map-of-west-coast-cities-regions-on-outline-maps-and-links-directions-florida-city-googleFor a long time, I have identified the word "key" (Key West, Florida Keys) with the English word 'key", but after coming to Florida, I learned that this word has nothing to do with a 'key.' It is the abbreviation of the Spanish word "Cayo",  which means “small island”. To get it right it is a group of small islets stretching from the continental part of southern Florida – the Bay of Biscay and the end of Dry Tortugas  some 108 km away. From the well-known Key  West (Key West island, which comes from the Spanish language – Cayo Hueso – the island of Bones). The island archipelago consists of about  1700  larger and smaller islands, which occupy about 356 sq kilometer area (data from Wikipedia). The island's joins 42 bridges and the US-1 highway, atsisiųstistarting in Key West, extends 3813km. The part of the road connecting the islands is called the  Highway of the Ocean. I passed a short sections on this highway going to St. Petersburg, Sarasota, Siesta Key, Naples and a beautiful bridge across a Gulf of Tampa Bay. Thanks to friends who traveled me to the remarkable coastline of Florida's Caribbean Bay I saw Florida's beauty and diversity.I started my trip in one of the most famous islands in Keys, Key West. Key  West – this is a city that was set up as a shelter for the victims of the Caribbean reef rescue, later becoming a place of colonist escaping from the War of Independence. For a long time, Key West was the most significant and busiest town in the whole of Florida, because it was close to the Bahamas and Cuba and provided a trade route up to New Orleans.  Also, people such as E. Hemingway, J.  Buffet, T. Williams, running away from the cities noise, have found refuge here.

IMG_6058H.S.  Truman's House-Museum, where he usually spent the winter time. 

_DSC0455 E. Hemingway's house, as a wedding gift, was bestowed by a rich uncle, his second wife, Paulina. In this house, E. Hemingway lived in 1931-1940. Here he wrote his famous novels "Farewell to Arms", "For Whom the Bell Tolls," a series of short stories. Because of his goodwill, constant humor, simplicity, and most importantly for deep,  not superficial   interest in humanity he soon became familliar and  loved the local population.   The problematic and meaninglessness of life the people of Key West in the days of the Great Depression and at the dawn of the Cuban Revolution he described in the novel " To Have and Have Not." Now the Home- Museum of E. Hemingway is visited by tourists and is home for the six- or seven-toed polydactyl cats descended from E. Hemingway's original pet "Snowball."_DSC0520




_DSC0531  Although now the islands are not as remote as before, Key  West has retained the place as "edge of the world" because of its characteristic white wooden house with beautifully carved balconies, antique bars, _DSC0538narrow streets._DSC0529 The main Duval street (named after the first governor of the island) goes across the island from the Atlantic to the Caribbean Gulf.  Here you can feel the spirit of real American life as it has always here has been. From the very morning, till late night there are many bars, pubs with various music.

_DSC0481At sunset,visitors and local artists gather  on the docks at Mallory square to celebrate the end to another tropical day. Musicians,juggers, mimes and the ocasional fire-eater entertain you while local food vendors keep you fed.


The daily celebration has IMG_6011become one of Key West's greatest traditions. 

_DSC0457 The lighthouse, built in 1847, is perfectly visible from all parts of the town. The beacon was heightened several times, works now its light spreading several kilometers to the Caribbean IMG_6090 (Edited)Bay.

IMG_6052 (Edited) Key West is the southernmost point on the American continent, marked by a sign similar to a sea buoy. There is a Museum of 1280px-FortzacharytaylorArt, a historical site – the Zachary Tailor Fort, built in 1845-1866 as American naval base during the American Civil War. The oldest aquarium in Florida, built in 1932-34. At that time, it was the first and most significant aquarium in America.  In a short time (on the island I was only 1.5 day), it was difficult to walk around and see everything. It was sad to leave this incredible island where E. Hemingway's legend is still alive. The prototypes of his novel's (conch peoples) you can meet on the streets even today. IMG_61030b _DSC0556












Late in the evening, a flight to Tampa, the largest city in Florida on the Caribbean Gulf, where a family of Lithuanian friends was waiting, ready to show off the other beauties of the Caribbean Bay of Florida.

IMG_6177 (Edited)We started  from   St. Petersburg. It is the second largest city in Florida, founded in 1888. Since it has about 361 days of sunshine, the city is also called the "City of the Sun" or nicknamed St. Pete. 

IMG_6156 (Edited) IMG_6170  In the center of the city is the Botanical Garden, named Sunken Garden.  Garden is placed  on the bottom of a drained lake so is called Sunken Garden. In 1903, the four-acre property purchased by George Turner, Sr., a plumber, who was an avid gardener.  He drained a shallow lake, which had filled an ancient sinkhole and dropped 15 feet below street level to provide fertile soil to grow fruits and exotic plants from all over the world.

_DSC0591There are small ponds with flamingos in them.  The spectacular, small downtown, ocean views between homes and white sandy beaches, the palm trees looked like a brightly painted picture. I didn't find _DSC0637another comparison of St. Pete.





_DSC0671_DSC0656_DSC0661_DSC0685To find the Venetian palace in Sarasota also was a surprise.  Sarasota city is  a group of islands: Lido Key, Siesta Key, Longboat Key, and others. In 1925, circus impresario John Ringling decided to build an art museum, both as a legacy meant to outlast his business interests and as a memorial to his wife Mable and himself.  By sharing the arts of Europe with the people of Florida, Ringling sought to educate and encourage curiosity for the full world.   The Renaissance-style palace is now called simply Ringling. They feature 21 art galleries, garden,  antique sculptures. The entire complex consists of the historic Ca'd'Zan Manor, the terrace overlooking the ocean, the Art Library, two circus museums, and the historic Asolo Theater. The Ringling architecture of Italy has influenced and the downtoun  of _DSC0650Sarasota – many old downtown houses resemble Italian style, even the Sarasota symbol is a copy of Michelangelo's David sculpture._DSC0676

 _DSC0653_DSC0569      Mr. J.  Ringling well-known from seven brothers, five of whom were traveling circus

artists and created the circus as it is today.





 Crossing the Tampa Bay Bridge, another cozy  place on the island of Mark-Naples. The city of Naples founded during late 1880. Naples caught on when promoters described the bay as "surpassing the bay in Naples, Italy."  Naples is a paradise for fishers, lovers of underwater swimming.okeanas 400

_DSC0586_DSC0596Florida- translating from Spanish – the "Land of flowers." This name gave the Spaniard  Juan Ponce de Leon in  1513m. It is a real Land of Flowers, beautiful with its weather, vegetation, waters, people. People. They are not the same as those described in the books of E. Hemingway. "Because we are hopeless, he said. – We don't have anything to lose. We have already been fully exhausted. However, we can't do anything about it, because we're so beating that our only solace is drink and the only pride is that we can endure everything. But not all of them. Some may give back "( E. Hemingway" Have and Don't Have ").Today   the people of the islands are mixed, white, Cuban, Mexican. Many emigrants from all corners of the world. Moreover, where are they not?

IMG_6178I would like this to be not my last trip to this beautiful  Flower Land. Who knows? To fantasize is not forbidden yet.


L. Sarakauskiene:




IMG_6141 (Edited)

in the Sunken Gardens

IMG_6169Next- the pictures:
IMG_6324 (Edited)

sculpture for the end of war


in the distant- another island


on the beach


41 moai-uoste

IMG_3039Many have read books about expeditions of Kon-Tiki and Ra rafts by Norwegian traveler and scientist Thor Heyerdahl.   Is a difficult  to  imagine such journey,  but Heyerdahl proved that a reasonably ordinary raft could take the ocean. After the Easter Island and other islands in the Pacific Ocean, he showed that the first people came to Polynesia not from Asia (as claimed by most scientists) but from America.

And there was an excellent opportunity for me to visit this island full of many unsolved riddles. I think it would be attractive to everyone to read about this- the small island lost in the wide ranges of an ocean. Heyerdahl ran the isle with a raft.  I have flown an airplane from Chile. It was the end of my journey across South America (from the Land of Fire, through Argentina, Brazil, Chile).

IMG_2395The only LAN-Chile airline is flying passengers to this small island. The plane is landing on 1962 American-built one-way airport. There is only one 5-hour flight from Santiago per day, so there are no tourist jam on the island. The landing path goes very close to the shore, so looking through the illuminator, it seems that the plane goes straight into the water. The island could be reached by boat or sailboat, but of course, only single tourists come in that way.

The name  Easter Island, or Rapa Nui or Te Pito O TE (who in the local language means the world navel or a world ship) was given by the island's first recorded European visitor, the Dutch explorer  Jakob Roggeveen, who encountered it on Easter Sunday 5 April in 1722.  Rapa Nui (big Rapa) coined after the slave raids of the early 1860s  and refers to the island 's topographic resemblance to the Bass Islands of the Austral groups. However, Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl argued that Rapa was the original name of Easter Island and that refugees from there named Rapa Iti.  The island from 1888  belongs to Chile. The Rapanui lands of the locals were redeemed (or occupated) by the Chilean government, which controls construction, businesses and tourist flows in  the island. Captain J. Roggeveen has found three  types   inhabitants of the island: black, red, and white. The first inhabitants of the island are believed to have come from the Polynesian islands, but Heyerdahl thinks that the first inhabitants of the island could have been Americans because in the island he found sweet potatoes that supposedly brought travelers from the Amazon. Island area takes about 163 square km.  (This equates to Kaunas area where I live ).

IMG_2641IMG_2557IMG_2573The great secret of the island is the stone sculptures that locals call moai. Statues are thought to have been created more than 400 years ago, but today they are one of the greatest riddles of archeology. The magnificence, energy, seriousness, and mystery of the sculptures are astounding.



IMG_2579216tahai4The statues are gouged with soft rocks from the Raraku volcanic tuff, most of them isolated, others lined up on the pedestal and all face to the island, except for one group of seven moai looking at the oceanIMG_2827. Sculptures vary in size: from half a meter to 22 meters in height, most of them scattered on the slopes of the volcano from which material was made. Some of the sculptures on their heads have red stone headgear that resembles Polynesian hairstyles. Heyerdahl argued that it might be the images of the old Vikings, because the faces of these statues are European, and the Viking hairs were brown. The red stone was taken from the mountain PUA PAO to make hats, and in the old Finnish, "red piajo" means "brown head." Maybe statues had a religious purpose, depicted tribal leaders, or perhaps, according to Polynesian customs, embodied the spirits of their ancestors. When the tribal unrest began, the statues began to be destroyed and finally, the creation of them ceased. Currently, there are about 600 sculptures on the island. The 1960s the southern part of the island was devastated by the tsunami, some of the statues were washed, and the tombs underneath them opened. It turned out that some sculptures were tombstones.IMG_2601



21 Another secret of an island – underground caves, which may have been inhabited by natives.

Smallpox, brought in by  Europeans, was scattered around the island, similar to pox scars are carved in some sculptures. Maybe in the caves, those  infected with this contagious disease were isolated?IMG_2616 The caves are very deep and are thought that caves could connect the island with the mainland. The famous underwater world researcher Jean-Jacques Custo wrote about this. (Jacques-Yves Cousteau). The members of the Heyerdahl expedition were able to descend to a depth of 100 meters and found several small statues, including a woman giving birth, which was made of the most rudimentary basalt found only in Africa.

1orongo jThere is another exciting place on Easter Island, besides the moai and caves.Such is the Orango village in the western part of the island. The ancient inhabitants of the island believed the god  Maké Make. He created everything: sun, water, earth, stars. God came to the island by a flying ship, and himself was winged. The primary purpose of this ancient ceremony was to get the Human-Bird Title. The most honorable young tribal men had to dive from the rocky shore to the ocean and sail to the nearby three islets, where the Black Sea swallows hatched the eggs at that time. The first to find a swallow egg and hand it over to his tribal commander became the winner. Seven of the most beautiful women he got for it, and the winner was named Man – Bird and became the vicar of the god of Make Make for one year.


Another mysterious place in the island is the magnetized stone, which warms up to 100 degrees in the sun, and the four adjacent round stones, which precisely redirected to four sides of the world, do not heat up at all. At the same stone, the compass arrow rotates continuously, and the second's indicator of the clock stops completely.  Was found that this stone on the island appeared about 500 years before the first statues have built. To guess who magnetized and polished stone is no response.  Easter Island does not issue its secrets so easily.

   What were we doing on the island? The big entertainment  there is not, it just lovely to be here.

 IMG_2879IMG_2945IMG_2854IMG_2912 We went to the carnival period: it's like Mardi Gras feast.   Festival on the island is called "Tapati." It was Interesting to observe a walk of a fun-minded masked and dressed people, in which there were a distinctly different (although in the local tradition was also in the masks and paintings on their bodies ) tourists.

23DSC_021125DSC_023327DSC_023930DSC_0255 It was interesting to listen to the sounds of melodic songs, to observe rhythmic ceremonies of dancing. The celebration took place on the ocean shore. Persistent sounds of waves, mixed with the rhythms of the songs and dancing, had been worn by mysticism and surrealism. In the shade of light, the dancing shadows created phantasmagoric images.  It was  difficult  to imagine that somewhere far from  there is another, civilized world.  The beef was baked on the bonfires, the whole island the entire night's sounded with music,  songs, and impressive dances.  And all this spree lasted until the sunrise.  

IMG_2419IMG_2429IMG_2425The Island is very excellent for hiking, cycling and horseback riding or windsurfing. In the evenings it was a pleasure to sit in tiny cafes on the ocean shore, to listen to the unrelenting waves of the ocean wave into the coastal cliffs, with a glass of wine. The good was to relax on a white sandy beach and swim under the ocean waves.

The righteous was  T. Hejerdal, saying that "What unites humanity is natural and must be promoted, and, on the contrary, what separates people is artificial and must be defeated."  I think that traveling is a big one for humanity.  When you  travel not only to acquire new knowledge, but also to communicate with people of different cultures.  We only differ to skin color, life, lifestyle, but not feelings: everywhere people love and hate, get married and divorces, grow children and get older. We travel because  we eager to learn about old civilizations that existed before us expand, our knowledge and see how many unexplored civilizations exist in our world.  Rightly wrote the French philosopher R. Descartes (Rene Descartes): "Traveling is almost the same thing to talk with  people of old  centuries." 

Leonarda Sarakauskiene      More pictures :48 ahu akivi

IMG_2469IMG_2528IMG_2922IMG_244017IMG_2540IMG_2437IMG_275972petro orongo 8IMG_2783



1Africa has two seasons: the dry and heavy rains.  Monthly   various seeds slumbering in dry soil , suddenly become alive after the rain drops and cover the land of lush green carpet. African animal sensed  the smell of rain  starts to run out in  one of the largest migration route- from dry empty lands of National Serengeti park in the region of Masai Mara where they find  a lot of grass, bushes and  trees. The migration starts in August and lasts till October- November. Between November and January begins a gradual migration of animals back to the Serengeti. (“Siringitu” in Masai language means “the place 381where the land is endless.")

We   planned our trip so that we could see this remarkable spectacle. It was peak migration madness time , and we’d watched as hundreds of wildebeest approaching the surging  Mara river, frantically jostling up the steep banks. The million-strong herd was spread on every horizon.   The air is full of primeval African sounds. Increasing zebra snicker merges with sore antelope shout, the snorting and whining. Giraffes stride nodding their long necks and from the high observe the predators in wide endless plains. Elephants patiently follow in a line. At the end of long migratory herbivores columns prowl lions, hyenas, cheetahs, jackals . Above them flutter squads of pink flamingos, Egyptian 411416geese, hawks, eagles.  All this endless column have to cross Mara  river – and there already waiting hungry crocodiles …In that place nature itself decides who will survive and who not The migration felt like being witness to a dramatic historical event, controlled by brutal ,violent forces. It still does. . American traveller McKierman in 1876 described this migration : ”About Africa what I  read in many travel books …if we manage to unleash all the world menageries the sight that I saw that day would be no worth this scenery . I can say that all these impressions couldn’t be photographed  or  told about. You can only feel or see  it. In these moments you can only feel and understand what a huge  price is paid for  survival   in nature: twice a year to do  a stunning circle of life.It embodies scale and mystery , the thin line between survival and destruction , the power to to take life or to transform it. A self- contained,  homogenous, identifiable world,  uncompromissing and irreducible. 207

The great migration images we left in our memories  and headed   to the  biggest Lake Victoria of Africa.45

Its waters surrounded by shores of  Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. Along the coast there are many small villages of fishermen. Not far from coast we pitched our tents.

85 Early in the morning we were awakened by the song of fishermen pulling a net. The song spread from the lake so nice, that we couldn’t believe that   a well-turned choir sings. Our route led toward majestic Ngorongoro crater.

285 Along the way we stopped in the village of local tribe masai. Masai themselves encounters as the highest and most significant African nation. This is militant, livestock tribe.

266284 People live in the small shacks , a small area cordoned off by fence of tree branches. Animals are still an important part of their lives, the more you have     cows,  the wealthier you are. For the bride they  used   pay with cows.   Masai drink not only cow’s milk, but also the blood. With a thin rod they prick a cow’s jugular vein and lower the blood.  Such mixture is considered to be a source of vitamins.  After shortly talk with the Masai , we headed to the world’s greatest Ngorongoro crater.

297 The crater was formed millions of years ago after volcano walls were collapsed. Its diameter is more than 20 km ,the height from the bottom is   600 meters. Ngorongoro crater is so huge  that even has a different weather: on one side could be cloudy even rain, on the other- sunshine.

299 Crater is home to an incredibly rich big game squad : black rhinoceroses, buffaloes, lions. In the middle of crater lies  lake Magadi, in which flamingos like to return  after a major winter migration.

93067076 We set our tents on the edge of slope. We cocooned in our sleeping bags, we held our breath as hyenas, attracted by the smell of a hippo carcass, whooped from the bushes nearby. Somewhere in the vicinity there was a roaring of lions.   Our route led us through Masai lands towards border of Kenya and Tanzania – to  311196199 Amboseli National Park. About this park  E.   Hemingway   said “the pearl of Africa”. This is one of the oldest national park’s in Kenya, founded in 1943. The park is situated right next to the border of Tanzania and Kilimanjaro (5895m.)- a lonely mountain peak in the world. Its luminous white hat is seen from Amboseli Park. This is what we saw. Amboseli park is the land of Masai, here are their villages. “Amboseli” in Masai language means shrivelled dust. This park is known as the largest population of elephants, also here lives lions, hyenas, buffaloes and another African fauna.

Goodbye Africa! I do not describe your cities- I just was in only one- Nairoby  from where was my flight. All the time I spent in nature. I do not want to travel through Africa by comfortable bus, live in comfortable hotels. My choice is to sleep in the tent, to cook meals on a campfire. At night I like to see  when   a billion stars cast an eerie light across a landscape of scurrying shadows. And to look for the South Cross above me.

I sincerely wish, that reading my travel descriptions everyone would understand, that in reality everything is much   simpler than we think sometimes.I am glad to be home, but in the all -moving, all-talking mayhem of modern life my restless thoughts go back to to that great and undefind space – Africa. Otherwise, the mystery of of the Great Circle of Life  remains largely unplumbed to me. Except in my dreams , where it still springs vividly to life.

Leonarda Sarakauskiene:


More pictur14es from my fairy trip :226764




IMG_2992I want to share my memories from my seventh trip to Africa. People are often making assumptions that Africa is a very dangerous, poor and unsafe place. Also, many people still think that Africa is like a one solid country but it is a continent which contains a 54 independent countries. It is a home to more than a billion people, there are many different peoples and tribes  who speak in different languages, has  different religions and their traditions are  very unique. Even the landscape changes from orange Namibian desert to rainforest and powerful waterfall. Serrated mountain peaks with snow caps and glaciers to the volcano with the lava lake on  the top of the volcano Erta Ale and colorful Danakil crater. There are about 2000 languages in Africa. They even have a monument for the African languages. African continent is so big it could fit United States, India, China and part of Europe.

I often ask myself: why Africa is so attractive to me. And I immediately answer: It is hard to describe the beauty of the landscape, wildlife and unlimited freedom. In Africa you don’t feel an age or nationality differences, you just become the part of it the way you were born. It is hard to describe Africa in words: It is so colourful, loud and melodious, it overwhelms all possible senses, because in every step you feel something unusual, unexpected, unimaginable. Everything that you already had read in books looks far from the real emotions you experience being there. No school is able to teach you the lesson of Africa.  Seems like all the crisis in the world – the accumulation of poverty, inequality, and spirituality in the minds of people is intrinsically understandable thing  and  is intended for higher powers and requires  to live in order to survive. The people of Africa are very poor but calmly equalizes with the rest of the world having so much._DSC7647

I used to travel to Africa on my own (accompanying local travel agencies), with friends or through Lithuanian travel agencies.Travel in a group is also  interesting but the next trip I would  prefer to travel alone  or with a smaller number of companions, accompanying by local travel agency.  This time our final destination was Central African states Uganda and Rwanda.27750154_1805713142773747_6353716363818702943_n

_DSC8066Equator passing through Uganda, divides our world into northern and southern hemisphere, where the sun descends perpendicularly to the horizon and equals day to night. Uganda is one of the three African countries surrounding Lake Victoria, the  largest  one in the  continent of Africa,  which I have already seen when  traveled across Kenya and Tanzania. _DSC7837 Our goal was to visit  the Murchison Falls in Uganda – (also known as Kabalegos or Kabaregos waterfall).Murchison  falls -  unique decoration of Nile.

_DSC7853 Waterfall was named after England's Royal  Geographer Society president Roderick  Murchison. This amazing place of nature discovered by Nile explorer Samuel White Baker about  in 1860’s. This waterfall can be seen from a ship sailing through the Nile River. On the shores you can also find hippopotamus, crocodiles and buffalos. We have finally heard  the roaring sound of water and only later saw  the   sparkling  water    falling from the  rocks. It is necessary to get off from the ship and walk up to the top of the hill, to see how the wide  river narrows up to  7 meters and powerful stream of water falling down from the gorge 49 meters height. People saying that sometimes you feel like the earth tremble under your  feet.IMG_2579 We did not feel that but we got the chance to see the wonderful rainbow.  Wildlife in Uganda is protected from extinction. There was a times when reckless were  killed rhinos, gorillas, elephants. In order to save, endangered populations of animals are established to some kind of shelters where they being observed, maintained or treated if necessary. _DSC7984

_DSC7677We walked around rhinoceros "shelter" at Ziva Rhino Reserve, which is currently home to more than a dozen of these huge animals.  Kibale National Park  takes place   and breeds around 13 species of monkeys. At   the park you can find about 70 species of mammals, a multitude different sizes and colours of butterflies and birds. It looks like a natural nature created book, full of differen  colours, vibrant,  surrounded by a variety of sounds. It is difficult to imagine the kingdom of birds at  Magombė swamps Any artist would fail to _DSC8070repeat them natural colour schemes which decorates the nature of his works.

IMG_2720We  moved towards the Rwanda – Congo – Uganda  tropical forests through dry savannah. Here, in this triangle, in  altitude of 1200-2700 meters  of Bwindi impenetrable thick  rainforest are   home to more than half of the world's mountain gorillas, whose life you watch  in their natural environment. Bwindi National Park primeval forest is strongly protected from any human activity in it. Especially Bwindy  impenetrable forest-residential for gorillas, the largest primates are the closest to humans in their appearance and their natural  behavior. Gorillas watching trip  takes about one hour and no more than  8 people can be in a group, you are not allowed to use a flash while making the pictures. Our guides were going first and ‘reaped’ the way using machetes so then we could get through the thorny bushes. We were ‘skiing’ by the gorilla’s nests, trying to find any hole to take a picture. In 1994   national park listed as a UNESCO world heritage as an important habitat of rare species. In the village IMG_2586near the park,IMG_2757 Batva pigmy tribes are living. These people lived in the forests, now expelled from the forest, but  still retains the old traditions and tribal way of life. We  were met  with drums and dances, local peoples  kindly showed their simple way of life._DSC8385

_DSC8366We also  visited  poor rural school  which is lacking books, pencils and also –  teachers. Only thing is not lacking : they’ve enough is a desire to teach. The children understands  that education is the only way from poverty. In our world, schools are open to everyone. We understand that education is our right, not the privilege. In Africa, most of the children don’t even have the opportunity to attend the school for any  reasons: as no money for tuition,  no time to attend school because kids has to work in their parents farm and schools are far  from residential areas. It is hard to imagine that in the 21st century you can still find the children who are not able to attend school. Those happy kids who go to school still have to do some farm work as bringing a tank of water home after classes because  only the school has water-bore._DSC7965_DSC7901


P1080814Clearing out the small border formalities we   found ourselves in the Thousand Hills Land – Rwanda. It is a very small state, three times smaller  than Lithuania, but population of people is three times bigger. Rwanda is considered to be the most densely populated state  in Africa – 1 sq. kilometer is home to about 230 people. Rwanda is  surrounded  by jagged Virunga mountain range. The glacier  on the top of the mountains fills the Nile basin with water. At the dormant   volcanic foothills lies the beautiful shaped lakes. Because of the  very steep shores, lakes in Rwanda has  no hippopotamus or crocodiles, people there do fishing, coasts equipped loggia with beautiful beaches and recreational areas. It is  the real kingdom of birds. In dense tropical forests of Virunga mountain, American scientist and researcher of gorillas D.Fossey lived here for 18 years. In almost 3 km altitude she build the house herself, laboratories and health shelter for gorillas. She changed her comfortable life in America to extreme living conditions in the jungle just for the love of these endangered primates

   IMG_2849 D. FossIMG_2850ey perseverance and determination helped keep  gorillas  from  poachers who were killing them. Due to important discoveries and researches about the primate species D. Fossey has  became  one of the most famous zoologist in the world. Unfortunately  in 1965 she was found murdered in her hut. There is a documentary film about this strong woman called – "Gorillas in the Mist."IMG_2832

It has became a real challenge for us to climb to  the  D. Fossey   remnants of the settlements and the tomb. We had to climb 3 km up to the steep slope. It was very slippery as well.IMG_2860

IMG_2804 We


climbed  via primeval tropical forest-covered mountain, which has  never saw  the sun, the earth slush, long spines bushes tore the hands,  high grass burned our hands. However, we achieved  the difficult  aim. D.Fossey must to be a very strong woman, she had to climb that slope far more times than we did. By the way, the descent was even heavier than climbing  up- we slid, our feet caught on the stones, we kept slipping and falling into the mud.   D.Fossey long and persistent work gave a visible results –  reduced  level of poaching and preserve the mountain gorilla species.

IMG_2948In 1994,  Rwanda survived painful genocide.  In just over 100 days, Hutu tribe extremists killed 800  thousand  Tutsi people,  as well as political opponents, irrespective of their ethnic origin. Today Rwanda is trying to forget this horrific period of  history.  Now it is forbidden to talk about ethnicity. We visited the Genocide Museum in Kigali. We saw the pictures –   innocent victims  of  meaningless murder. There we  have  understood  how unsettled, incomprehensible and inexplicable is the human life. When you talk with Rwandans, you can feel that they are aware of their gruesome history, but ready to  create  a pleasant future. 

_DSC0117Since 1978, Lithuanian missionary Hermann Schulz lives in Rwanda. He  established  an orphans caring homes, schools and houses for villagers to live. He  is  the Father and Mother for orphanage children, the priest takes care of genocide victims._DSC8581  We visited  the  Father’s Herman’s camp. We had a pleasure to meet this extraordinary Man. We all dropped the mask which was hiding our  hearts  We communicated with our hearts instead using the words. But I have a separate story  about  the Father Herman.

Our trip has ended and I started dreaming again about the new trips. We are forever passengers in our life, everything is changeable and incomprehensible but one thing always stays the same – life always has an interesting plan for us.  I believe that there is more of Africa in my plan because, I’m sure, this mysterious continent has an endless amount of adventures ready for me.

Leonarda Sarakauskiee

The pictures below:



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map_of_icelandIceland,  or ice and fire island, as it is written in promotion publications is an island in the north of Atlantic ocean and situates only 300 km. from Greenland. The island is 1,5 times bigger than Lithuania. The population is not huge :only 300 thousands citizens and 200 thousands of them are living in the capital called Reykjavik , which is the most northern capital in Europe. They have got no chimneys as they are using only geothermal energy for heating.  Also,  they don't use any natural minerals for electricity since of 99%  it is generated in geothermal power stations.  Hot water has a pungent sulfur scent, while cold ,is one of the cleanest water in the whole world. The country's economy are depending on fish prices,  therefore, the goverment strictly opposes to the accession the European Union for fear of losing fishing control, because  about  40% of country's total exports consist of fish and its products.



It is believed that the first settlers of Iceland were Irish monks arrived in the island about 800 AD.  Norwegian  Vikings moved to the island about IX-X century. Viking Floki Vilgerdarson gave the current name for the island- Iceland. Up to the 1814 yr. Iceland was a colony of Norway, later belonged to Denmark , in 1944 has been given independence.

_DSC4335It is interesting, that the island is the only place in the world ,which has a visible junction of two tectonic plates. This place is named Almagjau fracture (in local language "a simple man's brake"). In this place- Tingvelirr national park you can visit America and Europe only in a few minutes. There is no better and clearer place in the world shoving how lithospheric plates are moving away from each other. According to researches -Iceland will be split into two parts after many, many years. Every year, the crack increases by 2,54 cm. Now it is 4 meters wide and 40 meters deep. Many million years ago, when a crack opened and magma puffed out, Iceland has been formed as a volcanic island. Near Almagjau fracture, in national Tingvelirr park on 930 AD the oldest parliament in the whole world called Alting was set up. In 1991 with initiative of Iceland Foreign Minister John Baldwin Hanniballon Iceland was the first one who recognized Lithuanian independence after a long lasting dark Russian occupation.That is why Iceland and Icelandic people are very honored in my country.

Why travelling to Iceland was mesmerizing to me ? In my very youth I have read a book written by novelist Jules Verne called "A journey to the centre of the Earth".This story involves German professor Otto Lindenbrock who believes there are volcanic tubes going towards the center of the Earth. He, his nephew Axel and their guide Hans descended into the Iceland volcano Snaefellsjokull,  encountering many adventures before eventually coming to the surface again in southern Italy, at the Stromboli volcano. The idea to visit the land of magnificent volcanos, lava fields and various high and width waterfalls obsessed me and when I got a chance I went there as soon as I could. IMG_2680

It was known that traveling there would not have any comfort : instead of the warm Mediterranean beaches we were expecting a strong winds, rain and the average temperature of +10- 12  degrees even it was the end of July. Fortunately, we escaped the rain.  We had to change  our usual summer shoes into mountain boots and put wind and waterproofed jackets. If you want to see the harsh face of nature, to feel the strength of the wind,  to hear the unceasing songs of the waterfalls and the magnificent beauty of craters at the top of volcano  you must be ready for that.

_DSC4026Beauty of waterfalls, volcanos, glaciers,  lava fields created such a romance which you could not find anywhere else. In some places,  the  landscape looked more like a moon than the surface the  earth.


_DSC2825American astronauts were trained in those lava fields as they needed their eyes inure to the brown –black color of lava and would feel the harsh force of nature when they are left alone with it. Various forms and deeps caves are washed out of lava same as geysers and fumarole geothermal fields – hard to imagine that all has been created by the two elemental forces- water and fire. Travelling across the island you feel an unhurried charm of life and fell in love  with this harsh,  but very hospitable land.



_DSC3334Our journey (by rented SUV ) started in the capital -Reykjavik ("Smokey Bay"in native language) The name was given by sailor called Ingofur Arnarson,  who found this place in IX century. More than half of the Iceland's inhabitants are living in Reykjavik .In the center of city they have an impressive Hallgrim Church, which basalt rocks are recalling the flowing lava._DSC2380 You can see the church from more than 20km. distance,  when  going up on a lift to the church tower you can see a wonderful panoramic view of Reykjavik.

_DSC2432 Near the church –the sculpture of Viking Leifur Eiriccson is built. He was the first known European who discovered a continental North America before Christofer Columbus. The  sculpture was donated to Iceland by America on 1000 th. anniversary of Altingo. There are a lot of cozy coffee shops in the city so as pedestrian streets. Since Icelanders strongly believe in elves and trolls you can see lots of sculptures beside the stores. Icelandic people believe that they are bringing good luck for sellers._DSC3118

Unfortunately,  we had to leave this beautiful city as we had to prepare and hike to the highest cascade of Glymur Falls. To reach it we had to climb up the steep slope while the very strong crosswind was. But the beauty that opened on the top was worth an effort we have put._DSC2445

Catching waterfall cascades were fallen into a narrow mountain gorge,  around it–a field of huge lava stones._DSC2466

They looked like surreal sculptures which being started creating by man but not finished and left as it is. By the way, going down the slope was much more difficult than climbing up, the wind was so strong,  the trail was stony and narrow. One careless step would be enough to fall and go down the gorge._DSC2731

Later on, we headed to Snaefellsness peninsula,  famous for its extraordinary landscape :  variety   of volcanoes, craters, lava fields, black lava beaches and impressive crater of Holahor volcano._DSC3251

_DSC2585Most of Icelandic craters , waterfalls, volcanoes having their own legends


_DSC3135 Godafoss waterfall– was named after God when Icelanders threw all the idols , which they were worshiping, after converting to Christianity. The Swartifoss–dark waterfall. Gulfoss waterfall which in 1907 was saved by a local girl called Sigridur from planning to build a power station.

_DSC4236 There is a monument built for persistent girl just next to the waterfall.

_DSC4216Detifoss waterfall is the most powerful in Europe. Barnafoss (children waterfall)–in accordance with the legend of the Christmas morning. Parents went to the church and children walked behind them. They were trying to shorten the way and go through the stone arch that spanned the ridges of waterfall, but unfortunately ,sank into the water and drowned. After that, their mother cursed the arch and said that everyone that will pass through the arch, die. But after a short time the earthquake broke the arch.

The Swartifoss fall falling from basaltic columns is called troll's fingers.  Seljadenfoss fall which is passable between  cliffs  and water–has name of  "Traders Waterfall "._DSC3877

Iceland is  volcanic island. It contains many volcanos : Hekla, Katla, Efjafadjokulis, Askja, Hvannadalshnukur (the highest peak of country, higest point  2,110 meters)_DSC4048.The most famous is the Efjafadjokudli volcano, which erupted in 2010  when large volumes of dissolved glacier ice flooded up to the ocean, 800 people were evacuated, the erupted volcano spread the massive cloud of volcano ashes,  hence caused the closing of the airspace in the most part of Europe. A documentary film about volcano eruption and its consequences was created and shown by the farmer in the farmstead, located  at the foot of the volcano. _DSC3852

The whole farmstead was covered with thick layer of ashes, but nowadays people are well-kept living there, as well as to live up to the crash. Hekla volcano is called "The gates to the hell"._DSC2475

Because of the centures of oppression and deprivation, Icelanders fostering their language, managed to maintain their national identity and customs.  Icelandic language almost have not changed since Viking times and their myths and tales have passed from mouth to mouth, they started to write much later. It's incredible, that Iceland has the Nobel Prize winner Hallidor Laxness, a great storyteller, excellent painter of Icelandic scenery and settings.

_DSC3936We continued our journey through lava fields, pseudo-craters towards Myvatno (mosquitos) lake._DSC4339 Lake formed about 2300 years ago during the eruption of lava. This is a place of frequent earthquakes. It is real kingdom of birds and also the only place where we found mosquitos.

_DSC3294 We saw another unusual natural phenomenon at the surroundings of lake Myvatna–vapor rasing from the earth –fumaroles and the "dark cities" that has been created by fuzed maze of the hardened lava. It was so pleased to float into the Myvatna geothermal lagoon pool after this long journey. We climbed to the top of waterfalls and volcanic craters and everything was so _DSC3168beautiful that we did not feel the cold wind, which was ripping our clothes or icy needles stabbing our faces. More than 50 hot springs are sprayed in the geothermal valley of southwestern. They are bubbling a dirt from the small holes._DSC4126

_DSC4150There are two powerful geysers –Geysir and Strokur (Mixer). Even the generic word "geyser" comes from a hot-spitting geyser which means "constantly rushing". The stream erupts every 7-8 minutes, rises 20 meters up or even higher. There is the largest glacier in Europe called Vatnajokull with a thickness of up to 1 km. Glacier floats into the ocean and it is a great attraction to sail between big icebergs like in Artic._DSC3715_DSC3714

It is impossible to fit entire unique beauty of nature in a short story. It is necessary to see, to feel the wind power on a volcano crater, see the boundless lava fields,  and image herself being in Arctic when sailing amongst icebergs. Is nice to see the whales playing in the ocean, to smell the sulfur coming from the hot springs , bathe in the famous open– air  "Blue Lagoon".  Great nostalgia occurs when you are  listening  the  endless waterfall music, maybe telling mysterious stories of elves and trolls or of  a  brave Vikings who  found  this island centuries ago…. _DSC3430

_DSC2625Of course,  it was necessary to taste fried whale meat, their delicacies –fried sheep's head and rotted shark. Icelanders are hard working people. Summers here are very short, most of time is just continues polar darkness. The tourist period is very short as well. There is only a few hotels so the students dormitories are transformed into hotels or guest houses at summer time.

_DSC3863_DSC3335There are lots of campsites near the geothermal springs , so the tourists,  living in the tents can rejoice bathing in them after the long traveling day. In summer the country is "occupied" by tourists: cyclists, pedestrians and powerful SUV's. _DSC3995

_DSC3066The vegetation is very poor, even in the botanical garden,  there are no exotic flowers ,only ones that doesn't require a lot of sun and warmness can blossom here. 

Icelanders also have a very interesting forming of surnames: a child gets father's  name with suffix "son" or "dottir"(daughter). They also have one of the longest living age in the world. Icelanders say it's  because of eating a lot of meat and drinking coffee.

What we usually expect from traveling?  For me–journeys fulfill my dreams and lift my life into the  higher level. I love meeting a new people when traveling, listen new languages, became familiar with traditional meals,customs, smells and sounds which are common to this country. When travelling –don't scatter in the past, expect  anything  in  uncertain future, enjoy the present moment. You  experience life in a completely different, unusual rhytm and enjoy knowing that your long awaited dream finally came true.  And don't be afraid to dream big !.

For those who want to know  more about  the Icelanders, their mode of life I would recommend to read the book written by Halligmur Helgason "The Thousand Degree Woman"



















Leonarda Sarakauskiene















529097_492968597423448_1665472634_nWhat kind of holidays are the  most amazing?  Which place in the world you have ever visited is the most inspiring ? For me- the places which were rarely seen by the tourists eyes. The places which I can get known about  reading an articles with experiences from other single travellers . Usually,  when I see the pictures of extra ordinary places, I decide that I have to see it myself and after, I try to do as much research as I possibly could and find the way, how to make my dream come true. That is how, after reading impressive and interesting articles of N. Hulo, Ryan Salm, and seeing unreal pictures on the website about hotest inhabited unique place in the world, I made my decision to visit Ethiopia. An articles and pictures were about the Danakil Depression with the Dalol crater located in just there.20120101_175029 Pictures really inspired me and not left me alone. For a while, nobody from Lithuania was organizing any tours to that place of Ethiopia because of non stable politican situation (as they are having some terror incidences with Eritrea which is located beside The Danakil ),safety reasons and lack of interest from the other tourists. I have found a local travelling agency which was organising the tours to this wild, undisturbed by civilization place. Really to say, I was afraid of being fooled, did not want to  be  left without nothing, so kept searching on the internet ,looking for reviews from other travellers and tryed to find the very best and reliable travelling agency. I took a lot of risks as I decided to travel alone. But on the other hand,  mostly I'm travelling alone. As I am sole traveller, my major concern was safety, given "do not travel alone "status given by my reliatives due to killings, robbery and something else. Since I wanted to visit not only a Danakil Depression, but also a places of the Christian heritages- like  marvellous  Rock Hewn churches of Lalibela ,stelaes of Axum which  are knowing as a place where The Ark of Covenant is being kept, I went there using an individual travelling program which was put together by travelling agency called "Origins Ethiopia Tours & Travel". I am so glad, that everything went smoothly . They took very good care of me. The flight from Vilnius to Frankfurt and then to Adis Abeba took about 8 hours. Trully to say, I felt a slight pang of concerrn -who knows will be I meeted at airport and what would to do if not? But the guest service officer was waited me and I was taken to the hotel. There I was met by mr. Samson Teshome  Demena ,the main head of the travelling agency .We got few details of our trip sorted and the next morning I was ready to take my local flight to the north,city called Mekele from  where I started my journey to Danakil. I was the only one European at the airplane but the locals were so pleased seeing me and kept asking where are  I am from and why and  where I travel alone. _DSC4435At   the Mekele I joined other travellers- a couple from England, german professor of vulcanology and teacher of geography from US. We were leading by three guides ,had a three 4WD  and began our journey After short driving on a paved road we had to turn on  the wild one and for the rest of the day we just continued going through the sandy desert. The heat was hard to handle, all the dust and circling sand created an impression of a surreal world and it makes you feel like a dust yourself and realize, that only water has a real value here. Sometimes it looked as if we're entering a storm at sea. For a while we reached our main campsite, cars had no possibilty go further because of the lava fields. We took only our essiantials for three days (another needed gear was carried by camels) P1080234and continued walking by feet to the first main destination – Erta Ale volcano . In the local language Erta Ale means "A steaming mountain".IMG_0330 This volcano is still active, the last eruption had happened  on   25th.of January,2017.  Erta Alle, Danakil Depression and the Lake Assale  (or lake  Karum ) creates the Afar triangle.On the top of this volcano there is a lava lake. The only five volcanos in the whole  world  are having this tipe of thing. Walking through massive stones of lava was very tiredning because of the dusts, heat and the thirstiness which you can't avoid even drinking plenty of water.  We finally reached our campsite at the bottom of Erta Ale.The plan was to start climbing to the top at the middle of the night  because the weather is going to get cooler at that time. Campsite was undisturbed by civilization, little sheds made by branches looked like being _DSC4445here since the times of D.Livingston when he was travelling around the Africa, looking for the origins of the Nile 170 years ago. Sky was bright and cloudless, through the holes in the roof we could count the stars. Food was incredible:national ethiopic bread "injero " with the rice, pasta and vegetables on top.


We sat round the table and all dipped pieces of the bread into a single dish containing a powerfully delicious the all kind sauces. After that- amazing Ethiopian coffee called "buna ". Around 3a.m. we started walking. It was 13 km. walk through the lava field and 630m. climbing up on the top of the volcano.In the moonlight our walk was very mysterious. This took us 4 hours ,but the scenery was worth all the slight  tiredness we had to experience during  this walk. Note:for those,who feel that will be difficult to walk , there are camels.IMG_20170125_054339 Lava was bubbling, little fires sparkling and the steam going up.13124733_978065392247097_25520375290111044_nThe view was amazingly hard to explain or even to picture as in the photo you can't feel that strong smell of sulfur, sound of boiling hot, bubling lava. That's why the locals started calling this place "the gates to hell ". I couldn't image hell being very different .After walking back and having some rest, me and the rest of my group went to different ways. They continued the journey and went to see the other volcanos. I, together with my guide, went back to the campsite , took our 4WD and started driving to the most unique place in the world – the crater of Dalol located at the depression of Danakil. This had been found by europeans by 17-18 th century but unfortunately after that nobody never organized any tours as the heat was dangerous together with an acid lakes and toxic steams. Because of isolation and non stable political situation ,ferocious tribes  living nearby, nobody was visiting this harsh, inhospitable place , only in 2005, the French explorer and documentalist N. Hulo introduced the the depression of Danakil to an audience. Depression of Danakil is the lowest point on Earth, 136,8m. below the sea level, temperature can reach +45-55 C degrees._DSC4758 This volcano creature is the most eccentric in our planet, which is being known because of very interesting geological structures like hot and soar water, hills of sulfur, little geysers of gas and salt poles. Word "Dalol "in a native Amhar language means "cracked, crushed "_DSC4735. Sometimes geysers and springs are steaming together with the poisonous gas.Non stable base is a real danger for an animals and human beings. It happened after the many floods and low tides by Red sea, created by the sun, wind, sand and salt. I have been to many places in the whole world, climbed volcanos in Guatemala,  Mexico, Hawaii, Reunion, Iceland and so on, but I have never seen anything that awesome landscape , who, looking from afar ,  was similar to an enormous old Persian carpet.P1080336  Place looked so surreal , mesmerizing and absolutely incredible. I was surrounded by lava, salt rocks and the green-blue -orange coloured lakes. I have never seen this before and shall treasure the memory of it. It is  difficult  to reach the Dalol crater. You have to walk about 5 km. through the desert, leaded by the armed security and local people as intermediary, as it is dangerous place since the  intensive situation between an Eritrea and Ethiopia happened. I reckon, that is why here are not creating any infrastructure for tourism  trying to attract  the tourists. The last settlement before lake Assal is village Hamed  Ela._DSC4629_DSC4634 The village is poor:there are no phone connection, no electricity, water supply. Locals live in a tiny  shacks  built by branches ,water is carried in the special canisters from the well in the desert. But this didn't made any inconvieniences to me. In my travels I do not worry too much about my living conditions, meal and another things. What about a meal here, in our living at Hamed Ela? The food, prepared by the guide Habtom and driver Semenh was deliciuos,drinking water was enough. _DSC4652 Local people earning money selling the salt at the closest market in the city Berhale which they are getting from the salt lake using a very difficult manual way._DSC4875 It is incredibly tough work of the salt miners , extracting salt pieces tens of thousands of years ago from this harsh, inhospitable land. I think so  it looks only for us, not  accustomed to see such an unusual to our eyes landscape. The locals love their native land and their hard work. For the transportation they use a camels. When the sun is going down , it's very nice to see an endless convoys of camels carying the massive bricks of salt on their backs. They are leaded by the proud , straight teamsters ,most of them are barefoot or wearing flip-flop sandals ._DSC5004 Apparently their feet are used to be soaked in the salty lake water. The camels draw closer moving with a careful gait, noses upturned, as if finding the whole thing intensely distasteful. Seems like they are being hipnotized by their daily journey, however looking very graceful in motion and in repose.Their long eyelashes can envy any girl .Whenever  we left the most awful place in the world- the crater of Dalol , headed to explore the other, no less  interesting part of Ethiopia :lush history of Ethiopia, amazing heritage of religion,marvelous nature and local people.P1080514 Indeed, the local people are beautiful here :the women are tall and graceful, carying loads on their heads ,are walking with that classic grace which Europian women seem to have lost.


Men long legged and proud, often with sticks in their arms, seemed they are swimming while   walking. Faces are wery symetric , some of the  older people have crosses tattooed on their foreheads.Their skin has a beautiful coppery tint._DSC5436 We were driving past the Great Rift Valley (it's a real miracle created by nature which starts from Lebanon and extends to Mozambique in the south), hills and mountains,and little villages with poor looking huts beside the road. It was already  somebody on the road -walking people, cows, goats or sheeps were always crossing it.P1080476 The road here belongs to everyone._DSC6069 Whenever we stoped to take pictures – kids started surrounding our car , really out of nowhere. We were heading to the Axum city, it was the capital of Ethiopy when the legendary queen of Sheba (or Makeda) was in throne. She met the  king of Israel Solomon after that gave a birth to the son Menelic. Qeen of Sheba is still the main character of religious art. Even Hollywood made a movie called "Solomon and qeen of Sheba". As a legend says – Menelic stole the Ark of Covenant from Jerusalem , where the two tablets of 10 Gods commandments are kept. He brought the Ark to Ehiophy, and at first hid it in the island of lake Tana. After a while it was  moved to Axum st. Mary Sion chapel and it's being kept there since now  even knowing , that nobody ever seen this. Replicas of the Ark are kept in every Ethiopian Ortodox church ,hidden behind the curtain and only a  priest is allowed to see it. An original Ark of the Covenant is looked after only of the one priest and nobody else in the world , any other human being is not allowed to go there and see it. Nobody but that one priest had never seen the Ark . It's the real story or a very deep faith? Nobody can tell. ._DSC5324

_DSC5355The most famous thing in Axum are  the monolitic stelaes which can be found in various sizes. From 1 meter to 20-25 meters high. As researches found it was used as a tombstones. At the 4th century after the christianity was accepted in Ethiopia, building of stelaes had stopped. During the Mussolini invasion in Ethiopia (1935-1944), one of the stelaes was stolen and taken to Rome but in 2005 returned back and restored at  the same place from where it was stolen. Kings and dynasties were changing , time was passing and it changed the lifestyle of the African people, however, the faith, rituals and churches stayed the same since the begining of christianity. Syrians brought the christianity to Ethiopia at the 4th. century. For a while, the community of religious people was very closed, they made very own with  unique traditions an ortodox Tevahedo church. Ethiopians are very religious even nowadays ,everybody can be sure to say that Ethiopia is the realest stronghold of christianity in the whole world._DSC5313_DSC5298

_DSC6258The stone churces of Lalibela are surrounded by the secrets and myths, they are build at the outlying highlands of Ethiopia. Historicans says, that  the churches were built by medieval warriors while coming back from the Saint Land. (G. Hancock, exploring the history of Ethiopia) ,but locals believe, that more than 1000 years ago churches were built by the imperator Lalibela who was helped by angels. It is said, that in one church there is a pillar wrapped in canvas where Lalibela described the construction of the churches , but it is blasphemy to remove this and nobody dare to do it. 

There are 11 chuches altogether built in Lalibela and the biggest one is called "Beta Medhane Alem"(residence of Emanuel ),it takes 800 square meters and is the biggest monolitic building in the world. The majestic casing is held by 72 columns. Half of them inside, half- outside. Incredible thing is "Beta Georgis", st. George church is called after st. George, guard of Ethiopia. The cross shaped church is the miracle of an art of building. Church is made inside a big hollow, after builders had  finished with the windows and the doors they created a space inside. All the churches are connected by the tunnels and it is like a very confusing maze- narrow coridors, underground passages and raillings which are connecting all the churches together. They don't look in their best condition but still  are working. Every church has own priest who is always pleased to show the patrimony of the church- old,around 700 years old Bibles written in an ancient  languages._DSC6221 Piligrims often come visit Lalibela from every place in Ethiopia, some of them just sit on their own and read the Bible. At the very first, the plan was to make Lalibela to  be the new Jerusalem because at this time Jerusalem was occupied by muslims , even the river, which goes through the city was named Jordan.


_DSC6019After leaving an amazing churches of Lalibela ,started going ahead to Tana lake. This lake is the biggest in the Ethiopia and one of the biggest lake of the highlands in the world. There could be find various tipes of plants and animals :crocodiles, hippos, loads of water birds and twenty islands with the unique churches and abbeys. We went on a boat and reached the most famous abbey church Uda Zidane Mhiret  with unique collection of icones  from the 16-17 century. 30 km away from there are the waterfalls of the Blue Nile called "Tis Abay "-streaming water. Water is falling from the 45 m. high ,creating the river from deep between the rocks which from the Blue Nile streams into the White Nile and from then being called just a Nile. Coffee trees are growing in the _DSC5910islands of Tana lake , the word "coffee"was made because of the city called "Kaffa"in Ethiopia. The coffee drinking ceremony is a real ritual and it is made only by women. They are roasting, grinding and preparing only after when coffee is already ordered and it's made in a very tiny cups, sweetened. Beside is placed a little stand with myrrh insence which smell is making a very euphoric atmosphere while enjoying coffee. 

_DSC5687Trip was reaching the end, but before I visited Gondero city on my way back. It's  a city from 16 th. century, the capital of  Fasilido empire. Well preserved Fasil- Ghebbi fortress the residence of dynasty of Fasilidu. Inside of the fortress -churches, saunas, swimming pool  which is filled with water during the Timket Melkat (christening) celebration for christians -ortodox could renew their christening sacrament.

Last day of journey was dedicated to the capital- Adis Abeba. (in Amhar language- White Flower ). The city was built in1887 by imperator Menelik the second. As every city of  Africa, Adis Abeba is very chaotic and full of contrasts.  Beside the new buildings, luxurious hotels poor looking houses, streets are very busy and loud.  Driving here requires a great skills from the driver. The noise is creating so much chaos, that you want to go back to the wild and silent nature. Main symbol of the city – baroque church of _DSC6540Three Saints , National and Etnografic museum filled with collections showing the lifestyle of various religions, cultures and traditions of various tribes. Also here is  the famous sceleton of austratropithecus Lucy. I had look around king Menelik the second residency which is made of clay, st. Marys chuch where the imperator was crowned , church of st. George, where all the treasures are being kept. Vibrant and autentic local market "Mercato "is so crowded, you even want to run away before you got  there. The _DSC6595last lunch with my beloved travel companions Habtom and Semenh at the first hotel of Adis Abeba  "Taitu Hotel "  after  the last look to Adis Abeba from the peak of Entoto mountain which is overlooking the city and late at night  flight back to Europe.

It was my fifth time I had been visiting Africa. While plane was going up my memories turned out about an orange Namibian dunes, orange coloured girls  from Himbu tribe,the heards of antilopes and buffalos in national parks of Kenya and Tanzania , Ngorongoro crater, majestic Victoria waterfall , Fish River canyon,  Dragon  and Atlas mountains. I could see the river of lights under  the plane wings. I left  the full of contrasts ,big and interesting land. Tribes from the valley of Omo river I left unseen with all their  unique culture ,paintings and extended tunnels under their  lips, Abaya and Chamo lakes , Nechsar  national park. But it was not the goal of my trip. This country is too big , too interesting and it is impossible explore everything at once. I am very glad, that my dream came true and I had a chance to see a trully unique place in the world – Danakil depression and Dalol crater, to visit a land of the legendary qeen of Sheba and see the churches which still are keeping their archaic identity. Watching praying  rituals of priests  I was feeling like I actually see the live images from an Old Testament. Ethiopia had never been colonised that is why Ethiopians managed to save their African identity for  which they are really proud. That's why Ethiopia is never called British or Francofonic Africa. It is the real Africa. I am very surprised that the tourists from the West  slowly explore the unique nature of Ethiopia yet. They are coming to see the religious places and tribes. And I'cant get one thing out of my head -to come back and explore this full of contrasts land again. It is full of everyting- nature, ancient culture, history. It is nice to have a dream….A dream about Africa….. 

_DSC4893I would love to say the big thank to the  manager of the company "Origins Ethiopia Tours&Travel " Samson Demena Teshome for the perfect organization of my travel, tour guide  Habtom Addis whose  deep knowledge about his country was surprising  and  our     super tough driver Semenh  Getahun .  It's impossible to thank everyone who helped me out the road.P1080325


I wonder  that more Western tourists haven't heard of the Danakil depression ,as it is one of the most extraordinary place that I have seen in all my travels across the world. I wish everyone has possibility to visit this the most uninhabitable place on Earth, also the most beautiful and mesmerizing place. But I wonder – Afar region people working so hard  and being so poor having so awesomes landscapes similar to Yellowstone, Canyons of America , New Zealand, South America- why not turn this into tourism industry ? The locals could make much better living if they would start developing what they have.Otherwise, the mystery of Dalol remains largely intact. That is why I write a lot of articles in Lithuanian and English telling about this wonderful land, believing  that more and more tourists will get interested and will help to the Ethiopians to create a better life for themselves .

Leonarda Sarakauskiene , solo traveller , travelled on Feb. 2017