Wax & Gold: Journeys in Ethiopia & other roads less travelled


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A beautiful tour of some of the most magical and interesting countries in the world.

Wax and Gold is a beautiful travel book, providing snapshots of interesting and obscure countries that aren’t usually on the everyday traveller’s list - Mongolia, Iran, Ethiopia and Lebanon to name a few.

It is a beautifully depicted account of Sam McManus’s life travelling through these countries, experiencing the real life of people and the natural world as he’s trekked, rafted and explored as part of his life seeking out adventures for his tour company. 

The difference between this and other adventure books is this isn’t a story of one mans adventure in the wilderness to find himself. Instead it is a colourful tour of countries Sam has visited seeking out tours, and therefore mostly led by local guides. This left me with the impression of Sam as a rich traveller looking for an immersive experience in other cultures, which seems to be what he offers on his trips. 

While this might disappoint the armchair adventurer, Sam’s detail of the history and culture of the places he visits is fascinating. I learnt of the differences of Islam in Iran, Egyptian and Lebanese politics, the truth of the Ethiopian famine and Costa Rican eco tourism. This detail is also well blended into the travel narrative so that it doesn’t read disjointedly.

Ethiopia wraps itself around every other journey as the story alternates between different countries and back to his trip to Ethiopia which led to him starting his travel company. The story of his journey is also beautifully wrapped by the political history and the natural wonders of Ethiopia as he travels through the country. 

Wax and Gold is a fascinating read and one I highly recommend, especially in our current travel starved time. 

Reviewed by

Having previously studied English at University I love books. I read regularly and a wide variety of literature and non fiction. I particularly love dystopian fantasies, adventure biographies and novels, especially those that immerse you in the landscape and historical fiction.


About the author

Be it on the highest plateau in Africa, ice-climbing in the Tian Shan Mountains of Kyrgyzstan or exploring the lost assassins’ castles in the Alborz Mountains of Iran; a veritable mountain of history books and travel writings always accompany these adventures, and wherever possible a horse or two. view profile

Published on July 03, 2021

Published by

60000 words

Contains mild explicit content ⚠️

Genre: Travel

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