Portraits of Ethiopia

My visit to Ethiopia shattered the 1980s image of an impoverished nation wracked by famine. Today it’s a thriving, bustling place with a population in excess of 100 million people.

It’s very easy to make contact with Ethiopians as a Western visitor – they’re enthusiastic and want to talk to you. Kids are delighted when you take their photograph. Like Cuba, life is lived outdoors in the warm climate, so it’s easy to come away with candid shots.

They’re a proud bunch, with young people taking great pride in their appearance. Their elders are often serene with wisdom-etched faces. If, like me, you tend to shy away from capturing humans, Ethiopia may shift your focus.

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Glorious Georgia

This small country is sandwiched between the Black Sea and Caucasus Mountains and packs a punch way beyond its size.

Georgia is steeped in history and studded with impressive monasteries, richly decorated churches and rustic castles. Combine that with its mountainous terrain, and you have the real Game of Thrones country.

Its attractive capital Tbilisi bristles with life and energy – definitely worth considering as a long weekend destination.

Unlike its historically introspective neighbour Armenia, Georgia looks to Europe for its future destiny and has a palpable dynamism. It’s a country I would definitely visit again.

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Rapa Nui

This tiny speck of land in the eastern Pacific is better known as Easter Island. A territory of Chile, it’s renowned for its collection of stone statues (moai) which even have their own emoji.

Their presence dominates any visit to the island and they’re an integral part of all photography. But there’s more to Easter Island, including an astonishing freshwater caldera, a tropical beach and its only town Hanga Rua, filled with an abundance of wonderful restaurants.

As for the stone statues, there are various theories about them. Our guide told us they represented ancestors, while the civilisation fell apart partly because so much effort was put into creating them.

The island is a five-hour flight from Chile’s capital Santiago and undoubtedly worth a visit – you’ll find nothing like it anywhere else.

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South African beauties

The Protea is South Africa’s national flower. There was no better place to see them than on a recent visit to the wonderful city of Cape Town.

The botanical gardens of Kirstenbosch have the most amazing backdrop of one side of Table Mountain, boasting a treetop canopy walk among its acres of well-manicured grounds.

I made a beeline for the Protea garden with my macro lens, realising there are numerous varieties of the plant, beautiful with blooms and after they’re gone.

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Cape Town’s botanical gardens have a majestic mountain backdrop

Welcome to Ethiopia

This was my first taste of sub-Saharan Africa and I was a little apprehensive before departing.

I chose Ethiopia because of its unique place on the continent – the only ancient country never to have been truly colonised by Europeans.

A lot of the ancient culture still stands in the guise of rock-hewn churches and magnificent castles. Add in some spectacular landscape and you have somewhere well worth visiting.

Ethiopia is a developing country which takes some getting used to. But the odd hotel shower that doesn’t work is part of the experience. 

Most of all it’s a proud, bustling nation that’s a long way from the harrowing images of famine we witnessed in the 1980s.

I’ll revisit Ethiopia soon with a post about its people.

Click first image to view the gallery

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