will certainly be made up for in experience!”

Ethiopia’s Omo Valley is probably one of the most unique places on earth because of its geological history and the tribes and animals that live here. Located in East Africa’s Rift Valley (EAR), this isolated region is recognized for its culture and diversity. That is why I have come. (more…)