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It’s taken a decade for Ethiopian tourism to lift off, from only 227,000 visitors in 2005 to 750,000 in 2015. These numbers should soar exponentially as so many MENA (Middle East & North African) countries are now off the tourist radar due to fears of terrorism or actual war – think Tunisia and Turkey for the first, and Syria and Libya for the second. Egypt and Morocco are not looking healthy from a security point of view either, so those in search of the exotic are having to go that much further.

Ethiopia_Lalibela_Bet_Giyorgis


Khat overwhelmingly rules life in eastern Ethiopia, where all roads (in fact one only) lead to Somaliland and its port of Berbera. No, not Somalia itself, but a breakaway autonomous region that has existed, unrecognised internationally, since 1991. Thundering along the road past rolling savannah and escarpment are dozens of Isuzu trucks, their open backs piled high with sacks of khat, the favoured drug of the region.

Road_to_Somaliland_Ethiopia

Yemen is a huge consumer, also Somaliland and Djibouti, while exports go as far as Holland, China and, until recent changes in drug classification, the UK and Australia. And sometimes road transport is not a truck but a camel… as above.


As usual the new year has brought a slew of opinions across the travel press about where to head in 2016. In extreme-remote terms the Financial Times suggests Greenland and Kyrgyzstan (implying that its supremely well-heeled readers are hell bent on wilderness and cool temps) here while the New York Times seems only just to have discovered Morocco’s Atlantic Coast, albeit NOT Agadir.

Morocco_Coastal_town

Ahem, a confession – I first explored this coast soon after Jimi Hendrix’ sojourn in Essaouira (above) back in the 1970s— but I’ll give the feature its due, it does cover lesser known seaside towns like El Jadida and Oualidia (surfing and oysters) – both up and coming.