About Sam McManus

Sam grew up in the countryside of Kent in the UK until he walked out one midsummer morning into a lifetime of travel and adventure. Travel and books: these two passions have fuelled journeys to over 60 countries whilst living on four continents, and led to the founding of YellowWood Adventures. He has always favoured the road less travelled. Whilst living in Japan he took his tent and surfboard and spent three months island-hopping down the 1100km of Ryukyu archipelago, camping on deserted beaches and talking to crabs. In the Amazon rainforest he spent two weeks with an Indian guide carrying only a machete, fishhooks, salt, sugar and cocoa leaves learning to live off the land. He got bitten quite a lot. It is always in mountainous regions that he has most enjoyed following his feet. Be it the Himalayas, Alps, Andes, the highest plateau in Africa, ice-climbing in the Tian Shan Mountains or exploring the lost assassins’ castles in the Alborz of Iran. A veritable mountain of banana sandwiches, history books, novels, travel writings and biographies always accompany these adventures, and wherever possible a horse or two. As strong as this spirit of adventure and inquisitiveness is, there is also an equally strong desire to share these unique experiences with others. Sam and the team at YellowWood have put together original itineraries in Ethiopia, Kyrgyzstan, Iran, Mongolia, Ladakh & Lebanon, with plans for many more in Oman & the Lost Islands of Japan to name but a few: All with the winning combination of culture, nature, adventure and that off-the-beaten-track wildness that means when you get home, you feel that you have really been somewhere.

Three impressions of Iran


Skiing in the Alborz Mountains The artificial twinkling of the cut glass of the Shah’s palace, however dazzling, was a mere foretaste for the majesty of the sun-drenched white-capped peaks of the Alborz Mountains. Rising up to the north of the capital Tehran, the high powder glistened with a bright white flashing beauty. I thought of when the man dreams he is flying [...]

In a valley in Kyrgyzstan


I was alone. Really alone. I was in a valley camping next to a river and the air was rapidly cooling. I was wearing a thick red woolen jumper and my exposed wrists were brown against it. I had filled up two aluminum water bottles from the torrent next to me but the glacial waters were too aggressive and the water was [...]

9 reasons why Ethiopia should be your next adventure destination


A stunning landscape The national parks are a sight to behold. Fertile and dramatic, the soaring mountains and deep, terraced valleys are absolutely world class. Amazing people Hospitable, kind and with a great sense of humor, the people you will meet along the way are truly the ones that will make your trip unforgettable. Huge variety of wildlife Ethiopia has an astounding number [...]

The rock-hewn churches of Lalibela and other travels in Ethiopia


One thousand years ago, as King Lalibela lay in a poison-induced coma at the hand of his brother, he journeyed to Heaven where the angels commanded that he build a New Jerusalem in Africa’s then bulwark of Christianity. His stonemasons cut directly down into the living rock of mountainsides to achieve this, the church roofs therefore remaining at ground level. Standing in [...]

Trekking off the beaten track in Ethiopia


Having got my boots re-glued and stitched by a capable young cobbler in Axum, I headed down to Korem, the nearest town to Lake Hashinge. Korem is situated where the Tigrinyan plateau first rises up from the Amhara plains, and, compared with most of the arid desert plateaux of Tigray, this first strip of highland is a lush breadbasket of green terraced [...]

Travelling in Harar, Ethiopia


J’ai rêvé la nuit verte aux neiges éblouies, Baiser montant aux yeux des mers avec lenteurs, La circulation des sèves inouïes, Et l’éveil jaune et bleu des phosphores chanteurs! I have dreamed of the green night of the dazzled snows, The kiss rising slowly to the eyes of the seas, The circulation of undreamed-of saps, And the yellow-blue awakening of singing phosphorus! [...]

Hiking in the Gheralta Mountains, Ethiopia


In the middle of the 4th Century AD, Saint Frumentius brought Christianity to the Axumite Kingdom in what is now northern Ethiopia. A Syro-Phenician Greek, he was captured with his brother as a boy, becoming a slave to the King of Axum. Upon obtaining their freedom, the brothers educated the King’s heir in the teachings of Christianity, and Frumentius was later appointed [...]

The Danakil Depression of Ethiopia


‘Better to die than to live without killing’. The semi-nomadic Afar, situated in the northeastern deserts of Ethiopia by the Eritrean border, were for centuries feared for their ferocious nature and warlike culture. Legendary British explorer Sir Wilfred Patrick Thesiger, born in Addis Ababa the son of a diplomat, maintained in his memoirs that the most dangerous journeys of his life were [...]

Musings and a little history, Ethiopia


[Image of a young Haile Selassie] Musings on the nature of the Ethiopian character I have yet to open a book or read a travel article in the FT on the country that does not include the famous line from18th Century Historian Edward Gibbon’s masterwork The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire: “Encompassed on all sides by the [...]

The Bale Mountains of Ethiopia


Gurbinder Kundi (Binder), a Corporate Treasurer and long-time friend in Dubai, had been hinting for a while that he would be interested to come out and join me for a leg of the trip, and we had subsequently arranged for him to partake in six days out of my ten-day trek across the Sanetti Plateau. Due to the nature of the terrain [...]