Wadi Halfa – Borderline Personality

‘Hundreds of miles of land border and we have to cross over this f*cking lake’, was the recurring obsessive thought I had for the 24 hours it took to get from Sudan into Egypt. Wadi Halfa, the world’s most inconvenient and needless ferry, has gained infamy amongst overland travellers in Africa and is a rite of passage for those travelling from Cape Town to Cairo. … Continue reading Wadi Halfa – Borderline Personality

How to drink beer in Sudan without getting lashed

Forty lashes. That is the penalty for getting caught with alcohol in Sudan under Sharia law. Forty of them. And I’m pretty sure that getting caught during Ramadan would not be considered as mitigating circumstances by the authorities. So booze was off the menu for the nine days we were in the country. Fortunately a shopkeeper in the desert town of Atbara helpfully pointed out … Continue reading How to drink beer in Sudan without getting lashed

Ethiopian Driving Joke

After 4 months of driving through Africa I’ve lost count of the number of times our truck has braked suddenly and I’ve winced, expecting to hear the thump and splattering of goat / donkey / dog / human flesh across the bumper. Somehow our body count remains a benign zero. Roads aren’t just for vehicles – they’re for walking, socialising, markets, football games, praying, and … Continue reading Ethiopian Driving Joke

Ethiopian History 101

With an eclectic cast of characters including the Queen of Sheba, a 3.2 million year old hominid named Lucy, and the Rastafarian messiah, Ethiopia’s history is rich, layered, and often fantastical. In fact, as the only country in Africa not to have been colonised, one of the world’s first countries to adopt Christianity, with over eighty ethnic groups, its own indigenous script, a prophetic fusing … Continue reading Ethiopian History 101

Debre Damo: The Pale Knight Rises

In the 2012 film The Dark Knight Rises Bruce Wayne is told by a gnarled and pretentious old priest that to climb the wall of the monastery-cum-prison he must not wear the safety rope. He must climb “as the child did….without the rope…the fear will find you again.” Indeed just how else could Bruce “go faster than possible, fight longer than possible….without the most powerful … Continue reading Debre Damo: The Pale Knight Rises

Omo Valley: Mursi Tribe

Until recently the Omo Valley has been inaccessible to all but the most determined and wealthy of travellers. It is considered one of the world’s last frontiers. However, a hydroelectric dam, a sugar plantation, and rumours of oil in the hills have opened up the area to outsiders in the last few years, and with new asphalt roads giving easy access to the diverse array … Continue reading Omo Valley: Mursi Tribe

Omo Valley: Jumping the Bulls

How do I describe a day that now feels like an apparition, a heady day of images, sounds and smells that could have been a dream? In the Lower Omo Valley in southwest Ethiopia – one of the world’s last preserves of traditional tribes, where original practices and dress are still observed – we attended a Jumping of the Bulls ceremony. Constituting a man’s rite … Continue reading Omo Valley: Jumping the Bulls

African food – the best so far

The local cuisine of pretty much all of the countries we have visited so far has consisted of sadza, a thick mash usually made from maize meal, served with a rarely identifiable meat of questionable quality. Like the beer (see previous post), it has not been something to recommend Africa by. However, further up the east coast, from around Malawi onwards, enticing snacks appeared in … Continue reading African food – the best so far