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'Our man in Istanbul is dead' - A spy tour of Istanbul

‘Our man in Istanbul is dead’ – A spy tour of Istanbul

“Our man in Istanbul is dead” – a tour of Istanbul’s physical landmarks in espionage history   Turkey’s strategic location had always meant that it would be in the centre of history and international relations- from the Byzantine and Ottoman empire, to the Cold War and the contemporary war on terrorism. During the world wars, […]

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Ultra Luxury Tours in Ethiopia

Ultra Luxury Tours in Ethiopia

Photos from the recce trip to Ethiopia, visiting the North and South of Ethiopia, including the Danakil Depression in the Afar Region.



Described by National Geographic as ‘the land that the devil plowed’, the Danakil Depression is one of the most extreme places in the world.

Ultra luxury tours Ethiopia

Federation Democratic Republic of Ethiopia is located in East Africa and has no outlet to the sea. The second (after Nigeria) in population in Africa bordered by Eritrea to the north, Djibouti to the north-east Somalia and the unrecognized Somaliland to the east, Kenya to the south and west of Sudan. Ethiopia is the oldest Christian country and one of the oldest in the world with capital Addis Ababa.
Ethiopia is a country with rich history, situated on the African continent. It is one of the first Christian countries and some say the oldest country in the world. There are few places that are so closely linked with the past, as this country of contrasts and surprises.
Ethiopia is home to the descendants of one of the oldest civilizations on the planet. The state has many neighboring countries – Eritrea, Djibouti, Somalia, unrecognized state of Somaliland, Kenya, Sudan and South Sudan. Here are some other interesting facts about the African country:
1. Ethiopia is one of the oldest countries in the world where there are still traces of the existence of culture “Olduvai”.
2. Ethiopia is the second most densely populated country in Africa after Nigeria.
3. Coffee in Ethiopia is a major national product which constitutes a major part of the country’s exports. Logically, the most popular beverage in this country is coffee, even made special coffee ceremonies.
4. sport that develops most in Ethiopia is athletics. Country emits many winners of long distance running.
5. Starting a business in the country is quite simple for the people of Ethiopia and taxes are low. A foreigner might have the same simple terms, if you marry a local resident.
6. The population of Ethiopia is around 85 million. In 10 years the population has increased by about 20 million people! In the average household is born between 5 and 7 children by 1 or 2 of them died within the first 2-3 years. 2-3 children fail to reach their 11th year. Often the mother is alone and struggling with life. Men or fighting in wars or somewhere and try to earn money.
7. In the Ethiopian town of Lalibela is a complex of rock churches that were “built” in the 13th century. In fact, they are not built and are carved into the rocks. The most famous among them is the Church of St. George, which has the shape of a cross and descend 12 meters below ground.
8. official language in Ethiopia is Amharic language. It has 7 vowels and 28 consonants.
9. Ethiopians are proud that their country is only in Africa that has never been a colony. Stay the Italian Army from 1936 to 1941 locals call “occupation”.
10. Ethiopia is one of the oldest Christian countries in the world. The country has representatives of different religions: Christians, Jews, Orthodox Christians and Muslims.
11. The attitude towards tourists in the country is very friendly.
12. In the northwestern part of Ethiopia is the second largest lake in Africa – Tana. The largest lake on the continent Victoria in Kenya. The area of Lake Tana is 2156 square kilometers. Swimming in it is however not recommended, as the water are very parasites.
13. If you rent a boat and navigate on Lake Tana, you can visit the monasteries located on numerous islands as well as to see the hippos close.
14. Ethiopia now has no outlet to the Red Sea. This country is losing its privilege in 1993 when Eritrea separated from her. Because this country sometimes there are problems with the supply of food.
15. Ethiopia (despite the general prohibition in neighboring countries) used narcotic plant khat, which has a stimulating effect. In combination with a cigarette or gin leaves of the plant are used by people as a means of relaxation.
16. Ethiopia has actively participated in political life. After the Second World War, the country is a founding member of the United Nations. In Addis Ababa is located the headquarters of the Organization of African Unity (now renamed the African Union).
17. Unlike most countries in the national calendar of Ethiopia has 13 months. 12 of them contain 30 days, while the latter consists of five or six days (depending on whether it is a leap year). Day in Ethiopia did not start at 00:00 hours and begins with sunrise.
18. Ethiopia is one of the poorest countries in the world. GDP per capita is only $ 900.
19. Traditional Ethiopian cuisine consists of spicy meat dishes and vegetables. Local use many spices such as garlic is particularly prevalent. Ethiopians did not eat pork, sticking to food taboos of the Old Testament.
20. The national currency of the country is the Ethiopian Birr (ETB).
In the past what many people knew about Ethiopia was that her population is poor and the country is a symbol of world hunger. And although there are still remnants of that poverty, Ethiopia has begun to revive relying on cultural tourism and economic development. Luxury tourist tours are getting more and more popular, combining ancient traditions with the superior luxury entertainment programs. The tours and events are mostly organized by external contractors from USA or UK.
Indeed, part of the continent, which is not rich in historical remains, Ethiopia holds many of the most amazing treasures of Africa, medieval cave churches in Lalibela and 1700-year-old stone obelisks in the northern city of Axum.
Ethiopia, calling itself the Land of the Queen of Sheba, also said that in her city of Axum store and the Holy Ark, a box of gold and acacia wood, which is considered that there were held the Ten Commandments.
According to the Bible the development of the Ark are commanded by God to Moses at Mount Sinai. Ark and its sanctuary (Temple of Solomon) represented “the beauty of Israel.” In the destruction of Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem (587 BC), the ark disappeared and then there are many hypotheses and speculations about his fate and location.
Ethiopian Christians say that the Ark is somewhere in the church of St. Mary of Zion in Axum. (Besides this church, you can visit other places, outlining the roots of Christianity, such as the Falasha village, home to several other Ethiopian Jews.).
Although the country cannot compete with Kenya or South Africa when it comes to competition, Ethiopia really more than a dozen national parks, which are considered some of the most beautiful in the area below the Sahara desert. The area covers the area of the plateau of the Simien Mountains to the white water rapids of completely uninhabited Omo Valley.

For tourists transiting in Addis Ababa – the bustling capital with its museums and interesting Ethiopian jazz scene, there is only one place to stay in – the Sheraton Addis Ababa, which belongs to Starwood’s ‘Luxury Collection’ of properties.

There is also Gondar – slower growing town called Camelot of Africa, because there are many castles.

Tribes in Ethiopia

We will tell you only a handful of the many African tribes. It is not possible to establish the exact number of people, as many of the boundaries between groups of people on the continent are exchanged, but it is equivalent to about 3 000. The traditions and culture of the African tribes are very interesting and fascinating, so move on and learn more about a few of them:


In southwestern Ethiopia (region Hamer Bena Woreda, Valley Omo River) lives Hammer tribe, which numbers about 43,000 people earning their living by farming. Young men who want to be recognized as adults, must pass through an ancient custom to skip a number of bulls. It’s time for a celebration that lasts for several days – with beer, feasting and traditional dancing. Hammers represent the fraction of the population of Ethiopia with limited political power and low level of education. The language of the tribe called Banna.


Mursis tribe lives in southern Ethiopia near the border with Sudan. Women wear plates on the lower lip, which is pierced and stretched, and their lower teeth are removed to accommodate the tile. The tribesmen believe that animals, plants and some objects possess supernatural powers. Ceremony “Donga” is a battle between two naked men. They fight with sticks and the winner wins the adoration of the women in the tribe, advancing his cause in the mating game. Proving yourself worthy of marriage is notoriously difficult amongst the tribes of Southern Ethiopia and the dowry to marry a girl amongst the Mursis is exorbitant, involving honey, cattle and an AK-47. Drinking a mixture of blood and milk is common for Mursis, and several other tribes in this region of Africa. Livestock is their main livelihood, but they do not eat much meat. The Mursis are a Nilo-Saharan speaking group of pastoralists.
The new millennium was greeted in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa by thousands of tourists. Some of the events, however, were canceled due to threats of attacks – a reminder of the fragile situation in the Horn of Africa and the tense relations of Ethiopia with its neighbor Eritrea.
Despite all the problems, however, welcome the new millennium has proved profitable for business.
The highest part of the African continent is a highly elevated mountainous area in northeastern Africa. It consists of several highly dissected plateau mountains with characteristic ridges and peaks. In places separate peaks reach 4600 meters height. Here rises the highest peak on the continent – Uhuru (5895 m) in volcanic mountain Kilimanjaro. Particularly impressive are the eastern slopes of the Ethiopian mountain land over deeply sunken Danakil Trench – 2000 m height.

Gondar – surviving castles and churches of a collapsed empire.

In its strategic position at the foot of Simen, one of the largest mountain ranges in Africa, Gondar (Gondar) became the capital of the Ethiopian empire in the eighteenth century. When Emperor Fassi and remains so 250 years. Surrounded by high stone walls, Royal Castle is situated in the heart of the city and here you can see the most important imperial buildings. Five castles can be found between the walls, as the oldest is attributed to Fassino and most recent dates from the mid eighteenth century.
In addition, he was the administrative and commercial center of the empire, Gondar was also its religious center. Dozens of churches that once functioned in the city, seven were built during the reign of Fassi.
The most significant surviving today Debre Birhan Selassie, famous for its frescoes from the seventeenth century. On its ceiling depicting angels eighty persons. Where: 758 km north of Addis Ababa.Best time: Ethiopian Christmas and Epiphany in January; Gondar is the most colorful on Epiphany (January 19th).


– Harar still maintains the atmosphere of the Islamic Cultural Center of the world, no way inferior to Mali Jenna Fez Moroccan or Egyptian Al-Azhar. The city wall is slightly pozapusnata and only a few gates give an idea of its glorious past and the narrow streets, winding evenly between painted with strange symbols houses, reminiscent of views by the Niger Zinder. Markets here offer a basic chat, as contrary to the Koran nature has endowed surroundings drug quality first. Richard Francis Burton and Arthur Rimbaud are just some of the many travelers who have devoted several years of his life in Harar, entering the role of arms dealers, hashish or slaves. And like Timbuktu, Harar with many years was banned for gentiles city – and circumcision was only a fraction of the masquerade, which is subjected curious. Today curious arrive with trips to see one another tradition, turned into a tourist spectacle. If the evening leave Harar in Yemen gate and keep right direction after a few minutes you reach 3-story home for lepers. In the surroundings numerous dogs roll on the ground, but bringing them going to distinguish spots on their fur. Their bodies also increase and become strong, hind legs are shortened and at one point were on the pack of hyenas. The good news is that they are tame.

Food and Ethiopian cuisine

Stores are everywhere. You cannot imagine of what is needed, in particular, who is shopping in so many shop located literally in fifteen meters. The problem is what is in them or exactly what will. The shops are a “Store”. In each of them there is necessarily a washing powder – alas not be eaten. There are soap, invaluable to us mineral water, noodles, cookies, mirrors, strange non-sweet candy, cosmetics, chemicals juices with pictures of mango on their labels, Pepsi, toilet paper, tones of dry milk, salt and bulk lens, and macaroni. Still cannot understand the phenomenon of dry milk, and also juices that are outrageous prices corresponding to 4-5 glasses of mango puree or avocado. Why does anybody would have thought to buy them? Yet, they are found in every store. In Ethiopia sugar is a luxury, so it put scarce even in principle sweets. Cookies here are not sweet. In smaller settlements, which are here with a population of 5000-10000 people, is full of luck if any of shops find canned tuna, canned tomato paste or accidentally mayonnaise. In smaller cities have not even heard the names of these goods. These are products that are hardly consumed by the local population, they are all imported from abroad, and their prices are significantly higher
Vegetarians can eat anywhere, but their choice is often limited to injera and walked with her large-sauce, which is a puree of tomatoes and maybe chick-peas and other things. If you are carnivores choice is slightly larger. Again injera bread and a pad. The meat is well cooked or fried, is cut into small cubes, such variations are only in the sauce, which is served. You could manage to find a place, which is filled with local people, serving only meat and beer. Most likely there will be several halves of cows attached to metal hooks in front of them sitting smiling uncle. You could choose any part of the cow and how many grams you would like, uncle cut him and cut, put it in a dish with a number that you get to sit and wait for Jable beer. After ten minutes your number arrives with a crock full of embers and meat in the saucer over them, still impending. During the Easter fast only listened, how Easter everywhere will eat specially prepared chicken, but until now we have not found in any one place. Everything, even the dishes of the western European cuisine are served with a decent amount of chopped chilies in them. No choice. Although 85% of the settlement here are Orthodox Christians that religion prohibits pork here, we thought it was only applies to Muslims.
Another thing to mention is the Ethiopian beer. The beer is everywhere, and the quantities consumed at any time of the day definitely impress us. Beer is as cheap as it is beautiful. The only beer is served in 500ml those old squat bottles.
<h3>Lalibela</h3> – the mystery of the underground, carved into the rock churches
Mysterious underground, carved in monolithic rock-hewn churches of Lalibela were in constant use by Orthodox priests from the XII and XIII c., When this godforsaken mountain town was the capital of an important dynasty Zagve.
For modern historians, it is not clear what is built each of the churches. Each building is unique in its size, shape and performance, precise and carefully carved into solid rock (say tens of thousands of workers), and some are richly decorated. There is a legend that at least one of the churches built by angels in one day; Another legend says that churches have appeared in a dream to the king of Zagve.
All eleven churches were carved below ground level, and some reach up to 9 meters. They are surrounded by gardens and moats, which are connected and form a maze of tunnels and passages between adjacent buildings.
Churches are valued in Ethiopia as large pyramids in Egypt. The town of Lalibela, located in steep, impressive slopes of more than 2400 m above sea level, raises admiration. Where: 730 km north of Addis Ababa, Amhara, Ethiopia Best time: Ethiopian Christmas and Epiphany in January.
Erta Ale. Located in the desert of northeast Ethiopia, Erta Ale is a unique area where thirsty for adventure tourists can see some of the most troubled and dangerous volcanoes on the African continent. Some of the volcanoes in this highly isolated and inaccessible area constantly churn out large quantities of lava. Murderous heat midst of this almost lunar landscape creates the feeling that you are caught in the middle of hell! Burning sun increases the temperature to over 50 degrees, and the ground is so hot that it could be baked egg. The hot sun like aim to challenge the vitality of every living creature that has fallen here, and if you think it is possible to find shade of this place, you are deeply mistaken.
<h3>Hell on earth: Danakil</h3>
This is the Danakil desert, one of the most inhospitable places on earth. Landscape and is so unusual that more like another planet. This place is very beautiful, but also extremely dangerous and only the bravest people seeking adventure and adventures come here. Also called Danakil Depression, this inhospitable home to Erta Ale volcano peaks burned unravel-coated crust of salt
Myiasis myiasis 27. 27 is the official name of the Statue of Liberty. It is considered one of the most important landmarks in the capital city of Ethiopia. It was officially opened by the emperor in 1944 in honor of the victory by Ethiopia over the army of Benito Mussolini in 1941. The monument has 6 inputs and rises to a height of 15 meters. The monument is located in the heart of Addis Ababa and is considered an obligatory stop for tourists in the city.
Tiyya. Tiyya is a small town located in a grassy area in the plateaus of central Ethiopia. The place is known for its ancient burial complex, which is only a few meters outside the village. The complex consists of 36 commemorative stones arranged in a row. 32 of them have carved inscriptions and drawings. In 1980, this landmark became part of world heritage by UNESCO.
Lion of Judah. One of the top attractions of Addis Ababa is the lion of Judah. It rises to a high pedestal near the railway station of the Ethiopian capital and depicts a lion holding the Ethiopian flag in hand. The statue was stolen from the African nation of Mussolini, but several decades later Italy returned to Ethiopia this symbol of Addis Ababa.
Abidjan Shala National Park. Abidjan Shala National Park was founded in 1974. It is located in the Rift Valley of Ethiopia Central and consists of two lakes – Abidjan and Shala. The area is famous for its hot springs and beautiful countryside covered with acacia trees. Typical of the local landscape are huge flocks of pink flamingos landing in the mud flats of the lake. In the vicinity can be seen mainly different types of antelopes, ostriches, hyenas and monkeys.
Axum. City of Axum, which is located in the northern regions of Ethiopia, is a very important tourist center in the country because of its archaeological wealth. 1980 unique local attractions are UNESCO. It is advisable not to miss the Palace of the Queen of Sheba, the Cathedral of St. Mary Zion, royal tombs and many other treasures. Has an exciting history, which could be divided into pre-Christian and Christian period. Although today Axum has a population of 57,000 people, once he was the center of the kingdom of Aksum, and traces of its majestic past can be seen everywhere.
When to visit Ethiopia? The best time for tourism in the capital of Ethiopia is between October and February, during the dry season. In this part of the year, the combination of temperature and precipitation is most suitable. In lowland areas of the country the weather is very hot throughout the year and conditions are unbearable.
What clothes to wear? When traveling to Ethiopia, you have to prepare your summer clothes and shoes during the day, no matter the season, as temperatures are constantly between 21 and 25 ° C. However, due to the high altitude the nights are cool practically all year round, so one coat, jeans and closed shoes will not be redundant. In the lowland parts of the country the weather can be a serious problem for most people, because the heat is usually searing. In this case you need a ventilated garment, which can protect as much of your body from the harmful effects of strong sunlight. Sunscreens are vital.

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