Ethiopia, An Unlikely Adventure Travel Destination, Or Is It?

For adventure travel, Ethiopia is a great travel destination. Are you prepared for bad roads, harsh conditions, and cold nights camping out? Then be prepared for having the time of your life visiting Ethiopia!

When many people think about Ethiopia, it probably is because of yet another famine disaster that hit the region. They envision the images shown on television, of skinny children with big bellies and flies all over their faces. Sad, but this is not the only aspect of this country in the Horn of Africa.

Ethiopia is not a rich country, and the threat of famine always lingers here, especially in the dry southeastern regions. Visitors will be confronted with poor people, dressed in worn clothes and begging for money if they are familiar with tourists.

In fact, Ethiopia has a lot of interesting places, and makes a fantastic destination for adventure travel.

Flying in to Addis Ababa, get set for your first surprise: you can see clearly how the capital of Ethiopia is located on a highland plateau, surrounded by a landscape of canyons and mountains. At 2000 meters, the climate is therefore not as hot as you would expect it to be.

Addis is just another big African city, but as you move away from the city, you will be surrounded by great landscapes and views of the highlands.

Blue Nile Falls

Further north in these highlands lies the origin of the Nile, often searched for by Livingstone and other explorers. The stretch of Nile in Ethiopia is called Blue Nile, and along its way are the beautiful Blue Nile Gorge, the magnificent Blue Nile Falls, and Bahir Dar at Lake Tana, an ideal place to relax on a campsite.

On the islands in Lake Tana, you will find the first signs of the rich Coptic Christian heritage in Ethiopia. Churches with typical Ethiopian Coptic art and relics are hidden in the forests of the islands. And if you think these are interesting, move up north, to the true religious historic treasures of Ethiopia.

Visit the historic town of Aksum, with its stelae and the famous obelisk returned by Italy in 2005. The castle ruins in the old Royal city of Gondar are also worth seeing. But especially wonder at the rock hewn churches of Lalibela.

Lalibela

The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Lalibela features 11 monolithic churches, hewn from the rocks over 500 years ago. The massive structures are only second to the famous structures in Jordan’s Petra. But Lalibela is still a holy site, and the priests, ceremonies and pilgrims here are as interesting as the churches themselves.

Ancient African Tribes

Southwest of Addis Ababa is the descent from the highlands into the Omo Valley. This remote region is difficult to reach, partly the reason why some of the most ancient African tribes are still living their traditional lives here.

The town of Jinka is the center from which to explore and visit the villages of the Dorse, Aari, Bana, Hamer, and Mursi tribes. The primitive Mursi tribe are now familiar with tourists, for which they insert their famous lip plates. But the more you move away from the town, the more chance of meeting individuals who may have never met white people before.

Other Ethiopian adventure travel highlights to enjoy are:

  • the historic muslim city of Harar in the East
  • spotting rare wildlife species in the Simien mountains of the North or one of the other National Parks, and
  • the relaxing lakes in the Great Rift Valley in the South

So if you’re looking for an “out of the ordinary” adventure vacation, travel to Ethiopia!

Japan Travel Destination – Yokohama

Yokohama, a city that sits in Tokyo Bay, is often overlooked when traveling in Japan. I admit, it is not that exciting and culturally rich as other travel destinations, but it still has unique attractions to offer. If you are in the Tokyo area looking for a day-trip and are sick of shrines and temples, Yokohama is for you.

Yokohama is the capital city of Kanagawa prefecture. It is slightly to the south of Tokyo and on the mainland of Honshu Island. It is a major commercial hub of the Greater Tokyo area. Initially starting out as a fishing village that opened Japan’s doors to foreign trade through its port, it developed into a prominent port city very rapidly, and also holds a large population of foreign nationals. Yokohoma’s climate is a humid subtropical climate with hot and humid summers and not too cold winters.

There are many places of interest in Yokohama that fascinates travelers. At 106 meters, Yokohama Marine Tower, is the tallest inland light house in the whole world. It is located in the Yamashita Park next to the water front in the celebrated port area of Kannai. Japan’s largest Chinatown is situated in this city as well, and is worth a visit. You will find the food tasting very different from the Chinatown in New York or any other place. If you liked the ramen noodles there, be sure to stop by the Shin Yokohama Ramen Museum to learn how this mouth-watering dish spread from Yokohama to the rest of Japan. Very near to Chinatown is the famous Yokohama Doll Museum and the Silk Center. The Kanagawa Museum of Modern Literature with its lovely rose garden is also within reach.

Yokohama’s harbor area houses the Cosmo Clock 21, which is not only a giant ferry wheel but the worlds biggest clock too. It also provides amazing photographs at night. If you’re awed by vast arenas or stadiums, the Yokohama Arena built for 17,000 people is in the vicinity, next to the Shikansen station. The International Stadium Yokohama and Nissan Stadium are some more. Finally, in the Naka Ward, there is a famous Japanese garden called “Sankeien” that was designed by a silk trader, Tomitaro Hara.

What Makes Mallorca A Great Late-Winter Travel Destination?

Mallorca (also known as Majorca) is an island located on the coasts of Mediterranean sea. This is the largest island in the Balearic Islands, and is a part of Spain. Most of the tourists travel to Mallorca to enjoy the sunshine and beaches during the summer months. However, very few know that there are plenty of other ways to enjoy this heaven on earth during the spring, autumn and winter months. This place is less crowded during these seasons and the entire family can enjoy many outdoor activities during the off-season.

Let’s look at some of the activities which you can do during the winter months in Mallorca-

1) Serra de Tramuntana- This is a world heritage site declared by UNESCO in 2011. Hence if you are a nature lover, spend a few days exploring this mountain range on foot or by bike. There are extraordinary techniques used to develop agriculture in this area on its steep slopes and the uniqueness of these techniques which are developed over the centuries has earned this prestigious position for this site.

You may also choose to enjoy the snow falls during the winters on this mountain range.

2) Sóller by vintage train- Another interesting thing which can be done during the winters in Mallorca is taking a wooden train ride from Palma to the beautiful town of Sóller. This train ride through the Tramuntana Mountains is so picturesque, that you will not feel like going back to your city. The path is surrounded with orange orchards and lemon plantations. There are pine forests and olive groves too spread all across this line. After reaching Sóller, take a stroll in the local market and pick up some fresh fruits and vegetables. Enjoy the local cuisines and spend a lazy afternoon enjoying the Art Nouveau houses spread across the land.

3) Binissalem- If you are a wine connoisseur, then you should not miss the trip to this small village. Manto Negro and Callet varieties of grapes are used for fermenting the red wines and Moll for the white wines. There are quite a few famous wineries like Vins Nadal, Macià Batle, and Son Prim which you can visit in your leisure time. The largest among them is José L. Ferrer. Please call the facility before making a trip so that they can make arrangements for your group.

4) S’Albufera nature reserve- These wetlands are located near Port d’Alcúdia on the northeast coast. There are more than 200 bird species which can be witnessed in these 4,200 acres of land. This place is wonderful for birdwatching, cycling and walking. To safeguard the sanctity of the place, driving is prohibited in this area. So take your cycles, cameras, water bottles and food packets and go on an expedition to watch kestrels, purple herons and Eleonora’s falcons which are visible in different times of the year.

5) Lluc Sanctuary- Amidst the lush green mountains of Serra de Tramuntana, Lluc Sanctuary hosts the figure of the Madonna, La Moreneta. This place is considered to be the spiritual center of Mallorca. This figure was found there in the 13 century and now this figure is adorned with a jeweled crown. The natives respect this place as a pilgrimage and the foundation of a monastery was laid to give respect to the goddess. The choirboys sing every morning and evening to show respect to the goddess which is on display in the 17-century Basilica. Taking a walk in the botanical gardens too will be very refreshing and will fill your day with peace and serenity.

There are many other places of interest like Alfàbia Gardens or the national park in Cebrera. Many tourists feel that the end of November and the beginning of December is the perfect time to travel to Mallorca. You will not need to worry about tourist crowds, travel costs for hotels and airline tickets etc. Even when the temperature drops, it doesn’t get very chilly in these areas due to the sea coast. Nature in Mallorca is outstanding and the best part of your trip to Mallorca, be it in winter or summer is to rent a car and explore the stunning landscapes of the Balearics. Happy Holidays!