“It’s difficult to describe just how vulnerable you feel when your eyes meet the unwavering stare of a predatory lion.”
With the possible exceptions of Colombia and Iran, it’s pretty hard to find a country so undeservedly beset with tourism image problems as Ethiopia. A poverty-stricken, war-ravaged dustbowl… right? Well, not quite.
Bob Geldof’s much-publicised famines are now almost 30 years past, the country has been at peace for more than a decade and its economy is one of the fastest growing in the world.
Add to this a staggering diversity of landscapes, kaleidoscope of cultures and history that tracks back to when our species first raised itself up onto two legs – and suddenly you’ve got one very surprising travel destination. And just to push the point further, here’s a further 10 facts about Ethiopia which could come as a surprise.
Could 2014 be your year to get really high? We mean a 5,895 metre kind of high…to the roof top of Africa! And why might you do it? For the personal challenge of pushing yourself beyond your usual limits? To get more girls into school? Because it’s there?
Well the answer for Intrepid employees Amy Bolger and Ronnie Albanis and two groups of Intrepid travellers who recently conquered Mt Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, was all of the above! And what an experience it was! They tell us more about the whys, the highs and the preparation needed to get there:
Algeria has been off the map for mainstream tourists for around 20 years, after a fairly destructive civil war during the 1990’s rendered it off-limits. Though peace was restored by 2003, it took some time for the scars in Algerian society to heal and now most of the country is safe for travellers to return.
Algeria has not experienced the major tourist development and commercialisation that neighbouring countries have undergone in recent decades – it’s like Morocco was before hoards of visitors wanted to follow in the footsteps of Hendrix and the Rolling Stones – and the way Algerians remain unaffected by the presence of tourists is particularly refreshing.
Almost everyone who has done a tour of East Africa will tell you it’s fantastic. It’s renowned for being wild, authentic, spectacular and rugged, but Intrepid’s Skye Gainey wondered if it would live up to her high expectations when she finally had the chance to travel to Rwanda, Kenya and Tanzania…
“Let me start with the game viewing. Never would I imagine seeing so many animals in such a short period of time. In Rwanda we hiked deep into the forest to spend time with a Gorilla family – a silverback, mature males and females, juveniles and babies! Watching these primates interact with each other and recognise us as friendly visitors truly makes you believe in evolution.
Real life experiences are those moments when you suddenly become aware that you are taking part in something fantastic. Those “wow – this is incredible” events that turns an OK trip into an extraordinary adventure. It was one of those very moments that caught Pat Venning by surprise when she happened upon a family festival in South Africa, but luckily (or not) her partner made sure the night was preserved for perpituity…
“Come sit my friends”, beckoned the tall man resplendent in leopard skin and wielding a rather large shield. “We are celebrating the birth of my first-born son and would be honoured if you would join us.”
Dear Tata Mandela,
You being in this world has given us love, freedom and wisdom. Precious gifts for which we cannot thank you enough.
You have given us wisdom to know that anything is possible when we put effort into it, wisdom that being black, white, Indian, coloured or any other race is a luxury South Africans can embrace (a Nation of Colour). Wisdom that everyone from all aspects of life have equal opportunities and that from now on it is our responsibility to continue your legacy.
If you thought you had missed out on this year’s famous wildebeest migration, think again!
The incredible spectacle of hundreds of thousands of frantic wildebeest rushing through Kenya’s Masai Mara to reach Tanzania’s Serengeti plains normally occurs between July and September, but this year an uncommon event is taking place.