It all started when I saw a photograph – a dark crater filled with smoke and fire with a lake of bubbling lava flowing aggressively in the foreground.
The image lived in my mind day and night. I was consumed, and I knew the only way to cure my wanderlust was to see this amazing location myself. With a little research, I discovered the photo was of the Erta Ale Volcano in Ethiopia – one of only six lava lakes in the world. Just 6 months and a couple of layovers later, I was on the adventure of a lifetime throughout one of Africa’s most fascinating countries.
Ethiopia is raw, authentic and unforgettable. Each region is like stepping into a time capsule. Each village and town feel like a different world. Salt mines in the north are still excavated with primitive tools and transported by camel. The Southern tribes take pride in ritualistic scarification, lip plates and body war painting. Ethiopia is one of the first countries to adopt Christianity, in the first century AD. The numerous monasteries of Lalibela protect many of the ancient Christian texts.
Traveling through Ethiopia is not comfortable. Scorching heat and suffocating humidity, the risk of food poisoning, scarce water resources and hostile territories in the north all make Ethiopia a challenging country to photograph. Most roads are not paved and shared with pedestrians, cattle, and horse buggies so the travel is slow going. Accommodations are basic and running water and electricity is not guaranteed.
Rough conditions test you physically and mentally almost every single day. But if you stop resisting the discomfort, let your body acclimate and take it a day at a time, Ethiopia will open up, welcome you and show you some of it’s most precious treasures. This unique and incredible country and it’s people will also teach you to accept things how they are and embrace the present moment. After all, the present moment is the only thing we truly have right now. Live it to the fullest.