Thursday, January 5, 2012

Ethiopia - the essentials

While it is still fresh in my mind, I thought I would write a little packing list for those travelling to Ethiopia, specifically the North. If, like me, you have done (did) no research into what you might need to take with you on holiday, this may be useful! (Read-learn from my mistakes!)

  •  lip balm - an essential item. It is super dry in the North or the country and your lips become so chapped it is hard to smile without them cracking. My friends and I were all swapping methods of how to help them recover - the best being to use a sugar cube to rub Vaseline into your lips (great tip Sib!). 
  • thick moisturising cream - your lips are not the only part of your body to get dry! The cream will also come in use for any chaffing that might arise after long mule journeys! Mary how did you do it??
  • warm clothes- one jumper is not enough. Think woolly socks, or tights and boots for the evening in Addis.
  •  plastic bags-although this item is not essential, but if you are a twat they may come in handy. At each church we visited (yes, all 51 of them!) you take off your shoes before you enter. We noticed that some anal tourists decided to have there feet in plastic bags, inside their shoes. Then when they take there shoes off their feet are still in the bags. Genius...or decide!
  • hats- it is hot during the day, that together with the high altitude is quite a combination; take a sunhat. As soon as that sun goes down, it is mighty cold-my advise is to take a woolly hat -or if you don't have one of those-a Santa hat will suffice!

  • fly repellent (sure there must be such a thing!)- seriously, the flies in Ethiopia are like no others. It was not the famine in 1984 that made these winged annoyances crawl all over lips- they are EVERYWHERE all the time; mouths, ears, lips, eyes. If you are going for plastic bags, you may as well throw in one of those netted hats!!
  • an extra bag - why? well, if you are like my friends, you will need it for all the things you haggle for and eventually buy in the markets. (Hey-not that I'm saying that 4, 5, 6, 7 8 crosses isn't one to many!! And no lady can have too many scarves!)

  •  Sopadeine - (or another pain-relief pill!) an essential for most holidays (or events...right Jo!), but sun, high altitude AND teg (Egyptian honey wine) followed by beer and tequila, oh and I nearly forgot about the khat does not make a 9 hour car journey very pleasant.
Weighing the khat-the leaf of all evil!
  • Motion/travel sickness tablets- read above; also useful for journeys on boats, burgads (tuk-tuks) and mules!
  •  An up-to-date guidebook -( not that I am dising the 1998 Spectrum, honest Sibyl!) although some things, like the 12th Century churches haven't changed much, it is good to have. Or better yet, get a guide! Our tour was organised by Tarik at Yama Tours and was fantastic. He soon got to know us and modified removed all hikes physical exercise from our itinerary and added in more time for relaxing to shop and drink! It was a holiday after all! We spent 12 days in the North of the country and really you couldn't do it justice in less (but you could cut out more drive time with cheap internal flights)-I will have to go back one day to explore the South of the country!

And...don't forget your toothbrush!

PS-Hand sanitizer, Imodium and re-hydration salts are a given...! Obviously!


  1. Looks like an amazing adventure!

  2. ah-it was good fun Mud.ha a few quiet days to recover from it!

  3. What an amazing trip! Great tips, too! I'd love to visit someday.

  4. thanks heather-add it to your list!

  5. really love your blog! ;)

  6. i love this! and i really like your blog. my sister lived in africa for 6 months (tanzania) and a close friend has traveled extensively throughout the continent. another close friend - a photographer - is looking into getting a fullbright to photography midwifery in african villages. point of all this...i look forward to sharing your blog with all them and reading your adventures myself!

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  8. Great scott-thank you for your kind words

  9. I never thought of going to Ethiopia, but your photos make it look like fun. Except for the flies crawling everywhere. Sounds like a beekeepers outfit would be in order :)

  10. Was the food fantastic? We have some good friends that live there as expats. Did you ever read 'Cutting For Stone'? After I finished it, I really wanted to see it with my own eyes (great book). I'm surprised by how cold and dry it is - those flies sound obnoxious. Love love this post - right up my wandering expat alley.

    Thank you for linking it to Post of the Month Club! Have a great weekend :) XOL

  11. Jenny-thanks for visiting my blog. Yes, the flies were annoying, but not annoying enough not to go.

    Laura-Thank you Laura. yes, I read cutting for stone - I enjoyed it, but I have to say, I didn't love it. The food-yes, some great food. But by the end of the trip had had enough Dower Wat to last me some time!! oh, I was so so cold up north in the evening-i don't think i did enough prep for the trip-but hey-we live and learn!

  12. Really! Really! Thank you for sharing such a wonderful detailed insights.


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