It’s taken me a while to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard rather!) since returning from an amazing experience with 6 incredible women in Ethiopia!

As soon as I got back, I downloaded the smorgasbord of memories from my trusty Canon onto the computer and started editing.  There were some 1700 odd photo’s, and I managed to whittle them down to around 560 of the best.  As I sorted through the incredible images that I was lucky enough to be present in the moment to experience, incredible waves of emotion overcame me.

As I put myself behind the lens, it was almost as if I was sitting in the Gold Class section of the movies, experiencing the most incredible movie set I’ve ever seen.

As the months passed, and excitement grew around our upcoming trip, the reactions of friends and acquaintances were interesting when we announced that we were heading off to Ethiopia on a girl’s trip.

There were a lot of people that were surprised that we even considered Ethiopia as a chick’s getaway destination.  Lots of “Why would you go to Ethiopia?”, and “Really?  Ehtiopia for a girl’s trip?” as they envisioned white sandy beaches, endless streams of cocktails, and shop till you drop getaways that usually are the norm.

But let me tell you…..this was no ordinary group of ladies.  To be as close as we were, with the amount of driving we endured to get to the real heart and gem of Ehtiopia, it was incredibly surprising and amazing that we all gelled as well as we did.

Our tour guide, Pam, who is a New Zealander who has lived in Ethiopia for the past 7 years summed it up nicely when she said “I have learned while living here that nothing is ever what it seems”.  There couldn’t be a better quote to sum up the trip as a whole.

In fact, I would go as far as to say that this visit far exceeded any of my expectations.  I have been to Africa before, and knew the trip would be incredible, but there was something quite spectacular about this country that is hard to put into words.

I can only share with you some of the images that I experienced, and would probably admit it’s not for everyone (don’t go if you don’t like friendly people, luscious landscapes, and incredible opportunities to see the most amazing things), but here’s why I think you should visit Ethiopia now…..

1. This country is LUSH baby…….

Remember all those images from the 80’s where you saw barren land, dirt, dust, and more dirt, and not a plant in sight?  That’s not the Ethiopia I experienced! Sure, there are parts where it is dusty, and dirty, (like down in the Hamer tribe), but you will be hard pressed not to find the lush greenery that we all had the pleasure of experiencing every day (after living in Dubai, which is more barren than Ethiopia I might add, we were loving it!).

2. You feel like you’ve gone back in time….but in a good way.

From vintage soda bottles, to the contrasts of old meets new (not everyone can afford a car, and most people travel around the old fashioned way….donkey style!!).

3. The food is incredible, vibrant, colorful, and healthy!

The local layered fruit drinks called Spritz, a bit of an addiction!No condiments out of jars here….a hot spicy dip crushed by two rocks, and the skillful hands of our lovely host!  The end result, amazing!

For the meat lovers, there were beautiful sauces and gravies that were all made fresh, and smelled delish!

4.  If you love coffee, or chai (beautiful tea with a spicy aroma), then this is the place for you.

The lush red berries of the coffee plant.

We were incredibly lucky to experience a coffee ceremony with the Hamer Tribe in the south of Ethiopia.  This is an honor, and not a regular occurrence.  Definitely one of the highlights of our trip!The chai, or spiced tea was amazing.  Nice warm feeling in the belly!

5. People watching takes on a whole new meaning….

How cool is this? A member of the Hamer Tribe out on the town….girly hair clips in the fringe, and a Casio watch strap for status around the neck.  Awesome…..

6.  The energy is palpable, yet filled with love and peace.  There is rhythm at every turn.

These kids were on the side of the road after we left the Hamer Tribe, which they are a part of.  They had covered themselves in ceremonial dress (painting their skin with mud in tribal designs!) hoping to catch some tourists wanting to pay for their photo, which we did!

7. Color, color, and more color!

8. There are some fabulous handicrafts to support the local economy!

Roadside shopping is how we roll!

The most amazing hand woven products!  Soft cotton from the fields of Ethiopia, mixed with bright colors, the blankets, scarves, and rugs were all stunning.

9.  Beautiful children!!!

It was hard not to take a good photo of these beautiful children.  The thing that struck me the most was their eyes.  So pure and sincere….

10.  The feel good factor you get from the many opportunities you get to give back, up close and personal (where you know the donations are going directly to where they’re needed).

We were fortunate enough to be able to take nearly 200kgs of goods over on the plane to distribute to those who needed it.  Very humbling….and well received!

Being able to connect with these kids really was the ultimate highlight of our trip.  Their eyes lit up like it was Christmas day, even for the simplest gifts….

The other way we were able to give while we were there, was to bring donations of material for The Catherine Hamlin Fistula Hospital in Addis Ababa.  Some of you may have heard of this amazing lady and what she has done for the women of Ethiopia, as Dr. Hamlin has been widely featured on many documentaries and programs (including Oprah) for her amazing service.  If you don’t know what a fistula is, please take a moment to read about it here.  With the education that is provided by this great centre, women are educated who come from remote areas to start walking to the hospital (some of these women walk for months to get here!) when they feel their baby kicking (this happens often with women who have been previously treated at the hospital with their previous children)!!  The treatment is free, and the only payment asked of the women is that they spread the word to other women from their area/tribe, and that they make sure they return to the hospital for subsequent childbirths.

We were incredibly honored to be able to meet Dr. Hamlin as she did the rounds.  It was unbelievable to think she still operates on patients (and with perfect eyesight!) at the age of 88!!  She had an incredible energy and aura surrounding her, and was the vision of an angel.

When the women leave the hospital, they are given a dress, and this is where our material, zips, and buttons came into play.  The ladies who sew the dresses were more than thrilled with their new selection of material to create some lovely dresses for these amazing women!

Ethiopia is one of the most enriching experiences I have had the privilege of being part of.  I highly recommend if you get the chance, that it’s a destination not to be missed!

If you are interested in going, there is only one tour guide that can give you the type of experience we had, and that is Pamela Robbie from Destination Ethiopia.  Her expertise and passion, along with her team of experienced and friendly guides are second to none.

Pam can be contacted at destinationethiopiatours@gmail.com .

16 Conversations about
10 Reasons You Should Visit Ethiopia Now

  1. Linda Hannig Reply //

    Wow – speechless! What an amazing story. The photographs are spectacular. Thank you Steph, for sharing your stories!

  2. Simone Jackson Reply //

    Wow! What a privilege to read your blog today Steph, the images, the words, the children, the colour! Thank you for the opportunity to see this amazing country and its people through your eyes, and to see the difference kindness and generosity can make. As you say not your normal “girls trip away” but an experience you’ll remember forever 🙂 xx

  3. Aidy Reply //

    Summed up perfectly Steph! Every day, I have memories and visions of the most incredible trip. x

  4. Nektar Reply //

    Thanks everyone! It really was such an enriching experience….I cannot really even give it the justice it deserves but I gave it a go! Matthew, I am so looking forward to capturing some magic in Zanzibar early next year!!

  5. Catherine Hull Reply //

    Love it Stephanie!! Amazing photos and inspiring blog…. I could feel the good vibes coming from this experience… 🙂

  6. LIsa Lorenz Reply //

    Hi Stephanie! I just found your blog and I am in love with it! I love your photos, your stories, the way you write! I was feeling a little down tonight and after reading some of your blog and seeing your gorgeous pictures, I have to say it lifted my spirits. I have lived an expat life for many years and I am back in Canada and it was a huge adjustment to settle back here. My husband I both miss our travels and experiences. We are trying to find our place here in Ottawa and it has not been easy. We were just in Ivory Coast Africa visiting for a potential assignment, and I really enjoyed it. I felt connected Africa in someway. It really is like going back in time…a beautiful time. We may be moving there or eith to Nairobi in April of the new year. I also loved your book. Congrats on this beautiful book. I am going to order a copy. Your about me page just hit home for me! I related to so many of the things you wrote. All my best wishes to you and your family over this beautiful Christmas Season! I am so happy I found your blog and photos! Best wishes, Lisa

    • Nektar Reply //

      Hi Lisa, and welcome to Nektar! Thanks so much for your beautiful and encouraging comments. Since I have moved back to Dubai, my blogging has dwindled and I struggle to find the space where I can easily flow with my writing again like I did in New Zealand. I guess it just comes down to flow….knowing that things have changed and so I will evolve with those changes…. It is really interesting hearing of your travels and experiences, and to say that your spirits have been lifted by my blog is an absolute gift, so I thank you for sharing those comments with me! have a beautiful Christmas and I hope to take some time to look at your artwork as I see you have a website! Love and light to you over the holidays and always!! x

  7. Pam Reply //

    Gosh, I live there … and reading this and seeing your photos makes me feel like it is a first time visit, or rather, one from a long time ago for me. Well done on covering the whole trip, I can’t think of anything you’ve left out!

    • Stephanie Hamilton Reply //

      Thank you so much Pam! A lot of the enthusiasm in this post came from YOU and your amazing love and knowledge of Ethiopia! We were just so blessed to be a part of this trip, truly an amazing experience!!!

  8. Diana Reply //

    I just stumbled across your blog as I was googling “Why Ethiopia” and I am so glad I found your blog.

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