My top 5 highlights from Ethiopia

Written by Helen Wilson

I’ve just returned home from the March Hamlin Ethiopian Adventure and WOW! It exceeded my wildest expectations.

As one of the Hamlin representatives accompanying our Adventurers, the excitement was palpable as we finally touched down in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital, after many months (or years, counting a four-year wait thanks to Covid) of preparation and anticipation.

Here are my top five trip highlights:

Meeting the patients and staff at Hamlin’s Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital

What an overwhelming feeling it was to be welcomed by Catherine and Reg, immortalised in two huge golden statues gleaming in the sunlight, at the entrance to Hamlin’s iconic Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital.

Having just hosted celebrations for what would have been Catherine’s 100th birthday, we enjoyed looking at many interesting old photos and memorabilia in the special memorial room.

Our group was shown around the hospital and the beautiful gardens by the passionate, dedicated staff, whose love and care for every patient is abundantly clear.

Meeting some of the brave and beautiful patients wrapped in their colourful Hamlin blankets was a humbling experience which will stay with me forever.  

Marvelling at the Ethiopian wildlife

From hippos, spotted hyenas, giant tortoises, flamingos and gazelles to emus, warthogs, marabou storks and vervet and columbus monkeys, it was fascinating to get up close and personal with some of Ethiopia’s extraordinary wildlife!

Visiting the loving community at Bullets to Beads

Our Adventurers and I were lucky enough to visit the Entoto Artisan fairtrade workshop on the outskirts of Addis Ababa, where Bullets to Beads jewellery is lovingly handcrafted from melted down artillery shells.

Strand upon strand of shiny beads cover every surface as they wait to be expertly fashioned into exquisite earrings, bracelets, necklaces and rings with a funky modern twist.

More than one hundred local women living with HIV/AIDS are employed here, earning an income to support their families and communities. It was heart-warming to witness this loving community that treats each other with dignity and respect.

What was once intended for harm now brings hope and life. 

Witnessing the unique lifestyles of the Mursi and Karo tribes

We were privileged to visit a number of tribal groups during our trip, each with their own distinct culture.

The Mursi tribe is found deep in the Omo Valley in the far southwest of Ethiopia, just north of the Kenyan border. They are one of the last tribes to still wear traditional clothing and accessories.

Mursi women are famous for their wooden lip plates – a symbol of great beauty, identity and a true expression of their femininity. The bigger the lip plate, the more beautiful a woman is considered to be.

The Karo ethnic group is famous for their incredible body and face painting and body scarification. They paint themselves daily with coloured ochre, white chalk, yellow mineral rock, charcoal and pulverised iron ore, all natural resources local to the area.

Layers and layers of colourful beads are worn around the necks of both the men and women, making this tribe a particularly colourful one!

Enjoying the East African Rift Valley scenery

It was spectacular to drive through the Ethiopian Rift Valley, part of the famous East African Rift Valley, which comprises numerous hot springs, beautiful lakes and a variety of wildlife. 

We visited the twin lakes of Abiata and Shalla, known for their amazing biodiversity. At Lake Abiata, we saw a small flock of flamingos. Lake Shalla is a crater lake that has a depth of about 820 feet and is surrounded by sulphure springs.

Join the next Hamlin Ethiopian Adventure

The Hamlin Ethiopian Adventure is the trip of a lifetime. Why not join us on our next 13-day Southern Ethiopian Adventure in November 2024?

You’ll have a unique opportunity to see the work of Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia first-hand while exploring the highlights of Southern Ethiopia.

Click here to secure your place on our November 2024 Adventure.

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