At first glance down town Gondar is just an intimidating, urban sprawl of markets, metalwork and moving bodies gathered around the 300 year old monuments and castle ruins, but on closer inspection it’s a thriving hub of activity, a dynamo of trade and full of the some of the friendliest, and photogenic people you’ll meet in Ethiopia.
Every week, hordes of traders gather to to sell anything and everything from batteries to cotton knickers and kettles at Kidame Gebya.
There’s a sort of ramshackle garlic alley where women sit shelling impossibly daunting piles of garlic bulbs on woven mats; spice racks where pouches of shimmering powders and seeds are handled like gold dust and men who stride through the traffic clutching broomsticks covered in live chickens with bound feet and fever-pitched eyes.
Grab a fistful of coins, get swamped by the crowds and take a break from the castle district in Gondar in this labyrinth of poultry, mud, children and sugarcane. You might end up leaving with more than you bargained for – such as a pocket full of garlic, a poorly printed Che Guevara T-shirt or a goat – but it certainly beats the traditional, weekend Sainsbury’s shop.