30 décembre 2013

Hawassa and Harar

For those of you who are wondering how we spent Christmas: bus, bus and more bus!

We did stop for a day at Hawassa, a lakeside town where both tourists and Ethiopians go to have a break. The city in itself is similar to a lot of other Ethiopian cities and didn't impress us much, but it does feature a nice promenade by the lake and we got to see our first hippos living in their natural habitat.

Just before our border crossing to Djibouti, we also spent a day in the walled historic city of Harar. Although it was a short stay, we did enjoy getting lost in the small alleyways and local markets. We even got invited by two young boys to play a bit of football and for coffee at their home!

One of the highlight of the city are the resident hyenas which are apparently harmless to humans. Some locals feed them at night to the great pleasure of the tourists. Even knowing that, we still refrained from getting too close. They are quite impressive beasts!
Lake Hawassa
Spotted Hyena

26 décembre 2013

Southern Nations, Nationalities and People's Region

SNNPR is and interesting part of Ethiopia with a great concentration of ethnic groups and their many traditions.

The simple way to visit this region is to book a tour from Addis Ababa. Then, you spend the next 5 days jumping in and out of your Land Cruiser to snap pictures of as many different tribes as you can. This sort of human safari didn't really appealed to us. We decided to visit independently and to rely on public transport and market days to meet people.

Arba Minch

First stop: the perfectly located town of Arba Minch near the twin lakes Chamo and Abaya. This place turned out to be beyond our expectations with the comfortable Arba Minch Tourist Hotel overlooking a very appealing garden restaurant. Also, the nearby Paradise Lodge, perched on the edge of a cliff, gave us an incredible sunset view of both lakes and the Nechi Sar National Park below.


A lovely day trip from Arba Minch took us high in the mountains above, where the Dorze people make their homes. They have a unique way of building them by weaving bamboo and by shaping the grass rooves like an elephant face to remember the long gone giants from this region. This group of people also has the particularity to use enset or "false banana tree" for many purposes. Other than using the leaves to construct their rooves, they also use it for food. The fresh pulp, which smells like cucumber, is left in the ground to ferment into a white paste that resembles cheese. This substance is then cooked like a flat bread and served with wild honey and chillies. It really tasted good!

The village has a pottery and cotton weaving cooperatives; but for us, their best initiative is the local guide association. All the proceeds from the tourist visits are used to improve the conditions of the entire community. The result is very good for the visitors, since you don't get harassed for money all the time and people seemed genuinely happy to see you.


After Dorze, we headed down to the Lower Omo Valley, to catch the large market of Jinka. Since we didn't have our own wheels, we had abandoned the idea to visit the Mursi tribe who lives in the nearby Mago National Park. Luckily, we met with a local guide who can speak their language and could organise a visit in the park. It wasn't cheap, but since he had a great relationship with many Mursi villagers, we had the unique opportunity to sit under a tree with the men, listening to their stories and trying their food: a communal calabash of fermented cow milk, shorgum paste and wild cabbage. We spent a bit of time watching their women, with their impressive lip plates and scarification, while they were grinding the shorgum. Things got spoiled and the human zoo started when another car of tourists arrived. They came out of their vehicle shooting photos immediately and handing out excessively high amount of cash, without any interest to visit the village. After that, it was just about the money villagers could make by posing for photos.
Turmi and the Hamer

Our guide for the Mago National Park, being of the Hamer tribe himself, convinced us to make the trip to Turmi, in time to see the weekly market. It turned out to be more about adventurous transportation than cultural encounter! First, we had to sit on the back of motorbikes for a 120km journey on dirt road. Needless to say that we had the required flat tire along the way.

Finally arrived in Turmi, we really had the impression to be at the end of the world. The town was much smaller than anticipated, with very little to do in this sun baked savannah! We saw a few Hamer at the very laid back market, and some were wearing traditional clothes made of goat skin. The ladies had their hair sculpted with clay and the men were sporting complicated buns decorated with beads and feathers. All seemed happy to talk to us or simply watch us curiously. An there I though I was the one doing people watching!

We spent much of our time trying to find a way out of town since there is no public transport. Our only option turned out to be a beer delivery truck with a driver willing to take us for an exorbitant fee. It's illegal to hitch a ride in a Isuzu truck, but the locals do it since the law is only enforced with foreigners. So along the way, to avoid a police check, we had to stop and walk through a village by an alternative road before being picked up again at the other end by our friendly driver. We where hoping that he was not going to abandon us in the middle of nowhere!


Still, we managed to make it to Konso where we wanted to visit a nearby terraced village. To our great pleasure, there was also a great museum and a local guide association offering fairly priced tours. The Konso people turned out to be our favourite group to visit, because of the ingenuity of their village construction, and also for their complex burial ceremonies. They erect "wagas" or totem sculptures in honour of their nobles and heroes. They also practice the mummification of their chief and, for nine years after his death, they simply considered him "sick" while the mummy is displayed. After that period, they bury the remains and erect the wagas on his grave.

We might have missed on many other tribes, but we think we managed to have authentic encounters where we went. It wasn't the easiest bit of traveling either, so we are now quite happy to chill out on the lake town of Awassa, before making east towards Harar and Djibouti beyond.

Dorze homes. 
Dorze woman preparing enset bread.
Mursi teenagers.
Mursi women and child.
Hamer woman.

20 décembre 2013

Aventures à Addis

Avant d'entreprendre notre partie de voyage dans le sud du pays, nous avons passé quelques jours à Addis Ababa. Notre séjour s'est avéré plus long que prévu car il a fallu attendre le début de la semaine de travail pour aller faire nos visas pour le Djibouti. Malgré beaucoup d'efforts, incluant un détour par l'ambassade australienne pour obtenir une lettre d'introduction, nous n'avons toujours pas nos visas. Il semble que la bureaucratie du Djibouti soit largement influencée par les Français qui on colonisé le pays! C'est bien compliqué, mais on garde espoir que les choses vont s'arranger au consulat à Dire Dawa, une ville que nous  n'aurons pas le choix de visiter.

Dans la capitale, nous avons fait une constatation: peu d'Ethiopiens possèdent des véhicules, alors tout le monde marche. Pour nous, ça constitue une aventure en soit! D'abord parce que les distances sont grandes et peu importe le trajet que vous suivez, vous allez toujours vous éloigner de votre destination avant d'y arriver. Ensuite, parce qu'il y a présentement des travaux d'infrastructure majeurs à la grandeur de la ville. Vous pourriez penser que de faire un nouveau réseau de train est un projet qui se fait par phases, mais non... À Addis, toutes les artères principales ont été creusées en même temps! Ça n'a pas l'air de déranger les locaux qui continuent de vaquer à leurs occupations en circulant dans les tranchées parmis les tas de roches, les barres d'acier et les occasionnelles équipes de construction. Heureusement qu'il ne semble pas y avoir de bureau de santé et sécurité au travail parce que l'ensemble de la population serait obligée de porter des bottes de travail et des casques de construction!

Lors d'une de nos longue marche épique, nous avons trouvé des livres en anglais, ce qui est une rareté ici. J'étais tellement contente, que j'ai attiré l'attention d'un monsieur gentil avec ma petite danse de victoire. Il s'en est suivi une longue conversation sur le chemin du retour, puisqu'on marchait dans la même direction; suivi d'une invitation à aller écouter le football sur la télé de sa belle-soeur. Normalement, on est anxieux des gens qui nous offrent quelques chose ou qui nous invitent quelque part. Avec Elias, on avait un bon feeling! C'était intéressant de faire une vraie cérémonie de café. Chelsea a gagné 2-1 contre Crystal Palace, au grand bonheur de notre hôte! On est aller célébrer au resto et ensuite il nous a invité dans un Azmari Bet. C'est une sorte de bar où des comédiens-chanteurs improvisent de l'humour chanté au dépend des spectateurs. La musique et la danse était excellente et, évidemment, on était clairement le centre d'attention dans cette place qui ne voit pas souvent des étrangers. On n'en revenait pas de notre belle rencontre quand sur le chemin du retour notre ami s'est essayé à demander qu'on lui prête de l'argent. Même si on a pu refuser poliment, c'est quand même une situation ennuyante. On fini par suspecter tout le monde de juste vouloir notre argent, même quand la rencontre semble authentique.

Un mot sur le football en Éthiopie: omniprésent! Le English Premier League et suivi religieusement et Dieu sait que les Éthiopiens sont pieux! Du nord au sud, David s'est fait dire qu'il ressemble à Robin Van Pierce, un joueur vedette pour Manchester United. Allez voir sur Internet et dites nous ce que vous pensez de la ressemblance.. Moi, je dis beaux bonhommes!

Haile Gebrselassie Road

17 décembre 2013


Par une chance extraordinaire, notre hotel à Lalibela avait une connection Internet quasiment décente. Nous en avons profité pour ajouter quelques photos à notre album Flickr. Cliquez sur le lien Photos du menu ci-dessus pour voir encore plus de Dubai et de l'Éthiopie jusqu'à maintenant.

Due to some extraordinary luck, our hotel in Lalibela had a quasi decent Internet connection. We took the opportunity to upload a few pictures to our Flickr account. Follow the Photos link in the menu above to see more of Dubai and Ethiopia up to now.

Églises rupestres du Tigray et de Lalibela

Nos derniers jour dans le circuit touristique du nord nous ont fait visité une série d'églises rupestres creusées directement dans le roc. Les églises de Tigray sont creusées à flanc de montagne avec une façade ajoutée subséquemment. Elles sont souvent difficile à atteindre, nécessitant de marcher quelques heures dans les champs et parfois même un peu d'escalade! La plupart des gens les visitent en organisant un 4x4 avec guide, mais, dû à notre grand désir d'aventure, nous avons eu beaucoup de plaisir à les explorer par nous même en utilisant les transports locaux. Bon, ça à fait que l'on à réussi à en visiter seulement 2.5 en 3 jours (on n'a pas réussi à trouver le prêtre pour nous ouvrir la porte d'une d'entre elles), mais c'était bien agréable de rencontrer les locaux dans leurs villages et de partager leurs transports.

Les églises de Lalibela ont été encore plus impressionnantes. Creusées directement dans le sol de la montagne, elles sont entièrement sculptées dans le roc. C'est assez bizarre de savoir que ces structures sont à proximité, mais de ne les voir que lorsque l'on se trouve à côté de l'excavation. Elles ont l'avantage d'être regroupées, ce qui rend la visite plus pratique que pour celles de Tigray et, à mon plus grand plaisir, elles sont parsemées de tunnels et cachettes secrètes qui m'ont fait sentir comme Indiana Jones.

Petite note sur nos expériences avec les transports Éthiopiens, maintenant que nous avons un peu plus de pratique: il faut persister pour se rendre à un agent officiel de la station d'autobus pour savoir le tarif et l' horaire de départ. Cela veut souvent dire de se battre pour ignorer la multitude de gens qui veulent nous "aider" en nous indiquant le minibus qui charge le triple ou le quadruple du prix, tarif faranji(étranger), car le dernier autobus officiel est "déjà parti". La plupart du temps, ils veulent seulement faire une commission et se soucient peu que l'on se rende à destination. Il nous est même arrivé que le minibus dans lequel on a embarqué change la destination et le prix en milieu de chemin! Les autobus officiels ne sont pas nécessairement comfortables ou rapides, mais ils sont réglementés pour s'assurer que même les touristes paient le prix local et qu'il n'y ait pas plus d'une personne par siège dans l'autobus.
Tigray - Église de Abraha Atsbeha
Lalibela - Église de Bet Giyorgis

09 décembre 2013

Danakil Depression

The Danakil Depression is often described as the most inhospitable place on Earth. It is also home to the nomadic Afar tribe, which have a reputation for being fierce. This is where we went for four days in search of adventure, volcanic activity, desert landscape and cultural encounter.

Since it's impossible to travel independently in the Danakil, due to the volatile security situation in the region (a few tourists have been killed last year), we had to arrange a tour. The party included a guide, three drivers and their Land Cruisers, a cook and various Afar police and army soldiers picked up along the way. We also traveled with Robert and Liz, our good friends from the Simiens Mountains, and four other travelers rounded up in Mekele.

What we were imagining to be a dangerous expedition, turned out to be just a normal tour without any incidents. It took two days to get to the first site of interest: Irta'ale volcano. Although most of the journey was off road on desert track, we didn't suffer too much in our air conditioned vehicles. Even the temperature, was relatively mild this time of year; around 35C compared to the 55C it can reach.

We arrived at the base of the volcano early in the evening, after what was a rather long and boring ride through the desert. Maybe because we have seen arid regions before, we were not particularly impressed with the surroundings.

The climb to the summit was a two and a half hour trek to the permanent lava lake, where we arrived long after sunset. Fortunately, it was incredibly rewarding. We were standing right on the edges of the crater, about five meters above the constantly bubbling and exploding melted rock. At one point, the lava was erupting so violently that we were slightly concerned of being too close and risking to be splashed.

The volcano really did put a great show for us, but it was the last morning of the excursion to the Dallol area that was really worth the trip. We think that budget or time conscious travelers could skip the volcano to concentrate on this part. During that half day before our return to Mekele, we saw a large plain of colourful salt formations, bubbling oil in Martian landscapes and crystallised salt caves. We also paid a brief visit to the Afar salt mine where the men are still working traditionally to carve the dried-up sea and load the mineral on camels.

The cultural encounter with the Afar was very brief and a bit of a let down. Apart from the men we saw breaking the salt crust into blocks, we only spent a few nights in a half village/half tourist camp,  where only a few Afar women and their children where living in miserable conditions. We didn't get much chance to experience their tenacious nomadic culture and we were simply left with an impression of struggling peoples.

Perhaps this trip was not entirely what we were expecting, but the last day sites were incredible, and the experience was well worth it.

Irta'Ale volcano
Dallol area
Afar men working at the salt mine. 

01 décembre 2013

Aksum et Mekele

Ça fait déjà quelques jours que nous n'avons pas donné de nouvelles. C'est en grande partie parce que nous avons passé les derniers jours à faire plus de déplacements que de visites.

Nous sommes passés par la route scénique dans les Simiens pour nous rendre à  Aksum. Disons qu'après 13h à monter et descendre des montagnes dans un autobus tape-cul sur un immense chantier de construction qui fait la longueur du trajet et avec un mal de coeur terrible causée par un parasite que j'ai probablement attrapé en mangeant un burger douteux, elle devient pas mal moins scénique, la route...

Aksum s'est avéré être un peu décevante aussi. Historiquement, en 400 av J.-C., c'était la capitale du royaume Aksumite et un centre de commerce important dans la région. De nos jours, il ne reste qu'une petite ville de 50 000 habitants et quelques stèles, la plupart écroulées. C'est aussi, selon la légende locale, l'endroit où l'Arche qui contient les Dix Commendements est gardée, après que l'empereur Menelik I, l'ait substitué au roi Salomon. Évidemment, ils ne laissent pas n'importe qui s'approcher, surtout pas nous!

Nous avons du quitter la ville le lendemain, car tous les hôtels de la ville étaient réservés pour une grosse cérémonie religieuse. Donc, nous revoilà encore dans un autobus pour 10h, direction Mekele. Au moins,  c'est sur de l'asphalte cette fois.
En chemin, nous sommes passés près des Églises de Tigrai, que nous allons visiter plus tard. À part pour une petite visite au marché de Mekele, où la variété de produits et épices nous a surpris, nous sommes resté tranquilles.

Pour les prochains jours, nous allons voir le Désert Danakil, l'endroit le plus chaud (+50°C) et le plus bas du monde (125m sous le niveau de la mer). Les paysages devraient être à couper le souffle!

En passant, ne vous inquiétez pas, j'ai pris mes pilules et Gardia ne pullule plus en moi. Gen gratte moins souvent ses galles et recommence presque à avoir de la peau à la place des piqûres de punaises.

Stèles d'Aksum
Marché de Mekele

26 novembre 2013

Simien Mountains

On our eventful bus ride to Gonder, we met Aussie couple Robert and Liz and amateur ornithologue John from England. Together, we decided to share the cost of a 5 days/4 nights trek to the Simien Mountains. We dealt Effrem at Lodge Fasil who,  despite being in the mist of becoming a new father, was very helpful in setting the expedition for us. On top of a very fair price, he also provided us with discounted rooms at his very neat and upmarket lodge on our return. We highly recommend his services if this post inspires you to trek the Simiens (+251911017991, beffrem@yahoo.com).

The crew included a guide, an armed scout, a cook, an assistant cook and mule men with their animals. The armed scout is compulsory by the Park authority, but is more for show than necessity. There was no signs of trouble or dangerous animals in the mountains. We doubt that our scout even had a bullet in is very vintage riffle!

The Simien Mountains are one of the most beautiful place we have seen on our travels. It is definitely a paradise for trekkers. The jagged peaks rise up above 4000m and provide an ever changing paysage, making the daily walks interesting. The trek itself is not too difficult: the footpath generally rising or descending gradually. Having our tents and gear setup and a cooked meal at the end of each day also contributed to a plaisant experience. We could have hired the men and the gear ourselves at the Park Headquarters in Debark, but without speaking amharic, it would have been quite an adventure in itself.

The wildlife is abundant and very easy to spot. We could sit quietly in the middle of a group of Gelada Baboons or spot Walia Ibex at only a few metres. The prey birds were everywhere, flying closely below or above us, depending on where we stood on the ridges.

The park is not only a natural reserve, it is also cultivated by people. The landscape is a colourful patchwork of fields on the plateaus below the sculptural summits. Our guide organised an impromptu coffee ceremony in one of the villages along the way. We had to contribute a small fee, but we were glad to pay as the family welcome was genuinely sincere and joyful. Their living conditions are incredibly harsh and we are certain that this little income will be put to good use.

For November, the weather was anormally wet and cold. During the bulk of the day, we had nice sunshine but at the end of every day we had a bit of rain. This usually happened after we reached camp, but on the third night we were hit by a hail storm and ended up drenched and cold. Our tent and mattresses were soaked and we had to find shelter at a nearby lodge.

Finally, a bit of advice if you want to visit the Simien Mountains: bring your own sleeping bags, possibly even mattresses and tent. The ones on offer are very old and not warm enough for the weather. Also, you really want to avoid being covered in itchy bed bug bites like Geneviève! I guess that's the drawback of traveling light...

From left to right: Robert, Liz, Effrem, John, David, Geneviève, Tadro and Zenoba.

Walia Ibex

20 novembre 2013


Continuant notre boucle au nord du pays, nous passons par Gonder, une ancienne capitale Éthiopienne. Nous y avons visité l'enceinte fortifiée au coeur de la ville qui rassemble plusieurs châteaux datant du 17e et 18e siècles.

Pour les cinq prochains jours, nous partons en randonnée dans les montagnes du Simien avec des amis Australiens et Anglais. Cela devrait mettre à l'épreuve nos capacités physiques! On vous en reparle au retour.

Bahir Dar

Note: Nous n'avons pas la patience de traduire toutes nos entrées, surtout que vous pouvez traduire avec l'outil Google dans le menu à droite. Dans un soucis d'équitabilité pour nos amis Québécois et Australiens, nous allons écrire parfois en français et parfois en anglais.

Our first excursion outside of Addis Ababa, towards Bahir Dar, provided us with our first glimpse of the remarkable Ethiopian countryside and our first experiences with transportation.
There are some comfortable air-conditioned buses for long distances and we were quite happy with our ride for the 10h+ journey to Bahir Dar.

For our day trip to the Blue Nile falls (see pictures below), we survived an army of touts at the bus station and waited for a minibus to fill  with locals before finally starting towards our destination. Leg room and comfort was not an option, but it was fun to travel with Ethiopians.

When we decided to go to Gonder, we were offered to join other tourists in a contracted minibus. The price seemed fair and not having to wait for departure was a bonus. The ride was without incident until we got pulled on the side of the road by a police woman. A long argument in Amharic started with our driver and we were finally ordered back to our starting point, to our great frustration and confusion. However, the outcome was not what we were expecting! It turned out that the driver didn't have the proper permit to contract transportation and had overcharged us. We got reimbursed our original fare, asked to pay the much cheaper normal price and got to keep the same private transport to Gonder! Ok, it didn't stop our driver to supplement his earning by taking a few locals along the way. Nevertheless, we learned that officials won't accept unscrupulous individuals who try to abuse our lack of understanding of local pricing! We also learned to ask for the right paper as well.

18 novembre 2013

Addis Ababa

English version follows

Même après tous nos voyages dans des pays en voie de développement, nous n'étions pas préparé pour le choc initial d'Addis Ababa. Nous avons eu une première impression de condition misérable et de chaos que nous n'avions jamais vu dans une capitale auparavant. Heureusement, le délicieux café éthiopien et les gens chaleureux nous ont fait surmonté ces premiers moments difficiles.

Durant les premiers jours, nous avons visité notre ancêtre Lucy ainsi que de nombreuses églises orthodoxes. Il semblerait que les locaux sont des gens pieux et que leurs cérémonies religieuses prennent des proportions épiques.

Even with all our traveling in developing country, we were not prepared for the initial chock of Addis Ababa. Our first impression was of chaos and dismal conditions never seen in a capital before. We got over it, thanks to wonderful Ethiopian coffee and welcoming people.

In our first few days, we have paid a visit to our ancestor Lucy and to numerous orthodox churches. It seems that the locals are very pious and their religious ceremonies take impressive proportions. 

12 novembre 2013


Après quelques jours à Dubai, nous sommes finalement en route vers l'Afrique. C'était un bref séjour, mais nous avons bien apprécié le luxe de la place.

After a short stay in Dubai, we're finally on our way to Africa. We really enjoyed the luxury of the place.

11 novembre 2013

The essentials

David talked about blogging light in his last post,  but beside taking as little technology as possible,  we also like to travel with small backpack. This wasn't always the case has I remember carrying 60L rucksack in Peru and Galapagos Islands. We have learned from our mistakes and nowadays,  we much prefer 20L carry-on bags.  We don't need to check them in airplanes, it's easier to keep an eye on them in crowded buses and they don't break our backs.

A lot of people have asked what we bring with us for a 6 months journey. Since our long trip in South East Asia and other shorter travel,  we made a list of what has proven useful for us and this is what is coming with us this time. This gear is all we need to cover the activities we like to do when traveling: sightseeing, casual dining, bush walking,  canoeing.  For activities that requires more equipment like scuba diving and longer trek,  we rent what we need as we go.

- 1x hat
- 1x good walking snickers (much lighter than hiking boost,  yet sufficient for long walks)
- 1x sandals
- 1x soft shell jacket (light and water resistant.  If we do feel like getting out in torrential rain,  we can always add a plastic poncho over)
- 1x long sleeve fleece
- 2x long sleeve t-shirts
- 3x t-shirts
- 1x trouser (confortable enough for hiking,  but also wearable in the city)
- 1x bermuda (more appropriate than shorts in more conservative country)
- 1x long dress / shirt (for more dressed up occasions)
- 1x swimmers
- 6x underwears
- 4x socks
- 1x small headlight
- 1x spectacles / sunglasses
- 1x pareo / lightweight travel towel
- passport / travel documents / vaccination booklet

Between the two of us,  we share:

- point and shoot camera
- small first aid kit
- toiletry kit (we buy all liquids locally to avoid hassles in airport)
- malaria pills
- Android tablet
- guide book (David would love to have a digital version,  but I like the paper copy)
- reading book (I know... I could save some weight or carry a dozen digital books like David,  but I love exchanging my paperbacks with other backpackers')
- deck of cards
- notebook and pen

That's it! Total weight: 6.5kg for Geneviève and 7.2kg for David.

08 novembre 2013

Blogging Light

This is it, first entry into this blog for a long time!

French disclaimer: Desolé pour les francophones, mais après 7 ans en Australie, c'est beaucoup plus simple pour nous d'écrire dans la langue de Shakespeare. Vous trouverez l'option pour traduire avec Google Translate à droite de la page.

I thought it would be appropriate to start this blog by describing the set up we will be using throughout our African trip. I have long been an adept of traveling light and I couldn't see myself lugging a heavy laptop in our small backpacks (see Gen's entry soon about that). However, in 2013, it is almost inconceivable to embark on any journey without that essential piece of technology.

The compromise was to go with a portable tablet and I have found the perfect one in the Nexus 7. It is fast, has a great form factor and light weight, and best of all, it is relatively cheap. That way, if something happens during our trip and it gets broken or stolen, I won't cry as much as if it was a 2000$ toy from a certain fruit company!

There are a few drawbacks from using a proper laptop and I'm already experiencing the first one: typing is not as easy. I have splurged(!) and got a mini keyboard case from Minisuit which helps a bit, but it is still not the same. It does auto-complete through the SwiftKey app, which is awesome at typing prediction, so I might be enjoying that part of it. Another advantage of the bluetooth keyboard is that the whole screen of the tablet can be used to see what I'm typing, instead of having the bottom half taken by the virtual keyboard.

Anyway, the real test will be when Gen types her entry later on. I will have to make sure there are no sharp objects nearby!

Photography is an important part of traveling to keep memories and share them. We have opted to use a point and shoot camera for this trip, the Sony HX20V. We already did great shots with it during our trip in New Zealand that you can see using the Photos link at the top of the page.

The sharing bit is where things become tricky. We wanted to be able to upload our best shots to the cloud, but tablet and app makers are expecting photos to be taken using the device's camera, not to import them via an external one. Not phased by a challenge, I did find a workaround that seem to work quite well so far. It simply involved rooting the tablet (not so hard with all the guides online) installing Stickmount and finding a microUSB to microUSB OSM cable. The later was definitely the hardest part, although I did find one on a Canadian hacker tools site online.

In hindsight, a wifi camera might have made all this much easier, but this setup does offer the advantage of selecting the photos on a bigger screen. Plus, with apps like F-Stop, we can rate and tag the photos directly on the simcard so when we import the whole lot at the end of the trip, it will make the sorting much easier.

Ok, I promised myself I would make short entries for this trip... Oh well, maybe next time!

The last thing I wanted to touch on was some technology security features that we will be trying in the next few months. First one was turning on the Android Device Manager on the Nexus 7. This will allow us to remotely lock or erase the tablet if it gets lost.

Also, since we will be on shared wifi all the time, and we're not sure how much we can trust those in Africa, I did subscribe to a VPN service: HideMyAss. It's one of the best rated one, with the most servers and reliable speeds. For those who don't know what a VPN is (like me, not that long ago), it creates an encrypted tunnel for Internet traffic to go through between the device and their server. Amongst other benefits such as hiding the user's identity, this prevents anyone from snooping on communications along the way, thus keeping those banking passwords safe.

Alright, that's enough for me today. I am planning on keeping this entry up to date with our experience with this technology. Fellow geeks / travelers, please enter your tips and suggestions in the comments or feel free to ask questions if you want.