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.
Think of places where it’s easy for vegetarians to travel and Mongolia probably won’t be high on the list.
Growing vegetables is tough in the harsh climate and tending to the garden is not really part of the traditional nomadic lifestyle. People joke that in Mongolia you eat meat, more meat, with a side order of meat on top of that. But believe it or not, at least in Ulaanbaatar it’s possible to dine meat-free without too much trouble.
In the city there are at least three purely vegetarian restaurants:
When there are two things in life that you love, why not find a way to do both? Laura Rinderknecht did just that on her tour of Cuba…
“I love to travel. I also love to salsa dance. With Intrepid now being able to run tours to Cuba via Miami, I combined my two passions into a ‘dancation’ to Cuba and my heart nearly exploded with excitement.
One of the best things about moving to Singapore seven years ago was having the opportunity to travel around South East Asia.
My husband and I first visited the Temples of Angkor in 2008 and were immediately hooked. For the intrepid explorer and keen travel photographer, the place is a visual feast. In fact, I had so much fun photographing not only the temples, but also daily life in Cambodia (the markets, the lovely Khmer people and the fascinating floating communities on Ton Le Sap), that I now lead a yearly Photography Tour to Angkor from Singapore with the land arrangements provided by Intrepid Travel.
There are great rewards to be had in Cambodia for the more adventurous travel photographer. People are warm and friendly (having a guide who can translate definitely helps if you’re into travel portrait photography and/or want to learn more from the locals), plus visiting local villages is a fascinating glimpse into times gone by and exploring temples, both forgotten and famous, is so exciting.
Here are a few tips for taking your own great photos of the Temples of Angkor:
Why have fountains flowing with water when they could be splashing about in the country’s national drink?
Yes, Peruvians are so passionate about their beloved Pisco that on the first Saturday in February they honour their famous cocktail with Pisco Sour Day. On this day each year the fountain at Plaza Mayor in Lima even pours with thousands of litres of the local brew!
If you can’t make it to this huge Pisco party, there is another chance to celebrate the iconic liqueur on National Pisco Day in July. And if you’re wondering what all the fuss is about, you can join Intrepid’s special Pisco Making Urban Adventure in Cusco to discover why this national drink has a way of bringing locals and travellers together.
Great weather can’t be summoned on cue, but bleak skies needn’t spoil your travel photographs either. In the current issue #39 of get lost magazine, photography expert Steve Davey shares his tips for shooting in poor conditions…
“I am the undisputed rain man. Not in a Dustin Hoffman sort of way. On every trip I have taken in the past six or seven years I have experienced some sort of precipitation. A good outcome from all these drenchings is that, whether it be rain, snow, drizzle or a colossal thunderstorm, I have developed a number of ways of taking good shots when the weather has let me down.
As Russia prepares to host the Winter Olympics in February, we hear from Intrepid Group Leader Boris ‘Bob’ Golodets about why he loves this time of year in his homeland…
“Winter is probably one of the best seasons to go on holiday to Russia. Let’s face it, we have winter at least half of the year and the country mainly was designed to survive in cold temperatures. As premier Putin once said to foreign guests, “You can feel comfortable in Russia in all kinds of the weather – just dress appropriately!”
What is it about Jordan that has world-renowned photographer Steve Davey eager to return, again and again? Seems like the answer is simple, it’s a complex country with a bewildering beauty…
“For what is basically a large patch of sand in the Middle East, Jordan is a surprisingly varied country. Sure there are some incredible patches of desert here. Wadi Rum, which is seemingly most well-known for Lawrence of Arabia who travelled extensively in the region, is home to some of the most stunning desert scenery you will ever find. Great gouts of rock, eroded by wind and ancient water into fantastical gnarled shapes that bedeck a carpet of bright red sand.
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.