10. The roads
Ok, it must be said that the roads are, well… bumpy. On the upside, there is very little vehicular traffic; we usually share the road with cattle and goats and only the occasional passing car or truck. Travel by road is the only way to really take in the incredible scenery – well worth a bump or two!
8. Climbing Helpers
7. More wonderful people
Our guide in Ethiopia is the amazing Ayob - one of the very best guides I have ever worked with anywhere. Hugely knowledgeable, perfect English and he appears to know everybody in Ethiopia, greeting priests, waiters and pilots with a handshake and smile and making sure everything runs effortlessly. And everywhere I went, I was greeted with shy smiles and warm welcomes.
6. Coffee Ceremony
5. Orthodox Priests
Ethiopian Orthodox priests are guardians of the ‘Holy of Holys’, the inner sanctum of each church where traditionally a copy of the Ark of the Covenant is kept. Priests will open up the churches and happily discourse with you (in Amharic) about their lives and their roles in contemporary Ethiopian life. Grand gold processional crosses are always part of the priest’s accoutrements and they are truly spectacular.
4. Gheralta Lodge and Ben Abeba Restaurant
There are lovely places to stay and dine in Ethopia. One of my favourite hotels is the Gheralta Lodge; run by an Italian couple, the lodge is set in the most spectacular scenic location overlooking the mountains. Accommodation is in stone cottages with comfortable beds and all the hot water you need! One of most unusual restaurants I enjoyed is run by a Scottish teacher and her Ethiopian partner – named Ben Abeba to recall Scottish mountains! (And the food is terrific!)
2. Meeting Michael’s friends at Yemrehanna Kristos
Part of my job when scouting out our tours is to go everywhere our travellers will go so that I can report back on details, both practical (road conditions, how far the walk is, is there a bathroom) and inspirational (what do we experience when we get there). Yemrehanna Kristos was truly inspirational. The drive from Lalibela is about two hours over unpaved gravel road and then over dirt track; fortunately all of this through gorgeous scenery and empty of traffic. From where my jeep let me out, there is a 45 minute walk through a juniper forest to reach the site. And when I did – wow! Instead of a rock-hewn church, I saw a freestanding church built in an overhanging cave, constructed of layers of wood and white-faced granite with large windows carved in cross shapes. And the best part – I introduced myself to the priest in charge and told him that Michael Gervers had recommended I visit. Yes of course - he said – Michael is a friend, he comes here every year to study. It’s wonderful to meet friends in far corners of the world.
1. Ethiopian Cherubs
Ethiopia confounds expectations. Please do give me a call – I’m happy to share my experiences and why I know that you will enjoy the trip as much as I did. The toll-free Worldwide Quest number is 1-800-387-1483.
You can also read more about the tour and request a detailed itinerary online here.