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2014 Travel Review and a Peek at 2015 on Cook Sip Go

Dave Cole - Cook Sip Go - Safari Car

2014 was my first full calendar year as a travel blogger and it brought many new experiences. In those twelve months I visited five countries, but I spent only a minor portion of the year in my home territory. Four of those five nations were African and I was able to get more than just a glimpse of each one by immersing myself in the culture and food of each place (minus Djibouti, unless French-influenced seafood dishes count). I’ve learned a lot this past year and am looking forward to 2015, which will start with a lot of travel and some new media.

The majority of the past year was dedicated to East Africa. With Addis Ababa as my base, I was able to easily explore Ethiopia’s diversity and I’m hoping to return for more at some point in 2015. My favorite place in Ethiopia was the ancient city of Harar in the eastern part of the country. The old walled portion of Harar, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, merited multiple photo essays and brought a mixture of friendly faces, bright walls and history.

harar market spices color photo

harar ethiopia travel

walls harar unesco

Another highlight was hiking down to the crater lake at Wenchi, a few hours west of Addis. The shades of green were memorable and I really enjoyed taking portraits of children we met on the path.

wenchi lake crater ethiopia

wenchi kid child ethiopia lake crater

Ethiopia is an ideal destination for history buffs and few spots rival Axum, the former seat of the great Axumite kingdom. The stelae (obelisk) field in Axum is another UNESCO World Heritage Site and the dry season hung around for a few extra weeks to ensure that I had a beautiful morning to photograph these monuments.

axum aksum ethiopia stelae obelisk

North Stelae Axum Aksum Ethiopia

In terms of Ethiopian food, drink and culture, I posted a comprehensive review of locally produced beer; sampled kitfo and its delicious sides; and hit up the Ethiopian cultural restaurants for some dancing and honey wine.

meta beer ethiopia

kito ethiopia gomen

Ethiopian Cultural Restaurant Song

Although I have written about and photographed Ethiopia extensively, much more is forthcoming. I have about twenty posts waiting to be written and a good portion of them document my interactions with the former Abyssinia.

The other three African countries I visited were Kenya, Djibouti and Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast). I enjoyed the wildlife and scenery of Kenya so much that I moved my base to Nairobi in October (although, more importantly, my wife was offered a job in Nairobi). Few things make me happier than a stay in a lodge or a tented camp with a game drive awaiting once I’ve finished photographing the sunrise.

mount kilimanjaro sunrise kenya amboseli

elephant kenya amboseli africa klilmanjaro

While strolling around the center of Djibouti City was not a very pleasant experience, a trip to Lac Assal, the lowest point in Africa, presented striking landscapes and unique colors.

lac assal djibouti lowest point

My favorite new destination of 2014 was Cote d’Ivoire. The Ivorians were incredibly nice to me, Abidjan was filled with interesting architecture and the food was an eclectic mix of local favorites and French technique. Plus, I had the pleasure of spending a day at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Grand Bassam, a town of colonial buildings and empty beaches.

Maquis Grand Bassam

Poulet Braise Cote d'Ivoire

Beach Grand Bassam Cote d'Ivoire

After spending a year based in East Africa, I returned to the US for a few weeks during the fall. Autumn has always been my favorite season in northeast due to the cooler temperatures, bright foliage and playoff baseball.

Fall Farm Barn Silo Connecticut Old Lyme

A photo posted by Dave Cole (@cooksipgo) on

My wife and I relocated to Kenya in October and plan to be here for a while. We are truly excited every day when we wake up to the lushness outside and contemplate all of the options for weekend and day trips from Nairobi.

This coming year will take me to southern Spain in late January and likely northern Spain in late April/early May. The Seychelles (only a 3-hour direct flight from Nairobi!) are looking good for a March visit. A lot of friends and family have promised an East Africa voyage this year, so plenty of Kenya travel will be interspersed. Those are the only planned or semi-planned trips thus far. I’m dying to make it to Tanzania and Rwanda, which are very easy to reach. Namibia is a stretch, but it’s in my sights to make it to southwest Africa within the next two years.

On the technology front, video is coming to Cook Sip Go. Or at least the yet-to-be-populated Cook Sip Go YouTube channel. I now own a GoPro and hope to start using it in late January when in Spain. I met a Hungarian couple who were on a video assignment recently and got some great tips from them on filming and editing.

In terms of content, I will be posting more regularly on food and cooking, as was originally envisioned when I started this blog. The ingredients and facilities are at hand, so I have no excuse to refrain. I am also hard at work on my first book – a travel memoir from a year in and around Ethiopia – and hope to have a draft done by June with an eye to publication in the fall. Forcing myself to sit down and write as often as possible has been a challenging, but frankly wonderful process. A heartfelt thanks goes out to my readers and my colleagues in the travel industry, all of whom have made 2014 a watershed year in my life.

Where are you headed in 2015? Are you crossing off any long-held travel wishes this year?

{ 21 comments… add one }
  • Manouk Bob December 30, 2014, 5:20 pm

    Great plans Dave! Look particularly forward to your GoPro movies :)!
    Manouk Bob recently posted…Money Matters: How much money do you need to backpack Peru?My Profile

    • Dave December 30, 2014, 10:15 pm

      Thanks, Manouk! The editing process will be a challenge, but hoping to get some fun safari action clips in 2015.

  • Roxanne Reid December 30, 2014, 5:22 pm

    Ha, the video thing. I have a GoPro but have yet to use it for my blog – no really good video footage has yet emerged! If you learn any tips as you go along it would be great if you were to share them with the rest of us newbies.
    Roxanne Reid recently posted…6 travel highlights of 2014My Profile

    • Dave December 30, 2014, 10:16 pm

      I definitely will, Roxanne – video is an exciting medium and I’m anxious to give it a whirl in the coming months.

  • Sandra December 30, 2014, 5:32 pm

    Looking forward to all the next projects! And reading very closely about Kenya. Dhanish’s father was born there and we still have family living in Nairobi, so for the sake of his/our roots and catching up on family History we have been looking at the chance of visiting soon. 2015 is looking awesome! Happy New Year!
    Sandra recently posted…What’s On Your Bucket List For The New Year?My Profile

    • Dave December 30, 2014, 10:24 pm

      Thanks, Sandra! Would love to meet up with you guys in Nairobi, so please let me know if you’re headed down here. Looking forward to more Portugal posts on your site, as I’ve loved the recent ones.

  • Kaspars Misins December 30, 2014, 7:03 pm

    2014 had been our best year so far – cycling in India for months, living in Malaysia, volunteering in Malaysia, living on tropical island, visiting Singapore, Honkong, Thailand, going to France and Italy after that :) There is our summary http://wearefromlatvia.com/best-travel-moments-2014/.
    Kaspars Misins recently posted…Prepare for your first time volunteeringMy Profile

  • Hannah December 30, 2014, 7:12 pm

    Yaay congrats on an awesome year- I LOVE checking out your African adventures, and your instagram account is one of my favs to follow. Looking forward to your adventures in 2015!
    Hannah recently posted…Travel Memories: The Best and Worst of 2014My Profile

    • Dave December 30, 2014, 10:32 pm

      Thanks, Hannah! I can’t forget the high tea at Chateau Laurier you wrote about attending with your family – definitely on my list of experiences in the coming years :)

  • Catherine December 31, 2014, 3:27 am

    What an exciting year you’ve had! I’ve always wanted to go to Rwanda myself so hope you do manage to make it there and very intrigued to read all about it if you do!
    Catherine recently posted…Merry Christmas & A Happy New YearMy Profile

    • Dave January 1, 2015, 8:15 pm

      Thanks, Catherine! Kigali is a short hop from Nairobi, so I should be able to make Rwanda happen whenever the money and time are right :)

  • Kemkem December 31, 2014, 5:29 pm

    So glad l found your blog. Great images, especially the food plate. I am the biggest plantain fiend. Your images are really nice, and l look forward to reading more. Happy new Year!
    Kemkem recently posted…Piazza Navona, Rome & meeting JedMy Profile

    • Dave January 1, 2015, 8:31 pm

      Thank you, Kemkem! Those plantains are alloco – fried with chilies so they have a nice kick.

  • Chanel | Cultural Xplorer January 2, 2015, 6:54 am

    Dave, stunning photos, and those children are so beautiful 😀
    Chanel | Cultural Xplorer recently posted…2014: The Year in PhotosMy Profile

    • Dave January 3, 2015, 12:34 pm

      Thank you, Chanel – such big smiles!

  • Jessica (Barcelona Blonde) January 3, 2015, 5:51 am

    Looks like you had a pretty great year of travel! I’m looking forward to seeing your videos, and to following along with your adventures in 2015 too.

    I’m not sure where I’m headed yet in 2015, but I’m confident that travel is definitely on the books.
    Jessica (Barcelona Blonde) recently posted…My Travel Highlights of 2014My Profile

    • Dave January 3, 2015, 3:08 pm

      Thanks, Jessica! Look forward to see what fun you find in 2015.

  • Lauren January 6, 2015, 12:30 am

    What a year you had! I’m really looking forward to reading more about your travels, your upcoming videos, and your book! Your photos also draw me to your site – such amazing scenes, personalities captured in the people you photograph, and the animal photos are amongst my favorites :)
    Lauren recently posted…Hotel Review: New Year’s Eve at the Delta TorontoMy Profile

  • chris January 6, 2015, 2:04 am

    Such beautiful smiling faces, you’ve really captured the soul of the countries you’ve visited. Definitely feeling inspired to visit myself.
    chris recently posted…Secret Adventures: An Unplugged Concert in London’s CatacombsMy Profile

  • Veronika January 27, 2015, 12:04 pm

    What an exciting year, Dave..! So unique to be based in Africa like that, I’m sure there are tons of things to explore. I hope to meet you in Costa Brava!
    Veronika recently posted…Easter Island? Meet Paul & Stay at Tekarera Inn!My Profile

  • Aunt Sue February 1, 2015, 6:43 am

    What amazing photos, Dave, the beautiful faces, animals, colors, landscapes, vistas, sunsets, sunrises and lives I can now see through your travels…thank you nephew!!

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