I’ve been down many roads since you’ve last heard from me, but I haven’t forgotten you! Got your passport ready?

This past year I planned on exploring outside of Mamma Africa, and Turkey was at the top of my list. Old world meets new world was always a big attraction, not to mention Turkish cuisine, the Mediterranean sea, and spas. Unfortunately my visa application got lost in the paperwork (Hello? Istanbul?). I got the travel bug so bad I couldn’t wait to voyage, so I decided to explore a country on my own continent (we’ve got over 50 to choose from.

Friends of mine raved about Ethiopia, so I decided to book my flight and brush up on my Amharic (actually, with more than fifty languages spoken—including English and Arabic–there’s many dialects to learn). Just a two-hour flight from Entebbe, the city of Addis Ababa is an emerald metropolis. My eyes sparked at the sparse and wide-open terrain as our flight touched down, with big, beautiful mountains welcoming my arrival. Once the airplane hatch opened I was so excited—and then I was cold! Didn’t expect it to be so cool, but no matter.
I hauled my luggage to the curb and attempted to hail a cab. To my surprise they were all colored blue and old-fashioned looking. I wondered if they still imported cars. I met a good cab guy and attempted to haggle a price. In Uganda you haggle everything except at the supermarket, and I thought it would be the same here. It worked.

The picture doesn’t do it justice. Better on the eyes.

The next day I had to go to the North since I was gonna spend most of my holiday here. Ethiopia is such a big country that if you don’t have much time, it’s best not to use road transport. The bus takes an eternity, and if you’re not prepared, you could spend all of your holiday on the road. I did not have much time, so I traveled using domestic flights from one town to another. The first area I had to go to was Lalibela, known for the holiest and most ancient rock-cut churches in the nation.
Ethiopia is so rich in culture, religion, and history. It’s one of the earliest nations to adopt Christianity, with the lineage going all the way back to the first half of the fourth century. Its history dates to the time of the apostles. What’s impressive is that this history is virtually untouched through the ages. Can you name the only two countries to never have been occupied? If you guess Ethiopia (or Russia), you’re right. And oh by the way, did I mention the food?

The north of Ethiopia is very hilly with amazing landscapes. I was awed by everything. Before I went to look at the churches that afternoon, my host and his friend took me to a butchery restaurant to eat raw meat. We got to this open compound, there were men sitting with plates filled with chopped raw beef. I was terrified but my host said you have to eat it with chilli to kill of the bacteria. I had to give it a try with a very small chunk, the chill was very hot but the meat was chewy, it was not that bad like I expected.

Raw meat with Chilli.

The people in Lalibela were nice to me, they always thought I was black American because they never see fellow Africans coming to their country for tourism. Once I told them I am Uganda, they would lighten up, smile, call me their sister and also strike a conversation. It was such a wonderful feeling. It was so great to see the rock churches which are very old but all of them are still standing still. How could King Lalibela have possibly made such perfect structures without an iPhone or any modern technology?

The famous Church of Saint George.

I did some hiking at Abuna Yosef mountain where Asheton Maryan Monestry is located. It was hectic but my guide was really patient with me and explained a lot more. I was surprised  people go there to pray as it lies on an altitude of 4000. The church is carved out of a cleft into a cliff face, and the execution is rougher than at most other churches around Lalibela. The views here were spectacular. Despite the heat and fatigue, it was well worth it.

A orthodox priest holding 800 year  old golden crosses.
Beautiful view from Asheton

Lalibela town.

My other highlight of the trip was my four day Danakil depression tour. I saw things beyond my expectations. I heard this tour is one of the best but I did not know I would be wowed this much. On this trip I was able to sleep on one of the lowest point on earth and as well as the hottest. I had never been that hot in my life. Our first night in Afar, we were handed our beddings and we had to spend the night outside because you can not sleep under a roof in that heat. That night temperature was 43 degrees all night and probably dropped on the last hour before we woke up. In the next three days, I was able to see the salt flats where we took lots of pictures and we had a dip in a small salty pond which is supposed to have some benefits. We took part in mining salt with the miners which is actually not an easy task because the temperatures are very and the working conditions are unbearable. I loved the colourful water at Dalol, that was such an amazing sight! Mother nature has got so much for us to see. The water was sulfuric with mixed colours like yellow, maroon and white, we had to be careful in that area because of the strong chemical. Driving around the highlands of Ethiopia was amazing but my highlight was the Art ale volcano. It was the hardest route on the way there because the roads are covered with dry lava hence being a little uneven. We reached our camp in the afternoon but we had to wait till sunset for us to take to the long walk to the mountain. Lucky for us it was a full moon, we did not need our lights that much. Most people did the walk for about three hours but I did mine like for two hours and 15 mins, It was so tiring but when we got there, it was worth it. The volcano was so wide and full to the brim, and the lava was boiling with different colors. I was wowed with what mother nature has got for us. Sleeping up there with the sound of boiling lava was the best thing I have ever experienced. However, this four day trip would not have been great without Ethio Travel and Tours (ETT) and Kaleb Teklu our wonderful guide.

Colourful Dalol.

Boiling lava at night.

The morning sunrise over the Volcano.

My last days were spent in Addis Ababa, such a big and busy city. My only problem was communication because few people would speak English. On one incident someone ignored me when I wanted to ask him something, he just walked past me so quickly. He was not being rude but he could not help me If I spoke English. They speak Amharic and they have their own dialect as well. My first day in the city I went to see the biggest market in Africa called Merkato. It is so big and crazy busy, I did not think I would make it out of there and let alone do some shopping, but I managed. This market is a must see for everyone who goes there. I visited the National Museum of Ethiopia and was able to witness the skeleton of Lucy, the earliest human ancestor which is three million years and above. I learnt about the emperors of Ethiopia from these museums and more history about Ethiopia.

Colorful Injera baskets on sale in Merkato

Crowdness in Merketo.

Mules are used all over Ethiopia for transporting merchandise.

I was not able to see all the things I wanted but I hope to go back some day to visit historical Axum and Gondar. There are these amazing mountains of Simien that I want to hike and also spend time with the tribes in the South.

Lucy, the 3.2 year million old skeleton.

Ethiopia is one of the best countries in Africa that everyone should have on their bucket list. It will provide you with rich history which is not altered and it will give you the nature too. If you have plans of going there or want to organise a trip there, just reach out. I am aware of good companies with the best deals and great service that I deal with.