The Salt Caravans of the Danakil Depression

A disappearing world

The Danakil Depression on the border between Ethiopia and Eritrea is one of the hottest places on earth.  Temperatures can exceed 50 degrees centigrade, with the year-round average being 35 degrees.  For most of the year, there is virtually no rain.  The Depression is also one of the lowest points on the planet, reaching 125 […]

2015 – A Personal Retrospective

As the new year gets into the swing, it is time to look back on 2015.  Our world has many natural and cultural riches and I was fortunate to be able to experience some of them. The first big trip of the year was to Ethiopia, a country with a wonderful mix of culture, history […]

A Tale of Three Cities

Shanghai, Hong Kong, Macao

Shanghai, Hong Kong, Macao – three cities, each with a different colonial history.  Discovering the nuances – and the contrasts – between them was what inspired me to visit the oriental trio this autumn.  I was not disappointed! The first time I became aware of Shanghai’s colonial past was as a child when I read […]


Desert Land of Colours and Contrasts

Turkmenistan is perhaps not at the top of everybody’s bucket list – indeed, it gets only 6,500 tourists a year – but it has a lot to offer the traveller looking for a trip with a difference.  From spectacular landscapes worthy of the best sci-fi movies to ruins of ancient trading cities, from its quirky, […]

Ascension Island

Lava and Land Crabs, Turtles and Terraforming

Ascension Island is a volcanic island just south of the equator about halfway between Brazil and Africa.  It was the second stop on my trip to the British Overseas Territory of Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha, three small islands scattered far apart from each other in the South Atlantic.  My journey had begun […]

A Slow Boat to Saint Helena

A Journey on the last Royal Mail Ship

Saint Helena is perhaps best known for being where Napoleon Bonaparte spent his final days in exile.  It is one of six South Atlantic islands – separated from each other by 3600 km at their furthest points – that make up the British Overseas territory of Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha.  One of […]

The Highlands of Northern Ethiopia

From Rock-Hewn Churches to the Source of the Blue Nile

Mountains are perhaps not the first thing one associates with Ethiopia but, after spending a couple of weeks in its northern region, I think I shall forever equate the country with dramatic, rocky landscapes.  In this the second of two postings about my trip to Ethiopia, I look at Lalibela, the rural highlands and Lake […]


Land of Mountains, Myths and Mysteries

Ethiopia is a country of contrasts:  jungles in the south, fertile soils in the west, and seemingly endless mountain ranges in the north.  It is also a land of legends, where, when talking to the locals, the boundaries between history, archaeology and myths seem difficult to distinguish. It was to the north of the country […]