Australia and Oceania, Africa · 33 Days · 33 Moments · October 2017

Guy and Jess’ African Journi

9 November 2017

Great Ethiopian-Scottish cuisine at Ben Ababa (Ben for Ben Nevis and Ababa meaning flower) for our last night as a full group. Shiro scotch eggs and Ethiopian Shepherds pie! Ermias lead the group thru our memories of the past 2 weeks. Next stop Addis ready for our trip back.

8 November 2017

After arriving in Lalibela we checked out one of the groups of Monolithic and semi Monolithic churches. These have been carved completely out of rock (think Jordan) by 40,000 people over 23 years back in the 12/13th century. Some of the detail was amazing. The last church we visited was St. George’s (8th wonder of the world :P); you couldn’t see it until you were about 10m away and it’s shaped like a cross.

7 November 2017

Axum wasn’t our favourite part of the trip; but we’ve seen Axumite royal tombs, marked by the Stele (obelisks), including the tomb of King Balthazar - one of the three wise men. His tomb was carved into the rock! We visited the Tsion church and briefly saw the guardian of the Ark of the Covenant and finally we visited ruins of one of the Queen of Sheba’s palaces. And Jess made some friends ;)

5 November 2017

6 days hiking up Kilimanjaro was perfect training for today’s trek in the Simien mountains. About 5 hours at around 3200m altitude got us to a view of Jinbar waterfall.

4 November 2017

The Simien Lodge has been a beautiful place to stay, housing Africa’s highest bar :D
Some beautiful scenery as we took our ‘warm up’ hike this afternoon. Ermias was kind enough to organise a double rainbow in the perfect spot!
On our hike we stumbled across hundreds of Gelada baboons feeding and playing on a field of wild thyme. There are about 20,000 of them in the Simiens.

3 November 2017

The day started with a workout with a view. Quickly we moved on to Fasilidas’ Castle and Baths. Seems like each generation had to build a new castle to outdo their father. We were roped into being backup dancers for a local music video - some sick moves on display. Lastly we visited a woman’s Co-op and took part in a coffee ceremony whilst fawning over a puppy.

2 November 2017

Finally arriving in Gondar to put our feet up ahead of a busy few days! Local wine came in a 330ml bottle and whilst the first sip was a little weird, it got better - tasted a bit like cider...
After a brief stop at the ‘finger of God’ we arrived at the ruins of the palace and private church of Mintwab, an unpopular queen from the 18th century. She married a king from another tribe and after his death isolated herself from the people whilst effectively ruling for 15 years through her son. Unfortunately the place was destroyed by the Sudanese along with 42 other churches in Gondar. There’s a ‘museum’ with her remains which is little more than a cluttered room with no light and a coffin with a glass lid in the corner. Unfortunately her memory isn’t regarded with even a modicum of respect :(
First stop today was visiting the Awra Amba community. The founder built the community based on gender equality and an individual’s right to private religion, with the community itself focusing on more general human principles. The people tend to go to university, are 100% HIV negative and have basic social security in place. We started the visit with a Q&A with the founder where he answered questions on the history, leadership structure and the place of religion in Awra Amba.

1 November 2017

Today we visited a number of churches on the islands of Lake Tana. Jess suited up appropriately (anyone seen Homeland?). Afterwards we had a beautiful lunch on the lake and headed to Bahir Dar market. The spice section literally brought a tear to your eye, even without the kids that ran around thrusting chilis under your nose!

31 October 2017

Awesome hike up to Blue Nile falls with our new group. Jess found her namesake to be just as shy when it came to photos.

30 October 2017

Awesome coffee at Tomoca in Addis!

29 October 2017

Had dinner at the Talisman tonight. The flight of taster wines was a lot bigger than expected!

28 October 2017

Made a new friend. A tenth of the size but twice as vicious!

26 October 2017

No safari would be complete without a good meal. Here’s the recommendation from the wildlife of Ngorongoro; ours is to come later and the vegetarian option has never been so appealing!

25 October 2017

On our last day we had left the Serengeti to explore Ngorongoro Crater (actually a caldera we’re told). The wildlife here is much the same as the previous days, but often bigger due to it being a herbivore’s paradise. The only downside? A massive number of predators per square kilometre! My highlight was the hyenas masquerading as hippos, followed by the pros themselves

24 October 2017

After the balloon ride we set off to see more lions, and a rare sighting of a rather showy leopard- who drew more than 30 jeeps full of spectators. At first we were pretty upset by this but the Leopard didn’t seem to care, once it was bored it slipped off towards some wildebeest - eyeing up dinner! We retired to camp and Claus, our legendary driver pointed us in the direction of some beers to close the evening with a beautiful Serengeti sunset.
We woke up early to get to our hot air balloon ride over the Serengeti - Jess and my treat to one another after 4 years :). Once up in the air it was beautiful, giving a new perspective on the National Park and seeing lots of wildlife in motion. We set down after about an hour and had a glass of champagne as the story behind the tradition was explained to us. After that we were whisked off for a delicious full English breakfast before meeting back with the group for another game drive.

23 October 2017

In our first day driving around the Serengeti we saw (a LOT) of lions, up to some curious activities, not seeming to mind spectators... we later saw some cubs they’d prepared earlier, with a large pride being chased by an elephant away from its herd. Not forgetting the cute little critter that reminded me of a Quokka as we signed in for our balloon ride.
As we drove past Ngorongoro on our way to the Serengeti we stopped off at a Masai village to learn about the clean stove project, which helps them build chimneys and stoves into their mud and stock houses to prevent a buildup of smoke from their traditional wood fires. Of course we made some more friends along the way!

22 October 2017

As we drove around Lake Manyara we couldn’t believe our luck. Baboons, elephants, zebras, wildebeests, buffalos, hippos and more, all in the first few hours... settled down into the evening at our first camp with a Ndovu. Btw - tents were luxurious compared to kili!
Even the drive didn’t disappoint! On the way to Mto wa Mbu we had to pull over for some crossing elephants! Once the road was clear we headed into the village to check out their banana plantations, carving and culinary skills. The food was delicious (though I can’t see me ordering a banana beer back in Melbourne anytime soon!) and I got a little memento for back home :).
Here we are getting ready in our safari Jeep, heading out to Lake Manyara

19 October 2017

Hike day 5: We woke up at 11pm to leave at midnight for what was to be the most challenging experience. A confluence of sub zero temperatures, steep inclines, little oxygen at 5800m and physical exhaustion from over 100,000 steps in the preceding days. All 12 of the team made it and no tears were spared at the top. Coming down was fun, ‘dust boarding’ down a steep incline. Arriving back to camp we were given 2 hours to rest up before another 10km hike to get to Mweka camp...

18 October 2017

Hike day 4: Climbing up Barranco wall was lots of fun! Spider-Man style we reached the top of the wall and continued on to Kili base camp at 4600m. Suffice to say we were all knackered and short of breath.

17 October 2017

Hike day 3: Today was tough! The team hiked up to Lava tower & 4600m above sea level. Very slow going and everyone felt the challenge. Most of the hike was in silence as we worked our way up thru lava tower and back down to Barranco Camp at 3875m with some stunning views!

16 October 2017

Hike day 2: Jess and I stormed ahead over some more technical terrain to reach Shira 2 camp (3810m above sea level). Diglan was happy to help us up the pace and we reached camp in record time, passing some beautiful vantage points along the way. First day that we felt the altitude, but it quickly passed after some rest.

15 October 2017

Hike day 1: After gathering some supplies and a brief drive we arrived at Machame gate and hiked 11km through the rainforest to Machame camp. Pole Pole was painfully slow, but helped us acclimatise.

13 October 2017

A room with a view :)

12 October 2017

After a long wait at the airport, and a few drinks in the lounge we finally made it to Abu Dhabi, Dar Es Salaam and eventually Moshi. Jess was a little nervous about the tiny Prop plane!

8 October 2017

Wednesday had his last walk for a while on the beach, we packed up and headed to an AirBnB ready for the adventure to begin