Ben Abeba restaurant, Ethiopia


Whimsical looking (Gaudi meets Mad Max) restaurant that was planned by a Scots woman, Susan, and her Ethiopian business partner, Habtamu, and opened in October 2011. It has a gob-smacking location on a little hillock standing on a rock promontory to give in-cre-di-ble 360 degree views and is surrounded by rock gardens and flowers (Ben means hill in Scots Gaelic and Abeba means flowers in Amharic).



The menu is one of the most imaginative in Ethiopia (you should try the tuna pate drizzled in lemon juice with tiny home-made oatcakes and their savoury home-made bread is delicious) and reasonably priced.


Get up early and go to Ben Abeba for breakfast to see the sun rise over the valleys. This is a terrific spot for watching brightly coloured weaver birds investigating the variegated seed sources in this restaurant’s garden and you are on the same level as soaring birds such as lammergeier, falcons and eagles. …

Trip Advisor – Ben Abeba:

“Worth travelling to Ethiopia just for the experience”

You meet other visitors at night around the campfire. :-)


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Gelada baboons, Ethiopia

I hiked the Simien mountains in northern Ethiopia with Joshua and Nadine from Edmonton. They are nurses living in Africa for the past 2 years, putting together a rural Health Clinic in Burundi.

The biggest highlight was hanging out with Geladas, the friendliest simians anywhere.

Simien - Josh and Nadine-28

Simien - Josh and Nadine-26

Protected and not endangered, these grass eaters are comfortable with people coming close. A few of the curious babies reached out and almost touched us.

Simien - Rick baboons

Here are more of Josh and Nadine’s photos.

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I posted high resolution versions of those on my flickr.

my last Gondar photos

A former capital of Ethiopia for over a century, the population today is about 200,000.

Gondar map

A welcome change from polluted, dusty Addis, most everyone likes Gondar. It’s at high altitude in the highlands, warm in the day, cold at night.


The population is 83% Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity, 16% Muslim.

The center of the widely sprawling town is this statue of warrior emperor Tewodros II (ruler from 1855 to 1868). Tourists are hassled a fair bit here but not much anywhere else in Gondar.


I was very happy at the L-Shape hotel. $16/night.


Yep. The shape of that hotel is perfectly rectangular. :-)

During the Second World War, Italian forces in Ethiopia made their last stand in Gondar November 1941. Addis Ababa had fallen to British forces 6 months before.

I was here to visit the Royal Enclosure, some of the best historical ruins in Africa.

Gondar is the jumping off point for the Simien trek, 3hrs further north.

There are surprisingly few bicycles in Ethiopia. Those who own one can bring them here, then RENT them to those who want to cycle around the parking lot.


Gondar is also a noted center of ecclesiastical learning of the Ethiopian Orthodox having 44 churches – for many years more than any other settlement in Ethiopia.



Most of the imagery shows Jesus and Mary whiter than me. A shame.


Pilgrims, the poor, homeless and dying hang about the Churches.


I wasn’t sure if this man was drunk, sleeping or dead.


Farewell Gondar.





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Timkat in Ethiopia

Timkat (Amharic: “baptism”) (also spelled Timket, or Timqat) is the Ethiopian Orthodox celebration of Epiphany. …

Timket celebrates the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River. This festival is best known for its ritual reenactment of baptism …

Fasilides' Bath in Gondar, Ethiopia

Fasilides’ Bath in Gondar, Ethiopia

It is celebrated in January, right after Christmas, two of their biggest festivals back-to-back. Fasilides’ Bath is one of the very best places to see it.

I visited the ruins in December. No water. It was pretty quiet.









Empress Mentewab’s Castle

Ethiopian Queen.

Mentewab laying prostate at Mary's feet

Mentewab laying prostate at Mary’s feet

Mentewab was a major political figure during the reigns of her son the Emperor Iyasu and grandson Iyoas. …

Mentewab married Emperor Bakaffa in Qwara 6 September 1722, becoming his second wife (his first wife having mysteriously died on the day she was crowned immediately following her coronation banquet). …

Empress Mentewab was crowned co-ruler upon the succession of her son Iyasu II in 1730, and held unprecedented power over government during his reign. …


P1340135She was quite a character.

From 1723 to 1730 she lived in this Palace, some distance away from the Royal court. She liked men too much, they say. Some speculate that she was removed to reduce Royal gossip.

Scottish traveller and travel writer James Bruce discovered more than just the source of the Blue Nile when he visited Mentewab.









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4 Sisters Restaurant, Gondar


Opened July 2011, this is one of the best restaurants I’ve ever seen in the developing World.


The Four Sisters: Helen, Senait, Tena, and Eden. No foreign partners.

Staff wears traditional dress during the day, then changes to new dress for the evening.

You are welcomed at the gate by a bugle man who alerts staff that you are on your way.

I had the lunch buffet one day. And our trekking group celebrated with dinner there another.



traditional Ethiopian coffee service

traditional Ethiopian coffee service


Trip Advisor