If you bring up mental images of Ethiopia, I doubt the first thing to come up would be stunning mountain landscapes, abundant wildlife, and sub-zero temperatures... which is fair enough, as it's so far off the beaten path that I don't think many people even realize how much Ethiopia has to offer to adventurous travellers. In reality, Ethiopia is a very unique country with incredible diversity spanning its borders. I have to admit, when I first decided to start my trip to East Africa with a couple of weeks in Ethiopia, I had no idea what to see or do... I just wanted to see the place where humans evolved. But, as I surfed the web in search of inspo, I soon came across the Simien Mountains National Park, and knew a trek was the perfect way to start off what was to be my biggest adventure yet. I was 100% right.
Spending 4 days hiking through the mountains of Northern Ethiopia was beautiful, challenging, exciting and rewarding in so many ways. I really think it deserves to rank high on any avid traveling trekker's bucket list, so I wanted to share with you the details of my trip, including how to organize it + prepare, what to expect (both good and bad), and some more practical info... plus lots of photos, of course. Keep on reading to find out all about this (very huge) hidden gem.
What does your trip of a lifetime look like? Where would you go, and what would you do? For me, my dream trip was all about Africa... specifically, African wildlife. My whole life, I've been obsessed with animals of all kinds. I'd often imagined what it would be like to come across a wild lion, or to watch a gorilla feed her baby, but never really thought it was something I could experience for real. Even after I earned a university degree in primatology, and lived in Central America so I could study wild monkeys... even after I quit my 'normal' life and moved to Thailand to become a scuba diving instructor, spending my days underwater with sharks... even after I started to travel more and go on amazing adventures, Africa still seemed sort of mythical; a place of fantasy, rather than reality.
Then, one day, I decided to make my dream come true, and started planning my ultimate dream trip. I went mountain trekking in Ethiopia, and on a horseback safari in Kenya; in between, I spent an amazing week on an epic road trip, driving between Entebbe, Uganda, and Kigali, Rwanda. Along the way, I achieved some major goals; I trekked with chimpanzees in Kibale National Park, gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, and saw my first wild lion in Queen Elizabeth National Park. It was even better than I could have imagined, and I'd love to share with you the details of how I organized it, what went down, and the answers to some common questions. So, keep reading!
After spending a couple of weeks in Ethiopia, climbing mountains, sleeping on the rim of a volcano, and exploring some of the strangest natural phenomena I've ever seen, I was ready for a bit of comfort and relaxation before embarking on the next big part of my African adventure: a 5-day road trip through Uganda, to Rwanda. Fortunately, I'd already scheduled in a few days in Entebbe; a little town located on the shores of Lake Victoria, and rumoured to be much more laid-back than Kampala, the country's busy and vibrant capital.
Entebbe turned out to be the perfect place to pause for a while, and I only wish I'd had some more days to spend in this super friendly, very relaxed town, which really has a lot to offer! I've put together a list of my highlights, as well as some practical information for visiting this little gem in the Pearl of Africa.
Packing isn't my favourite part of preparing for a trip. I want to have everything I need, but also really dislike to overpack and get stuck carrying around excess stuff. To make matters more complicated, I often visit multiple countries in one trip, or need quite a bit of practical equipment for my adventures. Last month, for example, I went to Morocco to ride horses on an epic camping trip, plus had astopover in Dubai to go camel trekking, and also a total of 6 days of transit to travel to and from a tiny Thai island to a small town in Morocco. I needed my riding gear, camping equipment, photography stuff, plus clothes and toiletries for this two week trip. I definitely wanted to travel light, and knew I'd be unpacking and repacking daily as we moved campsites from one bit of Moroccan wilderness to another.
Fortunately, I think my packing list was just right! I had everything I needed for each aspect of the trip, and my checked bag weighed in at under 12kg! While I realize this trip is pretty specialized, the packing list applies to other travels, too. I'll be bringing almost the exact same things for my upcoming journey back to Africa, where I'll be spending a month trekking, camping, and on a horseback safari(!!). Check it out to see what I packed, and find details on some of my favourite travel and outdoor gear!
I’ve been drawn to go to Morocco since I first started dreaming of faraway lands. It was exotic, mysterious, and I really didn't know much about it, other than that I wanted to go. Over the years, Morocco evolved into an increasingly popular tourist destination; eventually, each time I scrolled through my Instagram feed, I would see photos of travel bloggers in pretty dresses, posing in front of gorgeous tiles and colourful markets. The perfect shots reminded me of my long-held desire to explore this mysterious country, but I still wasn’t sure what I would actually do once there. I knew I wanted to get out of the cities, explore the natural world, and have an adventure, rather than a photoshoot.
I found my ideal Moroccan experience while browsing the horseback holidays at Equitours, a travel agency that focuses solely on equine escapes, and who I had previously booked several excellent European riding trips with. The week-long ride would be a 230km loop, starting in the resort town of Agadir, crossing the foot of the Anti-Atlas mountains through to the silver-crafting town of Tiznit, then circling back to Agadir via the Atlantic coast. The riders would be mounted on strong, willing, endurance-trained Arab Berber horses. The trip profile specified only advanced riders should consider the ride, due to the fast pace, long hours in the saddle, and the sometimes challenging terrain. Additionally, it was a rustic adventure; riders would camp out in the Moroccan wilderness overnight.
I’d found my dream trip. As much as I love trekking, diving, road-tripping and island-hopping, my absolute favourite way to explore a new land is definitely on the back of a horse. Riding gives me a sense of freedom and connection to the natural world that is truly without comparison. Combining the ride with a camping trip was the ultimate combo; there’s really nowhere I'd rather be after a long day of riding than sleeping under the stars next to the horses.
The trip was scheduled for a time when I could be away from work for a short while, but as I researched flights I realized the journey was extremely inconvenient; it would take a total of 8 flights and almost 6 days for me to get to, and return from, a little Moroccan town that was actually a very long way from the tiny Thai island on which I live. The transit time meant it would not be reasonable to go to Morocco for only a week… but it would be possible, which is all that is needed to make a dream come true…
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