BEAM ME DOWN, SCOTTY

This week's random co-ordinates chosen by the computer are: 7 16' N 45 39' E

FIRST REACTION

Is that Bob Geldof or could it be a hyena having a bad hair day?

COUNTRY AND REGION

You have landed in the Harege province of Ethiopia, just over 435 miles south of the capital Addis Ababa.

NATURE OF THE TERRAIN

This is a lowland grass area at the foot of the vast, fertile central plateau of Ethiopia. Largely uninhabited due to poor soil, you are unlikely to see more than the odd antelope or passing pastoralist with sheep or cattle.

ALTITUDE

About 500 metres.

NEAREST SETTLEMENT

The small town of Gedlegube is less than 20 miles west, while Harar, one of the holiest cities in Islam - with its 99 mosques - is 255 miles north.

POSSIBLE HAZARDS

Although famine is always a risk in this drought-prone land, current dangers include the constant threat of bomb attacks (especially in major cities) and the presence of Bilharzia in all Ethiopia's lakes and rivers.

USEFUL LANGUAGE

Semitic languages, such as Amharic, prevail in the south, but fortunately for travellers many Ethiopians also speak English or Arabic.

TAKE ME TO YOUR LEADER

The former Tigrayan rebel commander, Meles Zenawi, who came to power in 1991 after overthrowing Mengistu's chaotic military dictatorship.

LIKELY WEATHER CONDITIONS

Hot and wet, with the start of the Kremt (rainy season) bringing torrential downpours. Don't forget your umbrella.

REASONS FOR HANGING AROUND

Ethiopia boasts an exotic and diverse wildlife, spectacular scenery and many ancient Christian relics. On the eating side, you can enjoy feasting on "Wat" a popular, spicy stew made of meat, vegetables and eggs.

GETTING THE HELL OUT OF THERE

Walk to Gudlegube and catch one of the dirt-cheap, chronically slow buses to Harar, where you can take a plane to Addis Ababa's international airport.

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