We recently returned from our inaugural Ethiopia and Somaliland tour. The trip didn't get off to the best start when the hotel we were staying in burned down on the first morning! The historic Taitu Hotel in Addis Ababa was the oldest hotel in Ethiopia and it was terribly sad to see a piece of history up in flames. Luckily no one was injured and one of our clients 'Clem' Clemson was on hand to give a first hand witness report to the Daily Mail.
The highlight of our trip was undoubtedly the extension to the other worldly Danakil Depression where we witnessed everything from live lava lakes, volcanic roads, camel caravans, salt lakes and amazingly colorful hydrothermal field at Dallol.
In Harar we fed wild hyenas and kites whilst in Somaliland many of the group became genuine Somalian citizens after picking up passports on the black market in Hargeisa!
Our 2016 trip will run in January 2016. Half of the 16 available polaces have ben booked up already so get in touch soon if you'd like to join us. We will also be offering the chance to do extension trips to Djibouti, Eritrea and Sudan. Details will follow soon.
You can find photos and videos from the trip at the links below:
Danakil/Ethiopia/Somaliland photos (by Tonis Hobejogi)
Ethiopia and Somaliland highlights video (by Tom Sanderson)
Welcome to our new blog page! We will be updating this page regularly with details of our upcoming tours, new destinations, tour blogs and general musings. To start with, here is an article that caught our eye in an edition of the Tehran Times:
Forty five years ago, the United States sold my country a research reactor as well as weapons grade uranium as its fuel. Not long afterward, America agreed to help Iran set up the full nuclear fuel cycle along with atomic power plants. The U.S argument was that nuclear power would provide for the growing needs of our economy and free our remaining oil reserves for export or conversion to petrochemicals.
That rationale has not changes. Still, after the Islamic Revolution in our country in 1979, all understandings with the United States in the nuclear field unravelled. Washington even cut off fuel deliveries to the very facility it supplied. To secure fuel from other sources, Iran was forced to modify the reactor to run on uranium enriched to around 20 percent. The Tehran research Reactor still operates, supplying isotopes used in the medical treatment of 800,000 of my fellow Iranians every year.
But getting to this point wasn't easy. In 2009, we put forward a request to the International Atomic Energy Agency for fuel for the reactor as its supply was running out, threatening the lives of many Iranians. When we agreed to exchange a major portion of our stock of lower enriched uranium for reactor fuel in 2010 - a proposal by the Obama administration - the response we got from the White House was a push for more U.N Security Council sanctions.
Again, we did what every government is obliged to do: protect and ensure the well-being of our citizens. Thanks to the grace of God and the hard work of our committed and growing cadre of scientists, we managed to do something we have never done before: enrich uranium to the needed 20 percent and mold it into fuel plates for the reactor We have never failed when faced with no option but to provide for our own needs.
All relationships - whether between parents and children, spouses or even nation-states - are based on trust. The example of the Tehran Research Reactor vividly illustrates the key issue between Iran and the United States: lack of trust.
We have strongly marked our opposition to weapons of mass destruction on many occasions. Almost seven years ago, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei made a binding commitment. He issued a religious edict - a fatwa - forbidding the production, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons. Our stance against weapons of mass destruction, which is far from new, has been put to the test. When Saddam Hussein attacked us with chemical weapons in the 1980's, we did not retaliate with the same means. And when it comes to our nuclear energy program, the IAEA has failed to find and military dimension, despite an unprecedented number of man hours in intrusive inspections.
Being sovereign and independent does not mean that there is no room for dialogue or diplomacy. It means that one enters and debate as an equal, based on mutual respect and justice. To reestablish trust, all sides must assume an honest approach with a view toward moving past the barriers to sincere dialogue.
A key aspect of entering a conversation based on mutual respect is recognizing the other side’s concerns as equal to one’s own. To solve the nuclear issue, the scope of the upcoming talks among Iran and the “P5+1” (the United States, Britain, China, France, Russia and Germany) must be comprehensive. The concerns of all sides must be addressed. Complex matters that have been left unaddressed for decades cannot be solved overnight. Another sign of mutual respect is a willingness and readiness to both give and take, without preconditions. This form of reciprocity is distinct from approaches that involve only taking. Most important, and this cannot be stressed enough, is that dialogue must be seen as a process rather than an event. A house can burn to the ground in minutes but takes a long time to build. Similarly, trust can easily and rapidly be broken, but it takes a long time to build.
If the intention of dialogue is merely to prevent cold conflict from
turning hot, rather than to resolve differences, suspicion will
linger. Trust will not be established. Despite sanctions, threats of
war, assassinations of several of our scientists and other forms of
terrorism, we have chosen to remain committed to dialogue.
In the upcoming talks, we hope that all sides will return to the negotiating table as equals with mutual respect; that all sides will be committed to comprehensive, long-term dialogue aimed at resolving all parties’ outstanding concerns; and, most important, that all sides make genuine efforts to reestablish confidence and trust.