Ethiopia was very high on our “traveling list” for some years. Besides, we were craving to go back to Africa, a continent we both love to travel. For a while, we were even contemplating to dare Eritrea, but the hassle of getting permits for every town made it undoable in the 17 days we had. Naturally, our first plan was to do the Historic Circuit, visiting the countless churches and monasteries as well as discovering the glorious past of the Abyssinian Empire in Bahir Dar, Gonder, Lalibela and Axum. This route promised an intact tourist infrastructure but little adventure.
On top of that, the numerous reports on travel forums and blogs about the notorious “Faranji fever” in these places made us even more hesitant. Faranji fever (“Faranji” means “foreigner”) has become the wording for screaming kids following travelers around yelling “Faranji, faranji”, or “You, you, you” or “Whatsyourname”, often asking for money.
So we decided to go for Ethiopia’s most remote corners: the Omo Valley and the Danakil Depression. The two places could not be further apart, the Omo Valley in the very southwest of the country, near the Sudanese and the Kenyan border, the Danakil Depression in the very northeast, cradling the troubled frontier with Eritrea and Djibouti.
December & January is the perfect time to visit both places in one go: it is the coolest time in the Danakil Depression, with temperatures seldom above 40 – 42 degrees Celcius (about 105 – 110 degrees Fahrenheit), and it is the dry season in the Omo Valley, when roads are easily passable.
Of course, it is unthinkable to go to Ethiopia without visiting at one point the “Historic Route”. We will discover this part of the country over Easter 2011, on a second trip to Ethiopia.