This trip was not a single purpose trip. I was undertaking it as an opportunity to visit Ethiopia for the first time, and to learn a bit about the country and people, by travelling around as many areas a practical. Obviously I also wanted to visit the main historical sites, and other areas of interest. Finally, it was an opportunity to see the birds and animals of Ethiopia.
In trying to combine all the above, it was easier to start with ensuring that I was going to pass through all the areas where endemic species occurred, and to visit the eastern, northern and western limits of the country, so that I would maximize the coverage of the species' range. Once this objective was set out, it was relatively easy to combine it with the general travel objective and the historical sites.
The original intention was to make the trip longer (although work pressure - especially the boss - mitigated against this). I was always aware that extending the trip to Eritrea was highly improbable given the political situation between the two countries. However, it seemed quite possible to go still further north and visit Sudan. In theory, this was all arranged, but then a communication failure with the Ambassador's secretary in Pretoria meant that I didn’t get the visa before leaving. However, arrangements were in place for me to get one quite quickly in Addis Ababa. However, before I was ready to apply, I heard of the declaration of a State of Emergency in Sudan, so I gave up any idea of visiting Sudan.
I have undertaken a variety of trips in my Landrover over the last 15 years, covering South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia and Zambia extensively. I also spent some time in Mozambique, and made one extended trip through Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda. Hence I was under the impression that I was sufficiently well experienced on the area, and was well-prepared. To some extent this was true, but life always manages some surprises.
An Ethiopian trip: 27/11/1999 to 17/01/2000Giles Mulholland 31 January 2000