Ethiopia – Summary & Pictures

People: Ouff. How not to make this one sound too bad!? Well, we did meet some nice people, for example owners of well-running local restaurants who are not dependant on tourists. Anyone who worked in transportation though, was an a… And everyone wanted something from us: money, pen, be our guide,… It was exhausting. Literally no friendly conversation would just remain friendly – it would always end in a request. Also, people lied to our face many times e.g. that there was water in the bathroom when there wasn’t (for days probably already). Unfortunately, Ethiopia has been the most exhausting country we have ever travelled, where we experienced the most hassle.

Food: It was a nice change after expensive South America, to go out for food every day three times a day again. But at the smaller restaurants there often wasn’t much choice, and after a while I was a bit sick of injera (sour pancake) and shiro (lentil paste) – the most common dish. Sometimes, they had mixed vegetarian platters which we quite enjoyed and the pasta was often quite tasty. For once, being a vegetarian was pretty easy!

Weather: We travelled Ethiopia in dry season, so it was sunny and nice. In the evenings you did need something long though, as it got quite chilly.

Costs: On average, we spent almost 30€/person/day which is below what we expected, but certainly above what we could have spent. But as travelling Ethiopia was quite exhausting, we ended up getting better accommodation over the course of the weeks and booked quite some flights instead of enduring more long bus trips. Also, anything touristy like entrance fees or the Danakil tour cost a lot more than you would expect from an otherwise cheap country like Ethiopia.

Accommodation: We stayed in simple double rooms, mostly with our own bath room, for very little money. Finally, a country like that again! It was basic though, internet a struggle, water not always available etc.

Infrastructure: Busses were very old, uncomfortable and got filled to the max. Same as minibuses. As soon as you entered the bus station, you would get stormed at by guys who would pull you into their van and take the backpack off your shoulders. It was very exhausting. The bus trips took long even for short distances and since people don’t shower much at all and some people throw up, the smell was often bad. We also took some flights, to avoid some of such bus rides.

Illnesses: We both had some stomach issues at one point – I got it really bad for the first time. But I guess that’s normal in Ethiopia.

Safety: In Dire Dawa and Harar, I didn’t feel so safe with many weird characters hanging around in the streets. The rest of the country was no issue.

Itinerary: We travelled along the Historical Circuit in the North, clockwise: Addis – Bahir Dar – Gondar – Simien Mountains – Axum – Tigray – Danakil Depression – Lalibela. We then added a complicated detour to Harar, from Lalibela back to Bahir Dar by bus, then a flight to Addis, another one to Dire Dawa, and a minibus to Harar. Not sure it was worth the effort.

Highlight: Danakil Depression.

Lowlight: The people, our visa situation and Dire Dawa/Harar.

Click on the photos below to see our full photo album of Ethiopia:

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Brazil – Summary & Pictures

People: Brazilians were generally friendly, but often difficult to interact with – not speaking any other language than Portuguese. I was seriously surprised by the low level of English and even Spanish, which is so similar. I ended up just speaking Spanish to people anyway, they would respond in Portuguese and we would understand each other somehow. We didn’t meet a lot of other travellers as we stayed in AirBnBs, but we didn’t feel like there are lots of international backpackers around.

Food: No lasting memory – not in a bad way, but also not in a good way. We cooked a lot for ourselves, but also ate out here and there.

Weather: Hot, hot, hot! We sweated a lot in Brazil, the sun was burning down most days. Unfortunately, we had some rainy days towards the end in Rio and Sao Paulo, but we managed to see most important sights in good weather.

Costs: Brazil was not cheap: accommodation and transport were the main cost drivers. Overall, we spent slightly over 44€/person/day.

Accommodation: We only stayed in AirBnBs which was still the cheapest option for the two of us – dorms and of course double rooms in hotels would have been more expensive. We did meet some nice locals this way (even though there was always a language barrier), so all in all it was good even if not cheap.

Infrastructure: Very good with a big choice in busses and affordable flights. We took one internal flight and otherwise bussed it around Brazil. For the first time, we also took lots of taxis (Uber!), especially in Rio and Sao, to stay safe. It was a bit annoying as we usually would have walked everywhere – but especially after my backpack drama, we just wanted to stay safe and not have any further issues.

Illnesses: All in all, everything was fine.

Safety: I didn’t feel very safe walking around in Rio and Sao Paulo – mostly due to the stories you hear, but there were also some genuinely weird people around and we called Sao Paulo „the city of the homeless“… We did everything we could to improve our safety, and luckily nothing happened.

Itinerary: We travelled Southern Brazil: Foz do Iguacu – Florianopolis – Rio – Ilha Grande – Paraty – Sao Paulo. Typical places to visit on a first visit in the South. I would love to see 1 or 2 national parks further North and some beaches up North, but maybe at a later stage in life, when the safety will hopefully have improved.

Highlight: Cute little Paraty.

Lowlight: Sao Paulo, potentially the world’s ugliest city.

Click on the photos below to see our full photo album of Brazil:

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Argentina & Chile – Summary & Photos

It may seem odd that I’m doing a combined country summary for two very large countries – but since we zig-zagged our way down South, we sometimes had to remind ourselves which one of the two countries we are in right now. Also, I found more similarities between e.g. San Pedro (CH) and Purmamarca (AR), Pucon (CH) and San Martin (AR), El Chalten (AR) and Puerto Natales (CH) than for example between San Pedro, Pucon and Puerto Natales.

People: We met very friendly and helpful locals on both side, as well as a share of annoying ones. Through hitchhiking the Carretera Austral, I got a bit more in touch with Chileans than Argentinians overall. As in travellers, we met a surprising high number of Austrians and Swiss, some travelling by central car or camper. Most people we met were on a 3-5 week holiday and didn’t enjoy having as much time as we do.

Food: We cooked mostly for ourselves, went out for fast food here and there and treated ourselves to some nicer food around Christmas. Cooking for ourselves was tricky sometimes, with many ingredients not being readily available and especially our trekking food was usually rather boring and required lots of compromises. What we liked most, were the Argentinian empanadas – however the best empanadas ever we found in tiny Caleta Gonzalo on the Carretera Austral, in Chile.

Weather: Anything and everything! Burning heat in the North, cold drizzles in the South, lots of strong winds all over Patagonia… but overall we were mostly lucky with the weather and the sun came out on the most important days!

Costs: We spent WAY less than what we had budgeted for Chile and Argentina. Travelling as a couple, and with camping gear, saved us lots of money in accommodation and hitchhiking the Carretera Austral cut down our overall transportation costs. On average, including all tours and one internal flight, we spent just a little over 28 Euro per person/day. About 58% of our budget was spent in Chile, 42% in Argentina which means that relative to the days we spent per country, our daily spending for Argentina was about 25 Euro and for Chile about 31 Euro.

Accommodation: In the North and South, we stayed at quite some AirBnBs (either a room in a shared house or an apartment to ourselves), which worked out cheaper than a room in a hostel or guesthouse. In Patagonia, we camped a lot which saved loads of money. Camping for both of us usually cost less than 2 beds in a dorm and wayyyy less than a double room.

Infrastructure: Travelling by bus was easy, even though some routes in the South booked up a couple of days in advance, so required some pre-planning. Along the Carretera Austral, we hitchhiked, which worked really well and saved us lots of money!

Illnesses: None of us got ill, but the long hikes took their toll on our bodies: my knees were in bad pain on and off during our whole time in Patagonia and Mathijs‘ ankles were not always happy either. All in all we managed really well though, given all the challenges we had!

Safety: If I would have written this chapter in Ushuaia, I would have said: all good, no issues. However, when we arrived in Buenos Aires, my big backpack got stolen off a bus which was super annoying and made me realize that there are still some safety issues – not so much in peaceful Patagonia, but definitely in the bigger cities.

Itinerary: We visited both countries very thoroughly and managed to see everything worth seeing (for us). We zig-zagged our way from San Pedro de Atacama in Chile all the way South to Ushuaia in Argentina, crossing borders between both countries multiple times. A big part of our trip was spent in Patagonia on numerous hikes. Later, we flew up Buenos Aires, and after a short detour to Uruguay and Paraguay, made our way to Iguazu Falls, from where we crossed into Brazil.

Highlight: Impossible to say since we spent so much time in these 2 countries and saw so many amazing places. Hiking in Patagonia in general was awesome, the Huemul Circuit very special, as was our boat tour to the O’Higgins glacier. At the same time, Bariloche’s surroundings and the street art of Valparaiso were really cool too. You see!? Impossible to tell.

Lowlight: Getting my backpack stolen in Buenos Aires. As in places: Punta Arenas (the penguins are cool, but the city itself sucks).

Click on the photos below to see our full photo albums of Argentina:

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And Chile:

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Destination: Everywhere